CREDOS : Mythbusters — I

Lavina Melwani:

The film “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” portrays Hindus as eating monkey brains? Though some western viewers might have taken this Hollywood excess with a pinch of salt, many still have misperceptions about Hinduism — from the horrors of caste to the burning of widows. Yes, and don’t forget rat worship, arranged child marriages, female infanticide, dowry and the killing of young brides.

As always, sensational aspects are magnified, and a deeply complex religion is seen as some sort of a primitive idol-worshipping cult.

So who will set the record straight in the West? After all, here in US, Hinduism is not an organised religion. It is simply a way of life, a philosophy of living practiced by individuals, each working toward salvation. Enter the Interpreters of Dharma, the Mythbusters.

They are ordinary people — students, housewives, physicians, retirees, academics and engineers — often asked by curious Westerners about the faith. Some have studied Hinduism in-depth; others have learnt the faith simply by living it. They speak to non-Hindus in schools, churches, colleges and social settings and answer the never-ending questions.

“Naturally, I tend to get what I call ‘the 3 Ks’ on a regular basis: Kaste, Kows & Karma,” says Fred Stella, 49, an actor and yoga instructor who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is president of the Interfaith Dialogue Association and has received training in the Self Realization Fellowship and the local Vedanta Society ashram.

Stella, who started attending a Hindu temple when he was 15, was still being educated in the Catholic school, and so “developed the ability to speak about Hinduism to the Christians.” —