Hindu Life Cycle Experience and Way of Life Essay

Total Length: 1364 words ( 5 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 4

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The interviewed individual is an American female, Leela Smith, aged 53, who spent several years of her life in the Indian city of Kochi, Kerala as a homemaker, adopted an ayurvedic diet that was followed by her entire family, and home-schooled her youngest child. Further, she took training in Carnatic music, learned hatha yoga and Sanskrit, and adopted Kalaripayattu, Kerala's health system. In the year 2002, the whole family returned to the United States, and now resides in Oahu (Editors of Hinduism Today Magazine 2007).



The interviewee, Leela, claims it was in the year 1978 that she had her first taste of Hinduism at age fifteen, at a hatha yoga session held in her neighborhood in San Francisco, California. With time, she grew more interested in yoga, and took to reading about it and its great benefits to an individual's physical and mental wellbeing. She also decided to give up non-vegetarianism. A couple of years down the line saw her attending weekly meditation sessions somewhere in the city. She claims she had an unforgettable and life-changing vision of the Hindu God Shiva at his Mt. Kailash abode.



At age 22, she married Hank Smith, her husband of the past thirty-one years. While he accepted her beliefs and lifestyle, he showed no personal interest in himself adopting Hinduism. A few years after her wedding, Leela, in the year 1989, had her name legally changed from Leslie Smith to Leela Smith.



Her religious conversion was formally completed in December of the following year. She handed her apostasy statement to her local priest, who said he would formally release her from Catholicism, but had second thoughts and claimed he was told by the Bishop not to sign her release (which wasn't true; the Bishop wasn't in town to take the priest's call). She approached a second priest (this time in her birthplace), who although considerate, refused to release her. In some weeks, she contacted the Bishop himself, who assured her the first priest she approached would sign her statement.

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In the end, a kindly and understanding Chinese-born priest signed her declaration, stating he understood Hinduism's ethical conversion idea. This represents the student or brahmacarya phase, commencing with the initiation ritual (samskara of upanayana). The student is taught the sacred texts, prayers and other ritual skills including Brahmin discipline and service to one's guru. Duty, law and morality (i.e., dharma) is the aim at this stage.



Leela had her namakarana ritual at a Hindu Monastery on the Kauai Island on New Year's Day, 1991, with her eldest daughter, Anita. They then embarked on a month-long religious pilgrimage to Hindu ashrams and temples across Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and India. This, in her view, was a wonderful spiritual experience which reverberates in her mind to this day.



While her husband had not yet converted to Hinduism, their three children (all girls) were christened with Hindu names: Anita, Anisha and Aditi. The girls were raised as Hindus, under Leela's guru's guidance. A couple of years after her conversion, the family relocated to San Jose, and in the eight years they resided there, Leela, along with her daughters, joined other Hindu residents of the city once a week for satsang, as well as on all festival days. They studied Carnatic music and Bharata Natyam. The girls also joined summer camps preaching Hinduism.



Throughout this time, she sought her husband's permission to pray for him, so that he may also be drawn to, and convert to, Hinduism. Her prayers were answered somewhere near the turn of the millennium, when her husband converted formally to Hinduism, adopted vegetarianism, quit smoking, and changed his name in legal records from Hank Smith to Lokesh Smith (the family decided to continue their original surname). His initiation ritual took place the following year.



In the year 2003, Leela's husband, Lokesh, and eldest child, Anita embarked on a month-long pilgrimage to the Indian….....

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References


Bhsaskarananda, Swami. The Hindu Way of Life. September 13, 2010. http://www.vedanta-seattle.org/articles/the-hindu-way-of-life/.

Editors of Hinduism Today Magazine. What is Hinduism. Hawaii: Himalayan Academy, 2007.

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"Hindu Life Cycle Experience And Way Of Life", 18 November 2016, Accessed.21 July. 2019,
https://www.aceyourpaper.com/essays/hindu-life-cycle-experience-and-way-of-life-essay