Hinduism Today: Letter and Response

The following is a letter written by Vimala Thakar to the magazine Hinduism Today. Following that is another letter written in response.

Vedic Heritage

I do hope that your newspaper will acquaint the Hindus living away from India with the source of Hindu Dharma and not only to the mythological informaiton about it. The Vedas, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Geeta are the source of Hindu Dharma. The homogeneous wholeness of cosmic life, the mysterious, interrelatedness of all things and beings inhabiting the planet, the divinity and sacredness of life and the built-in equal status of all living beings obliging us to have reverence for life, are some of the salient characteristics of our Vedic heritage.

The Hindus who have gone abroad with the sole purpose of acquiring money and physical comforts must be made aware that dedication to atma-paramatma-the existential essence of life-is the ultimate purpose of human life. Instead of aping and imitating non-Indian ways of life, they should carry the torch of Vedic culture to all parts of the globe.

Vimala Thakar

Brahmins & Burgers

I read Vimala Thakar's letter "Vedic Heritage" [February, 1994] with outrage and would suggest she be more careful in making broad generalizations about "Hindus abroad." Further, to suggest that religiosity is determined by geography is ludicrous. Firstly, not everybody came to the West for the "sole purpose of acquiring money." Many people immigrated for a variety of reasons, including persecution on the Indian subcontinent. Secondly, not everyone is "aping and imitating non-Indian ways of life." Not that there is anything inherently wrong with that: there is good and bad in every culture. So there are things in this culture worth "aping" and things in Indian culture to be rejected and vice versa. The fact that Indians abroad have maintained their religion despite being immersed in a very different culture is a testimonial to their dedication.

I have also lived in India, where many of the people were running off in their blue jeans to their piano and tennis lessons and who had far more wealth than I will ever likely see! I certainly spent more time at the temple than they did. I also knew brahmins who went out for hamburgers, whereas my family has been vegetarian despite being in a meat eating society for over 25 years. So, India is not always the domicile of non-materialistic, "true" Hindus. Let me assure Ms. Thakar we are proudly carrying on Hindu traditions abroad succesfully. The reality is we are no longer 100% products of Indian thought. We are hybrids formed of Indian and Western influences. That is not necessarily bad, however. My parents have always taught me that we are fortunate to be able to pick the best of both East and West. I intend to do so.

Ms. Kothai Kumanan

Bedford, Nova Scotia, Canada