Common misconsceptions about Hinduism

Discussion in 'Hinduism' started by Senthil, Aug 15, 2014.

  1. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Search, be your own guru.

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2012
    Messages:
    1,132
    Likes Received:
    132
    You mean we learnt to be non-vegetarian from the British? "D
     
  2. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2014
    Messages:
    3,194
    Likes Received:
    726
    There sure are a lot of misconceptions about Hinduism. I must confess, up to about 25 years ago I believed most of them. One of the most common in my area is the notion that Arabs and Indians are all of the same faith. It wasn't until I got married, to a Hindu living in Fiji, that I knew the difference myself.

    Through interacting with my wife's family and other members of the Hindu community however, I've built up an enormous respect for this diverse religion. Now, the Hindus of Fiji have some rather odd misconceptions about Christianity as well. Like, anyone converting to Christian must eat beef. Christians can't participate in Hindu prayer services or eat fruit and other offering used in those services. It is prohibited for a Christian to say the word, 'Namaste' or for a Hindu to utter the word 'Amen'.

    The surprising thing is, where these misconceptions come from. They are actually taught by the Methodist church there. As it turns out, the Hindus of Fiji had a pretty good idea of what Christianity was long before the Methodist influence. Now however, there is much confusion that I and one of the local Hindu Pandits have been trying to sort out for years.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2015
  3. Senthil

    Senthil Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2010
    Messages:
    524
    Likes Received:
    78
    NJ, you are indirectly addressing one of the misconceptions I had in this thread earlier, and that's not addressing our diversity. Because of a lack of money I suppose. Many Hindus themselves haven't explored beyond their village, and I mean that mentally as well as physically. So they mistakenly figure all of Hinduism is like theirs. So you're very familiar with Fijian Hinduism (of the Hindi North Indian variety I'm guessing) ... far moreso than I would be. But Hinduism has 20 + languages over 20 million speakers, dozens of styles, many variations in temple worship and style, etc. So the ethnocentricity can be overwhelming, so much so that some Hindus actually believe they're seeing a different religion when they enter a temple of a different sect. For example, I've seen South Indians mistake North Indian style temples to be mosques ... from the outside, simply because of the architecture.

    As far as non-Hindus go, it becomes a greater misconception, because the first Hindu you get to know becomes quite naturally , your version of Hinduism. I'm sure your wife and her family are fine examples of Hinduism, but certainly not representative of all of us, cause that just doesn't happen. I'm beginning to feel like recommending newcomers to our faith, and seekers to go to 3 or 4 Hindu temples, instead of just one, just for this reason alone.
     
  4. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Messages:
    21,270
    Likes Received:
    1,689
    Do the varieties of Hinduism argue like the denominations of Christianity?
     
  5. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2014
    Messages:
    3,194
    Likes Received:
    726
    Indeed. I'm well aware of this, that's why I specifically said where the Hindus I was talking about are from, but even within Fiji there is much diversity among Hindus. Most are from the North or Southern regions of India, but the Punjab is also represented with both Sikh and Muslim faiths.

    W!l... In Fiji, just like Christians, some Hindus of differing beliefs do squabble at times, but are for the most part very tolerant of one another. Within my wife's family there are many mixed marriages involving different sects. There's even a few Hindu-Muslim combinations. As Senthil points out, Hinduism is a very diverse religion. It's hard to find 2 Hindus even within the same sect that practice their faith in exactly the same way.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2015
  6. Senthil

    Senthil Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2010
    Messages:
    524
    Likes Received:
    78
    Some more than others. Not most though. Most believe in an overall Hindu brotherhood. One of the most common is a particular school of converts, mostly from Christianity, who forgot to drop that aspect of life (including the need to convert) when they adopted Hinduism.
     
  7. Senthil

    Senthil Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2010
    Messages:
    524
    Likes Received:
    78
    So, NJ, just what do you know about the rest of us, outside of the Fijian style Hinduism? Have you been to Swaminarayan, or Sri Lankan built temples, for example? Here, the Fijians are one of the few groups that will actually even go to all the temples, their own, the Sai ones, the South Indian one, etc. Well, there is one exception. They won't go to the other Fijian temple. There are 2 and there are 2 because of a fairly nasty split. So the grudges from the split are still there.
     
  8. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2014
    Messages:
    3,194
    Likes Received:
    726
    Let me just say, I have a very good working knowledge of Hinduism in general, but I do not profess to be an expert on every little nuance and variation.

    To answer your question, their is a large Shri Swaminarayan Mandir not far from me, but I have never been there. Temple worship is not a big part of Hinduism in Fiji. Most Hindus practice there faith at home sending for the Pandit when necessary to conduct special services, like weddings, funerals, Roth, Katha, etc.

    Apart from the Sri Siva Subrahmaniya Swami Temple in Nadi, most Hindu Temples in Fiji are small private facilities that one or two families use for daily puja. There is generally many different deities represented, but no single deity presiding. From the outside they look more like a small Christian chapel than a Hindu Temple. The one I built here follows that model.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2015
  9. Senthil

    Senthil Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2010
    Messages:
    524
    Likes Received:
    78
    Thanks, NJ. Pretty much what I figured.
     
  10. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2014
    Messages:
    3,194
    Likes Received:
    726
    So, what Hindu sect do you belong to? In Fiji, there are 2 main groups of Hindus. The descendants of those originally brought over during British rule as indentured laborers, who represent the majority of Fiji's Hindu population and those who came later, primarily Gujarati and Punjabi, for business and professional opportunities.

    The main sects represented are, Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism, and Smarta. Later arrivals are more inclined to identify themselves this way though. Whereas the main population of Hindus tend to blend elements of all 4 sects into their religious practice and simply identify themselves as Hindu or Sanatana Dharma. There is also a small Arya Samaj influence in Fiji.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2015
  11. Senthil

    Senthil Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2010
    Messages:
    524
    Likes Received:
    78
    I'm of the Nandinatha sampradaya of monistic Saiva Siddhanta within Saivism. But I make it a personal point to understand the diversity, at least the basics. So I practice a 'unity in diversity' and a narrow pinpointed POV at the same time. The practice of Hindu Solidarity has led me to about 40 temples in North America, and at least 100 world-wide. But I've also done a vrata where I attended the same local Saiva temple every day for 365 days. (Well not quite ... the vow was actually worded as 365 times within 365 days, so if I missed a day, I'd go twice on a day in the future.)
     
  12. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2014
    Messages:
    3,194
    Likes Received:
    726
    Oh, ok thanks. I'm vaguely familiar. One of my wife's sister-in-laws has very similar religious practice and belief. She's of South Indian origin. By the way, (Happy Ram Navami).
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2015
  13. Senthil

    Senthil Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2010
    Messages:
    524
    Likes Received:
    78
    Perfect example of my explanation, actually. I don't celebrate that particular festival, as I'm Saivite, but I'll say thank you anyway, as have heard about it. Just as I could wish you Merry Christmas if I felt like it, cause I know you're a Christian. More like if if I wished you Happy Hanukkah, in my ignorance thinking all Abrahamics celebrate the same festival.

    But yes that's another misconception ... being that all Hindus celebrate all festivals. The next major one I'll actually celebrate is New Year's on April 16. (That would be Tamil New Year)
     
  14. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2014
    Messages:
    3,194
    Likes Received:
    726
    No misconception on my part. Nor ignorance. I offered the salutation because Ram Navami is being celebrated now and you had earlier mentioned that you are in the practice of Hindu Solidarity. Apparently, I should have put more emphasis on the 'Narrow pinpointed POV' comment in your post. My mistake. I would happily accept a Happy Hanukkah by the way. I respect all faiths.
     
  15. Senthil

    Senthil Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2010
    Messages:
    524
    Likes Received:
    78
    That's true, I did. But it is still a misconception by many non-Hindus and Sanatani or Liberal Hindus alike. Most often Hindu individuals just think their version is the only one. (Some Fijians, too, but not all.) The proof of that is they 'had' to build their own temples, as the other existing ones just wouldn't do. Either the existing ones (at the time) did discriminate against Fijians, or the Fijians just felt they did. I'm a bit of an odd duck, celebrating the diversity the way I do. For some Christians, I believe Easter is more important than Christmas. And since misconception is the theme of this thread, it fits right in.
     
  16. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Search, be your own guru.

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2012
    Messages:
    1,132
    Likes Received:
    132
    Well, always nice to have a new temple. Otherwise all temples can do - Indian, Fijian, Sri Lankan, etc. Would they have any other deities than Vishnu, Shiva, Murugan or Hanuman?
     
  17. bhaktajan

    bhaktajan Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2009
    Messages:
    1,594
    Likes Received:
    10
    Cow is Mother ---Figuratively, literally and practically. Her protection is a prime purpose of Kshatrya dharma.

    "NOT" Eating beef is Not about reverence ---IT'S ABOUT THE FANTASTICALLY BAD UGRA-KARMA !!!

    Most Hindus in India are not properly educated nor properly well-read in the tenets of their own religion.

    The westerners that believe in the OP's "Myths" are also not properly educated nor properly well-read about the tenets of their own religion...and/or not sincerely "seeking". Just Like Catholics living in Rome are not thought of as scholars all.

    Inre: Castes and/or varna ---there is a huge omission on this topic.

    The social system that "varna" [Divisions of Labor] is derived from is called: "varna-ashrama". "Varna-Ashrama Dharma"

    The Duties of Varna+Ashrama. The Duties of the four Varna(s) + The Duties of the four Ashrama(s).

    Krishna instituted The Duties of the varna+ashrama as the social system that works best.

    Take note that "Varnashram" is a defacto status of society...it is NOT an imposition upon the social order.

    The 4 Varnas naturally exist in Human society et al by default. All societies have the same four "Divisions of Labor":
    1-Intelligensia
    2-Administrative
    3-Merchantile
    4-Artisan

    BUT so far no one has mentioned "the four Ashrama(s)"

    Each of the four Ashrama(s) are expected [or are allowed; or encouraged to pursue; or is known as the ideal for a noble life for every person] to be followed...in the same way the Christian Sacraments are allotted to all walks of life.

    "the four Ashrama(s)" are:
    1-Brahmachari (studentship)
    2-Householder life
    3-retired
    4-renounced asceticism

    All 4 varnas will progress through all 4 ashrams ---thus this is a spiritual democratic social framework.

    After all, all walks of life seek the same 4 perennial goals [even life after life until moksha]:
    1-artha,
    2-kama,
    3-dharma,
    4-moksha

    This is the yogic purpose of "Varna-Ashrama Dharma" ---to elevate every soul according to their individual ability and propensity.
     
  18. bhaktajan

    bhaktajan Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2009
    Messages:
    1,594
    Likes Received:
    10
  19. bhaktajan

    bhaktajan Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2009
    Messages:
    1,594
    Likes Received:
    10

Share This Page