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ardhanari
13 November 2007, 03:18 PM
Namaste, all!

My name here is Ardhanari, and I am learning as much as possible about Sanatana Dharma. I have fallen in love with its many philosophies, universalistic edge, and antiquity, as well as the many traditions that have popped out of it.

From the many philosophies of Advaita, Visistadvaita and Dvaita, to the various schools of thought, I feel as if Hinduism provides all of my spiritual needs.

However, I feel as if there is some neglect when it comes to people who wish to take a Dharmic lifestyle and take Sanatana Dharma as their own personal religion. Although my ishtadeva is Lord Krishna and I believe in the power of the Mahamantra, ISKCON's 'non-Hindu' Krishna-only lifestyle and strict adherences (many rounds of chanting, no using of the left hand, all other forms of God are somehow inferior save Krishna Himself, those who are not vegetarian can never attain the spiritual worlds of God, no direct quotes from the Vedas themselves, strong necessity of a diksha guru, non-association with atheists and mayavadis, Vishnu being an incarnation of Krishna, strong urge for proselytisation, etc) push me away.

I can not deny the amount of love when I chant the Mahamantra, and how its power allows me at that moment to feel the joy of Krishna, the joy of God. I have always dreamed of being like Gadadhara, who was supremely devoted to serving Krishna through Lord Caitanya (although I see Lord Caitanya as a propogator of Krishna, not Krishna Incarnate). He is who I wish to be, the metaphorical embodiment of Radharani's love for Krishna. :) Chanting the Hare Krishna mantra in sankirtan is chanting the Names of Love. :D

I love to chant Krishna's Names and do sankirtan. But I can not deny that I believe in Hindu philosophy, all forms of God are equal and valid. All forms of yoga are equal and all lead to God, and neither yoga is better than the other.

I love Krishna, and I want to be a devotee to Him alone. Away from the strict adherences of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, I could describe myself as a Krishnite, a follower of Krishnaism, lol. However, I do believe that Lakshmi, Hanuman, Shiva, Parvati, Kali, Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, Baha'u'llah, etc. are equally worshippable/respectable forms of God.

I also love Lakshmi and Saraswati, and find them worshippable to me. :)

I just feel quite liberal, a hodge podge of beliefs. I believe in Ramanujacarya's Visishtadvaita Vedanta, yet do believe that the Hare Krishna mahamantra along with chosing Krishna as one's ishtadeva as the best way for this age. Simultaneously, I acknowledge that all paths lead to God in some way or another, despite not being able to fit within a single tradition (Vaishnavism, Shaktism, Shaivism, 'Smartism')...

Actually, I feel quite lost. Like being in a candy store, and enjoying all the candies in the store. Although I have a favourite candy, I have no idea what section I should dwell in, lol.

It is difficult. I want to talk to people outside of books and internet websites, so that I can deepen myself, learn how to do puja and aarti 'correctly' (if there was such a thing) and eventually, go through a naming ceremony. I am transitioning from the Baha'i Faith to Hinduism (which are both surprisingly related to each other theologically), and finding it difficult to find an English speaking mandir or even just deepened people to talk to in fluid English.

I don't have much choice, so whilst visiting the other mandirs around the area, I go to the ISKCON temple frequently. As much as I love ISKCON's work, it simply is not for me, lol. As I have been to mandirs where I was put off by the amount of talk and the unfriendliness of some people, although I am there primarily for God. I tried to look for deeper information by one mandir, but I didn't need basic information, especially when I already believe in most of the basic beliefs... Dharma, Karma, Samsara, Moksha, Yoga, etc. Probably I will eventually learn Hindi (since at the other non-ISKCON mandirs, every sermon is in Hindi), but at the moment, it is difficult.

Oh, I am Filipino-Canadian with some Chinese extraction, 19 years old, and although I am studying at school, I have no idea what exactly I shall be doing as a future career. :P

Namaste,
Ardhanari.

satay
13 November 2007, 03:52 PM
hari bol!

Welcome...
:)

ps: finally!

ardhanari
13 November 2007, 04:08 PM
hari bol!

Welcome...
:)

ps: finally!

Haribol, Satay! Thank you for your welcome!

By the way, why mention 'finally!'? ;)

satay
13 November 2007, 04:15 PM
By the way, why mention 'finally!'? ;)

It's an internal joke meant for another dweller of hDfpuri...

saidevo
13 November 2007, 09:11 PM
Namaste Ardhanari.

It is heartening to note that you know so much about Sanatana Dharma at this young age. Your love for Lord Krishna and Radharani is inspiring. You are also wise about the reverence to other Gods shown by Hindus. So I wonder why you feel lost by not being able to choose a 'sampradAya' or denomination. Your preferences, I think, make you a liberal Vaishnava. But then perhaps your user-id perhaps gives a clue?

Welcome to HDFpuri!

satay
13 November 2007, 11:46 PM
namaste,


I am transitioning from the Baha'i Faith to Hinduism (which are both surprisingly related to each other theologically), and finding it difficult to find an English speaking mandir or even just deepened people to talk to in fluid English.

Oh, I am Filipino-Canadian with some Chinese extraction, 19 years old, and although I am studying at school, I have no idea what exactly I shall be doing as a future career. :P

Namaste,
Ardhanari.

I have very little knowledge of Bahai faith. I thought that they follow the bible but in a liberal way (correct?). What made you go away from bahai?

Also, just curious...I know that phillippines is a catholic nation so I know many filipinos who are devout christians. What took you away from christianity?

You need not reply...I am just curious.

ardhanari
14 November 2007, 02:45 AM
Satay,


The Baha'i Faith ("Baha'i Faith" is the proper noun, and the adjective is "Baha'i") is a *revealed* religion, although it (by outside scholars) is placed in the Abrahamic traditions. There are three Onenesses: the Oneness of God, Oneness of Religion, and Oneness of Humanity. All Baha'is try to unite these three onenesses in their spiritual lives.

1) God is one. Baha'is believe that every culture in every society has had a glimpse of God, but God is ultimately far beyond our understandings and human limitations. God is both saguna and nirguna, and although our understandings of God is a human limitation, our perceptions of Him is considered an honour. Thus, even Buddhism has some sort of concept that would be labelled "God" in the Baha'i Faith.

2) All major religions are one. Baha'is believe in this doctrine called "Progressive Religion" where God sends Messengers to humanity in accordance with its spiritual understanding and bring the religion of God to the right path. Thus, for a certain Dispensation, that Messenger (called "Manifestation of God" because They manifest in perfection the Names and Attributes of God on Earth) becomes the Path of God. Each has revealed the same eternal principles, but social laws change accordingly. Thus, in reality, all these major religions (Judaism, Sabeanism, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, the Babi Faith, the Baha'i Faith) are one. When religion becomes outdated or corrupt or the laws are too old, God sends a new Manifestation in accordance with the time.

Traditionally, Baha'is accept the following as Manifestations of God: Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, Krishna, Buddha, Christ, Muhammad, and the Bab. The most recent revelation and Manifestation of God for this Age is Baha'u'llah. He is claimed to be the Awaited One of all religions: Christ returned in the Glory of the Father of Christianity, the Great Announcement of Islam, the Shah of Bahram for Zoroastrianism, the 9th Avatar of Krishna for Hinduism, the Maitreya or 5th Buddha of Buddhism, the Messiah of Judaism, and "Him whom God shall make manifest" of the Babi religion.

Thus, to be a Baha'i is to be a follower of Baha'u'llah who is the Manifestion of God for this Age. Baha'u'llah wrote a number of Writings (Scriptures) and both Baha'u'llah's Writings and the Qur'an are seen as purely without corruption. But Baha'is also read the Gathas, the Torah, the Gospels, the Gita, and Buddha's Writings.

3) Humanity is one. Baha'is seek to unite the world through their principles which they see as the culmination of the teachings of God through Baha'u'llah: equality between the sexes, elimination of all prejudices, spiritual solutions to economic problems, removal of the extremes between wealth and poverty, universal compulsory education, harmony between science and religion, individual investigation of truth, etc. Thus, many of their social projects reflect these principles.

What made me go from the Baha'i Faith to Hinduism was that whilst Hinduism does not proselytise, Baha'is do teach the Faith. Although they do not necessarily 'preach' which is against Baha'i principles, teaching the Faith is of great, utmost importance. Because they believe that Baha'u'llah's Revelation has come to unite all humanity and bring it to advancement and progression, there is this strong urge that compels many Baha'is to have teaching campaigns and firesides.

Also, I am an asexual, and would like to experience a non-sexual relationship with someone of the same sex. However, such behaviour is not seen as appropriate with the Baha'i Faith.

I also do not disbelieve murti-worship. I can not help but have darshan of Krishna-murti and lovingly gaze at His blessedness, but for the Baha'i Faith, "idol-worship" is condemned as infantile superstition.

There are many reasons why, and it seems quite a jump; Hinduism is considered the oldest religion in the world, and the Baha'i Faith is the youngest organised religion in the world. However, theologically speaking, they have more similarities to each other in my perspective than any of the other world religions. Transitions between the two religions is like a single small step than anything else!

Although I love Christianity and I love Jesus, it just never spiritually served me. There were many things that I could not agree doctrinally by the majority of Christian beliefs encapsulated by the Nicene Creed, like the Trinity (in the Christian perspective), the black-and-white Heaven and Hell, Original Sin (that because of my parents' actions, I become responsible for them), the necessity of baptism and argumentation between all the denominations. They are also limited much to just Jesus as *the* form of God and many rules that Paul outlined in his letters are not followed today. Also, like all Baha'is, I interpret the Bible spiritually/metaphorically, not literally. (Lazarus was raised from the tomb of unbelief, and Jesus was resurrected into eternal life in the hearts of His believers. Christians tend to pick and choose what to take literally and what to take metaphorically.)

I love Catholicism for its antiquity, mystical spirituality, richness in prayers and practices, belief in intercession of the saints (all saints in Heaven can pray for us on earth), Heaven and Hell being states of the soul rather than literal places, etc. However, the doctrines of their interpretation of the Trinity and Original Sin turn me off.

Much of my family is Christian of some form; most of them are Roman Catholic, and at least one family is Baptist and another is Pentecostal. And my maternal grandmother's relative is a Jehovah's Witness. Being the first to adopt a veggie-diet as well as a non-Christian lifestyle caused much hurt, anger, frustration, misunderstanding, etc. Wait until they hear that I no longer ascribe to the Baha'i Faith and have finally adopted Hinduism... XD

I do fear that there will be much awkwardness by the next extended family gathering. But I refuse to blindly accept something just because my family does so. I have had members in my family (and extended) who bribed me to be Christian, stopped communication for a bit, was frustrated at me, brought argumentation, etc. when I became a Baha'i.

Imagine what it would be like to tell them that a) I am an asexual and I have been hiding it for so long, and b) I am now professing Hinduism, Sanatana Dharma, as my way of life! I both joke and feel depressed at such a situation, but I feel it may be inevitable. I have cried by their anger towards my adoption of a non-Christian religion AND by my veggie-diet...


Saidevo,

Thank you for your kind words! I have always disliked the name 'liberal' as it somehow implies a political fraction. Secondly, there is such a thing as a 'liberal Vaishnavite'? O__O;

I have studied religions since 11, and have read my first children's version of the Bible since 7. I have been through New Age, Wicca, Pentecostal Christianity, Catholic Christianity, and the Baha'i Faith. I have studied many smaller African cults, Islam, the Occult, Satanism, Buddhism, etc. I have read many religious texts and I still do on my free time as leisure, lol. At this point, Hinduism best suits my theological suit, philosophical appetite, devotional practices, and daily lifestyle. :)

I love Ardhanarishwara, simply because Ey manifests equally the traditional forms of human beings and sees both apparent 'dualities' as realistically unitive and transcendent. Although a Shaivite Deity form (I believe), I definitely do not disbelieve Shaivism and even appreciate what little I know of its sampradaya.

But liberal Vaishnav doesn't sound half-bad. ;) I may adopt it! Thank you!

Namaste,
I give spiritual obeisances unto the God that dwells in you all,
Ardhanari.

Kaos
14 November 2007, 10:03 AM
Namaste, all!

I feel as if Hinduism provides all of my spiritual needs.




Namaste ardhanari,

Welcome to the forum and Hare Krisna!

Just to let you know, there are even atheistic schools of Hinduism.

satay
14 November 2007, 11:07 AM
namaste ardhanari,


Satay,

There are many reasons why, and it seems quite a jump; Hinduism is considered the oldest religion in the world, and the Baha'i Faith is the youngest organised religion in the world. However, theologically speaking, they have more similarities to each other in my perspective than any of the other world religions. Transitions between the two religions is like a single small step than anything else!


Thank you for the post and sharing with us your journey. I find it very inspiring.




Although I love Christianity and I love Jesus, it just never spiritually served me. There were many things that I could not agree doctrinally by the majority of Christian beliefs encapsulated by the Nicene Creed, like the Trinity (in the Christian perspective), the black-and-white Heaven and Hell, Original Sin (that because of my parents' actions, I become responsible for them), the necessity of baptism and argumentation between all the denominations. They are also limited much to just Jesus as *the* form of God and many rules that Paul outlined in his letters are not followed today. Also, like all Baha'is, I interpret the Bible spiritually/metaphorically, not literally. (Lazarus was raised from the tomb of unbelief, and Jesus was resurrected into eternal life in the hearts of His believers. Christians tend to pick and choose what to take literally and what to take metaphorically.)

I love Catholicism for its antiquity, mystical spirituality, richness in prayers and practices, belief in intercession of the saints (all saints in Heaven can pray for us on earth), Heaven and Hell being states of the soul rather than literal places, etc. However, the doctrines of their interpretation of the Trinity and Original Sin turn me off.

Much of my family is Christian of some form; most of them are Roman Catholic, and at least one family is Baptist and another is Pentecostal. And my maternal grandmother's relative is a Jehovah's Witness. Being the first to adopt a veggie-diet as well as a non-Christian lifestyle caused much hurt, anger, frustration, misunderstanding, etc. Wait until they hear that I no longer ascribe to the Baha'i Faith and have finally adopted Hinduism... XD

I do fear that there will be much awkwardness by the next extended family gathering. But I refuse to blindly accept something just because my family does so. I have had members in my family (and extended) who bribed me to be Christian, stopped communication for a bit, was frustrated at me, brought argumentation, etc. when I became a Baha'i.

Imagine what it would be like to tell them that a) I am an asexual and I have been hiding it for so long, and b) I am now professing Hinduism, Sanatana Dharma, as my way of life! I both joke and feel depressed at such a situation, but I feel it may be inevitable. I have cried by their anger towards my adoption of a non-Christian religion AND by my veggie-diet...


Yes, I understand what you mean. I commend you for your courage and standing up for yourself.

Yaruki
15 November 2007, 04:25 AM
I feel the same way you do about ISKCON, they are wayyy to out there for me but this doesnt stop me from loving Krishna with all my heart. I just call myself Hindu and often add (spiritualy) to it because some people confuse Hindu with actually being Indian which I am not.

yajvan
15 November 2007, 06:51 PM
Hari Om
~~~~~~

... but for the Baha'i Faith, "idol-worship" is condemned as infantile superstition.



Namaste ardhanari,

Thank you for your post. I kept this one quote above, for I can see how many can see this as superstition. The notion is , do not mix up the idol with the real, with Reality of Brahman.

I just thought to add this dimension. We as humans, and many beginners into the spirit need help ... a visual to help us along. This is the help of the murti. It seems 'idol' has a negative influence to it. Yet I see it as an image, a representation and in fact with pranapratistha or infusion of life-force [prana] to the murthi, it takes on a whole new value.

If we asked the catholic do you have any murti's? they typically say no, yet when I walk into their church I see Jesus, Mary, sometimes Joseph. I see a cross that points in the cardinal directions of N,S,E and West. I see them wear crosses around their necks ( and some of us wear rudraksha); they also wear coins of St. Joseph for safe travels, we may have a coin of Lakshmi,or tala mark on the forehead.

So a murthi can be one of Ganesha or the Linga of Siva... it can be a picture of ones guru or master, or saint. If we go to Islam they have the Hajj... the circumambulation of the Ka`bah, this is a murthi. We circumnavigate and go around our murtis, around the devalaya or the mandir and some of us go around mountains!

The Jews have a wailing wall... a murthi. More on the views of Judaism and idols here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idolatry_in_Judaism


Over all , its easy to see why would could miss the teaching that the murhi is a representative of the Divine that we respect and recognize.

As one grows in thier upasana (meditation, worship) one finds that Siva, Krsna, Ganesha, Devi, Skanda, Murugan, is everywhere, not just at the temple. That there is the Fullness of Being everywhere, this is what we give praise to in that murthi. So our eyes can see the infinite in a finite form just for that time; yet the spiritual growth has crescendo in all this is the SELF, in me, and it too is Brahman...found in every particle in this whole creation.

सर्वंखल्विदंब्रह्म
sarvaṁ khalvidaṁ brahma
All this is verily Brahma


pranams,

ardhanari
16 November 2007, 04:22 AM
Hari Om, Yajvan!

Thank you for your additional information. I felt equally compelled to share this passage from Baha'u'llah's Writings that caused me to parallel Hinduism and the Baha'i Faith in regards to theology. It is only one of the numerous Writings which testify this wonderful philosophy. Forgive me for the length; the nature of Baha'u'llah's Writings tend to be lengthy in itself.

In this passage, many of His quotes are from the Qur'an, with a few from Islamic philosophers and hadiths to illustrate His teachings:
"Whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth is a direct evidence of the revelation within it of the attributes and names of God, inasmuch as within every atom are enshrined the signs that bear eloquent testimony to the revelation of that Most Great Light. Methinks, but for the potency of that revelation, no being could ever exist. How resplendent the luminaries of knowledge that shine in an atom, and how vast the oceans of wisdom that surge within a drop! To a supreme degree is this true of man, who, among all created things, hath been invested with the robe of such gifts, and hath been singled out for the glory of such distinction. For in him are potentially revealed all the attributes and names of God to a degree that no other created being hath excelled or surpassed. All these names and attributes are applicable to him. Even as He hath said: "Man is My mystery, and I am his mystery." Manifold are the verses that have been repeatedly revealed in all the Heavenly Books and the Holy Scriptures, expressive of this most subtle and lofty theme. Even as He hath revealed: "We will surely show them Our signs in the world and within themselves." Again He saith: "And also in your own selves: will ye not, then, behold the signs of God?" And yet again He revealeth: "And be ye not like those who forget God, and whom He hath therefore caused to forget their own selves." In this connection, He Who is the eternal King -- may the souls of all that dwell within the mystic Tabernacle be a sacrifice unto Him -- hath spoken: "He hath known God who hath known himself."

...From that which hath been said it becometh evident that all things, in their inmost reality, testify to the revelation of the names and attributes of God within them. Each according to its capacity, indicateth, and is expressive of, the knowledge of God. So potent and universal is this revelation, that it hath encompassed all things visible and invisible. Thus hath He revealed: "Hath aught else save Thee a power of revelation which is not possessed by Thee, that it could have manifested Thee? Blind is the eye which doth not perceive Thee." Likewise hath the eternal King spoken: "No thing have I perceived, except that I perceived God within it, God before it, or God after it." Also in the tradition of Kumayl it is written: "Behold, a light hath shone forth out of the morn of eternity, and lo, its waves have penetrated the inmost reality of all men." Man, the noblest and most perfect of all created things, excelleth them all in the intensity of this revelation, and is a fuller expression of its glory..."

(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 177)
Immensely potent, no? It is why I said that the transition between those two religions are a mere simple step.

Baha'u'llah Himself said that Man is the Supreme Talisman, and yet a lack of education has caused him to become ignorant and powerless. Many of His Writings speak of God as all-penetrating, dwelling within the soul, the heart being the dwelling-seat and throne of the Almighty, how God's image is reflected in the whole universe, yet transcends and is above all created things and humanly limited imaginings, etc.

Baha'u'llah, as a conduit of God's Speech, proclaims how He calls all souls to the eternal, yet we seek that which perishes, how we must flee this mortal sovereignty, loose our souls from the prison of selves, wing our flight to the eternal from our mortal cages, manifest the radiance of God's light that dwells within us, to seek none other but God, etc.

He speaks of union with God through a) utmost reverences of our selves, b) through love and emanating it, c) through wisdom and knowledge, and d) through austere contemplation.

Thus, as Baha'u'llah says, I can now say that Man is the ultimate Murti, lol. Hinduism has been quite familiar to me, and I can add that such familiarity is in part due to Baha'u'llah's own teachings in my life...

I have always understood the basic meaning for the usage of icons in worship due to my Catholic background, and instead of not believing in them, it was rather that I did not disbelieve in using them. In any case, I do feel that leaving the Baha'i Faith is somewhat necessary before I can actually be out and do puja guilt-free, lol.



As one grows in thier upasana (meditation, worship) one finds that Siva, Krsna, Ganesha, Devi, Skanda, Murugan, is everywhere, not just at the temple. That there is the Fullness of Being everywhere, this is what we give praise to in that murthi. So our eyes can see the infinite in a finite form just for that time; yet the spiritual growth has crescendo in all this is the SELF, in me, and it too is Brahman...found in every particle in this whole creation.

Yaruki,

I just call myself a Hindu and emphasise that it is a religion and way of life and not intended towards race. Look at the Balinese who are purely of Southeast Asian descent, yet practice Hinduism, or the Shaiva Siddhanta Church, and even you and me. ;)

To me, there is no difference between a "Hindu" and a "spiritual Hindu" because to be a Hindu is instantaneously a spiritual label in itself, albeit arbitrary. Personally, one who wholly wishes to adopt Vedic Dharma as a way of life is a "Hindu."

Hare Krishna!
Ardhanari.