Hindu By Heart: Coerced into Islam, seeking freedom podcast transcript
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Hindu By Heart: Coerced into Islam, seeking freedom podcast transcript

By November 8, 2023 No Comments

The following is a transcript of the That’s So Hindu podcast episodes 95 and 96 “Hindu by Heart: Coerced into Islam, seeking freedom”. The transcript has been lightly edited for clarity, removing normal interjections of speech and repetitions. Bold text is interviewer Indu Viswanathan. Regular text is interviewee Keshav. 

I am honored to be here today with Keshav of a 19 year old who recently made the bold and thoughtful decision to share his story with the world. We’re going to be using the name Keshav today, and it’s a pseudonym to to protect his identity. So welcome Keshav. I’m really happy to be speaking here with you today. Can you describe your early experiences with Hinduism and your family’s religious practices?

Growing up in a very devout Hindu family, I remember going to mandir every Sunday. And part of going there, I was taught a lot of things from an early childhood, just the basic fundamental principles of Hinduism. Growing up, I felt like, it was more of me following what my parents did [than] what my peers did. So I never really understood Hinduism; I never really grasped Hinduism from a young age. It was just more so of me following what the people around me were doing. And I think growing up in a very religious environment that I was in, I remember doing puja every morning. And I wouldn’t necessarily know why I was doing particular things. But I would just know that my parents were doing it, so I would do it as well. And that was really, what kind of kept me in line with my religious practices, and what really kept me in line with my faith. It was a big part of me growing up in a household where we really put we really put an emphasis on having faith and being religious.

When you were growing up, did you have a strong sense that your culture and religious identity was Hindu or Hindu American, like you strongly identified with that?

Yes, from a very young age, I strongly identified as a Hindu because that’s what I was. I was brought up in a Hindu household, and […] we really have a deep spiritual connection with the Hindu faith. So from a very young age, I was taught to identify as a proud and devout Hindu and make sure that I’m not ashamed to tell everybody around me that I was a practicing Hindu. So that was something that was already embedded in my mind.

And did you do that? Did you talk about being Hindu with your peers who maybe weren’t Hindu?

Yes, very young age. I had a lot of friends who were Christian; I had a lot of friends who were Muslim; and I told them, I’m a practicing Hindu. This is what we believe. And this is what we do.

I don’t know if you remember this, but when you were younger, when you were talking to your friends about those things, what kind of things did you say to them? How did you describe what Hinduism meant to you or what it meant to be?

So obviously, not knowing the purpose of why we do things played a big part in why I didn’t really understand my religion as much as I thought I did. So whenever I had to explain what I did in my faith to other people, they wouldn’t really understand because I would give them a broad description of what we do, rather than telling them why we did the things that we did. So I think that was a big part in my struggles, and my continued struggle to really, really understand the point of a religion — not only Hinduism, but the role that religion plays in my life. And so I think growing up, I didn’t really understand why we did things. I didn’t really understand why we did particular things, especially in my sampradaya. So explaining it to people was kind of difficult because they would ask why we did the things that we did and I wouldn’t be able to explain that to them because I was never really thought about why we did things. 

When you came across, you know, these moments, for instance, when you were trying to explain something and realize that you couldn’t? Did you find yourself going to your parents or other people in your community in your center then and asking them questions about why.

Back then I wouldn’t really do that. Nowadays I do. I asked a lot of questions. And as I continue to seek for the truth, I realized that asking questions is very important. And that’s something that I never did in the past, which is a decision that I regret. 

Could you share the moment or maybe it’s an event or a bunch of events that started to change your perspective on your faith and identity?

There was a chain of events that really started to change the way that I thought about Hinduism. I think one important aspect of that was the people that I’m around, my immediate friend group, the majority of that being Muslim. They would tell me what they do in their faith and what they do in their religion. And they would send me videos of certain scholars in their religion, talking about Islam, in comparison with other religions, on Abrahamic faiths, and also Hinduism. And so they would try to explain to me the fundamental principles of Islam. And they would compare those principles with that of Hinduism. And they would try to kind of embed in my mind that Hinduism didn’t make didn’t really make any sense and its theology and in its philosophy. And as I started listening to them more and I started digging a little deeper into Islam […] that’s what what really sparked a lot of questions in my mind. Some questions would be: In Islam, they only worship one God, but in Hinduism, it feels like we’re worshipping many gods. And to me, it didn’t sound logical in my mind. […] And it sparked a doubt in my mind about whether I’ve really been following something that was fundamentally wrong. And whether I had to convert, or whether I had to really get back on the right path. I felt as if my faith or my religion was not the religion that I should be following. So when I looked into Islam, everything made sense to me, because they made it sound so coherent and so logical — where I thought that this is the religion that I should be following. Because to me, it sounds right. In my mind, it sounds right. To be honest, I don’t think it sounded right from my heart, because I never had a spiritual connection, even when I did accept Islam. But my mind was telling me that, oh, this sounds right, this sounds right. Like, this is probably the religion that you should be following, ideally. And so, as I kept asking more and more and more questions, it all made sense to me. So I was like, rather than really taking my time, and trying to understand Islam, a little more than I did, I felt like, I felt as if I […] kind of rushed into establishing a connection with the religion, because a lot of the lot of the Muslims told me that, you know, I was on the wrong path — I had to get myself on the right path before it was too late for me. So I think that was a big part of why I kind of forced myself to detach myself from Hinduism, [from] the connection that I had left with my sampradaya and with Hinduism. I felt as if I had to detach myself completely. And that’s what I was also being told, if I wanted to become a devout Muslim, I had to completely detach myself from Hinduism and detach myself with everything that was related to Hinduism.

Wow, that’s really powerful. I can almost feel like this pressure that you were feeling that this was urgent, like the sense of urgency that you need to do this and that, you know, if you don’t do it, there are consequences for you. I don’t know if you remember but what started your friends to like what what instigated them to start sharing these videos with you? What was the opening? That they felt like they could be sharing these videos or this information with you?

The way that this all really started was me talking about religion. And, over the coming years, I felt like I was getting a little bit less religious than I was in the future. And part of me was, questioning things, questioning rituals, and traditions and Hinduism. So the topic of religion sparked something completely different. Me talking about why, I’m not really a religious person; I’m not really in line with my faith. And I felt as if they took that as something that they could start with, and something that they could use, to really kind of take advantage of me because they knew that I wasn’t really big on my faith. So I felt like that was one starting point that they saw. And for them to really try to embed this idea in my mind that I was following the wrong faith. So part of what really sparked this was me communicating with them about the fact that I wasn’t really in line with my faith; and that’s what they really took advantage of. So, they started sending me…it started very, very, very low. It was more so explaining the theology and philosophy of Islam. And then, you know, telling me to read the Quran. And then sending me videos — eventually comparative religion analysis videos. […] Having watched these videos, that’s really what strike even more questions in my mind. And I would go back and I would ask them questions about Islam after having watched these videos, because I couldn’t fully understand what was actually being said. They would tell me, you know, this is what we believe in Islam. And they would kind of tell me what they believe in Islam; and they would come tell me what we believe in Hinduism. And they would say, how could this make sense compared to what we believe. It’s kind of like, at times, they would kind of make a mockery out of Hinduism. They would kind of make a mockery out of the entire faith. It was explained to me why Islam is a logical religion on a larger scale. They will talk about how Islam is the one and only religion that’s going to exist for generations and generations and generations after time. And they will tell me why me being a Hindu would practically do anything for me, because Hinduism […] was a very contradicting religion. And there was no way for me to really be a devout Hindu — for me to really follow my faith. […] Having listened to all of this, it kind of sparked a big doubt in my mind about whether I was following, you know, a legitimate religion. And so that’s really what you know, that’s really what caused everything.

Would you say, it’s fair to say that you had, you were expressing these doubts you had about your own religiosity as a Hindu thinking that you were sharing with friends who would receive that would sort of sincerely and maybe help you navigate it? Were you taken aback when you experienced them? Taking advantage of your vulnerability or your sharing of your vulnerability? Did that surprise, you?

To be honest, it kind of baffled me; I wasn’t really taken aback. Nor was I really surprised, because in my mind […] I was kind of thinking about it. From my mind, I was trying to try to connect the dots together; rather than really thinking about it from my heart, which, you know, which I still regret. And so, I thought, you know, maybe they’re trying to put me on the right track; they genuinely care about me; they’re my friends. So maybe they’re trying to really enact some meaningful change in my life. Maybe they see me struggling mentally. And you know, they want to do something for me; they want to put something in my life that could really help me. And so I, at the time, I was not taken aback, or surprised by the things that they were telling me.

And these were friends from school from social media. How did you know these folks?

Yeah, so some friends from school and some friends that I had on social media. Some mutual friends as well.

Okay, and these are people that you had spent some time these are not new people in your life. These are people that you would you interacted with for for some time.


Do you remember if there were any specific practices that you didn’t understand in Hinduism that made you question?

Yes, there were a lot of practices. But [there were] some in particular that sparked a really big doubts in my mind: one being idol worship. I didn’t understand why people shouldn’t worship these. It never really made sense to me growing up.  I realized that as a child, I never questioned these practices. But as I grew up, more and more, I was really like, why are we worshipping these? Because, it didn’t sound it didn’t sound right to me, nor did that sound logical to me. And so, obviously having questioned idol worship, I looked at it from the Islamic perspective. And I was like, the way that these guys pray, they don’t pray to idols. This looks more right; this sounds more right. And so, that’s a question that was embedded in my mind. 

Another question that was on my mind, and still is on my mind, to the question of Hinduism’s philosophy and theology, which is, whether we are a monotheistic religion, whether we are a polytheistic religion, or whether we are a henotheistic religion. And this is obviously still a debate among many Hindus. But for me a monotheistic religion sounded ideal to me. Because, for me, I’ve never questioned the idea of believing in a higher power in a God. And I always knew that there was something, there is some creator in the universe. Even when I had kind of stepped away from my religious practices as a Hindu, I always believed in the existence of God. And so, in Hinduism, the perception of God and the idea of God, what we believe, who we believe God is… it kind of confused me. Because Hinduism, in practice, it looks like we are a polytheistic religion because we worship many deities, many devas, many goddesses. And that never made sense to me. For me, I thought, we should only worship one. But who is that one God, because many sampradaya believe that one god, that one Lord, is different. Some people believe it’s Krishna, and some people believe it’s Vishnu. Some people believe it’s Ganesh and Hanuman, etc, etc, etc. So, for me, it never made sense, right? In Islam, they worship only one. And, you know, they have a fundamental concept in Islam, where they are a strictly monotheistic religion. So that that sounded right. To me, it made sense. And so having compared the practices in Hinduism to those practices in Islam, Islam just made a lot more sense to me, in my mind. And part of that was also, you know, people telling me how Islam is strictly a monotheistic religion. I was like, alright, this sounds right to me, because it makes sense in my head. And that’s really what pushed me a step further.

So it sounds like your friends, were really picking up on what what you were doubtful about. And they, they gave you exactly the type of information that, you know, would would make Islam seem like a good way forward for you in terms of religion that, that they know exactly where to meet you? How to Answer your doubts. And I think it’s really powerful and interesting that you keep referencing this sort of divide between your what was happening in your intellect or your mind and that but your heart, maybe was saying something else, too. Do you remember what your heart was saying during this time?

I have a very strong spiritual connection with Hinduism. Part of that was me being part of a sampradaya. And I have a very strong connection with my deceased guru, who passed away a couple of years ago. For me it was all about kind of holding that connection. And when I was being told that I had to completely detach myself and completely get rid of these connections […] it didn’t sound right. In my mind, it sounded right. It sounded like, you know, a practical thing to do when trying to connect myself with another religion, but my heart was telling me a completely different thing. So, obviously, having this connection, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to let go of this connection, regardless of the circumstance. So part of me really questioned what I was getting myself into. And part of me really questioned that the things that I was being told, but I felt like as if I felt like as if I was pushing away these questions, and I was trying to force myself into, into kind of establishing this mentality, this ideal mentality He didn’t really want to have in the first place. 

So your friends are, you know, pressuring you to convert, how old? Are you at this time when all this is happening?

18, 17-ish.

Okay, so not that long ago, couple years ago. 

Hardly a year ago.

Wow. And so they’re, they’re pressuring you to convert? What else is happening in your life at that time? You were still in high school? You were a senior in high school?

Yes, I was a senior in high school. And I was also kind of going through a very bad phase in my life. So I was looking for guidance. And that’s, you know, that’s part of what really pushed me forward. And me forcing myself to take steps that I thought I wasn’t ready to take at that time.

So you’re going through this hard time and obviously, you know, turn to your friends. Was there anyone in the Hindu part of your life, whether it was your parents or siblings or family members, or just anyone know, you’re part of Assam, for that part of the Sangha? Is there anyone that you were turning to for advice from the Hindu perspective, about navigating this difficult time in your life? 

Not really, because to be completely honest, I didn’t know any Hindus outside of my sampradaya. And so I wasn’t really able to establish a social connection with a lot of other Hindus around me. […] We had a large amount of Hindus that went to my high school, but they weren’t really in line with their faith. A lot of them weren’t really that religious. They weren’t really devout Hindus per se. And so it was, you know, I couldn’t really have a conversation with anybody. […] Whereas a lot of Muslims that I grew up with that were around me, they were very intact with their faith. They were very religious. It was easy to have a conversation with them about, about religion as a whole.

So now you you made the decision to convert, can you walk us through that process? What did what what was involved? What rituals or actions were involved? In your conversion?

Basically, it’s important to note that I went, one of my friends invited me to a mosque. It was during prayer time. And he invited me to the mosque, in the evening. I went there with the intention of not converting because I was not ready to take that big step. I’d taken many steps forward, but I was not ready to take such a big step. And so I told him beforehand, hey, I’m not ready to convert. I’ve already changed my religion. Just leave it as it may be. And when I went to the mosque, he showed me around. The social environment was very nice at the mosque. But as I went into the prayer room, I saw the imams and a few people from the Muslim community, they were sitting there, and they were ready to take my shahada. And the shahada is basically a ritual, a few words, Arabic words, that you say. And that’s basically what makes you a Muslim when you recite those words. So I see all of them sitting there in a little circle, and two or three people standing behind me by the exit. And I’m kind of standing there in the middle ivery awkward. It’s just a very awkward, you know, place for me to be in. And I’m confused. I was like, hey, like, you know, why are you guys all like, you know, like, sitting here like this? And they were like, we’re ready to take your shahada. And I was like, I’m not ready to take my shahada. Who told you that I was ready to take my shahada? And my friend, you know, he walks up and he’s like, you know, take your shahada; I think it’s time for you to take a shahada. And I was like, I told you, I’m already taking my shahada. The one imam speaks up and he’s like, if you don’t take your shahada now — they use the word shaytan [for Satan] — shaytan is going to stop you. And I was very confused. As I think of it, and I keep pleading, and I was like, I’m not ready take my shahada, please give me more time. I appreciate you guys being so excited to welcome me you know, into your community, but I’m not ready. Please give me some more time. This is a big step I have to take in my life and I just need more time to think about it. And they kept pleading and pleading, pleading saying […] it’s now or never. And so without even really thinking, I was like, alright, you know what, I’m just gonna go ahead and take this step big step in my life. Because […] maybe they’re right. If I don’t do it now, it’s never going to happen. Maybe this is the change I need in my life. So let me just do it now and really see how Islam changes my life. And so I just had the shahada, and they welcomed me, they give me hugs. And, they were asking me a little bit about me my name, where I come from, what religion I was part of before. And one dark realization that I came to, after I took my shahada, was that they were going around, telling everybody that I was once a Hindu. And at the time, I thought, you know, maybe it was just an introductory remark, maybe they’re trying to, you know, tell people about, like, you know, who I am and where I come from, but I realized that they were going around, saying that we have a Hindu convert. And they kept going around telling everybody that, oh, look, a Hindu just converted. And people come up to me, and they start trying to meet me. They asked me, hey, is it true that you’re really a Hindu convert? And I was like, yeah, it is. But at at the same time, something deep down was telling me that this wasn’t what I wanted to people to know about me. And so, I come to this realization that I was sort of being paraded around as the Hindu convert, some sort of object that they were using, to really, kind of I’m taking advantage. I realized that I think I was being taken advantage of. This realization has kind of  sparked a really, a really dark, really dark thought in my mind. And it still kind of bothers me to this day: the way that they saw me and the way that they perceive me.

So  you’re 18 at this time? 

No, I was 19. 

You’re 19. So it’s just very recently. And, you know, it’s, it’s painful even just to hear his description of you being paraded around I can’t imagine what it felt like for you, especially because it sounds like you were somewhat coerced or ambushed into converting before you were you were ready. No, there’s a lot of pressure that was put on you. Did anyone know, outside of the group of friends that took you? Did anyone know that you were going to be visiting the mosque that evening?

No, I was scared to tell a lot of people that I knew. I kept that a secret from people around me. And I didn’t want anybody knowing, you know, that I was going to a mosque.

What were you scared of? What what did you think would happen if they found out? 

I didn’t want to be labeled, you know. Maybe my parents finding out. That’s really what scared me the most. So I kind of kept a close lid on it. Even if I was just visiting, you know, even if I did just go with the intention of just visiting.

So you go there not anticipating that you’re going to convert during this visit, and all of a sudden, you have you. You’ve taken this oath or this vow. How did you feel?

It didn’t feel right. And I realized this, it didn’t, it didn’t feel right. At the moment, it felt as if I just taken a big step in my life. But I realized that it didn’t feel right. My heart was telling me something completely different than what my mind was telling me. It did not feel right. It took it felt like as if I if I was forced to take a big step in my life that I was not ready to take.


I started coming to the realization that maybe I need more time, and not necessarily for me to revert back to Hinduism from or for me to become a Hindu again. But for me to really embark on a journey. And obviously, it’s going to be a long and treacherous journey full of ups and downs, because I’m seeking for the truth. But I knew that I had taken a little arm I taken a step that I was already taking my life. And I felt, you know, I kind of felt like, you know, taken aback from this decision. So after having had that conversation with him, it kind of opened my eyes. 

What were some of the things he shared with you? What were some of these perspectives about Hinduism that were novel to you? 

He talked a lot about Sanatana Dharma. And about how a lot of misconceptions a lot of stereotypes about Hinduism, idol worship, the worshipping of many gods and goddesses. And he offered a unique perspective to me. And that unique perspective, it kind of it sounded, it sounded like something that made sense. And it sounded like something, it sounds like your perspective that I was really introduced to. And after telling me everything about Sanatana Dharma, I felt as if I had learned so much just off merely having a conversation with him, more than I had learned my entire life, about a faith that I’ve been following for almost my entire life. I felt as if I had learned more, in a two hour conversation with somebody than I had learned about Hinduism for my entire life. And so this is really what opened my eyes, getting these unique perspectives getting, getting these perspectives that I’ve never really been introduced to. It really opened my mind. And it really sparked a doubt in my mind, a genuine doubt about me, taking a step in my life that I was not ready to, that I was not ready to take. And coming to the conversation that we had about Islam, I had realized that I didn’t really know anything about Islam. Besides the bigoted things that are said about other religions, I was never really fully introduced to Islam. And so that’s, that’s a big part of what opened my eyes. 

This person that you were speaking to on Instagram, they’re closer in age to you than your parents.Yes, yes. And are they a part of your sampradaya? Are they come from a different one? 

No, they come from a different sampradaya. It was somebody who was really big on […] a belief system that I was never really introduced you. And it was somebody who kind of had a different perspective about Hinduism, a perspective that I was never introduced to, a perspective that I never thought even existed.

Had you had the opportunity growing up to interact with youth or young adults from the other center that is in Hinduism, or was your experience mainly within your own?

So I’m having grown up in a sampradaya — we have a lot of following, especially here in the US — I did interact a lot with the youth. I went to national conventions […] I had a lot of people I interacted with, and I kind of felt as if I felt later on in my life. But I kind of felt as if we were following something that we didn’t really know anything about. It kind of felt like we were blindly following something, blindly doing a practice that we didn’t really know anything about.

But these were all youth within the same sampradaya. You weren’t going to sort of inter sampradaya youth conventions or anything. This was still within the same within the same lineage. 


So this was really a very novel experience for you. You were interacting with someone who was coming with a completely different experience and understanding of Hinduism itself. And having this interaction. You know, it sounds like it was it was it changed your trajectory quite a bit. 

Yes, it did. 

So since that interaction, and you started to really think, you know, had I had you prematurely made this decision, you weren’t ready, you didn’t really know about Islam, outside of the videos that were sort of bigoted and misrepresenting other traditions. What happens next? 

I’m talking to this person more and more; and I got on the phone with this person. And I asked him to teach me more, and to give me to give me more perspectives about Hinduism that I was ever introduced to. And to having learned all of this, I asked him about his experiences with Islam […] and he told me his experiences with Islam. And he was going through the exact same thing that I went through, and I’m in the exact same thing that I’m still going through. And that’s really what kind of changed my frame of mind even more. Because he was being told the same things. He had the same questions in his mind. He had the same doubts. He was going through an exact similar phase I was. And so I kind of thought, you know, maybe this person was somebody that could give me some guidance. So having talked to them even more and more and more, I felt as if I had to take a step back, and rethink my decisions and rethink what steps I’m going to take, what what steps I’m going to take next. And so, I kind of felt as this was kind of a message for me to take a step back, reflect on the choices I was choosing to make, and kind of think about it practically in the way that it was going to affect my life for the long run. 

What, if anything, did you communicate about this to your friends and to your, to the Muslim community that you are part of? 

I told them, honestly, and in the nicest way possible. Hey, look, I appreciate everything that you guys have done for me the resources that you’ve given me, but I feel like I need to take a step back. And I need to really rethink my decisions, because I don’t think I was ever ready for things to be except in my life.

And what was the response to that?

I’m being brainwashed. I’m being misled by somebody who wants to destroy my connection with with Islam and destroy my grip with Islam, and the way that I was finding the truth. I was told that the person I was talking to was another form of Shaitan in my life of trying to stop me.

And what did you say to that?

I didn’t really have a reaction. I didn’t know how to react. I just said, you know, the reason is this person opened my eyes, but he’s not fully, you know, the reason why I’m choosing is a step back. I’m choosing to take a step back because my heart is telling me that I need to reflect on a decision that I was forced to take. And so while you may say that this person is misleading me, I actually think it’s you that’s misleading me; it’s you guys who are misleading me.

How was that received? When you you said that back to them?

They told me that I was being ridiculous. They were calling me crazy. And they were calling me psychotic. They were saying that I can’t make a decision. They were saying that I was you know that I changed my mind too quickly. And they were saying that, you know, I’m, I’m being easily persuaded. I’m being easy. I’m being brainwashed and that I need to I need to open my eyes and not be oblivious to my circumstances. And I’m, you know, my reality.

And these are, these are your friends, right? These are not just people you have met? These are people that are your friends? 


What were you feeling in this moment? Stressed out? Really depressed? 


I can imagine it was really disorienting. It sounds like a real roller coaster for you. And you were continuing to speak with this, this Hindu person that you had met on Instagram? 

Yes, it was. 

And did you talk to anyone else at this point? Would you start sharing what you were going through with anyone else?

So this guy had a community of Instagram followers. Some of them were on my social media, communicated to like, you know, a couple, a few of them were really close to the person I was talking to. Not necessarily telling them the full severity of my situation, but more so giving them a perspective, about, my perspective on the way that I saw Hinduism. And it was the community trying to really give me another perspective about him, about Hinduism, not really telling them things about what I was going through personally. But I’m just kind of, you know, trying to enlighten me with another perspective about Hinduism that would, you know, kind of helped me as I navigate forward in my life.

Now, if I understand correctly, the catalyst for all of this was you feeling compelled to sort of, say Hinduphobic things on social media in order to prove your, your allegiance to Islam? What were some of the things that you found yourself saying or being asked to say about Hinduism or India or anything really, in order to prove that allegiance?

Yeah, so um, Hinduphobic rhetoric, you know, the basic things historically, the common Hindu stereotypes, worshipping cow, worshipping idols, making a mockery out of those practices. About India, I felt I felt as if I had to develop a different political perspective. I was told that I had to denounce my opinions that I had about politics in India. I had to change my opinions I had about politics in India. I’m not going to get into the full gist of it. But from a broader perspective, I felt as if I had to kind of denounce India. And this wasn’t something that I was told; I felt like it was more of an indirect message that was being sent. I had to completely denounce any connection or any kind of any kind…my heritage with my motherland. I was told that […] I could never never call India my motherland, because Muslims are being oppressed in India. All of these things are happening in India, unjust practices, unjust things being surfaced online, just decisions being taken by the governments. And Islamophobic rhetoric growing in India, with the government, you know, actively engaging with Hindu nationalist organizations, who are spewing even more Islamophobia through the media in India. I was told that I had to develop … I had to have anti-India sentiments to really stand up for my fellow Muslims, who I was told were being oppressed, back in my motherland. And so I felt as if I had to change my entire perspective and develop this narrative in my mind about about me not really being affiliated with India, not being affiliated with people in India. And, you know, kind of kind of going online and spewing anti-India sentiment, for me to stand up for my fellow Muslims and stand up for the Islamic community.

Just for clarity, did you believe that there was this growing Islamophobic sentiment and policy in India or was this part of what you were told to believe?

This was really part of what I was told to believe. I don’t think I really believed it because I’m obviously having;…going to India, tak[ing] a lot of trips to India. I know a lot of people live in India. A lot of Muslims who live in India, family friends. I personally, never saw [it]. I’m not saying that Islamophobia doesn’t exist in India, but I didn’t think it exists on such a large scale that I was being told it does exist. But I was kind of forcing myself to believe these things. So I could kind of please, the people that were around me, telling me to believe these things.

And looking back on that now, how does that sit with you?

It does not sit well. And it kind of it kind of feels like I was kind of forced to completely erase my identity. 

Having gone through that, do you feel like you still have access to that identity?

Not really.

I mean, to your your Indian identity… Do you feel like that, that’s, you know, you went online, you said these things, because you felt compelled to do it. And now you’re taking this moment to really reflect and think and think for yourself, rather than just go along with what you’re being told to think. Do you think that it’s possible for you to sort of regain those connections and ties and links? Or were they never gone at all? Were you just performing this sort of separation…

I kind of felt as if I was just performing an act. At the same time. I don’t think I can ever go back to the, to the genuine happiness that I had as a child. Even if I didn’t understand the purpose of why I was doing things I remember, as a kid growing up in a spiritual, spiritually religious environment. That was, you know, part of me being genuinely happy. I don’t think I can ever go back to that, you know, the state that I was in before.

Well, this is the mother and me saying this, there’s a long road ahead of you. So never is a pretty final word. But I understand what you’re saying about how you feel right now. And I’m sorry, that’s, that’s a very painful thing to feel. What were some of the other you talked about? The ways in which your friends were now talking down to you and dismissing you? And it sounds like they were gaslighting you Did anything else happen as a result of you saying you wanted to take this space? And to think and reflect? Do they take any other actions?

Yeah, I got a lot of hate on social media. A lot of people messaging me, calling me calling me things. A lot of people experience hate. So a lot of people saying that, you know, a lot of people saying that, you know, I was an embarrassment to the Muslim community. I was weak for leaving my faith, that I was weak for being brainwashed. I was weak for decisions for taking a step back. I got a lot of people telling me that, you know, I was welcomed. They welcomed me with open arms, and I betrayed them. And there were other people who were telling me that, you know, I’m an embarrassment for them. And, you know, I you know, that there’s no you know, I have no purpose in my life.

But do you think that means that you have no purpose in your life? What were they trying to communicate to you?

I felt as if they were telling me that, you know, me choosing to me choosing to leave Islam. I was kind of putting aside the only purpose that they thought I had in my life. But they were telling me that you know, you were so easily you are so easily persuaded to leave Islam, as dumb as you are for doing that. You have no purpose in your life.

So, you went from feeling like you had finally found a community that was reaching out to you and embracing you and including you in a way that you hadn’t felt before. You know, when you first converted, they welcomed you in so many ways, and all of a sudden, it was sort of turned on its head. I mean, it’s kind of an obvious question, but I have to ask how, how did that feel?

It kind of it kind of brought me down even more. Um, And I felt, I felt very, I felt very, I felt very upset. And I felt like this phase of my life was going to be endless. And I even started doubting, you know, the purpose I had loved in my life?

I’m, I’m so sorry, you felt that way? And did you? Did you share what you were feeling with anyone? Have you shared? You know, you’re sharing with me now, but either with this new friend that you found on Instagram or the community that you brought with him? Did you share this? Have you shared this with anyone?

Yeah, I shared this with the person that I started talking to. And that’s really what drew me closer to this person.

Yeah, well, I’m I’m really glad that you found someone to confide in. That’s it’s really important that you that anyone who’s going through this doesn’t doesn’t feel alone. That kind of isolation can be so debilitating. Other than this types of messages that you were getting, you know that your life had no meaning that you had betrayed them, that, you know, all of these things. Were there any other consequences for you taking the stance?

It got worse and worse, gradually over a period of time. I ended up getting death threats. People telling me to go kill myself, but people saying that I’m going to burn in the hellfire. People are telling me that I’m going to regret the decision that I chose to make.

And where you’re receiving these messages on social media on and anyone you knew what was anyone you knew, like that you actually knew in real life? Were your friends saying these things? Okay, so these were just social media? I mean, not just but these were on social media. You’re getting these messages? Yes. And did you tell your friends, your Muslim friends that you were receiving death threats?

I did tell them. And the response that I got was that I made a decision to leave Islam. And it was a very bad decision that I chose to make. And the people who were sending me death threats. They were doing it understandably so.

So zero support from your friends. 


And are you still interacting with these folks? 


Are you still receiving death threats? 


And are you safe? Do you feel safe? 


Given the fact that you’ve received death threats, that your own friends are not supporting you. And they’re saying essentially, that you deserve to receive death threats, if it’s a consequence of your own actions. You’ve taken a big risk to speak out publicly about this. Why did you choose to speak about this publicly?

I was never planning on speaking about this publicly. But I have an obligation to protect people who are going, who are down the same road as I am. And I want to make sure that very few people become the victims of what I went through. And I want to do whatever I can to make sure that when people really, when people really, when people think you know, really read my story. I want to make sure that my story can really impact people’s lives. So they don’t end up becoming the victims or they don’t end up going through what I went through. Because the state that I was in, the state that I’m still in, I don’t want anybody to go through that. Because it’s a very dark place to be in. It’s it’s mentally degrading. And it’s just a place that nobody wants to be in in their lives. And I want to make sure I have an obligation to make and I feel like I have an obligation to make sure that nobody has to go through what I’m going through right now. So me coming out with my story in a way. It’s just me kind of, you know, me, fulfilling my obligation to really protect whoever I can protect by sharing my story anonymously. So anybody who’s in the same circumstances as me, anybody who’s going through, you know, something similar, something as similar as I’m going through. And as I went through, I want to make sure that they understand, you know, the consequences that their actions can have.

What would you tell someone, a young person, let’s say, a 16, or 17, or 18 year old, who’s has similar questions or concerns or skepticism around Hinduism, and they’re vulnerable to these influences? What advice would you give them?

Your questions are 100% genuine. The fact that you are raising these questions in the first place, shows that you are seeking for the truth and the mere fact that you are seeking for the truth, very few people are actually bothered about finding the truth. So you already taken a step forward, when you ask these questions. So you should feel proud of yourself for even having the courage to ask these questions in the first place. So I think anybody’s going through what I went through, should not take big steps. […] They should not feel coerced,  nor should they feel forced to take certain steps in their lives. And part of really ensuring that you don’t take steps you don’t take those kinds of steps in your life, is to make sure that you have a good circle, the people that you’re around, or, you know, kind of encouraging you to think for yourself. And so part of it is, you know, having a good social circle, having friends that are encouraging you to think for yourself and having friends who encourage you to, you know, really think from your heart. So I think that’s something that’s really, really, really important for someone who’s, you know, in, in a circumstance that I’m in. I think that’s a really, really important thing for somebody to have a good social circle. And, you know, to really take it one step at a time. And eventually, your questions will be answered. But it’s important that you embark on your own journey. Everybody goes through ups and downs, everyone’s journey, it goes in different directions. But as long as you’re following your heart, it’s going to be alright for you.

It’s really beautiful. What message would you convey to Hindu American parents?

The first thing that I’m going to say, and I think this is very important, growing up, you shouldn’t make your kids feel uncomfortable with talking to you about anything. And that could be asking questions, as basic as asking questions about Hinduism, to even talking about things that you’re going through in your life. Make your kids feel comfortable. So they feel like they grow up, you know, around, obviously, around parents who have the best interests for their children. Um, and I think that Hindu American parents should really know, whenever you tell your kids to perform practices, make sure you convey to them why they’re performing these practices, why you perform these practices and why you want them to perform those practices. Convey the purposes of these practices. Don’t just get them to blindly follow something or blindly do something.

And what if the parents don’t know?

I think it’s important for Hindu American parents understand. Because we are growing up in North America […] we are a minority. Hindus only make up for 1% of the US population. So a lot of the times in modern day society we hear a lot of stereotypes about Hinduism. We hear a lot of misconceptions about Hinduism. People are fed with misinformation. Your child will likely be fed with  misinformation. So, unless you […] teach your child you know about  the most basic pillars of Hinduism, Hindu culture, Hindu identity, your child is going to be fed with misinformation and more than likely, he or she will not know how to react to the information that he or she is being fed. And that just leads to a whole chain of events. So I think it’s important for parents to really understand that you need to explain to your child coherently. And you need to really explain to your child why you do certain things that you do, and why it’s important, why why religion plays an important role in your life, and why, you know, why you perform certain rituals and certain practices that you perform on a daily basis. And, you know, obviously, Hinduism on a larger scale is a very complex religion. It’s a very diverse religion, people believe in different things. But it’s important that you teach your child the basic foundational pillars of Hinduism, so they understand they at least have, they at least know where they come from. And they at least understand what Hinduism is all about, even if they may have a different set of beliefs. Because obviously, Hinduism has many sampradaya, as Hinduism has many different philosophies and principles, and people follow different things, it’s important that your child has a general understanding of Hinduism and the Hindu faith. So they don’t completely lose grip of their identity. And they understand how to react when they’re fed myths and misinformation they can actually think for themselves.

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10/30/22Sanatana Dharma in the Movies

Hinduism is often referred to as Sanatana Dharma (the ‘eternal way’), indicating the religion’s emphasis on eternal truths that are applicable to all of humanity. Thus, it makes sense that a medley of mainstream movies could convey Hindu ideals that resonate strongly with audiences, while not actually talking directly about anything understood by the public as Hindu.

In Groundhog Day, for example, when cynical TV weatherman Phil Collins discovers he is trapped in a time loop, living the same day over and over, only to be released after transforming his character from an egocentric narcissist to a thoughtful and kindhearted philanthropist, it’s hard not to be reminded of the Hindu notion of samsara, a cycle of reincarnation from which a soul attains liberation by realizing its divine nature after lifetimes of spiritual practice. 

Or in The Matrix when Neo chooses the red pill of knowledge over the blue pill of ignorance, and is subsequently unplugged from an illusory world and cast into the truth of reality, the film seems to be conveying a foundational Vedic teaching: that we must transcend our own ignorance — a product of maya, literally meaning “illusion” in Sanskrit — to uncover our true nature. Hindu concepts appear to be further exhibited in Neo’s relationship with Morpheus, which starkly reflects that of a disciple and guru, as the latter reveals to the former the knowledge he needs in order to understand this “true nature.” As Neo’s faith in Morpheus’ words develops, so does his capacity to see past the illusion of the matrix, garnering him the ability to manipulate the laws of this false reality, similar to the Jedi and yogis described earlier.

What do the Matrix, Avatar, Groundhog Day, and Star Wars have to do with Hinduism?

10/29/22Hinduism and American Thought

Hindu Americans and the Vedanta philosophy have significantly influenced notable intellectuals such as Henry  David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, J.D. Salinger, Christopher Isherwood, Aldous Huxley, Huston Smith, and Joseph Campbell just to name a few. Some feel that it started back In 1812, when Thomas Jefferson recommended to John Adams the writings of Joseph Priestley, a Unitarian minister who had published works that compared Christianity to other religions — Hinduism in particular — Adam’s interest was piqued.

Going through Priestley’s writings, Adams became riveted by Hindu thought, as he launched into a five-year exploration of Eastern philosophy. As his knowledge of Hinduism and ancient Indian civilization grew, so did his respect for it. This legacy took shape in the 1830s as Transcendentalism, a philosophical, social, and literary movement that emphasized the spiritual goodness inherent in all people despite the corruption imposed on an individual by society and its institutions. Espousing that divinity pervades all of nature and humanity, Transcendentalists believed divine experience existed in the everyday, and held progressive views on women’s rights, abolition, and education. At the heart of this movement were three of America’s most influential authors: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, and Henry David Thoreau.

How Hinduism Influenced Some of Americans Greatest Thinkers

10/27/22The Hindu Diaspora in Afghanistan

Before becoming an Islamic state, Afghanistan was once home to a medley of religious practices, the oldest being Hinduism. A long time ago, much of Afghanistan was part of an ancient kingdom known as Gandhara, which also covered parts of northern Pakistan.Today, many of Afghanistan’s province names, though slightly altered, are clearly Sanskrit in origin, hinting at the region’s ancient past. To cite a few examples, Balkh comes from the Sanskrit Bhalika, Nangarhar from Nagarahara, and Kabul from Kubha. Though Gandhara’s earliest mention can be found in the Vedas, it is better known for its connections to the Hindu epics the Mahabharata and Ramayana. There is also the historic Asamai temple in Kabul located on a hill named after the Hindu Goddess of hope, Asha. The temple has survived numerous conflicts and attacks but it still stands. The temple is a remnant from Hindu Shahi Kings, who ruled from the Kabul Valley as far back as 850 CE. However, Hindus are indigenous but endangered minorities in Afghanistan, numbering approximately 700 out of a community that recently included over 8,000 members. Many have left for new homes, include in New York which is home to a large Afghani Hindu population.

5 Things to Know about Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan 

Hinduism Beyond India: Afghanistan

10/26/22Dogs and Diwali

According to the 2021-2022 National Pet Owners Survey, 70% of U.S. households (90.5 million homes) owned a pet as of 2022, with 69 million U.S. households having a pet dog. Recognized for their loyalty, service, companionship, and the special relationship they have with humans, Hinduism’s reverence for dogs is expansive, as they are worshiped in festivals and appreciated in connection to a number of Hindu gods and stories. Observed in Nepal, Bhutan, and the Indian states of Sikkim and West Bengal, Kukar Tihar (the 2nd day of Tihar) honors dogs as messengers that help guide spirits of the deceased across the River of Death. In the Mahabharata, Yudhisthira, his brothers, and the queen Draupadi renounced their kingdom to ascend to the heavens. However, Yudhisthira was the only one that survived along with a dog that had joined them. Yudhisthira refused to go to heaven without the dog, who turned out to be Yamaraj, the God of Death. Sarama, the “female dog of the gods,” was famously asked by Indra to retrieve a herd of cows that were stolen. When the thieves were caught, they tried to bribe Sarama but she refused and now represents those who do not wish to possess but instead find what has been lost. The symbolic import of dogs is further driven in connection with Dattatreya, as he is commonly depicted with four of them to represent the Vedas, the Yugas, the stages of sound, and the inner forces of a human being (will, faculty, hope, and desire).

Dogs and Diwali? 5 Things to Know about Hinduism and hu(man)’s Best Friend

10/25/22Black Panther

In 2018, the long-running Marvel comic series Black Panther, was brought to the big screen. A more prominent scene is when M’baku, a character vying for the throne of the fictional country of Wakanda, challenges T’Challa/Black Panther, and yells, “Glory to Hanuman.” However, despite dharma as an unsaid aspect of the characters’ interactions, Black Panther relies slightly more on Hindu symbolism than philosophy. But the significance of Hanuman as a transcendent deity cannot be overlooked, especially at a time when dialogues about global migration, the right to worship, and access to natural resources are becoming more overtly racialized. The film provides more than just an entertainment escape: it reimagines a world in which the current racial and theological paradigms are challenged forcefully. With the film expected to have at least several sequels, there will be more opportunities to reference Hinduism and Hindu iconography.

Why Black Panther’s References to Hinduism are Significant in Hollywood


One of the most celebrated Hindu festivals, Diwali (dee-VAH-lee) or Deepavali (dee-PAH-va-lee) commemorates the victory of good over evil during the course of five days. The word refers to rows of diyas — or clay lamps — which are put all around homes and places of worship. The light from these lamps symbolizes the illumination within all of us, which can overcome ignorance, represented by darkness. Devotees gather in local temples, homes, or community centers, to spend time with loved ones, make positive goals, and appreciate life.

Hindu Holidays & Dharmic Days Calendar 

Diwali Toolkit


On this day, because Diwali is a time for dana (charitable giving) and seva (selfless service), Hindus traditionally perform a deep cleaning of their homes and surroundings, as cleanliness is believed to invoke the presence and blessings of Goddess Lakshmi who, as mentioned earlier, is the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. Many will also make rangoli or kolum (colored patterns of flowers, powder, rice, or sand made on the floor), which are also said to invite auspiciousness. Observers thus begin Diwali by cultivating a spirit of generosity, doing things like giving money to charities, feeding the hungry, and endeavoring to help those in need.

5 Things to Know About Diwali

10/22/22The Hindu Diaspora in Bali

The spread of Hinduism to Southeast Asia established powerful Hindu kingdoms in the region, most notably the Khmer Empire that encompassed modern Cambodia and Thailand, and influential kingdoms in the Indonesia archipelago. Though Buddhism and Hinduism co-existed in the region for several centuries, Buddhism (and Islam in Indonesia) eventually replaced Hinduism as a primary religion. Today, there are approximately five million Hindus in Indonesia, primarily in Bali. As Bali is roughly 90 percent Hindu, this makes it a religious enclave in a country that contains the world’s largest Muslim population. There are also roughly 60,000 Cham Hindus in Vietnam, and smaller numbers in Thailand. Hinduism in Fiji, Malaysia, and Singapore is a much more recent phenomenon, with Hindus arriving in the 19th and early 20th centuries as indentured laborers. Today, Hindus are prominent in politics and business in all three countries, though they continue to experience discrimination as religious minorities.

Hinduism Beyond India: Bali

Hinduism Around the World

10/21/22Smithsonian/American History Exhibit - American Indian experience

In 2014, the first Smithsonian exhibition chronicling the experiences of Indian Americans, many of whom are Hindus,  in the US was unveiled at their National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. This exhibit was one of the largest ever produced by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, occupying 5,000 square feet and reaching millions of visitors. The message behind “Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation,” aimed to dispel stereotypes and myths that have followed Indian immigrants since they first arrived in the U.S. in 1790. The exhibit explored the heritage, daily experiences, and the many diverse contributions that immigrants and Indian Americans have made to the United States. The exhibition at the Museum of Natural History includes historical and contemporary images and artifacts, including those that document histories of discrimination and resistance, convey daily experiences, and symbolize achievements across the professions. Music and visual artworks provide commentary on the Indian American experience and form an important component of the exhibition. In 2017, this exhibit went on the road, traveling from city to city so that all could see the impact of Indians on American culture.

All About Hindu Heritage Month

10/20/22Swami Yogananda

Paramahansa Yogananda was a Hindu monk and yogi who came to the United States in 1920 and lived here for the last 32 years of his life. He is considered to be the first major Hindu Guru to settle in the United States. When Swami Yogananda arrived in the US, he made his first speech, made to the International Congress of Religious Liberals, on “The Science of Religion,” and was enthusiastically received. It was soon after that he founded the Self-Realization Fellowship (also known as Yogoda Satsanga Society (YSS) of India) and introduced millions of Americans to the ancient science and philosophy of meditation and Kriya yoga (path of attainment). In 1927, he was invited to the White House by President Calvin Coolidge, making Swami Yogananda the first prominent Indian and Hindu to be hosted in the White House.

Hinduism: Short Answers to Real Questions

Countless Americans Have Been Influenced by Swami Viveknanda


For those of us who are Hindu, we have noticed that some of the biggest Hollywood films produced in the last several decades have mirrored many of Hinduism's most fundamental philosophical ideas. One example is Avatar, a film named for the Sanskrit word avatāra (‘descent’), in which the protagonist, Jake Sully, enters and explores an alien world called Pandora by inhabiting the body of an indigenous 10-foot, blue-skinned being, an idea taken from Hinduism’s depictions of the various avatars of the blue god Vishnu, who are said to descend into our world for upholding dharma. Instead of aligning with the interests of the humans, who merely want to mine Pandora for the valuable mineral unobtanium, Sully fights alongside the alien humanoids native to the world, called Na’vi, who live in harmony with nature, believe all life is sacred, and that all life is connected by a divine force — teachings synonymous with Hinduism. Thus, similar to the avatars of Vishnu, Sully defends and preserves a spiritual culture by defeating those who would destroy it for materialistic pursuit. While this film doesn’t indicate in any direct way that they have anything to do with Hinduism, it’s clear they are communicating Hindu ideas that everyone relates to and understands on a profound level.

What do the Matrix, Avatar, Groundhog Day, and Star Wars have to do with Hinduism?

10/18/22Swami Prabhupada

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), also known as the Hare Krishna movement, was founded in 1966 by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, a highly respected Vaishnava  (devotion to the god Vishnu and his incarnations avatars) scholar and monk. At the age of 70, Swami Prabhupada traveled from India to New York City to bring the Bhakti tradition, or Krishna Consciousness, to the west. In the 11 years before his passing in 1977, Srila Prabhupada translated, with elaborate commentaries, 60 volumes of Vaishnava literature; established more than 100 temples on six continents; and initiated 5,000 disciples. Today, his writings are studied in universities around the globe and are translated into nearly 100 languages. To date, ISKCON has over 400 temples,  dozens of rural communities and eco-sustainable projects, and nearly 100 vegetarian restaurants world-wide with 56 of them in the US. 

Statement Against Caste Based Discrimination: ISKCON

Who was that Hare Krishna at the start of “Get Back”?

10/17/22The Hindu Diaspora in Africa

Hinduism came in waves to Africa, with Southern Africa getting Hindu workers during the early years of British colonization, while East and West Africa experienced Hindu migration during the 20th century. Hinduism’s roughly 0.2% presence in Africa is seen as so inconsequential, most data organizations don’t even bother explicitly mentioning it in their census reports. But Hinduism is Ghana's fastest growing religion and one in which there are steady populations in both Northern and Southern African states. Durban is now home to most of South Africa’s 1.3 million Indians, making it, according to some sources, the largest Indian city outside of India, and thus a most powerful hub of Hindu practice. In the US, there are both communities of African Hindus who have migrated, as well as Black Hindus, who according to the 2019 Pew Survey, make up 2% of the Hindu population in the US.

Hinduism Beyond Africa

Hinduism Around the World

10/16/22Star Wars

George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, drew much of the inspiration for this major cultural phenomenon from the teachings of his mentor who was a lifelong student of Vedanta. In these films, many aspects of Hinduism are interwoven with the story. Some include Hanuman (Chewbaca and Ewoks), Shakti (force,energy), Yodha (Yoda), Brahman (infinite being). Besides the many philosophical parallels that can be highlighted between Star Wars and Hinduism, Star Wars also exhibits similarities in story structure and character roles to one of India’s famous epics, the Ramayana. Never seen the movie? Now might be the time to see how universally relatable Hindu thought can truly be.

What do the Matrix, Avatar, Groundhog Day, and Star Wars have to do with Hinduism?


The term Ayurveda is derived from the Sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (science or knowledge), translation to the knowledge of life. Ayurveda is considered to be the oldest healing science, originating in 1000 BCE. Based on the five elements that comprise the universe (space, air, fire, water, and earth), they combine and permutate to create three health principles  that govern the functioning and interplay of a person’s body, mind, and consciousness. These energies are referred to as doshas in Sanskrit. Ayurveda can be used in conjunction with Western medicine and Ayurvedic schools have gained approval as educational institutions in several states.

5 Things to Know About Ayurveda

In Hinduism, What is the Relationship Between Spirituality and Health?


While it’s synonymous to meditation, and seen simply as a doorway to tranquility for yogic practitioners, the true meaning of Om is deeply embedded in Hindu philosophy.

The word Om is defined by Hindu scripture as being the original vibration of the universe, which all other vibrations are able to manifest. Within Hinduism, the meaning and connotations of Om is perceived in a variety of ways. Though heard and often written as “om,” due to the way it sounds when it is repeatedly chanted, the sacred syllable is originally and more accurately spelled as “aum.” Broken down, the three letters of A – U – M represent a number of sacred trinities such as different conditions of consciousness (waking state, dreaming state, and deep sleep state), the deities in charge of the creation, preservation, and destruction of the universe ( Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva), aspects of time (past, present, and future), among many others. 

5 Things to Know About Om

Religious Symbols

10/28/22Dr. Anandibai Joshi

Dr. Anandi Gopal Joshi is credited with being the first woman from India to study medicine in the United States. Born in Bombay in 1865, she was married at the age of ten to an older man who had been her teacher. Dr. Joshi had a child at the age of 13, but the child died when only 10 days old. She believed that with better medical care, the child would have lived, and she frequently cited this as motivation for her desire to attend medical school. Her husband encouraged her in her academic pursuits and in 1883, Joshee joined the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, now known as the Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. She graduated in 1886 with her degree in medicine; her M.D. thesis focused on Hindu obstetrics. Unfortunately,  Dr. Joshi was only able to practice medicine for a few months before passing away from tuberculosis.

Science in Hinduism

10/13/22The Hindu Diaspora in Guyana

Hinduism is the religion of almost 25% of Guyana’s population, making it the country with the highest percentage of Hindus in the Western Hemisphere. But from British professional recruiting agents targeting rural and uneducated Indians, to the aggressiveness of Christian proselytization of Hindus with a promise of a better life, Hinduism has been in a steady decline for many decades with many escaping to the United States for better opportunities and to practice their religion freely. Today, over 80% of Guyanese Americans live in the Northeastern United States with heavy concentrations in New Jersey and in New York, where a “Little Guyana”  helps these immigrants stay connected to their Guyanese roots.

Hinduism beyond India: Guyana

Hinduism Around the World

10/12/22Karwa Chauth

Karwa Chauth or Karva Chauth (kuhr-vah-CHOATH) is a North Indian holiday in which wives fast for the longevity and health of their husbands, however, many unmarried women celebrate in hopes of meeting their ideal life partner. Typically, wives spend the day preparing gifts to exchange, and fasting until the moon is visible. It is believed that its light symbolizes love and blessings of a happy life. While there are varying legends behind this holiday’s traditions and meaning, the message of honoring the relationships women form with their family and community prevails.

Karwa Chauth

Hindu Holidays & Dharmic Days Calendar

10/11/22Hinduism and Music

As sound vibration can affect the most subtle element of creation, it is interpreted in Hindu scriptures that spiritual sound vibrations can affect the atman (soul) in a particularly potent way. Such spiritual sound vibrations are said to have the ability to awaken our original spiritual consciousness and help us remember that we are beyond the ambivalence of life, and actually originate from the Divine. As such, the main goal of many types of Hindu musical expression is to help stir us out of our spiritual slumber by evoking feelings of love and connection that help us to better perceive the presence of the Divine within all. Some of the more popular examples of musical expressions within Hinduism include shlokas (verse, or poem), mantras (sacred syllables repeated in prayer), kirtans (congregational singing of mantras), and bhajans (devotional songs). You can find musical spiritual expressions through the US in temples,  Mandirs, and community centers.

The Power of Music According to Hinduism

What is Kirtan?


Yoga is considered Hinduism’s gift to humanity. At its broadest, yoga, from the root word “yuj” in Sanskrit, means to unite. Most Hindu texts discuss yoga as a practice to control the senses and ultimately, the mind. The most famous is the Bhagavad Gita (dating back to 6th-3rd Century BCE), in which Krishna speaks of four types of yoga – bhakti, or devotion; jnana, or knowledge; karma, or action; and dhyana, or concentration (often referred to as raja yoga, though not all sources agree on the term) – as paths to achieve moksha (enlightenment), the ultimate goal according to Hindu understanding. According to a 2016 study,  in the United States there are an estimated 36.7 million people currently practicing yoga in the United States.


The Hindu Roots of Yoga

10/9/22Swami Vivekananda

According to Vedic cosmology, 108 is the basis of creation, representing the universe and all our existence. As the soul is encased in two types of bodies: the physical body (made of earth, water, fire, air, and ether) and the subtle body (composed of intelligence, mind and ego), Swami Viveknanda is often attributed with bringing Hindu teachings and practices — such as yoga and transcendental meditation — to Western audiences. In 1893, he was officially introduced to the United States at the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago, where in his speech he called for religious tolerance and described Hinduism as “a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance.” The day that Swami Vivekananda delivered his speech at the Parliament of Religions is now known as ‘World Brotherhood Day.’ And his birthday, known as Swami Vivekananda Jayanti, is honored on January 12th each year. On this day he is commemorated and recognized for his contributions as a modern Hindu monk and respected guru of the Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism. In 1900, Swami Viveknanda founded the Vedanta Society in California and to date there are 36 Vedanta Society Centers in the United States.

Swami Vivekananda Influenced Countless Americans

Hindu Holidays & Dharmic Days Calendar


According to Vedic cosmology, 108 is the basis of creation, representing the universe and all our existence. As the soul is encased in two types of bodies: the physical body (made of earth, water, fire, air, and ether) and the subtle body (composed of intelligence, mind and ego), 108 plays a significant role in keeping these two bodies healthily connected. Hindus believe the body holds seven chakras, or pools of energy, which begin at the bottom of the spine and go all the way down to the top of the head and it is believed there are 108 energy lines that converge to form the heart chakra. Ayurveda says there are 108 hidden spots in the body called marma points, where various tissues like muscles, veins, and ligaments meet. These are vital points of life force, and when they are out of balance, energy cannot properly flow throughout the body. Sun salutations, yogic asanas that honor the sun god Surya, are generally completed in nine rounds of 12 postures, totaling 108. Mantra meditation is usually chanted on a set of 108 beads.   In Hinduism there are 108 Upanishads, the sacred texts of wisdom from ancient sages. Additionally, in the Sanskrit alphabet, there are 54 letters. Each letter has a feminine, or Shakti, and masculine, or Shiva, quality. 54 multiplied by 2 equals 108. Ultimately, breathwork, chanting, studying scripture, and asana’s help harmonize one’s energy with the energy of the supreme spiritual source. These processes become especially effective when they are performed in connection with the number 108. Hindu scriptures strive to remind people of this divine commonality by continuously highlighting the innumerable threads connecting everything in existence. One of these threads is the number 108.

5 Things to know about 108

Here's How the Number 108 Binds Us to the Universe

10/7/22The Hindu Diaspora in Trinidad/Tobago

A decade after slavery was abolished in 1834, the British government began importing indentured labor from India to work on their estates in other countries such as Trinidad and Tobago.  From 1845 to 1917, the ships would continue to arrive, carrying over 140,000 Indians to the island, facilitating Trinidad's population growth from Indian laborers. Today, there are roughly 240,000 declared Hindus in Trinidad and Tobago, comprising about 18% of the island’s population. There are a total of about 300 temples on the island, welcoming all who wish to enter and where many beloved Hindu festivals take place. But for some, the migration journey doesn’t end as New York and Florida have seen the development of large Indo-Caribbean communities.

Hinduism beyond India: Trinidad and Tobago


From ancient tribes to present-day devotees, tattoos have held a special place in Hinduism for centuries. In the Indian states of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, the Ramnaami community invoked Rama’s protection with tattoos of the name “Rama” in Sanskrit on every inch of their skin, including the tongue and inside the lips.The Mahabharata tells the story of the Pandavas that were exiled to the Kutch district of Gujarat. Today, their descendants - members of the Ribari tribe - live as their ancestors did, with women covered in tattoos that symbolize their people’s strong spirit for survival. Some Hindus consider tattoos as protective emblems,such as tattoos of Hanuman are often used to relieve physical or mental pain. People will often get tattoos of other deities to invoke their blessings. Mehndi, a plant-based temporary tattoo, is commonly done at weddings and religious ceremonies as a form of celebration of love and spirituality. While tattoos have been in Hindu communities for centuries, tattoos as symbols of honor, devotion, and even fashion are incredibly popular today. Hindus and non Hindus alike adorn themselves with Hindu emblems and tattoos that reflect Hindu teachings.

Guidelines for Commercial Use of Hindu Images


Navaratri (nuhv-uh-RA-three) is a nine night celebration of the feminine divine that occurs four times a year — the spring and fall celebrations being amongst the more widely celebrated. Some traditions honor the nine manifestations of Goddess Durga, while others celebrate the three goddesses (Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati) with three days dedicated to each. This is a time to recognize the role in which the loving, compassionate, and gentle — yet sometimes powerful and fierce — feminine energy plays in our lives.

Nine Things to Know About Navaratri

Hindu Holidays & Dharmic Days Calendar


Dussehra (duh-sheh-RAH) or Vijayadashmi (vi-juhyuh-dushuh-mee) celebrates the victory of Lord Rama over the ten-headed demon King Ravana. This also marks the end of Ramalila — a brief retelling of the Ramayana and the story of Rama, Sita, and Lakshman in the form of dramatic reading or dance. It also signifies the end of negativity and evil within us (vices, biases, prejudices) for a fresh new beginning. Dussehra often coincides with the end of Navratri and Duga Puja, and celebrations can last ten days, with huge figures of Ravana set ablaze as a reminder that good always prevails over evil.

Hindu Holidays & Dharmic Days Calendar

Hinduism 101 & Women

10/3/22Ahimsa + Cow sanctuaries

Many Hindus hold reverence for the cow as a representation of mother earth, fertility, and Hindu values of selfless service, strength, dignity, and non-harming. Though not all Hindus are vegetarian, for this reason many traditionally abstain from eating beef. This is often linked with the concept of ahimsa (non-violence), which can be applied to diet choices and our interactions with the environment, and potentially determine our next birth, according to the doctrine of karma. This is part of the reason that some Hindus may choose a vegetarian lifestyle as an expression of ahimsa as well as explains the growing number of cow protection projects that are led by individuals who have felt compelled to put their Hindu values into practice. The US is home to several cow protection projects and sanctuaries

Dairy Is Traditionally Sattvic Food, but the Way We Treat Cows Today Can Be Tamasic

Cultured Meat and Animal-Free Dairy Upends the Plant-Based Food Discussion

10/1/2022First Hindu temple in US

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 facilitated the journey of many Indian immigrants to the United States. In this new land, many created home shrines and community temples to practice and hold pujas (services). As Hindu American populations grew in metropolitan and rural areas, so did the need to find a permanent temple site for worship. In 1906, the Vedanta Society built the Old Temple in San Francisco, California but as this was not considered a formal temple, many don’t credit this with being the first. Others believe it is the Shiva Murugan Temple built in 1957 in Concord, California, whereas others believe it is the Maha Vallabha Ganapati Devanstanam in New York that should be considered the first. Today, there are nearly 1,000 temples in the United States . Regardless of where you live, you have the right to practice your faith.

A Guide To Temple Safety and Security

5 Things to Know About Visiting a Hindu Temple