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What is IndoPaganism?

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The following is taken from the PaganWiki entry on IndoPaganism
created by The IndoPagan Project.
 
Description:
 
IndoPaganism is an umbrella-term which describes the path followed by an ever-increasing number of NeoPagans, who derive the majority of their spiritual inspiration from the Hinduism and other Indo-origin spiritual paths, such as Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. The term can also be extended to those of a Hindu or Indo-tradition background who choose to incorporate elements of NeoPaganism into their practice. Generally speaking, IndoPagans work primarily - if not exclusively - within the Hindu pantheon; although the extent to which they incorporate and observe traditional Hindu ritual and worship elements, including the usage of Sanskrit, varies widely. The exchange of energy and ideas is open between these paths, creating a richer tapestry of spirituality for us all.

Just as there are four major sects within Hinduism - Shaivism, Vaisnavaism, Shaktism and Smartism - with countless sub-sects, and schools of philosophy and practice within each of them, so IndoPaganism has room for numerous variations and interpretations of the syncretic blending of NeoPaganism and Hinduism. NeoPagans coming from various Western backgrounds, such as Gardnerian Wicca, Asatru, Ceremonial Magick, eclectic Wicca, Druidism, etc, feel a undeniable need or calling to intuitively blend the tradition of their choice with Hinduism. This results in such permutations as Gardnerian Shaivism, Druidic Shaktism, etc, although the adherents themselves may not name the path thusly, or may adopt a path name that they discover that resonates with them, such as IndoWiccan.

IndoPagans in general are very studious when it comes to their education in Hinduism. The majority have spent years studying classical Hindu scriptures, scriptural commentaries, mythologies, and academic studies on various aspects of Hinduism. Many also regularly seek out traditional Hindu temples and teachers, some even taking Hindu diksha (initiation) into established lineages, in order to further their understanding of this vast and ancient tradition. However, even within those who may have studied with a Hindu teacher, the extend to which adherants incorporate such Hindu cultural elements, such as the usage of Sanskrit in ritual, festival and holiday celebrations and fast observances, general dietary restrictions, etc, varies widely from person to person.

History

Up until 2005, the vast majority of IndoPagans believed that they were on a solitary path, and many met with discouragement and confusion at their pantheon choice from the NeoPagan community at large. This rather negative reaction from the NeoPagan community is surprising, coming from a spiritual community that largely prides itself and thrives on syncretism. However, there can be no doubt that there are many NeoPagans who find the greatest spiritual resonance in Hinduism, just as other NeoPagan sects are more commonly inspired by the Celtic, Greek, Roman, Norse, Egyptian, or other popular pantheons and paradigms from pre-Christian Europe and the Near East.

Research into syncretizing Hinduism and NeoPaganism was made more difficult due to the exclusive nature of many traditional Hindu temples and teachers, many of which are not open to those of non-Indian descent. This mirrored a common attitude within the NeoPagan community, that one could not follow Hinduism and still be considered a NeoPagan or Wiccan. This left those with IndoPagan leanings struggling to piece together a practice intuitively with little guidance, although some avoided the issue of syncretism altogether by simply practicing the two systems seperately. There were a small handfull of individuals who took it upon themselves to develop blended IndoPagan belief systems, and published their views and some rituals to personal websites where those who were lucky enough to stumble upon them could find inspiration.

In November of 2005, the Shakti Wicca and IndoPagan Yahoo!Group was founded and listed in Witchvox, and a surprising number people began subscribing and forming a community. Several months later, as the common needs and wants of the IndoPagan community became clear due to the new fellowship, The IndoPagan Project was founded to address these concerns.

Future

The IndoPagan community is still in-flux and defining both itself, and the role it will play within NeoPaganism at large. Some of the issues being debating currently are those of the role, training and requirements of IndoPagan clergy, and which rites of passage will be particular to an IndoPagan path.

Known Variations

  • Shakti Wicca defines itself as a self-initiatory, primarily solitary, eclectic Western Universalist Shakta Bhakti tradition that embraces the tribal and folk Shakta elements of mediumship, shamanism, psychicism, and usage of practical magick, as means of personal spiritual transformation, as well as the establishment of a relationship with one's Ishtadevata (personal Deities). It is a synergistic combination of eclectic Wiccan and Western Esotericism ritual structure and training scheme with traditional Hindu Shaktism. Shaktism views the personality of the Ultimate Reality to be the Great Goddess in one of Her many manifestations, most often as (but not in any way limited to) Durga or Kali, although this preference varies from region to region in India.
  • SHARANYA and the Sha'can Tradition is a combination of Hereditary Craft and traditional Hindu Shakta Tantric traditions. The Maa Batakali Cultural Mission provides fellowship and study gatherings, clerical services, as well as clergy training for those who are able to attend the San Francisco Mandir location. Sha'can clergy are required to master the Sanskrit language, and learn many traditional Hindu rites and rituals. SHARANYA hosts an online discussion group for all others, and also plans on providing a distance 1st degree training program in the Sha-can tradition in the near future.
  • Shaiva Wicca generally describes those who follow the teachings of the various Shaiva sects of Hinduism, and blend that with NeoPaganism. Shaivism views the personality of the Ultimate Reality to be Shiva (either viewed as male, or neuter), and worships Shiva as the Source of Creation.
  • Samkhya Wicca refers to a syncretic system that blends Wicca with the Hindu philosophical system of Samkhya. Samkhya philosophy sees the Universe as being made up of spirit (purusha) and matter (prakriti), and spiritual liberation is attatined when the spirit realizes it is not beholden to matter and the restrictions thereof.
  • Shakta Shamanic is a term referring to those who follow the Shakta sect of Hinduism, but take a more tribal/folk-shamanic approach to worship and ritual, as opposed to the traditions that utilize only rituals outlined in classical Hindu scripture. Those following this path may incorporate elements from other world-shamanic traditions such as the Americas, African, Afro-Caribbean, Indo-Caribbean, Australian Aboriginal, etc.
  • Ceremonialist Tantrika can refer to those whose background is primarily in Golden Dawn or O.T.O.-type Ceremonial, Hermetic, and Chaos Magickal orders, who utilize the philosophies and practices of the Hindu tantrikas as their main form of God-realization and magickal workings.
  • IndoWiccan or Hindu Wiccan is another broad term for those who follow a Wiccan path, and are primarily inspired by Hinduism, but have not yet found or created a tradition that suits their particular beliefs at present. It is a slightly more specific term than IndoPagan, as it denotes the specific sect of NeoPaganism that they are adherants to.
  • View the PaganWiki "IndoPaganism" Entry in Full

    OM GAM Ganapatiye Namaha! OM DUM Durgaye Namaha!

    Devi Spring, author and compiling editor. Copyright Devi Spring 2006.