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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Hinduism and American Pluralism.

HINDUISM & AMERICAN PLURALISM

Mike Ghouse

What role does Hinduism play in the emerging pluralistic society? The author Jakob De Roover explores it well in the following article (after my comments)

It is critical that, we the theists and the atheists get involved in the interfaith activities to begin with. To create a harmonious society, we ought to take the initiative and not wait for things to happen. We got to be involved in attending weddings, funerals, social events, dinners, festivities, birthdays etc. The more we know each other, the fewer problems we will have. We should not wait for others to stretch the hand, we need to get up and be a part of the system.

The Foundation for Pluralism was created to bring semblance to co-existence. It has taken the initiative to present all religions in its programs. The goal is to bring people of different faiths together and provide a platform for them to share about their beliefs, their systems and rituals, while expanding the knowledge zone of each group. The more we co-exist harmoniously, the brighter the future would be, for all.

There is nothing in it for me friends, except the joy of the Mukti from prejudices. I have put in a whole lot of money out of my pocket and spend hours and hours on these programs. I have not sought any business nor has any one given any. This is purely what I feel, I should do. As they say, it is my calling.

The radio programs that I did for years, and the programs I have done one KRLD and the 1360 Business Radio, in my newspaper I published or any event I have done, I have always included every faith with the intention of building bridges. Even the letters that I have written to Dallas Morning News, I have included other faiths. (The above two paragraphs are in response to two extremists who think I am doing this to promote my business, which I have not done in any of my emails. Thanks God, no one can say that they have given business to me because of this). My personal faith teaches me to honor every human that God has created. I do take a strong stand against those who are exclusivist and fascists. I am open to talking with extremists from all groups, because, ultimately Satyemeva Jayate.

We have set up this program to promote understanding; there will be one for each faith, a month.

We hope at least 10% of the attendees would walk out with an open mind and an open heart towards their fellow beings. It is difficult to shed the prejudices, but once we do, there is genuine freedom (Mukti, Moksha, Salvation, Nirvana.) in it.

UNDERSTANDING HINDUISM: Sunday, Feb 25, 2007 @6 PM Everything you wanted to know about Hinduism, you can learn about it in this workshop.

As with all faiths, misunderstandings, myths and mis-information are part of Hinduism as well. Learn about it. Learn about the diversity within the faith. The event is at Crowne Plaza Hotel, 14315 Midway Road, Addison, TX 75001. You MUST RSVP to: ConfirmAttendance@gmail.com

We have received 4 essays on Hinduism so far, and looking forward to more.
Several topics have been suggested by our readers, and all of them are good, and are worth discussing and learning and will be taken up. By the way, every one thinks their topic is the one to be talked about and I agree with them. We just have to queue them.

Caste System is the one of the most misunderstood aspects of Hinduism. I hope you’d agree with it. All of us need to learn so we can truly understand its range and depth from the scholars in Hinduism. It is an open program.

When we put Sharia as the topic to learn about Islam – The same question was asked by Muslims around, Why Sharia? The answer remains the same.

No matter what topic you pick, the questions will be the same and answer would be the same. If you have 40 hours a week to listen to all the topics, we can do a weeklong seminar… no one has the time. We can only chew one item at a time and ... just a few people at a time can do that.
One of the things all of us need to work on is “Not to assume and ascribe ill-intent to any step that any one takes to understand an issue”.

Essay does not ask for anything in specific, it simply calls for every one’s understanding of Hinduism. During the program our scholars will be addressing any question including Caste system or other questions that may come up in the 30 minutes time we have as a part of the program.

To do full justice - we need a whole day. How many will come? We just have to learn to be precise.

Mike Ghouse
http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/
http://www.worldmuslimcongress.com/
www.MikeGhouse.net

Paganism and American Pluralism

The India Forum has published an article by Jakob De Roover (a post-doc fellow at Ghent University) concerning the future of "pagans" from India (or NRIs Non-Resident Indians) within the context of American pluralism. De Roover points out that the American idea of pluralism (the affirmation and acceptance of diversity) is strongly rooted in Protestant Christianity and will not accept non-monotheistic "pagans" easily."...the American model of pluralism is unable to accommodate these pagan traditions.

This is the case, because its structure has emerged from a co-existence of Protestant denominations. Maximally, the resulting model could encompass other variants of the religions of the book: Catholicism, Judaism and Islam. Incorporating the pagan traditions of India, however, will require a fundamental rethinking of American pluralism.

"De Roover uses the California Hindu textbook controversy as an example of the problems facing the religious accommodation of Hindus in America, and shows how the American version of pluralism tries to make non-monotheistic religions reshape into a more recognizable Protestant form.

"The structure of American pluralism and the nature of the Hindu traditions give rise to two options. These options present themselves as routes that can be traveled by the NRI community in the coming years. On the one hand, the pagan traditions of India could renounce their true nature and transform themselves into variants of biblical religion. Then they will soon fit in as well in the American model of pluralism as the Jews and Muslims. On the other hand, these pagan traditions can remain true to their nature and explicitly represent themselves as completely different from the religions of the book. Then they will turn into a major challenge to American pluralism: the very structure of this model will require rethinking in order to accommodate the Hindu traditions.

"According to the article, the route taken by prominent American Hindu groups is one of transformation in order to make themselves less "pagan" seeming."

A limited number of foundations have been appointed (or have appointed themselves) as the representatives of the Hindu traditions in the U.S.: the Hindu American Foundation and the Vedic Foundation are most prominent. These foundations play according to the rules of the notions of church and religion that are intrinsic to American pluralism. They challenge the unfair portrayal of the Hindu traditions in the American educational system. But they do so in a manner which advances the transformation of these traditions into inferior variants of Christianity.

They intend to present the true doctrines of Hinduism and do so by making it look respectable to American Protestants. That is, the many devatas are transformed into different ways of worshiping the one true God. Hinduism becomes a proper monotheistic faith. A variety of pagan Indian traditions are excluded because they are embarrassing to the sanitized biblical model of American pluralism.

"This discussion is hugely important, not only for Hindus living in America, but for the variety of modern Pagan faiths and traditions. In fact this very discussion has been ongoing in our community in debates over Pagan participation in Unitarian-Universalism and other congregational models. Do we retain our essential "pagan-ness" or do we, over time, slowly mold into an more acceptable form so that we can reap the benefits of the more mainstream monotheistic faiths? If congregational models become the "mainstream" of modern Paganism, are they even "pagan" any longer?

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