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Houston's growing Hindu community
July 10th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

In Texas, young Hindus want to Americanize ancient faith

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Houston, Texas (CNN) - In many ways, 29-year-old Rishi Bhutada is a traditional Hindu, not so different from his Indian-born parents.

An officer at his dad’s pipefitting company, Texas-born Bhutada had an arranged marriage in India three years ago and then brought his wife back to his hometown, where they recently welcomed a son.

Bhutada is a strict vegetarian and avoids alcohol, as do many observant Hindus.

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And the dashboard of his Toyota Prius is adorned with a small metal statue of Ganesh, an elephant-headed Hindu god known as the remover of obstacles. Bhutada prays to it each morning before leaving his driveway.

And yet Bhutada is a different kind of Hindu than his mom and dad.

His parents were part of a major wave of Indians who arrived in the U.S. in the 1960s and ’70s and focused their religious lives on building a community of believers and temples around Houston, which was then a Hindu wilderness.

Bhutada, by contrast, wants his religion to step out from that now-well-established Hindu hive to engage the broader culture.

Surprising origins of "Don't Mess with Texas"

Driving to lunch recently at a strip mall Indian buffet, he spoke of trying to forge a distinctly American Hindu identity that’s more tightly woven into the national fabric.

“The immigrant generation is focused on India, on the home country,” he said, noting that the TV in his parents’ house is often turned to a Hindi-language channel beamed in from the subcontinent. “I’m focused on the United States, which is my home country.”

That helps explain why a national group he’s involved with, the Hindu American Foundation, recently launched a Take Back Yoga campaign, aimed at raising awareness about the practice’s Hindu roots and values among non-Hindus.

And it's why Bhutada testified at the Capitol in Austin last year against a statewide school curriculum that calls Hinduism a polytheistic religion, a characterization many Hindus reject.

And it's why one area temple has begun placing copies of the Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu scripture, in thousands of Texas hotel rooms, right next to the Gideon Bible.

The developments speak to a new, publicly assertive stance that’s shared by many first-generation American Hindus across Houston, home to one of the country’s largest and fastest growing Indian enclaves, and by many young Hindus across the nation.

“Our parents had to build everything from scratch to make a united Hindu community in this country,” said Tejas N. Dave, 17, a high school junior who volunteers with a project bringing yoga to unprivileged Americans.

“Now we’re trying to reintegrate it back into society,” he said, “to make people realize that Hinduism is a religion and a way of life and a philosophy that’s not too different from what a lot of others believe. We’re all trying to make a better society.”

Some young Hindus are envious of the attention that American Muslims and Mormons have received in recent years – even if not all of the attention has been positive – and are trying to raise Hinduism’s national profile.

The impulse is not about winning converts. Hinduism, the world’s third-largest religion, doesn’t proselytize.

Rather, many young Hindus say, it’s about making their faith less exotic to others while making it more meaningful to their own modern American lives.

When their parents arrived from India a few decades ago, it was hard enough just being Hindu.

The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, which overhauled the U.S. immigration system by eliminating biases toward European immigrants, among other things, opened American doors to millions of Asian immigrants, including Indians.

Those first arrivals struggled to recreate ethnic and religious networks from back home. When Bhutada’s father, Ramesh Bhutada, arrived in the U.S. in 1968, Houston played host to a single Hindu temple, which had opened earlier that year.

It was a stark change from India, where Hindus can stop into seemingly ubiquitous temples every day for brief visits, helping explain why so many Indians say “Hinduism is a way of life.”

There were more prosaic struggles, too. Many Hindus believe that vegetarianism denotes religious purity and a commitment to nonviolence, but they struggled to maintain that tradition in what was then a very meat-centric American diet.

“There was not even anything like a vegetable burger in those days,” Ramesh Bhutada said.

In those early years, new Hindu arrivals turned their homes into makeshift temples, holding religious education classes for their American-born children.

“There would be kids’ activities in one bedroom and adults in another,” said Dhruval Amin, 28, a Houston-based project manager at an international consulting firm, recalling childhood visits to such homes.

Today, Amin worships at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, a sprawling, snow-white temple carved from Italian marble and Turkish limestone that sits on 22 manicured acres in Stafford, just south of Houston.

Opened in 2004, the temple is a proud symbol of the local Hindu community’s growth and prosperity, though it’s a story that’s hardly confined to Houston.

The U.S. Census does not track the number of Hindu Americans; the Census doesn’t ask about religion, period. But data from the 2010 Census show that Texas’ Asian Indian population nearly doubled in size in the past decade, to around 250,000.

Now, for the first time, Indians represent the largest Asian community in the state. Many were drawn by lucrative jobs in Texas’s booming oil, technology and medical sectors.

“A lot of the doctors in small metro markets across Texas are first- or second-generation Indians,” said Ray Perryman, who heads an economic research firm in Waco, Texas. “And the top two or three students in every high school tend to be from some part of Asia.”

Similar trends have emerged in other parts of the country. Nationally, Indian growth has surged by 60% in the past 10 years, according to the Census, with 2.8 million Asian Indians living in the U.S. today.

Indians now represent the country’s second-largest Asian group, after the Chinese.

They’re also among the nation’s most successful ethnic groups, with 71% of Asian Indians earning bachelor’s degrees or higher, compared with 28% of all Americans, according to data from the U.S. Census’s 2009 American Community Survey.

The survey reported that Asian Indians have median household incomes of more than $90,000, compared with $50,000 for all Americans.

Not everyone from that community is Hindu. India’s Christian, Muslim, Sikh and Jain minorities are also represented in the United States.

At a recent yoga class at Houston’s India House, a community center, the instructor was Hindu, and most participants were Indian, but half were Catholic, Methodist or another kind of Christian.

When the instructor, Sarika Phalak, leads open and closing prayers that reference God, she invites participants to speak the name of their own deity. Many say “Jesus.”

Still, Hindu growth around Houston has exploded in recent years, with 19 temples now scattered across the sprawling metropolitan area, most built just in the past decade.

Temple-based Hindu youth camps long ago replaced home-based classes. And several national Hindu organizations now call Houston home.

The city’s Hindu onslaught put Charu Krishna Thammavaram, 28, in closer touch with her religion when she relocated from Lafayette, Louisiana, three years ago.

“I feel like a born-again Hindu now,” said Thammavaram, who works for an India-focused humanitarian group called Ekal Vidyalaya, which is headquartered in Houston.

In Louisiana, the lone “nearby” temple was an hour’s drive from Thammavaram’s home. Here, she had her choice of temples and settled on a Hare Krishna temple after shopping around, just as many Americans of other faiths do.

For many young Hindus, tweaking their religious heritage to make it more relevant has become an important project.

“My parents were just immersed in Hinduism, starting every day with prayer and accepting it without question,” said Kavita Pallod, a native Houstonian and first-generation American who recently graduated college. “But I don’t start my days with prayer. And Hinduism is something I’ve questioned and debated with friends.”

Yet Pallod, 23, has spent a good deal of time thinking about how to apply her faith to her life. “I believe that karma is the principal that guides the universe,” she said, referring to the Hindu concept of cosmic justice. “It’s one of the reasons I joined Teach for America.”

Pallod, who’s training for the teaching program this summer, was speaking at Star Pipe Products, the pipefitting distributor where Rishi Bhutada works and that his father, Ramesh, founded in 1982.

Situated at the end of a bland industrial drive on the city’s west end, the company doubles as a meeting place for local Hindus.

Among its warren of warehouse and offices spaces is a community center where a mural of Swami Vivekananda, a famous 19th-century spiritual leader who introduced the faith to the United States, fills the back wall.

But like the younger Bhutada, Pallod is intent on taking her religion outside officially Hindu spaces. As the president of the Hindus Student Association at the University of Texas at Austin until her graduation in May, she focused on introducing Hinduism to non-Hindu students.

Last spring, her group went all out to get non-Hindus to participate in Holi, a Hindu festival that involves throwing colored powder and water – often at other people – in a playful, rainbow-like spectacle.

“We wanted them to actually experience it themselves as opposed to just sitting there passively,” Pallod said of the event. “We wanted to teach that the colors are all about eliminating differences by making everyone look the same.”

The festival drew about 2,000 people, with many enthusiastically throwing colored powder at one another in the shadow the state Capitol. It was the kind of scene that Indian immigrant parents could have never imagined.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Content Partner • Hinduism • Interfaith issues • Texas

soundoff (2,004 Responses)
  1. Banglarani

    Its unfortunate that fundamentalists in every religion believe that it is their mission to propagate not only a divisive "us vs. them" philosophy but that they feel the need to promote the "ours is better than yours and yours' sucks" philosophy. At the cost of sounding hackneyed, I must say I have always thought that religion is about your personal relationship with God. You may name that God as Jesus, Allah, or Krishna or you may simply believe in the goodness of your inner spiritual essence and its connectedness to the rest of the universe. To hear people in these comments talk about Hindus as idol worshippers who defile the "In God We Trust" philosophy of America is disturbing–it reeks of of blind fanaticism and as a fully American Hindu, I can only say that is not my America. My America became great because it integrated, respected and encouraged the spirit of freedom–and hello! that includes the freedom to believe in God -Or not–as you should choose. providing examples of fanatical Hindus in In India who carry on acts of misguided religious vigilantism is supposed to be an intelligent illustration of how Hinduism as a religion sucks? Please, like there aren't Christians, Muslims or Jewish folks who err just as much by becoming extremists and deviant enforcers of their own faith. Just as the Crusades, or the Holy War, or whats going on in the Middle East cannot be taken to be evidence that Christianity, Islam or Judaism are misguided or errant belief systems, religious vigilantism of blind fanatics who think they must "enforce" Hinduism violently cannot be considered evidence of a fallacy in Hinduism. The practice of religion may be corrupted by the misguided practice of a few but that does not taint the intrinsic philosophy of goodness that every religion universally proclaims. Every religion in the world teaches the path of righteousness, but they are all different rivers that flow in the same universal ocean. When will people realize that they must swim in the currents of their own faith without competing over "whose path " is better.? What does it matter? Tread your own path, find your own road–trying to criticize somebody else's road map just uses up energy and time that you should be using up to traverse your own journey.

    July 11, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • Monk

      look like you have lots of free time in hand ,I hope you are not at work

      July 11, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • KS

      I totally agree with you. I am a firm believer that religion is a very personal business. There is no sight more sore than religious mud slinging maniacs. As I had said earlier, their reaction are exaggerated like religion was their baby and someone called it ugly!!!

      July 11, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • DC

      Very well put. Couldn't have said it better. Thanks.

      July 11, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  2. Mike

    I couldn't care less about Hindus' faith, but they can stick that godawful CASTE system of theirs where the sun don't shine.

    July 11, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Akash

      Mike, you do know that the caste system in India has been banned for over 50 years? Most people in the urban areas do not practice that anymore. the problem only comes in some rural villages that refuse to change their ways, or are located in remote areas.

      July 11, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • LA

      Not many Hindus believe in the caste system, especially the ones in America. But, yes, it exist but we are chipping away at it, it takes time, rural areas is where the Caste system is heavily practiced. Christianity nor America was perfect, it takes time, "all men are create equal", didn't really happen until 40 years ago. And early Christians practiced slavery along with burning witches. But you've CHANGED, and we still have to. But please don't jump to conclusions.

      July 11, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  3. JDJ

    Hinduism says there are many paths to peace. Christianity says there is one path– Jesus. We are not required to do anything to have peace with God since none of us could ever measure up not matter how much we did. All we can do is ask for forgiveness and then we will have a relationship with God.

    July 11, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  4. Jack

    Yet another article by CNN extolling the virthues of non-Western religion and glorifying the great American "melting pot." This country was founded on CHRISTIAN values, or, Judeo-Christian, if this sounds better. This country was NOT founded as a Christian STATE, of course. That is what makes this country so wonderful. This country founded by Christians, along with a great number of non-believers, no doubt), in order to allow for personal freedom to flourish. India is "free" in a sense, that is not communist, nor does their religion (at least I don't think it does), necessitate subversion of the state (as Islam does). Thus Hinduism, unllike Islam, should not pose a direct threat to the American state and freedom. The Indian government and business sector is rampant with corruption, and that is one of the major reasons that Indians came, and are still coming, to America. Corruption, is, of course, rampant in Muslim countries, as well. My point is simply that if we forget that Judeo-Christian values (not Hindu values such as "karma," or throwing colored dust on people), is what America great, we will lose America.

    July 11, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Jeff S

      Jack, if you hold true to Christian values, as I do, then there is no more reason to fear Hinduism destroying America than there is to fear Sarah Palin one day signing an executive order to destroy all wildlife. And keep in mind, while the citizens of the early U.S. were almost exclusively Christian, most of the founding fathers were adepts of the mystery schools, and either had a universalist view of diety, or took the "Lightbringer" (aka Lucifer) to be their principal diety.

      July 11, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • KS

      @JeffS: I just LOLed at the Sarah Palin reference. With a woman like that, I don't think any religion can save this country!!!

      July 11, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • A. Patel

      Jack... I went to a Jewish kindergarten, an Archdiocesan Catholic Gradeschool, a Christian Highschool, and a Secular University. I am a Hindu born in this country. I respect all ways off life as long as they are tolerant ways. You shouldn't fear Islam in America. Elsewhere it may be used as a messed up tool, but in America I believe we are exposed to so many different ways of life, that most Americans regardless of creed are conditioned tolerant. And THAT is what makes this country great. The "melting pot" does not need to be at boiling temperature anymore. It is the main reason so many throughout the world want to come here. And don't ever forget that the US economic prowess was made possible by 300 years of free labor (ie SLAVERY of Africans), brought about and sustained by the same founding principles you speak of. How sure are you that "Christian" principles made this land great?

      July 11, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • KS

      @Jack: "Throwing colored dust" is actually fun!!! Its like paintball, but less dangerous. You should try it some time for a change. In fact all Americans should try it, having actual fun without getting sloshed and wasted on every holiday!!!

      July 11, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  5. Bookwormwendy

    I found this article fascinating. I enjoy learning about other cultures and believe respecting each others beliefs is vital. My fascination with the Hindu faith and culture all started by my accidentally stumbling across Bollywood and its beautiful, colorful movies that often remind me of early Hollywood. Now I can't learn enough about this fascinating, colorful culture. My family and I have tried Indian food, my daughter and I own saris and have had traditional henna designs applied and we have enjoyed every moment of it. With other cultures (i.e. Chinese, Italian, Irish) being so prevalent in our society and so well recognized and shared, the Indian culture, is in someways, the last hold out of misunderstood cultures. I see evidence of this everyday in the hateful, prejudiced comments people post on articles of tragedies in India. Maybe if people came to know them and understand them better they wouldn't be so quick to hang onto their preconceived notions.

    July 11, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • HINAL

      u r a great soul...learning about other cultures is interesting and educational...love your reply the best...take care and have a nice day...u made my day...

      July 11, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • Sharad Joshi

      @BookworkWendy

      You are right. The depth and breadth of Hinduism is so vast that not many comprehend it enough. That makes it tough for most people to even accurately explain it to someone from a totally different culture. As regards the antagonists etc, ah, well you've probably seen enough of them on this board already.

      The one sentence 'the Indian culture, is in someways, the last hold out of misunderstood cultures' is indeed very accurate.

      Loka samastha Sukhino Bhavantu (May the entire world live in peace)

      July 11, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  6. Manoj

    Wow..After reading the responses for the post by "Awake America", I have to say that you Americans always surprise me by supporting the right side without being biased. I love you guys.

    July 11, 2011 at 11:11 am |
  7. stubbycat

    Just because scripture is quoted doesn't mean it is completely understood. The term "one God" means the recognition of one spiritual being throughout the universe, undivided, complete. It expresses the divine Principle of being. This oneness includes all and is completely good. This is what Love means. "God is Love." When our spiritually grows, materiality diminishes and man will find freedom from illusion, evil, and realize salvation.

    July 11, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  8. yugylimaf

    [Answer] No.

    July 11, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  9. mohan vaidy

    The Hinduism practised in US is a duplication of the Brahmanical ritualistic Hinduism.The worship service is in sanskrit which is understood by extremely few individuals.Brahmanical Hinduism is the reason Hindus practised caste discrimination with its rigid separation and inhuman treatment of untouchables and others.The younger generation does not connect with the rote memory priest's chantings.Hindus should start services in English and maybe in Hindi and Tamil to interpret the scriptures.Rituals also should be tailored to reduce air pollution in the temples.Hindus also should change their culture of excessive display of gold,eliminate huge showpiece weddings and think of service to others as the way to reach God.Think of Bhakti Marg.

    July 11, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Hemant Rana

      How convenient! I challenge you to provide evidence of discrimination in any temple based on caste or class in USA. I have been to temples and the hindus here are far more aware about castism. There is more and more leaning towards teaching the basics of Hinduism that moves away from castism.

      July 11, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • vg

      Why don't you just change your religion instead of changing the concept of my religion. It would save a lot of us a lot of trouble. Sanskrit is the mother of all Indian languages and you should at least try to learn a bit. I bet you are an ABCD! HEHEHE

      July 11, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  10. AvdBerg

    For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).

    For a better understanding of the above scriptural references we invite you to read the article Can Christianity or Any Other Religion Save You? listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    July 11, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • NP

      thats fine, really. However, in Hinduism, to govern the universe, you need to have experts in given area and worshiping them as God is to show we believe and follow their creation. when we human need attention from that particular God, we know who to go to. Rather then bothering one God all the time for all the need. Its perfect!!!!

      July 11, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • mark

      you live in your little word. I am catholic but I do believe in Karma like they do. Not much different than the "do onto others" you are supposed to follow.

      July 11, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • AvdBerg

      @NP

      When a person repents (change spirits) the true an living God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Andy & Dianne van den Berg would remove the veil that is upon your heart and reveal that you serve after an image of a false God (Matthew 24:24) and that indeed the whole world is deceived (Rev. 12:9). http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

      July 11, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • crp

      Just open your mind and look around. Christianity is great but tere are Great religions too. Don't be so blind because then there is not difference between you and Bin Laden.

      July 11, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • AvdBerg

      @crp

      Bin Laden followed the teachings of Allah, who was a murderer and a rapist. Please read the article World History and Developments in the Middle East listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca
      We follow the teachings of Jesus Christ – big difference.

      July 11, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  11. kariyaFC

    Wow! They are rich!!!

    July 11, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • NP

      yes, in every way! Money, mind & health!!!

      July 11, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  12. Bruce

    I gotta hand it to the Hindus–they certainly know how to build beautiful temples!

    Put the picture of that temple side-by-side with one of the newly-built American-Christian mega-churches. It's crazy how little aesthetic appeal the Christians, apparently lost in architectural modernism, have nowadays and how little they think of structural beauty and its proper relationship to functionality. When it comes to religion, IMO, beauty is a very important part of functionality.

    July 11, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • Nonimus

      They are beautiful in their own way, but it's a bit overdone, baroque, and ostentatious for me. What is your idea of the 'proper' relationship between form (beauty) and functionality? Just curious.

      July 11, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Bruce

      @Nominus: My view is that one of the primary functions of any building is to communicate the aesthetic of the community in which it is built. Other primary functions are, of course, keeping the rain off of your head and removing the p00 to a managed place like a sewer system.

      In that sense, I think the Hindu temples–while over-the-top to many people outside the Hindu community–honor that primary function. Now, it may be the same thing when it comes to Christian megachurches, but I guess that if the aesthetic values of that community are what are being communicated by those buildings, then their aesthetics simply are really, really bad...

      July 11, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • NP

      Yup, and if you look at 1000s of Years YOUNG "Gopurams" (do wiki) or many Indian temples, you will STILL SEE THAT BEAUTY. Basically, they are build as per Building and Temple CODE DEFINED 1000s of years ago!!!! Can you believe that??????? and still damn so beautiful, peaceful and positive.

      July 11, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Nonimus

      @Bruce,
      Interesting way to look at it. Thanks.

      July 11, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • stubbycat

      I doubt very seriously if the healing Master if he walked the earth today would spend time building things unless it was in direct service to meeting the desperate needs of humanity. Not that there is anything wrong with beauty, but there are more important concerns to be met like lifting the human life one by one from the cycle of ignorance, mediocrity and reverse values of happy humanhood which afflicts it. If Hinduism doesn't spiritually address these needs, what real good is it?

      July 11, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • B

      "My view is that one of the primary functions of any building is to communicate the aesthetic of the community in which it is built." Which is no surprise why modern day Christian churches are nothing but huge, hallow, expressionless facades....

      July 11, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Christ told you to taste and see that he is really the only truth

      How shallow can you get? Beauty can be made up but is totally independent from the truth. So do you think an artistically carved elephant deserves to become your GOD!!!!!!!!!!! Remember in that case you are carried away by the skill of the hands of the artist and place your faith on just a pair of hands that also does those kind of things (I thing you know what i am referring to) .
      Afterwards you might as well place your trust on an even more beautifully crafted piece of clay found in our restrooms..

      July 11, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Bruce

      @stubbycat: I'm not sure what you mean. If we are to believe the gospels, Jesus is recorded as a carpenter's son (though many scholars place is father as more of a white-collar engineer-ish by trade, the blue-collar and even poverty-stricken family of the Jesus-baby plays better to the masses than an upper-middle-class-Jesus would) and may have been building things himself for much of his life before his 3-year ministry.

      Scripture also records him spending time in Jewish temples, so I guess if we want to judge his aesthetic sensibilities, we might find some clues by looking at the Jewish temples contemporary to him.

      These gut-checks of what Jesus might do were he alive today are less reflective of who Jesus might have actually been some two thousand years ago and more reflective of the gut-checker's cultural values.

      As far as Hinduism goes, I don't know if it serves the spiritual needs you mention. I imagine that varies widely depending on where you are and the group of Hindus you are talking about.

      July 11, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  13. Awake America

    This country is built with faith by Godly people as "In God we Trust"... Now it really breaks my heart when idol worship is allowed in this country.. if this continues.. it's going to become like India... corrupted.. Mean time, India will overcome US since 1 million people are accepting Christ every year... & Believers are fasting & praying for the country

    July 11, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • Stevie7

      "In God we Trust"
      -------
      Funny. I didn't realize our country was founded in 1956.

      July 11, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • Adam

      Idol worship? So I guess you never pray to statues or crosses or go to church, or wear a rosary, or pray to Mary, or any of the Saints? You make me sick.

      July 11, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Nonimus

      The US of A doesn't require any form of worship. I thought this would please the religious since it cuts down on idol worshiping and the worshiping of false gods. Guess that's not the case.

      July 11, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • LA

      Ha. Loser...we don't need you to pray for us, because India's growth is because of hard work, opened markets, booming IT. America is slowly declining not because of Atheist, not because of gays, but because of greed corruption, over regulation. It comes a time for every empire to fall, if it's Rome, the British, the Americans, or in the future Indians and Chinese. Take you're bible and stuff it up you're a**

      July 11, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • NP

      @Sleepy America Dude, you guys are complete morons. In God We Trust and Idol worship has nothing to loose as opposed teaching violence and killing innocent. Any philosophy peaceful and positive for one community must be accepted across other wise In God We Trust is ALREADY doomed against Only Allah warriors (exempted the good 5% muslims) and the Communist China.

      July 11, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • really?

      You should probably review your American history and realize this country was founded on the principal of religious and personal freedoms, before you go around bad mouthing other people's religion saying they're what's wrong with America; that's what sets us apart from other countries and makes us great. The fact that they are trying to weave their culture into ours, and bring the two together, rather than trying to set it apart and be separate, makes us stronger as a nation. Unity, not division, is what brings success.

      July 11, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Raju

      From where did you get the stats?. Obviously from some missionary who are convincing you to part your money and desperately trying to convert people. Do you know that conversion has created so much of animosity, hatred and friction wherever it is practiced?. by donating money to such cause you are being the reason for so many innocents getting killed in the name of religion, in other words, there is blood in your hand. We do accept the existence of other religions and unlike you respect other gods since we are polytheist, that does not mean we converted. Get your basics right and donate money for other worthy cause like cancer research...

      July 11, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • tommas

      "The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as His father, in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter."
      -Thomas Jefferson [Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823]

      July 11, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Opps

      @tommas, thats test tube baby!! ?

      July 11, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • Bruce

      @tommas: That quote from Jefferson is misleading today, because people today don't give the Minerva story the rhetorical weight it had with Jefferson.

      That is, it's important to understand why the Greeks described Athena being born as an adult goddess from the brain of Zeus rather than as a baby god from the womb of a female god and being raised in a family. Those who came up with the story didn't actually believe it to be literally true, they were describing a relationship between wisdom and authority using allegory.

      July 11, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • A. Patel

      dude you must smoke the goooooddd shiit ... sharing is caring!

      July 11, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • carlie

      Tommas wants you to believe that Jefferson is saying he was not Christian but Tommas is doing the work of his father, the father of lies. For he supplants one paragraph out of the letter which plainly emphasizes Jefferson' belief. In fact in the very next sentence, Jefferson continues, "But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors... when addressed to the God of Jesus, and our God, I join you cordially, and await his time and will with more readiness than reluctance.
      Nice try liar. Please read the entire letter if you are not convinced that this person is merely attempting to dispel untruths.

      July 11, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  14. KS

    @Bruce:
    Frankly, I don't understand what is the big deal about Hinduism being a polytheist or monotheist religion.There are many gods worshiped by Hindus, but at its core is the concept that everything was created from the One, even those 64 million gods that they talk about. Being a Hindu myself, I can tell you that Hinduism is more of a philosophy on how to live rather than being a religion or at least that is how I precieve it.
    I believe trouble starts when people of a religion start taking it a tad too seriously, and I can see that Hinduism is on the same road, although way too behind Christianity and Islam.
    @Sybaris: I totally agree with you on that. But I can assure you that this is not the case in India. More than 75% population of India is Hindu, still there is no trouble teaching evolution to kids in school and if there is a survey to be taken, I believe you will find more people believing in evolution than creationism among the population there. Infact, I haven't come across any such conflicts among science and religious beliefs. I was really surprised when I learnt that they actually teach creationism in schools here.

    July 11, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Bruce

      "I believe trouble starts when people of a religion start taking it a tad too seriously, and I can see that Hinduism is on the same road, although way too behind Christianity and Islam."

      LOL maybe this is what they mean by their desire to "Americanize" Hinduism–to take it a tad too seriously? 😛

      July 11, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • KS

      @Bruce: But I really enjoy reading the comments here and on any other article pertaining to religion for that matter. Its funny and retarded at the same time how people get serious too serious. They react as if religion was their baby and some one called it ugly!!!

      July 11, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • Anand

      Why do people have an issue with referring to Hinduism as Polytheism?

      Because it is not Polytheistic. It is HENOTHEISTIC- where in there is a belief in one God (Eeswara or Bhagwaan or Kadavul or Daata, etc.), while accepting the existence and worship of other deities.

      July 11, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • KS

      @Anand: Rather than being finicky about the details, we should focus more on the core philosophy of the religion. Live and Let live. Eat your meat burger and let me eat my veggies burger!!!

      July 11, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  15. hi

    Hindus in India burn down Graham stiens and his little kids and family and talk peace in US of A. They successfully executed a genocide in Gujarat and managed to get away. Hindus in India attack pub going girls because they are following western cultures this is very recent and on every Valentines day in India there is a hindu vigilante army going around to find young men and women and haress them for following western culture BUT luckily in US of A Hindus want to integrate l

    July 11, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • Raju

      The Hindu vigilantes you speak of DO NOT represent the Hindu community. They are no different from the people standing outside abortion clinics and screaming murder. They have their own interpretation of the religion and do what they want. There are over a billion Hindus in India, not all of them can be held responsible for the acts of a few criminals.

      July 11, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • Opps

      Haaa, show me a perfect religious! Hinduism is till more peaceful, positive and great for community than that of Islam on any given day! Christianity is great as well. As long as you are a positive and peaceful, does not matter who you worship. Violence happened when extremist muslim went beyond tolerance line in a Hindu majority country, like they do in Australia and America. Think of a minority in ISLAMIC country. EVER thought why MUSLIMS are one party in ANY GIVEN VIOLENCE AROUND THE WORLD???????????????????

      July 11, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Karthik

      Dude..the murders you are talking about in Gujarat were RIOTS and I hope you know why they were caused. Muslims burned about 50 sadhus (saints) alive in a train...This started the riots. Both Muslims and Hindus were affected. But, I have to agree that the Chief Minister of Gujarat (Narender Sigh Modi) was on the side of hindus and really fu cked the happiness of muslims – but still you cannot call them murders. The valentine day protests are never violent and I have not seen anybody getting murdered. The pub attacks were politically motivated by BJP (a hindu dominated party) and does not reflect the true religion..I have read the Quran and Bible. Did you read Bhagwatgita?

      July 11, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • NP

      there was some TRUSTED analysis that showed MUSLIMS in GUJARAT are far more ahead then REST OF INDIA and PAKISTAN. In term of Money, Education, Jobs, Respect, Freedom and what not.
      TAKE IT OR IGNORE IT.

      July 11, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • KS

      @Karthik: "Dude", I am from Gujarat and I have many Muslim friends who like Narendra Modi more than I do. As far as I know, he has not been proven guilty of anything yet, so hold your horses. The kinda progress the state has achieved is remarkable. When there are other states that still have villages with no electricity, Gujarat has many amenities that are commendable.

      P.S: I have actually lived in villages(Dang, Dharampur, Chikhali, etc) for a while in Gujarat and most of the major cities (Surat, Baroda, Ahmadabad, Anand, Rajkot) , I tell you what I've seen.

      July 11, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Karthik

      @KS – I am not against Modi. Eventhough he was not proven in Court of Law, I would still say he really ass fu cked muslims during those riots (not always). I am also not against gujarat as I have lot of Gujjus as my friends.

      July 11, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  16. Adam

    I don't understand this, I've studied Hinduism a little bit and spent some time in India, Why would you want to butcher your religion by trying to modernize, and who cares how many people know things about your religion? What would be great is if they could find a way to keep their religion in its original form while becoming modern 1st world people, which it seems like they have already done, look at what modernizing or americanizing religion has done, look at the horrible state of the Catholic Church and the zealous insanity of the Christians, Mormons are nuts, and Even Judaism in many parts of the country is more of a social club than a religion. So why? The beauty of Hinduism is that it is so different for so many people, because of the size and terrain of India it is a religion that is so diverse, for some it isn't polytheistic, for others it is. I think this effort is out of egoism and a desire for attention and recognition, two things not encouraged by Hinduism.

    July 11, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • NP

      agree, however, modernizing to accept whats good for the new era, time and skipping what is NOT good for community is way forward for any religion. Showing Live feed, using projectors, attractive temples for new generation, having gym, ATM, etc...is great way to modernize any worship house.

      July 11, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • RamSekhar

      @Adam

      Great question, I am sure that no one around will have a satisfactory answer though. I have myself wondered why, many times. It is probably due to the fact that people are free to explore and expand in multiple ways there is a semblance of constant churn. Ideas that stand the tests of popular acceptance and also time, eventually get assimilated.

      It is probably a good thing. We have gotten rid of many evils in the past 2 centuries. More reform is in store and is currently underway.

      July 11, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  17. Albert

    It is wonderful that so many people love God.
    I only wish that these same people would love their neighbours too.

    July 11, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • NP

      forget love, just be peaceful, positive and help when need will be MORE than enough for a GREAT comminuty.

      July 11, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  18. NONATHEIST

    What I really wonder is why, every day, hate-filled atheists read these religious pages and post angry, nasty insults designed to offend and hurt others. If you despise religion so much, I have a suggestion for you. Don't read the religion blog, and let us be.

    July 11, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  19. Reality

    Recognizing the flaws, follies and frauds in the foundations of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Paganism,
    and Christianity by the "hatters", "bowers", kneelers" and "pew peasants" will quickly converge these religions into some simple rules of life. No koran, bible, clerics, nuns, monks, imams, evangelicals, ayatollahs, rabbis, professors of religion or priests needed or desired.

    Ditto for houses of "worthless worship" aka mosques, churches, basilicas, cathedrals, temples or synagogues.

    -------------------------------------------------

    July 11, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  20. DN Toronto

    Hindusim is such a broad faith, it is many things to many...to truly get the crux of Hindu faith who's foundatiosn are in "Vedic scriptures and teaching ( Yoga has root in it too ) " in the end it becomes monthestic to such an extent GOD
    transcends all boundaries of human perceprtion and as Pantanjali in his Yoga samhita ( collection of commentaries )
    states God is within us and not outside. Hinduism is the only faith that truly speaks to the purpose of life .. Mokasha or Nirvana as Lord Buddha calls it from eternal cycle of birht & death and God realization through Self realization.

    I mean take it or leave it....Hindus don't condemn anybody...but your Karma sure will decide your fate.

    July 11, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • A. Patel

      Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahadev... This is "God" in Vedic Sanatam Dharam. In other words, Creation, Destruction, and Sustenance. This simple concept can be appreciated in the vast universe and the cosmos, in cyclic nature, and even in DNA (start sequence and induction of mitosis, synthesis of proteins for sustaining the cell and metabolism, and an end sequence involving apoptosis).

      July 11, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • A. Patel

      oops... my comment was meant for BRUCE.

      July 11, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.