Three Stops On My Way To Sanatana Dharma

by Aranyakananda

As I have said in a few places on this blog, I knew long ago that Christianity was not for me. After coming to that conclusion I tarried aimlessly for a few years, thinking somehow the Spirit would strike me and somehow it all would seem complete. It did not happen. This spiritual loitering began around 2000-2001, let’s say. Between then and 2008 when I first really began to understand Hinduism, I believe there were three particular forms of religion that struck me as interesting, upon which I took a fleeting glimpse, with which I had a mere dalliance, nothing more. Here is what they were and why, in no particular order:

1. Unitarianism – I remember this specifically because a co-worker of mine in 2006 probably, was making small talk with me which turned into his inviting me to come to the Unitarian Church in town. The way he explained it however made it sound not so much like a Church as a rec center or social club. He even said they don’t even talk about God in the Unitarian Church. The part that attracted me was, like Hinduism, all were welcome, all paths were found to be acceptable. I think I did some reading on it later, and what I really liked was that I found that Unitarians believed that “no faith has a monopoly on the Holy Spirit.” Well into my Hindu days, I found the link between the Holy Spirit and Avatardom to be more than tenuous. Still do.

2. Baha’i – This one, like Unitarianism was attractive to me because of its insistence that all paths are equally valid. Baha’i also insisted on the equality between the sexes, races, etc., something I found incredibly important as a minority myself. It was also something I did not find to be of such a priority in Christianity, all ideals aside. Also Baha’i was well represented all around the world, which I found to be comforting, knowing that it wasn’t just a religion which was linked directly to a specific culture.

3. Zoroastrianism – I read that it was older than Christianity and that much of today’s Christianity is based on it, so I was interested. It confirmed so many of my suspicions about Christianity.

I think many non-Indians who have “come to Hinduism” have probably gone through stages where they took at least the first two into consideration, just because of the simple principles which they and Hinduism have in common. With Zoroastrianism, I think it is just the simple fact that we see so much evidence that Christianity borrowed liberally from other sources and the trail often leads back to Zoroastrianism, so it is always something that is worth a look.

Why none of these options stuck for me is up for debate. I suppose on some level I just had to be ready, and in 2006 I was not. I have already eluded to why Unitarianism quickly lost it’s luster as an actual spiritual path, though I think it was probably misrepresented by my co-worker. And I have the sneaking suspicion that this was done to make it more attractive to someone who showed some degree of interest. When it comes down to it, Unitarianism is quite Christian, but with a very unique outlook on what Christ was. And most Christian sects are alike in the propensity toward proselytizing.

Baha’i – At the time, I found it to be questionable because it was so new. It is the youngest of all “self-contained” religions. Meaning it is not a sect, but a system unto itself. Its founder, Baha’u’llah left his body 30 years before my grandfather came into his. Somehow things just lose their mystique when they are that recent. I now don’t find this to be quite so disagreeable. However, it did have a link with Islam which was part of the Abrahamic system I was trying to avoid, to tell you the truth.

Zoroastrianism again had the link with Christianity that I wanted to avoid. But also, like Baha’i which was well represented around the globe but was very small in numbers, Zoroastrianism was almost non-existent especially in the West. Today there are about 200,000 of them in the world from what I have read. That may seem contradictory to my confidence in it being the root of the more populous Christianity. And, well, it was contradictory. But even then I think I must have understood that there was a reason that we evolved out of one form of worship and into others as time goes by, so I rejected Christianity and that which it clearly came from.

Yet Hinduism, oldest living religion as it is, seemed, and seems timeless to me.
Hinduism, so inseparably linked to India in so many ways, seemed, and seems to be for all.

Jai Hari Aum.

This entry was posted in Abrahamic faiths, agnosticism, agnostics, American Hindus, avatars, Avatars of Vishnu, Christianity, Comparitive Religion, dharma, Dharmic Faiths, Eastern Philosophy, Hinduism, History, India, Islam, Jesus, minorities, New Testament, opinion, philosophy, pluralism, religion, religious conversion, Sanatana Dharma, spirituality, Vaishnavism, Vedanta, Western Hinduism, White Hindus and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Three Stops On My Way To Sanatana Dharma

  1. Dhrishti says:

    Interesting post, Vasu! Believe it or not, you don’t often share this kind of stuff about yourself. I enjoyed.

    Re: Unitarianism… A few years after being excommunicated from a Christian church in my home town, I found the MCC (Metropolitan Community Church), a “gay” Christian church. At the time, the local MCC, then called Jesus MCC, was buildingless and was renting space from a gorgeous Unitarian church. A time or two since then I’ve looked into Unitarianism. I do find it relatively liberating and at times beautiful, but for my personality it also seemed to be missing a sense of shape or structure.

    Re: Baha’i-ism… I REALLY liked this religion when I explored it. I spent a year “living” and learning and exploring Islam, which was followed by almost a year of the same in the context of the Baha’i Faith. I visited the house of worship for North America, which is in Chicago – it’s amazing. I could easily have become a Baha’i if it weren’t for their view of gays. When I asked about it, I was shown places in their scripture where homosexuality was literally likened to substance addiction, like alcoholism. The sweet Baha’i devotees local to me took great effort to help me know that I’d never be harassed or judged for being gay, but that it was something up to me to “work on” on my own, however I’d chose. As softening as that was, and also very kind of them, it contradicted my own conscience and kept me from cementing a bond with the Faith.

    Re: Zoroastrianism… I only know a little about this group, but I’m intrigued. I believe it is the source of all monotheism on the planet, as it is currently recognized/defined. As such, as you have said, it’s the parent/grandparent of the Abrahamic Faiths – an interesting twist, I think, because the Zoroastrians are essentially fire worshippers. My how the times have changed!

    • treadmarkz says:

      Interesting about fire worship. I wonder if there is elements of “Agni” in Zoroastrianism. Never thought of it.

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