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The White Hindu has moved! This blog is no longer updated, but Ambaa is still writing The White Hindu every weekday at

Monday, March 14, 2011

Addressing Comments

First off I want to say that some people are having trouble leaving comments and I am working on fixing that! I want everyone to be able to comment, but I hope to do that without turning off the comment moderation.

There have been some new comments on old posts that I wanted the chance to address. I don't mean to pick on you, alnguyen, and this isn't criticism at all, just want to open up the discussion.

alnguyen said...
I want to address the problem of caste. It's not politically correct to recommend this but for a western woman I think the solution is to marry a Hindu man. When you marry a Hindu man you marry into his caste. Since you embrace the Hindu way of life I'm sure his family will embrace you as a real Hindu. I'm in the software engineering field. I have many Indian buddies with gori wives and these ladies are integrated into the Hindu communities of their husbands. To me the Hindu way is not primarily an individual religion. It's primarily a communal religion. If you want to enjoy the full benefits of the Hindu way join a Hindu family and community through marriage. Why not? You can have a dharmic life together, enjoy artha and kama, and raise a family.

This is a good thought, and one that I've had myself. I'm still in the process of figuring out what I hope future marriage will do for me, and until I can decide that, I can't decide whether to marry purely for the social benefits.

I have concerns about marrying someone purely for his race, which I've written about before. Part of it is that I don't like the idea of people assuming that I became a Hindu for my (hypothetical) husband. It bothers me that people would see me as an extension of his Hinduism and not my own experience of the religion. This might be an esoteric and stupid concern, but it is something I think about.

alnguyen said...
My dear you will always be perceived as an outsider unless you marry into an Indian Hindu family. Generally speaking if you marry into a Hindu family the community will see you as one of their own.

Generally indeed. I've seen cases where gori wives are accepted and other cases where they are not, it depends a lot on the family and the actual individuals one encounters. We've seen from some of Mrs. BBBB's posts that marrying into Hinduism doesn't always get you instant acceptance.

However, as time has gone on in the writing of this blog, I have felt a lot of acceptance from the Indians that I know. I think my feelings of being an outsider and not wanted stemmed a lot from my own fears and inner thoughts, and not from reality. I'm pretty comfortable at this point with who I am and how I interact with the world. I no longer feel like I need to prove that I am a Hindu.

[In response to my post about why I don't just marry an Indian man]:
alnguyen said...
With all respect I think you're making a big mistake. Within the Hindu religion marriage is two people following the path of dharma and enjoying artha and kama together. That sharing of a way of life you're going to miss out on. You'll never know the joy of it. Furthermore, you will never be fully accepted into an Indian Hindu community if you marry a white guy. You will always be an outsider. If you're not fully a part of a Hindu community what's the point of trying to be a Hindu? You'll find it empty and void within a few years. Don't make a mistake you're going to regret. You're a very pretty woman. You can get a nice Indian man if you really want to.

Not to be vain, but I do think that I'm beautiful and could land an Indian husband if I tried hard at it. I'm not sure, though, if that's what I want. There are some other factors that come into play that are not related to race and complicate my life, so I'm not sure yet and I'm not going to pursue a husband until I am sure. I don't think that would be fair to the (hypothetical) man. It may end up that it would be better for me to remove myself from family life, that remains to be seen and it is an issue that I'm not comfortable discussing here.

I disagree that lack of acceptance into a Hindu community makes being a Hindu pointless or empty or void and I disagree that I would lose interest.

If you separate Hindu philosophy and beliefs from Indian culture and social tradition, then I've been a follower of Hinduism for 29 years. Most of those years were without a comfortable connection to a Hindu community.

Hinduism is my heart and my soul and it will be whether I am in a community (as I do love to be) or all alone. An ascetic might go into the mountains to meditate alone for years-- though he is not a part of a community, he is still a Hindu.

alnguyen said...
If you marry a non-Hindu man you will give up much that you could have. I encourage you not to follow the advice of people leading you down that path. Having been in software engineering a long time I've known many Indian Hindu men with white wives. You can get a good Hindu man. No problem. btw - what does your mother think about the possibility of you marrying into a Hindu family?

I wrote a comment in response to this:
"My family would like for me to marry an Indian man, I think. I believe they see it as the same solution that you do, to give me legitimacy.

However, I am a Hindu whether I'm married to an Indian or not.

I don't need to prove myself that way."

I know that everyone here wants to help me to feel happy and safe and fulfilled in my life, and it's so lovely to have people care so much that they write comments and give advice. I appreciate you all! I will continue to take all opinions under consideration and ponder whether they feel right for my circumstances or not.

I'm happy to report that for the last several months I have felt comfortable with my religious and cultural behaviors and the sense of being an outsider is mostly faded. I know I'm a bit of an odd duck, and people still look at me like an exhibit in a zoo, but it's all in the fun of the game.


  1. This is an interesting discussion. When you are a Hindu by choice but not married to a Hindu I think you are accepted by the more religious Hindus. I think that some of the "cultural" Hindus, who go to the Mandir to preserve part of their culture but treat the religious part lightly think "what's he/she doing here". Someone once told me that as well as a religious institution, for some desi Hindus it is an oasis of their culture, where they can be with people who speak their language, understand family issues and so on. They initially see Westerners coming into the mandir as an invasion of the outside into their sanctuary. If you continue to attend, show respect to the Deities and the people they come to accept you.

    If you were to marry an Indian you would probably get immediate acceptance of these cultural Hindus. If you moved to a new area you would still have to show the religious Hindus that you are sincere in following the path. In fact this might even be more difficult, because they would have the assumption that you were following your husband's religion.

    I suspect that the situation is different for men marrying Hindu women. Traditionally the woman takes on the religion or lineage of the man, so the religious Hindus would still see him as having taken a step towards Hinduism himself. (This is purely theoretical in my case as I am already happily married!)

  2. Marriage is a very personal affair. As is religion - atleast Hinduism. So...usually, it is best decided by oneself.

    I can possibly see where alnguyen is coming from - that marriage to a non-Hindu person (possibly a Christian/Muslim) is going to be the end of the road for your experience with Hinduism. Christianity/Islam are my-way-or-the-highway-to-hell type of religions. Not much chance of doing Yoga or visiting a temple when married to such a person, I guess.

    But then again, religion is indeed unprovable. To deny oneself someone whom you love because of religious difference is kinda stupid, imho.

  3. As an indian,i want to share my opinion in this matter.first of all,who said that only indians can become better hindus.i know a lot of people who r hindus only by birth but dont practise any of its preachings.i dont think that one becomes a hindu only after associating with indian culture.though i agree that both r interwound,but one can be a hindu just by following the dharma.i understand ur concern for such a marriage.also,all hindus may not not be spiritual as u are.they may be just praying and worshipping god.this may create serious rifts between the advice is u marry the person of ur choice who understands ur religion n supports u,whether that may be an indian or a non-indian.although,marrying an indian may be an option when u intend to settle in india.but,if u r fine with america then that is not required.
    i have read a russian couple who r hare krishnas.both of them r iskcon members(westerners) who married n even raised their daughter as a hindu.another option is brahmacharya.i dont know much about it but,many swamis n gurus practise a strict advocates austere living n chastity.but,i dont think its required for every hindu to be a brahmachari.i hope i'm helpful to u in this matter.

  4. Hello,

    I am a white, American, Hindu man living in India. I know what it is like to be a spectacle as after a year here, people still stare like hell. lol. But I want to thank you for this post. I found it on google, and it was nice to read of someone who is not Indian but a Hindu nonetheless.

    As far as the comments you answered in this post, they made me laugh. They are very typical of people stuck on the idea that Indian culture should remain a certain way, based on a flawed concept of the caste system. The beautiful truth is that Indian culture is evolving and the caste system is becoming a remnant of the past. Caste or no caste, you're a Hindu. From experience, I can tell you that many Hindus acknowledge me as a Hindu despite my race (but just imagine if I wore a white kurta and a tilaka on my forehead :P).

    In terms of marriage, you should marry who you love. Black, white, Indian, Asian, it doesn't matter in a developed civilization. I'm sure your family will be pleased to see you in a wholesome marriage rather than a shallow caste marriage.

    Further, no religion is a truly communal religion, as no two people have an identical concept of God. If the person leaving those comments was a Hindu, I feel they should deepen their understanding of their faith. The Sanatana Dharma is an eternal truth - not simply a communal or individual religion; thus, it is never pointless, nor can it pass away without a community to reenforce it. Humanity or no humanity, creation or no creation, the truth exists. Whoever you marry, I'm sure your Hindu identity will remain in tact.

    Your brother in God,


  5. What great and interesting comments! Keep them coming!

    I have no worries about my journey in Hinduism ending. My religion is much more important to me than anything else in my life.

    I actually was deeply in love with an evangelical Christian man years ago. I chose not to pursue a relationship with him because I did not want to compromise my Hinduism. I love him still and have never experienced such feelings with anyone else, so if I couldn't give up my religion for that, I never will! :)

    I like Andrew's point too that no two people have the same concept or experience of God.

  6. I think I have already commented before on my thoughts on seeking out an born Hindu South Asian man---you should go for a person and not an ethnicity. Would you be open to a Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi, Nepali Hindu? (And on and on, seems there are Hindus in other nearby countries and as far away as Java, Indonesia.) A non-Asian Hindu? It's best to be open to anyone.

    We have the same issue among Muslim converts as well. Everyone thinks you did it for your husband. I converted 6 years before I met my husband, and it does irritate me that people presume that I have converted for my husband. But you know what, that doesn't really matter in the big picture. What other people think is not important. But I do know what you mean about people and their assumptions.

    What do you think of using something like I am sure there would be some pros and cons, but I just wanted to know your thoughts.

  7. Girl, marry who you love. And if they love you, you'll both enjoy Hinduism together. And maybe another religion too. I am married--to a white woman--and my family and SA community have been very supportive. Marriage is a spiritual journey that you'll do together.

  8. Dearest Ambaa,

    May God Bless you for writing this and sharing this with me. I too am an American (of European descent) who grew up in a strongly Christian home.
    I find that the voice of your writing this part of your blog spoke directly to why I was searching for your blog in the first place. I endure this from my family who still are Christians. Though, I converted to Hinduism in 2008 and have been a moderately consistent practitioner ever since (circa present day, It is still told to me they feel badly for me for making this choice, they can't understand it, and the sadness/fear that they feel).
    Your statement about community and solitude resonated with me. I get hit hard with their cognition and limited desire to understand, which translates to anger. I can express that I don't want to minimize their feelings but that those feelings are truly disrespectful of my own spiritual practice. I care how they feel; yet, the care isn't balanced (I hate to say) on their side of things. I am not sad that I am Hindu. Opposite in fact. I am tranquil, have purpose, enjoy life, and feel vanquished from the cruelty and evil I had prior to my conversion. I turn over all these judgments to Durga/Shakti and then I am feeling stronger for they no longer burden me. I turn over all my own anxiety to Vishnu and then I am blessed to know Lakshimi. I turn over all of my weakness and co-dependence to Shiva and then I am independent and resound in strength and dignity. I turn over every anger and mean word that is said to me or that tries to creep into my head by virtue of another's voice to Ganesha and the words turn into song. I do this all at once and I truly value life and live in the moment.
    It can't be understood by people who don't. It can't be judged by anyone who may do differently. It can't be demeaned or put down by meanness or anger. It can't be scolded or chastised and there will be no pity for me to feel nor anxiety for me to hold onto.

    There is a reason I found your page just now Ambaa (I am adding it to my favorite bookmarks). Please, please write more of your own thoughts and experiences. I need to support to know I am not the only one who believes.

    Sunita (Dana).

  9. Thank you for writing! I can see the great struggle that you're going through. It is so hard to balance our own needs and the growth of our souls with our parents' needs and desires connected to us. I think that's a struggle many of us continue throughout our lives. It sounds like you're doing a great job, though. You know who you are and what resonates with you and you're putting thought and care into how you express that with others. I don't think more can be asked of you!

    Welcome! :D