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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. Jeshua

    America was founded by the Christians, was settled and owned by the Christians and will always be a Christian country.
    May our Lord bless this country.

    All other faiths and religions are just immigrants in the U.S. ! Hinduism belongs to India, Judaism belongs to Israel, Islam belongs to the Middle East, Christianity belongs to North, Central and South America, Europe, South and Central Africa, parts of Asia and Oceania.

    Grow up and learn!

    BTW the women on picture 2 is so beautiful lol! She wears gucci clothes

    July 10, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • God

      I don't know what you are talking about. I don't see your name in the book of life

      July 10, 2011 at 9:26 am |
    • johnborg

      When will neo-cons get it through their heads. There is more than enough evidence that the majority of the founding fathers were deists, universalists, etc. not Christians. Sure, a few were. Together, they granted religious freedom. The US is a secular state. Even if it wasn't, the US doesn't hold Christian values (love your neighbor, can't serve two masters, etc). A Christian nation is a myth.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:28 am |
    • kmp

      Every religion talks about the same god in a different way le us not fight over religion jeshua. by doing this we will take our great usa into dark ages

      July 10, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • MakingIndia

      > America was founded by the Christians, was settled and owned by the Christians

      Have you read "American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World" by David E. Stannard

      Hindus like everybody else know that America was founded by the Christians AFTER SLAUGHTERING 100 MILLION NATIVE AMERICANS. Whitewashing history? Pathetic!

      For four hundred years–from the first Spanish assaults against the Arawak people of Hispaniola in the 1490s to the U.S. Army's massacre of Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee in the 1890s–the indigenous inhabitants of North and South America endured an unending firestorm of violence. During that time the native population of the Western Hemisphere declined by as many as 100 million people. Indeed, as historian David E. Stannard argues in this stunning new book, the European and white American destruction of the native peoples of the Americas was the most massive act of genocide in the history of the world.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:35 am |
    • Maisey

      Um, sweetie, America was discovered by NATIVE AMERICANS who came across the Bering Strait connecting Alaska and the Asian continent thousands of years ago.The European Colonists bombarded there way into America bringing human disease and exotic plants and animals with them, killing many Native Americas and our ecosystem, along with their barbaric religious thinking and practices called Christianity. No one on this great Earth is better than anybody. Don't be ignorant to the FACTS. Pick up an unbiased history book and read it sometime.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • kvvk

      Grow up dude! Maybe American companies should then remain in the USA instead of trying to make profits in other countries- you still live in the dark ages and should come out from underneath your rock- you cannot have your cake and eat it- the world is changing and multi-culturalism and globalization is here to stay. If all other religions left the USA then this country would just fall to pieces! Your ignorance is damaging to your own society!

      July 10, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • Erm

      Nice fantasy, original poster.

      And "owned"? Didn't realize one could "own" a country.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:52 am |
    • Acaraho

      Jeshua, sadly based upon your beliefs you belong to no religion since your views are not only non-Christian, they are un-God-like. Christ never spewed the hatred that froths from your mouth.

      July 10, 2011 at 10:17 am |
  2. amy

    get a life, dude. America was founded on FREEDOM OF RELIGION>what ever religion a person chooses, or none at all.

    July 10, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • God

      Open your eyes little more and you will see things clearly

      July 10, 2011 at 9:28 am |
  3. LOVE_FACTS

    I am a proud Hindu and love US! There you go!

    July 10, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • God

      You are beloved son

      July 10, 2011 at 9:28 am |
    • Jake Henderson

      We do not want you here. Go back to where you came from.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • John Richardson

      Jake only speaks for Jake. He says "we" to make himself feel strong, which he isn't.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • Erm

      Who is "we", Jake? You and the voices in your head?
      You do not speak for me.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • Kana

      @Jake Henderson – what makes you think LOVE_FACTS was not born in the United States? Unless you know all the fact, to say go back where you came from, is just stupid.
      Unless of course you're affiliated with the highly respected Westboro Baptist Church.

      July 10, 2011 at 10:03 am |
  4. Jason

    What's interesting about Hinduism is that even if it's not "American" there aren't many clashes between it and American culture, because it isn't spread through violence and oppression (unlike, say, Islam).

    It's so much easier to be tolerated when you are tolerant of those around you, isn't it?

    July 10, 2011 at 9:21 am |
    • God

      I am pleased with you

      July 10, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • Maisey

      Unfortunately in their home country in India, there are too many Christian missionaries with an agenda trying to convert them to Christianity. I think it's a sad reality that a group of people would be so narcissist to think that they have such a monopoly on the truth and a true lack of compassion and understanding for other faiths or non-faiths.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:41 am |
  5. lefty avenger

    Hindus are fine people and have some honor. What we have is many racist xenophobic small minded people like Jeshua here. Hate and the kkk well alive in america.

    July 10, 2011 at 9:21 am |
    • God

      I will cast them into the eternal fire

      July 10, 2011 at 9:32 am |
  6. loreeeebeeeeeee

    America is NOT a Christian country, and it was never formed to be that way.

    July 10, 2011 at 9:20 am |
  7. Rudi

    Imagine you discover the knowledge of love, you learn what happen when you travel faster then the speed of light, You will know how far you can look into deep space, You can learn how past and future are actually on the same platform and you could move from 1 to the other…all in a great story with flavor…special discount for facebook fans by typing the code facebook. All atwww TheDimensionMachine. DOTcom

    July 10, 2011 at 9:19 am |
    • God

      One day you will see me

      July 10, 2011 at 9:40 am |
  8. Ken

    However, they are coming to the USA in droves and taking every available job and business franchise and every space in college leaving high unemployment here

    July 10, 2011 at 9:19 am |
    • loreeeebeeeeeee

      As did your ancestors at some point back in your familial history.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:21 am |
    • lefty avenger

      I see tons of americans every day and they are all on welfare. Not a single one of them wants to work and they refuse education. Americans are the welfare queens and these people who come here work night and day to support their families. What we really need to do is send all these hopelessly lazy americans to pakistan.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • Ravi

      That's because, you guys are a bunch of lazy a******s. Don't blame the Hindus, Ken.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:24 am |
    • Jason

      Ken: As long as they're coming here legally, working hard, and trying to fit into American culture, I don't care if they ALL come here.

      Unless you're pure blood native American, you're descended from immigrants, like 99.99% of the population.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:25 am |
    • Daltxn

      Such an ignorant comment. What you're seeing is the result of hard work and dedication. That's a trait that has been lost in this country because of greed and excess. Folks from other countries that don't grow up having our luxuries know the meaning of hard work and it pays off. Unemployment isn't cause by entrepreneurs as you seem to think.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • God

      Ken you should move your a$$ from the couch and go to the nearest community college, get trained and find a job rather than blaming others. Did you get it?

      July 10, 2011 at 9:34 am |
    • God

      How much you weigh?

      July 10, 2011 at 9:36 am |
    • guest

      They did not come on their own and take American jobs. They were brought here by US corporations to do the work. Also, jobs outsourced to those countries were moved from the US by the same large corporations. Interesting that you do not have the guts to stand up against these large corporations. Talk about shooting the messenger...because that is easier.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • Acaraho

      You are so small-minded. Immigration and multiple cultures is what makes America strong. Prejudice, racism, fear, and hate is what stagnates our country's development.

      July 10, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • Jesus

      I am certain that you or your forefather's arrived to US in the same way-IMMIGRANT to this country. So, why cry rather than understand the reality. Why do you think you own the country, this country is originally of the aboriginals, let them say that you or these Indian's are coming and taking their land and jobs and every other thing.

      July 10, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  9. GAFOLKS

    I would imagine if there were a Christian center on a business campus, as is described above for a Hindu Center, there would be a complete uproar.

    July 10, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • loreeeebeeeeeee

      I am sure there are many.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • Maya

      I think you're missing two major points: first, that "Hindu" is synonymous with not only Hinduism but with the Indian culture. Christianity has no distinct culture because of its missionary nature, which Hinduism lacks. Therefore, a Christian center will always be something religious, whereas a Hindu center is largely cultural. Second, businesses can do whatever they want. If a business wants to build a cathedral on their property, they can.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • johnborg

      I doubt it. It's a "center," non-Hindus are not obliged to go. The problem with evangelical Christians, is they will try all in their power to make people go if they had a similar center.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • God

      Though maya is one of my characteristics, I don't know anything about the Maya commented here.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • Erm

      In Texas? Yeahhhh, doubtful!

      July 10, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  10. Jeshua

    America is a Christian country and we don't need any other faiths or religions !

    July 10, 2011 at 9:14 am |
    • Peter

      NO it's not and your prejudice is a disgrace to this great country. Grow up.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • loreeeebeeeeeee

      America is NOT a Christian Country, and was not formed that way. It was formed with religious FREEDOM.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • Mike in Chicago

      They are not taking our jobs. We are giving it them as we choose to stay uneducated, petty and lazy. We as a nation are polarized. Look what is happening in Washington! We are in a choke hold over the debt ceiling as we want that cuts for the rich but can't do the right thing like education for our children, the future generation on our country who we depend me. Indians give great emphasis on getting an education, work hard and unlike us do not spend their money on crap made in China. We need to embrace more people who want to contribute to the US rather than just keep complianing because we are lazy.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:26 am |
    • God

      I don't see your name in the book of life

      July 10, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • Chad in Boston

      No, it isnt. The first line of the first Amendment specifically prohibits any one religion being favored in your politics. Its your kind of ignorance on the right that keeps the left in power.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • Erm

      Jeshua is trolling. He's posting the same comment over and over. I feel sorry that he is so small-minded and also so ignorant of history.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:56 am |
    • Acaraho

      Wrong! America is not a Christian nation. It was in fact founded to escape the Christian persecution prevalent in England and fostered by the monarchy. If you really want to look at this country's original religious worship you must then look at Native Americans' religious practices which are based in praise of Creator and Mother Earth.

      July 10, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • Sakthi

      In Hinduism belongs to India, then Christianity belongs to just Bethlehem. PERIOD.

      July 10, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  11. martin2176

    India is one country where Christians were not persecuted.

    July 10, 2011 at 9:12 am |
    • Jake Henderson

      Really? http://christianpersecutionindia.blogspot.com/

      By Hindus none the less.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • Molly

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8woHykQgB8&w=640&h=360]

      Converting an indian to christianity – don't let the devil win ; We are winning in India !

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvVAV09-dQ8&w=640&h=360]

      July 10, 2011 at 9:27 am |
  12. Rainer Braendlein

    In contrast to Christianity Hinduism teaches reincarnation. What you become next life, depends on you behaviour in the ongoing life.

    Christianity teaches that there is only one life, and after that Judgement Day.

    I guess, the Hindu doctrine of reincarnation is somewhat dangerous. You can reckon on a second, third, fourth, .... chance. This could cause that you don't take your current life too seriously. Who cares, maybe next life I become a rat (as punishment for my bad current behaviour).

    Christ has specifically commanded to tell people about Judgement Day, when Christ will assess the life of everybody:

    Acts 10: 42: And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God [to be] the Judge of quick and dead.

    Christians of course are not hellfire preachers like Muhammad. It is still a time of grace and you can repent to day and believe in Christ, who wants to give you the power for living a good life. God wants your salvation, not your death!

    July 10, 2011 at 9:11 am |
  13. N@TuRn3r

    Yet another group white America will discriminate against out of fear and ignorance.

    July 10, 2011 at 9:10 am |
  14. mike

    Is this REALLY "front page" news? I guess Fareed is having more and more input on this site.

    July 10, 2011 at 9:06 am |
    • Michael

      You must be an idior. Fareed is a Muslim and this article is about Hindus. Not that Fareed is bias but you ignorant people don't understand the difference. Before you realize, Indians and Chinese will rule the West that West thought they would never lose. Wake up you people.... compete with the rest of the world. Your children and grandchildren will be standing in line to get Indian Visas if you don't wake up.....Get out of this Superiority Complex and compete.... something you have not done...

      July 10, 2011 at 9:17 am |
  15. todd saed

    it all falls in place, California boomer doing yoga in the seventies, discovering Brahma, Vishnu, SHiva, and Krishna are the same thing, the one God, same one as in other culutres, Hinduism is more a culture than religion, and Texas has grown up, AUstin as hip as any Cal city ever was, yay

    July 10, 2011 at 9:06 am |
  16. bala musa

    There is one Creator of the Universe! and any one or any thing that submits,obeys,in sincerity and in peace(Islam) to this Creator is a mu-islam(Muslim) i
    so there is only one True Religion thats Islam(submission to The Creator's Alone Will in peace)
    proofs and truth below sites!
    http://www.creationofuniverse.com and http://www.creationofman.net will scientifically explained and proof there is only one creator and sustainer of the universe and mankind! research this sites if you are intelligent and smart!

    July 10, 2011 at 9:03 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      The Koran is a pack of lies. Muhammad made-up a new religion, in order to unite the Arabs for a war against the Byzantine Empire!

      July 10, 2011 at 9:17 am |
    • Nikkii

      The oldest religion is Hinduism and then came other religions. Atleast in the present time Islam is not properly followed.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:26 am |
  17. rr

    This just sounds like they are trying to convert us to their beliefs. This is one of America's many problems. We let everyone into our country claiming freedom but when people come here there try to convert us to their way of life. They are as radical as Islam. They worst part is that this guy is right on two points. One we've taken many of their beliefs and stuffed it into our society. Like yoga and meditation. The problem is is that you can't get rid of it. I live in an area that is more atheist than christian and practices a lot of what they teach. Which is weird and yes the believe in many Gods. Hinduism wasn't set up as a religion but a philosophy by its founder. His followers took it to the extreme. Jesus is the only way to heaven and I believe in him. This guy isn't going to convert me and if ever I met him I would give him a Bible and show him the errors of his ways.

    July 10, 2011 at 9:02 am |
    • seanthegreat

      RR,

      What makes this country great is the freedom to exchange ideas of faith without the fear of being silenced by another faith's political power. It is ok that they are here and for a life changing experience try having one over for dinner so you might experience these "people" and understand that they are very much like you and I. As well, when you have them over for dinner truly get to know them without some lame attempt to convert them or treating them like a project.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:13 am |
    • Jinx

      Haa..Haa.. very funny! That's exactly how people in India feel too when Western christian organizations converted millions into Christian. TV advertises both Pepsi as well as CocaCola. It's your choice to pick, you may even choose water which is not advertised at all.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:14 am |
    • DJ

      Wow! You the first and only one to know the founder of Hindu philosophy. Now tell who that person was.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • Peter

      "This is one of America's many problems. We let everyone into our country claiming freedom but when people come here there try to convert us to their way of life."

      Now you know how the Native Americans feel the only difference is they won't steal your land from you while claiming to be Christian.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • John Richardson

      rr writes "everyone who doesn't convert to my way of thinking and my way of life is trying to convert me to theirs. it's okay for me to try to convert them, but an offense against me for them to try to convert me and, again, merely not bowing to my will is an attempt to convert me. i am persecuted. i am the victim here and always. America is great – at least, my sociopolitical slice of America is – and our greatness can be beheld in our whiny sense of victimhood." Sadly, you are not alone, rr. There are many who think like you, and you are all wrong.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:29 am |
  18. TommyTT

    These people who, as citizens, are as "American" as any of us, are also good reason why phrases like "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance make us sound provincial. Why should their children, in school, be asked to refer to God in the singular? It defies the spirit of religious tolerance that is part of our country's foundation.

    July 10, 2011 at 8:57 am |
  19. Sara

    I'm confused as to why they wouldnt want to be defined as polytheistic. That just means they worship many gods, and they do, right?

    July 10, 2011 at 8:48 am |
    • ad

      the conept of god in hinduism is different from islam/christianity. in hindiusm, god/lord is a physical manifestation of the Supreme Being. The Supreme Being is without shape (niraakaar).

      It is an illusion/ignorance/untruth (maya) that lends this Supreme Being shapes and attributes. Our attachments, egos drive this illusion.

      So, to be one with God(atman) we need to follow our dharma.

      Read Swami Vivekananda's master piece on this

      July 10, 2011 at 8:55 am |
    • Girish

      No Hindu's don't worship many gods. They worship different aspects of same GOD called Brahman. In Hinduism there is ONLY GOD. All existence is GOD itself. In other words GOD is existence itself and it is called as Brahman. These things are clearly explained in Vedas and Upanishads which are the holy scriptures for Hindus. Unless you have a very good philosophical understanding of concepts it is very difficult to explain this and lot of Hindus themselves does not know all the concepts

      July 10, 2011 at 9:10 am |
    • Rakus

      Sara, I am a Hindu from India and am not a religous person. I think it is a very fair question that would come to anybody's mind, even I believed so for a long time until I once read more about Hinduism. It truely isn't polytheistic. To explain it in simple terms it talks about one supreme God in every living and non-living being in all different forms.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • Sam

      No, they do not woship many gods. They worship one God who has many facets. Each god represents the facet of the one true God. So, with the elepant who represents the ability of God to move things that to us are unmovable.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:21 am |
    • John Richardson

      But it seems that every polytheistic religion recognizes a truly supreme being of some sort as ultimate creator. Once you personify multiple divinities and even have them interact in your lore, it's tenuous to claim anything remotely like strict monotheism. Of course, trinitarian Christianity's claim to be monotheistic is also tenuous.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:34 am |
    • Nash

      Religious Hinduism is a broad category which encompasses both monotheistic and polytheistic tendencies and variations on or mixes of both structures, Hinduism is accused of polytheism but Hinduism cannot be considered polytheistic as Hindu religious text the Gita stresses that god is one and his forms are many. :-). Many Hindus believe in different deities emanating from God, and the majority continues to worship a deity as a matter of personal belief or tradition as a representation of this supreme being, as a representation of the 'One God'. many people do not really know this and do not try to learn either because its easier to spew vitriol. Frogs in the well ...just my 2 cents ;-).

      July 10, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • Sara

      Thanks! I didnt realize it was multiple aspects of the same god, I thought they were all different.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:48 am |
  20. American Hindu

    Live and Let Live! As the hands of time revolve, so do our need to modernize & evolve your beliefs. Krishna or Christ, one & the same, I believe. Daily Prayers, Going to Church on Sundays or temples every day don't mean jack $hiit, unless you back it up with the KARMA, which is really a journey to find the divine within you. Think & Act my fellow peeps.

    July 10, 2011 at 8:35 am |
    • Jake Henderson

      Hi there Peep – you are an idiot

      July 10, 2011 at 9:16 am |
    • John Richardson

      @Jake No, he isn't.

      July 10, 2011 at 9:35 am |
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About this blog

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.