Can a Westerner convert to Hinduism?

This post is really a summary of points made in various other posts. I have put it together becaus this is a question I often see asked in various forums. Also, it has been a while since I published anything, as I have been rather busy recently. This is also a question to which you will see several different answers, and I think it is useful to put them together in one post.

Some people say “No”.

There are a few people who say that you should never convert; whatever religion you are born into should be yours for life. I think that this is incorrect, if you have a strong feeling towards a religion and you feel that the religion you are born into is not for you then follow the path that you feel guided on. Hindus believe that people can be guided by gurus that are not physically present (see my post “Books, Leaves and Gurus“). If you are convinced that a path is right for you, and have seen signs that it is right then don’t worry about this argument. This argument also does not take into account people brought up with patently wrong beliefs; should the children that survived the Waco seige continue to follow the teachings of David Koresh?

I have had nothing but support from Hindus I have met, I have only read this point of view on a few blogs. I would not worry about conversion being opposed. As mentioned later there are many Hindu schools that openly accept conversion and have a process of accepting new membes.

Some say that “Hindu” does not refer to a Religion.

Some people may quibble that Hindu refers to origin (People beyond the river Indus) rather than belief. They say that you can follow Sanatana Dharma (The eternal way) but this will not make you a Hindu any more than if you joining the Greek Orthodox Church would make you Greek. To me this is just word play, many words have changed from their original meaning and certainly in English the word “Hindu” is used to refer to belief. If someone insists that you can only be a follower of Sanatana Dharma and not a Hindu I don’t think it is worth arguing over, it is only a word and what is important is belief and practice.

Some say “Just say you are a Hindu and you are”.

Other people say that you don’t have to convert, just follow Sanatana Dharma. All you have to do to become a Hindu is to follow the principles of Hinduism. If that is sufficient for you then fine. I certainly would not argue with anyone claiming to be a Hindu who held Hindu beliefs and followed the practices.

Some say “Become a Hindu Indirectly”.

Another answer that you might get is that becoming a Hindu is analogous to becoming a European citizen. You cannot become a European citizen directly, but by becoming a citizen of one of the European countries you are automatically a European citizen. Similarly there is no process or admission into “Hinduism”, but there are many Hindu Sampradayas, organisations, and traditions that do have processes of admission. By joining one of these one becomes not only a member of the particular tradition but also become a Hindu. Personally I think this is better than the “self declared” route, because the tradition will assist you in learning and following practices.

I would recommend the book “How to become a (better) Hindu”  available online or to buy. This book takes the third point of view and describes the various Hindu schools and their beliefs.

145 responses to “Can a Westerner convert to Hinduism?

  1. I think that this is incorrect, if you have a strong feeling towards a religion and you feel that the religion you are born into is not for you then follow the path that you feel guided on.

    What would you say to someone who converts or has converted for material gains?

    And those who convert simply out of fear – (sometimes even for their life) are they truly converted?

    Would you agree, many of our world’s problems have been created because there are options in certain religions to go out and convert.

    On the other hand – if no religion believed or practiced conversions – individuals would have had to live together and not fight / kill / slaughter on grounds of religion.

    Think of the number of battles fought, number of people killed as a result of this practice.

  2. Hi Littleindian, you have some interesting points. If someone converts because of bribes or threats then that conversion is essentially worthless.

    This is the major difference between Eastern Religions (such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism) and “Western/Middle Eastern” religions such as Christianity and Islam. We believe that what coiunts is what you do, and how pure your soul is. We are quite prepared to believe that a good spiritual person following a different path can advance spiritually. Similarly, if someone is a Hindu but is constantly lying, stealing drinking, etc. we know that they are not advanced.

    Christians and Muslims see things differently, all that counts there is conversion. A lying, stealing drinking Christian is saved but a good Hindu is not. This means that any conversion is worthwhile to them. To some Christians if you threaten someone’s life and they convert you have actually done them a favour. It also means that Christians and Muslims cant take the wider view of the costs.

    Christian Missionaries will convert people and then tell them that they must hate their unconverted family and friends. They are encouraged to verbally abuse other beliefs, and in some well documented cases to burn down temples and pull down centuries old shrines. These Christians believe that if they cause disruption that results in 1000 people being killed it is worthwhile if it gains one convert.

    To be fair most Christians that you meet in Britain don’t have this attitude. In fact the extremist missionaries take great lengths to lie to their own fundrasers too. Some people who donate to these causes imagine that the missionaries behave like those in the west – going from door to door and leaving with a smile if someone says no thank you.

    I believe that religions should not make an effort to convert people. They should just have information available for those who want to find out more. There have been many movements that have spread peacefully in this way – within Hinduism the BAPS Swaminarayan is a good example. Buddhism too spread without violent conversion or attempts to bribe others.

    Perhaps Christians and Muslims should look into their hearts and see if they really believe that this is what God wants. They may find that spiritual advancement is more important than increasing numbers also.

  3. The Bible actually says that Christians who go on lying and otherwise sinning are not saved. Lots of people don’t read the whole thing, though. Verses essentially stating just that can be found at http://www.myspace.com/benfremer

  4. Hi thread, I do not have much to add, altough I just wondered, if my land was forced hundreds of years ago to change my god, my religion to christianity. Does this mean I should follow that?? The country I am refering to is the Ireland, where we used to beleive in the same gods as the Hindus do today.

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  6. Hello all,

    I am very interested in this lovely Dharma. What would you recommend someone who is wanting to learn more about the faith. In particular I am attracted to Lord Shiva and Lord Ganesha.

    Thanks
    -Juan

    • Juan,
      I would unreservedly recommend that you look at the Himalayan Academy Master Course, which can be studied unofficially from the free online books or officially by buying the books and enrolling. This course covers all aspects of Hinduism, but particularly Shaivite Hinduism, where Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha and Lord Murugan (Kartikaya) are worshipped annd are central to dharma.
      Aum Namah Shivaya
      Chris

    • Hello. I suggest you can read the stories related to these gods.

  7. no you cant. white/black/mongoloid whatever you are you can never ‘convert’ to hinduism. there is no possibility of that. in the most ancient texts in the hindu cannon it states you must be born hindu to be hindu. caste system et al. in ancient india any non hindu/indian was considered a mleccha”barbarian” white people made a lot of lies about hindus also, like the aryan invasion and that vedas were brought by aryans, all proven false. they made up that the caste system was imposed by outsiders…false….

    in short don’t bother trying to be like us, dharmic religions won’t accept you as a true member of their society…and it’s in the vedas as well…

    • Thank you for your reply. First I should say that following Sanatana Dharma is not primarily about fitting in with a community, it is about your relationship with God. Obviously being accepted and instructed by others makes things easier, but it should not be the primary concern.

      I have to say that my experience has been the opposite of what you say, I have been accepted by many people. In fact some of them clearly forget that I am not Indian at times and I have to remind them that I can’t understand very much in Hindi! This appears also to be the experience of many other westerners adopting Hinduism. One such person says in Yahoo answers:

      I am a convert to Hinduism. I’m very pale, of European background. I am absolutely never looked at with any suspicion when I go to my Temple, which is the Sri Venkateshwara Temple in Pittsburgh, PA, in the US. This particular temple rarely has anyone attending except for Indians. So you would think I would stand out and be stared at, but it has never been the case.

      I am accepted totally by every Hindu I’ve come to know. They know that I am sincere, and besides that, Hindus are so tolerant of all religions that they would not mind me going to their temple, even if I wasn’t a Hindu (so long as I was not there to cause disruption or try to proselytize). This is not the case in all temples in India or Nepal however, where some temples refuse entry to “Non-Hindus.” Those temples tend to prohibit Hindu converts because they don’t seem to be able to fathom the idea of a non-Indian Hindu. And to give them the benefit of the doubt, their refusal to allow non-Hindus is probably due to past experiences with Christians or Muslims entering in order to cause a scene of some sort.

      Anyway, back to the subject….in America or Europe, you will most likely be totally embraced. It’s kind of funny – one of my Indian friends goes to a Temple where about 50% of the attendants are of European background. And yet I – a white person – go to a temple where 99% are Indians.

      I honestly don’t think you’ll encounter any trouble at all.

      Another answer says:

      Speaking as a Hindu who does meets white people at Temples, you’d be most welcome. You wont have any problems at all and there will be people who’ll be willing to answer and help you out in any way they can.

      Obviously there will be people who don’t accept very quickly and maybe not at all. I can see from your IP address that you are in Houston, Texas, and I am sure that you as an Indian have found that some people are immediately welcoming and others do not readily accept anyone different. Someone once made a very astute observation that the people who accept Westerners in temples most readily seem to be the ones who go there for the spiritual meaning, to meditate, receive blessing and have darshan with the Gods. Others see it as a cultural haven, somewhere primarily to be with other Indians and they are naturally suspicious at first and maybe even resentful of others attending. I have found that with time, and showing respect, even these people can become accepting.

      Namaste
      Chris

      • hello chris,

        i am located in las vegas but am only in houston for a few weeks. i see non indian people here at temple but they aren’t necessarily acknowledged as hindus. go to any temple you’ll see visitors, but there are certain temples where non indians cannot get in.

        if you choose to accept hinduism i say good on you mate, but educate yourself before someone who doesn’t understand sees you as a poser and does something unfavorable.

        just trying to help you.

        hope you luck in your future

        santosh

        • Thank you Santosh,
          I am aware that some temples in India don’t permit non Indians to enter, but I have been in a few temples in the UK and I have always been welcomed. I have also found that every westerner I have talked to feels the same. If anyone ever does anything unfavourable I’ll post about that too, but from what I have seen it is unlikely.
          Chris

    • Santosh,

      With all due respect, please get over yourself.

      In the global marketplace of ideas, Hinduism is out there along with Christianity and Islam and Buddhism and the like, and people will stop by and try it on for size, whether you personally like it or not. You can’t take Hinduism back to India now, too late.

      I came to Hinduism through marriage. If I had not married a Hindu, I would never have considered embracing it, mostly because of attitudes like yours.

      So here I am and here you are. You are entitled to strong opinions and you have every right to voice them, but guess what, so do I.

      I have no intention of being like “you”. I do not care if I am accepted by “you”. I’ll find my own way in this religion, and call out nastiness and racism when I see it.

      You want to consider me a “false”, pretend Hindu? Please do. Because I can do the same. As far as I know, there is no Hindu pope who makes the final decisions on who is a real Hindu and who is a false Hindu.

      Western Hindus are here, like it or not. The genie, so to speak, is out of the bottle.

      • Dear Chris, Christina, John & Others,

        Firstly I apologize for what Santosh had to say. As an ‘orthodox’/practising Hindu, I can assure you that majority of Hindus wouldn’t feel what Santosh feels. (Given the anonymity of Internet, I am suspicious of his real identity itself, but that is a different issue)

        As a scriptural pointer, the shloka 13.28 of The Bhagavad Gita springs to my mind.”One who sees the Supersoul in all living beings…..”. Look at ‘all living beings…’…This is the Universality that Vedic way of life believes in.

        As a practical pointer, Chris – you have your own experiences in a Hindu temple to speak of. Or for a more generalized example, look at the experiences of devotees in Hindu organizations with branches in the West – like ISKCON or Puttaparthi SaiBaba. You will find a great number of devotees of non-Indian origin on the path of seeking the Truth.
        Santosh’s bluff is immediately called if anyone looks at these instances.

        Santosh – You say “…and it’s in the vedas as well…”.
        Care to tell me which Veda/Mandala/Sukta is this from? I would very well like to know what you base your interpretations on.

      • In continuation of my above post, here is a link where somebody else (an Indian Hindu, with id ‘Lakshmi USA’) tries to explain basic Hindu customs to a Western Hindu. I don’t find any ‘resentment’ in her tone, just welcoming a newcomer to the True Path.

        http://www.hindunet.com/forum/showflat.php?Cat=&Number=62058&page=0&view=collapsed&sb=5&o=&fpart=1
        [Link fixed by Chris]

      • Hi,Hinduism is all about tolerance and non violence….It accepts all faiths and tradition…It also accepts atheist and agnotics as well….who questions God existence..its all about the absolute freedom……

    • random variable

      during ancient times word hindu not even existed .
      so u will never see a an ancient hindu text with a word hindu.
      hindu word was given to hindus by persians & it referred to people of india(hindustan/hindu=indu(s))
      ancient times whole world practiced todays so called hinduism.
      again hinduism is not a religion in modern(westrn/abrahamic) sense
      its just the way of life

    • @Santosh

      And who are you to decide who can follow Hinduism and who cannot?
      Let the dharma,sages and gurus decide about it.

    • Juliette Vinetta

      [in reply to Santosh]
      If Hindus are all like you, why would any thinking, sensitive person ever WANT to convert? [Tandava: personal insult removed].

    • Jai Mata to all, I converted to Hinduism about 2 years ago and went through all the required rituals. Panditji prepared my chart, read it, gave me my name and intiated me into the Gayatri and Navarna Mantras. Here is my opinion on conversion and PLEASE bear in mind I`m VERY new to the Dharma. The European people are probably descendants of indian people,in fact Linda Johansen writes in her Idiots guide to Hinduism, that 4 Aryan tribes emigrated from india to Europe as per the Rig-Veda. Now I`m only para-phrasing not quoting and I`m certainly no VEDIC scholar!!! Indian people are caucasian whether they like it or not. Sorry Santosh!!! Europeans and Indians are intimately connected, racially, culturally(though to a lesser extent) and SPIRITUALLY!!!! The Aryan race which includes ALL Indo-European peoples originated in India. Converting to Hinduism was like coming home 4 me. I practiced and still practice European Neo-paganism to honor my culture and my ancestors and Hinduism not only does`nt interfere with that it ENHANCES it greatly by filling in all the blanks in Neo-paganism. Why would that be? Because the ancient Europeans are Aryan as are Indians and we practiced an almost IDENTICAL religion b4 the rise of Christianity and islam. Now, I`m very fortunate in that the cheif preist at my Mandir, Panditji Shukla is a very well educated and youngish- kinda guy. I`ve had mixed experiences at the Mandir 99% of the other devotees pretty much ignore me and some are actually pleasent and a small majority have truly embraced me and welcomed me. Bear in mind that I am pretty much the ONLY non-indian that attends Mandir regularly. A small percentage unfortunately including a preist, who was subsaquently asked to resign, are overtly HOSTILE!! My philosophy is that I go to Mandir for one reason: to be with Divine Mother and to give her worship. I don`t particulairly care who calls me “Mleccha”, they can kiss my beautiful white ass LOL!!! This is America and if u don`t want “Mleccha`s” in ur temple then by all means: GO BACK TO THE POVERTY OF INDIA!!!!! I am firecly proud of my European and most of all American heritage and am not trying to be a wanna-be indian. I suspect that most westerners feel this way as well. We are looking 4 out true religion to enhance out heritage. So if ur going to Mandir expecting to be embraced by the indian community ur outta luck. But if u go 4 the reason ur supposed to: to be with GOD, then you WILL have a wondeful experience. I hope I have`nt offended anyone by my post and please excuse the length of the post. Namaste Vindheshwari Prasad

      • Vindheshwari everything you wrote was good and informative but in my personal opinion you should not have said GO BACK TO POVERTY OF INDIA, if you are following or trying to follow Homduism then you should remember that Hinduism teaches tolerance,patience and to respect each other. I am an Indian and I am proud about that and as far as poverty is concerned it is everywhere including America too, no offrnse

    • I really doubt you are Hindu or you have ever practiced Hinduism. Hinduism accepts everybody no matter from which faith. In few cases people in India might be curious to find someone from West in temple, because this is something all new for many of them and there are Historical reasons. Hiduism has been on target for thousands of years both by Christians and Muslims. That sceptisim might be there in few cases. Hinduism never differentiate between one faith and other, this faith is for human and not just for Hindu, I would be very happy to see if anybody can figure out a text from scripture which says, only Hindus will be saved and not others. Anybody no matter from which faith doing good karma will get good returns in this and next lives. In Europe and Americas people are already started knowing about Hinduism and its rich philosophy which is complete in all respects. Things are changing very fast and few cases you might be pointing out will be past just in few years.

    • And who are YOU to tell who can or cannot become Hindu?!? I do not recall you being in charge!

      Of course a person can become Hindu, if they so much desire to! By living with and following Hindu teachings, following Hindu rituals and protocols, one is alreasy a Hindu.

  8. Hi, I have a strong connection with the Hindu path, I have started the master course of the Himalayan academy. This week an Indian friend of mine took me to our local Vedic temple here in the UK, I was greeted with warm smiles, The Priest spoke to me, and said that I was very welcome, and please come and worship any time,The priest then gave me a copy of the arti service,a translation into English, so I am going to practice this, this week.
    Because i am British and white, I stood out a bit, but the welcome was one of acceptance and friendship. Many thanks, John.

    • Namaste John,
      Its nice to hear of your positive experience. The more people who write about the way that Hindus are accepting of people from all nationalities the better! Are you following the master course officially? If you are there is an online group for students that I find very interesting and supportive.
      Chris

      • Hi Chris,I am not starting the master course officially, but will do shortly, The books arrived just a few days ago, and I will sign up via email this week some time. I have been invited to Bhajan this evening at the Vedic temple, I’m really looking forward to it 🙂 speak soon, all the best,John.

  9. hi chris,
    I’m from India and am born a hindu, although not really an orthodox one. My father is an aethist…nyways…but I have felt the presence of God (particularly Lord Shiva) in my life. Although I am a Hindu, I really don’t know much about the scriptures. But I do know something about the Upanishads and about the preachings of Swami Vivekananda. (Do read some of Swami Vivekananda’s lectures that he had delivered in Chicago in the 19th century to have a clear perspective of Hinduisim as a religion, as a faith or most importantly as a “PHILOSOPHY”.) Chris, Hinduism or Sanatan Dharma is not really a religion…it is a philosophy that trancends everything…It speaks of only one truth – Brahma…that we are not bodies but souls…that our true destiny is finally to attain moksha or become Godlike…that is to merge with Bramha….that all the physical toils that we are undergoing are nothing but ways and means to cleanse our respective souls from all materialistic attachments…We talk about 1 crore Gods yet our ancient scriptures (esp. Upanishads) keep repeating that it is the Brahman who keeps manifesting himself in different forms, be it devine or be it human…anything what so ever… I am an Indian, a born Hindu…yet I tell you that I don’t have any relegion….I follow only one of the core philosophies of the Hindu/Sanatan Dharma…and my spiritual guide/guru/angel in this path of understanding this philosophy is Lord Shiva…and the only prayer/mantra I say front of any God of my faith or other faiths is Om Namah Shivayam…it is not that i don’t accept other faiths…but it is just that I find solace in this prayer and in every other diety I see the reflection of my Lord Shiva…
    I just wanted to share this thought with you just to agree with your views that one doesn’t have to be born in a particular faith to practice it…just beleiving in its core philosophies and finding solace in them is enough!

    OM NAMAH SHIVAYAM

  10. Hi Chris,

    Nice to see all the comments fair. The greater view is that any one who believes in Vedas are Hindus. Any one who has belief in nature, tolerance and absolute existence of non existence will be Hindu. The inner philosophy is more complex but vitally educate you to address nature’s supremacy and finally your role in nature. Just I have pointed the essence of upanishads. Feel free to be in nature nourished by philosophy of age old sages common to all but unfortunately evaded from the western soil due to growing so called organized religions.
    Hari

  11. I find people like Santosh who insist one must be born Hindu are very ignorant, especially when they toss off a comment like “its in the vedas” without any reference. My father was from Scotland and my mother was from Rajasthan India, so I am half Indian, although I am very fair skinned with blonde hair and blue eyes. I have done my masters and doctorate studies in comparative religion, theology and indology studies. I have served as a pujari and a temple manager in some of the largest mandirs in the US. I have never been turned ostracized because I do not look Indian. In fact, I am a well known and respected leader in the Hindu Community in America. In India, I was always welcomed in the Hindu Community and was never viewed with suspiscion of any kind. In all my life, I have only been denied entry into ONE temple – Jagganath in Puri. But then, that temple has a history of denying entry to a lot of Indian Hindus as well. The fact is, the Vedic religion once covered the earth and people of all races have been a part of the Vedic community at one time or another.

    • Dr. Shivadas,

      Your words were a comfort to read. I am half Christian and half Jewish by birth, dark hair but fair skinned. Of late, more people, Indian and Western, ask curiously if I am part Indian, though I am European. I adopted my husband’s Hindu religion when we were married, as my ties to my own religion(s) was/were tenuous at best.

      Then we traveled to an important temple town in south India, and I was not allowed to enter. The priests at two of the temples flatly told me that I am not Hindu and I had better wait outside. (I was wearing a sari, a bindi, and a mangal sutra. No cameras, no shoes, nothing inappropriate) Since then, I have doubted whether I have a place in a religion that does not allow me to enter its sacred sites to offer my prayers.

      I am aware that Jagannath temple will forever be off limts to me, and that, frankly, rankles. I have entered other temples, but only, I fear, through the fast-talking of my Indian in-laws.

      Clearly other races have embraced Hinduism over the ages: the Nepalis, the Balinese, and likely other southeast Asian peoples who now embrace other faiths. What is their status? Are they considered non-Hindu because they are not Indian?

      I am not expecting the red-carpet treatment, I don’t expect to be showered with rose petals wherever I show up. All I want is to pray and commune with the sacred for a few brief moments. But have lingering doubts about my ability to do that as a Hindu.

      Your thoughts, Dr. Shivadas, eased some of my doubts.

      • Dear Christina,

        A True Hindu finds God in his/her heart and not in temples and other places.
        Few pujaris who perform such acts need to be removed from those places of worship.
        The problem is NO AUTHORITY to govern them.

        If you would have asked for help from other Hindus at the same temple, i am sure that 99% people might have fought with the pujaris to let u do darshan.

        Dont be angry and sad about this one incident.

        Cheers!

      • Christina,

        Forget about Puri and other temples. In fact, Hinduism does not require you to go to temples! Temples were never built in ancient times but became symbol of religious activities only during Kaliyuga. If you read Vedas, Ramayana, Mahabharatha, you will not find any mention of temples.

        There are 1000s of other other temples and religious centers that open heartedly welcome you regardless of your background or ethnicity. ISKCON, Swami Narayana Temples are some examples.

        But most importantly, a Hindu or a Sanathana Dharma follower has his greatest temple in Atman. Hopefully you have read the Complete works of Vivekananda. It is available online for free. [http://vivekananda.net/Library.html]

        And then, there are 100s of Westerners and non-Indians that are priests all around the world. So, do not give any attention to all those narrow-minded people/institutions. Take your own path and it comes the highway!

  12. Hi
    Many traditional,[ancient]temples do not allow westerners or non-believers..Mostly westerners because of the distinctive colouring ,are stopped while Indian muslims/Christians ,if they don’t sport their religion very obviously[like the skullcap/hijab,or the cross/religious clothes]are not stopped.While this is a practice that needs to be stopped,the cause of this was the ridicule and damage suffered by Hindus,which were manifested through destruction of temples.Further ,I think it is to stop the curiosity[towards the exotic] of the Traveller who used to photograph the deities[especially the Moolavar/main Deity [that was not allowed till the end of the last century] to be the reasons for that.The main reason is they did not want their God [many have a personal relationship with their Family deity.].to be abused in anyway.

  13. I am a Hindu by birth and one of the most interesting aspects of Hindus is that the factor of converts has never been seriously thought about. At least, as far as the Hinduism I know about, it preaches equality among all living beings (the founding reason for vegetarianism). Someone might claim that Hindus eat meat but then those are the influences that were brought in by the invaders.

    The point is, even in South India where I am from, we have never frowned or looked down any non-Hindus when they attend temple. However, for the purpose of sanctity, personal hygiene in terms of a shower (irrespective of an individual’s personal hygiene), non-menstrual and washed clothes (not worn earlier after washing), bare footed are few of the pre-requisites. If someone experiences discrimination of their skin colour, it is very unfortunate and majority of the Hindu society in India (I am sure about my province) would definitely feel offended as if it has happened to them. Well, you will never hear of a propaganda or invitation to embrace Hinduism, however, fundamentally we believe in collective prayers and where does the colour of the skin come into the picture. The only fact which could put off a Hindu would be seeing someone using left hand to receive /eat prasadam (holy food) and looking very dirty, western dressed (exposing) etc., As long as these points are taken care of, anyone and everyone is most welcome.

    The interesting fact is, you should not expect intellectual answers to your questions about Hinduism- it is not many would not want to answer, it is only most of us (like Santosh) don’t know what Hinduism is really about. Otherwise any other devotees would volunteer to welcome, sometimes too much to digest!!!

    Lastly, it is your faith about an oldest, modest, secular and wonderful religion and you need not even have to think about recognition at all!! Please understand that Hindusim is all about a way of life. If you have had bitter experiences in temples regarding admissions, it is due to some bad apples- be them be temple management and knowing India- it is one among the few rules, just for the sake of having some rules. Otherwise, even the local community would never buy this point of discrimination!!!

    • Sunny,

      Thank you so much for your considered response. I appreciate your sense of welcome and tolerance to those Hindus who are not ethnically Indian.

      It was only in temples in the south where I was firmly told that I was not Hindu and must wait outside. My husband and his family went on inside, had their darshan, and I was obliged to wait outside. I have also heard recently that the Madurai Meenakshi temple has begun barring westerners, which is a sad development as I have gone there with my husband and his family. Perhaps I am wrong about this; I hope so.

      Please understand that all I wanted to do was go and pray and have darshan, like anyone else. I don’t need to take pictures. I know about right hands, right feet, prohibitions on entering temples during menstruation. But becasue I am white, I am automatically a non-believer, and this, I am so sorry to say, is hurtful, and leaves me wondering if I even belong in this faith, and I am coming to the conclusion that perhaps I don’t.

      You are right, that temple worship is not the main thing. But, Sunny, it is an important thing. What do I say when my husband’s darling aunties want to take me to a temple and I know I will not be allowed in? When there is an auspicious day and the entire family goes to the temple to pray,and I am obliged to wait outside on the street? What should be my response when a priest firmly tells me, looking me in the eye, that I am NOT Hindu? That kind of thing does tend to grind down the will to commit to Hinduism over the years.

      I don’t know the answer. There is no answer, I am convinced. Some say yes, white people can be Hindus, others vigorously deny it. As for myself, I feel my attachment to Hinduism waxing and waning, more often waning. It is Diwali tomorrow. I made my husband’s favorite food. I lit diyas outside. My heart wasn’t in it. Why should I fight so hard to be where I am not wanted?

      • Christina,
        For some Hindus the only experience they have of conversion is people trying to convert them, often by unscrupulous means. This means that if you ask them about conversion their first answer will be “no”. Often if you tell them about how you found God through this path, and are following a calling they will understand this. I would think it would be quite rare for a Hindu to suggest that you should not follow your husband’s religion, especially if you feel a calling.

        Some temples have rules which are based on attempts of many Christians to defile the temples, especially in British colonial times when they would go unpunished. Others have taken purity rules to the extreme, in my opinion forgetting the basic teachings that the divine spark of God is within us all. This rule sometimes even apply to Indian born Hindus who have travelled abroad. I think that this will change with time, but as you say there is no answer.

        I have not had this happen to me yet, but I think that when it does I will try to understand it as Karma. Maybe you are meant to tell people about it so that some people will read and consider the meaning of the Vasudhaiva_Kutumbakam, and maybe revise their opinions. Some Sadhus deliberately alienated themselves from society so there was less between them and God, I would try to see it in that way – God is within me without the pujaris and mandir. I know that it would be difficult not to feel rejected, but Hinduism teaches us that this world is a lesson and every happening is an opportunity to learn.

        Could I suggest that if you have not done so already and that it seems appropriate, that you talk to your husband about becoming affiliated with one of the Hindu groups that openly accepts converts. Depending on which lineage you come from there is the Himalayan Academy (Shaivite), BAPS Swaminarayan (Vishnava), Chinmaya Mission (Smarta), and Arya Samaj (Reform). All these groups would be supportive and have members in similar circumstances to you, as well as converts with no family connections to Hinduism(like me).

        There are also groups like ISKCON and Ramacrishnan Mission, where in many of their centres your husband would be in the minority group. In the West you will often find more Western followers than ethnically Indian followers in these organisations.

        Namaste and best wishes,

        Aum Namah Shivaya
        Chris

      • Please also know that in some temples in South related to Lord Kartikeyan(possibly due to some Puranic story), women are not allowed.

        Also in some Lord Hanuman temples.

        Some Puranic story being followed.Dont see it as race,creed,gender discrimination.

      • Hi Christina

        I am in NYC, married to a “white” lady and a Vaishnav.

        I am not going to give you a lengthy explanation trying to explain/absolve the actions of the temple, but suffice it to say that South Indian temples are notorious for such rules/behaviour. I had a raging fight with the priest of the oldest temple in USA, which is a south Indian Ganesh temple in Flushing, Queens, NY and I left cursing, vowing to never enter that temple again. I don’t need a preist to tell me how to pray and I most certainly don’t need a priest to communicate with GOD on my behalf. Besides, my logic is that, there are so many temples in this world, so why bother with one particular temple. Ofcourse, if that’s the temple with the family deity and that’s the temple the family goes to, then tough luck. You go to another temple. GOD won’t get angry with you going to another temple, trust me 🙂 Infact, I am pretty sure, he/she will be pretty happy that you chose not to stand out & pout 🙂 As for the priest who refused you entry, I hope he remembers Karma and what it means. Small solace, huh!

        BTW, I went to another temple which allowed me to do what I wanted and got married there too. The priest there was pretty understanding :). The sad part is, now my wife is a better Hindu than I am 😦

        Cheers

        me

      • Jai Mata Christiana, I`m so sorry 2 hear about ur experiences at the temples in India. I`ve been asked by Indians at the Mandir that I attend, if I`ve ever been to India. I tell them no because I have`nt been there and have NO PLANS TO GO. The reason: exactly because of ur experiences. I HATE racism especially when it is based on PURE IGNORANCE, although I guess it`s all based on that. What these pujari`s or supposed panditas don`t understand is that Europeans and European-Americans are racially identical to Indians!!! It`s AMAZING that every murti of every hindu diety I`ve ever seen has alabaster skin tone but westerners can`t go in2 the temple. U know what eff-em!!!LOL!!! Take ur AMERICAN MONEY elsewhere and they`ll be beggin you to go to the temple LOL!!!! Keep ur head up, Namaste Vindheshwari

  14. Hello Chris,

    That’s the whole point. If you look at yourself as being a convert rather than adapted, there is a likelihood of disappointment. Sounding well informed, you might be well aware of the fact that, unlike migration-friendly developed countries, India does not have the concept of multi (national) culturism. Many of my friends in Britain were in for a surprise when they learnt that I met a white person (apart from seeing tourists in India) only in Britain. This is just not for me but an overall experience for many of my countrymen. Might sound weird or hard to believe, but the truth is many of us are/were prejudiced about westerners, for that matter about any other national from what we had seen in media and telly. I would’nt blame anyone as I could understand from a westerner that when they think/hear about India they possibly could think about slums (as if all Indians should belong to one slum or the other). I am sure that you would strongly disapprove this, having visited and seen India.

    The whole point is, a) It is not the question of you being welcomed or not welcomed – it is only that our eyes are not used to seeing a westerner as a Hindu in India b) It is NOT the fault of the religion, but it is the fault of sociological design c) Religion is extremely personal and I would follow what I want to and I don’t expect endorsements from anyone

    Bottom line is, the denial of entry is a topic to be addressed on a macro level and I am intending to take it up with a News agency in India, whom I know of being a catalyst in most of the revolutionising changes in India.

    Well, the disparity you had experienced is appalling- whatsoever may be the reason and I don’t believe that Hinduism or any other religion would endorse this.

    Happy Diwali!!

  15. Temples which disallow “others” : These people are ignorant and fools.They dont know about Dharma themselves.
    This is seen in some South India temples.
    Visit any North India temple and u will be welcomed by everyone.

    A follower of Sanathana Dharma doesn’t searches for God in temples and places, He/She looks in their own heart to find Lord already residing there!!

  16. Dear Christina,
    First of all I’d like to correct you on one point. Most Nepalis have not ‘adapted’ Hinduism, in fact they either fled from India due to Muslim revolutions or were born Hindus when the border lines between Nepal and India didn’t exist or were blurred. Secondly, it is the unfortunate trait of traditional Hindu ‘priests’ to call anyone of fair skin as ‘not a Hindu’. This selfish belief extends here to Nepal too, where ‘non-Hindus’ are forbidden access from the Pashupatinath Temple, long considered to be the holiest temple of Lord Shiva. But believe me, as a born Hindu I can tell you that these are not the real believers of Hinduism. These priests are people born of an allegedly high caste who were raised by their parents to memorize Vedic scriptures, perform pujas and homs, without any real understanding of Hinduism’s deeper meaning. They suffer from ignorance and xenophobia and they are the send a false image to the world. The real Hindus are the open minded ones, the sages, the ‘sadhu santas’, and those people who have embraced the meaning of Hinduism and its scriptures while ignoring those parts that have been written by selfish ‘pujaris’ for their own gain. If you keep up with recent events in the Hindu community, you would know about the upcoming Gadhimai festival in Nepal when priests plan to set a ‘world record’ by butchering 500000 animals in 48 hours. According to Gadhimai tradition, the priest has a ‘vision’ in which the Devi says that some calamitous event will take place if animals are not brought to her. The priest spreads stories about this and the poor villagers get even poorer, borrowing from the moneylender. The priest and the moneylender encourage this because the priest can resell the meat and earn revenue and the moneylender loans the poor villagers who have been falsely led to believe that bad things will happen if they do not sacrifice animals. This is the dark, false side of Hinduism. If you want to know more about Gadhimai read the following article:
    http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2009/11/03/Oped/Abandon-Gadhimai-killings/1682/index.html
    I highly encourage you to sign the petition against Gadhimai at the following link:
    http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/stop-gadimai.html
    Do not be discouraged by the falsities of some people who claim to be the mouthpiece of Hinduism. Hinduism has been grossly misinterpreted by certain people to meet their own ends, and these are the ones that you must ignore and steer clear of.

  17. As a practicing Brahmin , I am surprised and pained by these “Hindus” who come here and spread misinformation , driven by ignorance and hate, seeking to exclude people on the basis of their ethnicity , which is a complete contradiction to what Hinduism is all about.

    We embrace any one who wants to join us in our beliefs and way of life , irrespective of ethnicity, race etc etc. Hinduism by definition is all inclusive , all that is needed is sincerity.Any westerner who wants to join in our devotion is welcome and it is my pleasure to see such diversity in Hindus. All of you are my brothers and sisters and don’t let people like Santosh deter you, I assure you we are not all like that.

    Peace and happiness to all of you.

  18. Peace. I am an Indian born Hindu. And I have only one thing to say. Hinduism is the only religion in the world that doesn’t object to the existence of other religions. Hinduism gives me peace. I am free to accept the traditions I want to, and reject the one’s I don’t find relevant. Nothing is forced down upon me. The Bhagwad Gita talks about practicing truth, renunciation of wordly pleasures to attain inner peace, meditation, keeping fit, indulging in music and being happy. Is there anything else that makes more sense?

    Being a Hindu, I tell you this – The vedas and upanishads also contain a lot of crap. That’s the beauty of Hinduism. I can say this. I can hold this opinion. Those scriptures contain a lot of things that are irrelevant in today’s times (for eg the caste system, sati etc)

    Nobody can claim authority over Hinduism. It is a way of life. All those parochial priests who deny entry to temples are not true Hindus. Ignore them. Forget those temples. The real temple is your heart. I haven’t been to a temple for over 10 years. I haven’t sung a bhajan, shloka for almost the same time. Neither do I get an opportunity to celebrate Hindu festivals so regularly.

    This is not Islam or Christianity where every practicing person has to remember the scripture by heart and follow all the outdated traditions to the word, failing which one is declared a non-Islamic/non-Christian.

    If you hate Hinduism, or practice some other religion, I don’t hate you. You are free to practice any religion. Peace.

  19. I am born hindu and I flock ur website sometime. Time when Islam is rapidly spreadly in west and Christianity in east of the globe, I wanted to see what is happening to Hinduism. Well as a Hindu I always thought that that you can be Hindu by birth, then Hinduism has caste theory and it will become difficult to put anyone in that caste bucket. Slowly as I grew I realised that Hinduism and Caste is just the periphery, for a person to be follower of sanatan dharma it is just important to believe in spritual philosphies of Hinduism. You will find more hindus who differ from all the Hindu text and still call themselves hindu because they believe in one small portion.
    Vedas essentially say one God and Vedas never spoke about deity worshipping, well this I came to know from JakirNaik who preaches Islam! But Deity worshipping is an important part of Hinduism and it makes you and your deity and then your God much closer to u, you feel a sense of attachment. For a normal soul like mine it isvery important, because it is difficult to believe in formless God until my maturity and consiousness doesnt rise to another level.

    There are some people who spoke about temple rules and personal hygiene, yes we should be clean, shoes should be removed etc etc, but personally I have visited temples when I was not clean woman as per that timeof month, I dont believe God will punish me for that because it only formed me.

    For anyone who converts to Hinduism it is very necessary to understand that they are converting for spritual benefit, they are converting for everything good. Hindu Society in India or abroad is so huge and so diversified that you as a convert need to go through books rather society for changing ur religion.

  20. Very interesting posts and reply/comments.It is really nice to know that there are no borders for Faith,especially in Hinduism.It all comes down to the individual practitioner on who is within the circle of Self and who is out.There are some who have delimited it to only themselves,others to their family and friends,yet others to only their etnic/social group,while there are also those who include the whole world.”Yaadum oore,Yaavarum kelir”.said a an ancient Tamil Poet.,meaning the ‘the whole world is your village,and all its inhabitants are related to you.I ‘ll come back later.Got to go now.
    Thiruchitrambalam.

  21. Hinduism is a Teacher faith, our goal is Moksha, a state of pure enlightenment, and God is our guru in this long journey. The laws of Karma & Rebirth ask us to take responsibility for our actions, don’t run away, don’t ask for forgiveness, but accept responsibility and ask for a chance to correct the situation. The following example makes this crystal clear: A drunken man gets behind the wheel of his car and causes a major crash. He dies along with couple of others, and the rest suffer major injuries. In a King religion, all this man has to do is to express regret and God will let him waltz into heaven, the suffering of those on earth be damned. Karma & Rebirth won’t let you do that. In Hinduism there is no heaven or hell, so this person, if he is a Hindu, is reborn and given another chance to redeem himself. If I was that person, I would never callously walk into heaven, I would ask God for a chance to make things right. Remember it is the act, not the people themselves, that needs to be corrected. This man, reborn, can work to prevent future accidents like the one he had caused or help those in similar tragic situations.

  22. One of the reasons is that unlike Hinduism, which teaches us to respect all religions, as we very well know, other religions don’t do that. In fact, they are taught anyone who is not of their faith is going to hell, so how can they respect other religions? So when a westerner comes to a temple, the obvious suspicion is that he is either a christian or muslim and is only curious – of course, when he sees our images, he finds them cute and really funny. Temples in the west conduct tours regularly and I have seen some people poiting to some figures and smiling and laughing. That’t not right – you are in a place of worship, one should conduct oneself accordingly. If a Hindu were to visit a church or mosque you won’t find hime pointing and laughing.

    So, please do not get offended, it’s just a matter of time and a liittle education. I do feel that Hindus should be spread all over the world and if more westerners adopt this amazing faith, then the suspicions against them will disappear.

  23. Pingback: Ethical Conversion « Western Hindu

  24. Namaste All

    Hinduism or should i say Sanatan Dharm is the way of life and not a religion , if you help a poor u are Sanatan Dharmi , If you do service to mankind you are a Sanatan Dharmi , There is nothing that defines the confines of being a hindu a free thinker is a hindu , a rational thought is hindu , respecting life is being hindu , respecting women is being hindu i can go on and on but my point of putting those examples here is if u thought about someone else before u and with strong mind and a figther attitude u can be no one else but a sanatan dharmi.

    Christina i wanted to share a small thought with you,
    If your mind says to you that you u have to help a child in distress then religion doesnt come first but ur heart which beats for service to mankind, at some point in time people in India were forced into dark ages by mughals and britishers and for whole 1000 Years the teachings of vedas and upanishads were almost extinct.

    There was a time when very few people understood the encrypted vedas and more understood the bhakti path.
    Sanatan Dharm is a religion of free will and believes in one god or the element of this universe called BRAHMAN and we are all the reflections of his creation. There are two ways of teaching in hindus
    SHRUTIS
    SMRITIS

    Smritis teach people the path of puranas and the rituals and bhakti yog where bhakti comes first and question is not the eternal answer

    Shrutis teach people the path to BRAHMAN the creator to which every human being has to question his/her role
    and live the life of a researcher

    Bhagwad Geeta is a beautiful mixture of Both the Shrutis and Smritis , Krishna wrote it to beautifully inculcate the feeling of bhakti yog and the essence of upanishads into it.

    Why i said the above so far is that people here in India who were already broken by the mughal rule were lured by the brits and a large number of them still think like the pujaris and people from villages that whites are someone who have come to take the bhakti away from them.

    So the unacceptance of white skin in india in form of converts is still about 50-50 , but i donto blame them i just ask all my friends and family of sanatan dharmis to please forgive them are they are some people who are very innocent and they want to keep that idol of krishna and not share it with anyone from outside.

    But talk to the shruti follower like the vedas and upanishads and readers of the scientific texts like the sutras and shastras I am sure you and your ideas would be welcomed with open arms.

    If you faith in doing right is firm and ur mind is fixed with determination , if your faith in that one god whichever it might be is strong enuf to reverse the spin of Sun then u could be no one else but a Hindu.

    I do a lots of shaastraath on upanishads and love thoughts from my fellow sanatan dharmis as it makes us grwo together so if some orthodox pujaris donot let you enter the mandir dont bother Krishna and Shiva will come to give u deeksha then never listen to that crap of being a hindu is being born into it

    A HINDU IS HE/SHE HINDU WHO DOES.

    Chris i like your ideas and your knowledge lets do some shaastraarth sometime its so enlightening to read your thoughts.Any one accompanying me to the MahaKumbh on 11th I will be there to get the light of shiva on maha shivratri and bring u all the photographic love from the banks of ganges.

    OM Namah Shivaay

  25. Well in essence everyone is born a Hindu so its not about converting but its about awakening to that realisation 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 u 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..

  26. “Vedas essentially say one God and Vedas never spoke about deity worshipping, well this I came to know from JakirNaik who preaches Islam!”

    Dont take Dr Zakir Naik seriously as he’s not an expert on Hinduism and take things out of context out of Hindu scriptures only to prove that the world was originally Islamic..Hes an Islamic fundo and nothing else..The Vedas dont talk about a one god sitting the sky with a whip like his monotheism preaches but the Vedas also mention many gods..

    The Vedas are cryptic and it takes time to decode their deeper inner meanings which for time and place may have different interpretations as we evolve spiritually.So deity worship is part of that evolution as it helps your focus on the deity to experience the divine consciousness..What we see visually effects us mentally and spiritually.. just like a grey sky makes most people feel miserable then same way a blue sky with sunshine does the opposite effect something we in London have been missing for a long time lol

  27. This is a very nice topic. Some people are narrow minded and don’t accept people from other parts of the world as Hindus. There is NO CONCEPT called non-acceptance of non-Indian race into Hinduism. EVERYONE is welcome. This is the difference between Abrahamic religions (no offense intended).

    Abrahamic faiths focus on conversion (barring Judaism), “saving people from hellfire” through scaring manipulating and lying to them. However, if the core of Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma is read, i.e. Vedas, Upanishads etc, it mentions a philosophy how how life is supposed to be led as a common man, doing good things and living a pure life. Even in Bhagavad Gita, there is no mention of any race (considering that Pandava and Kauravas were Dynasties not races). It emphasizes on a message to mankind without even the distinction of man and woman!

    The attitude of Nepal’s and India’s temples is a bit short-sighted due to their bad encounters with Abrahamic faiths’ followers…. however, if they give it some time, they will eventually welcome you all.

  28. Christina S.

    I am so grateful to everyone who has responded to my questions and my situation. I’ve learned so much from all of you.

    I just returned from a quick trip to India, to attend a family wedding. There were a few other family issues to sort out on that trip as well, and it illustrated what I already knew intellectually: that underneath the customs and rituals and closely guarded beliefs and practices, we are all the same. We are all subject to the same flaws, and have been for all time. It was not the West that introduced greed around the world: human nature is what it is. For better or for worse, we are all the same flawed human beings.

    Then, given that, what is it about Westerners that renders us incapable of accepting the truths of Hinduism? Nothing. Westerners are capable of moving beyond Abrahamic religious teachings, much as Indians can adopt them.

    I understand clearly, from this trip, that many Indians have never encountered a Westerner at close proximity and appear not to know what to do with us. I don’t mean to sound offensive, because I am guilty of gawking, too, but I experienced what I did!

    And I understand that colonialism has left a horrid legacy. But as we move, in time, further away from the colonial era, must we Westerners continue to bear the collective guilt for events that happened before we were alive? When are the sins of our ancestors ever paid for? And besides, I’m German – we didn’t colonize India, as far as I know; rather, my people have had a love affair with Indian culture and religion for years and years. Sorry, but I plead not guilty!

    This is the first time we didn’t go to Thirupati, or any local temples. There was no time. And I confess some relief at not being pulled aside and being told, no, not you, you are not Hindu.

    Hiten, I am also in the NY area and have had only positive experiences at the Flushing temple. I was truly sorry to read that you had a different kind of experience all together.

    But this is something else that has occured to me: my Hinduism will be very different from my husband’s, from his family’s, from Chris’, from Ajun’s and Sunny’s and Hiten’s. This is one of those things that attracted me to Hinduism in the first place, that and the intuitiveness, and intellectual sensory richness.

    I did sign on for the online course with Himalayan Academy, but struggle with the notion that independent thought and questioning have no place in their worldview. Or perhaps this applies only to monastics, in which case I have misunderstood the daily Nandinatha Sutras.

    So I’m back to believing that we Westerners can indeed convert to Hinduism, and while our Hinduism may be somewhat different from the Hinduism practiced daily in India, it is still Hinduism, still nourishing and still a valid way to apprehend the Divine.

    • Hi Christina

      That was quite an intelligent reply and made me go hmmm in the morning & made me wish that I knew you 🙂

      Now that’s something, you knowing the Nandinatha Sutra, while I had to Google it.

      So, howz India doing these days? I have’nt visited India since 2003 and hope to visit this year. My wife is quite excited to be finally visiting India 🙂

      Well, for most Indians, Westerners are an exotic commodity and would not know hot to distinguish between a “German” and a “British” to an “American”, so it’s quite alright and it’s not only the legacy of the “Britishers” that Indians can’t quite forget, but also the of the “Muslim” colonialists who had ruled India for 10 centuries. But, having said that, the new generation is quite willing to forget & move on, it’s the politicians who are unwilling to get off that particular horse, keep flogging it and rousing passions, to hide their own short comings. It’d help if the Britishers gave back some of our stolen treasures 🙂

      Me! My Hinduism is quite different to my family. For one, I eat non-veg and 2nd, don’t say my prayers, everyday. I pray when I am in the mood. My belief is that, as long as I am true to my religion in words, thought and deeds (Okay, ignore the non-veg comment), I am not required to pray everyday, am I? 🙂

      Cheers

      me

  29. Christina,

    This is the beauty of Hinduism– there is no definite dogma in it. There are different branches that lead to the path of God and attainment of moksha.

    There are a lot of different ways in which Hinduism is practiced. For example, what is followed in Northern India, is different from Souther India and again in Eastern India it is totally different from Western India. Then again all these forms of Hinduism are totally different from the ones followed in Bali, Sumatra, Thailand, Burma, Borneo, Laos and Cambodia.

    Nepal has somewhat similarity with northern India but but again in Bhutan it has a different form. But all point towards only one goal. Hinduism acknowledges the difference from man to man and therefore is like a river that adopts according to the channel it flows through.

    I hope you are able to achieve Moksha in your own way.

  30. Hi all,

    I am born Jewish, with Indian backgrounds, in Mumbai, and Cochin. I am also vegetarian, and my family has been vegetarian for generations. As children we were introduced into Yoga practices, Patanjali sutras etc, since age 6 or 7.

    My faith does not encourage conversion nor proselytize to anyone, and there are mixed feelings towards converts, specially if there is some kind of interest for conversion, i.e. position, marriage, etc or the convert tried to cut corners.

    My knowledge on Hinduism is not as extensive as I would like to, but one thing I can say, it is a very welcoming, open heart, way of living.

    My understanding is that Hinduism and specially Yogic practices are not in conflict with any other faith.

    Santosh id, seems to talk from a inferiority complex issue, or fear to the unknown.

    India is mother to all her children , and not only Hindus.

    Hinduism as a way of living doesnt make you a Hindustani, an Indian citizen.

    Hinduism is just a path, for your mind, body and soul to find the path to realization, to attachment with the Divinity, and in my opinion that is a very personal, unique issue.

    No one can tell another, this or that path is mine only.

    Remember that we are here just to resolve karma, and body is something that sooner or later ends up in dust, so skin colour, race, is not that important. Our bodies are just robes for our spiritual being.

    Some westerners, seek to convert into eastern religions, seeking to be different from the rest, but are not really sincere, those, will not last long, any way so we dont have to worry.

    However, some others are sincere, these should be welcome and appreciated, as they are fulfilling a divine mission.

  31. To Christina S. and the Editors of this forum,

    I am a non-Indian Hindu by birth just like Christina is I presume. My viewpoint is that there is no better religion in the world other than Hinduism or what is really the Sanatan Dharma. As it is the record of practices and beliefs over thousands of years, it encompasses all the facts, fictions, happiness and sadness of the human beings in relation to the development of nature. It is the most scientific religion on the plane, albeit oldest, that can truly define anything or everything of the law of the nature and its history, and accurately predict on the fate of the humankind, advise us on the stars and space, and also lay its opinion on far bigger things than what few other religious practices have brought forward over just a few thousands of years in the past. Western so called ‘experts’ seem to have jumped on commenting on the practices of such a sacred dharma, only based on their research of a few years. For example, how should one pronounce or utter the word ‘Aum’ itself is beyond their expertise. They simply can not. Yoga looks simply a way of exercising one’s body parts to them, they do not realise how it is integrally linked to the very concept of the Dharma, that you pay full attention or ‘yog’ to what you do while forgetting the worldly business for a moment – just like a rishi meditating. It is not just a straight forward exercise, but focus of your heart and mind on the very posture you adopt – think nothing else. Apart from just plagiarising parts of Hinduism, many religions tend to have a simple vacuum that were largely filled in by the colonialists of various size and colours from Romans, Mhmds and others. Hinduism does not only belong to one or two species from a certain part of Asia, as it is far bigger than that, its philosophy incorporates principles, past and future of galaxies, the origin of the world, its creation, maintenance and destruction, and that of many worlds – something that is beyond the explanation of modern science. It is just too difficult for the modern scientist to explain. For example, a local Hindu guru in the part of this Western world a wonderful thing about the rotational nature of the four ‘yugs’ i.e. Satya, Dwapar, Treta, Kali, that would be beyond explanation of modern science. Time and again our modern scientists have proven what was already stated in the texts of Hinduism, and was not for a long ago considered insane by those so called experts in the West. Remember this, a couple of thousands years of Western advancement can not miniaturise the importance of the great religion which is far different to what the others portray it to be. Hinduism is for all. The light and mother science of Hinduism should benefit all human beings in the world, and no one has rights to select who can or can not be a Hindu. As in the case of any community and their practices, prides and prejudices, people in India or Nepal or Indonesia may have interpreted Hinduism in a different way ‘at this juncture in time’, I would ask everyone in the world to be bigger than that and adopt this religion. If you wish to buy a car, and if the price is exactly the same, why not buy a brand instead of buying its copy? I salute the Editors of Western-hindu.org for trying to bring all the brothers and sisters in the Western-world under an umbrella, just like the Himalayan academy in Hawaii and ISKCON all over the word is doing. Keep it up! I was indeed trying to set up a similar website to encourage Westerners to convert to Hinduism until I landed on this one.

    About conversion to Hinduism, I would say, forget about people saying you have to be born Hindu. This is the product of old Indian legacy when Islamist and Christian aggressors attacked India from all corners and started force-converting Hindus to Islam or Christianity, or when a minority Hindu community had to live in a Muslim declared country, they had to say something to show to the ‘masters’ that Hinduism was not a threat to their religions. We should no longer harbour this defensive mentality, we go full on offensive. Look at the hard work our western brothers and sisters are putting in to expand the religion from America to Netherlands, building temples everywhere, donating millions of dollars towards good cause, and even donating large properties such as the ISKCON ‘uddhyan’ garden in the UK. We should all support them in their conquest to spread the light of this ancient religion to the rest of the world. Look at the grand work of http://www.himalayanacademy.com/ and the late Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. They were not Indians! It disappoints me to see even the organisation like Vishwa Hindu Parishad talk more about India when they have the word ‘Vishwa’ i.e. World in their name. That is short sightedness. But we must understand it is not just about one person or organisation. The concept and ideology behind Hinduism is bigger than many galaxies. We must promote conversion, which may lead at one point to confrontation. We must take the path of enlightening everyone while avoiding every possibility of violence. COME ON WESTERN HINDUS! YOUR ARE NOT LESS HINDU THAN ANY INDIAN LIVING IN THE INDIAN SOIL.

    Due to the slave mentality and surrenderism of such individuals Mahabharata is no longer there. VHP shows a small picture of current shape of Bharat on its website – pathetic! They are losing Bharat to others. These organisations and individuals must grow outside of their cocoons. Only western Hindus can help that.

    HARI AUM TATSAT! BHRAMMAYA NAMO!

    • Aum Shivaya,
      Thank you for your encouragibg comments to non-born Hindus everywhere. All born Hindus I have met have been very encouraging to me as a non born Hindu, but those who do think that Hinduism is for India only should think anout your comment about Hidu concepts encompassing stars and galaxies; how could such a universal belief be limited tom just a few!

    • I am very impressed with your view and yes it is correct way. Though in one paragraph I seemed to be agree with VHP, but I think, they should broaden their view and include all Hindus from across the Globe. In India when I met one member of VHP I was requesting the same thing to them, unfortunately I could not meet the higher authorities. I completely agree with you and I would do whatever possible to contribute in that. Hindus must open the gates to others. With the spread of internet many and many people are now knowing the beauty of Hindus and want to joint this. I appreciate this forum for its efforts. All Hindus are same no matter from east of west and everybody should come together to spread the spirituality and the philosophy of peace. Is there any such center or forum in London?

  32. To ashok
    Nice reading your comment here. What you say is absolutely true.
    About VHP [I am not card holder or anything] ,but one need to understand their behaviour from the Indian point of view. I really don’t know how Hinduism and India is perceived in the West[i am a born hindu indian], but from the comments I have come across[not on this blog] gives me a picture that many Christians and Islamists/Muslims could hardly see beyond the “Idol -worship” and Draupadi’s marriage to the Pandavas.This is true of even Indian -born Christians and Muslims. As far as these people[the I -born C&M] are concerned, India is a vast ,Rich Territory to be conquered ans its Bounty is to be the Spoils of War,and Hindus are either Pagans and Heathens who are in the ‘Dark’ and need to be brought under the cross[planting the cross in Asia is this millenium’s work according to the Pope] ,for the Christians; while Mohammedans think we are the Dar-ul-hard- and are populated with infidels or Kufrs who need to be given the option of Conversion to Islam or being a Dhimmi to them[some go to the extent of wanting to annihilate us.].Add to this the so-called rationalists who are either Leftists/marxists /socialists or parties believing in the Aryan Invasion theory [which has been questioned and proved wrong]and that Aryan and Dravidian are races[like political parties in TamilNadu or Congress who are some what in-between these two in ideology.These kind of people abound in Politics and therefore the governments,educational institutes and also the Media over which they have a strangle-hold,in that anything that does not fit into the left-Christian-Muslim ideas or issues are ignored and if reported ,done in such a way that we Hindus will always be the aggressors and they the victims. So we study a history that blackens us,read news that is against us 24×7. This is why VHP is being india specific and seems not to include adopted Hindus.

    • @Sita
      I agree with you. Hinduism is on target from all direction and it has forced Hindus in some part to show the aggression as the kindness has been taken as weakness by Islam and as foolishness by Christians over the centuries.

  33. Beautifully said, Sita! I cannot imagine a better Reason than you have to explain people why VHP is India-specific and so aggressive.

    When our Dharma is in danger of Communists, Socialists and foreign religions, we have to be aggressive regardless of what the idealist fools such as Human Rights Commission which gets paid oil dollars by Saudi and other countries to ignore our plight, think.

    • Sita and Utkarsh, I think when Western Hindus get more aware of the otherside of the story with all the anti Hindu propaganda going on through the media and other institutions they will be in for a major shock..The amount of anti Hindu articles Ive read in the British media Ive now lost count.But then most of the anti hindu news sources come from India itself where ‘Indians’ with leanings to communist and other anti hindu ideologies usually are the ones who help spread the propaganda against Hindus.Even in the UK they are trying to push a caste discrimination bill because anti hindu some groups are claiming that not only India but even in the UK there is some sort of Caste apartheid going on in temples and schools and work places .Ive never seen anyone asking for their passports at any Hindu temple to see what caste one maybe..But this all part of the propaganda that is constantly being spread about Hindus.I remember once I was at a conference for Hindu Kashmiris highlighting their persecution .And Amnesty International refused to attend or said they were too busy.

  34. It’s really sad hearing how non-Indians are not accepted in particular South Indian temples.
    I am a British Hindu (born Hindu). I see a beautiful religion stagnating because of useless dogma. I know there are plenty of people outside of India who are open to Hinduism. I strongly believe that the Hindu religion can help mankindly greatly; but
    all the narrow minded dogma of caste, being Indian or not must be stripped away. Non-Indians should be welcomed with open arms and encouraged to join Hinduism. I would like to point out that things are slowly changing; there are numerous sects that accept non-Indians e.g. ISKCON, Himalayan academy, Chinmoya mission, Ramakrishna mission, Sai baba, Aurobindo ashram (one of the founders herself was European!)…..but a lot of work needs to be done.
    The vedantic truth that the divine resides in all should be a foundation for a more civilised and peaceful global order.
    In conclusion: I welcome all non-Indian Hindus with open arms.

  35. Hi there could I use some of the information here in this post if I link back to you?

  36. Shankaranand

    Hi All….

    I have gone through this discussion forum which touches on many of the broad issues on problems faced by the western converts(by Cristina) the cast issue Muslims invading India etc…
    This forum should lead for people to change there views and lead to have the appropriate views.
    Secondly as per the entry to the temples are considered each temple have there own set of regulations.But the fact remains in Hinduism is Hinduism is cluster of many thinkings some will give importance to some and some not.Temple entry to all the Hindus (even if they are so called converted Hindus) should be allowed without any hindrance and all the Hindus have to raise there voice against these issue . Even the dalits entry to the temple was permitted only after a prolonged struggle by our great dalit/and other leaders…so i consider that this issue will be sorted out in near future as God is universal and not of the temple administrators.
    Hinduisms have always been the flowing river(which have seen the Changes continiously but with the Videc base)It is not confined to one particular book or tradition …

    Thank you

  37. I am born hindu from Hyderabad, India. Reading all the comments above make me feel that so called western followers are really advanced in their approach. You people really deserve the right path. Unfortunately, majority of the hindus in India lack awareness. It was already predicted that America and western followers in future will lead the entire world to the destiny of peace. Looks like it is happening.
    Lot of thoughts in me, unfortunately not able to articulate properly.

  38. Just to share the amazing tolerance of Hinduism:
    One of the largest Jewish synagogues is located in India
    One of the largest Catholic cathedrals is located in India
    One of the largest Islamic mosques is located in India
    One of the largest Zoroastrian (Parsi) temples is located in India
    One of the largest Baha’i temples is located in India
    One of the largest Buddhist temples is located in India
    Sanatana Dharma is a life path that allows all religions (and even atheists) to use their own path to acheiving the Higher Truth. That’s what really kept me stuck to the faith forever…
    And I was born Hindu and hated being one for a while…no one likes to be called Dot-head and Hindu as an insult…
    I actually embrace almost all paths and think that any person who believes in something, even if it is the existence in no God or Higher Truth will ultimately reach their goal…Just like there are many different routes to New York City…some are really long and scenic, some are the quickest, some are jam packed with traffic, and some even don’t require the use of a road (planes, trains, ferries)…but as with different faith paths…eventually, we will all end up at the same destination…
    Just wanted to share after reading people’s posts on this site…I might be a little late.

  39. white hindus must understand that they chose to become hindus, unlike the born brown hindus. Clearly the white hindus THUS are more devout and serious religious hindus by any measure. It is hialrious that the born ones ( only a miniscule percentage fortunately) discriminate them. As a born brown hindu i request the white hindus to protest any form of discrimination and promptly write to Hindu Amaerican Foundation or similar organizations. Once they receive written complaints these hindu organizations will react and such of those temples will be warned and censured against any form of discrimination. Sadly this is what complicates the problem. White missionaries have resorted to all kinds of mean tactics to poach the poor and gullible hindus, they instigated converted christians to enter temples and to preach bible. Some hindus are very nervous with the west from that aspect. Please donot ever stop protesting and demanding your religious right. WHITE HINDUS DONT NEED ANY CERTIFICATION OF AUTHENTICITY FROM BORN BROWN ONES.

  40. Follower of Veda

    Deepak :
    “Being a Hindu, I tell you this – The vedas and upanishads also contain a lot of crap. That’s the beauty of Hinduism. I can say this. I can hold this opinion. Those scriptures contain a lot of things that are irrelevant in today’s times (for eg the caste system, sati etc)”

    => I was shocked about Deepak comment that Veda and upanishad contains crap. if it is the case then why on earth do you claim that you are a hindu ? I don’t understand it doesn’t make any sense at all. That’s a typical oxymoron.
    Veda don’t mention about any caste system or sati. It is time to understand your own religion.

    About Zakir Naik, yes, hindus should be cautious about him. He uses the Veda to convert the hindus to islam. But I have to disagree with many comments above about Sanathana Dharma. Veda believe in one God and only one whose name is OM. It is false to pretend that this holy book claims about multiple gods.

    To me, it is not a way of life at all but clearly a religion with a central dogma. Every single commentary above mention that hinduism accept every path like every religion and even atheism. Where is it stated ? Of course not ! Veda reject atheism and also other system of belief like Christiany and Islam but you are free to do pious or bad deed and no one is going to butcher you for choosing another path. But it never accept atheism or other religion.

    Hiten S :
    “Me! My Hinduism is quite different to my family. For one, I eat non-veg and 2nd, don’t say my prayers, everyday. I pray when I am in the mood. My belief is that, as long as I am true to my religion in words, thought and deeds (Okay, ignore the non-veg comment), I am not required to pray everyday, am I? ”

    => You have all the right to do so ( I used to be like you bro) but just know that what you are doing are against the Veda and so against hinduism. it’s just like “I’m a muslim but don’t believe in Koran”…

    According to the Veda, every single human have the right to follow the path of the Veda and so Hinduism whatever be your skin color. We don’t have to identify with our body but only with our soul.
    Thanks

  41. I am born in hindu family….i have learned hinduism for 20 years now….what i have learned is every one can be a hindu no matter who is he or she is.there is no formal way to become a hindu, all it takes is pure mind for every human being whether hindu or non hindu , love every one hindu or non hindu, love all animals love every one.Give away sins of life like anger , jealousy,hatred and do not feel bad for any one.thats it….thats all being a hindu demands…….if you wana be a hindu…be by heart and not for show off…….if you still need some text about hinduism…i will provide you free…contact me a3pali@gmail.com.

  42. Vindheswari,
    you go girl, you made my day. Get more mad and thrash all those sceptics and naysayers out there. I liked the firing of bad pujari part a lot.We born ones need some whippings periodically.
    This is a great forum I visit, but if you have time explore hindudharmaforums.com as well. Namaste.

  43. I am Hindu from India. While going through internet I found that there are many people who want to be Hindu voluntarily, but they are not sure where to go and whom to contact. Its my firm believe that people from Hindu community should come forward to make some forums to help people. There are few groups but I think they are not putting such guidelines clearly on net or they are not sufficient in numbers. Some of such efforts would be very appreciable.

  44. Brahmachari Bhargav

    My Dear Brothers,
    We the Hindu believe “each soul is Potentially divine” and ” RELIGION IS THE MANIFESTATION OF THE DIVINITY ALREADY IN MAN”. Your inner call to practice “SANATAN DHARMA” (The Eternal Religion), popularly known as HINDUISM to manifest your divinity is praise-worthy. Every Man on this earth has the right to achieve the ultimate goal in his life and you are also no exception. Anyone who claims that the right to be a Hindu is reserved for only those Born in India is wrong. We Hindus believe that God dwells in all of us and as you can not turn down a divine proposal, likewise you can not turn down the call of your inner-self. The day you start believing in the Sanatan Dharma , you start treading the path of Hinduism. Now to progress you need a guru, so pray to find a SADGURU. He will show you the path.
    And its a piece of humble suggestion that if you feel like knowing Hinduism better, You can read books by SWAMI VIVEKANANDA. There are many other books but according to me, (mind that its my personal opinion) Swamiji’s book gives you a HOLISTIC CONCEPT ABOUT HINDUISM. To Understand those books, it would be better if you first read his biography.
    Any man who claims that Hinduism is only for Indians, I beg to state that he should better know the Indian culture and Hindu scriptures a bit more.
    And for further information you can mail me at bhargav_ganguly@yahoo.com. It would be a great pleasure on my part if I can serve you.

  45. All you have to do is learn the truth, and>Sanatan Dharma was made to show the truth of the universe and our final destination.

    No need for conversion, all you have to do is learn what it teaches.

    Btw, it dose not have any concept of conversion because it had no competition in the past. When new “Religions” come into existence, feeling threatened, they came up with the concept of conversion. Sanatan Dharma isnt just a mere Religion.

    [Tandava: Removed multiple links to same site. The one in your name is enough.]

  46. hindu29(bishnoi)

    see to become a hindu you must be a good person i don’t say that all hindus are good but they atleast don’t hate any relegion whereas it is written in the holy book of muslims that those who are non muslims are “qafirs” which means that they are not worth living in this world
    being hindu is not just by relegion but by thinking

  47. hari om to all…my view on south indian temple and some nepal temples is that they practice such thing due to historic reason rather than written in vedas ,there are many narrowmindness appered in hinduism due to continous invasion by other faith and being ruled for about 1500 years …which somehow preserve hinduism to an extent that time but now i think its the age of hinduism rediscovery and its only 65 years since independence….it will soon reach at its spritual height no body can stop anyone to study and learn about it or enter in temple when this great relegion even consider animal as sacerd and put them in temples and also depict sex as spritual union and celebrate it in temple(khujraho).

  48. Pingback: Need advice... Clashing feelings about faiths! - Page 2 - Religious Education Forum

  49. Very fine and highly relevant discussion.thank you for initiating such a topical discussion. The readers could find highly useful guidance from the Complete works of Swami Vivekananda – particularly the write-up – The universal religion.
    Hindu community should admit adult men and women of all other religions if they sincerely practice Hindu dharma

  50. The Tamil literature has three famous Books of Hinduism. 1.Thirukkural 2.Thiruvasagam 3.Thirumanthiram. Verses may be made available for the benefit of the readers

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