I usually received a warm welcome, a favorable response and good
audiences during my many India talks. At first I groped for the words and ideas to
communicate to a Hindu audience. I wondered if they could understand my English or follow
my American accent. But I discovered that most of them understood what I said. Soon I had
no trouble talking before Indian audiences. I eventually found it easier than talking to
American audiences, whose interest in Vedic matters was very limited.
One person in the audience during a talk in Bombay made the important
statement that "We in India appreciate something only when its been reimported."
It is odd that what a westerner says about Hinduism is taken more seriously in India than
what a better qualified traditional Hindu would say. Something said by a westerner is
taken as unbiased, while a traditional Hindu is not credited with any objectivity and his
opinion is given no worth.
Actually the opposite case is usually true. The westerner is usually
following a religious, commercial or political bias that he may not even be aware of. Many
Hindus are quite objective even about their own tradition, while at the same time
understanding the limitations of western culture. This is particularly true of Swamis of
the Advaita Vedanta order from the South India from whom I have heard profound analyses of
the world situation today. Still the example of someone from the West promoting Vedic
knowledge may have a salutary affect on modern Hindus, who are used to looking to the West
for cultural innovations. More westerners should do this if they want to see eastern
traditions survive the onslaught of western culture.