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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Hinduism 101

Hinduism 101: Many faces of the divine
Connections: Workshop hopes to clear up misconceptions on a religion filled with colorful imagery


09:08 AM CST on Saturday, February 24, 2007

By LAURA SCHREIER / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

Popular misconception No. 1: Hinduism is a polytheistic religion.
Not so, said Dr. Hasmukh Shah, a Plano heart surgeon who teaches young members of the DFW Hindu Temple.
Non-Hindus see the statues of elephants, monkeys and multiarmed men and assume that Hinduism has a pantheon like that of ancient Greece, Dr. Shah said, but the images are in fact considered to represent incarnations of one supreme being.

Dr. Shah uses a human comparison to explain: "I'm a grandfather to my grandchildren, father to my children, husband to my wife – but I'm the same person."

It's a vastly complex religion, he said, but those who attend "Understanding Hinduism" on Sunday should get a grasp on the basics and clear up such misconceptions.

The Foundation for Pluralism, a Dallas-based interfaith organization, will host the workshop at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 14315 Midway Road in Addison. Organizer Mike Ghouse, who founded the group and is the event's moderator, said this workshop will cover the origins of Hinduism, the concept of rebirth, India's caste system and more.

He estimates that North Texas has 50,000 to 55,000 Hindus.

"Understanding Hinduism" is part of a series of workshops that resemble a World Religions 101 course. Last month was "Understanding Islam," and next month will be "Understanding Judaism."

The point is to create understanding among people of different faiths, Mr. Ghouse said – "just so we know the various unique ways the Lord is worshipped."

Mr. Ghouse grew up in India, which has long struggled with violence between the Hindu majority and the Muslim minority. He said he saw some parents reinforce those ideas of hate and malice in their children; he was lucky enough to have been raised differently.

Whenever riots or attacks between the two groups broke out in his youth, he said, his parents wouldn't take one side or another. They would merely describe it as the evil activity of a few that was spreading. They taught acceptance and love, he said, and that stuck with him.

Dr. Shah and the Swami Nityananda Prabhu, president of the Hare Krishna Temple in Dallas, will present brief lectures on Hinduism, and a question-and-answer session will follow. Mr. Ghouse expects about 100 people to attend.



The Foundation for Pluralism will host a free workshop "Understanding Hinduism" on Sunday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 14315 Midway Road in Addison. The event begins at 6 p.m., and those who wish to attend must R.S.V.P. to confirm attendance@gmail.com. A question-and-answer session will follow presentations.


Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio, discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He has appeared on the local affiliates of CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, PBS and FOX and has been written up in the news papers. He founded the World Muslim Congress with a simple theme " good for Muslims - good for the world." The organization is driven by Qur'aan, Al-Hujurat, Surah 49:13: O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. The noblest of you, in sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Allah Knows and is Aware. Mike believes that if people can learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of the 7 billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. His articles can be found at www.FoundationforPluralism.com , and www.Mikeghouse.net , http://mikeghouse.sulekha.com/ and he can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com

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