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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. Reality

    Reiterating again the Truth to offset the clanging bells of evangelicals!!! Priceless!!!

    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 13, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • marga

      Everything we can imagine comes from the mind of man. Whatever mind created the universe and set it in motion has its own agenda and it binds us all. It drives and sustains all life and excludes no one. When people pray they become prey because their mind is wide open ready to be downloaded with thoughts they will believe are there own. People are specially trained to hoodwink the public because we are the ones who keep them up. Humanity got its roots pulled out from underneath and never stood a chance in this world to find out who they truly are. Shove it with your God. game is over.

      July 15, 2011 at 4:01 am |
  2. DiamondSky

    Secular Americans are very Hindu in that they create their own spirituality, pick and choose what they like, while engaging in and promoting all kinds of immorality and ignoring the objective Truth and existence of victims.

    July 13, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • pfeffernusse

      Wait–what? What the what, now?

      July 16, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  3. DiamondSky

    Hinduism is also a blasphemous attempt to reach the divinity. Hindus must realize how automaticly selfish they are. No salvation is in the man-made and preferred imaginations. Everyone needs to admit one's own sinfulness and trust in Jesus' atonement alone for salvation.

    July 13, 2011 at 9:54 am |
    • Rambo

      http://www.christianaggression.org/

      July 16, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  4. Hari

    My earlier comment one more time ...

    I am a Hindu who like most Hindu's believe in tolerance and well being of everybody. In Hinduism there is something called "Vasudaiva Kutambikam" meaning the entire word is one family in other world tolerance and non-violance.

    Like all religions it's got its downside and 'course few nut cases but the fact that its very liberal, progressive with tolerance and non-violence as its basic tenets it has adapted well to modern times. Many people quote class based system etc to say how screwed up it is, here are few facts ( and these are facts not made up), India after recent election has a population of more than 50% ruled by women. Its President is a woman and speaker of the parliament is a woman. The most powerful politcal person in India and one of Times most powerful person in the world is a lady ( not even born in India and a Christian) . The Prime Minister is from a minority community. Many of the women I mentioned are from so called lower caste. All these are testament to the fact that Hinduism despite being the most ancient religion is very liberal and progressive.

    In many Hindu temple you will actually find photos of Jesus or pics of Mecca.

    'course all these are because India is still a Hindu majority country, can't say if this will be true if that changes...

    July 13, 2011 at 12:29 am |
    • DiamondSky

      Hari, do something for the oppressed 300 million dalits. You have tolerance because you don't care about truth or justice. God's Word declares everyone has one life to live and then faces eternal judgment. No karma or reincarnation. Hinduism is false.

      July 13, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • DiamondSky

      And don't lie. Militant Hindus routinely kill Christians and Muslims in your country. Research.

      July 13, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • Rambo

      DiamondSky
      You need to research well. Who killed the Red Indians ?
      Heard of Inquisitions ? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inquisition
      I am sure you dont need to research about the one in Goa and the rest of the world.

      July 16, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  5. Reality

    Reiterating the Truth to offset the clanging bells of evangelicals!!! Priceless!!!

    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 12, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
  6. Muneef

    Prophets and Messengers of God
    It's not right that God would reveal on his Messengers or Prophets different Religions that contradict each other in essentials. A messenger is a prophet who comes with abrogating some of the laws brought by the previous messenger or receives a new set of laws. But the religion is one, believing in the oneness of Allah.
    http://alsunna.org/Prophets-and-Messengers-of-God.html

    Those who follow the Apostle, the unlettered Prophet, Whom they find mentioned in their own Scriptures, in the Torah and the Gospel... (Holy Qu'ran: VII – 157; Translation: Yusif Ali)

    http://www.islamicity.com/mosque/muhammad_bible.htm

    July 12, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • Reality

      The followers of the "prophet " and some of what they have brought to us:

      The Muslim Conquest of India – 11th to 18th century

      ■"The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "

      and the 19 million killed in the Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C by Muslims.

      and more recently

      1a) 179 killed in Mumbai/Bombay, 290 injured

      1b) Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh

      2) 9/11, 3000 mostly US citizens, 1000’s injured

      3) The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US troops killed in action, 3,483 and 925 in non combat roles. 99,901 – 109,143 Iraqi civilians killed as of 3/3/2011/, mostly due to suicide bombers, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ and http://www.defenselink.mil/news/casualty.pdf

      4) Kenya- In Nairobi, about 212 people were killed and an estimated 4000 injured; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85.[2]

      5) Bali-in 2002-killing 202 people, 164 of whom were foreign nationals, and 38 Indonesian citizens. A further 209 people were injured.

      6) Bali in 2005- Twenty people were killed, and 129 people were injured by three bombers who killed themselves in the attacks.

      7) Spain in 2004- killing 191 people and wounding 2,050.

      8. UK in 2005- The bombings killed 52 commuters and the four radical Islamic suicide bombers, injured 700.

      9) The execution of an eloping couple in Afghanistan on 04/15/2009 by the Taliban.

      10) – Afghanistan: US troops 1,141 killed in action, 242 killed in non-combat situations as of 03/03/2011. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror

      11) The killing of 13 citizen soldiers at Ft. Hood by a follower of the koran.

      12) 38 Russian citizens killed on March 29, 2010 by Muslim women suicide bombers.

      13) The May 28, 2010 attack on a Islamic religious minority in Pakistan, which have left 98 dead,

      14) Lockerbie is known internationally as the site where, on 21 December 1988, the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 crashed as a result of a terrorist bomb. In the United Kingdom the event is referred to as the Lockerbie disaster, the Lockerbie bombing, or simply Lockerbie. Eleven townspeople were killed in Sherwood Crescent, where the plane's wings and fuel tanks plummeted in a fiery explosion, destroying several houses and leaving a huge crater, with debris causing damage to a number of buildings nearby. The 270 fatalities (259 on the plane, 11 in Lockerbie) were citizens of 21 nations.

      15 The daily suicide and/or roadside and/or mosque bombings in the terror world of Islam.

      16) Bombs sent from Yemen by followers of the koran which fortunately were discovered before the bombs were detonated.

      17) The killing of 58 Christians in a Catholic church in one of the latest acts of horror and terror in Iraq.

      18) Moscow airport suicide bombing: 35 dead, 130 injured. January 25, 2011.

      19) A Pakistani minister, who had said he was getting death threats because of his stance against the country's controversial blasphemy law, was shot and killed Wednesday, 3/2/2011

      20) two American troops killed in Germany by a recently radicalized Muslim, 3/3/2011

      21) the kidnapping and apparent killing of a follower of Zoraster in the dark world of Islamic Pakistan.

      22) Shariatpur, Bangladesh (CNN 3/30/2011) - Hena Akhter's last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl. Her fellow villagers in Bangladesh's Shariatpur district had already passed harsh judgment on her. Guilty, they said, of having an affair with a married man. The imam from the local mosque ordered the fatwa, or religious ruling, and the punishment: 101 lashes delivered swiftly, deliberately in public. Hena dropped after 70 and died a week later.

      July 12, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • Muneef

      Come on man you have done much more than all of that all through your American modern history starting with the Red Indians until today....?! Or just as a short cut take it from 911 to date....?!
      The difference here that some make it with formal armies with heavey weapons,technologies and the skies while others make it with informal armies with light and medium weapons have only the grounds...who in such case should lose more lives and suffer destruction ...?!
      The types of Justice are Three (1) One that uses One eye. (2) One that uses Both eyes. (3) One that is totally Blind..!
      Guess you are the first "One Eyed" sitting on the top of your pyramid...

      July 12, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
    • Muneef

      [28:38] Pharaoh said, "O you elders, I have not known of any god for you other than me. Therefore, fire the adobe, O Hamaan, in order to build a tower, that I may take a look at the god of Moses. I am sure that he is a liar."

      [28:39] Thus, he and his troops continued to commit arrogance on earth, without any right, and thought that they would not be returned to us.

      [28:40] Consequently, we punished him and his troops, by throwing them into the sea. Note the consequences for the transgressors.

      [28:41] We made them imams who led their people to Hell. Furthermore, on the Day of Resurrection, they will have no help.

      [28:42] They incurred in this life condemnation, and on the Day of Resurrection they will be despised.
      -----

      [40:35] They argue against GOD's revelations, without any basis. This is a trait that is most abhorred by GOD and by those who believe. GOD thus seals the hearts of every arrogant tyrant.

      [40:36] Pharaoh said, "O Haamaan, build for me a high tower, that I may reach out and discover.

      [40:37] "I want to reach the heaven, and take a look at the god of Moses. I believe he is a liar." Thus were the evil works of Pharaoh adorned in his eyes, and thus was he kept from following (the right) path. Pharaoh's scheming was truly evil.

      [40:38] The one who believed said, "O my people, follow me, and I will guide you in the right way.

      [40:39] "O my people, this first life is a temporary illusion, while the Hereafter is the eternal abode."

      July 12, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
    • You Moron!

      Stop doing your prayers on CNN. Surely, you have a Home or a Cave to pray ?

      July 12, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
    • Muneef

      So you must be selling chapaty on CNN?

      July 12, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
    • Reality

      USA taxpayers at work saving the world from terror, horror and aggression:

      -Operation Iraqi Freedom- The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US Troops killed in action, 3,481 and 924 died in non-combat, 99,901 – 109,143 Iraqi civilians killed as of 3/3/2011/, mostly due to suicide bombers, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ and http://www.defenselink.mil/news/casualty.pdf

      – Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan: US troops 1,141 killed in action, 242 killed in non-combat situations as of 03/03/2011. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror,

      – Sa-dd-am, his sons and major he-nchmen have been deleted. Sa-dd-am's bravado about WMD was one of his major mistakes. Kuwait was saved.

      – Iran is being been contained. (beside containing the Sunni-Shiite civil war in Baghdad, that is the main reason we are in Iraq. And yes, essential oil continues to flow from the region.)

      – North Korea is still u-ncivil but is contained.

      – Northern Ireland is finally at peace.

      – The Jews and Palestinians are being separated by walls. Hopefully the walls will follow the 1948 UN accords. Unfortunately the Annapolis Peace Conference was not successful. And unfortunately the recent events in Gaza has put this situation back to “squ-are one”. And this significant stupidity is driven by the mythical foundations of both religions!!!

      – – Fa-na–tical Islam has basically been contained to the Middle East but a wall between India and Pakistan would be a plus for world peace. Ditto for a wall between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

      – Timothy McVeigh was exe-cuted. Terry Nichols will follow soon.

      – Eric Ru-dolph is spending three life terms in pri-son with no par-ole.

      – Jim Jones, David Koresh, Kaczynski, the "nuns" from Rwanda, and the KKK were all dealt with and either eliminated themselves or are being punished.

      – Islamic Sudan, Dar-fur and So-malia are still terror hot spots.

      – The terror and tor-ture of Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo and Kuwait were ended by the proper application of the military forces of the USA and her freedom-loving friends. Ra-dovan Karadzic was finally captured on 7/23/08 and is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the law of war – charges related to the 1992-1995 civil war that followed Bosnia-Herzegovina's secession from Yugoslavia.

      The capture of Ratko Mladić: (Serbian Cyrillic: Ратко Младић, pronounced [râtkɔ mlǎːditɕ], born 12 March 1943[1][2]) is an accused war criminal and a former Bosnian Serb military leader. On May 31, 2011, Mladić was extradited to The Hague, where he was processed at the detention center that holds suspects for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).[3] His trial began on 3 June 2011.

      – the bloody terror brought about by the Ja-panese, Na-zis and Co-mmunists was with great difficulty eliminated by the good guys.

      – Bin Laden, the Muslim, was executed for crimes against humanity on May 1, 2011

      July 13, 2011 at 12:27 am |
    • You Moron!

      I specialize in busting sorry asses of ya cave dwellers in AfPak. Ma Fo!

      July 13, 2011 at 2:18 am |
    • Hindu

      The impulse is not about winning converts. Hinduism, the world’s third-largest religion, doesn’t proselytize. IN OTHER WORDS, We – HIndus wont take excerpt out of Geeta and Vedas and preach our religion here in hopes of converting people. STOP lecturing us, we wont read a single word from it. Believe me, I know my fellow Hindus.

      July 13, 2011 at 8:21 am |
    • Muneef

      There is a day for every dog.

      July 13, 2011 at 8:33 am |
    • Reality

      And this is the first day in the future life of one Muneef:

      Saving Muslims is quite easy!!!

      The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:

      ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

      Are you ready?

      Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

      The First Five of the 77 Branches:

      "1. Belief in Allah"

      aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your cleansing neurons.

      "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

      Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

      "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

      A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

      "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

      Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

      Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

      Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

      "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) alone."

      Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

      Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

      Unfortunately, there are not many Muslim commentators/readers on this blog so the "two-minute" cure is not getting to those who need it. If you have a Muslim friend, send him a copy and help save the world.

      Analogous steps are available at your request for deprogramming the myths of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Paganism..

      July 13, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  7. Rahul Doshi

    @jaya

    Guess that's the beginning of saving the Hindu soul. It is unfortunate that the zealots in the Abrahamic faiths are constantly competing for numbers. The world would have been a lot more peaceful if they learnt to co-exist. Biron above/below demonstrates the misplaced zeal more than subtly.

    One more thing:
    In an Islamic theocracy like Pakistan, forceful inculcation is probably the norm and is expected. In the western society, where people promote and respect freedom of thought/expression, the zealots do look incongruous. Funny all that is carefully packaged as 'saving the soul'.

    July 12, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  8. Hitesh

    Many ask, "How can you mix spirituality and social service?"
    We ask, "How can you separate the two?"
    Mandir is the Hindu name for a place of worship or prayer. Mandir is a Sanskrit word for where the mind becomes still and the soul floats freely to seek the source of life, peace, joy and comfort. For centuries, the mandir has remained a centre of life – a common community place where people forget their differences and voluntarily unite to serve society.

    Proud of Being Hindu-BAPS Swaminarayan. Regardless of whether you are Hindu or not, this temple is worth a trip. One of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. And everyone was helpful.

    July 12, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Hindu

      Can we stop indirectly advertising a very small tiny branch of this BIG Hindu Religion. I respect Swaminarayan part of HIndu religion as much as Rama, Krishna, Ambe ma, and all other hindu Gods, all other Gods that people believe in. Nothing against Swaminarayan religion. When you get down to specifics – like – BAPS...it becomes obvious. Please just be a hindu and go to temple of your choice, and not force your likings on others. Where I live, there are Swaminarayan, Vishnu, Durga, etc. temples. They are all Hindu God temples.

      July 12, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • j

      @ Hindu .. my friend i understand what you are trying to say however he has the freedom of speech to say what he wants ... Hinduism's beauty lies in its wholeness as well as its individuality ... and its not like he is degrading Hinduism or anything! God Bless

      July 21, 2011 at 12:50 am |
  9. Kumar

    Hindusim is a polytheistic religious tradition (it doesnt confirm to any definition of religion as understood by people following the much younger Abhrahamic religions such as Judaism, Islam and Christianity – one god, one holy book, one prophet). Hindusim is the oldest extant religious tradition of mankind which traces all the way back to primitive humans who feared natural forces. It has hundreds of gods, hundreds of sacred texts and hundreds of spiritual yogis/gurus/rishis/teachers continuously expanding on previous spiritual theories and principles over 6000 years.
    Due to its polytheistic nature, there is no one particular god, holy book or spiritual guru or practice in Hindusim that is consider as the main form. Hinduism, the name itself doesnt mean anything significant. The ancient Persians coined the term to refer the land of people who lived on the other side of the river Indus (in modern Pakistan) which is all of the entire Indian sub-continent.
    Hindu is therefore a name given by foreigners (ancient Persians). Hindus dont refer to themselves as 'Hindus'. 'Hinduism' is the modern name that British used tp categorize this vast and varied religious tradition (including atheism) for administrative purposes. Not all Hindus are vegetarians, only the Brahmins, Vaishnavs and some other groups within this large ethnic population are vegetarians. The rest of the Hndus do consume some form of meat (chicken, goat etc) and seafoods (fish, shrimp,crabs etc). Most of the mis-information about Hinduism comes from Hindus themselves, as each Hindu tend to promote their branch of Hindu religious traditions/practice in the country they settle in. For every confused foreigner, think of Hinduism and India as Europe. People in the European continent generally follow Christianity but maintain their own country, language, culture and tradition. Similarly, most Indians are Hindus. India has 30 states and 22 official languages. Each state has its own language, culture and religious tradition. That is why India is often refered to as the 'Indian sub-continent'.

    July 12, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  10. ctb67

    The impulse is not about winning converts. Hinduism, the world’s third-largest religion, doesn’t proselytize. ....Nothing else need be said. Your alright in my books.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Hindu

      Agreed. This WAS THE HIGHLIGHT. Hindus will not knock on your door to tell you God X is the only God, because God X said so.

      July 12, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  11. Suresh Kumar

    Please check my blog http://sreepadmanabhan.blogspot.com/
    regards
    Suresh Kumar
    Head, Business
    Morbits Technologies (P) Ltd.

    July 12, 2011 at 8:44 am |
  12. harshal

    to clarify.Hinduism is a monotheistic religion. where god is represented in many different forms in order represent different aspects of nature.example lord Ganesha with a head of an elephant to represent wisdom and knowledge. Murthis or idols are worshiped so he devotee can be and feel closer to god in the same way that one keeps photos of ones loved ones on ones desk. Hinduism is a peaceful religion and has allowed other faiths to live peacefully in India( even though we were persecuted during the Muslim rule and goan inquisition. Hinduism is a progressive and scientific religion: which believes in evolution. Hindus were the first astronomers and mathematicians as well as plastic surgeons: we created the modern numeral system that the whole world uses today, the number 0, the decimal system etc without which no advancement of humanity could be possible today. So please people educate yourselves before you look completely stupid and don't player hate. Jai shri Krishna

    July 12, 2011 at 5:19 am |
    • jimtanker

      Are you sure that you know what you're talking about?

      July 12, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Indian

      I'm damn sure what he is talking about and he is absolutely right

      July 12, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  13. all world is one family...

    I dont want to blame any religion, i am not opposing any one, i just want to say that, every human has its beliefs in his god and his religion. Just as christians love their god jesus, just like that hindu people pray to their gods vishnu, shiva and many other.
    But i truly opposing those people who say that hinduism is fake or, hinduism is against of muslims, christians etc.
    those who have misunderstanding about hinduism they can refer book "essentials of hinduism" available all over world this book will clear all your doubts about hinduism...
    and please stop blaming each other we all humans we all from one family..

    July 12, 2011 at 3:31 am |
    • AvdBerg

      All the world is one family and the whole world has been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9. How this happened is confirmed in 2 Cor. 11:13-15. For a better understanding we invite you to read all the pages and articles of the website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

      July 12, 2011 at 10:38 am |
  14. pramit

    this is not merely americanised hinduism that is being described here, it is "semitized" hinduism.
    being a hindu in india, let me just note:
    1) only 30 per cent of hindus are vegetarian by principle, most have no problems with eating animal flesh.
    2) scripture like the bhagavadgita etc, unlike in semitic religions, are not particularly important because they are not the revelations from god. hinduism has thousands of religious tomes, much of it contradictory. hindus pick and choose their texts
    3) non-consumption of alcohol has nothing to do with hindu religious practice, its purely cultural and confined to a largish minority of hindus (india is the world's largest market for whisky)
    4) if a distinct branch of hindus does arise in the US, that's fine. it would fit in with a broad historical pattern of hindu adjustment to local practice. (talk to a punditya in bali for example)

    July 12, 2011 at 2:18 am |
  15. jk108

    Finally, an article that portrays Hinduism – the only religion that does not condemn non-adherents – in a positive and factual manner. The writer has done a nice job of highlighting the views and aspirations of Hindu youth. Congratulations! This is actually quite inspiring to Hindus themselves. Hopefully, CNN and other media can move beyond the romantic fascination of icons like the "elephant-headed god" to a more in-depth understanding of Hinduism connecting its symbols and rituals to its metaphysics.

    July 12, 2011 at 12:25 am |
    • Desiree

      @jk108 Hinduism is not the only religion that does not condemn non-adherents. Most forms of contemporary Paganism (e.g. Wicca, Heathenism, Druidry, Asatru, Hellenism, Kemeticism, Celtic Reconstructionists, etc.) do not condemn those who do not believe as they do or worship the same God(s), nor do we proselytize.

      July 14, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  16. Anil

    Hinduism is based on Vedic principals compiled, organized and written by Ved Vyas many many thousands of years ago. It has existed many millennium before his times and our Rishis communicated them to their next generations orally. Among many things, it teaches control of mind, emotions, desires, greed, anger etc. Today, we human value one's importance in life with power, position, prestige and possession. Veda says they are all inert and temporary. Your value as human is that GOD lives within you. The unseen power is within you all the time 24/7 taking care of your vital signs. The whole world would be better off if and when other religions adopt them in their scriptures.

    July 11, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
  17. Indian

    Indians Predated Newton 'Discovery' By 250 Years, Scholars Say http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070813091457.htm

    July 11, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
  18. Suresh Ramasubramanian

    I have seen some of this first hand and some of it has an extreme right wing color that I'm not entirely comfortable with. Hinduism as a religion has always remained separate (at least, on a different plane) from the "way of life", and its virtue has been that it IS polytheistic and syncretic (absorbing practices from other religions, coloring other religions observances with their practices <- eg: like velankanni in tamil nadu, india – a church to the virgin mary where the worship has a uniquely hindu tinge to it, and several hindus do go to worship there).

    Rejecting that (and citing those yoga practices mentioned as 'bad') shows a fundamental lack of awareness of hinduism, which again goes back to the right wing 'religious purity' type movements found in other religions. That phrase 'born again' was unfortunately used in all seriousness, like in the extreme form of christianity it describes.

    July 11, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
    • jaya

      The several Hindus who go to this Velankini 'temple' are eventually told not to accept any 'prasad' (food blssed as per Hindu beliefs), not to sport Bindis (it is cultural and not religious so I have no idea why they do this) and are actually forbidden to enter a Hindu temple again. I know this from my mother's maid who is doing all this...in order to get her daughter free medical treatment from missionaries.

      July 12, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Rahul Doshi

      @jaya

      Guess that's the beginning of saving the Hindu soul. It is unfortunate that the zealots in the Abrahamic faiths are constantly competing for numbers. The world would have been a lot more peaceful if they learnt to co-exist. Biron above/below demonstrates the misplaced zeal more than subtly.

      One more thing:
      In an Islamic theocracy like Pakistan, forceful inculcation is probably the norm and is expected. In the western society, where people promote and respect freedom of thought/expression, the zealots do look incongruous. Funny all that is carefully packaged as 'saving the soul'.

      p.s. Posted separately earlier and so am having to post again in the right discussion. Sorry about the double post.

      July 12, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  19. hippo

    i am all for believing in whatever you want. worship a jelly doughnut or some giant guy in the clouds. whatever floats your boat. American christians: quit thinking you are SO right and everyone else is SO wrong. ok. so our founding fathers were Christians. BUT look at all the crap the "christians" have done to innocents in this country. from destroying wildlife to entire cultures. quit preaching and pushing your crap on others. take care of you. and dont worry about the rest of us. and that goes for ALL people who think their beliefs are the only RIGHT ones. i just pick on the christians b/c i was raised with them.

    July 11, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
  20. Ram Ganeshan

    Thanks Dan for that factual article.We applaud your journalistic integrity for letting Ramesh's sentiments, opinions and thoughts stay. Yes; Ramesh's generation in the USA has to walk a thin line between the 4G IPhone era and the 5000 year old wisdom and culture from India. Hinduism is a way of life. How to emulate it in a far off land where the way of life of the 98% is different?
    Luckily, Vegetarianism has some good arguments to help it from health reasons. Adhering to it based on non-violence basis along will be tough sell in a land where billions of pounds of beef, chicken, pork, fish are consumed per year. One good thing anout Hinduism is that one can communicate and reach God-head through one's own fervant prayers, meditation and strict adherence to Dharma. So a Hindu can live anywhere in the world and be a 100% Hindu. If Ramesh's generation understands this truth about Hinduism, they can find good harmony between iPhone and Yoga and meditation.

    July 11, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • mickey1313

      there is no sound argument favoring vegatarianism. Not from a health prospective or a "moral" (what ever that means) stand. If we did not eat meat, we would be chimps, pure and simple.

      July 11, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
    • Rajinder Goyal

      I have been a vegetarian ll my life, and have two master's degrees in Physics, Mathematics and Chemistry from Arizona State University. Vegetarianism is an extremely healthy and a natural way of nourishing one's body and souls. Countless scientific studies have shown that being a vegetarian makes you a much more healthier person. If you want to kill cows and pigs and chickens, go for it, but don't undermine and degrade those who stay way from dead animals in their plates.

      Human beings were never meant to consume animal flesh. In thev state of Texas, and this comes from US sources, the per capit beef consumption is the highest in the country and Texas also has the dubious distinction of executing third of the total death penalties. Does that tell you something?

      July 11, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
    • Yes

      @Rajinder Goyal – I;m Hindu and veg., it's a personal choice, meat can offer some protein that we can't get in veg., but I think everyone has the right. Many Hindus eat meat, and many vedic people did in the past.

      July 11, 2011 at 10:20 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.