The SBNR article by Lauren Valentino (July/August/September, 2017) is well written, with supporting surveys. Religion is usually part of a society and its culture, which young minds imbibe as they grow up. It is less likely to have much impact on minds growing up in a multicultural environment. Having good understanding of physical science while holding a poor understanding the inner science of religion only adds to the distance between people and their religious culture.
At a superficial level, religion appears divisive. But spirituality unites, and this appeals to growing minds. They seem to understand the basic oneness of humans, and this is a good sign.
Hinduism, better called Sanatana Dharma, was not founded by a particular human but is qualities of human nature, i.e., yearning to see everyone as equal, doing good, righteousness, seeking right knowledge, etc. Hence, Sanatana Dharma is a way of life, the dharmic way of life that appeals to unadulterated minds.
GAINESVILLE, FL, US
I enjoyed the article, “What’s Happening to Religion?” It exemplified myself. I find the magazine interesting because it covers a wide range of subjects.
SACRAMENTO, CA, USA
Animals and even plant species communicate with each other. However, human language is unique in being a symbolic communication system that is learned instead of being biologically inherited. We also use it to express inner thoughts and emotions. It is a medium through which we represent the culture and historical background of our community.
However, a language known by one person or group need not necessarily be known by all. Over the years, we in India have made it our “pride” rather than our “medium,” and we have started using language to categorize and chain people to other linguistic minority communities of our regions. This is happening in West Bengal, where Bengali language is being made compulsory, irrespective of the opinions of the hill people. This is a crime on moral grounds. In an independent country like India, an individual should be free to learn and communicate in the language of his or her choice. No one has the right to force their mother tongue on others, as they also have their own vernacular languages to choose from, Nepali being one of them. It also has a negative impact on the majority language. For instance, the great free-minded Bengali language, instead of being respected and loved, becomes an object of hatred and indifference when forced on the young minds of non-Bengali-speaking students.
I believe all languages are beautiful and deserve respect. But learning them should be the free choice of any student or member of any state. No citizen of this country should be chained to any language. This is my humble suggestion as a concerned citizen of this great “multi-linguistic”country, India.
RAJ SUNAR & ARJUN SUNAR
SHILLONG, MEGHALAYA, INDIA
Malaysia is fast becoming an aging society, with more people living past 80 years. Not all senior citizens are fit or in good state of health. Some have impaired mobility and have difficulty standing up to pray, as well as sitting on the floor.
A few temples in Malaysia have thoughtfully provided a few benches or kept a stack of plastic chairs at the far end of the temple hall facing the mulastanam for the benefit of disabled devotees. But most Malaysian temples don’t provide this facility. I hope all Hindu temples in Malaysia and in other countries within the Hindu diaspora will provide seating arrangements for disabled devotees so that they are comfortable while praying and receiving darshan of the temple Deity.
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Lauren Valentino’s article, “I’m Spiritual, But Not Religious.” I have come across several incidents where people conflate spirituality, philosophy and religion. To me, it’s a relatively simple concept. Most people would agree that human personality has three dimensions, namely, spiritual, mental and physical, corresponding to spirit (soul), mind and body, respectively. Hinduism teaches that mind is a manifestation of soul, and body is a manifestation of mind. We are not, as some believe, physical bodies having mental and spiritual experiences. We are spiritual people having mental and physical experiences.
Spirituality is a spiritual process, philosophy is a mental process, and religion is a physical process. Thus, philosophy is spirituality concretized as a thought process and religion is philosophy in action. The three disciplines supplement, rather than supplant each other and are as interconnected as are spirit (soul), mind and body.
ALBANY, CALIFORNIA, USA
The rapid increase of the SBNRs (those who identify themselves as Spiritual But Not Religious) is easy to understand. Young people familiar only with the Western religions are in large part frustrated by the emphasis on dogma and the corresponding rejection of spirituality, mysticism and personal experience of the Divine. In short, the SBNRs, by and large, equate religion with dogma—and with a worldview that looks down upon other religions, to the point of proselytization and sometimes downright intolerance. Given that concept of religion, it is no wonder that it is being rejected by so many souls being reborn during this transition to the next Sat Yuga.
I am convinced that once these old souls become familiar with the Sanatana Dharma—its inclusiveness, respect for all, reverence for the Earth and all its beings, and above all its emphasis on spirituality, mysticism and personal experience of God—most will realize that one or another of the great paths within Hinduism is the religion of their soul, and they will arrange to formally enter the religion through the namakarana samskara, joining the worldwide congregation of others whose worldview matches their own—just as I did in 1984, after 17 years of study and practice.
I am an ardent fan of your magazine and feel very grateful for the wonderful service to our eternal dharma. But sometimes I find words like mythology in your content. A friend here in Bangalore, Vaidhyanathan, calls this the language of terrorism. Our Puranas and Ithihasas are not fantasy. Please do insist this with the contributors. This is my earnest request.
Many non-Hindus, especially from Western religions, are confused by the Hindu concept of God. They view Hindus as having many Gods and cannot understand why. This is because they are not exposed to the concept of manifestation of one to many and many to one. Science tells us that everything emanated from the same source (big bang) and will eventually merge back into one tiny dot (big crunch) and repeat this process. This concept of manifestation is emphasized in Hinduism. One can hence reconcile this manifestation concept with science, as rationalized below.
In Hinduism, God is the supreme super-conscious soul entity which fills out the Universe. God is therefore only one. The Universe is only one. Theoretical physics also asserts that the universe is only one by means of the Unified Field Theory as postulated by Einstein, among others.
The Hindu concept of God goes on to explain that within this one supreme soul entity there is an energizer (Shiva) as well as energy (Shakti), all within one. The energizer is portrayed as male and called by many names, viz., Shiva or Brahman or Vishnu, etc. This energizer is actually the intellect behind the supreme soul. The energy aspect is however portrayed as female and is also called by many names, viz., Shakti, Durga or Amman, etc. There are, in fact, many different manifestations of this energizer as well as many different manifestations of this energy in the universe, and these are personified and symbolized, by the ancients, as different Deities in Hinduism. Science can explain or measure the different energies only, viz., as atomic energy, electromagnetic energy, gravitational force, solar energy, light energy, sound energy, visible forces, etc. Science, however, cannot explain or measure the energizer aspect, as this must be realized to be known.
All Deities are therefore portrayals or aspects of the manifestation of the same one entity. To put it simply, the energizer is within the energy and the energy is within the energizer, and both are one.
However, the true God or true facet of God which all souls will eventually seek to merge with, is, in fact, the energizer. The manifestation of this energizer is also seen in our own intellect, or can be “seen” as mental energy, and also includes gradual revelations of human knowledge over time. The energizer aspect, in Hinduism, is hence personified or symbolized as different Deities. The scriptures tell us how to conduct invocation of this energizer everywhere around us and within us and show us the path to Him.
Letters with writer’s name, address and daytime phone number should be sent to:
Letters, Hinduism Today
107 Kaholalele Road
Kapaa, Hawaii, 96746-9304 USA
or faxed to: (808) 822-4351
Letters may be edited for space and clarity and may appear in electronic versions of HINDUISM TODAY.