Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Future of Hinduism

I live on the edge of a unique world.  I am confessionally a Christian, who believes that Jesus is the Christ of God and the Son of God.  He is Lord and Savior of the World.  At the same time, I am deeply involved in interfaith conversation and activity.  The God I believe exists is a God far bigger than I can conceive and so I'm comfortable sharing life with my friends of other faiths.  One of those friends is Padma Kuppa, a Hindu and an interfaith activist.  We have worked closely together here in Troy almost from the moment I arrived.  She is committed to preserving space in the public square for people of all faiths.  It is from that perspective, as a woman deeply rooted in her faith, but committed to opening the way for others to exist in freedom and in peace, that she writes and she works for a more just and pluralistic world.

Padma wrote a piece for the Patheos Blog that appears on the Washington Post On Faith blog that is entitled "The Future of Hinduism."  I'm placing the opening paragraphs here and inviting you, my readers, to follow on to the full essay, which I believe you will find enlightening.  


_________________________________

 Hinduism and pluralism

By Padma Kuppa
Interfaith activist and contributor to Patheos.com

(Patheos.com has just launched a new eleven-week series on the Future of Religion. We begin with the Future of Hinduism. See the full schedule here.)

Writing on the Future of Hinduism is something very difficult to do, raised as I have been with an understanding that faith is eternal, without beginning or end, and that my faith, Sanatana Dharma, is not an "ism" as we call it today. And I also struggle since I am no religious scholar who can spout the Vedas, but a simple middle-class (middle-aged) woman torn by the lack of pluralism and the rise of fundamentalism in my community, my countries (of birth and citizenship), and my world. And yet I am a Hindu American raised with a strong consciousness of Hinduism's spiritual and philosophical strengths, which inspire both my activism and acceptance of what's been handed to me in life.

I am appalled by the nativist and Tea Party mentality in my nation, the lack of civil discourse across every continent. I read of Professor Sheldon Pollock at Columbia University, who has said, "Colonialism nearly killed India's capacity to know its past; globalization threatens to destroy its will." I see with dismay the rise of Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley, who deny their Dharmic roots, and others like them who spew exclusivist messages. I am troubled by aggressive proselytization in India and the unacceptable retaliation, and worried about the plight of Bhutanese refugees in America, and Hindus from Bangladesh and Pakistan. I am worried whether a generation of Hindus gobbled up by greed and globalization will be able to pass on values to their children. So I know that the world's Hindu community has far to go and much to do -- along with everyone else on the planet. The whole earth is one family -- so say the Hindu holy scriptures, the Vedas (Vasudhaiva kutumbakam).  (To continue reading, click here). 

When you return, I'd like to invite you to offer your thoughts about the place of pluralism in our country, especially in light of the First Amendment promise of Religious Freedom.

3 comments:

David Mc said...

(Peaceful) Religious freedom, and freedom from the idea of God(s). Otherwise, mind control and slavery, either way.

Padma said...

Bob, Thank you for the kind words and the connection to my essay.
Padma

Sri said...

I hail from a traditional Telugu family which follows Sanatana Dharma. I grew up in a spiritual environment i.e., where we had the opportunities to visit Vaishnavite Temples and Saivaite temples.All the while the only principle that guarded me in life is that we all belong to one religion i.e., the humanity. But today I am feeling insecure in my own land when I witness hectic proselytize activities happening in my neighborhood round the clock threatening our faiths and our freedom. I have friends who believe in faiths different from mine. I have been tolerant all my life. But I feel that my tolerance is being taken for my incompetence. This is the time for the youth of Sanatana Dharma to wake up from the deep slumber of multiplying their wealth lest they become aliens to their own faith and their own land.