A Catholic and a Hindu

So this Catholic from Canada who used to be Hindu, and this Hindu from The United States who used to be Catholic came together on a tour van in Mexico. It was a tour of a city on the Mexican Rivera.

Regrettably, my wife was not feeling well, and so I took this tour alone. There were three couples, and I was number 7. As we boarded, our eyes met and we politely smiled at each other. We were all on the same cruise ship and this was one of the planned land excursions.

She and her husband were from Canada. I spoke to him in Hindi. He smiled and asked me where I had learned the language. I explained to him that my temple has Hindi classes which I sometimes attend.

At that, both their eyes widened and they asked with obvious surprise, “Are you Hindu?”

“Yes” I replied, “I embraced Sanata Dharma several years ago and I have been very peaceful ever since.” They both chuckled. However it was clear to me that they were not laughing at me personally, but at the situation.

“I used to be Hindu,” she cheerfully responded, “but for the past 20 years I have been Catholic.” Now it was my turn to chuckle. “I used to be Catholic,” I said. We all laughed together. We boarded the van and began our narrated guide through the town of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. There were several opportunities to leave the van and sample local culinary fare, as well as to purchase souvenirs. At these times I enjoyed talking to them about a variety of topics: our mutual love of travel, the on-board ship cuisine, and the peso vs. the US and Canadian dollars, noting how much more our dollars could purchase in Mexico.

Inevitably, the subject came up as to why one would leave one religion for the other. We were both extremely polite with this delicate subject. Each trying to make it abundantly clear that it was only curiosity and not an attempt to engage the other in debate or criticism. Far be it from me to try to convert someone! After all, Hindus don’t believe in pushing our religion on to others, and I certainly didn’t want them apptempting to reconvert me back to Catholicism!

I met someone I used to be

I ventured to say that I honestly noted similarities between the two religions and that while they seem to be quite different anyone who gives honest evaluation might agree. Actually, the husband concurred. He mentioned that The Deity in Hinduism has a triple-form, which is somewhat like the Christian Holy Trinity. Whereas I am disgusted with what I consider to be hypocritical popes, she respected the pope’s position as God’s earthly representative. I held my tongue on that one. I really wished we were someplace where this topic could be the sole focus. I like that Hinduism has no central governing board, no overarching institutional structure, yet the Vedas have endured since almost the dawn of time, with intact structure that has guided souls down through the ages.

We both were once “the other”

They informed me that they participate in Hindu festivals in the community where they live. I admit that I participate in Christmas gatherings because some people at my temple do and so I go along with them. I was surprised at first but as it was explained to me, one can do these events (Christmas parties) just to be sociable. We need not isolate ourselves from surrounding society. I thought about how US soldiers used to celebrate Buddha’s birthday when I was stationed in Korea. None of us converted, but we enjoyed all the celebrations.

We compared communion to prasad’ and various Hindu Gods to Catholic saints who will aid and assist you with intercessions on any and all matters through novenas and fasting, as will Hindu deities.

What a beautiful tour through the Mexican Rivera

Since this was a guided tour we were not at liberty to just keep talking. After all, we were there by choice to learn about Mexican culture. We did touch, albeit briefly, on reincarnation, in which I firmly believe, but they were not entirely certain. We all believed in karma, however, and according to them, negative karma could be worked off in Purgatory. I believe it will be dealt with over several lifetimes.

It was a good day and our tour guide really showed us a great time. In the end we talked mostly about cameras and how much fun it is to look back on vacations years later.

I saw them on the ship one more time that week. It would return us to Los Angeles, California, our port for debarkation. From there, they would fly North to Canada and I would drive East to the state of Arizona. We will all get home, just by different paths, a parallel not lost on us. We bid each other safe travels and made reference to the saying “one truth, many paths.”

There are certainly many salient as well as subtle differences between what Catholics and Hindus each hold sacred. There are also similarities, not the least of which should be to each do our part to make the world a better place, respect each others’ beliefs, and to exist in mutual respect and harmony.

3 Replies to “A Catholic and a Hindu”

  1. mutual respect n coexistence is what is being taught to us in sanatan dharma but when i see cults like islam n christianity advancing their agenda through hook or crook it left a bitter taste in me.

    religion was a personal thing to me n i really never cared or gave second thought about it but after graduation all this became clear to me. the competition n controlling tendencies abrahamic cults have over their victims. watched these religion used as a political ideology , a way into submission, cultural genocide n brainwashing.

    what christian missions doing in India, sri-lanka, nepal, Myanmar, south korea left me deeply hurt n ignited my never ending hatred towards them. after visiting south africa n sudan etc it became all clear that mutual respect n coexistence will not be possible unless their “GOD TOLD ME TO EXPAND HIS MESSAGE” thing come to an end. islam is waging brutal jihad while xtianity is waging submissive jihad.

  2. With Christians being active in conversions, even forced like places in India, it is a disgrace that a Hindu would celebrate a Christian holiday such as Christmas. While there may be minimal similarities, the core of each religion is vastly different. I am not saying that intolerance is the answer, but we in Sanatana Dharma do not discriminate while we are indeed discriminated against at every instance.

    I applaud your civil conversation and the friendship that was made. But we as Hindus must make a stand for ourselves, take a stand for ourselves, and not be overrun by any religion that oppresses and condemns us.

    Hari Om!

    1. Clayton, I admit I was a bit surprised when people at my temple had a Christmas celebration. (It was not temple sponsored just a group I am with decided to go to a special dinner). In talking to some of them it was just basically to have fun. I think maybe it may be compared to me as a soldier going to parties for Buddhas birthday (I was stationed in Korea). It was just a good time and I don’t think any of us soldiers gave the religious aspects a second thought. Same with Christmas. In a way it has lost much of the religious or spiritual meaning and has become a celebration of capitalism. Actually, Christmas drives forth quarter profits. Many businesses are made or broken from sales or lack thereof during December and Jesus is merely an incidental. In other words, Christians themselves don’t even honor it, yet they force it on others.

      I do fully understand your position and respect your views. Forced Christianity was the plight of my ancestors and I am so glad to be spiritually liberated.

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