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 This blog is no longer updated, but Ambaa is still writing The White Hindu every weekday at

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Being a Hindu is a Privledge

It should be, anyway.

But like with any word or label, almost anyone can claim it.

It's so difficult to define what Hinduism is.

Because even if we come up with a definition that includes things like follows vedic principles, harms none, etc., there will still be mean-spirited, angry people who were born Hindu and will therefore also claim to be Hindu. And of course they are.

Even people who take, as Andrea M. said to me the other day, only the worst parts of Indian culture call themselves Hindu.

If people who act in anger to hurt and defile others can call themselves Hindu, then I certainly can!
If people who kill their own children for being defiant can call themselves Hindus, then I certainly can!

Christians  have this issue as well. Each sect with its different beliefs is frustrated that others with different values and beliefs can use the same label. For example, I see frustration from liberal Christians who know that people like me are very put off by the word "Christian" just because we associate it only with the people who believe that I'm evil and going to hell. The word "Christian" has a bad connotation for many people (And of course a great one for others).

"Hindu" is the same way. Some people will associate that with radicals. Others will associate it with unfortunate news stories. And others, like me, are proud to be Hindu and associate it with the highest calling and purpose in life.

No one owns the word.Which is a shame in some ways and a good thing in other ways!


  1. The longer I live in this world, the less I see religious labels as a 'privilege' and more an 'identifier' - and yes, they have good and bad connotations both.

    I have many thoughts on this subject that I am a bit hesitant to share online, but it all boils down to the fact that our identifiers do not define us for ourselves, but they define us for other people. They are to alert people as to how to interact with us. This is true in all societies; the merits of it can be argued over a drink of your choice ;)

    Think about it. Who calls themselves a hipster? Hardly anyone. Other people call them that. But hipsters just are hipsters. They do hipster things. They ride fixies, grow neckbeards, wear vintage clothing, and listen to obscure music not because they are hipsters, but because they like those things and their friends also do the same thing. But the label 'hipster' is given to them by others. They would probably vehemently deny being hipsters if asked :)

    Same thing with Hindu. I don't see that it is necessarily a mark of pride or privilege to call or be called Hindu. It can be, I suppose, in certain situations but it always comes in opposition to something else - Muslim? Christian? Culture-less American? Using labels in such a fashion I think tends toward an undeserved pride and has served to cause all kinds of communal tensions and violence over the centuries...

    1. I think you're very right that labels are more something that others attach to us.

      I can see the danger is taking too much pride in one's label. It can be used to divide rather than to unite. And I'm all about unity!

  2. This is a really good post. I like the way you put it into perspective. There has been talk lately in the pardesi community as to who can and can't call themselves Hindu and why. I like the way you express it. This holds true with any religion and ultimately no one has the right to judge others, their position, their choices or their rights. I think your post sums that up quite well.

  3. Thank you for putting to words something I've felt for a while now but couldn't express. Thank you! Namaste. _/\_

  4. I always get confused with such posts. because it doesn't make much sense. Nor does it match what I've seen (attitude of Hindu-by-birth towards Hindu-by-choice)

    I truly hope such reactions you speak of are mere exceptions.

    1. You know, they probably are. I will say that I get it more on the Internet than in real life. I think in real life people are able to see the sincerity of my belief.