I’ve Quietly Become a Religious Zealot!

by Aranyakananda

We’ve all met “one of those people”. They carry their Bible around with them everywhere. They quote their pastor in every conversation. They might even have an image of Jesus Christ as their desktop on their computer. Certainly they have a crucifix hanging around their neck. These are the people to avoid right? Because they will invariably try to ensnare you in a conversation about whether you know where you are going when you die. Right? And their Facebook pages become their own personal pulpit!

But wait. I’ve come to recognize a list of things about myself:
1. I wear an Aum around my neck all of the time.
2. I have a Bhagavad-Gita with me in my backpack at all times to take out and flip through during down times if I am waiting for a bus, or even on my lunch breaks at work.
3. I do not quote the priest at my temple but there are a few of the men in a Bhagavad-Gita discussion group who I can quote if the moment is right.
4. For a time, I had a very over-the-top image of Lord Vishnu riding on the mythical bird-like creature Garuda as my desktop image at work. What? I liked it!

5. My Facebook friends are regularly treated to quotes by Gandhi, Yogananda, Vidyadhishananda, Sri Krishna, etc. as well as random postings of images of Hindu deities. Only thing about this is a friend of mine who is similarly inclined has assured me that we are not proselytizing as we never tell anyone they need to believe as we do in order to save their mortal soul.

Though there are some people I know who don’t recognize how different the approach to “faith” is between a Hindu and a Christian, and may very well see these things and will think “we’ve got another religious nut here”, I also think that most people don’t give these things a second look, and I know why too.

1. Because Hindu deities and the Aum symbol have become such secular images in the Western World. You see them everywhere, in some of the most inappropriate places, placed there by people who often don’t know what they mean. I have a co-worker who has a Ganesha statuette though he is not a Hindu, but has a refreshing amount of respect for, understanding of, and respect for what it represents. But most of the time these images would seem to be just about interchangeable with Leprechauns or the Easter Bunny.
2. Another thing is that scriptures such as the Bhagavad-Gita and the Upanishads are often published with covers bearing the word “Classics” or something similar which seem to suggest that they are akin to, oh let’s say Dante’s Inferno. Related to religion, but not scripture.
I think these are the only things standing between me and religious zealotry.

This entry was posted in Aum, avatars, Avatars of Vishnu, Bhagavad-Gita, Bible, books, Catholicism, Christian, Comparitive Religion, current events, Divine Consciousness, Ganesh, Ganesha, Gita, God, Hinduism, idolatry, Jesus, Krishna, life, myth, Om symbol, philosophy, Sanatana Dharma, Upanishads, Vaishnavism and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to I’ve Quietly Become a Religious Zealot!

  1. Boo says:

    As you know, I have a tattoo of Ganesha on my left forearm. He goes with the tattoo of Siddhartha Buddha on my right forearm to coincide with the fact that he was raised Hindu. I have numerous statues of Ganesha on my shrine, along with all my Buddhas and Hoteis and a few Kwan Yins.

    Ganesha has always held a special place in my heart because of growing up with Tourette Syndrome. What better than The Mover of Obstacles to help me through my troubles. I do not find him interchangeable with the Easter Bunny. And while I am not Hindu, you know I have my own copy of the Bhagava-gita.

    If everyone made even a tiny effort to understand the way other religions think, wouldn’t the world be a better place? I raised my children in the same way, educating them in as many ways of thinking as I could so they could, 1: Make an educated decision as an adult as to what path they wanted to take. And 2: Be able to understand and not JUDGE other people.

    Venerable Bhikkhu Boo Roth

  2. Dhrishti says:

    If it’s any consolation: Around my neck I wear an Om, a Sri Yantra, a lotus, a Ganesha and a hamsa. My desktop wallpaper is Ganesha, majestic, sure, but no less over-the-top. I also carry my fav version of the Gita with me to most places-either in book form or ebook form.

    You mention the sometimes “inappropriate” secular application of Hindu religion iconography or inaccurate attribution of our scriptures. I think what you’re saying is true AND okay. I think it’s okay because of the major differences between Dharmic and Abrahamic Faiths. Our conception and experience of God isn’t in any way lessened, as the Abrahamics preceive things to be in their case. Our notion of God is both mundane AND mystical. As such, I think, while it may be a little sad, it’s still acceptable that Ganesha can be found on a lunchbox.

    Om Shanti!

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