Why Julia Roberts Became a Hindu

The Hollywood actress embraced Hinduism in the true sense

Roberts at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival.
David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0

 Academy Award winning Hollywood actor Julia Roberts, who recently converted to Hinduism, reconfirmed her faith in Hinduism while commenting that her "opting for Hinduism is not a religious gimmick".

Julia Feels Like Maugham's Patsy

In an interview to The Hindu, "India's National Newspaper" dated November 13, 2010, Roberts said: "It is similar to Patsy of Razor's Edge by Somerset Maugham. We share a common aspect of finding peace and tranquility of mind in Hinduism, one of the oldest and respected religions of civilization".

No Comparisons

Clarifying that actual spiritual satisfaction was the real reason behind her converting to Hinduism, Julia Roberts said: "I have no intention of demeaning any other religion simply because of my fondness for Hinduism. I don't believe in comparing religions or human beings. A comparison is a very mean thing to do. I have received real spiritual satisfaction through Hinduism."

Roberts, who grew up with a Catholic mother and Baptist father, reportedly became interested in Hinduism after seeing a picture of the deity Hanuman and the Hindu guru Neem Karoli Baba, who died in 1973 and whom she never met. She revealed in the past that the entire Roberts-Moder family went to temple together to "chant and pray and celebrate." She then announced, "I'm definitely a practicing Hindu."

Julia's Affinity for India

According to reports, Roberts has been interested in yoga for quite some time. She was in the northern Indian state of Haryana (India) in September 2009 to shoot Eat, Pray, Love in an 'ashram' or hermitage.

In January 2009, she was seen sporting a 'bindi' on her forehead during her trip to India. Her film production company is called 'Red Om Films,' named after the Hindu symbol 'Om' which is considered the mystical syllable containing the universe. There were reports that she was trying to adopt a child from India and her kids shaved their heads during her last visit to India.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, interpreting wisdom of ancient Hindu scriptures, suggested Roberts realize the Self or pure consciousness through meditation. Hindus believe that real happiness comes from within, and God can be found within one's heart through meditation.

Quoting Shvetashvatara Upanishad, Zed pointed out to Roberts to be always aware that "worldly life is the river of God, flowing from him and flowing back to him." Stressing the importance of meditation, he quoted Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and pointed out that if one meditates upon the Self, and realizes it, they can come to understand the meaning of life.

Rajan Zed further said that seeing Roberts' devotion, he would pray to lead her to the 'eternal joy.' If she needed any assistance in deeper Hinduism exploration, he or other Hindu scholars would be glad to help, Zed added.

This Diwali, Julia Roberts was in the news for her comment that ‘Diwali should be celebrated unanimously throughout the world as a gesture of goodwill’. Roberts equated Christmas with Diwali and said that both “are festivals of lights, good spirits, ​and death of evil”. She further pointed out that Diwali “not only belongs to Hinduism but is universal in nature and in its essence too.

Diwali ignites the values of self-confidence, love for humanity, peace, prosperity and above all eternity which goes beyond all mortal factors… When I think of Diwali, I can never imagine a world broken into fragments by narrow feelings of communalism and religion which does not care for human benevolence.”

Julia Roberts said: "Ever since I developed my liking and fondness for Hinduism, I have been attracted and deeply fascinated by many facets of the multi-dimensional Hinduism… spirituality in it transcends many barriers of mere religion”. Talking of India, she promised, “to return to this sacred land again and again for the best of creativity."