What Do Western Atheists Feel About Hinduism?

It seems truth cannot be told anymore. I had written an answer to the above question on Quora, but after over 11k views it was taken down, allegedly violating the “be nice, be respectful” policy. I cannot see anything objectionable in my answer. Why would they let it ‘collapse’?

Here is the text:

Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma is least dogmatic (Buddhism is more dogmatic as it follows what Buddha said and Buddha was only one of the numerous Hindu sages). And of course, it is completely different from Christianity and Islam. If those two big religions are the norm, then Hinduism should not even be called a religion.

However, it is not easy for a foreigner to get to the core of Hinduism. One reason is that we hear mainly bad things about Hinduism in the west and another is that Hindus don’t go out of their way to explain. In fact, many of them, especially the English educated, know themselves pretty little about their tradition as it was demeaned under British rule and even after Independence.

Only recently more Hindus realize its worth and this may fluster the Christian west. I guess it’s because at least some westerners know that Hinduism can pose a real challenge to their “blind- belief- in- divisive- dogma religions”. And again there is this increased effort in recent times to demean India in general and Hindus in particular – whether it is by shouting “rape” or “attack on minorities”. Both charges are very unfair if seen in relation.

I was on my way to becoming an atheist, as I couldn’t believe anymore what the Church told us to believe, and the Christian God simply couldn’t be true, sending non-Christians summarily into hell. And what about all those who lived before Christ was born? Anyway, it’s easy to see why one can lose faith in dogmatic religions and the Christian God.

On my first trip to India, I didn’t understand a thing about Hinduism. Only on my second trip (which was intended as a stopover), I came by chance into contact with two great sages and then slowly went deeper, started reading, reflecting, meditating…

It all made immense sense: naturally there must be some great power/intelligence behind and beyond this universe – the inner ruler of the big and the small. It makes sense that the meaning of life is to discover That in oneself. If it is there (and it makes sense that it is there), then, of course, it makes sense to put my focus in life foremost on That.

From then on, it is not only intellectual inquiry but also experience. If I say that Bhakti, devotion to that great power, is a natural outcome of putting one’s focus on it, many may not agree because intellect alone can’t get there. One needs to genuinely want to know the truth about ourselves for the truth’s sake.

Unfortunately, for many in the west “God” has such negative connotation thanks to the Church that they don’t have an open mind even towards “Brahman” (big, expanding), as they may feel that “God’ comes in again through the back door. Yet the Hindu concept of the Highest is scientific. “Veda” – the most ancient Hindu scriptures – means knowledge. The analysis of us and the universe by the rishis is mind-boggling and the ways to connect with that power in present-day Hinduism are amazingly colorful and joyful.

 Maria Wirth is a German Hindu blogger, and author of the book, “Thank you India”. Click here to buy her amazing book on a German Woman’s Journey To The Wisdom of Yoga.

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Maria Wirth
Maria Wirth is a German and came to India on a stopover (that’s at least what she thought) on her way to Australia after finishing her psychology studies at Hamburg University. She visited the Ardha Kumbha Mela in Haridwar in April 1980 where she met Sri Anandamayi Ma and Devaraha Baba, two renowned saints. With their blessing, she continued to live in India and never went to Australia. She dived into India’s spiritual tradition, sharing her insights with German readers through articles and books. For long, she was convinced that every Indian knows and treasures his great heritage. However, when in recent years, she noticed that there seemed to be a concerted effort to prevent even Indians (and the world) from knowing how valuable this ancient Indian heritage is, she started to point out the unique value of Indian tradition also in English language and shares them on her blog. She is also the author of the book “Thank you India – a German woman’s journey to the wisdom of yoga”.

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