Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Fri Feb 4 18:34:49 CST 2000

On Wed, 2 Feb 2000, Sankaran Jayanarayanan wrote:

> First of all, I must say that I have come across several people claiming
> to be pious BrAhmaNas who find it convenient to be "more dhArmic" in
> America. I found this quite distasteful, and was indeed glad to hear that
> BodhAyana agrees with me.

But in order to know Dharma even Baudhayanas view must be considered along
side the tradition as a whole.  If we are just going to pick out isolated
statements what would we make of statements we find in the Puranas such as
"Anarta (Gujarat) is unfit for a pious Brahman to live in.  Or "The land
of the Kuru-Panchalas (now partially in Pakistan) is the best
country."  Is it really easier to be "more Dharmic" in Islamabad than in
New York?  The fact that learned and saintly people think it is ok should
carry great weight in this discussion.

> The thread being "svadharma," and the topic being about VarNAshrama
> dharma, I merely wanted to point out that the dharma of caste holds less
> (way less) in America than in India.

But this is not because of any intrinsic properties of the dirt and soil
of the present political entity called India but because of all the effort
that hundreds of generations of our ancestors put into it.  And this is
why our sages were against travelling overseas and the like.  It wasn't
just Brahmans either.  Read Gandhijis autobiography for an example.  Then
as in other cases the concern was that by travelling overseas people would
forget their traditions.  (Plus there were the physical conditions.
Imagine trying to do Agnihotra on a wooden sailing ship for example.  And
if you've seen the film Titanic, you know that except for the rich
conditions on "Luxury" steamships were not that good either.)  In 90% of
the cases they were right.  For every Gandhiji there must have been many
who simply assimilated without a trace.  But it is that 10% that didn't
that makes the difference.  There are people who meticulously follow their
Dharma outside India.  Maybe not as many as there should be but
some.  There are growing numbers of young Hindus (like myself) who were
not born in India and have never lived there.  Like me most of them have
positive feelings for India but the fac is India is not our homeland
America is.  If we are to be considered inferior simply not for being
located in India then Hinduism will not thrive once the immigrant
generation passes on.

> To tell you the truth, I've never felt the same in any temple in the USA
> (I've been to about ten) as I did in a small Shiva temple near my house in
> Madras. Being in the presence of real devotees is better than being with
> people who value wealth more than wisdom.

To some extent all immigrant groups go through this phase.  But the next
generation is more secure and less concerned about "making it" and more
interested in higher values (particularly when they are as well-educated
and financially secure as our people tend to be.)  They are the ones who
will be more receptive to spiritual messages--if they understand them.  It
is bridging that cultural gap which will be the key.  Every single person
reading this can help by sharing what they know when people ask questions
and standing up against lies and distortions.  I'm an optimist, I think we
can do it.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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