Spotlight on Hinduism by Ashwin Soni 11th December 2017

 

Ashwin gave us a heartfelt and friendly talk about Hinduism. You can download his PowerPoint presentation here.

Although raised in a Hindu family, Ashwin did not become involved in the religion until late in adulthood.

 

He has helped run Crawley InterFaith for many years and was instrumental in building the Gurjar Hindu Union temple in Crawley, overcoming years of opposition from Crawley Borough Council.

Ashwin emphasised the diversity of Hindus. Although there are some basic principles, Hindus are not obliged to follow them. They are also free to worship their own deity (there are around 1 million recorded), even one of their own designation, such as a dead relative.

He explained that Hindu temples welcome people of all religions or none. Many Hindus are atheists even.

Ashwin mentioned Ghandi's pacifism, the division of India and consequent murder of Muslims and Hindus by each other.

He described how Hindus helped write the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Ashwin has a scientific background and yet he doesn't feel there is a conflict between Hinduism and science. He is interested in exploring the various claims of Hindu thinkers regarding such matters as reincarnation, creationism and various rituals. Some of the audience were also scientists and questioned the credibility of these endeavours but Ashwin reminded us that Hindus vary in their beliefs and their individual efforts to seek knowledge.

He considered the demographics of the Hindu population in the UK and Crawley. He was concerned about the aggression shown by a minority of young Muslims towards Hindus. Also the discrimination they have faced from the government. Hindus have only recently become involved in politics, which he thinks will improve their lot.

We quizzed Ashwin on a number of issues, including the sacred nature of cows (Hindus are vegetarians), whether Hindus can be identified by their dress in the UK (mostly not), the divorce rate (very low).

We ended with some Yoga mediation and laughter therapy.

 

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