While in India progress and modernity are defined as disowning one’s ancient roots from its Hindu culture and instead aping the West blindly, this comes across as both artificial and laughable, in the monstrous chimera it creates by that aforementioned process of deracination.
Nevertheless, however comical it may make you look, for such deracinated individuals who are ashamed of the oldest civilisation which gave birth to them, in the real west Hinduism is actually flourishing especially among liberated western women who are eager to cut off from the mental prison shaped by centuries of monotheist narrative. That is perhaps the supreme irony in all this.
In the previous article we had showcased western women from diverse backgrounds, all of whom had passionately embraced the different paths, traditions and ancient practices of Hinduism, whilst also delving deep in its integral and practical philosophies of dharma, karma, yoga, etc.
This article continues to throw light on the journey of many other extraordinary women who have taken up the mantle of Dharma, forging their own sacred bond and connections with Hinduism.
Writer : Germany
In 1980 I stopped over in India on my way to Australia. At least, that was what I thought. I did not break my journey in India for spiritual reasons, as I did not associate Hinduism with anything worthwhile.However, during this stopover, I stumbled on India’s ancient tradition and was amazed at its depth. I appreciated that intelligence was used in trying to establish the truth about this universe and no unverifiable dogmas were imposed. Swami Vivekananda’s “Jnana Yoga” was the first book I read.
This knowledge made immediately sense to me and was actually a source for great joy. It was in tune with my vague intuition that, if there is a God, he must be the basis of everything and not a separate entity. Early during my stay in India, I met Devaraha Baba and Anandamayi Ma, two renowned saints of that time.Meanwhile 33 years have passed in India and I still have not been in Australia. I feel at home in Hindu Dharma. When somebody asks me, “are you Christian?” (which happens frequently), my answer is, “I am Hindu”.
Stephanie Chateau :
Artist : USA
There are many reasons I decided Hindu teachings make the most sense to me both philosophically and religiously. It was some personal spiritual experiences revolving around dreams of Vishnu’s avatars followed by a series of signs and synchronicities that first drew me to learn more but as I studied the material I began to feel it made sense philosophically and on many levels scientifically as well. I was raised in a household where a lot of emphasis was put on both Christian values and feminist values. This would create a lot of confusion for me when studying the Bible because of how women were portrayed. How could I be both.. correctly? I ended up rejecting both once I realized there was an alternative that made more sense to me.
To learn about the concept of Shakti has been very empowering for me as both a woman and as an artist. The Goddess does not have to be like a man to show that she is strong. She can be if she wants as Lakshmi’s Satyabhama avatar teaches us or if she prefers she may use a force that appears more subtle but is overwhelmingly powerful to anyone who has felt it.
The power of love and nurturing that entices, hypnotizes, soothes and engulfs all who experience it. I find myself constantly breaking free of limiting mental constructs imposed by society with concepts such as these. I also have taken note that even though I am still learning and have not perfected the recommended practices in Sanatan Dharma that everyday more scientific evidence pours out about the benefits of yoga and meditation and have experienced the benefits personally as well.
Self Employed : Germany
I was raised Atheistic and later during my school time I started the search for God. During communist regime in East Germany Christianity was the only option one could choose. So I became Christian. But too many questions still were not answered: if God is love how can he send to hell for eternity? Why are babies born sinful? How come someone has to die for my salvation? Etc pp. One day I met an Indian. We had loooong discussions about Religion in General and compared how our respective religions answer certain questions.
One day he suggested to read Bhagavad Gita. I did. I started with “Bhagavad Gita – a walk through for Western people”. What I read instantly resonated with me. All my questions were suddenly answered. I felt I came home. Still it took a good deal of time to study and understand the basics of Hinduism. But good friends were always on my side to teach me and patiently answer my million questions. I always felt Religion should be all embracing and not exclusive. And as more as I learnt as more I loved Sanatan Dharma. One day I decided to adopt it as my official religion and since then I walk my path.
Professional Yogini and Singer : USA
To make a long story short ,I had spotted this beautiful colorful quilt with Ganesa on it. I really like it but could not buy it at that time.
Let me jump ahead a year now. It was a few days before my birthday and I just happen to be in the mode of changing up my apartment and I was also ending a 5 year relationship. Side note;my partner had given me a very small quarter sized Ganesa which I had always had sense the beginning of the relationship. Meaning Ganesa was always around but I did not know him yet! So anyway the thought of that lovely Ganesa quilt just somehow popped into my head again after a year!, and I thought “noway is that quilt still at that shop” but anyway I wanted to go to the shop again just to look at other things.
That day I went to the Indian shop I went straight back to where they had their bedding and textile area, a very small room mind you. I’m glancing through the mostly earthy tones and then! what do I see but those same bright colors that were on the Ganesa quilt!
So, I pulled it out and there he was! Here is where it gets mystical though. I had to call to the sales lady because the quilt had no price on it. When I showed the lady the quilt, she gave me the strangest look, she said ” where did you find that, I had just straitened out this room” I said “well it was right here on the bottom” She says ok, then we both looked at each other, sort of stunned, her more then I!. Then she says I’ll have to call the owner and asked how much it is, she did not know the price. So she comes back and tells me it a $100 donation and the money goes to the building of a Siva temple on the Island of Kauai. I said how lovely.
On the quilt also is a silk screen of Ganesa and Gurudeva and then the other side is hand stitched with many different Om’s. On the silk screen side I notice a book by the Lords feet on a small stool, and on this book a Swastika. I had not known at the time what the swastika truly meant, only new how the Nazi’s used it.
So I asked her “why does he have a swastika” she then says ” oh you don’t know Lord Ganesa yet”! She then proceeds to pull out the book “Loving Ganesa” written by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniya Swami. She flipped through it and showed how it explains all his tools and forms. I was fascinated and knew that I wanted the quilt and the book! I had her put the quilt on hold for me till the next day. I left the store and once I was home i called the local metaphysical book store in my town. I asked them “do you carry this book Loving Ganesa”? They said let me check. They did carry it but they were out of stock, but then a second later, the sales person says “oh wait! there is one after all, the person never picked up the book, so you are in luck” I said great, please hold it for me. Ganesa had it all worked out for me, he was inviting through to my spiritual path. Jai Ganesa! (he removed obstacles at this juncture).
So I got the book and the beautiful quilt, which I had my first real darshan of Ganesa. Brought him home,opened up the quilt and immediately burst into tears! I had no idea why, but just felt so much love from him!
From there on out , I did a pilgrimage to Kauai’s Hindu monastery,bought an amazing Ganesa murthi and began doing his puja. He opened the door for me to be on this most beautiful and rich path of the Sanatana Dharma! Only he can do such magic for a person, he truly is the gate keeper and my Ishta devata!
Poet and blogger : USA
MY JOURNEY TO HINDUISM I have always been a spiritual seeker. Throughout my life, I’ve had a strong desire to know God more intimately, and to develop deeper wisdom and spiritual insight. I was raised in Southern California, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, i.e. “Mormons.” In my youth, I was taught that God is a separate and distinct being, and that his son Jesus Christ was my personal Savior.
I was very diligent in my service to the Church. Though I loved my affiliation with my religious faith, as I grew older, I began to feel that something was missing. I stopped going to church altogether and felt completely lost spiritually. I suppose you could say I went through a dark night of the soul. As middle age approached, I began to explore other faith traditions, particularly eastern philosophies, and those experiences opened up an entirely new paradigm of spiritual awareness. The more I learned about Hinduism, the more it resonated with me.
The teachings of Sanatan Dharma struck a chord in my soul and I felt this amazing expansion in my mind and heart. When I read the Upanishads for the first time, I felt a true spiritual clarity that I had never experienced before. Having been raised in a highly structured, rigid, and male-dominated hierarchical faith system, I was enchanted to learn that there are various aspects of Deity, particularly the Divine Feminine that pervades Hinduism.
It was so exciting for me to see God in this light, and also frightening at the same time. For the first time, I felt spiritually empowered as a woman, and drawn to this richly complex and unusual religion. As I continue to study and explore the vast reservoir of Hindu scripture and other sources each day, I continually encounter new truths and insights.
My Hindu brothers and sisters have welcomed me with open arms, but I sometimes still feel like an outsider, looking in. However, as I search out the ancient truths of Sanatan Dharma, those moments of disconnection have become far less frequent. Through meditation and sacred spiritual practices, such as japa mantra, which is one of my favorite practices, I have come to know God/Goddess in a way that my old religion could never give me.
It would be incorrect to state that I chose to become a Hindu. The truth is that Hinduism chose me. Through Sanatan Dharma, I have learned that God exists within me, and within everyone. I am intertwined with the Divine Feminine; She is me, and I am Her. I feel like I have been given the greatest of riches on earth, the knowledge that will take me home to who I really I am. Sanatan Dharma IS the Eternal Way.
Parama Karuna Devi
Swamini : Italy /India
I was born in the 1950s, and nobody in my family and environment knew anything about India o Hinduism. Yet, from my early childhood I refused to eat meat out of ethical conscience and I told people about reincarnation and the unity of all life.
When I finally came across some books on Hinduism, I was ecstatic because I could finally give a technical name to define my certainties. The more I read, the more it made sense.
I officially converted to Hindusm in 1978, and immediately I dedicated myself full time to religion and spirituality, eagerly continuining its study and soon starting to teach about it.
Hinduism is very deep and scientific, and therefore it is more difficult to understand and apply than other more superficial and dogmatic religions, but the more genuinely “Hindu” you become, the better person you will be. It is like becoming a “fundamentalist” in honesty, ethical conscience, intelligence, wisdom, knowledge, happiness, love and freedom.
However, the beauty of Hinduism is also in the graduality of approaches. Anyone can participate easily without too much strain, as there are so many different levels to personalize one’s dedication in a genuine way, and so many aspects of God to choose as one’s ista devata.
I have been traveling all around India from 1984 and moved my residence permanently in India in 1994, without depending on, or referring to any group, organization or institution, but simply living as a Hindu among Hindus. In the course of years, I have found more and more jewels of knowledge and realization, and I am always eager for more. Of course, my personal experience of Hinduism is mainly based on the original Vedic scriptures and knowledge.
I call myself a “orthodox Hindu”, with the original dictionary meaning of the word “othodox”. I have performed all the required rituals of prayascitta, suddhi, and vrata and other samksaras under the tutelage of universally recognized and respected traditional sasana brahmanas in Orissa, including the deula purohita of the Sri Mandir, who personally conducted the yajna.
I am not saying that all those who consider themselves, or are considered, as Hindus, constitute a perfect example of the wonderful knowledge and tradition that I have chosen to follow. Quite the contrary, I am very well aware of the shortcomings of many individuals, including a number of those who occupy a prominent political position on the scene of “Hindu religion”.
But the answers and the solutions are there, clear and perfect and totally practical, in the original shastra.
In the last years I have modified my sadhana in this direction and I am dedicating myself to the effort of bringing the wealth of Vedic scriptures and knowledge to the largest public. I founded the Jagannatha Vallabha Vedic Research center and started to produce and publish books for this purpose, and my only concern is that I will be able to complete as much work as possible, as well as assisting others to commit to this great work.
In cooperation with other Hindu friends, I am now organizing a Mahakarya Institute, that will promote and conduct Courses and Seminars on many subjects in order to facilitate the practical application of Vedic knowledge and ethics (vidya and dharma) to everyday’s life at individual and collective level, also producing textbooks in sociology, economy, strategy, education and similar fields. Everyone is invited to participate.