What do Western Atheists feel about Hinduism?

By Maria Wirth via mariawirthblog.wordpress.com published on October 22, 2016

It seems truth cannot be told anymore. I had written an answer to the above question on quora, but after over 11k views it was taken down, allegedly violating the “be nice, be respectful” policy. I cannot see anything objectionable in my answer. Why would they let it ‘collapse’?

Here is the text:

Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma is least dogmatic (Buddhism is more dogmatic as it follows what Buddha said and Buddha was only one of numerous Hindu sages). And of course it is completely different from Christianity and Islam. If those two big religions are the norm, then Hinduism should not even be called a religion.

However, it is not easy for a foreigner to get to the core of Hinduism. One reason is that we hear mainly bad things about Hinduism in the west and another is that Hindus don’t go out of their way to explain. In fact, many of them, especially the English educated, know themselves pretty little about their tradition as it was demeaned under British rule and even after Independence.

Only recently more Hindus realize its worth and this may fluster the Christian west. I guess it’s because at least some westerners know that Hinduism can pose a real challenge to their “blind- belief- in- divisive- dogma religions”. And again there is this increased effort in recent times to demean India in general and Hindus in particular – whether it is by shouting “rape” or “attack on minorities”. Both charges are very unfair if seen in relation.

I was on my way to become an atheist, as I couldn’t believe anymore what the Church told us to believe, and the Christian God simply couldn’t be true, sending non-Christians summarily into hell. And what about all those who lived before Christ was born? Anyway, it’s easy to see why one can lose faith in dogmatic religions and the Christian God.

On my first trip to India I didn’t understand a thing about Hinduism. Only on my second trip (which was intended as a stopover) I came by chance into contact with two great sages and then slowly went deeper, started reading, reflecting, meditating…

It all made immensely sense: naturally there must be some great power/intelligence behind and beyond this universe – the inner ruler of the big and the small. It makes sense that the meaning of life is to discover That in oneself. If it is there (and it makes sense that it is there), then of course it makes sense to put my focus in life foremost on That.

From then on, it is not only intellectual enquiry but also experience. If I say that Bhakti, devotion to that great power, is a natural outcome of putting one’s focus on it, many may not agree because intellect alone can’t get there. One needs to genuinely want to know the truth about ourselves for the truth sake.

Unfortunately, for many in the west “God” has such negative connotation thanks to the Church that they don’t have an open mind even towards “Brahman” (big, expanding), as they may feel that “God’ comes in again through the back door. Yet the Hindu concept of the Highest is scientific. “Veda” – the most ancient Hindu scriptures – means knowledge. The analysis of us and the universe by the rishis is mind-boggling and the ways to connect with that power in present day Hinduism are amazingly colourful and joyful.

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Responses

  1. Raj Puducode Reply

    December 9, 2016 at 3:20 am

    A game of football is played by two teams, with each team striving to score a goal by shooting the ball to the goal post. Life is also a game between the two goal posts of secular and spiritual education. While playing football, one kicks the ball as long as it is filled with air. Once the football is deflated, no one will kick it. The air in the football signifies the presence of ego. A person swayed by ego would have to receive blows until they become devoid of ego. Only a deflated ball is picked up by the hands, whereas an inflated ball is kicked mercilessly. Similarly, a person who has destroyed the ego is well respected, whereas the person who allows free sway of ego becomes the target of all sorts of attacks. Only when you are free from ego can you transform yourself into an ideal person. Secular things come and go, whereas spiritual gains stay forever

  2. Raj Puducode Reply

    December 22, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    Great article Maria Wirth. You are one of very few who has taken time to learn & understand the religion of “Hinduism” just like the great Romain Rolland. It is generally totally different to the concept of Religion & God in the west. For the Semitic religions it is just this one life & at the end one goes to heaven or hell. It is narrow, restrictive, constrictive and does not stand reason or questioning.

  3. Gopalan M Reply

    January 14, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    The rift between modern science and the world religions is over the concept of God. Religions of books, project god as a superhuman which modern science reject .Bible says that the god created this universe in 6 days and on the 7th day he chose to take rest .Such stories or theories are not acceptable to modern science, Science asserts that god has no role in the creation of this world ,and this world came into existence due to chemical reaction.Hinduism teaches that god is not human being, a pure form of energy. science too agrees that the god is unified field of energy ,is consciousness and now concedes to the fact that it is super intelligent consciousness, Hinduism says same thing .So the science has changed it’s attitude towards religions because of Hindu holy scriptures and started looking for god particles. Thus the western world has gradually started accepting Hinduism as true religion and modern scientists are coming closer towards Hinduism..

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