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 This blog is no longer updated, but Ambaa is still writing The White Hindu every weekday at

Friday, April 29, 2011

Coming Soon

Coming soon from The White Hindu...

1) I was sent a review copy of a book called The Jedi and the Lotus, all about exactly how Hinduism was used in the Star Wars series. Hinduism is all over the jedi "religion" and I'm excited to find out the inspirations and how that came to be. So, I'll be posted a review of that when I finish it.

2) There's a new group creating a website based on celebrating the diversity of religion in America. I've written a short piece for them about how Hinduism helps make America great. I'll let you know when that's live. (Word of warning, I only had 750 words to work with, so I had to simply a bit)

3) Tonight is the talk and meditation seminar with the woman known as Ganga-ji. I'm stressed and wiped out and don't want to go, but that's an excellent reason to go! So I'll try to drag myself over there :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Goodbye to Sathya Sai Baba

Spiritual guru Sathya Sai Baba died yesterday after a long illness. I don't know too much about him or his teachings, but I've heard him mentioned several times.

He was, it seems, one who believes that all religions lead to the same God, and hence no one need leave the religion of his/her birth. It is unclear to me whether no one *needing* to leave the religion of his birth is the same as no one *should* leave the religion of his birth. I'd have to do more reading to figure that out. "Sathya Sai Baba said that his followers do not need to give up their original religion, saying 'my objective is the establishment of sanatana dharma, which believes in one God as propitiated by the founders of all religions. So none [sic] has to give up his religion or deity.'" -

According to the same source his followers report that he performed miracles and caused objects to manifest. He also faced criticism based on sexual abuse allegations. It seems that he predicted his own death, but incorrectly. This page ( goes through a lot of hoop jumping to make it sound like he wasn't wrong. Altogether, sounds like the arch-type of the modern Hindu guru.

This explanation of his teachings is quite lovely and I certainly could not disagree:

Sathya Sai Baba -- His Message

Sathya Sai Baba encourages us to recognize who we are. We are not these minds. We are not these bodies. We are the eternal spirit that temporarily occupies these minds and bodies. We can appreciate and become who we really are by turning inward with faith in God and an intense yearning to know Him. Our conscience is a reflection of the eternal spirit. Sathya Sai Baba tells us that our conscience is our master. When we follow our conscience, our thoughts, words, and deeds will be noble and consistent. Spirituality is having the courage and determination to follow our conscience in all things and at all times. In doing so, we recognize that we are all united in God. We are bound together by divine love.

I have come to light the lamp of love in your hearts, to see that it shines day by day with added luster. I have come to tell you of this universal, unitary faith, this spiritual principle, this path of love, this duty of love, this obligation to love. Every religion teaches man to fill his being with the glory of God and to evict the pettiness of conceit. It trains him in the methods of unattachment and discernment, so that he may aim high and attain spiritual liberation. Believe that all hearts are motivated by the one and only God; that all faiths glorify the one and only God; that all names in all languages and all forms man can conceive denote the one and only God. His adoration is best done by means of love. Cultivate that attitude of oneness between men of all creeds and all countries. That is the message of love I bring. That is the message I wish you to take to heart. Sathya Sai Baba

Let the different faiths exist, let them flourish, and let the glory of God be sung in all the languages and a variety of tunes. That should be the ideal. Respect the differences between the faiths and recognize them as valid as long as they do not extinguish the flame of unity. Sathya Sai Baba

Friday, April 22, 2011

Offbeat Marriage Site

Our friend, Mrs. 4B, had a great interview in a website about "challenging" marriages (i.e., those that are inter-faith, inter-cultural, inter-ability, etc.) I was happy that the site also rightfully pointed out that really any two people from different families are coming from at least subtly different cultures.

Here is Mrs. 4B's interview.

My favorite highlights:

"In retrospect, we look at the wedding as a hurdle we had to jump over. When people ask us about the wedding, we often say that since our marriage survived that wedding, we will be able to get through anything."
"We both have our superstitions and little rituals that make us comfortable, whether it’s my saint medals or the Ganesh idol on our dashboard. Those tend to be the things that show up on a daily basis."
"One man openly mocked our marriage and basically called Mr. 4B a race-traitor. Because of social rules about politeness to older people, especially men, we were required to just sit there and take it, even though we were seething."
"I think that a lot of the comments I get from her [mother-in-law] as wells as from my husband’s aunts and uncles comes from a deep insecurity about themselves. They are so insecure that they need validation at every level to prove that Maharashtrian culture is better than any other. There are several 'lecture uncles' that I can count on to give me a speech about the superiority of Maharastra or India on any subject from food to women’s rights to dogs. Ever since an uncle got mad at me, in all seriousness, for teaching Chini her commands in English instead of Marathi, I’ve realized how ridiculously insecure he was."
"I think that we have both had to become secure and confident in our own beliefs and values. If we both came out of the same culture, we might just do certain things without questioning their value or understanding why we were doing them. When we have a choice between two ways of doing things, we get to make a choice about what works best for us."
"Don’t give into the idea that respecting your spouse’s parents or culture means letting them call all the shots or have their way every time. Your partner fell in love with YOU, not a version of you that tries to live up to his parents’ ideas."

I like this website, I think it's a great idea. I am rather disturbed, though, by the woman who runs it and her inconsistent goal.

On the front, the website seems to have the agenda of supporting people in having unified marriages despite coming from very different backgrounds. Once I started to read more, though, there were many posts whose agenda was to push a Biblical idea of what a good marriage is (and what a good wife is).

The creator of the site is a 7th Day Advantist and instead of letting that be the colorful background of her story of inter-faith marriage and its challenges, she uses Bible quotes to tell us that open marriages are bad and that Evolution is just a theory that shouldn't be taught in schools. (Not that I would want an open marriage, but I fully support people who choose to do that. I can't know what works best and makes the most sense for everyone).

I hope that the site will grow more towards showcasing many different couples and how they make inter-something marriages of all kinds work.

I just went back over there and my comments on a couple posts that she seemed to be proselytizing her views rather than giving an honest discussion of offbeat marriages were erased and she added this:

"P.S. Some of my writings and advice are influenced by my Christian point of view. I hope you still find them helpful even if you aren’t a Christian and pick up the ones that can possibly be applied to you."

I thought I made good and rational comments, particularly on her post about whether to raise her children believing in Creationism as she does or in Evolution as her husband does. Rather than actually create a plan for what they will teach their children, she just spends the whole post talking about why she's right. Doesn't seem like good advice for a fair marriage to me...

But I also don't want to be mean to her, as it does seem like her heart is in the right place and she's working on building something wonderful and valuable.

Who knows GangaJi?

I just got a notification that my Hindi meetup group is going to a meditation event given by Gangaji, so I went to the website and saw a white woman.

I have never heard of this woman, but I'm intrigued, so I think I'll go to the event and see what it's all about. The event is next Friday evening.

Here is her website
And some quick info:

"Antoinette (Toni) Roberson Varner was given the name Gangaji by her teacher H.W.L. Poonja in 1990. Before that meeting, she had spent decades searching for lasting happiness.

Gangaji shares a simple message-This is an invitation to shift your allegiance from the activities of your mind to the eternal presence of your being. Gangaji travels the world speaking to seekers from all walks of life. A teacher and author, she shares her direct experience of the essential message she received from Papaji and offers it to all who want to discover a true and lasting fulfillment. Through her life and words, she powerfully articulates how it is really possible to discover the truth of who you are and to be true to that discovery."

This should be a great example of how Hinduism is universal, available for all people of all races because underneath our ethnicities, we have the same soul.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Favorite Thing

There's nothing more satisfying and enjoying than a discussion of religion between two curious and open-minded people.

I love to talk spirituality with people!

On Monday night I was invited to a Passover Seder at my best friend's house. Jewish religious events are the one time that I'm willing to drink alcohol, incidently. I hate the taste of all alcohol (and actually juice, milk, coffee, and tea as well), so for the four official "cups" of wine for Passover, I take itty-bitty sips!

Anyway, that's beside the point. During dinner I was seated next to a friend of a friend whom I've met, but not really spoken to. Somehow (because I'm great at causing this) the subject of religion came up (hey, we were at a religious event!).

We ended up having a fantastic discussion about spirituality. I was energized and riveted. He told me about his spiritual journey, his own self-discovery, as well as how he and his wife thought about how to raise their future children.

There is nothing more interesting to me. It was a great Passover experience!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Made It

As I frequently say, life is a journey and I doubt I will ever arrive at a destination in my process of learning and questioning and growing. I'm not interested in locking down answers, I am interested in always being open to new ways of understanding.

However, in terms of the cultural confusion that this blog started over, there are ways in which I feel that I have achieved something. My experiences now are different than they were when it comes to interacting with the world at large.

A year ago when I wore a sari to an event, someone would hustle me into the bathroom and redo my pleats. This year I got asked to dress other women in saris, both for the Bollywood party and my own mom for going to an ashram.

A year ago I felt self-conscious about my wearing Indian clothes. This year an Indian girl told me that I had such ease with them that she could tell I wore them frequently.

Last week I went to FedEx for work and I was wearing my professional looking gray salwar kameez. The blonde woman behind the desk asked if I was wearing Indian clothes and we started chatting. It turned out her husband is Indian and she showed me a picture of her beautiful teenage daughter.

All these examples are about clothes! Sometimes I can be such a girl. But there are other ways in which my life has changed, they just aren't as easy to pin point.

I'm truly living my life from the mindset of being a white Hindu and it's working for me. I feel confident that I belong in the life that I built for myself. I don't apologize and I don't offer explanation for the many Indian aspects of my life (like my white board at work where I track my projects in Hindi!)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Presence of God

No matter what I go through in life, no matter the pain or the joy or the brain chemistry being messed with by PMS, I always feel a solid presence beside me.

I'm wondering if this experience is unusual or if it's what most people feel and maybe label it differently.

I constantly feel a conscious force around me, particularly just to my right side, but it spreads out from there to encompass everything. It doesn't look like anything, and yet it almost has a personality in my mind. I direct a lot of conversation in my thoughts towards it.

Because of this presence I feel self-conscious even when I'm alone in my apartment. I know there is something always listening. Not in a creepy or upsetting way, just in a way that I can see how crazy I'm being because there is a calm and unflappable aura next to me that reflects back to me how I look.

In the past year and a bit as I've mourned the loss of my dear friend, I've been overcome by tears. I tend to cry a lot and it embarrasses me, but I don't feel in control of it at all. However, this crying is huge shaking sobs that I wouldn't want anyone to ever see. I do it in my car or alone in my bed at night. Even then I feel that presence and it looks at me gently, but it knows that grief is temporary, that death is not real, and that these gut-punched, can-barely-breathe sobs that give me headaches are not the ultimate reality.

Never, never, never have I had a time when that feeling of a presence nearby has been gone. I felt it when I was a small child and played by myself for hours and hours. I've always felt it and maybe that's why faith comes as naturally to me as breathing.

I recognized this feeling in Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor* (one of my all time favorite writers). Her character has a different response to it than I do. "[Jesus moves] from tree to tree in the back of his mind, a wild ragged figure motioning him to turn around and come off into the dark..." Hazel Motes feels that Jesus is haunting him, a figure in the woods, always just behind him. He is determined to reject this figure that follows him.

On the other hand, I have always felt that presence as comforting, strong, steady, and loving. I don't know what it is or why I feel it, but I give it the name of God and no amount of despair in my heart ever causes it to waver.

*[This book is very complex and cannot really be broken down and analyzed without spending months at it, so I'm skeptical of the summaries and reviews I see of it online, I feel that they are mostly all missing the point. O'Connor is a very unusual writer and her work defies easy description.]

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Lack of Confusion

Another lesson that I can't control how others see me, Tandava let me know that someone on his blog said that I seem confused a lot!

This was my response:

I just like to ponder a lot. I wouldn’t say that I’m confused.

I have a lot of knowledge and I’m always trying to work at how to apply that knowledge to life, just as we all do.

As I always say, that’s just part of the journey!

I never want to assume that I know something and then stop thinking about it and stop revising my thoughts and opinions, I don’t sit back and rest on one achievement or one thought, I’m always rethinking and reworking my life to try to get the most out of it.

Actually, my lack of confusion is one of the reasons that this blog has slowed down quite a bit. I had a lot to say at first, but now that more than a year has gone by, I feel that I've addressed most of my issues and worries.

I've settled into a comfortable relationship with my spirituality and my cultural behavior.

I'm sure every once in a while I will still find things to say and have opinions about, but it's going to be few and far between, I believe.

To those just starting on the path, you can see that the self-consciousness fades and the fears fade and then you just have yourself, doing what feels right.