On a recent trip to Baltimore, technical difficulties with my ticket prevented me from boarding until I was one of the final people waiting to board the Washington D.C. bound Megabus. During my struggle, an Indian man who looked like he was in his late twenties came off of the bus to ask if he was allowed to sit in the front row of the top deck, (seats with the best view, which are usually reserved for people willing to pay extra.) Because the bus was about to disembark on its journey and they had not yet been occupied; however, he was granted permission to take one of those seats.
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As the very last person boarding the very full bus, I was left with a very limited choice of viable seat partners, so I decided that taking the front seat next to this Indian man would be my best option. He seemed easygoing and pretty lowkey (especially in comparison to the other rather interesting characters on that very delayed Thursday night Baltimore/Washington D.C. bound bus.) In addition, it’s not often that you get seats at the front of a double decker with a perfect view of the open road, so I took my seat at the front of the second level of the bus. Not long into the bus ride he told me that he came to America a few years prior for a high power job. He ended up quitting it to pursue a master’s degree at Columbia, an action frowned upon by his family, as leaving this action contradicted their traditional value system.
This decision was fully supported by his high school sweetheart and fiance, another Columbia masters recipient whom he was commuting to visit, he did every week as was currently working in D.C. At some point my religious values became evident to him, and though by living and working in New York had exposed him to many Jews, religious and not, he had many unanswered questions about Judaism. Over the next five hours. He asked a lot of those questions about Judaism, which I answered to the best of my ability. As I answered his questions, he related what I said to his own life, telling me about Hinduism, the caste system and the Hindu religions many holidays and gods. Following this encounter, I was determined to find out what the most halachically acceptable way to act if such circumstances would ever befall me once again. In this paper I will explore the background of Hinduism, and use Jewish texts as a vehicle to answer the question, what is the Halachik view of Hinduism. To do so I will answer questions like what do Hindus believe, is it truly Avodah Zarah or just shittuf, and are they allowed to make a new religion,
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