Why is there no unity among Hindus unlike people of Islam or Christianity? Are not Hindus weakened by their lack of unity and constant internal squabbling leading to religious conversions?

“There is no unity among Hindus” is a rather an exaggerated statement, though there is an element of truth in it.

By very design, Hinduism has multiple facets, multiple ways to approach God within its overall scope, offers the freedom of choice, freedom of expression, freedom of dissent and so on. Naturally, it gives religious people freedom to compartmentalize themselves, disagree with other sects, argue with them, demean them etc. Hinduism is so widely encompassing that Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa says even atheism is a stepping stone to reach God in Hinduism!

This very fabric of Hinduism also paved the way for Hindus generously accepting other religions to flourish in Indian soil.

It can be safely said that the absence of unity in Hinduism is exactly like feuds within brothers and sisters in a family! They may not see eye to eye with each other, have different tastes and agendas in life, may even split from the family and live alone. But the underlying blood connection never goes. When some calamities strike the family, we can see that all family members bury their difference of opinions and come together! In a similar way, there are indeed occasions when Hindus join together burying their differences of opinions and tastes.

Hindus as a society do face problems and differences on account of caste system; but again, history shows that our religion is not rigid, but flexible enough to acknowledge and take corrective actions in the long haul. Where there is lack of unity, it is mostly fueled and nurtured by petty politicians and social reformers who have no deeper knowledge about Hinduism; they bet on their pseudo-secularism to keep dividing Hindu people for their selfish gains.

However, it is an undeniable fact that caste discrimination and the absence of any single strict authority (like the Pope in Christianity) have paved the way for Hindus getting wooed by other religions by conversion.

On top of it all please consider this:

Historically, how much of bloodshed have you seen amidst Hindus fighting within themselves based on their religious differences? Extremely little.

Compare this with the history of other religions: Shiites versus Sunnis; Protestants versus Catholics.

Then the reality will be far clearer.

Are Hindus indifferent to people of other religions? Why is there no practice of converting others to Hindu religion? Are Hindus indifferent to their own religion?

No. It is not true that Hindus are indifferent to other religions. Because Hindus, knowingly or unknowingly, consciously or unconsciously believe that there are other paths through other faiths leading to God, they have a tendency to accept others following their own faiths in their own ways.

The Rig Veda says “Ekam sat, vipra bahuta vadanti” — ‘The truth is one, seers speak of it differently’. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa said “yat mat, tat path” –‘as many faiths, so many paths’.

That’s why Hindus never went about doing conversion of people of other religions to Hinduism. That’s why Hindus accepted people of other religions to come and settle in India and gave them freedom to follow their faiths.

Hindus have all along been doing it matter of factly, without the need for pseudo-secularists educating them on it.

That was the strength of Hinduism. Unfortunately, there are indeed certain religions in this world whose spiritual mentality is not designed to be so generous and all encompassing. Those religions seem designed to be arrogant, pushy, greedy, self-serving, adamant and bulldozing.

That’s where the problems for Hindus started in India. There is a saying in Tamil:

இடத்தை கொடுத்தால் மடத்தைப் பிடுங்குவான்
‘Idatthai kodutthaal madatthai pidunguvaan’

Meaning: “If you give him a place to rest in your Math (monastry) he will forcefully grab from you the entire Math!”

There is yet another one:

“ஒண்ட வந்த பிடாரி, ஊர் பிடாரியை விரட்டியதாம்”
‘Onda vantha pidaari, oor pidariyai virattiyathaam’

Meaning: The goddess of the next village begged to stay in the local temple and when permitted, ousted the local goddess!’

Such things started happening widely on account of Hindu elite educated class, marginalized class and the ruling class started neglecting, mocking at and unjustly criticizing Sanata Dharma without any deeper understanding of its greatness. The pseudo-secularists were in the forefront in doing this damage from inside.

Hence, as a consequence, Hindus seem to be becoming increasingly pessimistic about their own innate nature of broadmindedness and started wondering whether they have bent too much to allow others to sit on their backs and ride them.

With so many sects within Hinduism fighting and contradicting each other, is not Hinduism weakened? Are not other religious people more united?

By very design, Hinduism has multiple facets, multiple ways to approach God within its overall scope.  The religion offers the freedom of choice, freedom of expression, freedom of dissent and so on. Naturally, it gives religious people freedom to compartmentalize themselves, disagree with other sects, argue with them, demean them etc. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa says even atheism is a stepping stone to reach God in Hinduism!

I would say that the absence of unity in Hinduism is exactly like feuds within brothers and sisters in a family! They may not see eye to eye with each other, have different tastes and agendas in life, may even split from the family and live alone. But the underlying blood connection never goes. When some calamities strike the family, we can see that all family members bury their difference of opinions and come together!

In a similar way, there are indeed occasions when Hindus reunite burying their differences of opinions and tastes because the underlying concept of God is fundamentally same amid the various sects, irrespective of whether people comprehend them fully or not.

Hindus as a society do face problems and differences because of caste system; but again, history shows that our religion is not rigid, but flexible enough to acknowledge and take corrective actions in the long haul. Where there is lack of unity, it is mostly fueled and nurtured by petty politicians who have little deeper knowledge about Hinduism; they bet on their pseudo-secularism to keep dividing Hindu people for their selfish gains.

On top of it all, please consider this:

Historically, how much of bloodshed have you seen amidst Hindus fighting within themselves based on their religious differences? Extremely little.

Compare this with the history of other religions: Shias versus Sunnis; Protestants versus Catholics.

Then the reality will be far clearer.

Can a Muslim attain moksha in the Hindu way?

In fact Moksha = eternal birthless/ deathless state in Hinduism.

It’s equivalent in Islam, we can say, is life in Heaven. For a Muslim, life in Heaven is an eternal reward.

A ‘true Muslim’ is assured of the reward. Who is a true Muslim?

  • One who does all the right things that Koran dictates. (Having total faith in Allah, doing daily Namaz, ete etc)
  • One who does not do all the wrong things that Koran dictates (refraining from  worshiping any other God,  worshiping God with form or worshiping any human being; no drinking, no earning money through money-lending etc etc)

In Islam, there is no rebirth. This current life is just one. At the end of it, wait for the day of judgement in your grave. Allah would judge you based on your deeds during your lifetime and either you will end in heaven or in hell forever.

An Islamic heaven is a place of permanent enjoyment and merry making in the company of God. A Hindu’s heaven is not equivalent to Islam’s heaven. A Hindu’s heaven is not a moksha either. Hindu’s heaven is at the best a temporary stay of enjoyment of the fruits of good deeds till you exhaust them. It is said that there is no physical body for enjoyment, but only a subtle body (soul) where the enjoyment is only mental. You will have to return to earth afterwards. Coming and going will go on till you are freed of desires and wants and totally refine yourself— till you attain moksha. It is also believed that enjoyment in heaven is for extraordinary good deeds only. For not so great good deeds, the earth itself is the place of enjoyment (in the next birth).

An Islamic hell is a permanent and never ending place of suffering. There is no escape once one ends there. A Hindu’s hell is not equivalent to an Islam’s hell. It is just a temporary place of stay and suffering till you exhaust the effects of your evil karmas. Here again it is said that all the sufferings are mental only as there is no physical body. You then get a chance to take a rebirth in earth to refine yourself. Again, the punishment in hell is for any extraordinary acts of evil done in previous births. For other wrong doings, suffering comes in some way or other in the next birth. Any number of births may be there till you refine yourself completely and attain moksha.

A Hindu’s moksha is neither enjoyment equivalent to what you get in Heaven nor any suffering whatsoever. It is called Ananda — Bliss — total peace.

In what way is an average Muslim’s perception of Allah different from an average Hindu’s idea of God?

NOTE: The following is essentially from a Hindu point of view, based on basic concepts, faiths and practices existing in both religions.

  • Allah being without name and form, He is virtually beyond the grasp or imagination of a Hindu, while a typical Muslim has no qualms about it. Yet an average Muslim’s faith on his God definitely seems to be far stronger than an average Hindu’s faith on God. There is reason for it. (See point 2).
    • For a Hindu, his God is a personal God, with a name and form. His God may look quite different from the personal God of the neighbor, but it does not really matter to him. His God is much closer and dear to him for easy communication. For an average Hindu too, God as Brahman — beyond name and form as stated in Upanishads is virtually beyond reach. He is therefore content to have a personal God.
  • For an average Muslim, Allah is to be feared, respected, revered. He cannot take Allah for granted. Allah is all merciful alright but if you wrong with Him, He is sure to roast you in hell fire. Better be safe than sorry! Better to be extremely careful with Allah and be reverential to Him rather than taking any liberties with Him.
    • A Hindu can feel free with his personal God. he can talk to Him with love, can criticize Him when he feels wronged, can cry to Him when weak and can ignore Him when the going is smooth! In other words, a Hindu devotee can take God for granted, as if dealing with a parent. He is not all that afraid of God.Of course he knows God is bound to punish him for his wrong doings, but he believes His God is not vengeful, tough, strict and merciless. A Hindu can proudly claim he is an atheist and yet survive happily as a Hindu in the community. This is unimaginable in Islam.
  • A Muslim is always worried about safeguarding himself in his afterlife. After all, after death he has got only two avenues: either living in heaven or living in hell (after the day of judgement). If you get Allah’s mercy, your seat is assured in Heaven. Else, you end up perennially in Hell. There is no respite. No second chance. No mid term review. Hence a Muslim has to ensure that whatever Koran forbids, he should not do. whatever Koran recommends, he should do. No question of using any free will. No arguments and counter arguments. No intellectual hair-splitting. No need at all. Everything is clear in black and white in Koran. You are forbidden from questioning it.
    • A Hindu however is free to interpret his scriptures differently. He has scope for making different definitions of God and his relationship with God. He can even claim “I am God” (Aham Brahmasmi). He too believes in heaven and hell, but he understands very clearly that he will not end up in them permanently. They are at the best like staying in a resort or a mad house for a period. He always has the scope of redemption, to get another chance to live his life right; he can refine himself or he can deteriorate himself too. He always has another chance. That is samsara cycle for him.

Can a Hindu woman marry a Muslim man?

“All is fair in love and war” – so goes a popular saying. If a Hindu girl falls in love with a Muslim boy and is bent upon marrying him, she can, provided she converts to Islam. Islam prohibits any Muslim boy from marrying a girl from any other religion, until and unless the girl accepts Allah as her only God by way of converting to Islam.

And, if a Hindu girl is bent upon doing it, well, there is quite a good scope for the love coming to an end sooner and a war beginning afterwards!

The war is likely to be extremely damaging and painful if the love affair finally turns out to be a well planned Love Jihad.

Well; there are lots of arguments, proofs, lack of proofs and what not on the matter of whether Love Jihad is a real or imagined issue.

I personally believe there would not have been so much smoke if there is really no fire.

You can search in Quora itself and you will come across many personal real stories and confessions, arguments and counter arguments and so on this matter.

Coming back to the love marriage, irrespective of whether it happened out of Love Jihad or not, the stark reality to be faced is: What is going to be the physical, emotional and cultural status of the woman post marriage.

This particular article discusses in detail what could be the emotional predicament of a Hindu girl if she opts to marry a Muslm by religious conversion and it will be worth a read: Why conversion from Hinduism to any other religion is highly discouraged – Part 3

To what extent Hinduism has reached the west? Who are the main saints that contributed in spreading Hinduism’s concepts across the globe?

Hinduism is spreading around the world definitely, but not by conversion but by acceptance of Sanatana Dharma (Hindu’s dharmic way of life) by so many followers who won’t figure in any national census identified as Hindus!

Hinduism as a religion practised at a commoner level (worship of different God forms, formal temple worship, rituals etc) may not be spreading (except perhaps for Krishna Consciousness Movement by ISKCON) globally. Unlike abrahamic religions with one god and one holy book, Hinduism has so many  facets. Hence there is is virtually no commonly acceptable mode of conversion to Hinduism. There is no ‘business’ of religious conversion to Hinduism ever existing in it. There is virtually no impetus in Hinduism to convert people of other religions.

Hinduism has such a wide base that there are umpteen paths within it for one to practice Hinduism. One path of Hinduism that is most appealing to many well educated westerners is Jyana Yoga (The path of Knowledge) and Vedanta (essence of Upanishads). Many non-Hindus with spiritual mindset get hooked Vedanta and Bhagavad Gita and they start getting right answers to their nagging doubts on spirituality not satisfactorily answered in their religions.

And there is the contribution of great spiritual masters and Avatara Purushas of Hinduism who have influenced a lot of non-Hindus to the spiritual paths open to them in Hinduism. There are countless followers of these masters across the world:

  • Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836–1886) and Swamy Vivekananda (1862–1902) — Sri Ramakrishna Paramahmsa was a rustic Bengali with little formal education who is considered a Divine Avatar that revived and re-validated practically all major paths and sects of Hinduism during British rule in India.His prime disciple Swami Vivekananda travelled to America and spread the wisdom of Vedanta to eager beavers in the west. At his prompting, a few the other disciples of Ramakrishna — Swami Saradananda, Swami Turiyananda, Swami Trigunatitananda and Swami Abedananda travelled to west and spread the message of Vedanta.

(Picture above: Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa &Swami Vivekananda)

  • Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s talks and discussions on multifarious aspects of Hinduism in the most simplified and easily digestible fashion were recorded and made available in a book The gospel of Sri Ramakrishna by his house holder disciple Sri Mahendranath Gupta. It was later translated into English by Swami Nikilananda. This is one magnum opus in Hindu spiritual literature that is being read and re-read by countless spiritual seekers cutting across all sects and sub-sects of Hinduism and all other religiously and spiritually inclined people across the the world, across religions.

Sri Ramakrishna Vedanta Society building, Boston, USA

Swami Rama Tirtha

Swamy Rama Tirta (1876–1906): He travelled Japan and USA in 1902 and influenced lots of Buddhists and Christians towards Hinduism. He spoke on practical Vedanta to Amrican audience. He was a true sanyasi in the sense that he travelled to USA and several other countries totally without carrying any money or luggage.

 

 

 

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I read somewhere that Bible already contains almost similar teachings of Bhagavad Gita. Then what is so great about Gita?

It is quite fine for a Christian to eulogize Bible, do a deep study of it, absorb its spiritual guidelines and practice them in life. But to compare Bible with Bhagavad Gita, it requires quite a lot of spiritual background and intellectual capacity and a well balanced heart and head.

All religions have some common fundamental aspects which will cut across all religions and be applicable for the well being of the human race (like the importance of belief in God, a sense of surrender to the divine will, love, sharing, forgiving, sacrifice, need for humility and so on). You will definitely find similar ideas between Bible and Bhagavad Gita. But that does not mean the rest of Bible or rest of Gita can be discarded.

Bhagavad Gita covers so many facets of religion and spirituality — the concept of Atman, its deathlessness, karma and rebirth, need to follow one’s swadharma, the varnashrama differences, the concept of trigunas (Satwa, Rajas, Tamas), the qualities of people who attained steady divine wisdom, the nature of people of demonic tendencies, the practice of Karma yoga (doing one’s work without expecting fruits), the concept of Bhakti, the concept of Gnyana, the importance of total surrender (saranagathi), the all pervading nature of God, God being the indweller in all, the unity of Atman and Paramatman and so on.

I don’t think you can find equivalents in Bible to these concepts which are mostly specialties of Hinduism. In the spirit of Bhagavad Gita, every seeker can potentially become the Holy Trinity (The person – his spirit – God becoming one) whereas Bible will not accept such a thing. Only a messiah (Jesus) was fit enough for this.

Why Conversion from Hinduism to any other religion is highly discouraged – Part:1

This is an Article series consisting of 3 parts.

In this part 1, some solid and important facts about the relevance of Hinduism are discussed. 

In the part 2, some frequently asked questions from religion/ spiritual point of view have been answered.

In the Part 3 , some FAQs from sociological point of view (issues related to inter-religious love affairs and marriages) are being answered.

Part:1

At the outset, Hinduism is just not a religion; it is known as Sanatana Dharma — the eternal righteous way of living.  The base of Sanatana Dharma (or Hinduism) is so widespread that it has place for accommodating innumerable ways of establishing a relationship with God and attaining oneness with Him as the ultimate goal of life.  It is like a cone with a large circular base and as one rises up higher and higher in quest of spirituality, it ultimately leads one to a single point at the top.

Fact 1: Hinduism is so unique and so wide-based – there is really no need to look elsewhere for anything missing

With a clear acceptance of the universal fact that people have different tastes and temperaments as regards to any relationship, Hinduism offers so much of ‘variety of choice’  in the practice of religion, which is nothing but establishing are relationship with God. Be it with regard to choosing a specific God form for love and worship, method of worship, practice of austerities, school of philosophy to learn and follow,  type of rituals to practice and so on, Hinduism offers so much variety. The idea is: you start with what is traditional to you, what is comfortable to you, what is digestible to you and what is tasteful to you. Then go deeper; understand better; widen your outlook; don’t get trapped into sheer compartmentalization; grow up; turn inwards rather than outwards; out-grow from your earlier presumptions and self-made boundaries. Know the ultimate truth; know that you are no different from the very ultimate truth that you have been in quest of all along!

In other words, a variety of religious and spiritual avenues are available within Hinduism itself for one to seek God for spiritual progress  or worldly prosperity or for removal of hurdles, pains and sorrows in life by praying to God and seeking His divine grace. There is really no need to go in search of any other religion for that matter. If someone finds anything higher or better in any other religion, it is only because he has not really bothered to look deeper into his own religion with earnestness.

Vested interests from other religions , who believe God to be nameless and formless, may mock at Hindus for worshiping idols; for worshiping umpteen God forms — Gods in male, female and animal forms, Gods having thousands of names and so on. If misguided Hindus with very little inclination to know deeper about the significance of all these in Hinduism join the vested interests and start ridiculing our own religion, we can only feel sorry for them.

Fact 2: Hinduism does not woo people from other religions with an agenda to convert them to Hinduism

By virtue of being the Sanatana Dharma, Hinduism is not something meant for ‘sales promotion’ , ‘mass distribution’ or ‘mass consumption’. That’s why there are no religious movements in Hinduism to woo and convert people from other religions to Hinduism. No Hindu organization gets any funding to send missionaries to other countries for the sole purpose of converting people from other religions to Hinduism.  Hindus don’t build schools and hospitals to show how loving and caring their religion is, with a hidden agenda of converting people to Hinduism.

Whatever mode of conversion to Hinduism offered nowadays through Arya Samaj is also NOT meant for wooing other religious people to convert to Hinduism, but only to offer an avenue (which was not available in the past in Hinduism) for the benefit of misguided people of Hindu origin, who had converted to other religions (for whatever reason) and want to return to Hinduism.

Fact 3: It is Hinduism that keeps producing so many Mahatmas and great spiritual masters from time to time to guide people in religion and spirituality

Unlike any other religion, only Hinduism has the unique advantage and proven track record of gifting to the world innumerable spiritual masters, great Mahatmas, great devotees, God realized (and self-realized) Gurus and great Avatars as if in a never ending stream, in this great land of India.

Why is it happening only in Hinduism and not significantly in other religions?

It is because of the following reasons:

1)  As per Hinduism everything in creation is nothing but God — every one of us is potentially divine. Because of maya, this is not available for easy grasp for everyone. But it is the fact that those who earnestly seek to know this truth by experience get divine and guru’s guidance and they realize the truth and become one with God.  In other words, Hindu religious experience of practical divinity is not restricted to a ‘Father in heaven and his One and Only Son’! It is not restricted to one single Messiah who is the only ordained one to know and reveal the truth and no one else.  It is not restricted to a single holy book, a single or rigid school of philosophy or a single divine form or a God who cannot have name and form.

2) Because of the fact that Hinduism has such a wide base, there are umpteen streams available within the religion to travel through and reach the ocean.  Whether one worships a God in the form a male, a female, an animal or in a mix of human and animal, Hinduism asserts that spiritual progress is possible by all means.  If a Hindu believes in God without form, or he/she feels no emotional need for devotional worship too, there are streams available for such an earnest seeker to follow in Hinduism. Each of the paths has its own strong connection to the core of Hinduism and hence there are realized souls available from different streams of Hinduism. Thus such masters could declare to others by virtue of their personal experience that every path in Hinduism is valid.  

Fact 4: Great Hindu Masters cut across religious barriers too and inspire people from all religions

Why do we hail these spiritual masters of Hinduism as ‘great’? Is it out of our mad infatuation to our religion or a sense of natural pride (rightly or wrongly) towards our own religious greatness?

No. We hail them as great because such saints who realized truth by following a particular segment of Hinduism, have indeed  attained the peak and they could clearly see from that elevated state that every path in Hinduism does lead one to the single final goal only. Such a master then is able to impress, enthuse, inspire and guide earnest religious aspirants from several other schools of Hinduism as well! It does not stop there. Such great masters attract people and aspirants from other religions too!

Such a spiritual saints cease to be the ‘sole property’ of Hinduism. Their appeal and attraction becomes universal.

That’s how great spiritual masters like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, his consort  Sarada Devi, his disciple Swami Vivekananda, Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi, Papa Ramadas, Swami Sivananda (Divine Life Society), Shirdi Saibaba, Satya Saibaba, Shri Chandrasekara Saraswathi (‘Maha Swamigal’ of Kanchi Math), Anandamayi Ma, Mata Amritanandamayi and such other Mahatmas could attract innumerable Christian and other religious followers from nook and corners of the world and give the seekers guidance on spiritual progress.

Do these masters try to woo the eager beavers from other religions to get converted to Hinduism? Never. Do they ever preach that only through following Hinduism one can attain liberation? Never.  On the contrary, they encourage people to go deeper into their own religions, grasp the truth behind their own religious teachings and try to live true to them.

Very learned pundits and erudite scholars of Philosophies come and prostrate before these Mahatmas (some of these mahatmas may not even have passed primary school level!) and seek clarification on scriptures that they have been learning for decades but could not grasp the true purport and they get convinced and enlightened by a simple explanation from these great souls! It is because what these mahatmas explain comes from the root of their own personal experience and not just from bookish knowledge.

Many Christians used to seek clarification on teachings and quotes off Bible from Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi. He used to explain them from the point of view of the essence of Hinduism based on his own personal experience.  

If any of the followers from other religion who get greatly attracted to Hinduism, its teachings, its Gods and religious practices opt to change their names to typical Hindu names, start dressing like Hindus, start worshiping Hindu Gods, chant  sthotras on Hindu Gods and sing bhajans, these masters don’t discourage them either.  They know for sure that what matters for an individual is the peculiar taste that he finds appealing and attractive for following in his/her spiritual pursuit and that freedom is available, as it is available for any Hindu, to people from other religion too.

The point to note is that the great spiritual masters of Hinduism never say “Your religion is okay, but you will get liberation or salvation only if you get converted to Hinduism and worship Hindu Gods”. They would rather say, “The kingdom of God is within you, and it is up to look within yourself and attain it”.

Why Conversion from Hinduism to any other religion is highly discouraged – Part:2

This is Part: 2 of the article on Why conversion from Hinduism to other religions is highly discouraged.

In the part 1, some solid and important facts about the relevance of Hinduism has been discussed. Please read it first, before proceeding here.

In this part 2, some frequently asked questions from religion/ spiritual point of view are being answered.

Question 1: How about fake Gurus and God-men of dubious characters who seem to abound Hinduism?

Not every student studying in a class can get distinction. Not every religious aspirant has the qualities of mental purity, sacrifice, unselfishness, grittiness and adherence to austerities. It is always possible that there will be ‘drop-outs’ who, by virtue of their undigested spirituality may start their own spiritual show business and thrive by attracting seekers of dubious qualities.

Not just Hinduism, but every religion has dubious spiritual teachers who misguide people and thrive on a selfish agenda. In God’s scheme of things, it will always be there.

There will also be religious teachers at intermittent levels (Neither fake gurus not fully realized Gurus) who are earnest and sincere in their efforts, limited in their own grasp of religion but nevertheless contributing something for the religion meant for people at lower and middle levels of spiritual or religious progression. They are very much needed for any religion and their role is definitely as good as school and college teachers taking classes at various levels, with their own qualifications being enough to teach and guide pupils of appropriate grade.

Again the point to note is this: Amidst existence of fake Gurus and Gurus of various tiers, sects and subsects and schools of philosophies , it is in Hinduism that great realized saints have been evolving time and again to guide earnest seekers of spirituality with appropriate teachings suited best to the times they arrive at in the society. It is in Hinduism that one can see the constant evolution, adaptation and path correction so that true seekers are properly guided and the society at large is reshaped and guided in the right path for the wellbeing of the society and its cultural traditions.

Question 2:  If Great Hindu Masters accept all religions, then what is the problem in converting to any other religion?

If you go to your own town’s market to buy the things of your need and all essential items are very much available in your own market at affordable price, at good quality and without shortage, then what is really the need to go to next town’s market?

If someone thinks that something is amiss in his own market, it is not because it is true; it is because he has not looked around enough to see where it is available. Or it may be that he got hoodwinked by the false propaganda from a marketer from the next town who spreads lies and falsehood; it may be because the marketer from the next town offered him something out of selfish agenda to change his loyalty.

Now, coming to the stand of great spiritual masters of Hinduism accepting all religions, it is only due to their clear understanding of the all pervading nature of Godliness radiating from within themselves.  But virtually no spiritual master ever nodded in appreciation of any Hindu converting to any other religion.

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa is oft quoted for his statement “As many faiths; so many paths”.  He was a unique Hindu spiritual master who actually put into practice Christianity and Islam in his own life and within a short time realized the spiritual principle of these religions.  He in fact had a vision of Jesus Christ and saw Christ’s form merging into himself.

Michael Madhusudhan Datta was a famous Bengali poet who lived in Kolkotta during Sri Ramakrishna’s period. He was actually a Hindu, who had got converted to Christianity.  Once Sri Ramakrishna happened to meet Michael Madhusudhan along with some of his devotees. When someone questioned Michael as to why he had got converted to Christianity, Michael replied something like “It’s all for the sake of the stomach; what else?”

The moment Ramakrishna heard this, he left the spot, not willing to engage in any discussion with Michael, as desired by his devotees. Ramakrishna later said to his devotees: “I felt as though I was dumb folded;  Ah! What is there to talk with a person who simply forsakes his own religion and converts to another for the sake of filling his stomach! “

Once a Christian Congregational  Bishop by name Stanely Jones came from abroad to meet Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi. He, with lots of missionary zeal, was trying to impress Maharishi about the “Kingdom of Heaven” that could be attained only through the grace of Jesus Christ; he  started teasing and challenging Bhagwan about his philosophies and questioning Bhagwan’s credentials but showed least interest or earnestness in listening and absorbing Bhagwan’s responses. After trying to make him see reason for a while, Bhagwan understood that the person was only keen on giving a sermon on the Kingdom of Heaven and  how the only facilitator for it was Jesus Christ. Bhagwan kept quiet and the person went on blabbering.

At that time, Bhagwan’s western devotee Major A W Chadwik (Sadhu Arunachala) was in the hall and having got irritated by Stanley’s behavior, Chadvik, (a Christian well versed in Bible), confronted him with pointed arguments. Stanley got shocked by the opposition he faced from a fellow Christian westerner and he opted to pack off and leave. Once he left, Bhagwan laughed and said “You have certainly paid him in his own coin!”

In Swami Vivekananda’s life too there are several instances where he was quite critical of missionaries and their efforts to convert people to Christianity. He was always critical about Islamic rulers of the past who converted gullible common people to Islam at the point of the sword.

Question 3:  What about atonement of sin? Hindu religion is fatalistic; they say one has to experience Karma and there is no escape.  It looks sinners are doomed if they follow Hinduism, whereas Christianity welcomes sinners with open hands; they say, Jesus has shed blood for all our sins and hence our sins are atoned by God. That’s so much comforting.

If any Hindu says that in Hinduism you are cent percent bound by Karma and there is no escape from sins and if a Christian says Jesus has shed his blood for your sake so that you can enjoy life absolved of all sins and keep doing sins, both are misguided!

While as per karma theory of Hinduism it is true that there will be the effect for every karma — good or bad — that one has got to experience, it is never said that it a rigid law; Karmas are not self-propelling, to give you good and bad effects on their own power. Karma is just jata – inanimate. it is God’s will that decides what effect is to be given to the karma at what time to the doer of karma.

In Hinduism, attempting to understand and breaking one’s head as to what is dharma (righteous act  that can bring good effects) and what is adharma (unrighteous acts that can bring bad effects) might get too complicated for comprehension of a commoner.  But if one surrenders totally and unconditionally to God’s will without worrying about dharma, then God (Lord Krishna) promises that he will absolve all the sins of the person (Bhagavad Gita 18-66).

Putting it more practically for the consumption of people of this Kali Yuga where dharma will tend to be at the lowest ebb, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa always emphasized that for this Yuga, chanting God’s name with reverence will absolve one from all sins.  With a firm belief in the purifying power of God’s name and with a firm resolve not to repeat the sins that one committed, if one chants God’s name again and again with devotion, his sins are absolved — assures Sri Ramakrishna.

Going further, Ramakrishna once said: “Sambu Charan once read out Bible for me for a while; Oh! There is so much of obsession with sins in it! They keep talking about sins again and again. He who says day and night, ‘I am a sinner, I am a sinner’ verily becomes a sinner. Why fear about sins? Should you not have the conviction “I chant Lord’s name; what can sins do on me?”

From the point of total surrender to God, it is indeed true that if a Christian totally surrenders to Jesus Christ with absolute trust and faith, he need not worry about the effects of past sins. But any assertion that Jesus Christ who, by virtue of shedding his blood on the cross, became qualified to be “the sole authorized arbitrator for the wholesale absolution of all Christians’ sins” (including those of converted Christians coming in with a sin-washing agenda) turns out to be too blasphemous a claim!

Continued in —> Part:3 (Final part) . In this part, the problems with love affairs and marriages between religions are discussed.