About the Blog

The Department of Political Science, with the assistance of the Division of International Studies & Programs at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, is pleased to introduce its India Program - a unique joint partnership between A&M-Kingsville; the Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University-College Station; and Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Advanced Study (JNIAS), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, India.

The Program is being co-directed by Dr. Nirmal Goswami, Professor of Political Science, A&M-Kingsville; Dr. Kishore Gawande, Professor of Economics, the Bush School, Texas A&M-College Station; and by Dr. Aditya Mukherjee, Director, JNIAS.

The Program will include graduate and undergraduate students traveling to and staying in India from December 28th, 2010, through January 14th, 2011, attending classes at JNIAS, and visiting multiple sites through field trips in the greater New Delhi region. Areas of focus include history, politics, economics, culture, health, environmental policies, nuclear issues, etc., with reference to both greater Asia and India.

This blog will document our experience. You are welcome to post comments.

You are all invited to cyber travel with us as we learn about the uniqueness of India.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Mosaic of Religions

The many religions of India are evident everywhere in Delhi. The mélange of spiritualities are in close proximity to each other even though some inter-religious tensions have been part of India’s history. Despite this, religions having their origins in India seem to share a common thread. We saw examples of this when we visited several religious temples, each belonging to its own unique faith.
The first temple we visited was of the Baha’I faith. The structure was fashioned after a giant lotus blossom and seemed fairly new. It was the first of many stops where our shoes had to be left at the entry.  Our bare feet on cold marble added to the ambiance of the temple. Inside, the structure was more or less hollow and resembled a small western style church. It was completely quiet except for a few whispers and murmurs from commentators which reverberated off of the white brick walls. Complete silence is to be observed so as not to disturb those in prayer. I felt inconsiderate and too touristy when one of the temple’s frequenters gestured for me to turn my camcorder off and silently went back to his pew with his family to meditate. There was a sense of peace inside the temple.
The second site we visited was a little different. The Hindu temple of Akshardam was the more fortified of the three of our stops. The entire complex is surrounded by a concrete wall and heavily guarded. Inside the gate, before reaching the actual temple, all back packs, camcorders, cameras, etc. had to be stored in a locker after filling out a form where every item had to be listed. After that, we passed through a final entry gate complete with security that would make the TSA blush. Passed that, we saw a temple with beautiful architecture. The detailed carvings in the building were extremely intricate and displayed highlights from Hindu lore. It was fashioned in the old Vedic style but was built only in 2005. Despite its spiritual connections, I did not feel the same serene atmosphere as I did before at the Lotus Temple. It is hard to summon those same feelings in place that has been dubbed “India’s spiritual theme park.”
The final place we visited was a Sikh temple called Gurudwara Bangla Sahib.This out of a was my favorite. Before entering we received a brief orientation on etiquette inside the temple. We removed our shoes and all the guys in our group had to wear an orange head scarf to cover our hair. The inside was very homely. The floor was carpeted and food was handed out at the door. We sat for a few minutes and watched the steady stream of worshippers circle around the inside with their hands clasped together in front of them. Their holy book was sung out loud with live music. For a religion that requires men to never cut their hair and to always carry a weapon, this is where I felt most comfortable. The sounds of the holy book had a transfixing effect that cleared your mind. The simplicity of the temple was made up for by the spiritual ambiance they had created.
All of these religions, however different they may be from each other, all have similar characteristics. They all consider personal reflection and meditation to be essential parts spirituality. With as many tensions that exist in India, it seems as though all religious groups regard peace very highly. This serenity rubs off on you.
~ Caleb F.


  1. Caleb--as always a pleasure to read your take on things! Will you be visiting a mosque as well?

  2. I loved all of those places as well! The Sikh was my favorite also. Did you eat the porriage? Ashley did.