The White Hindu has moved

The White Hindu has moved! This blog is no longer updated, but Ambaa is still writing The White Hindu every weekday at

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Some interesting discussion is going on in the comments of the Unhappiness post. As I said yesterday, I've been working through some things from my past and still in the middle of a journey on that.

I really want to tear back everything and go back to the beginning, back to basics. What do I believe? Why do I believe it? Why is my spiritual life so important to me? What do I hope to gain in the living of my life?

Why do people start on a spiritual journey?

Why did you start yours...?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Seen and Heard

Just like the column in one of my celebrity gossip magazines, Seen and Heard is little snippets of spirituality in unexpected places of every day life and just things that resonated with me.

My dad downloaded some spiritual lectures that Oprah has been doing and I listened to the beginning of one today. A Catholic priest on her panel said, "The idea that God is separate from us, and that we are separate from each other, is an illusion." A Catholic said this! I'm looking forward to listening to more.

I've been reading Amy Tan's The Kitchen God's Wife, and it's quite excellent. As I try to navigate moving away from my parents and their spirituality and into my own life and my own understanding, one quote that really stood out to me was this:

"I no longer denied I was betraying my father. I no longer looked for excuses. I knew what I was doing was both true and wrong. I could not make just one choice, I had to make two: Let me live. Let my father die. Isn't that how it is when you must decide with your heart? You are not just choosing one thing over another, you are choosing what you want. And you are also choosing what somebody else does not want, and all the consequences that follow." p. 360

Even though my choice is not nearly as dramatic, I also have that sense of my choices not just effecting me.


I've been quiet lately because I've been dealing with and processing some things to do with my past. I'm not sure of my thoughts and feelings on the subject, and it is closely connected to my spiritual growth, so I'll need some time to sort through it all.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Right to Unhappiness

I was chatting today with an Internet friend and our conversation left me with a sense of revelation. This might sound stupid or obvious, but...

There are no rules. There is no answer.

I've said similar things before, but never felt it on a gut level like this. My life has been consumed with rules trying to achieve the goal of enlightenment: I should be kind, I should be generous, I should be a vegetarian, I should meditate, I should eat healthy, I should read scriptures, etc. Should, should, should.


To be happy. That's the reason for all the advice and all the religions and all the philosophies. We want to be happy. But what's so important about being happy? Should not being happy fill us with guilt?

If you want to be unhappy, that's okay. It isn't a crime. We tend to feel like we're bad ppeople if we're not doing everything possible to be completely happy at all times.

What's wrong with bring unhappy? It's just a feeling, feel it if you want to.

If you want to be happy then take advice into consideration, try out the practices and see what works. But remember that the reason you do things is to be happy. So you keep trying things until you find what causes you to feel deep, content joy and bliss.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fun Next Week

I'm excited about an event next weekend. There's a benefit dance happening that my boss is inviting everyone at the company to and it turns out, it's Bollywood themed!

Quite unexpected. I went to talk to the guy who is organizing it and when he found out that I owned saris, he set me up to lend them out to the ladies in the neighborhood and teach them how to wear them.

I love an opportunity to get decked out in my Indian finery!

There will be Indian food and Bollywood music and dancing. I'm going to have to go on YouTube and try to learn some appropriate Indian social dancing, bharatnatyam is little good in those situations.

I'll post pictures afterwards (and if anyone is in Maryland and would like to go, send me an email and I'll tell you where to get tickets)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hindi Teacher Over Skype

This is a bit of an advertisement, please forgive me! But I actually was getting tutored by this woman for a while and found it really a neat way to learn.

We would set up Skype sessions and she teaches from India to anywhere in the world. Her rates were very reasonable too.

She just told me about her webpage, so I wanted to share it with you all in case anyone else was interested in learning Hindi:

She also teaches Bengali.

Pass this on to anyone you think might benefit from it! Thanks :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Holi Recap

Holi was pretty good, I drove a little over an hour to the temple in VA where Hindi Day had been. There was food, and stands and performances of folk and classical dance.

I dragged along a Jewish friend, but I didn't know anyone else. As it turns out, it's a bit hard to get into the spirit of throwing colored powder at complete strangers.

Next year I think I'll hit the Hari Krishna temple with my friend K.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Happy Holi!

Tomorrow is Holi, probably my favorite holiday. I've been invited to an event at a temple in VA, I need to call them today to make sure that there will be colors!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Gods and Goddesses- examples of perfect relationships?

I met some new people last week and we went out to dinner for a birthday. They were all Hindu Indians by birth, but felt that they didn't know as much about it as they would like.

One thing that I found interesting was that one girl said that she was frustrated with the way men treated her and she thought they should take some lessons from the Gods and Goddesses. She thought men should learn from the Gods how to treat a lady.

I'm not so sure.

The Goddesses in Hindu mythology are strong women, very admirable. The Gods are also full of wonderful qualities. But when I look at some of the relationships between them, it doesn't look like what I'd want!

Take Radha and Krishna, the number one example of perfect love (and often used as a metaphor for the soul and God being united). Radha is frequently alone, waiting for Krishna to return. There's no cell phones, so she just pines after him and is constantly waiting for him to deign to show up. She also shares him with many other adoring women! (Technically Radha is not a Goddess, but she does fit into this example well).

In a lot of the stories about Goddesses, like with Shiva and Parvati, I see the females being supportive, kind, loving, generous, and going above and beyond to help the Gods. In return they often seem to be ignored, their desires shrugged off, and they have to take matters into their own hands to get what they want. The Gods fear the wrath of the Goddesses, but I don't know if I think of that as a loving thing.

I don't know, what do you think? Do the relationships between divinities mirror what we should desire for our human relationships?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Addressing Comments

First off I want to say that some people are having trouble leaving comments and I am working on fixing that! I want everyone to be able to comment, but I hope to do that without turning off the comment moderation.

There have been some new comments on old posts that I wanted the chance to address. I don't mean to pick on you, alnguyen, and this isn't criticism at all, just want to open up the discussion.

alnguyen said...
I want to address the problem of caste. It's not politically correct to recommend this but for a western woman I think the solution is to marry a Hindu man. When you marry a Hindu man you marry into his caste. Since you embrace the Hindu way of life I'm sure his family will embrace you as a real Hindu. I'm in the software engineering field. I have many Indian buddies with gori wives and these ladies are integrated into the Hindu communities of their husbands. To me the Hindu way is not primarily an individual religion. It's primarily a communal religion. If you want to enjoy the full benefits of the Hindu way join a Hindu family and community through marriage. Why not? You can have a dharmic life together, enjoy artha and kama, and raise a family.

This is a good thought, and one that I've had myself. I'm still in the process of figuring out what I hope future marriage will do for me, and until I can decide that, I can't decide whether to marry purely for the social benefits.

I have concerns about marrying someone purely for his race, which I've written about before. Part of it is that I don't like the idea of people assuming that I became a Hindu for my (hypothetical) husband. It bothers me that people would see me as an extension of his Hinduism and not my own experience of the religion. This might be an esoteric and stupid concern, but it is something I think about.

alnguyen said...
My dear you will always be perceived as an outsider unless you marry into an Indian Hindu family. Generally speaking if you marry into a Hindu family the community will see you as one of their own.

Generally indeed. I've seen cases where gori wives are accepted and other cases where they are not, it depends a lot on the family and the actual individuals one encounters. We've seen from some of Mrs. BBBB's posts that marrying into Hinduism doesn't always get you instant acceptance.

However, as time has gone on in the writing of this blog, I have felt a lot of acceptance from the Indians that I know. I think my feelings of being an outsider and not wanted stemmed a lot from my own fears and inner thoughts, and not from reality. I'm pretty comfortable at this point with who I am and how I interact with the world. I no longer feel like I need to prove that I am a Hindu.

[In response to my post about why I don't just marry an Indian man]:
alnguyen said...
With all respect I think you're making a big mistake. Within the Hindu religion marriage is two people following the path of dharma and enjoying artha and kama together. That sharing of a way of life you're going to miss out on. You'll never know the joy of it. Furthermore, you will never be fully accepted into an Indian Hindu community if you marry a white guy. You will always be an outsider. If you're not fully a part of a Hindu community what's the point of trying to be a Hindu? You'll find it empty and void within a few years. Don't make a mistake you're going to regret. You're a very pretty woman. You can get a nice Indian man if you really want to.

Not to be vain, but I do think that I'm beautiful and could land an Indian husband if I tried hard at it. I'm not sure, though, if that's what I want. There are some other factors that come into play that are not related to race and complicate my life, so I'm not sure yet and I'm not going to pursue a husband until I am sure. I don't think that would be fair to the (hypothetical) man. It may end up that it would be better for me to remove myself from family life, that remains to be seen and it is an issue that I'm not comfortable discussing here.

I disagree that lack of acceptance into a Hindu community makes being a Hindu pointless or empty or void and I disagree that I would lose interest.

If you separate Hindu philosophy and beliefs from Indian culture and social tradition, then I've been a follower of Hinduism for 29 years. Most of those years were without a comfortable connection to a Hindu community.

Hinduism is my heart and my soul and it will be whether I am in a community (as I do love to be) or all alone. An ascetic might go into the mountains to meditate alone for years-- though he is not a part of a community, he is still a Hindu.

alnguyen said...
If you marry a non-Hindu man you will give up much that you could have. I encourage you not to follow the advice of people leading you down that path. Having been in software engineering a long time I've known many Indian Hindu men with white wives. You can get a good Hindu man. No problem. btw - what does your mother think about the possibility of you marrying into a Hindu family?

I wrote a comment in response to this:
"My family would like for me to marry an Indian man, I think. I believe they see it as the same solution that you do, to give me legitimacy.

However, I am a Hindu whether I'm married to an Indian or not.

I don't need to prove myself that way."

I know that everyone here wants to help me to feel happy and safe and fulfilled in my life, and it's so lovely to have people care so much that they write comments and give advice. I appreciate you all! I will continue to take all opinions under consideration and ponder whether they feel right for my circumstances or not.

I'm happy to report that for the last several months I have felt comfortable with my religious and cultural behaviors and the sense of being an outsider is mostly faded. I know I'm a bit of an odd duck, and people still look at me like an exhibit in a zoo, but it's all in the fun of the game.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A new western Hindu blog

Our own has started her own blog about western Hinduism!

Check it out at Also Hindu for yet more philosophical pondering!

Secret Thoughts

Kat found this on PostSecret, which is a place where people let out their secrets anonymously.

I hope that who ever wrote this keeps looking and keeps trying.

It seems to me that whatever religion touches your heart and makes sense to you is the right one for you to follow.

However, it isn't that simple if you worry about your family or other outside factors.

I can say from my own personal experiencing, following your heart and letting go of the fear of what others will think, feels fantastic and makes you a much happier person.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Throwing the Baby Out

Such a strange expression, throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but that is what I am thinking about today.

This past weekend a friend came over and we watched a movie he likes called The Peaceful Warrior. It is very philosophical, all about how to control our minds and bodies, staying present, the joy of the present moment, that happiness is not found in achievements (i.e., "If I just had this one thing, then I could be happy").

As much as I agree with everything, the whole time we were watching it, my insides were screaming, "I'm not going back into that cage."

I am very resistant to discipline these days.

I was talking to another friend recently, someone with whom I grew up, so having the same background as me. He pointed out some interesting things about our upbringing. For one, something I never thought of before, is that a lot of the discipline that we grew up with was masculine in nature. It was about control over one's emotions and being stoic and immovable.

There is value in those disciplines, but there is also value in the feminine side and that part got left out.

He described the inner being as a marriage between a masculine and a feminine side, we are all always working at keeping a harmonious balance between them within ourselves.

Right now I am needing to explore the creative and the chaotic. I need to find truth for myself, to experience it, rather than believing the things I've always been told. I want to discover for myself whether or not I need the present moment, whether or not meditation benefits my life.

So, for now, I am cutting loose from discipline. I'll come back to it soon and find my balance, I'm sure. I can't tell yet what from my past I want to keep and what I want to get rid of, so I'm throwing it all out and picking back up piece by piece as I find it helpful.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What Won't Aamba Do?

I don't know the answer to that question yet. What I won't do has not been discovered. Wearing a sari in my regular day life is not that thing!

Here's the photographic evidence that I did indeed wear my sari today:

I went to my therapy appointment, to work, and also to the mall and the grocery store for work errands! No big deal, I could totally do this on a regular basis :)

No one at my office batted an eye at it. They are far too prepared for my eclectic and unusual wardrobe. In the mall we passed a couple of ladies wearing full head coverings and they smiled at me. At one store the girl behind the counter told me she loved what I was wearing.

So all together it was a hit. Next year maybe my female office mates will want to join in, I wish I had thought to bring some extra saris for them to put on!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Yikes, wear your sari to work tomorrow?

Ms. Malathi has written this wonderful post about wearing sari and she suggests that we hold our wear a sari to work day March 8th, because apparently it is women's day...? I didn't know that!

Of course, March 8th is tomorrow!

Will I be brave enough to put on a sari for work tomorrow? (Thank goodness it isn't the day of our big presentation).

I'm going to try to do it and I'll get a picture to post here if I do!

By the way, on the subject of clothes, I saw a woman in Wal-mart yesterday wearing a beautiful, bright green and pink salwar kameez and she didn't look Indian at all. She was black, but she could have been mixed race. I didn't get up the courage to go over to her and compliment her outfit. :(

Hindu Terms

I love when I find someone who has a big problem with Hinduism using its terms. It seems that many Americans now don't know the origin of words like "karma." Below is a quote from a blog that I read occasionally. Its heavy evangelical Christian emphasis is usually too much for me, but there are some useful writing tip gems applicable outside the Christian writing market (why is there an entirely separate market just for Christian writing, anyway?)

Monday, February 28, 2011
Why Men Don't Read Romance

If you're a Christian man who reads Christian fiction, well, you're a dying breed. Call it payback for centuries of misogynist tyranny, but finally karma has caught up. Don't believe me? A stroll down the Religious Fiction aisle will cool your jets, bubba.
Novel Journey

An evangelical Christian believing in karma... hilarious.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Humor: Buddhist

A friend posted this hilarious video on Facebook. It is about Buddhism, but there is a lot of relevance to Hindus too!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Inter-religious Marriage in India

The latest Hinduism Today magazine just arrived. There are a number of interesting articles, as usual. On one of the opening pages is a tiny piece about an Indian/non-Indian couple trying to get a divorce.

It sounds like the Delhi high court is questioning whether inter-religious marriages are valid. The man in this couple is Hindu and the woman "claims" to have converted to Hinduism. The Justice said, "a bare declaration that he is a Hindu by a person born in another faith is not sufficient to convert him to Hinduism."

They are requiring documentation or some kind of proof that the woman is a Hindu. This is relevant because there are different marriage laws for Hindus and for other faiths.

I think this court case could have far-reaching effects and I worry what those will be.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Happy Maha Shivaratri

I was going back through my old posts, thinking I must have said something about this holiday a year ago, yet I can't find anything! I'm sure it's in there somewhere, but I didn't have much of an audience back then.

It's a little later this year than I was expecting, I'm used to it falling in February, but this year it is today, March 3rd.

The title of this festival means "The Great Night of Shiva."

A fast is held through the day, and an all night vigil is held with ongoing pujas.

Here is some information about it:

I don't have time for a long post today, work is very busy, but I wanted to acknowledge this important day and tonight, once everything has settled down, I'll be spending some time meditating on Shiva, the central God on my altar.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Center of the Universe

It never ceases to interest me how every one of us billions of people has our own world. We can experience the same event, yet have different memories of it, different feelings about it.

We meet so many people in our lives and through one or two degrees touch so many other lives.

All of us billions and we all have an inner self. We all put ourselves in the center of the action and the world around us is like a play starring us. It's so interesting to realize that everyone does this, there are billions of different plays going on all around us.

It's interesting to find that someone who was a huge presence in my life barely remembers me.

A sting to the ego, certainly, but a valuable perspective also, that what I am thinking and experiencing, what is meaningful to me, is being experienced completely differently by the people next to me.

And then it gives me an odd feeling about the solidity of my own existence. How I see myself is so different from how anyone else sees me. Who am I if each person has a different impression of me and what I am like? I am a small player in other people's dramas, or sometimes a large player. I am different to every single person who encounters me.

Fascinating, isn't it?