First a bit of family history.
My paternal grandfather came to South Africa from India in the 1940s. He joined his two older brothers who were running a convenience store in a small town. Grandfather got married and had two sons and a daughter. All three were brought up together with their cousins in this small town. They were all kept very religious by their elders.
My grandfather, being the youngest, wasn't treated very well by his brothers and decided to move away to strike it on his own. With him went his wife, his second son (my dad) and his daughter.
My dad, like a lot of people, wished to raise my bother and I differently from the way he was raised. Therefore, I somehow got raised in a household that was more liberal than that in which my dad had been raised. My dad's not an educated or wealthy man, but his approach to parenting was unique. Unlike most hindus, we weren't sexually repressed, we didn't go to temple very often, we weren't forbidden from having friends of different cultures and races, we weren't even forbidden to go out partying and drinking with those same friends (though serious warnings were given about not over-induldging, which were of course fogotten the moment we left the house) and yet we grew up to be responsible and moral young adults.
Back in the small town where my dad grew up, his cousins had kids, started businesses and brought up their kids on a strong religious diet. I have memories of uncles coming over to visit and behind my dad's back, they would give us 'guidance'. My dad and his sister are both moderately religious, but open_minded. My mom is quiet about her convictions but is more traditional than my dad. She does wish for me to marry an indian girl of the same 'caste and clan' as us.
Somehow in all this mess, I ended up going from the boy who was repeatedly told not to daydream into a self proclaimed intellectual of sorts. Throughout my teens I would intentially make different choices from my friends and family and then vehemently debate those issues. At the time I knew there was an inconsistancy to my view of the world, but I cold never pinpoint what it was.
In my first year of university, I befriended a member of ISKON or a Hari Krishna devotee if you will. We stayed in the same residence and like most moderate religious people, I had both a curiosity about religion and a feeling of guilt that i was not more religious myself. Little by little I started hanging out with ISKON members, attending their temple and campus meets. While I enjoyed the chanting and dancing, I could never quite get past the inconsistancy and ignorance of the temple leader. He failed miserably at reconciling Srila Prabupad's teachings with the realities of today's society. I remember thinking what a shame it was that the average devotee did not pick up on what I did.
At the end of my first year, my ISKON friend moved to another university and I, having decided that I'd had my fill of religious cults, no longer associated with any members of the movement. It was around that point when I realised that the inconsistancy in my life was that my religious beliefs conflicted with my scientific view of the world. For a short time, I rejected hinduism and decided that I would worship God without anyone elses input. It didn't last very long because i felt too much like I was sitting on the fence regarding the issue.
I realised that for years now, that I didn't actually believe in a celestial being in the sky watching my every move. I became more interested in atheism and shared my belief or lack thereof with just a couple close friends. Last year I managed to get some books by Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, etc. which really brought clarity to what I was feeling. To date, only those close friends and my younger brother know about my change. I do plan on telling my parents but am still a bit apprehensive. Naturally. I am also, the only atheist that i know personally.
That's my journey. Thank you for reading it.