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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Evolution in Religious Thoughts and Practices

By Prasoona

Just as any child raised in a middle-class Indian family, life revolved around activities related to God. My grandfather ensured that the memory was trained well by learning many hymns of Sri Sankaracharya. Daily prayers were a must, even if only as a chore. My dad introduced us to the “concept” of monks, and although he portrayed them as “super humans” I only grudgingly went along! What stands out from those visits was the sincerity and openness he exuded during such trips. My parents were very liberal in their definition of religion, and they introduced us to other faiths through their visits to the places of worship. Although I didn't appreciate any of this back then, I understand that it is to such exposure that I owe my current inclination.

Sometime during my high school years, I got my Guru per chance. I got initiated only because I was at the right place at the right time, without any previous plan or knowledge of it. As I write this, it occurs that this was the one event which I didn't ask for, but was blessed with. I did the Japa only because someone put it into my head that if I didn't do it regularly, my Guru would have to pay the penalty, and I was afraid of my mom’s outburst if such a thing should ever happen!

I turned into a hypocritical rebel during my college years. Although I'd despise my dad's habit of visiting monks/temples, I would secretly pray for good grades, job, money and even boyfriends! What surprises me - God gave me everything I ever asked for; every little desire has come true sooner or later.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Thoughts on Islam

by Charlie Feldman (Prana)

Because Vedanta says that all religions are paths to God, I have tried to see how various religions could be founded by actual avatars or prophets. I have had a problem with Islam, because, while Christians have fought many aggressive wars, I have felt that they have done so despite what Jesus said, whereas Muslims' aggressive wars seem to be because of Islam, and not despite it.

I read The Heart of Islam by Seyyed Hossein Nasr. This book has cleared up some of my confusion. I know that he does not speak for all Muslims, but what he says makes sense from the point of view of Muhammad being an enlightened soul. Nasr says that the Quran states that the only justified war is a defensive war, and that there should be no compulsion in religion. He says that when people want to fight an aggressive war, they use whatever ideology will appear to give legitimacy to their efforts, be it religious or political.