A Religion Custom-Made for Americans?

by Michael Potemra

One of the most distinctive characteristics of Hinduism is its ability to combine uncompromising metaphysics with dizzyingly colorful and detailed mythology, a profound emphasis on the primacy of the spirit with an earthy appreciation for the beauty of material phenomena. In reading the preface to the Srimad Bhagavatam, I encountered a striking example, one of the most vivid religious metaphors I’ve ever run across:

Its peculiar excellence is that it reconciles the heart with the head, devotion with learning. “It is fried in the butter of Knowledge, says Sri Ramakrisna, latest of Indian prophets, “and steeped in the honey of Love.”

This is as close to my ideal diet as can be imagined. It should go without saying that my doctor would be horrified if I were to practice this religion; so let’s follow our usual practice and not tell him.

Sri Ramakrisna, you had me at “butter.”