Lifestyle

Learn about different people's views of Hinduism


Aashika

"Because I was born on October 2nd, my parents and grandparents would lovingly call me “Gandhi papa” in Tamil, meaning “Gandhi’s little one.” I grew up cherishing the ideals Gandhiji stood for, ranging from non-violence to equality, from vegetarianism to patriotism. I even cherished the Indian passport given to me by birthright: it represented tangible proof of my connection to the culture and country I hold dear to this day. Though I was only six months old when my parents immigrated to the United States, India became the homeland of my heart.

Developing my sense of self in a small, homogenous, rural town as a person of color did bring its challenges, but none were too difficult when I turned toward my faith. My mom would wake my brother and I each morning to the lilting voices of bhajans (divine compositions) and greeted us after school with delicious home-cooked, ayurvedic meals. My dad would thoughtfully select books to read to us each night, highlighting the morals and values which could be learned from the stories of great saints, sages, and incarnations of God. My grandparents taught me prayers and took me to dozens of temples, ever enthusiastic and patient in engaging my questions and requests for more knowledge.

If I felt that my spiritual journey was in its infancy back then, I feel this way even more so now. The more I delve into Hinduism, and its Infinite Joy, the more my heart and mind seek further growth. Hinduism was gifted to me at various times by various teachers. First was my family, exposing me to the joyful traditions and austere customs throughout childhood. My gurus Vivekji and Shubhaniji then took me under their wings during my adult years, and they continue to guide me to date. Finally, I am blessed to have found community among the disciples and devotees of Swami Chinmayananda, and to continue to learn Vedanta alongside such charismatic, service-minded, and God-loving people.

As someone who is certain that there are multiple paths to the same Ultimate Truth, I find peace of mind in knowing that all religions can co-exist. Hinduism is a religion of oneness and love, which enables me to feel God’s presence with me whether I am praying at a temple or singing hymns in a chapel. I am grateful to share cherished friendships with people who practice the same religion, different religions, or no religion: with people who choose to be close to me because of, and not despite, my beliefs. Our hope in sharing this website and forum is that people from any background can connect and come away with something of value. Beneath our various names and forms, I know there is something so subtle, and so Infinite, that it exists within us all."

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