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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Working on a New Book

New reader, Suzanne, had a wonderful suggestion in one of the comments. She is new to Hinduism and feeling a little overwhelmed about where to begin this journey. She said she'd like to see some classes for converts. What a brilliant thought!

My mind has been churning on that and I've come up with the idea that I will write a book called A Class for Converts: Beginning Your Journey in Hinduism.

It will, of course, talk about how "convert" is not necessarily the right term for someone becoming a Hindu and how Hinduism is more a way of life and less a religion and about how there is no central authority. But it will also give information about different branches and organizations and options.

Here's the outline that I'm thinking of so far...

Part One
The real basics--principles and ideas
The variety of Hindu beliefs and practices
The three paths and some questions to help you figure out which you are
A good first step depending on the path
How to find a worship community
How to visit a temple for the first time
Setting up a sacred space at home
Do you need to undergo a ritual to be a Hindu?
How to learn more

Part Two
Essays on issues that might be unique to "converts":
-Family issues (talking to your parents or your spouse about this)
-Do I need a caste?
-Some of Hinduism's negative history (I think it's important for people to understand that no religion is perfect and there are people who have behaved badly no matter what religion they claim to follow. Converts should not come to Hinduism because it's "all about love and peace, man. It's not consumerist like the west." People need to see the positive and the negative and make an informed decision).
-What makes Buddhism and Hinduism different?
ETA: -Being a Hindu in the workplace and other social situations (still pondering this one)

Part Three
Debates. I will take sticky issues that I've wrestled with here and provide both sides, an essay for both the yes side and the no side.
-Should you take Indian culture along with an Indian religion?
-Do you need to be a vegetarian to be a Hindu?
-Was Gandhi the perfect man or did he hurt India's future?
-Can you wear Indian clothes?
ETA: -How should I deal with Christmas or other holidays of my native religion?


(Definitely the books from Himalayan Academy)

What other issues would you like to see addressed? (Some of these are extremely emotional issues, so please try not to argue in the comments about them. As I said, I will present both sides. In the end, it's very important for us all to remember that our experience is our own experience and none of us can speak for how every Hindu feels about something).


  1. I think this is great. I think that in the debate section you could ask myownashram to contribute something on whether being a Hindu is exclusive or can be incorporated into other beliefs such as Wicca and Paganism.

    Also, I am wondering about your three paths. I think that traditionally there are four (Vaishnava, Saiva, Shakti, and Smarta) but you could also add neo-Hinduism (or Hindu reform movements). Sometimes there is overlap between paths, and some groups are hard to pin down to one or the other (is Lingyatism Saiva, Hindu reform, or even non-Hindu)

    1. Ooo, I like the idea.

      For paths, I was talking about devotion, study, action. I will definitely talk about branches too, though!

      Thanks for the resources :)

    2. Of course the paths depend on the branches to some extent too.

  2. 1) One Chapter about Common Misconceptions and Misunderstanding About Hinduism?

    2) However regarding the issue facing thing I believe you should not Write about the negative comments written in your blog posts as there are good number of chances they are written by some Missionary guys to defame hinduism....they are very active in this.However I really want to hear the issues which Westener Hindu face in their real life..Like at their workPlace, problems they face doing their hindu practices etc.

    3) I have seen many blogs of Western Hindus but when they mention the sections of Hinduism they never mention AryaSamajis(However a large number of Hindus are affilated to them).

    More if you need some vedas related authentic articles with backing of Vedas/Upnashids texts you can also consider this link .However this is just for read for more understanding...

    1. Don't worry, I'm not taking comments from here as authority! :)

      I'm surprised Arya Samaji haven't been mentioned much. I looked at their information a while back. I'll definitely include them.

      I like the idea of dealing with work life.

    2. Thanks Ambaa ,

      Wishing you best of luck for this Noble work.

      Parmatma aapko shakti de.aap yeh karya pura kar payee.


  3. Oh, wow :) I'm so happy to see I inspired you in something!!!

    Honestly, when I made that request, it was because I find it hard to know what to /do/. I know what Christians do - go to church on Sunday, celebrate Easter, Christmas, read the bible, ten commandments... But it's hard to know what to DO as someone trying to be a Hindu, especially with the nearest Temple being an hour and thirty minutes away from me.

    It's also difficult because Hinduism, being the way it is structured and with no head authority (which is good and bad), does not have just a list of things that you should do, like the Christian ten commandments, Islamic pillar's of faith, and the Buddhist 5 fold path. Yes, it's an easy way out to have a short check list, but it's also a great place to start!

    Another thing that's throwing me for a loop (and actually is why I came to your blog to day, to see if you said anything on it) is the Vedas. Do I read the Vedas? Can I read them in English? I see a lot of people trying to learn Sanskrit to read them. Are the Vedas necessary? Can I just read the Bhagavad gita? (someone told me this is like the essential Vedas...Of course I can't judge that for myself)

    This is just my really jumbled list of things I wish I could have answered. :) I would love to buy such a book from you, and wish you lots of luck on writing it! Hopefully people other than me will find it inspiring and can share it with friends/family if they have growing interest as well.

    1. :)

      I would start with the Gita. It is simpler and easier to understand, but it would be good to have someone guiding you through it.

      Perhaps there is a college nearby with an eastern studies department? A professor there might be able to help you.

      I can also recommend Eknath Easwaran's translation of the Gita. He does it with his commentary, which is very good.

      As a Hindu you can worship at home, but it would be better to have a community. Perhaps try looking on for local events (Navaratri and Divali are coming up and there may be things happening closer than the hour and a half away).

      I'll keep thinking about it and see if I can think of any other advice! :)

    2. Oh, and I also recommend this book:

      It's called Dancing with Shiva and it's enormous, but you can read one page a day (it's divided up that way, one page per essay). It was very influential for me when I found it in a library some fifteen years ago!

    3. Hello Suzzane. You may want to check out my website - Lots of information here. However, I would suggest you pick up a good translation of the Upanishads before you start reading the Gita.

  4. I've skimmed through Dancing with Siva and the other book from that publisher, Being a (Better) Hindu. I've also read the Gita and looove it. The translation I have seems to be pretty good, but I may get another one for comparison.

    I live in rural Iowa, so it's very likely there isn't anything closer than an hour and a half, unfortunately :( But I will check out the site you mentioned, thank you so much for your suggestions.

  5. I am unbelievably excited! If contributions of any sort are ever needed, I would be most blessed to assist in this amazing endeavor, in any way possible!

    1. That would be pretty cool! I'll have to see if I can find a good way to include essays from other people too.

  6. Hi! I just came across your blog. :) I wasn't sure if whites can become a Hindu. :) Now I'm glad they can. I think a book explaining Hinduism would be a great day along with the terminology too. I had joined a Hindu forum and when people welcomed me and answered my questions, they used words that I was unfamiliar with and didn't translate. Anyway, good idea!

    1. Wonderful!

      I'm putting in a glossary! :)