Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I've Been a Very Bad Hindu Bahu!

No one is perfect and hopefully none of my readers get the assumption that I think I am. While I don't always flaunt my flaws I don't have too much difficulty when I'm proved wrong or called out on something I should/shouldn't say. This time I'm just confessing.

I don't know whether or not I feel good about it, whether I do this out of rebellion or the need to protect myself but I do it and I don't see any signs of change on the horizon.

Confession #1 - I fake touching elders feet.
Do followers go to hell for that? I make it no secret I am somewhat germophobic, especially being here and being sick with one thing or another for so long. So, when I absolutely can't avoid the expectation that I should greet some older woman and touch her feet for a blessing I fake it. I've developed a technique for leaning down just the right amount, bumping their knee with my elbow and then coming back up. Not once has anyone noticed I didn't actually touch their feet.

I get the added benefit that I haven't picked up whatever dirt and germs their feet have. I just don't understand why this is still expected anyway since feet are supposed to be considered dirty. Is this some kind of crazy way of saying young ppl are as low as the dirt on an elder's feet? I hope not. And for any skeptics, I rarely ever have to do this foot touching fake out anyway because I avoid the whole process of greeting elders at a distance close enough that I can't just get by with a 'Namaste.'

Confession #2 - I often eat chicken on Tuesday
Our family has Tuesday as their day to go to the temple. I respect that and for a long time I didn't eat any meat on Tuesdays, or most other days for that matter. After being sick for so long and realizing I couldn't stomach most of the foods that they were trying to feed me so that I could get better I started eating whatever I could get that didn't involve too much work. This included frozen chicken that was already cooked and only had to be placed in the toaster oven and heated through.

I don't go to the temple after eating chicken though because I'm told that is not acceptable. I can deal with that. At least I don't feel like I'm starving and the weakness goes away. Food has been one of my biggest challenges since moving here and I still feel the panic of there not being anything around that I can cook most of the time. I won't go into that struggle again but I just wonder how far ingrained is the American historical concept of storing food to avoid starvation that started with the Pilgrims because there is at least a little food here but I always feel the fear of there not being enough.


  1. While it IS true that the word Hindu has an ethnic value, it is also true that the way in which you are using it does not apply to this post.  

    ::sigh:: Semantics.  Firstly, the meaning of words changes with the time and the cultures shifts that are bound to occur.  People evolve and therefore their use of words do as well.  

    With that being said.....

    The way which you apply it for this post is antiquated and outdated.  It's also wrong.

    in this region known as "bharat" are referred to as "hindus" byoutsiders and "bharatiya" by its insiders. That is why "non-indians" cannot be "hindus"."

    Here's why you are wrong.

    In ancient times, the Indus river system had seven major tributaries.  These were; Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, Jhelum, Beas and the now extinct River Saraswati.  So, the area that it covered was called (in sanskrit) Sapta Sindhu.  Which translated from sanskrit means Seven Rivers.  Sindhu was also used to describe the people who populated these areas.

    Time passes and with it come the explorations of the Persians who corrupted the word Sindhu into one that they could pronounce due to their own language which aspirated the letter H.  

    So, the Sanskrit word Sindhu became the Persian variant Hindu, which represented the same thing and applied to all peoples living in the area of what is now India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.  

    So, over time, the word Hindu has evolved again to mean something different.  This is most likely due to societal strictures and political correctness, however no matter why the change...a change DID occur.

    In today's vernacular the term Hindu means a person who believes in the Vedas and practices Hinduism.  

    People who live in the original Sindhu areas are now called by their Country's names, such as Indian's, Pakistani's, or Afghan's.  

    I'm fairly sure that if you tried to tell a Muslim in Pakistan that he is really a Hindu, he would take great offense, as he should.

    Because it would be wrong historically, geographically and culturally he would be a Sindhu and incorrect for the same reasons in modern times as he would now reference to his country and religion.

  2. Broadway, I have to wonder where you get your information from, because once again, you are wrong. 

    Guru Nanak (who lived in the late 1400's) said "For me there is no Hindu and no Muslim. With all I am at peace. The God residing in us renders us incapable of hate and prejudice."

    The actual word Buddhism didn't exist until the early 1800's but what did exist as far back as 563 BCE (and perhaps even earlier) were Dharma (‘the Law’), Buddha-dharma (‘Buddhist doctrine’), Buddha-śāsana (‘teachings of the Buddha’) and Buddhavacana (‘the word of the Buddha’).  All of which are the sanskrit way of saying what the west created to make it easier to for them to say...Buddhism (which means teachings or following of the philosophy of Buddha).
    The word Hindu can be found in Meru tantra (4th to 6th century A.D.).

    For pre-Islamic proof check out the Sair-ul-Okul for the world Hindu (1700's).

    The Hamadan , Persepolis and Naqsh-I-Rustam Inscriptions of Persian monarch Darius mention a people ‘Hidu’ as included in his empire. These inscriptions are dated between 520-485 B.C. This fact establishes that the term ‘Hi(n)du’ was current more than 500 years before Christ.

    Because (as you have said previously) that you do not rely on "non-Indian" sources for information, I suggest you peruse a paper written by Dr Murlidhar H. Pahoja entitled Antiquity and Origin of the the Term "Hindu".  Here's the link:

    PS: 11th century in Burma, king Anoratha converted his entire country to Theravada Buddhism.

    PPS: Badbhabhi said that these people chose to abandon certain aspects of their Hindu faith and to follow a new path. Not convert.

  3. You're talking about indus(or hindu) as a region or an ethnic group. I'll give you more information that you won't find on wikipedia. Ancient India
    was a land east of the Indus and south of
    the himalayas with no fixed border and free migration for wealth, refuge or
    profit. It had no fixed ideology and no fixed "protected" language.
    It had no fixed emperor or political system. It had no fixed and protected
    religion(that concept itself didn't exist). Unlike other nations defined on ethnicity, language or religion, India was a
    land that did not restrict anyone on those lines. It was and still is a bizarre concept that most
    people in the world cannot understand. Only the US
    comes close - but even the US
    trips and falls over language. The people of this land were
    called "hindus". The word is used for an ethnic group. That means, when a
    person says that he is a hindu, he is indirectly saying that he is an

    You're also talking about undivided india. UI and fragmented parts of india are different.

    I'm not sure which civilizations you are talking about. A lot of invaders came here. Europeans, Persians, Turkey, Afghani etc.

    Since you're located in punjab, I recommend you read about alexander,
    porus, chanakya, ambhi, chandragupta and his descendents. Current europe
    is at a stage where india was during the period of porus. India already
    went through a partition. If you go through the dynastic power politics
    of ancient india, you'll witness a deja vu moment happening in future

  4. Since you are studying semantics, then you should already know that (new or not) the term Hinduism was never just applied to just Indians, it was deemed appropriate for anyone in the area beyond the Indus which was not just the area known (now or then) as India. The Indus river doesn't just flow through India. None of my information came from Wikipedia as I do not respect nor trust the information there. Also, you should realize that in it's modern form it is rarely used by other countries to describe Indians as a people anymore. In America I have never heard anyone refer to Indians as Hindus.

    As far as limiting yourself to only Indian published work - while they may have some good information you won't be the best in your field until you explore some non-biased literature from other countries as well. Your semantics should have also taught you that two civilizations merged into this area to form the culture that existed back then and it has continued to evolve ever since. I do not have the specific names of those societies available at this moment as they are in printed books in my storage in the US. I have however also seen the same information on Indian produced history and learning television shows since being here. You can't study those from all Indian authors because they would just not be the most authoritative sources. Diversification is the best way to excel, never limit yourself.

  5. Yeah, and if I don't....I can fake it!! Lol.

  6. @ Gori RajkumariWhy are you giving wikipedia information? I used to follow that section a very long time ago. I can assure you that there is nothing there besides information appropriate for and at the level of high school kids. My information does not come from public or open source literature. I'm not saying I'm conclusive. I'm saying that I have moved beyond from the point where you are now.Semantics is one the subjects of my interest. I agree that naming the four denominations as hinduism / buddhism / sikhism and jainism has helped us to better understand them in a narrative but it has also contributed the significant amount of confusion in understanding indian religions. We call the oldest denomination as "vedantis".The problem with semantics is that they also establish concepts. Words like "religion" and "infidel" did not exist in pre-islamic india. So there was no war based on "religion" because the noun never existed. In fact, the buddhists had vanquished hinduism in a war of philosophical debates. Everyone in india accepted the arguments of buddhists and thus began india's adoption of buddhism. India had became 80% buddhists because there was no "resistance". There was no "resistance" because words like "hinduism" and "buddhism" did not exist so there was no "allegiance". The majority simply agreed that buddhist philosophy was the right step in taking the society into the future.Of course, this transition proved to be the worst decision of india's history. The new philosophy discarded the regions armys and made india vulnerable to invaders. Cause that is when the invaders from middle-east came knocking through punjab. The onslaught figure goes into several millions which makes the jewish holocaust look like a joke. This established india's reverse transition to hinduism.

  7. Yeah.. you are safe.. as long stay clear of basic issues like.. covering head inside temples, not eating non-veg/drinking before a pooja and give respect to elders.

    But if you touch feet and observe fast on tuesdays then it will be seen as you going the extra mile.

    so better if you do.. and OK if you dont :)

  8. You do realise that Buddhism is a completely different religion, right? Just like Sikhism and Jainism - regardless of what you yourself think they are recognised as separate religions around the world and encompass ideals by no means limited to "Hinduism".

    Yes, you are correct in the origin of the terminology, afterall the Hindi word for an India is Hindustan. However, language and meaning and purpose change over time and the word Hindu is now not at all limited to Indians.
    As Kristy has conceded in other comments, the things she mentioned are not necessarily Hindu at all - but your comment is way off base & I am sure unwelcome.

  9. The words "hindu" and "buddhist" are modern terms. They didn't exist back then. They concepts only existed in the form of philosophies. No one asked anyone whether they were hindu or buddhists because the terms didn't exist!! So how the hell did guru nanak or sidhartha convert? The concept of "conversion" itself was absent in indian religions.

    That is what I'm trying to say to you. They disgruntled are just changing philosophies. The core remains the same. They are only making changes to the already existing "software" program coming out as version 1.0 or version 2.0. The software is still the same. This software is what binds all these religions together. This "software" is the macro view of looking at it and because it does not have a name, I sometimes call it "hindu" or "sanatana dharma" so that it makes it easier to understand.

    The GoI itself uses one marriage act(hindu marriage act) for all indian religions(HBSJ) not because it wants to convert everyone to hinduism(the derivation) but because they have got used to calling this "software" as "hindu".

    Pardon my use of metaphors.

  10. In my family we never touch anyones feet,always near the calf,we only touch feet when giving a massage! as for the chicken thing,im a lifelong vegetarian,so cant help you there,but its a brave gori that would eat desi meat x

  11. Lol...yes!! On point 1 I can grasp the concept but can't envision ever agreeing to it. I was once told that you can know too much and I didn't understand that until moving here. Now I get it. Because I know about all these bugs/germs/viruses and how they are spread it causes me to limit my own freedom. Hence, I know too much - not that I'm super ultra smart, but that in these circumstances I could be happier knowing less. (the saying "Ignorance is bliss" also comes to mind.)

    I do avoid the temple after eating meat. That much I can respect without understanding. For the most part I do what I can to respect the family traditions but I also have to consider my own life and health as well. Something isn't working so far and until I narrow it down I must break a few rules.

    I definitely don't understand all the customs and the reasoning behind them. It's a lot for an Indian to take in, much less a foreigner lol. I may have to stick with that ignorance is bliss idea for a few years to keep myself out of trouble. Whatcha think? Can I get away with it?

  12. Lol...yes!! On point 1 I can grasp the concept but can't envision ever agreeing to it. I was once told that you can know too much and I didn't understand that until moving here. Now I get it. Because I know about all these bugs/germs/viruses and how they are spread it causes me to limit my own freedom. Hence, I know too much - not that I'm super ultra smart, but that in these circumstances I could be happier knowing less. (the saying "Ignorance is bliss" also comes to mind.)

    I do avoid the temple after eating meat. That much I can respect without understanding. For the most part I do what I can to respect the family traditions but I also have to consider my own life and health as well. Something isn't working so far and until I narrow it down I must break a few rules.

    I definitely don't understand all the customs and the reasoning behind them. It's a lot for an Indian to take in, much less a foreigner lol. I may have to stick with that ignorance is bliss idea for a few years to keep myself out of trouble. Whatcha think? Can I get away with it?

  13. I believe that you are looking at it from a micro point of view & not White Bhabi. This was to be a tongue in cheek and light hearted post that you have turned into a linguistic discussion. Whether you believe it, or like it throughout the world and including in India Hindu is used as a religious term. Hindu is not used for Sikhs or Jains - so obviously it is recognised to have further meaning than "Indian" even to Indians. 

    There is a huge and recognised Hindu community in Indonesia, but would you claim they are not Hindu and instead Buddhist? 
    Though Guru Nanak and Siddartha were Hindus - they chose to abandon a great deal of the Hindu life and set their own path.
    Sikhs incorporate and accept much that is within the world's major religions INCLUDING Hinduism and including Islam.
    What might you say for that?
    What you have bothered to share here shows only a narrow minded perspective to have in times like 2011, where millions of Indians live and are born throughout the world.
    No matter what Hindu scriptures say, each person and each family will have a different view of what is and what is not Hinduism.

  14. So then maybe I'm just a bad bahu for not following the family's lead in traditional values.

  15. I guess, people have already pointed out things that I wanna say, but I'll just repeat nevertheless.
    #1 : Touching feet has nothing to do with hell or heaven. Its just a way to show respect. Its a culture thing, not a religion thing. And yes its true, in india, the dirt of the elders feet is considered to be worthy of putting on forehead. In most of the vedic texts, even in Mahabharata and Ramayana, its written how the gods themselves when born as human,  take the dirt from their elders feet and put it on their forehead as their blessing. Maybe you will find it tough to accept / understand. For a person as germophobic as you are, it will be difficult to do. 

    These days however most of the young generation just touch the ankles / knees or just pretend to bend and very rarely do they touch the feet as was done earlier. If you dont do it.. nobody will mind much but If you do it then people will be normally genuinely pleased, give blessings to you and smile more :)

    I, for one, always touch my parents feet on pooja and other festivals/occasions and wouldnt lose that privilege for anything in the world. 

    #2 : Eating chicken on tuesday is a religious thing. Its not about the culture. If you dont believe in that.. nobody would mind. A lot of my friends do the same, eat and drink on tuesday. But entering a temple after eating meat/ or alcohol should be strictly avoided.

    All these small rituals and habits are what makes us identify with our own and makes us different from the rest of the world. These maybe useless or obsolete from the point of view of a westerner but the same rituals are what makes us indians. Go east, west, north or south, these are followed across the length and breadth of this country and thats what unites us in a single thread.

  16. You are looking at it from a micro point of view. I'm not giving you wikipedia information and I do not refer to non-indian literature writings on indian religions. These same people have never been able to explain the numerous contradictions in hinduism and prefer to shrug if off under adjectives like "complex" and "diverse".

    Both hinduism and buddhism are non-dogmatic. They are pluralists. These core traits derived from SD. You see, you can jump from buddhism to hinduism or vice versa but you will still remain a practitioner of SD. Many western scholars would argue that how can buddhists still be SD if they do not follow the vedas. That is the difficulty because they have not identified the umbrella that binds all these together.

    Just because hindus cannot explain what they do in syntax and semantics does not mean that the unnamed concepts do not exist. Keeping an elephant headed doll in your alter or stretching your body in a yogic position is irrelevant. You still have not got it.

    Beliefs can either be dogmatic or non-dogmatic. If you follow the earlier, you are either a christian or a muslim, jew etc etc. But if you follow the later, what are you? There must a binding basis you hold onto in middle of all the uncertainty.

  17. White Bhabi..
    Cofession #1: This is a cultural aspect of the sub culture you live in India. I don't think anyone in their right minds will connect going to hell and not touching elders feet. If anything, it will only be construed as lack of respect for elders, if they notice at all.

      #2: This is a family tradition aspect. Lot of people traditionally eat non-veg on sundays and also go to temples, do pujas at home. Again refraining from certain foods, or following traditions are aspects of individual household.

    Following or not following these will not make one a good hindu or a bad hindu...besides, there is nothing like a good hindu and bad hindu, and nothing like hell and heaven...Hindusim doesnot work on the baiss of carrot and stick principle. Hope you differentiate.

  18. Lol, not brave just desperate. I've also drank the water here. I didn't know it at the time but it didn't kill me and I didn't wind up with any parasites so I just made it a point to not make the same mistake again. I went without meat for a while after coming here and I thought not eating it may have contributed to my weakness. (That commonly happens in the US when ppl convert over to Vegan or Vegetarian.) I was eating dal and roti's but not getting stronger so I added it into my diet to get more proteins (yes, I am aware there is a lot less protein in chicken than dal but for some reason this still made sense to my mind at the time lol). On many occasions I have refused the meat straight from the butcher because you could see dirt under the skin. I have pictures but they are sickening lol.

    I don't eat chicken that often anymore but I do notice that when I do I feel stronger and more energetic so there has to be something in it that my body is missing. I'm going out for supplements sometime in the next few days so maybe I won't need it as often because you're's pretty dang scary. There were even news reports recently about some kind of chemical being given to chickens to make them age faster so they could sell them quicker here in Amritsar. OMG.

    A lot of people touch knees which is why I don't get the 'touching the feet' thing I've been advised to do lately. I was told knees before, including at my wedding and several times since. It was only this month that the foot thing started and I told hubby I wasn't about to touch anyone's feet. I guess the rest of the family didn't get that memo so for now I'll go on faking it lol. Knees I can deal with.

  19. Most religions spawned from the Hindu way of life however, Buddhism is very different from Hinduism. Like other religions it took some of the founding principles and beliefs from SD/Hinduism but I would not call it the non-Indian Hinduism by far. I have studied both and written published articles on both. If Buddhism is the non-Indian Hinduism then you would have to call Catholics the Italian Hindus and Christians the American Hindus as both of them have a lot of Hindu influence as well. I could go on with other world religions as well because research has showed almost all of them have Hindu influences.

    The word Hindu comes from a common mispronunciation by foreigners of Indus (At the time this included people of Tibet down to the Arabic civilizations along the same river, not just Indians btw) in history. While originally referring to origin it became widely accepted as the name for the religious practices of Indus people. Legally, technically and in dictionaries around the world today the term Hindu is used to refer to both Indians and followers of the Hindu religion which are never listed as being the same thing. (I would never call myself Indian as I have no desire to be Indian. I'm happy just being me. Therefore I would have to be referring to the religion. That being the case with Hinduism so diverse, even if I don't follow every aspect of SD then I'm still Hindu anyway because there are no clear cut and well defined principles to the religion.)

  20. I not trying to mash up random words. There is no word play in my sentence when I say that an element of race/ethnicity has strongly attached itself to hinduism. When I say "hinduism", I mean sanatana dharma.

    "Hinduism" is a very complicated religion to explain. The real word is "sanatana dharma". Hinduism/buddhism/sikhism/jainism are just it's extensions/derivations/disciples.

    The reason you know "sanatana dharma" as "hinduism" is because majority of its practitioners follow that particular school of thought. But what majority of indians really follow is actually sanatana dharma.

    what is important is belief and practice
    Exactly!! That is what I'm also talking about.

    Buddhism is also derived from SD and has all the core basic; karma, dharma, moksha etc etc. It does not have an element of ethnicity. Buddhism is nothing but non-indian hinduism.

  21. Broadway: So you are saying you do not feel a non-indian can identify themselves as a Hindu? I don't really agree with that. While I am currently a Catholic, I believe a lot of us pull from Religious Smorgasbord. A Sunday church goer might meditate at home, go to Yoga, fast her husband during KC, eat red meat on Friday and want to be cremated after death. Many people pick and choose things from each religion that they identify with or feel strongly about. I am strong proponent of 'I do not need to go to Church/temple for my words/prays to be heard". If I were to chart the my behaviors/observances, to see which religion plays a bigger role in my life, I am sure Hinduism would probably come out as the most influential. If at some point I decide to call myself a Hindu, solely based on religion, I sure wouldn't want to told I can because I am not indian. Obviously when WB says to someone she is a Hindu, clearly they know she is non-indian, and thus is speaking from the religious side of the word. Rather than try to re-word this succinct answer, I am just quoting it. I  found this on
    "Some people may quibble that Hindu refers to origin (People beyond the river Indus) rather than belief. They say that you can follow Sanatana Dharma (The eternal way) but this will not make you a Hindu any more than if you joining the Greek Orthodox Church would make you Greek. To me this is just word play, many words have changed from their original meaning and certainly in English the word “Hindu” is used to refer to belief. If someone insists that you can only be a follower of Sanatana Dharma and not a Hindu I don’t think it is worth arguing over, it is only a word and what is important is belief and practice".

  22. The word "hindu" has an ethnic variable. It was used to refer to those people who lived near the river indus. Everybody
    in this region known as "bharat" are referred to as "hindus" by
    outsiders and "bharatiya" by its insiders. That is why "non-indians" cannot be "hindus".I'm fully aware that I sounded rude but it had to be said. "Hinduism" does not extend beyond the borders of the indian sub-continent. A workaround was found through "buddhism"; the alternative for non-indians.