Hindus don’t need lectures on religious tolerance – Ambaa

Ambaa“Hindus want to welcome everyone to practice whatever makes him happy. That is what is natural in our religion. But how can we continue to happily allow anyone to practice whatever he likes when most often what he likes to practice is forcing Hindus to convert to Abrahamic faiths? Telling them that they’ll go to hell? That their Gods are demons?” – Ambaa

Swami Lakshmanananda SaraswatiWhile we were traveling one day in our van the topic of intolerance among religions came up. When I said that this was a problem with Abrahamic faiths because they require exclusivity, a friend said “No, all religions do this.”

But I say that Hinduism is naturally tolerant to other religions. When it isn’t, that’s a defensive reaction to Abrahamic faiths forcing themselves on us.

This article is going around on Facebook now saying that Indian media has cut part of Obama’s speech out of its reports about his visit, a speech about religious tolerance. 

“India will succeed so long as it is not splintered along the lines of religious faith — so long as it’s not splintered along any lines — and is unified as one nation.” – Politico, 29 January 2015

And that may be true enough but why are these warnings directed at Hindus?

All these warnings are meant to tell Hindus to stay tolerant of other religious views. But when Hindus turn intolerant it is for DEFENSIVE reasons. Tell Christians and Muslims in India to stop tricking and coercing people into converting and you’ll see any aggression that might be present in right-wing Hinduism immediately deflate.

Hindu pilgrim train burning at Godhra Junction in 2002We all want to get along.

Hindus want to welcome everyone to practice whatever makes him happy. That is what is natural in our religion. But how can we continue to happily allow anyone to practice whatever he likes when most often what he likes to practice is forcing Hindus to convert to Abrahamic faiths? Telling them that they’ll go to hell? That their Gods are demons?

Religious tolerance starts with those who say “Ours is the only valid path to God.” Until those people can learn to accept other points of view, Hindus are going to feel threatened and some will respond defensively. – Patheos, 2 February 2015

» Ambaa is an American woman who is also a practising Hindu. She contributes to the Patheos blog at The White Hindu.

Missionaries at work in rural India