Sunday, April 30, 2006

Can one convert to Hinduism

"Can one convert to Hinduism?" or "How does one become a Hindu" is a very common question many foriegners ask.

In previous times the idea of conversion to Hinduism was absent in religion because the idea of a restricted group of Hindus itself was not there.

There were only ideological conversions which used to happen on the basis of a debate, the loser converts to the winning side, like those between Advaitins, Buddhists, Vaishnavites etc. Anyhow neither was there any formal idea of a restricted group present, nor was there a defined idea of conversion. It was just like you read relativity and nolonger subscribing to classical mechanics as true.... you can call that a conversion if you want.

But in due time, things reached ridiculous levels and ppl started to deny right to conversion to Hinduism. Ever though why the Hindus who were forced to convert never tried to reconvert? Just think an invader comes and forcibly converted some hindus into some other religion. Now the Hindus at that time knew that they were converted forcibly, so what stopped them from coming back the moment the invader is gone? It was this mental block against reconversion. For example, during the Goa inquisition, Portuguese used to throw beef into village wells. If some Hindu drinks that water, the rest of the Hindu society used to throw him out. He was left with no other option but to convert.

But in later times many Hindu thinkers felt the need to introduce the idea of conversion. This is the best part of Hinduism.. its dynamic nature. It never shies away from recognizing its mistakes and correcting them. To my knowledge in the modern times Swami Dayananda was the first to introduce it. Swami Shraddhananda actively converted many Muslims to Hinduism in 1920's.

Anyhow he did not call it conversion, but called it re-conversion or ghar vaapsi of converted Hindus back to Hinduism. And he was right to an extent, coz there are only two types of religious groups in India - Hindus and ex-Hindus. He thus named it Shuddhi

It has to be kept in mind that principles are more important that the name tag of religion one carries. So if one is really interested in Hindu way of life and calls himself a Hindu, he readily becomes a Hindu. For example, our Kalam is a better Hindu than many Hindus in my view.

There are no formal need of any ritual or declaration. Anyhow these “suddhi” type of things were designed keeping the masses in view. If you tell a normal villager, “instead of identifying yourself with a different religion from today, call yourself a Hindu, you will become a hindu” he will not be satisfied and he wants to see something concrete to do. So instead frame a simple puja, make him perform it and then tell him he is a Hindu now coz he has performed this puja; he will be satisfied.

In the present days too conversion to Hinduism is an accepted idea and there are many Hindu organizations which do that. Anyhow unlike Missionaries, the change of “name tag of religion” is not their aim. Instead they try to spread the ideas of Hindu ethos, without bothering abt what religion he formally belongs to. The greatest example of this phenomenon can be observed in US. There are LOTs of Yoga seekers in US. But anyhow the Hindus restrict to teaching the principles of the Yoga/Meditation instead of telling them “you have to become a Hindu, only then holy lord will save you.”

In conclusion I will quote another member on Orkut who has put it wonderfully:

how do i become a singer? - sing songs
how do i become a cricketer? - play cricket
how do i become a hindu? - practice hinduism......

9 Comments:

Blogger Ether Dreams said...

interesting.. thanks for posting

8:37 AM  
Blogger tarik said...

this is a good site

10:55 AM  
Blogger ammaachan said...

Very well written. Since Hinduism is essentially a CULTURE and not an organized religion like ISLAM or CHRISTIANITY, conversion to Hinduism is a very difficult topic to deal with.

www.amiahindu.com

5:52 PM  
Blogger ammaachan said...

Very well written. Since Hinduism is essentially a CULTURE and not an organized religion like ISLAM or CHRISTIANITY, conversion to Hinduism is a very difficult topic to deal with.

www.amiahindu.com

5:52 PM  
Blogger ammaachan said...

Very well written. Since Hinduism is essentially a CULTURE and not an organized religion like ISLAM or CHRISTIANITY, conversion to Hinduism is a very difficult topic to deal with.

www.amiahindu.com

5:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very well written.We need more writers like you in the mainstream to spread the good of Hinduism (Santana Dharma).Our so called secular has only worked to protect "foreign" minorities at the cost of our Indian religion.

7:52 AM  
Blogger Siva siddhi said...

Conversion is Sin.If you change the path given by the God to you, you had to answer when He question you

10:01 PM  
Blogger Siva siddhi said...

Did you choose your religion, choose your parent? It is His Choice, not us. Who are we to change His will?

10:06 PM  
Blogger Sobhan Nair said...

Good article...I would like to respond to ammaachan and siva siddhi...
One gets to see this tag line everywhere..'Hinduism is not a religion, it's a way of life' and now 'culture'.
Please understand that Hinduism is far beyond that. It's a philosophy, a way of life, a religion with rituals, spiritualism, tantric, universalism..
Your soul/aatma does not have a religion
Of course you can't choose your parents unless you're an advanced soul(based on your good deeds/karma in the previous birth), then you may choose your parents if you have been a pious and good human in your previous birth
Why always speak about conversion...that does not matter here...what matters is realization..realization of the supreme soul para Brahman
When one sees Hinduism as just a religion with rituals, then you can talk about conversion but if one sees the philosophy and the spiritualism in Hinduism, then it's realization that's taking place...your soul is just eager to find the truth...
SATYAME JAYAM

10:29 AM  

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