This page is dedicated to questions Broswers have asked about me:
The questions outlined in blue are NEW as of March 2003.
Most Interesting Inquiry:
Q: Is your naming ceremony like the namkaran for an infant? Are there any websites I can learn more?
Q: Though I liked your site, I wonder how can you change your religion? I'm an Indian but a Christian by birth. Not that I'm perfect or anything or born again, but no matter how much I love my country I wouldn't change my religion for the world. Hinduism is worshipping pieces of stones, I'm amazed that a person with intelligence can get carried away and things like car pooja and stuff do you honestly believe in such things????? Anyways, these are my personal thoughts and I don't mean to offend you as I believe that a person is responsible and accountable for his/her own life and no one has the right to interfere. It's just that I was wondering why to love a country you have to change your religion. I live in Malaysia, which is a Muslim country and I love it here but doesn't mean that I have to become a Muslim. Just curious as to what you found so fascinating about the religion.|
A: I can see how a person to my site may feel that I changed my religion because of going to and living in India, but that is not at all the case. I was following Hinduism many years before stepping foot on Indian soil. You make a good point of saying just to visit another place one should not change the religion to that place (ie Muslim in Malaysia). I fully agree. But if one feels that religion more fits their path and belief system in life, then they should consider that. I am not saying all people should definitely change their religion - ie. it would be very boring if all who came to live in USA converted to Christians also. I am not against any religion - they are all good, but what one has to see is how a religion, belief system or way of life fits to oneself. One must be comfortable with themselves in all aspects, and this is why I had 'become' Hindu.
I believe in the philosophies of Hinduism (ie, Karma and Dharma) more than any ritualistic thing. I also believe in GOD. I try mostly not to give GOD a name, but it is true that GOD has a different name assigned by HUMANS depending on the religion or way of life one chooses. However, it is possible to worship GOD by any name (ie. Ganehsa, Jesus, Buddha) if one is Hindu. Though many Hindus may not feel this way in practice.
To me an idol (piece of stone) is NOT the stone that is being worshiped. TO me it is a power or energy that comes - a feeling - since that stone is carved in the form of GOD. Again, this does not mean that Hindus worship STONE. It appears that way. It also appears that Hindus worship multiple GODS, but that is not true since ALL GOD IS ONE. It is like language - take this example. I want to drink water. If in USA - I ask for water - if in Hindi speaking place I ask for 'pani' if in Tamil Nadu I ask for 'thanni' - all words mean the same thing - but how we ask for it is different in different places.
Q: Why do use the name Jayanthi?
A: I am taking this name in Hindu temple namakaran this weekend. I have been following Hinduism for 5 years and wanted to take this final step as a personal gesture.
Q: Do you prefer to be called Jennifer or Jayanthi?
A: Many people ask this! Not that this will clear yor doubt, but either is fine! Some feel odd to call me an Indian-Hindu name, and that doesn't offend me. Some love to call me Jayanthi. It is your preference, I answer to both!
Q: I have noted your new name, Did you choose it or was given to you?
A: Thank you. I had chosen the name myself. In fact, I know many who have come into Hinduism had a guru or a pujari choose their name as this was part of a rule of that temple or sect. I do not follow any sect or guru. Hence, even the pujari who conducted the ceremony was open minded and allowed me to choose my own name.
A: My namakaran was like for an infant. IT happened on 14th Sept. It went well. I have plugged namakaran into google you can get somethings. The sites I found are very general the actual rituals and pujas are not detailed. Plus this can differ.
Q: Jayanthi, do you have any Indian family members?
A: I have no family members from India. My background is that both of my parents have migrated to this country from Hungary. I was born in this country, but know close to nothing about my native place, language and culture.
Q: Are you converting to Hinduism? Do you have a guru? If so, how did you find a guru?
A: I have been following Hinduism since 1997. Others consider me a convert - since there is no real conversion in Hinduism - this namakaran is the closest. I don't have a guru and don't want one. Life, and my friends are my gurus! :) I don't know if I could follow a guru - many westerners (Americans) in this country who follow Hinduism do it very rigidly through a guru. To put it another way - yes one can say I have 'converted' but I prefer to say 'I have become' :)
Q: I am happy that you do not have a Guru, doing things that is "calling you", and celebrating your uniqueness. Everybody is unique and religion is for self-realization (what made me what I am today).
I cannot talk about somebody else (what ever I talk about somebody else, is about myself!). So taking a guru leads to getting our self-realization through somebody who is talking about himself. I would like to know what aspect of Hinduism influenced you to like it?
A: Well - the openness of the 'religion'. There are so many paths - and one can even keep a non-traditional Hindu path and still 'be Hindu'. (All god is one.) Also the philosophy. Really most religions are same, but the way in which Hindu philosophy is written interested me very much in the beginning. It was intriguing - now I just feel at home picking up Ramayana, etc. I have dream to read Vedas - and understand them! I am slowly going in that way. I also liked the temple atmosphere. For more on this read my essay, Why I am a Hindu.
Q: Have you been criticized by Indians/Hindus for being a kind of
"poser", trying to steal or adapt a culture that you know nothing about? If so, how have you dealt with it?
A: Yes! Many feel only one can be Indian/Hindu by birth only. I do believe in the 'Indian' thing. But only if one is born in India and bought up there. The Indians born and bought up in this country are not the same type of Indian as those who have been in India their whole life since the American culture is where they live in. This is my personal opinion. However, as with Hinduism, I believe anyone can adopt the 'religion'. I put religion in quotes as Hindu religion is not a religion as much as a way of life that is intertwined in many aspects of Indian culture. So, I consider myself Hindu, but I never consider myself 'Indian', I am American and have adopted many aspects of Indian/Hindu culture. - As far as dealing with it. In India - I faced problems mainly from non-Hindus who did not like the fact I as a white American born as a Christian was, in their eyes, shedding my Christianity for Hinduism. That was not what I was doing, however,
I was criticized by people feeling like this. They would 'preach to me' a lot. How I dealt with it was in an open mind and listen to what they had to say. Though I would not show disrespect to them by saying
anything they wouldn't like to hear (so bite my tongue). As for here in this country, etc, and from my site I have encountered people who say very straight forwardly - "YOU can never be Indian or Hindu." As to which, I say the above explanation. However, I do get confronted in times I can't use that explanation and usually avoid confrontation in those cases. Unfortunately for a person who adopts a different way of life- so different from their way of life they were raised with- it is hard or impossible for those of the other culture to accept that new 'foreigner' as a total or partial in that culture. This is especially true for a culture 100% different like American and Indian. Hope this is useful. You can ask more if you like.
Q: Do you ever feel embarrassed or uncomfortable with being open about your lifestyle choice?
A: I never feel embarrassed. I don't feel uncomfortable - about myself - but I do when people criticize me. I am quite open about my 'lifestyle choice' my family, friends, and coworkers know - I wear saris and salvaars for no special reason (without bindi unless I go to temple), for shopping, driving, to work, etc. Yes, it is hard to be a vegetarian as I am. I have to opt out of meals with family, coworkers and some friends at times, which is not easy. I do not mean it is not easy not to eat meat - it is not easy to say I am breaking away from our family 'heritage' and due to this I can't eat dinner with you, though I will sit with you at the table. My family have gotten used to it and adjust, making vegetarian meals when I visit at times. Somehow, I never felt uncomfortable or embarrassed about it because I felt at peace with myself when I adopted Hinduism. It was a process which took me about a year, but after that initial year (the hardest part was finding alternative foods, but for karma's sake I felt it was the right thing for me) I was OK.
Q: How much time did you take to make this Epic (homepage)? Or have you made it over a period?
A: I have made it over a long period. My love of India began in 1996, my first trip in 1998, and I lived there from 1999-2001.
Q: Where are you living now?
A: Since November 2001, I am living in USA.
Q: If you love India so much, why did you go back to US?
A: Basically the reason for me to come back is I have no family in India, and that makes it difficult on me and others that had helped care for me.
Q: How is it that you have taken such a liking to the culture in India?
A: I began learning about India in 1996 - when I met an Indian girl in my town. Actually, she was Indian but lived in all places but India. She was also busy, so when I asked her things, she gave one word or one sentence answers. As she was my only Indian friend, the other alternative for me was to read about what I wanted to know, and that is how I learned the majority of things about India- though books.
Q: What fascinates you about life Indian life?
A: The first thing that comes to mind is human relationships - this crucial aspect of life is much more fostered in India as it comes first to job, career, material acquisition and most of all self-growth. It is fascinating that a person can feel more responsible for others than him or herself. I don't find that in America very often. People I never met before going to India felt deep responsibility for me for various reasons, and it felt nice.
Q: Do you make any visits to India nowadays?
A: I have not been to India since Nov 2001. It will take me some more time to get back. But I surely will go as soon as I can. I consider like home. I miss so many things about India. I should say Chennai. That place I love so much.
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