Renee Lynn is an activist, author, columnist, and Founder of Voice for India Project - a project committed to elevating the eminence of India, to reestablish the many truths about India, and its magnificent cultural heritage. She travels and tweets about her admiration for India and
Here is CSP’s interview with the zestful American from New Jersey so smitten by
Why the title India “Stripped” for your book? What is the most urgent truth about India you wish to convey?
I had to write India "Stripped" because India is getting fake publicity about being a dangerous and dirty country. I have to tell the world that India is not like what the Indian or mainstream international media sells it to be. I am passionate and fervently getting this truth out. The truth that India is a safe and beautiful country and has the best hospitality in the world. It is very safe for women also, Indian women and foreigners. As a world traveler, I can honestly tell you this is a fact about India and its people.
You are a global traveler, exposed to and experienced several cultures. What makes India so special to you?
I love the ancient traditions and culture of India. No other country has such intimate festivals with such a significant meaning behind each one.
I really love Deepavali so much. I celebrate it with my Indian friends here in the USA. It's heartening to see how everyone feels so happy and open-hearted.The gesture of the exchange of gifts/sweets etc. is so welcoming. People are just in full enjoy celebrating and the best meals are prepared. I love how each of the five days has significance to that particular day. Homes are decorated with lamps and lights, it is kind of similar to Christmas here in the USA. I love to do puja at the Akshardham Temple and BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in New Jersey. I go to both of these temples not just on Deepavali but anytime, any day, to do puja. After walking through the temple and doing puja I just sit on meditation at the temple for long. Most Indians go in for ten minutes and rush out, they don’t even give time for puja. I believe it is important to give your time for puja as much as your best offering.
I love to indulge and participate in India and Hindu festivals. Each festival is so unique and touching to the soul!
When and how did you connect with India and Hinduism?
My first trip to India was January 2009 and since then I have been back 22 times. I fell in love with India on my first trip, it felt like DejaVu. Connecting with Hinduism was easy for me because it is practical and logical. It teaches love and respect as its main tenets and that for me was touching.Growing up in a Christian household and going to the church at that time, they would be ingrained with hell, doom and gloom to the folks and for me, this is a form of control and entrapment.
What is the loveliest thought and feeling you have about Hinduism?
Hinduism preaches non-violence and vegetarianism and I believe this is how we all should live our lives. I wish the whole world would become vegetarians.
What was not working in the Christian upbringing that you thought was working in Hinduism?
Growing up in the Christian environment brought on anxiety attacks and fear because they forcefully keep saying that you are going to burn in hell if you don’t get right with Jesus. This brings on many emotional and psychological disorders as; depression, anxiety, sleeping problems, etc. When I discovered Hinduism and what it teaches I felt free for the very first time, and I was free from anxiety and fear because I discovered the truth in Hinduism.
According to you, is India missing to understand something or neglecting anything significant about itself?
I feel the youth are missing out on the beauty of their country and Hindu heritage because they are too fascinated with the West.The youth have become very anti-Hindu lately. Firstly, they think the West is best and they are emulating everything from the West. They feel that if they proclaim their heritage they will be outcasted by other peers. Many have a very liberal education and thinking, so now they are thinking that it is “uncool” to be Hindu. I believe they also don’t want to act pro-Hindu because of the fear of getting humiliated and ridiculed by their peers. I see it all over the social media sites. I would like to speak to these youths about the beauty of Hindu heritage and the difference between India and the West. They need someone to educate them on the other side of the arena.
Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world and the most rewarding and meaningful. It is necessary to keep alive the meaning of this incredible ancient heritage- the various festivals and customs. Also, it is important to remember that yoga is one of the most beneficial gifts from India that we need to try to incorporate into our lives.
Many seem to be aware of the mistreatment of Hindus in India and they have a good sense of their accomplishments. In my book India Stripped, 2nd edition which just released, I spoke about all the inventions and contributions India has made to the world. Many are aware and many are not. I have received emails from folks that bought my book and said they never knew that about India! So if anyone is interested, my book 2nd edition is available on Pothi.com and Amazon India and Flipkart the first edition is available.
Where is your Voice For India project-based? What is the project about?
Voice For India is based in New York, USA.Voice for India is about motivating, inspiring and encouraging. Voice for India is about exposing the truth about India, that the media is falsely reporting. Voice for India is about supporting Hindu equality in India because Hindus are treated unfairly.
All over India the Hindus are treated unfairly.The government has control over Hindu temples but not Churches or Mosques. The Supreme Court is so unfair when it comes to decisions as in the Sabarimala Temple, the Supreme Court had no right to interfere with this Temple because deity resides in the temple and it’s the deity’s privacy which cannot be violated by constitutional interference. Also, in the case of Lord Ram's birthplace, Subramanian Swamy Ji has been working hard to rebuild the temple and still the Supreme Court keeps giving date after date. In another example, the school syllabus is filled with Moghul's stories and biased against Hindu heritage, Hindus will grow up without even knowing their heritage. Hindus are discriminated against so much and I am fed up with this discrimination!
So many folks want to join in on the Voice for India Movement, so it has been very successful lately. I receive hundreds of emails and comments from folks in India thanking me for making them more patriotic and giving them inspiration. I would like to see in the future everyone taking part and all of us being a voice together.
What are the causes you have stood for?
I have exposed people like Priyanka Chopra, in a video about a year ago, it went viral in India and around the world where she was making Hindus look like terrorists and Pakistan the victims, in her TV series. I have exposed Rahul Gandhi with his vicious agenda about Narendra Modi Ji. I basically will talk about issues where Hindus are discriminated against and I also talk about the importance of Hinduism, these are my main platforms.
Your love for India seems to be genuine and overflowing, have you thought about settling in India?
Yes, in the future I am definitely going to be living in Delhi. I will stay some time in the USA and some time in India, divide it up during the year. India is my Motherland, my Life and the air I breathe, I can’t survive without India.
Any Indian languages that you can speak and understand well?
I am learning Hindi, am not fluent yet but I can speak basic Hindi and talk to anyone in that format. My reading and writing is much better than my listening and speaking Hindi.
Your best place in the world and why?Your best place in India and why?
India definitely by far, no place in the world can compare to its hospitality, traditions, and culture. I also love the anachronistic way about India.
Delhi is my favorite, it feels like home to me. I spend most of my time in the Delhi area and I have everything I need at my fingertips and there are so many historic/tourist locations in and around.I also love so many places in South India, it is unique in its own way and very beautiful - Coimbatore, Kodaikanal, Ooty, Pondicherry, and Cochin, just to name a few.
What are the most endearing quality of Indian women ?
Indian women are very hospitable when I come to their homes. They are constantly checking on me to see if I need anything. I love when they invite me to dinner, I know I will be fed the best, and most food I can possibly handle!
Indian women are treated as equal, they have the freedom to choose things in life, not like other countries where women are suppressed.In a survey conducted by The Thomson Reuters Foundation and broadcasted by CNN, they reported that India was the most dangerous country for women. Again, I took revenge on CNN and did another video which also went viral.I stated the facts that how can Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, etc. be less dangerous? These women are not allowed to do anything freely. Indian women in India are educated, they work, make their own income. I have so many female friends in India that are doing just this and they are even driving also, which is banned in the countries that they said was least dangerous than India. So yes, Indian women in India have more freedom than a lot of other countries in the eastern hemisphere. Also, some parts of India are not as free as other parts for women but respectively overall to other countries in the East.
Hinduism has many names and forms of Deities as a symbolic representation of Isvara ( Lord) worshipped in all parts of the country. Any symbol or deity you are devoted to?
I feel the most connected to Lord Shiva. I know Shiva is with me because I am with Him.
Your favourite Indian menu.
I love all Indian food but Dal Tadka, Paneer Tikka, Dal Makhini, Sarso ka Saag and Punjabi Hariyali are my favorites.
Your thoughts on Bollywood industry and Yoga.
I don’t care for Bollywood except for a few actors like Akshay Kumar because Bollywood keeps making a mockery out of Hindu Gods and discriminate against Hindus.
Yoga is awesome, it is magic to the body, mind and soul.
Your most special Book on India.
Recently, Rajiv Malhotra sent to my house 5 of his books which I am reading, Academic Hinduphobia being the first.Other than that I just love to read anything about India. I am so in love with India you can’t even imagine.
"My statement to India: Please never relinquish your beautiful ancient traditions to follow the West."- Renee Lynn