My journey to understand my own faith

My faith is Hinduism. It’s what I grew up with and it’s a core part of my being, culture, and heritage.

Yet despite its centrality in my life, I am still on a journey to understanding exactly what it means to me. For example, I recognise in my mid-20s there have been moments when I could have “chosen” to stop believing because my belief isn’t as strong as it could be; yet I think a core reason why I never have is that being a Hindu brings with it tangible and real benefits.

For one thing, I can practice my religion in a way that fits into my lifestyle.

To give you an example, most people who follow a religion probably read their religious book when they either discover their religion or they’re bought up reading it. I didn’t.

I only read the Bhagavad Gita for the first time earlier this year – just because I was curious about what it said, and I expected to learn a lot. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised that the lessons I thought I would learn were things I knew already – although I did have to Google some of the names!

A few examples of the lessons held by the Bhagavad Gita include always trying your hardest whilst not obsessing about the result. I found this comforting as I often make the mistake of striving for perfection, which then causes what (I now see as) unnecessary stress. Instead, my faith helped me to develop a healthier perspective, which softly encourages me to look at challenges as opportunities to overcome and grow through.

But the lesson that probably sticks with me the most was the practice of happiness and peace which do go hand in hand. Upon reflection, I feel these are things I took for granted and as I have got older, I have come to appreciate them more.

More than anything, after reading the Bhagavad Gita, I feel confident that my religion will stop me from feeling ‘lost’ in the challenges of modern life. As a result, my faith gives me a foundation of who I am and that’s something that no-one can take away from me.

Beyond my own life, I am also proud of the freedom offered to those of us who believe in a smaller faith in the United Kingdom. The celebration of religion in Britain is quite beautiful: for example, the celebration of Diwali on Belgrave Road in Leicester is the largest celebration outside of India. For me, the acceptance that I am Hindu is important, especially with the challenges of modern life.

One such challenge is one I have faced since September 2022 – becoming a PhD researcher. At the start of this journey, I lacked self-belief and questioned whether I was good enough to complete such a daunting challenge.

From time to time, I still feel this inadequacy – the famous “imposter syndrome” – but I found comfort in Lord Ganesh, the deva of intellect and wisdom who symbolizes good luck. In the moments when I lack clarity, I am reminded that I have a good force behind me, silently encouraging me to continue on this journey.

And as I have often found when speaking to believers of different religions, one thing that we share is that our faith makes us want to be and do better. At the heart of this is a reminder that there is something that is bigger than all of us.

I’m still on a journey to engage and gain a deeper understanding of my religion, but I am confident my religious belief will not let me down on my journey of life.

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