Saturday, March 26, 2011
Hello and Happy Saturday Everyone!
I wish to thank Derek Leman for sharing his faith journey with us last week; an excellent read. Thank you so much Derek!
This week we have a new interview so please welcome Upasana.
Upasana is Hindu and I know you will enjoy her interview as well!
Here Is Upasana's Introduction:
Hello. My name is Upasana which means to worship in Sanskrit. I am originally from India and I am a Hindu and I practice Hinduism. Hinduism believes in Dharma (virtuous living), Karma (actions and conducts), Reincarnation of the soul and Moksha (Salvation). The Vedas (meaning knowledge) are the most sacred text written in Sanskrit. There are four Vedic books which discuss about the God and creation, of which the Rig-Veda is the oldest. The Upanishads (dated 1000–300 B.C.), speculate on the origin of the universe and the nature of deity, and atman (the individual soul) and its relationship to Brahman (the universal soul). It is here where they introduce the doctrine of karma and recommend meditation and the practice of yoga. The Bhagwada Gita is the Holy book of 700 verses has teachings of Lord Krishna who tells us how we should conduct ourselves. The main deities, is the Trinity of Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Preserver) and Shiva(the destroyer of Evil). I am a strong believer and worshipper of Lord Shiva. I am currently a graduate student and I reside in New York. My parents, my sister and my two cute dogs live in India. I have a blog Desi Diaries where I talk about my journey from India to US. Desi meaning anyone who belongs to the Indian subcontinent.
My blog: http://desidiaries.blogspot.com/
1) What religion do you practice?
I practice Hinduism.
2) Did you convert or were you born into this religion? If you converted, what did you need to do to convert? And what did you practice prior to converting?
I personally believe no child is born with a religion tag. Anyone who is ready to live the Hindu way of life is a Hindu. I was born in a family which practiced Hinduism and that makes me a Hindu too.
3) Would you consider yourself a moderate, conservative or other.
4) In your opinion, what makes you moderate/conservative/other?
My practice welcomes people of every religion and caste unlike the orthodox Hindus which has a caste system. Also, I have non-vegetarian food unlike many Hindus who prohibit the consumption of alcohol and non-vegetarian meals.
5) In your opinion, what makes someone conservative? What makes someone moderate?
Hindu society is divided into caste system. The four major classes of the system are (1) the Brahmin (priestly and learned class); (2) the Kshatriya (military, professional, ruling, and governing occupations); (3) the Vaishya (landowners, merchants, and business occupations); and (4) the Sudra (artisans, laborers, and peasants). Caste system still exists in many parts even today.
An Orthodox Hindu is the one who does believe in inter-caste or inter-religion marriages, who does not drink alcohol and eat non-vegetarian.
A moderate Hindu is one who can be a bit more flexible and does not restrict himself strictly to the orthodox way of living.
6) What's your heaven/paradise like?
Swarga Lok (a heavenly paradise)
7) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why?
Hinduism believes in
Swarga Lok (a heavenly paradise where most of the Hindu gods (Deva) reside along with the king of gods, Indra) and Naraka ( a lower and darker plane filled with evil doers)
Being a hindu in my opinion, it is the good or the bad deeds along with the theory of Karma (the law of cause and effect by which each individual creates his own destiny by his thoughts, words and deeds) which will decide whether he/she will go to heaven or hell.
8) What makes your religion a good fit for you?
The feeling of connection and peace of mind and my strong belief in Karma make me fit in what I practice.
9) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?
Main ones –
Holi (Festival of Colors)- celebrates the arrival of spring and the death of the demoness Holika.
Diwali (Festival of Lights)- A festival celebrated with family and friends, sweets exchanged and firecrackers, candles and diyas. Diwali is celebration of the message of Lord Rama's return to Ajodhya from a fourteen year exile.
Mahasivarathri: A holy day which is dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva(Supreme God in Hinduism who is believed to be the Destroyer of Evil).
Guru Purnima: One of the most auspicious days where the devotees worship the Gurus and keep fast (Abstaining from all or certain foods, as in observance of a vow or holy day).
10) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?
11) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why?
Yes I would be a part as long as they do not have an issue with me being a part of their ceremonies or celebrations.
12) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law?
I don’t know much about Islam. However, I am aware of the Purdah System in India (both followed in Hindu as well as Muslim families) where the woman is supposed to wear a Purdah (veil or curtain). I personally feel we need better reforms to abolish such systems. Not very sure about others though.
13) What are your thoughts on women not being allowed to become priests?
Some religions where women are not allowed to become priest still has to undergo a lot of changes. It depends on how people look at it and how ready they are to do something about it.
14) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel?
It depends. Men and women at times.
15) How much does your religion affect your daily life and how much thought do you give it when making a decision? Does it affect in any way your decision on abortion, gay marriage, etc?
It affects me a lot. I do believe whatever happens in my life is a result of my Karma. I know whatever deeds I am doing are getting filed and so I do take decisions always keeping in mind that it will take me to heaven or hell or help me get salvation. As long as I am not going against the Prakriti-the nature that God has created I am okay.
16) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion?
Would be no problem.
17) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?
18) Who do you think is not a practicing ----- in your religion and why? ie who in the public domain claims to speak for your religion? Do you agree with them or not?
I believe certain Saints (Gurus) who say they don’t believe in the material world and yet find ways to settle down with the latest materialistic desires are not setting a correct example.
19) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain.
20) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?
21) Does your religion give you peace of mind?
Yes it does.
22) Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?
Yes. Hinduism is based on the concept of reincarnation, where all of us are caught in a cosmic cycle of birth and death and all of us including living things from plants to animals to us and even God.