What attracts Westerners towards Hinduism

A lot of westerners are drawn towards the Vedic Dharma and have found an inner peace in them. Their number continues to increase for the good of all and then naturally, the question arises – Why? What is attracting them towards Hinduism as its most commonly and erroneously being called or the Sanatana Dharma?  What makes them leave their most comfortable and advanced countries and come to India for a search within? What are the possible reasons for them to think that this Vedic way of life is what they’ve been looking for? This article reviews some of the important factors on the same and emphasizes the Vedas as the supreme yardstick of reference. This article also hopes that the citizens of India continue to look upon Westerners, who are looking at our glory and thereby realize our own greatness.


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Sanatana Dharma & Information Technology

I happened to meet an interesting person who is a specialist in the domain of IT. From the many different topics we discussed, an interesting one about Hinduism came out. He began to relate Hinduism with terminologies commonly used in Information Technology. The interesting talk that we had is gladly being presented here. For those who feel the terms to be Greek and Latin, please check the end of this article for an amateur’s definitions about them. You can read this article first and later re-read it with those derivations and appreciate how well it matches :). Enjoy!
 
I had this thought about Hinduism, although might sound funny at first, its matching terminology with that we have in IT. It is so wonderful how they conceived such great thoughts so long ago and formulated a system (Dharma) which can be both the oldest and the newest, all at the same time.
 
Sounds interesting.
 
Yeah, see here, we talk about Fault Tolerance a lot. I think Hinduism has built in Fault-Tolerance. By saying this, I don’t literally mean that the system (Hinduism) has failures as in IT term which means that it continues to run even when some part of the system fails. But how it continues to run even when it is faced acute threat from external sources, I meant.
   
 
As you may know, Hinduism faced times where in its people were threatened to be killed or forcibly got converted if they wish to live. Even then, it survived through the constant appearance of preceptors who rise from time to time and by those honest common-men and women who incessantly followed through however little in number, which is phenomenal.
 
Hmm!
 
It has RAID built-in, which means its ideals and philosophies are distributed across various means (levels) which can be recovered even if its lost.
(eg) have you read Siddha’s songs that deliver deeper meaning when looked deeper yet providing simple truths and analogies from the surface? If you read it plainly, it does not seem to contain anything in depth, but if you know the inner meaning, it leaves you awestruck. 
 
 
Another example is the rangoli’s that we put in front of our houses. They are remarkable symbols of energy, as said by one of my Reiki master.
 
Built in backup. The Vedas are a perfect example. They are NOT books, they were NOT written, but were perceived and realized by sages. They say that one who is good at this science can actually listen to the vedic verses even now, which are in the ether (cloud computing! – available in the cloud, at all times – hey, don’t make fun of me, but I find this whole thing very interesting). It was Sage Vishwamithra who said that the universe is reverberating with the sound OM and it is said that one can hear it during their advancement in meditation.
 
No, no! Please go on, I find it interesting too.
 
Extensive support – here too, we get exceptional support from various sources, Parents to be the foremost, followed closely by the Guru, and with such a massive awakening of Hindus initiated by greatest men like Adi Shankaracharya, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda, our Saint of Kanchi (Paramacharya), Sri Ramana, The Buddha,  (..and he goes on naming the great souls of India which will require another long endless post so I present just a few of their names here). What marvelous souls are they? They came in for the salvation of the poor and they lived only for that. They provided support to the downtrodden masses like anything. I sometimes feel very primitive and tiny before the compassion and knowledge they all had! (he keeps his head down, in deep thinking…and in a while…) – Hmm..!
 
These souls put forth greatest truths in such simple terms and they marvelously have interwoven them in our day to day practices. Have you ever wondered why we show camphor to our Gods?
 
Yeah sort of, but I would love to hear it from you.
 
(smiles) You too are a perfect IT guy, who says ‘I don’t know’ in polished terms. The camphor represents our ego. When we burn it, we get to see our soul. This is why they show arathi in temples to the Murthy, who is dark (like the soul is behind the dark veil) to tell us ‘burn thy ego to witness thy self’
 
 
 Image Courtesy – Flickr
 
Whoa, that’s a wonderful thought. I use to think why these people burn camphor making the whole place stained black etc. Hmm…I feel I am so primitive now!
 
It is scalable, meaning it has place for everything, everyone and continues to grow more. Great thinker, philosopher, saint, blind-folded follower of rituals, superstitious (their superstitions are derived out of the ignorance but not from the system), everyone has their place here. More scientific revelations are paving more clarity to the followers accelerating growth. Have you checked SSRF and IISH? They come up with excellent articles on meditation, chanting and they urge you to study the Sanatana Dharma, question it and understand it, so as to follow through, thoroughly.
 
 
 
Based on requirements (individuals who question everything can follow the Gnana Yoga, ones who are devoted can follow Bhakti yoga and the likewise), one can choose the path that suits them. Sanatana Dharma does not expect the same coat to be fit in every Tom Dick and Harry. We are different and so is our perception, style and level of maturity. Fascinating too is that even the atheists do have a part. They are the ones who follow the stronger ‘Nethi Bhava’, which is negating the non-real by saying ‘not this, not this’ till they find the absolute truth. This falls under the broader category of Gnana Yoga, yoga of discrimination.
 
To sum up, I would say, Sanatana Dharma (aka Hinduism as it is commonly misinterpreted) is the perfect, state-of-the-art, Open Source  system ever. If we think of copyrighting the whole lot of truths laid down by Sanatana Dharma, its unimaginable since the very foundation of our human evolution, like Indus Valley Civilization and the Vedic period, seems to have erupted from this! The truth is laid down before you. You are free to test it, question it and validate it, and realize yourself. Sometimes it is modified by people to suit their comfort also (a not-so-great part however). By open source, I just mean the extensive source of knowledge is available to rich and poor alike. This is a system that seems to have benefited the poor more than the rich. I think India as a whole must start its Open Source methodology to solve its current problems.
 
This is a marvelous analogy. Thank you for sharing it with me. It was wonderful listening to you about it.
 
I am not sure if you’re thinking ‘this guy’s system (pointing his head), must have crashed’ but I enjoyed chatting with you too! 🙂
 
 
Terminologies and their IT derivations:
Fault Tolerance – the design which enables a system to continue operation, even at a possibly reduced level, rather than failing completely when some part of the system fails.
 
RAID – Redundant Array of Independent (as opposed to inexpensive, which is matching too) Disks. It is a storage technology that combines multiple disk drive components into a logical unit. Data is distributed across the drives in one of several ways called “RAID levels”, depending on what level of redundancy and performance (via parallel communication) is required.
 
Backup – It simply means to have a safe copy of your data that you find important. It is usually stored elsewhere, like in an external hard disks, internet (SkyDrive from Microsoft) and the likewise.
 
Scalable – how well a system enables addition or growth, like adding more hardware to an existing setup.
 
Open Source – is a philosophy or pragmatic methodology that promotes free redistribution and access to an end product’s design and implementation details, the product is free to be used (like free food)

Questioning – a vital base of Sanatana Dharma

 Perhaps, the core of Sanatana Dharma is solidified with this very attribute of Questioning. It is only by questioning, inquiring that one learns. It is also a proof to good listening, to ask good questions. Quite interestingly, almost any form of thought which is directed to learning is a question. Our ancestors used this natural way of the mind to imbibe their teachings. They not only encourage us question them, but dares us to challenge their claims!

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Our Puranas illustrate a lot of dialogues between characters. Be it Yudhisthira answering the Yaksha’s questions in the Mahabharata or Arjuna questioning the Lord Himself through which the wonderful Gita was uttered by Lord Krishna, or Nachiketa questioning the Lord of Death to know what the absolute truth is, our Dharma encourages us to question more. It is said that the Vedas are a compiled formation of questions and answers.

The present is echoed with a lot of questions raised (thankfully) by our younger generation, by the non-believers and on-lookers, urging us to check our authentic references for answers. It is a common misconception that the young ones question a lot and they don’t quite follow what has been said. Contrary to this, given the proper answer, they are clear and keen on following something than the skimmers and old ones who will know some facts here and there and quote it during their meetings with foreigners only to show off. They seldom know that the foreigners know much deeper about Sanatana Dharma than themselves.

Coming back, the guru-shishya (guru-disciple) parampara is a wonderful method of questioning and enlightening the inquisitive mind. The guru not only answers, but propels the student to question more, thereby expanding his field of knowledge. The children are to be taken as a role model in questioning. They question everything and don’t pollute their minds with unwanted blocks. They question what they don’t know, what interests them, simple. The very first of Lord Buddha’s eightfold path is ‘Right View’, which means to see and understand things as they really are. Needless to say, asking the right questions will help one get the real view about something.

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Here is an excerpt from Adi Shankaracharya’s Prashnothara Ratna Malika, a wonderful name which means Gem-Garland of Questions & Answers!

” Oh Lord! Which is to be taken?

The utterances of the Guru (Guruvachanam!)

The next question naturally is…

“Who is a Guru?

“One who has realized the truth and ever strives for the good of the disciple”

Today, in the myriads of corporate gurus and self-proclaimed gurus, the above answer can be easily read as “the one who never cares for the good of the disciple”. So care must be taken in posting the right question and to find the right Guru. Though this looks like a daunting task, it is said in the scriptures that for the right student who yearns for the guru, the right Guru will appear. Till then, keep your eligibility criteria under check and beware of the pseudo and boasting ones who call themselves as modern-age gurus.

Let’s ask right questions to get the right answers and never stop till we get it.