1. happening by chance or accident; not planned; unexpected.
I didn’t set out 10 years ago to become Hindu. Converting to a religion –- or, to be more accurate, accepting one -– was not on my mind.
I had always been a spiritual girl while growing up, but I was not formally a part of any religion. I had supposed, with one parent having been raised Catholic and the other Seventh Day Adventist, that I was nominally Christian. Kind of by default. But I was never told that I was, or that I had to be anything. I was taught a firm set of principles, a sense of right and wrong and personal honour, and then given the tools to explore and make spiritual choices for myself. The only definitive guidance my parents gave me as a teenager was tongue-in-cheek: “Just don’t go running off to join the Hare Krishnas.” I have no idea what I had said or done back then to elicit that droll bit of advice, but it was the 1970s, and young people were doing just that in the US then, so I suppose it didn’t come out of the blue. (I did point out years later that, just maybe, buying a house around the corner from an ISKCON headquarters was probably not the best move, if they wanted to keep me off of that path!)
But I didn’t run away and hitchhike to Alaska (something I had daydreamed of doing), nor did I join ISKCON, I went to university. I went off to New York City and ended up joining a Baptist church near my school, mostly because the young assistant minister was a friend and it provided some sense of family or community, with me being so far away from home. But I never did feel that it was the ‘natural religion of my soul’ -– it never felt ‘like me’ and, in evening bible study, I was always arguing points and defending principles that were decidedly not of the Baptist path. I never fit. It was soon clear that it was time for me to move on. Later on, I befriended several Bahá'ís and made a sincere conversion. I have no regrets having been a Bahá'í for about 9 years of my life. It was the right choice at the time. It was the faith that, with what I knew at the time, most complemented the natural path I had always felt I was on –- it was the best fit. But, again, as the years went on, I realised it was not the right fit. Once again, I went my own way, following what I felt was my natural path, and it led away from the Bahá'í Faith.
That was it for me. I was done trying to find a faith to fit me. I was in my mid thirties, I had tried several paths, and I was content that what I had inside me was enough. No more need to fit in or belong. I did not need any form of congregation to feel at home or to be my family away from my family (I had moved half way across the world by then). And I was fine with that. Years before, I had begun studying yoga and meditation and, eventually, I found a teacher whom I trusted and bonded with. Then I began noticing that the Vedantic teachings I came across were simply right for me. The more I learned, the more everything I was doing -– every prayer, every chant, every asana, every celebration -– felt natural to me. I didn’t notice the exact moment that I had begun to feel entirely at home. But it was a few years along, when asked to fill out a form and to fill in what my religion was, that I found myself writing the word Hindu.
Why on earth had I done that?!
I had shocked myself. Really? Well… yes…. really. It was that simple.
It was a short while later, while on a study course with my teacher, that I voiced some concern about all this. I told Swamiji that I felt I might be seen as fickle or unserious if anyone found out that, yet again, I found myself on another spiritual path. Her answer was immediate and simple, and she said it was something her own guru, Swami Vekatesananda, had said to her years ago:
“This is not fickleness. This is persistence.”
And with that I felt at ease. I found that –- quite by accident –- I was a Hindu. The Sanātana Dharma was the natural dharma of my soul. It had always been so. I just didn’t know it until later in life.
I have no regrets about the various paths and faiths I studied and accepted along the way. I was on a search to name and become part of the natural conduit for my feelings and my understanding of the universe and how life worked. I finally knew where I was, and the spiritual ‘ground beneath my feet’ felt so natural that I had not noticed the exact moment I began to walk on this path. I just found myself there. Found myself at home.
So this blog will be about things that come to my mind on this path. I have been reading other blogs about being a Western Hindu [Also Hindu, The White Hindu, The Anglo Hindu, White Indian Housewife, Western Hindu, White Girl Coming Out of Sari Closet, Western Sanātana Dharma, Yatra, The Shaktona… among others], and I feel I have something to add to this on-going conversation.
Unlike all of the other bloggers I am reading now, I am a black Hindu, not a white one. I am a woman, West Indian-born, live in England now, where there is of course a large Indian-Hindu community all around. And while I know of several other people of African descent who are Hindu, I have not yet read a blog or article that addresses being Hindu from that perspective. So maybe I’ll have something to add there. Not sure what just yet, but there’s got to be something! Hopefully, it will be interesting.
But in general, it’s just going to be me chatting from time to time about things that you might like reading about… and I hope you will dive in and comment a lot and get a conversation going. I look forward to that!