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Tag Archives: Comparative religion

This is another partial interview I conducted for my now non-existent project. It is very incomplete, but I have chosen also to include our emails before the interview, as Dev is full of warm words.

As with all the people who were to be included in that project, Gurudev is a blogger. He writes very interesting posts on the modern world, modern India, and what India is to him.

Email 1 – Me to Gurudev
Hello, I run a brand new blog where I am trying to interview bloggers from various religions about how their religion affects their life, about their life, and about how blogging ties into their world view. Would you be interested? I woudl really like to interview you, currently I am trying to interview you, and a Buddhist, and a Baha’i. Please contact me [ . . . ]

Email 2 – Gurudev to Me
Hi Ruhi

Thanks for visiting my blog and contacting me. It is nice to hear about your effort to understand the effects of religions on people’s lives. It would be my pleasure to be a part of this, but I would like to clarify a bit about myself.

Even though I come from a Hindu Brahmin family, I dont call myself a devout religious Hindu, but instead consider myself to be a cultural Indian. Culture is a way of life for the person, where as religion requires time to be dedicated out of a person’s life 🙂

I dont believe in things based on blind faith, but instead rely only on pure scientific facts. Culture is tested and trusted by practicing it, where as a religion is practiced by trusting it (called faith). Which is why I like the ancient Indian vedic culture, because it allows me to question and criticize the very same vedic texts! In fact Hinduism is not a religion at all, but a scientific culture based on the ancient Vedas. There is no religious authority, prophet, founder, missionaries, blasphemy etc in Hinduism.

In fact the ancient Indian culture can be found across all the religions that have their origins in the Indian subcontinent like Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism etc and also in those Indianised versions of western religions.

So if you interview me, I would be answering from the perspective of an ancient Indian culture, rather than in the limited sense of a religion 🙂


Email 3 – Me to Gurudev

I actually find that even more interesting, and I am not sure I wholly understand, which makes for a good interview, I am very intrigued.

I am really intrigued, because my exposure to Hinduism is from a more religious than cultural direction. Being a Baha’i I venerate Krishna as a Manifestation of God, and I read the Bhagavad Gita alongside Al-Qur’an and The Bible.

You talk about the ancient Indian culture being found in all the Indic belief systems and Indianised versions of western religions. I find that last bit so interesting, it will end up in the interview.

Well, they way I will conduct this is I will ask 1-2 questions at a time, and you will answer. On the blog I will post a few paragraph summary of the interview and what I learned from you, and link to the full interview. Also, you blog will be added to my sidebar. (I am interviewing bloggers only.)

If you are ready I can begin. I expect it could last a while depending on our schedules.


Email 4 – Gurudev to Me

Its really nice to hear that you are a Bahai! The world needs more people who follow religions/faiths that treat all humans equal…. not as individual races or differentiate between believers and infidels thereby causing violence and hatred.

A true religion which treats all humans as equal does not need any missionaries or evangelists or any religious conversions. Which is why I like Hinduism/Vedic Culture and for that matter even Bahai is on similar lines. The most beautiful concept of vedic culture or hinduism that I like is the ancient vedic saying ‘Ekam Sath Vipra Bahuda Vadanthi’ which means ‘There is only one God, learned scholars call him with different names’, so I can call that God Vishnu, Allah, Jesus or by whatever name I want and Hinduism has no objection!

Vedas also say ‘Vasudaiva Kutumbakam’ and ‘Sarve Jana Sukhino Bhavantu’. These are Sanskrit phrases thousands of years old, where the former means ‘The whole earth is a single family’ and the latter means ‘May all the humans live happily’.

Even Bahaulla preached on similar lines saying ‘The earth is one single country where the entire humanity are its citizens’. This makes real practical sense, where no humans fight unnecessarily over artificial divisions. When all humans believe in this, the world will be a Ramarajya, a kingdom defined in the ancient Indian texts where all people lived happily and prosperously without any violence or hatred, where all loved and respected every other human, a kingdom where all were treated equally.

And yes, you can start asking the questions.
Thanks again for considering me for the interview 🙂


Can you describe the religious environment in which you were raised?
I was not brought up in a strictly religious environment. Instead it was a cultural environment, whose origins can be traced back to the ancient vedic culture. Hinduism is more of a culture than a religion. There is no specific founder or a prophet in Hinduism, nor is there any single religions authority. Nor is there any concept of believers and non-believers in Hinduism. Because the vedic scriptures say Ekam Sat, Vipraa Bahuda Vadanthi, which in Sanskrit means “there is only one God, and learned scholars call this God with different names”. So in Hinduism it doesnt matter by which name one calls a God with.

Also only Hinduism allows a normal human being to be promoted to the status of a God and worshiped. No religion has this concept of revealing the God present within a person!

Right from my childhood I was always encouraged to ask questions instead of following things blindly. Once when I was a kid, I went to attend a birthday party of a friend, and saw that he blew off the candles before cutting the birthday cake. I remembered that for my birthday I was made to light two lamps. When I questioned about this, I got the following answer.

Light represents knowledge because it gives us information. Only when there is light one can see things, read books, etc. Darkness on the other hand is absence of light, which indicates absence of knowledge. Which is why Sun is also considered to be a symbol of knowledge.
So in Hinduism we light a lamp which symbolizes arrival of knowledge. For this reason, it is considered inauspicious in Hinduism to put off a source of light like lamp.

The very nature of allowing questions to be asked keeps our minds open for debate and understanding of what we are doing. This ensures a scientific presence of mind instead of a blind faith.

We were also encouraged to go to places of worship of other religions and pray. God was taught to us to be an all pervading supreme being in this universe. Our parents, teachers, babies, food, trees and plants, animals, mountains, sun, moon, planets, river, water, air, anything and everything that makes up this universe were said to be different manifestations of the same God. God as taught to us is not somebody who resides outside this universe, but instead is the eternal universe itself called Vishnu, and this universe extends well beyond our temporary physical universe called Brahma.

The true enemies of a person as taught to us were anger, lust, greed, ego, jealousy and illusion. A person will find true peace in his life if he can conquer these enemies. These enemies lie within us and the battle to overcome them is fought within oneself. Which is why Hindus give such an importance to yoga and meditation spending time with oneself.

Hinduism is the only religion where the most powerful forms of God is a female. We were taught a ancient sanskrit hymn which says ‘Yatra Naryastu Pujyante Ramante Tatra Devataha’, which means Gods roam in those places where women are worshiped.

I remember a beautiful story that was told to us about the purpose of our life. Every time God wanted to do something good to the society, God did not do it by himself. Instead God created a child. So the real purpose of our life is to identify the reason why God created us and to serve that purpose.

These were some examples of the kind of cultural education that we received as we grew up.
To summarize it was, always think positive, ask questions, respect everybody and everything, protect nature, be away from negative influences, serve the society.