Sometime during 2014 I came across an interesting person on Facebook. I don’t recall how I did – probably through a gay Hindu group I belong / belonged to. This individual was born into a male European Caucasian body, somewhere around Australia I believe, but through the course of that person’s life has transitioned into a non-Indian Hindu female. Specifically, this person is an aspiring bhakti yogini, the sect she belongs to is something I’ll let you find out on your own. Or maybe I’ll tell you. Who knows where this post will lead?
I friended this human for many reasons, and a month or so ago unfriended her for just one reason. She’d made a status update that showed me that she’s no one I care to keep as company. I’ll quote her immediately below.
“I heard somebody claim today that ‘Bhakti Yoga is for emotional, sentimental people and not for philosophical types’. I had to bite my tongue at the time but would love to introduce him to my Acharya or some of the Vaishnava Vidvans that I have encountered! I have concluded that Atheists and their Advaitin friends cannot understand the context and proper conclusions of the Vedas – in part or whole. This is particularly true of the Bhagavad-Gita which presents the highest truth…is in conjunction with the Theistic, Personalist presentation of Sri Krishna! Nothing in the Vedas can make sense within the complete context if one adheres to the speculation that Brahman, without attributes, is the Supreme source of everything. Nothing in this realm of samsara can be rationally explained by such people, nor can our condition here or beyond be explained or understood.”
There you have it. If you couldn’t tell, she’s a Hare Krishna. If I were Vaishnav I’d cringe every time a Hare Krishna opened their mouth for any purpose other than chanting. I’m not a Vaishnav Hindu, except in the most vague, high-level, big-picture contexts of what a Hindu could be defined as, and it still makes me cringe. How can bhakti become so horribly mangled? A path that is supposedly heart-centered shouldn’t result in things like that being said. If you’re aiming to see Krishna in the heart of all, how can you expect to achieve that evolution while looking down on those you think are incapable of understanding the wondrous truth you and your acharyas have found?
Hinduism is first and foremost an experiential religion. If you don’t put in the effort, you won’t get the results. This truth applies to every-single-thing. Ever. Also foundational to Hinduism is the understanding that your experience will almost certainly differ from mine. It’s understandable to trust and believe that which you have experienced and that into which you place your belief, but it’s unreasonable to insist that your experience is more valid than someone else’s – or, god forbid – that someone else’s is completely invalid. Our different experiences absolutely do lead each of us to the same Truth.
I’m at a place in my current life where I most value those who are not only “set in their ways,” but also still allow for others to be set in their own, possibly very different, ways. I found a video online that seemed to do a good, short job at expressing the immense diversity in my religion. In Hinduism, there are more than enough seats at the table and everyone is invited: Atheists, Advaitins, Jnanis, Bhaktas, …and Hare Krishnas.
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti