I've recently gotten really involved into religion. A couple months back, I was very close to converting to Islam, as many of my friends introduced me to the faith, but as I researched more into Abrahamic faiths (spent two months reading both the Bible and Quran), I knew they weren't best suited for my liking. I grew up going to the mandir and Sikh temple as my mother is Hindu and my father is Sikh, but I never really had much of an attachment to either religions due to the common stereotype of Hindus in the west (casteist, cow worshippers, widow burners etc.). In spite of these stereotypes (they teach Hinduism HORRIBLY in schools, especially in the UK, US and Canada), I found myself hesitant to call myself a Hindu. Today, I am proud to be a part of the oldest religions in the world, but I want to become an expert in my own faith (hopefully LOL).
I know the basics of Hinduism, about Brahman being the universal principle, the term used to describe the entire universe and life on Earth. I understand that through Bhakti and Yoga, one is able to attain moksha, liberty from the reincarnation cycle. I recognize various Deities' names (sometimes unique to different states), but sometimes I get a little confused with the relationship each Deity has with one another. I know the concepts of Artha, Kama, Ahima, Karma, Dharma, which absolutely fascinate and resonate with me the most. I also understand the Swarg and Nark are not the Heaven and Hell that everyone believes in Abrahamic faiths (they're temporary states of the mind after death, before reincarnation basically right?)
However, when it comes to scriptures, I get REALLY confused. From my research, there are Shruti and Smriti texts. Shruti texts are considered most authoritative, and Smriti texts change depending on the Yugas, or time period. One time, I was browsing through internet, and I saw people exposing that child marriage was legal for Hindus (Vishnu Purana and Mahabharat) and it sorta dropped my heart a little bit. I asked someone and he mentioned that the life span for men especially was lower hundreds of years ago, thus such laws were implemented in society. Plus, the Puranas are Smriti, thus laws are to change depending on the time period. In today's day and age, people live until 100 years of age. I found a couple, controversial lines found in the ManuSmriti (I think Hindus themselves say this book sucks I’m not too sure though).
My heart just gets let down easily when I start researching, because I come across so many pages that 'expose' Hinduism, especially by Muslims and Christians. Thankfully though, this website clarifies and debunks MOST of those accusations made against our faith. I remember reading "Genocide of Women in Hinduism" by Sita Agarwal, but various other people on this forum debunked or explained 75% of her lines. Moreover, I remember reading "Pedophilia in Hinduism" from an Islamic site, but after reading the first line (and the entire thing) that said Bramha married his daughter Saraswati, I knew that entire blog was stupid, because Saraswati is Bramha's consort/helper. Anyways, there were many times where I was put down, so this made me realize that I need to start reading my own scriptures so people don't bash my faith. My university friends and I might be starting an organization called, "Canadian Hindu Foundation" similar to the American Hindu Foundation, because there really isn't a strong sense of community amongst Hindus in Canada.
I'm sorry that this is literally an essay, I just needed to get this off my chest. Anyways, where do I start reading scriptures, and what do I start reading? As I read scriptures, I will write down a chronological time period of WHEN it was written and HOW society was at the time, simply to get a better sense of why some controversial verses were written at that time. This will allow me to stand up against my faith, against Anti-Hindu people.
Rajiv Malhotra's videos are helpful, and I came across a video that demonstrated how Sanskrit has a lot of non-translatable, but this brings me to a problem.. WHO and WHICH authors/websites do I trust when reading and buying scriptures.
I think I'll start with reading the Bhagavad Gita, as it is very favoured amongst many Hindus AND Non-Hindus. But there's a problem, WHICH author do I trust to read scriptures from, who has translated such correctly.
Glad to be back to my Hindu roots though (literally up until now I found out that Yoga is a HINDU thing, shame on myself)