What do Western atheists feel about Hinduism?

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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50 comments

  1. Well written Maria… Its sad that your post is withdrawn..

  2. No matter what. U keep spreading the good word Maria. Truth shall find its way out.

  3. Jeetendra Nayak · · Reply

    Truth will dawn eventually for all of humanity. Maria well written….

  4. Bahut kathin hai dagar panghat kee .. kathin bahut hai dagar panghat kee…

  5. Pranams Maria, i am sure you must have motivated a very large number of folks like the young girl Maria to go within on an exploration of the SELF. Prayers.

    Om Asato Maa Sad-Gamaya |
    Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya |
    Mrtyor-Maa Amrtam Gamaya |
    Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||

  6. Agree with you. But the admission by the west and islamic states would mean an identity crisis as they believe in them and us. If they accept the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumba then they will start looking at humanity as one with diverse beliefs and will find it easier to accept Vedic way of life.

  7. Quora should explain why it was withdrawn..

  8. Hinduism is not a prison as it can be defined in kitchen ready and Abraham weight it is simply a way of life where everyone can see an answer by adopting day on white and ways to masturbate girls to unravel the mystery of this world it is simply a part of super quality not reason which think you’re from travelling outside and inside you that is simply journey start from childhood and end with your death but still something left which is soul which is scientifically cannot be proved but lot of people have felt and left Behind their own experiences and no modern Sciences also tell Bean dip into it and discovering in you meaning of soul After life and spirituality relationship with Nestle forces which make your life much better is full and a p

  9. […] Source: What do Western atheists feel about Hinduism? […]

  10. great post Mariaji, I will share it within other groups, quora definitely seems biased against Hinduism

    currently where are you, its been a long time

  11. Anwesh Kaushik · · Reply

    Carry on the war against ignorance

  12. Great Post, hope you carry on, regardless.

    Those professing superiority of religion should answer why, then, there are many Nobel Laureates among the Jewish, Christian, and Hindu communities? How is it that Western countries have raced ahead by leaps and bounds in inventions and discoveries? How is it that ancient Hindu and Greek civilizations were allowed to flourish despite being polytheistic, when God or Allah have been conceived to be there before the creation? Religion is basically a belief, or faith, the way one wants to perceive the source of life energy,, and not what one must follow to realize salvation. Rituals, and teaching by custodian of faith have hijacked religious philosophy in any religion. As I have said earlier, religion is an industry, custodians are the manufacturers, and the people are consumers.

    There is no religion superior to another. Mankind was in awe at the beginning, and remains in wonder about life we all are relentlessly to find and see the Almighty! We want to transform an abstract to the gross!

    1. Quora – silicon valley based ex- Indians. Hippocracy to core. I never respected quota content.
      Hindu religion, as you write, is to be felt ( less followed) it’s a way of noble living. It takes effort to fall in love and follow Hinduism. You are fortunate that you could, true in your second visit to India and luckily interacting right people. You are blessed Ms Maria. Because I am born to Hindu patents is not enough to be a Hindu. You earned it. Great writing Ms Maria!

  13. Maria, I forgot to mention; yes, I do agree that there is only one God. There is no doubt. We call him with different names. “Ekum Sat, Vipra Bahudha Vadanti!”- there is only one truth the ascetics call it differently. That is all, and that is all there to it!

    1. But the God you are referring, when you say this, is not the God others are referring to. God has different names but the God will never send you to hell,if so, then it is something different even if you call it God.

      1. To, G Mani,
        I think there has been some confusion. I mentioned God in a generic term, and not the Christian God. Shall we say the Almighty? ok, then i intended to say that the Almighty is only one, the learned call Him by different names. And, to my reckoning heaven and hell are not places but state of mind within ourselves. These are not two halls where students are assembled to bear the consequences of his or her actions during their earthly life. It is state of mind. Believe me, when a sin is committed one experiences the pain, anguish, and suffering in life, and not wait till death to bear the consequences, dispensed by the Almighty. Heaven or hell is a state of mind, and one experiences it provided he has a developed conscience..

  14. “Keep in mind, everything calculated to advance the dissemination of truth is like poison to begin with, but like nectar in the end.” Swami Dayanand

    To begin with the truth hurts! The difficulty is how many have the patience to put up with it until the end.

  15. Asha Anand · · Reply

    I read your posts with great interest and I am always surprised to see how well you have understood Vedanta philosophy. You will be happy to know that hundreds of thousands of Indians both young and old are now interested in learning about Indian culture and philosophy in it’s pure form and not what has been fed to us by educators influenced by west. Pujya Pandurang Athavale Shastriji (Dadaji) the pioneer of Swadhyaya movement has devoted his whole life for that. I was one of the ignorant hindu that you mention but Dadaji has explained the true nature of our heritage in simple words and now I can appreciate your deep understanding.

  16. The present liberals in the West look at Hinduism with awe & the conservative, with fear. They know that this philosophy of the Vedanta is way too superior to anything the rest of the world has even come close too. Even the Greek philosophers look nascent in front of the breath-taking intellect of the Vedanta. So, they tried to credit it to the migrating white race in the now debunked ‘Aryan Theory’. Now the tactics have changed. As the average Indian knows little about his own Dharma, they denigrate it as pagan & try to convert them & on the other, they slowly appropriate the same philosophy into Christianity & claim it as their own & try to present it as a superior ideology to Hinduism. Although they succeed with the moderately knowledgeable Indian, but in front of an erudite, they use the tactic of attacking him/her personally by trying to brand them as ‘Sanghis’, right-wingers, ‘fascists’, Hindutva warrior’ etc. But as the Hindu mind becomes aware, it will just be a matter of time that it will take take it rightful place in the world-right at the top!

  17. Tulsi Bhandari · · Reply

    Thanks Maria. You have written so honestly and candidly about your love and understanding of Sanatana dharma. Yes, indeed it is amazing to watch so many beliefs thriving as rituals,traditions, ceremonies and celebrations under one umbrella. And at the same time not into any of it but live in the Nirguna. All are welcome and all s acceptable without a sign of intolerance. Please continue writing and learning. Best wishes.

  18. Loaknath Dube · · Reply

    As a rebel myself, against what passes for spirituality,, may I proffer a few words of peaceful comfort and calmness to a fellow pilgrim like your good self,in the words of the immortal poet Laureate Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore–“As the storm still seeks its end in peace when it strikes against peace with all its might,,even thus my rebellion srikes against Thy love, and still its cry is —“I want peace” ( Tagore)
    ———————————————————————————–

    Let the dogs bark and the jackasses bray as much as the want,—just be still and walk on like Gandhiji—alone, alone, all all alone, and we will meet there in peace.

  19. Ramachandran Nair · · Reply

    Thank you for your sincere interest and support to the Hindu religion. Latest quantum theory based findings are bringing the modern scientists and all rational thinking people closer and closer to the eastern religions like Hinduism, Budhism and Taosim. Dr John Hagelin’s videos like “Veda and Physics” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4u3f7_p1i8c&list=PLaDkv0wVsRHotXl7HabmSNqEkgN8D78pT) and “Look Within to Understand the Universe” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxcP0dXBxfQ) etc in youtube are very exciting to watch.

  20. Hindu Dharma is so wide and open for others to understand and accept the way they thought. I feel that is the issue with Hinduism, tomorrow I may have understood certain way and I can write about it and if the people who are reading my writing and if they think like me, then that would be the meaning of Hinduism. Our culture is so rich and have answers for so many things but that can happen only when we have a right Guru and should be available to answer our questions instantly. To be realistic, it is impossible to do it.

    Hinduism does not believe in forcing people with anything. It is practical and understanding better will open up our mind and soul also we find peace within. This is the most important thing that I learnt. Everything starts making sense. Hindu Dharma is simple and brings peace it should be spread and Hindus should be proud of themselves and learn more.

    Once I asked this great speaker when I visited India, that why they do not take action to correct the understanding of Hinduism. His answer was: If you want to get 100% in your exam, it is your responsibility to read a correct books and answer properly to the questions asked so that you can become a good doctor or engineer whatever you want to be. You do not guess the answer or what and how you understood. It makes perfect sense. Just my two cents worth.

  21. The question is, exactly what did you write that was upsetting them.

    I think anything what you say or discuss in public or in person has be politically correct when it’s come to western individuals, that’s also includes your own religion ( Hinduism ).

    They also have preconceived notions about Hinduism in west, that Hinduism is full of cultural issues that western thinkers don’t agree with and that is the reason most western educated Hindus will not discuss their religion even when they are proud of it. I myself is one of them. Like I said before I would have been an atheist if it wasn’t for the choice of Hinduism.

    I think you will have to sugar coat things about how you feel and what you think and things on what you write when it comes to western platform.

    I have feeling that you will not take in what I just said.

    1. your feeling is correct…. i won’t sugar-coat, as my language is certainly not abusive and hurtful, rather it is truthful…

  22. Chant Hare Krishna and be happy 😊✌🏼️

  23. […] What do Western atheists feel about Hinduism? | MARIA WIRTH. […]

  24. Thank you for all your work, Maria. Stay strong and well, Truth will ultimately win.

  25. Hinduism will not be intelligible unless the Sandhya Bhasha( Twilight Language) is understood.It will always be looked upon as a belief in many Gods.The fact is that all these so called Gods are symbols of reality, totally scientific in their complexion.
    As regards rapes,India is nowhere if one type-s worldwide rape statistics- in the Google search window.Lesotho is first and Sweden is second.It has become a favourite past time to bash Indians on rapes.Leslie Udwin’s film and our own warped journalists are responsible for this.Udwin’s film was about how to make it interesting by paying the rapists and their lawyers to make fantastically repulsive statements despite the fact that the rapists involved are trying to exculpate themselves in the Supreme Court.How can they confess on the screen,should have been asked by all.
    About attack on minorities–if the westerners hate even the majority of Indians as per their racist attitude,why should they even bother about the minority?And now they themselves are worried about the Muslim refugees –unless of course they are the lunatic Leftists who have had sexual relations with many of the French refugee camp residents. There is thus no point trying to convince already prejudiced people.We need to somehow stop rapes with massive police women,trained in unarmed combat as well as carrying weapons and patrolling the streets 24×365( difficult but not impossible),teaching martial arts to all school girls( at least there will be some resistance offered till help arrives) and being vigilant.Feministic screams–respect women,don’t rape,no means no are not going to be listened to by the monsters,and establishing very severe punishment with fast track courts–irrespective of the age of the convict.

  26. Please share your experience with all the sages. And are any of those one of our ancient sages, those mentioned in our scriptures?

    1. please check the blog, there are articles about Anandamayi Ma, Devraha Baba, Swami Chinmayananda…

  27. Maria, you are doing a wonderful work, keep it up. Hinduism has not one particular scripture, there are many, and in this diversity one posits his or her devotion to humanity. That is the beauty of Hinduism. All shlokas and sermons wish for love and peace for the whole humanity, it is not parochial. One may practice any way it all leads to emancipation of all. Concept of humanity pervades all!

  28. subramani · · Reply

    I think by using the term GOD in Hinduism, Hindu’s will be handicapped when explaining “Ishwara” or “BHagawan”. The Christian concept of GOD is loosely (Generation/Creation, Operation, Destruction). Hindu GOD = Generation/Creation/Operation/Destruction/Delusion/Liberation. Same goes with Soul and Atma. Calling “Atma” soul is like a handicap for the Hindu. Hindu’s also unconciously seek attestation from western institutions about Hinduism (If NASA/Harvard likes Sanskrit and Yoga then we should be proud). What Hindu’s need is to “ANCHOR” their belief and desires in Hinduism (Any sampradaya that accepts Vedas as supreme) and then look at other things based on their sampradaya to accept/reject it. E.g. I won’t eat meat because my sampradaya things it is abhorrent vs my sampradaya is cool because Harvard researchers found vegetarianism is healthy!! This is a HUGE shift that needs to happen for Hindu’s to be taken seriously. Otherwise we will always remain the apolegitic (I hope they don’t find us strange and disgusting) mental being.

  29. There are dogmatic Buddhists, no doubt, but not because the Buddha said to only follow his teachings. His only concern was for ending suffering & understanding how it is created. He said (in a variety of ways) ‘these things worked for me, try them out, if they work for you keep at them,if they don’t then try this or this or this……. He taught that the questions of multiple lifetimes & whether god exists only matter to the extent that they help dispel misery. His main teaching was to experiment til you find the ways that transform your mind into not-creating-suffering. Across 2,500 years & multiple cultures, a plethora of practices have developed toward that end, for every kind of intellect, every level of understanding. That’s not very dogmatic.

    1. Buddhism does not offer the complete picture as Vedanta does. This can be known by one who went wholeheartedly into Buddhism only to be left “swinging in wind” but certain that still there was some piece missing. Finally by ‘daivam’ I was carried to Vedanta and the picture is complete. I am a western female raised in Christianity and, as lovely as some of it is, it is but a mere hopeful whisper compared to the Vedanta. If one remains steadfast in the shade of this glorious tree, even the ignorance of mithya fades to a remote buzzing.

      “Vedanta does not promise a salvation to the soul. In its vision, the soul is already free from any limitation. Freedom from limitation (moksa) is a fact and the release of the individual from this sense of limitation is the outcome of understanding the equation, ‘tat tvam asi’ (that thou art).”
      -Swami Dayananda Saraswati

      1. I like the idea, philosophy that we are already free of any limitation. If only I would ‘live’ the truth of others, haha

      2. bodhisARTva, you have misunderstood.

  30. […] This article was originally published HERE. […]

  31. Nice post. Lots of the things you mentioned about hinduism and other things. It will be nice to learn some thing from your end. I have also a blog http://www.somethinginbharat.in I want to share some thing about indian Sega’s . Hopefully you will guide me.

  32. Mariaji, You are a gift to mankind. Keep spreading the truth !

    1. thank u for the encouragement…

  33. Vedanta does not offer moksha but it offers to know more about life and the soul. As against the sankhya philosophy it posits its concept on uniqueness of the life energy. That is my understanding.

    1. Your understanding is in error. Vedanta offers knowledge of life and the soul….and it offers moksha.

  34. Written very nicely mam. We humans forget that there is one creator and we call Him with different names

  35. This is very lucid,yet very profound.

    Hinduism is not a dogma. It is an eternal search for the unknown,and very subtly comes to the core.Search within.Na Ithi, Na Ithi, meaning not this, not this. And surprisingly the seeker gets the answer from within.The subtle answer is that every where, is not different from what is within .The oneness of universal self, and self. Aham Brahmosmi.The Divine oneness of the whole universe.

    So where is the conflict.The freedom to search is given to every one. It is lonely journey seeking Truth.The Dogmatic religions such as Islam& Christianity which, never given to the individual to dissent, led to Jihads and crusades, and are still continuing. in the Middle East and elseware.They are now looking for easy prey.That is way Christianity and islam found its target in Hinduism,as easy prey.
    The English educated Hindu lost his moorings and developed contempt, for his identity,for his cultur and of coursr the root of that identity Hinduism. No wonder , the English media channels, both electronic and print choose to attack every Hindu belief . They are Don quixotes fighting the wind mills of non eistant Hindu fanatism.One reason is these bullies lack courage to ataack , the other two religions, because the reaction is swift and perhaps Bloody.So it is fashionable to attack,the peaceful, intellectually profound Hindus, who believed in Vasudhaika Kutumbakam, were put to death by maruaders who came in different garbs, in the earlier times and now by the pseudo secular gangs of politicians, communists,the “Intolerant Brigades” of all shades.

    The greatest Regret, I as one who believes in the Hindu way of life have is, however noble, peaceful you are, when it comes to facing Fanatics ,you need to arm yourself and fight your way.Thai is the existential Reality,we Hindus even today should not ignore.Ignore only to our peril.

  36. Hi Maria,

    You write good content. Please ignore Quora. That website had quality during 1990s. Now, the quality has gone amply down. So, their anger is justified.

  37. Well brought out. That is why there is colossal effort that is required to organise Hindu society.

  38. I am astonished to read your blog about Indian Dharmas, especially Sanatan Dharma.
    After reading your block, I must say that your are one of those few foreigners who see Indian Dharmas from a different point of view unlike others who confine Sanatan Dharma to Shiva or Krishna.
    I also request readers to be non biased before reading her blog about Sanatan Dharma because she has written all those things after self realisation. Dont praise her for good things spoken about Sanatan Dharma, praise her fro the non biased views on Sanatan Dharma.
    Also , readers can be critical of any of her points.

  39. Very well informed reflections yours is Maria. There are no believers in Sanatana Dharma, only seekers of truth, which sums up the difference between it and Semitic religions.

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