Cultural Immersion: The Experience of a German HinduPosted by Flora Saint-Sans • Monday, April 9. 2012 • Category: Crossing Cultures
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KM: You are German and Hindu. Can you tell us how you became Hindu?
Linda: I was always interested in meditation, Buddhism and these kind of things. When I was 16, I moved to southern Germany with my family and it was a difficult time for me, moving away from my friends. My mum read in a newspaper that an Indian guru was coming to our town and one could go and meet him. So we decided to go and I had a 30 minutes conversation with him. I was expecting some ‘enlightement’ or at least something that would make me feel different. Nothing of all that happened but I still liked him a lot and thus decided to go and meet him every day for the next two weeks. When he left for his tour of other European cities, I started going to the pooja and bhajan meetings of the local Hindu group and started joining the rituals.
One year later, in summer 2005, I joined the group to their trip to the guru’s ashram in the Himalayan foothills. I stayed there for four weeks, followed a very strict routine of meditation, pooja and chanting. And I had the chance to talk to my guru every day. That is what helped me to get deeper into Hinduism. Back in Germany, I then started to do pooja everyday.
KM: So how has being a Hindu changed your life?
Linda: The religion has become the most important thing in my life. I have never eaten much meat, but through the karma teaching, I have become vegetarian. I am meditating for one hour every morning and do pooja. I think as well that my early marriage can be seen a result of me being Hindu. I realized as well that I started encountering problems with some of my earlier friends. I drifted away from going out late at night to party, stopped drinking alcohol and stopped smoking. My husband is a Hindu as well and I believe that that is a very important foundation for our relationship. It could not imagine living with someone eating meat, for instance.
KM: What role does your guru play in your life?
Linda: He is very important to me. I do not require his physical presence to feel close to him. Through the guru mantra he gave to me, I can connect with him through meditation. He introduced me to Hinduism and I follow his teachings.
(c) by Mayapur
KM: How do people around you react, if you tell them that you are a Hindu?
Linda: I do not mention it always, only if the conversation takes that turn. In India, a lot of people are really surprised and interested. In Germany there are two extremes: either people are very interested or they are very critical about it. A lot of my friends have joined me for the pooja ritual and bhajan singing to get an idea about what I am actually doing. But then as well there are people that do not understand and do not even want to understand.
KM: Is it hard to be a Hindu?
Linda: Yes and no. Sometimes it is quite difficult for me, at least if one wants to be a good Hindu. Firstly, the concept of karma can make it difficult: action and reaction that influences life. If you live according to the karma concept, it becomes very difficult for you to do certain things, as you are aware much more of the fact that there will be a reaction falling back on you. On the other hand karma explains many things to me – through karma it becomes clear to me for what reason several things have to happen.
Further, the emotional detachment from people in interpersonal relationships is a concept that is sometimes difficult to handle. The ultimate aim is to lose all karma and to disperse all karmic relationships, so that in the end one can accept everybody the way he or she is without expecting anything from him/her.
In the end being a Hindu and having a guru gives me a lot of safety, self-confidence and trust. So, even if I sometimes have hard times I still feel and know that for me it's the right and only way I want to live my life.
KM: Many thanks for your time and sharing your experience with our readers!