Project Conversion

Project Conversion

Project Conversion: Hinduism:Conclusion

posted by abowen

This is it; Project Conversion’s last day of its first month. For 31 days, I have lived and breathed 24-hours a day, seven days a week as a Hindu (Saivite to be exact). The Rig Veda declares that “Truth is One, though the wise call it many names.” This wasn’t an easy road to begin with, as there was much to learn and acclimate myself to, but I did my best and made discoveries about both Sanatana Dharma and myself that will last a lifetime.

I would like to present a short video which captures some of the highlights and footage during my month with this faith. Call it a “Month in Review.” One such video will be featured at the end of each month so that you might glean some of what I’ve committed myself to. I’m no film expert, so be easy on me here. I hope you enjoy this production as much as I did in producing its content.


So there you have it. So many people were involved in the making the first month of Project Conversion a success. Indeed, the remaining months have big shoes to fill, however I have faith that all will be just as enlightening, just as dynamic. As I’ve said before, my goal isn’t an attempt to teach you everything there is to know about any given faith. People spend lifetimes and still come short of the subtleties and nuances of their religion. No, my goal is to pique your interests, to get you hungry to learn more.

Remember, Project Conversion’s motivations aren’t limited to only religious applications. I want to inspire you to look beyond yourself in all walks of life. This is an encouragement–a call to arms against ignorance. Need some examples of how to apply my day-in-the-life-of-another strategy? How about you get to know someone before you spread rumors? Chances are if you make their acquaintance, you’ll be less likely to slander them. Or how about you get to know your political candidates before voting a straight ticket? This practice can be used with anything, and will change how you see everything and everyone. Soon, you’ll no longer be able to ignore that homeless guy asking for change as you walk by, aloof to his plight, and slurp down your seven-dollar gourmet coffee. From now on, you’ll stick up for the ”new girl” at the office with a red dot on her forehead that everyone is gossiping about. It’s about getting to know one another and being slow to draw conclusions.

While attending the local Hindu temple, I had the pleasure of sitting in on a class of teenagers. Toward the end of my last Sunday School session with them, they shared some of the misconceptions about the Hindu faith and Indians in general. Here are but a few to think about. Ask yourself: have you ever thought in this way?

  • There are many who believe that Hindus worship cows and tease them accordingly. This is not true. Hindus honor cows and hold them to be sacred because they symbolize sustenance, health, and God’s nourishment. Many Hindus are teased due to this misconception. Think of how Americans honor the bald eagle.
  • The red spot between the eyes (bindi) is a tilak (sacred mark) which identifies the location of the ajna chakra (third eye of spiritual wisdom). One of the ladies at the temple told me that she has often been asked if the mark was burned into the forehead of Hindus. Please think before asking such questions.
  • No, not all people who come from India are poor. Though there is a high population of poor in India, it is unfair to stereotype any group.
  • Indians are NOT Native Americans.

I hope you’ve learned something about the Hindu faith this month. As I spend the last hours of this last day in the faith, I encourage you to look over the site at some of the post to review what I’ve shared. What were your favorite discoveries, what serendipitous discoveries have you made on your own? What misconceptions have been put to rest, and if you’ve developed more questions (I hope so!), have you taken the time to have them answered?

I’d love to hear from you regarding these questions. So as I prepare to depart from this beautiful faith in preparation for a new one (Baha’i) remember that indeed that Truth is one, and like many streams flow into one river which leads to the ocean, so are the avenues toward the divine equally beautiful and full of wonderous adventure.

Now, Lord Shiva begins his dance for me, the Tandava, and the fires of death and rebirth ignite as he prepares to reduce my attachment to Hinduism to ashes. From these ashes I will rise with a new skin, new eyes, and new hymns on my breath as a Baha’i.

Thank you, Sanatana Dharma. I will never forget your lessons. And thanks to all of you who have joined me in this journey so far.


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posted January 25, 2012 at 2:51 pm


Thank you for reading. Please understand that my year living among the various faiths of the world was not a personal quest for truth, but my way of reconnecting with a humanity I once judged and scorned. I still study on the Hindu scriptures today and practice the meditation I learned during my time with the Eternal Dharma. Remember Lord Krishna when he said that all paths of devotion lead to him, and that selfless service and compassion are the truest paths to spiritual union. I am simply following my dharma.

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Vijaya Pant

posted January 24, 2012 at 9:16 am

Shri Andrew Bowen has indeed lived as a Sanatani -the real word for Hindu.But after having lived as a Hindu how can he state at the conclusion of his article that he bids goodbye to this ultimate way of life.
Once Truth has been found the search has ended.One can understand the rest and also ‘empathise’ with other faiths!
This type of interfaith voicing leads people nowhere!
Someone -a simple vegetable vendor remarked that we are all born as Hindus and then later on become X-tians,Mohammedans etc.that is where heavy missionary ‘conversion’ activities as of today in India comes into play!
Such innocent and pure wisdom of the highest order can be found only in the sacred land of Bharat-where no agendas are attached to actions and where actions are dedicated to the ALMIGHTY as stated in the BHAGAVAD GEETA.

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posted January 7, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Having experienced both Hinduism and Jainism, I personally don’t see where there is too much difference. I personally do not feel that there is a personal God so that right there makes me an atheist, I would say. I appreciate the Jain concept of liberated being (God men). I also felt more of the divinity as a Jain than a Hindu, having experienced it with a living master here in the U.S. The Siddhyatan Ashram which is considered a Hindu-Jain temple, I experienced yoga, both the physical and the spiritual aspects and deep meditation. There are workshops you can attend and have hands on experience from a true living master. There is debate on which faith is older.

Hinduism says it’s older, but Jainsim predates Hinduism. Mahavair was the 24th. Tirthankara, which means that there were 23 before him. You will also find in the Bahagavita that it mentions these tirthankaras in it’s scriputure. Even though during the time of early Jainism there was no written language, it can’t be recorded as to how old it really it. Facts show that Jainism predates recorded history. Both are ancient and worthy of respect.

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posted April 12, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Shalom Joseph!
It’s never too late to jump aboard. I’m glad you’re enjoying the site and finding much to explore. Indeed, the Hindu experience left an impression on my attitude toward meat consumption and I can say that I’ll never look at an animal the same way again.

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Joseph Simonowich

posted April 12, 2011 at 3:20 pm

I know this is a little late for a comment on this, however I just wanted you to know I am very intrigued by what you are doing. It takes a lot of commitment and an open mind. This is what we need to see more of this day and time! I heard about your project on the Interfaith Voices podcast interview you did. I immediately found your blog and subscribed to it on google reader and am now playing catch-up. While I too am more of an agnostic, I found your first month of Hinduism very interesting.

Oddly enough, the one thing that intrigued me most were the bits on the Hindu diet with respect to animals. I am a life-long meat eater. But I feel that may be getting ready to change for me. One statement you made, “An animal raised for food often leads a painful, short, and terrified life of darkness and torment.” has really affected me for some reason. In addition, the whole of the religion is very beautiful. It has definitely opened my eyes.

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posted March 27, 2011 at 2:11 am

“Dots, not feathers!” That’s a good one.

The Hindu temple I attended was pretty open, as our aarti and prasad honored a large assembly of gods and godesses. I suppose I was lucky…

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