UNITED STATES, February 10, 2016 (Daily O by Dr. David Frawley): Saying "I am a Hindu" is bound to meet with denigration in the West and even in India - more so if someone born in the West states to have formally become a Hindu. Yet for someone in the West to say that they have become a Buddhist or a Muslim does not meet with the same negative response. Nor does it occur for someone in India, even from a Hindu background, to say that they have become a Christian or a Muslim.
Like a number of Westerners starting in the 1960s, I became immersed in Hindu based practices of yoga and vedanta, extending to the worship of Hindu deities like Shiva and Devi. When people asked me what religion I followed, I realized that I was clearly a Hindu in my way of life from puja and pilgrimage, to mantra and meditation. I decided to formally become a Hindu to affirm this.
However, most in the West who take up yogic teachings do not formally call themselves Hindus, even if they adopt Sanskrit names relating to Hindu deities. This is owing to deep-seated propaganda against Hinduism as characterized by backward social customs, not enlightened spiritual teachings.
Many yoga students claim to be followers of their particular guru or sect. Others claim to be part of a universal tradition of yoga that includes all religions, of which Hinduism is only one. Yet all follow ideas and practices rooted in the Vedas, Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Sutras - primarily Hindu sources - overlooking the fact that they are benefitting enormously from Hindu teachings. Fortunately, there is a slow awakening to the value of Hindu dharma and its rishi traditions. To respect Hinduism is to respect our ancient spiritual roots and our potential for higher consciousness.