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Monday, June 7, 2010

Options for Official Conversion

I've been getting some lovely emails from other white Hindus. It's pretty amazing how the Internet connects people and no matter how odd a path you are on, there will be others like you.

Here are some quotes from emails I've received:

There are very, very few people who talk frankly about practicing Hinduism from the non-Indian perspective, and so it's great that you're helping to fill that void...This is one of the first times I've had the opportunity to talk to someone who's gone through something vaguely similar to my own (unfinished) story,

However, as I turned 20, I started to feel more acutely the fact that I was different [from the Indians at temple]. When I was younger, I felt it too, but I could ignore it. That wasn't the case anymore. I felt like I didn't belong, and to be honest I felt a bit foolish. I felt alien, and then confused and disheartened, wondering if I would ever want to go back.

It's not as if I dislike Christianity especially, but I prefer seeing God in all things, not just in a book here or a crucifix there.

So really, Hinduism is simply the Indian version of what Christianity displaced in Europe and North Africa. In other words, it's not just for Indians, or at least it shouldn't be.

I won't lie, I would feel a lot more comfortable if there were a few other non-Indian Hindus around my way (not counting the Hare Krishnas), but it's encouraging just to know that I'm not the only one out there.

I'm also a white Hindu, having come to Sanatana Dharma after a number of years of tumultuous spiritual searching. I've identified as Hindu for only about eight months now.

It can definitely be a lonely path to travel. Sometimes I'm alright with that. Lately, not so much.

Keep writing. It's good to hear from others.

Religious conversion shouldn't be like this. Hopefully people like you and me can gradually help change some attitudes so that those who come after us have an easier time of it.

Also, there is a practical side to being an official and recognized member of a religion. What if my boss requires me to do something in opposition to my beliefs, or expects me to work on a holiday where I should spend the day in prayer and fasting? He will expect some legitimate references, not just scriptural quotations that anyone could produce. What if I want to be part of some group or gathering of Hindus? It will be predominantly, if not entirely, Indian, and I may be expected to site sampradaya, or my teacher, or at least a priest with whom I'm familiar.

I am what I describe to people as “vaguely Hindu.” I wear Western clothing, but have an Ayervedic nose ring. I am a devout yogi but I eat beef (I can’t help it, it just tastes so good, and I don’t eat pork oddly enough). And, of course, I recite the 108 Ganapati Salutations and the Ganapati Mantra.
But your blog is wonderfully written, informed, and conscious of the issues that arise on both cultural sides about conversion.

One person asked about what kind of options there are for an official conversion, so I've done some research on different movements.

First, though, here are two perspectives on Westerners from the message boards at
Arjun says:
February 25, 2010 at 22:27
Well in essence everyone is born a Hindu so its not about converting but it's about awakening to that realization that decides if you are a Hindu or not. Many Indian Hindus are just Hindu in name and that’s it. So Hindu Dharma is not confined to the borders of any country, region or race or even physical form…yes even the animal kingdom are Hindus on some level because they follow the Dharmic laws in accordance to their consciousness. So if you follow and feel you are a Hindu then you are and you should say it openly. These days some Hindu temples do perform ‘Shuddi’ initiation into Hinduism. so the doors are now opening for anyone who wants to become a Hindu..

#58705 - 06/10/04 06:48 PM Re: Cultural Appropriation
Unfortunately, I live in a part of the U.S. where I don't know if that would even work with all people. I remember seeing a post on another thread from someone saying "I am interested in Hinduism, New Age, etc." This is typical of a lot of people in my town -- they think Hinduism, Chinese medicine, Buddhism, and all kinds of "Easternisms" are just a cool, groovy thing -- just like New Ageism. I actually heard someone at a party say once, "Buddhism isn't really a religion, it's more like a way of life." They see only the outer trappings of our religions and beliefs, like the funky South Indian temples, and the nice-smelling incense, and they think they've got it. It's like learning the postures of yoga but never grasping anything about devotion. These people think I should be flattered that Ganesh was on a lunchbox, because it just proves how cool and popular he is! And many of them are equally superficial about other things, like their country or the religion they were raised in, so they wouldn't necessarily care if someone put the flag on a pair of panties, or Jesus on a pair of shoes. In fact, I see things like that all the time around here. I would be very offended if I were extremely patriotic, or a Christian. But I feel like a person raised Christian, for example, can desecrate their own religion if they want to. I just want them to leave mine alone!

Himalayan Academy
This is the branch that our friend at Western-Hindu belongs to. They have an entire book available in hard copy or online called How to Become a Hindu.

These are the steps:
1. Begin practicing Hinduism, performing daily pujas and participating in a community with other Hindu events and rituals.
2. Write a comparison of one's former beliefs or religion to Hinduism. Discuss each promise made in another religion and when and why it was dropped. Present this document to a Hindu elder to show a true understanding of one's undertaking.
3. Sever ties with former religions. You must try to get a letter from any former pastor or rabbi, etc. saying that you have been released from your duty to their path by meeting with them in person and explaining why you are leaving and going to Hinduism. However, first you attend several of the services to see if you really want to leave this religion.
4. A legal name change to a Hindu name and that name should be used in all areas of life.
5. The namakarana samskara is performed. This is a naming ceremony. This must be done by a priest in the sect that you are joining. Also, you must inform your friends and family and have at least three witnesses to the ceremony. (Lots of details about this ceremony in the link above). A certificate will be provided which will help the individual with any times he needs proof of being a Hindu (such as for admittance to certain temples in India).
6. A three-day announcement is placed in a local newspaper telling the name and religion change of the person.

This is something the guru called "Ethical Conversion" and it seems like a great idea for any religion one is going to or from. It makes sure that a person is willingly choosing the new religion and has not been badgered into it and it requires a high level of commitment to the new religion. I think it's a great idea. The only reason I haven't done something like this is because I feel it is disrespectful to my parents to change my name. I might change my mind about that at some point, though.

I haven't been able to find any details about how one joins ISKON (Hare Krishna). If any readers here practice it, I would love to hear from you in the comments. Please tell us how one joins, what kind of conversion process there is, etc.

ISKON does have a bit of a bad reputation. My only experiences with them have made me feel like the Western members are just Christians who basically call Jesus "Krishna." I've only had a couple of interactions, however, so I wouldn't want to judge all of them based on that alone.

Amma is a holy woman who has been touring the world and spreading a teaching of love. She seems to have many Western followers. In fact, I was a bit disappointed when I realized that the only members of the Santana-Dharma group at were Amma followers. There don't seem to be any other Hindus there!

I don't know if they have any particular conversion, but I know several people spoke of meeting Amma and her giving them a Hindu name. Again, if anyone follows her teachings, I would love to have comments from you about what exactly is involved in joining.

She is called the "Hugging Saint" because she is known for hugging everyone at her talks.

This is something that is part of a movement called Arya Samaj, which is about returning to the Vedic roots of Hinduism and letting go of social class problems and other issues that have come up over time in society but are not part of the Vedas.

One website to learn more about them is Arya Samaj 101.

Their Shuddi is more of a reconversion, for those whose families were originally Hindu and were converted away to Islam or Christianity. It isn't clear whether a white person could undergo this ritual, but they seem to believe that Hinduism is the true religion, so that suggests to me that they would be open to more people joining.

They are working against the practice of untouchability and many Hindus converted away to other religions because they could have full status as people in the other religions. Of course, in Hinduism they should have had that, untouchability being a social construct and not part of the religion, but it is a very ingrained social construct.

I haven't been able to find anything online about what this ritual actual involves or how to do it, but I think I will write to one of the centers and ask them about it as an option for white Hindus.

There is also a really nice essay about why non-Indians should be fully allowed into the Hindu fold here: Becoming a Hindu is Easy


  1. As far as I'm concerned, there shouldn't be hard and fast rules to becoming a Hindu. If you are able to connect with Sanatana Dharma principles and able to assess for yourself why you want to be in it, then I think it's perfectly fine. The comment about cultural appropriation regarding Ganesh being on the lunch box and that it's supposedly cool and hip, unfortunately not only is that the perception of most white folks, it is also the thinking of quite a number of Indians. For me Sanatana Dharma is not only a way of life, it's ingrained in me religiously as well by that I mean, the mantras, meditation and yoga. Conversion should not be about seeking members and damning everyone, because Truth doesn't need publication per se. It ought to be open to whoever regardless of race.

    The church I used to frequent had issued out an appendix with the 'evil religions' on one side and 'christianity - the good one' on the reverse side. Imagine my horror when I saw Sanatana Dharam/Buddhism/Ayverdic Medicine on the side of evil religions. The blantant ignorance and judgementalism has never failed to amuse me within Christianity.

  2. There is a wealth of information online about ISKON from one of their own websites at I learned a lot about their religion & philosophy there and from various ISKON blogs & forums.. but it definitely wasn't for me. There is a LOT of politics involved in the temples, everything is very male oriented (which doesn't jive with me being a woman..), and the rules are so rigid that it would be very hard to be the only practicing Hare Krishna in a household.

    Sorry to hear about the Rav group.. you should post more things there. I am still a member and I'm not an Amma devotee.. though she does sound like someone I'd love to meet if she was in the area.

  3. Dhurga, I have to admit I have a lunchbox with Krishna on it! It was given to me as a gift and I don't use it.

    Also, it is really sad the way some Christians and a lot of official Christian material are so comfortable calling other religions evil.

    Mouse, I do hope that more Hare Krishnas will post here to give a good balanced perspective of it.

    I've tried to say things on the Rav board and I never get any response, it seems like. So I gave up. If I have something really exciting to share, I'll do it, but usually I just wait to see if an interesting topic comes up and it's only ever Amma tour dates. Though, I agree, she seems like a great person to get to meet.

  4. Hi, I,as a hindu from India ,found your posts very interesting.About Krishna or Ganesha on the Lunch Box,Ithink this works on different levels for different people -Some one gave us a steel["eversilver"as we call it]tiffin plate with the image of Radha Krishna etched on it as wedding return gifts.They were very traditional,pious and orthodox people.And Our family uses them,and we are traditional,and believing Hindus ,too.I thought of it as eating with Krishna's blessings.In fact there is a Vedic verse that is chanted before food,[especially in Chinmaya Mission]which goes"Brahmarpanam,brahmahavir..." meaning that Brahmam is present in all things including the food we eat. Moreover,Such images are used on calling cards,calenders and note book covers also.While there some usages of images that are undoubtedly obnoxious as the M.F.Hussain's paintings and people using religious images on shoes,slippers,underwear and toilet seats,I think we can be easy on them being used on innocuous items like pencil boxes or lunchboxes.There even some Hindus who do not have any objections to the items that I listed as objectionable,but consider them as "art".So ,it probably depends on individual's level of touchiness.[probably the same as Christians following the bible literally and those following its teachings more liberally].Another thing is ,that this kind of touchiness is rather new to traditional Hindus,and is mostly a reaction to the denigration heaped on our religion[ or Dharma] and our Deities by those who don't believe in it[atheists,muslims and christians,and even Hindu politicians who want to appease members of the minority[from the Indian perspective]religions for political mileage. There is another controversy brewing here in India,due to the imminent release of a movie that seems to glorify Ravana and denigrate Rama and Sita ,by imputing a liaison between her and the Demon King of Lanka.I know that my grandmother would shrug her shoulders saying "Rama!Rama!,their sins on them", and move on to her prayers and other work,if she was still around with us.
    I hope this helps in understanding our religion.

  5. By the way, isn't ravelry a site for knitting enthusiasts?

  6. Thanks for your insight, Sita. I am pretty stunned about the movie you mention. I think it is good to cultivate a peaceful demenor, though, and not be easily offended or ruffled by things. I like the idea of your Grandmother just shrugging it off. It's true, if it's a sin, it's on the shoulders of the people doing it!

    Yes, ravelry is a knitting website, but they also have discussion groups for almost any other thing you might be interested in. It's a huge community, so there are people with a lot of different interests. I'm in a group for Bollywood movies, Indian cooking, making baby things, etc. Lots of groups!

  7. I agree with Sita on all points. It all depends on the touchiness and how an individual see it. I've seen quite a few many t-shirts with Shiva, Vishnu etc on them. I cringe every time I see it. For me its the thought and the motivation that makes people want to have them on those items. Because all of a sudden Hinduism has become so cool and hippy and new age that if you're seen with such a picture, you're cool. Gifting such items at a wedding or something, is ok because of that thought that you would want the Gods blessing the couple.

    I'm actually looking forward to that movie only because the director is good at his skill. The plot resembles the Ramayana but alas apart from that, I don't see the connection. A man kidnaps a woman because of what the woman's husband did to his sister. But I think the woman chooses to stay with the man who kidnaps her after realising what an idiot her husband is. I look at it in this way..there's always a ram in every ravana and there's always a ravana in every ram. While Ravana in the Ramayana was a terrible one, he had the greatest devotion for Lord Shiva - called the Shiva Tandava Strotam. It was written by Ravana himself and there are translated copies on the web. The strotam by Uma Mohan is now my alarm ringtone. You should have a listen Aamba.

  8. Long towels{caled Angavastrams,meaning the Cloth used for the upper body],printed with Rama nam or the Panchaksharam or just Om, were used especially by the brahmacharis and Veda pandits. Here it is not part of the"cool Scene" if one were to wear such a T-Shirt,thoughI have seen devotees wearing their respective Deity's pictures on T-Shirts.It is just a progression from the unstitched Vastrams to T-Shirts[also called Kavachams in a fun/pun-way].I have heard comments of wearing my religion on my sleeve when I mentioned joining a Fan club of a Deity on Facebook.Nobody objects or mentions it if it were a Christian or a Muslim doing it.We are made to feel apologetic about our religionand its rituals.But now things are changing, with more awareness about ourselves and the truth about other religions becoming more open knowledge.Earlier most Hindus thought that Christianity or Islam were just like Hinduism,but now they know the difference,and it is only the naive who still believe otherwise..
    About Ravana, Here,in South India he is considered to be Dravidian as opposed to the Aryan Rama(because they still believe in the Aryan Invasion Theory),that is the reason for his glorification.People don't realise that Ravana was a Brahmin ,too. Thanks Durga for explaining the story.I did not know the story,but realised there would be a controversy because of the name.Ravana was ,inspite of his lechorous tendencies ,a Shiva Bhaktha,a great poet,scholar and musician,mastering the Veena,with which he pleased Shiva.Yes the Uma mohan version of the Shiva Thandava Sthothram is very energising and awesome.There is also another version by S.P.Balasubramaniam.,I think,that is equally good. I agree that there are shades of grey in all people generally and also in the many characters of the Ramayana.Here in Tamilnadu,there are usually scholarly debates about them.Was Ravana really bad? Did Rama's actions match his status as an Avatar? similarly about Ahalya and Arundhati,Mandodhari and Sita,Sugreeva and Vali,Sita and Tara,Manthara and Surpanaka;The combinations and Contrasts are endless and these were the kind of questions and comparisons that are debated.This was how Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma progress and still survives today,because it allows such a debate..But ,I wonder ,if the movie would be seen in that light.We had agitations by the Catholics because a political leader was potrayed/pictured like Mary,mother of Jesus. There were no protests when the same Leader was depicted as Adhi Parashakti.Dan Browns Da Vinci Code was almost banned because of the digressions made to the Story of Jesus.This is similar.In these days of touchiness about potrayals of Prophets and Gods, this does seem like fishing in troubled waters,or waving the red rag at the Bull.So this makes me apprehensive about the outcome.

  9. I am a member there too;but haven't visited for a looooong time. I will refresh it ,now.It's nice to know we hare not alone,no?

  10. Hopefully the movie is something noteworthy. I'm greatly looking forward to it only the tamil version and I have an exam on that day, I'm afraid Ahbishek is going to make a mockery of it with the Hindi version. Aamba, when it gets released in the States, you should go watch it! I suppose people have failed to see that Ravana was quite an esteemed being. His intelligence astounds me. Sita you mentioned here in TN, am I right to assume you're tamil? The title of the movie fits perfectly with the main idea of the film I think. I think if anyone was to protest the film, it would have to be the Dave Brahmins, they claim themselves to be decendents of Ravana and worship him still - I think somewhere in Utter P (I could be wrong). But I consider him to be South Indian and totally do not buy into the Aryan/Dravidian theory.

    Sorry Aamba =)..we were all talking about conversions to lunchboxes to movies now.

  11. This is a great discussion, I'm so glad!

    I'm very interested to see this movie now, I'll be watching for it.

    I love the theme of no one is entirely good or entirely bad, not even Rama and Ravana. I had not heard these things about Ravana before and it makes it a much more interesting story!

    As far as Ravelry, you can find me there as CraftyCarolyn!

  12. The movie is to be released in India June 18th. I'm not too sure when the release dates are for the States, but I'm very positive it'll get released there too as the actress is rather famous, in India anyway.The movie is aptly named Raavan.

    Ravana is quite a personality. People only see him for his bad side and not his good side - being very intelligent and an ardent Bhakta of Lord Shiva, his helplessness when he roamed the earth asking Shiva when he'll be happy again. The theme can be crossed over to females as well.There's definately a Mandhodari in every Sita and vice versa. For all it was worth, Ravana did not touch Sita in that manner despite kidnapping her. A little google on the web and there's tons of little tidbits like that.

    Infact it was only after I realised that maestro of the Veena and what a scholar he was, that I've become fixated with him, that I want to play the Veena too. Everyone has a good side and a bad side, it all depends on how you see them.

  13. Yes ,I am Tamil.
    It was fun discussing religion this way,and about Ravana.I know people called Ravanan,but did not know that their was a community claiming him as an ancestor.But ,I must admit that I was disappointed in Rama,who was my favourite as a child;once I grew up and understood society.But as Scholars say,He was a Avatar who played by the rules of that time ,without realising/thinking of himself as an avatar,to teach us that whatever cost,one must keep to the rules,one can't run away,or change them to suit ourselves.We must also remember that he paid by being a hermit in the place for the rest of his days,living as frugal as possible in his personal life,considering the Kingship as a duty and a service to the kingdom and her people. As for ravana, I feel for Mandodhari. Also ,have you heard of how he got cursed by Kubera's wife or Parvathy[i am not sure],that he would die if he forced himself on a woman?,and also how Shiva controlled his Arrogance? After which he sang the Shiva Thandava slokam.My mother used to tell us these stories.

  14. Thanks a lot Amba ,and Durga.I really enjoyed this dicussion and hope you have too,and that I am not being too OE.

  15. I love contradiction and lack of clarity in stories and myths, even religious stories. It makes them more real, somehow.

    I had always seen the Ramayana as too "bland" in a way because I didn't know about these details. The way you hear it is so often just plain, Ram is perfect and good (and Sita too) and Ravana is just evil. I dislike any stories that paint a person as all one thing or another, even an avatar has some human qualities.

    I've always preferred the Mahabharata for that reason, it is rife with tricky situations and people not behaving the way you expect them to, even Krishna.

    Now I'll have to go back and get myself a good translation of the Ramayana.

  16. It definately was an enlightening discussion. I'm quarter Tamil too =) the rest being Telugu. My paternal grandmother was Tamil. Due due the migration during the Vijayanagar empire back in the 15th or so century, my ancestors came down to TN settled in Virudhunagar.

    I heard about the curse but don't know the details of it. As we all know Valmiki wrote the two epics. I'd like to think they were real events that took place. There's plenty of evidence for it. I was telling my mum last night, the thing with Sanatana Dharma is that no-one is ever entirely bad or good. We all have shades of grey. Perphaps thats why they say to be born as a human is indeed rare.

    I'm reading a novel by Shashi Tharoor at the moment, quite aptly named The Great Indian Novel. The setting is that of the Mahabharata with today's political events. I too need to get my hands on a good translated copy of both epics Aamba.

  17. My parents read this Ramayana and really liked it:

    Translated by Ramesh Menon.

    And I'm currently reading this Mahabharata that my boyfriend got me for Christmas :)

    Translated by TR. Kamala Subramaniam

    Both are quite long. Still abridged, but really trying to include as much as possible!

  18. @Durga, What a coincidence!
    I am told that our community migrated down south from somewhere in Central India following the I-Invasion.
    @Amba and Durga, I read the Valmiki Ramayana and Mahabharatha,apart from the Amar Chitra Katha's.There is also one telling of the R. published by Bhathiya Vidya Bhavan which was by A.K.Aiyar[but I am not too sure as I had read this book some 30 years ago].The painting of Rama as all good is a recent[10-15 years back] phenomenon.Traditional Religious Pandits/speakers don't do it. In fact, our family astrologer,who is also a Vedic Pandit,apart from being a practitioner of Ayurveda[He was a former Principal of a Sanskrit College,so no wonder],when speaking of Rama,was quite disparaging[not disrespectful] of Rama,saying he was pretty weakminded ,swooning and crying and talking to creepers and stones ,instead of getting on to the job at hand. He was asking ,"should a Kshatritya be crying like a love struck Zombie"?.Now adays you come across that kind of debate only at Kamba Ramayanam forums.[that is another version/earliest translation of Valmiki Ramayana. By the way, Ramayana was written by Valmiki and Mahabharatha by Vyasa.
    Amba, thanks for those links.It will be nice to read the modern interpretations of Ramayana and the MahaBharatha.

  19. Haha it is a coincidence indeed. I love history and I suppose India being India, the only way I could find my ancestors was to use the caste name. But yes our community apparently was originally from Rajasthan, then came down to Andhra then from the expansion down to TN. Amazing no? The relatives back home don't even know that they are telugu's from Andhra despite speaking the language at home. Everyone of us know tamil and telugu though.

    Aamba, are those links online versions? I thought the same too about Rama. He was very weak and constantly lamenting. Not becoming of a Kshatriya. Abit like how, Arjuna got a ear full about whining and not doing his duty from Krishna.

  20. I'm afraid they are not online versions, both are links to Both are hard copy books.

  21. Oh ok. Then perhaps I'll get copies when I go to India at the end of the year.

    Aamba, when you do eventually get married, are you looking to have an Indian marriage? What I mean is the customs and rituals that accompany an Indian marriage.

  22. Yes, Dhurga. I've been waiting to talk about that, to give myself blog material for when I get engaged, but I am hoping and planning to have an Indian wedding. I think there are going to be some significant challenges to that!

  23. Hi, I'm Ravi from India. I've been reading your blog since 2-3 days and its really pleasing a non-indian practising hinduism so far in US.

    I wanted to comment on this post, but it seems the topic veered off to a movie :) . Anyway, I think its wrong to prescribe a process,a manual to convert to Hinduism. In my opinion

    1. If you want to convert, do it discreetly. It really hurts your family and loved ones when you abandon your religion, your way of life which has been with you for all these years,all the memories carried along and then dumping it happily for another religion

    I can say this from experience. Your (US)and European missionaries come to India under the garb of 'service', go to the weak and vulnerable, and tell them that Hinduism is the root cause of their poverty. This is generally followed by a charade of 'miracles' and 'healings' by a local paid bufoon.

    And there you go, you've got a new Christian. And you'll have new 'christians' to make up for all the lost numbers in the west because you know, India is an fast emerging market for conversions full of low self esteem Hindus.

    And my biggest complaint is that these new converts are told to hate their former religion and have contempt for their practises.

    Another thing in interfaith marriages/relationships. I feel that Abrahamic religions are insecure, generaly intolerant of other religions. They need numbers to reassure them. Everything is 'us' vs. 'them', 'pure' vs 'evil'.

    If one's partner wants the other to convert, then ask him/her why he/she fell in love in the first place? Didn't he know the other is 'impure' or did he assume that the other will naturally convert because, lets face it, he comes from a weak,not so aggressive religion?

    2. Hinduism doesn't require you sever ties with other religions. Hinduism has been around since 3000 BC. It doesnt know of 'other' religions. Thats the best part of it. There have been so many reforms, so many strains of Hinduism that you can be anyone from a rigid casteist, beliving in the hierarchy of classes to someone who believes in the equality of all living creatures, from an Ant to an Elephant.

    Thanks and regards,

  24. ramas bad aspect is shown when he kills bali from behind. i felt sympathy for bali at that time, but it was for greater good i realised later. & when he makes the tyaag of sita etc.

    even ravanas good charecter is shown in ramayana.
    even rama respected him for his shiv bhakti
    & even invited him to do shiv puja for him

  25. i think whites or ne non hindu cant be converted to cultural hinduism.but can become philosophical hindus.hinduism as a cultural practice always reqd varna systems.{casteism is a degraded form of varna}
    coz hinduism as a culture has propogated to this day bcoz of its strict practice of varna system if all hindus meditated& all(brahanical life) then hinduism would have become extinct long back.{muslim n christian conquerrors}
    they needed warrior class as kshatria as protectors n patrons{kings}.
    vaishyas to do trade n spread the culture to other places .
    similasrly shudras were needed to do other jobs of labour etc.

  26. correction
    "brahanical" above should be braminical

  27. watch this vid on YT its not against any religion but discusses hindu philosophies n india n other religions in india & its in hindi(shudh-sanakritised)

  28. watch this vid on YT its not against any religion but discusses hindu philosophies n india n other religions in india & its in hindi(shudh-sanakritised) with subtittles in english.

  29. Aamba,

    Our family goes to see Ammachi every year when she comes to Dallas. She does not advocate any "conversion" but prefers people live in a spiritual lifestyle in harmony with nature (dharma) and if they are called to embrace the label of Hinduism that OK too. Amma accepts all as her followers- my friends that go with us each year are from many backgrounds- Hindu, Pagan, Native American. She does give spiritual names to both Westerners and Indians (people all over the globe), my impression is that this is a deeper connection with *Her* as a teacher, not an initiation ceremony. She also does weddings. If you want to know anything else about her please feel free to ask me. She is one of the genuine Gurus out there.

    Om Shanti, S Radha

  30. Thanks, Ravi, I know what you mean about being discreet about it. I don't want to make a big deal, or make my family uncomfortable! And I don't think that I need to.

    Anonymous, thank you for the video, I will watch it when I get home from work.

    Great information, Radha! I really appreciate that. I would love to meet Amma some time, she seems really genuine.

  31. First off I am a Hindu. I was born into one. I also love a nice prime rib medium rare and a hamburger once in a while. Now, do I fear that I would be excommunicated for that? Nope. Cause there is no authority that can excommunicate me in the first place. I am very much a Hindu. I am free to believe what the Bhagwat Gita says or not believe a good portion of what the Gita says and I would still be a Hindu. I may even cherry pick what I want to believe from the Bible and the Koran. But does it mean there is no structure of any kind in Hinduism? Are Christians and Muslims Hindus?. Well! let me bring a different context (Political) and see if that would help explain.

    Context 1:

    Western concept of liberty as a political system: e.g. "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". It's a very broad framework. It does not go into the minutia or stipulate what it is that would make you happy etc.. Does it mean, that you can bring in a rigid system of communism or fascism ideology under that framework of "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"? Obviously not since those political ideologies would violate the basic framework of liberty in the political context. However, you can still have socialism as normative values within the frame work of "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness".

    Now apply the same concept when it comes to Hindu religion vs a vis other religions. There is no set ideology that Hindus should adhere to, to be a Hindu.. Hinduism is freedom of spiritual quest for an individual as long as the framework is not violated. if you insist that your belief or ideology is the only true one and the rest are false or that every other faith except yours is in violation, then you are violating the basic freedom of spiritual quest and most Hindus would not accept that as being Hindu.

    Context 2:

    Another illustration is how western liberal ideology is pilloried by some conservative societies of the world by pointing out to the worst in western civilization as an excuse for they not adopting a free society. e.g. They often point to pornography in the west as failure of a free society "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". They conveniently do not realize that westerners do not necessarily celebrate pornography instead consider that a price they have to pay for living in a free society.

    Let me apply that to Hinduism. Because there are no rigid rules nor any Institution to enforce any in a "libertarian" faith called Hinduism, naturally you would find some odd and strange practices within Hinduism including some bizarre Tantric rituals. Missionaries and religious supremacists and leftists like Wendy Doniger often highlight these sects/practices to point to the failure of Hinduism just like countries that have a tyrannical political system who point to pornography as the central tenet of free society to rationalize the supremacy of their tyrannical ideology/belief system. Most Hindus would tolerate these bizarre tantric practices (within the context of a law and order) but not necessarily celebrate them as Hindu rituals/customs.

  32. Context 3.

    Process of scientific quest: Scientists and the process of scientific quest is about the pursuit of that never reaching wall of absolute knowledge. Its the pursuit and not necessarily about finding all the answers there is to know. They constantly keep pushing that wall of ignorance a little further and the constant debate to fine tune. Yet, you would find some individuals (Creationists) who would use this as a weakness to deride scientists and what they do for they claim their Green Goblin up in the heavens has created it all.

    In Hinduism, its not about a set of revealed set of truth given to 1 or 2 individual that has adjudicated all questions and that subsequent generation would just have to accept this "adjudicated revealed truth" into perpetuity and that they would be punished if they challenge these "truths" (Its really hearsay packaged as Truths). Instead, Hindu beliefs are really musings of individuals over 4000 years. Its intuitive perceptions of seers while introspecting and meditating deeply without guarantees to what they say is the absolute truth (They are opinions). Its devoid of compulsion by way of intrinsic threats for one to follow and believe what they sayy. These musings still continue and will never end just like scientific musings are a never ending pursuit.

  33. So yeah..if you feel liberty and freedom in your spiritual quest. Call yourself a Hindu. But if you believe in a jealous god who would punish you for using your freewill in your spiritual quest, you are not a Hindu.

  34. Thank you for that intense essay, Manny! Wow. I particularly liked this:
    "if you insist that your belief or ideology is the only true one and the rest are false or that every other faith except yours is in violation, then you are violating the basic freedom of spiritual quest and most Hindus would not accept that as being Hindu."

  35. Hinduism as a religion is very open - however, priests can often try to make it complicated.

    If you feel Hindu - you call yourself a Hindu. You do not need approval from anyone, you dont need permission from anyone.

    Hindu scriptures state that there is no one way of attaining salvation - so, there are no specific tasks that you need to perform (from a spiritual point of view) like in the case of other religions. You will be judged on your deeds, not whether you are Hindu or Christian or Muslim.

    Hinduism is not like Christianity or Islam - it does not state that if you are not Hindu, you will go to hell. As per Hinduism, no matter who you are you will be judged according to your deeds.

    Hinduism has not been designed to force or frighten people into converting to the faith - it gives you a lot of freedom and flexibility to think and decide for yourself the path that you wish to take.