Hinduism and Unitarianism became intertwined two hundred years ago when Ralph Waldo Emerson, a pillar of our religion, was introduced to the “Bhagwat Gita.” This book is a beloved scripture of the Hindus. Emerson’ writings reflect his regard for the Gita and he introduced the book to his protégé, Henry David Thoreau.
Thoreau took to heart the Gita’s message of doing one’s duty and went on to write his famous essay called “Civil disobedience.” The thrust of the essay is to disobey unjust laws, but to do so peacefully. This essay was one of the inspirations for Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent campaign that freed India from British rule. Reverend King then used Gandhi’s methods in his peaceful struggle for civil rights. The message of the Gita bounced back and forth between the two countries.
In this talk, Dr. Kalia traces the 5000-year history of Hinduism and reflects on how some of its precepts might be food for thought for modern-day Unitarian Universalists.