The seeds for my doubts in Christianity began during my travels among non-believers. I made a year-long hitchhike journey from Europe to India during which I often survived off the kindness of others — and those others were non-believers. Hearing their stories and seeing that their struggles, hopes and rationalizations were so very similar to mine began my unraveling realization that theologies and spirit-stories where coverings for both psychological and social phenomena and had nothing to do with the workings of magic spirit realms.
Though the magic of invented cosmologies slowly evaporated for me, the mystery and wonder of the human psyche and human relations only became deeper — but not only the wonderful side stood out, but also the dark side. Slavery is one of many practices on the very dark side of human history and continues today.
The outlawing of slavery has been slow: it was outlawed in USA in 1865, earlier in France in 1848 and a bit earlier in the British Empire in 1833. Nonetheless, before its demise, the British (and the French) had taken slaves from their colonies to many other lands. While studying the Ramayana (a holy text of Hinduism), I have learned how Hinduism (and devotion to the Ramayana) spread by the British export of Indian slaves to places like Fiji, Trinidad and Mauritius. This diaspora of Indians have been separated from their homeland for centuries but a devotional Hinduism still survives.
Mauritian is more than 1,000 miles off the east coast of Africa and was uninhabited when it was first discovered by Arab sailors in the Middle Ages. Mauritius was called “Isle de France” under the rule of the French East India Company (1715-1810) when the French brought Indian slaves to help built Port Louis. When the Brits conquered the island in 1810, they brought Indian slaves to Mauritius to work their sugar-cane plantations. The island nation is now a huge mix of ethnic groups. The largest ethnic group is Hindu at about 50%.
Today I read a post in “Le Mauricien” where a descendent of those Mauritian slaves describes the Hindu faith of his mother– please do consider giving it a quick read, if you have time. Reading his evaluation of religion and his insight into his mother’s faith reminded me of many of the insights I had which helped me to see behind my parochial Christianity and to see even further, into the workings of the human heart.