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You cannot convert to Hinduism without disregarding a basic Hindu concept - 5 Jul 12

05 Jul 2012  Vrindavan, India

Category: Religion

Foreigners pretending to be Hindus

Foreigners pretending to be Hindus

When writing about temples in Vrindavan yesterday, I mentioned the ISKCON temple and remembered that there are really lots of foreigners who go there, pray there, perform ceremonies there and see this temple as a holy place of worship. So while it is for most Indians simply a tourist attraction, there are foreigners who think very different about this. Today I don’t however want to write about this interesting detail but rather about the question how the religion of Hinduism actually refers to people who are not originally Hindus but want to believe in Hinduism and go to Hindu temples.

To be very straight and clear with my words, it is actually not possible to convert to Hinduism. There is no scripture that describes any procedure, method or ritual how you could convert. It is not like in other religions in which you have to get baptized or in which you have to proof that you know a certain part of the scriptures of that religion. There is simply no way to convert. Instead you can find verses that tell you that a Hindu is only a person who is born a Hindu.

People who say ‘I converted to Hinduism’ thus may have not understood that part of the scriptures or they really want to be Hindus so much that they ignored it. I think that is a bad start into your new religion! Look, if you really want to believe in this religion, you should follow it properly and first of all find out whether you can be a member of that club. If that religion tells you that you cannot, shouldn’t you follow its rules and leave it?

So from the beginning the whole question of conversion seems like a joke! I have heard lots of people from the west wonder about this when they come to Vrindavan and see ISKCON devotees dressed like the most religious Hindus. It is strange!

It gets even stranger when they realize how strict – or narrow-minded, however you want to call it - ISKCON devotees are when it comes to religious rules. There are a lot of examples for this. You have to wear the religious ‘make-up’ on your forehead. You need to finish your certain amount of mantra repetitions – even if you do that while shopping. Men need to shave their heads except one strand of hair at the back of the head. All men have to be called ‘Prabhuji’ while all women get the title ‘Mataji’ regardless their age or relation to you. You even need to change your name – even if you cannot pronounce that Sanskrit word correctly because your language is just so different. This all results in situations that people who actually grew up as Hindus find ridiculous.

It is just funny that people who consider themselves converted Hindus and actually belong to this sect try to be Hindu so much that they do more than any normal, modern Hindu would do. Ironically it does not matter how much they try, in reality they can never be Hindus because it is simply impossible to convert.

What we can learn from this is that you can enjoy any belief or any aspect of another person’s belief from far, that you can adapt it to your life in any way you want but that you don’t have to make an official ‘conversion’. You don’t need to imitate anybody or anybody’s religious behavior. Don’t become a copy of anyone! Just appreciate it from far and stay original, just as you are. Being someone else than you really are will definitely have an effect on your psychological situation. If you stay too long in this identity conflict, it will harm your mind, your feelings and your personal life. I have seen this kind of examples many times on my journeys and with my counseling work. You really don’t need to convert to any religion – and especially not to one which does not allow you to convert!

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Tags:: Psychology, Religion, Sects, Identity, Hinduism, Iskcon, Scriptures

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Posted By Swami Balendu

Swami Balendu

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Comments

Many people who don't concern themselves with the rules of a religion are simply looking for something...anything to believe in whether it be the Hindu religion or not...why they wouldn't know that they cannot convert to this religion can be attributed to the fact that maybe they are too desperate to are about the rules...at least this is what I have experienced.

Reply By Tricia on August 23, 2012 04:33


The reason why it was said that you have to be born a Hindu, coz habbits and philosophy start at an early age. Auspicious and inauspicious, respect for Prakriti, value system and the reasoning of why we pray, which Deity holds what power and part of Creation, all this the family inculcates in a child since birth or even during pregnancy. Learnt so early, it becomes the person's bloodstream. By the time foreigners join in, only a few of them are in a state to go back to the auto-learning state of mind in their middle age. Rest of them are just looking for some peace. But what's the problem in letting them convert. ISKON guys are Vaishnavs, and they have a code of conduct. All there rules must have a reason. Like people in the beggining could not understand how simple breathing techniques of yoga are more healthy than hours at the gym, similarly we don't understand the ways of Vaishnavs and their discipline. I belive discipline is required to see the truth and for the seekers of knowledge. Like mantras are a science, even their ways must be. Don't say they are pretending to be, that is disrespectful, better to say that they want to be Hindus, coz they might not understand it deeply, but the teachings surely give them some good answers and calm their minds. And by the way a lot of foreigners come to all Vedic spiritual retreats in India and abroad. From a Bhakt's point of view, it is important who you're loving, but more so, how you're loving, coz that ensues your connection with Paramaatma.

Reply By Saurabh on July 05, 2012 04:04


Reply To your Comment

The sect of ISKCON is very corrupt itself. There is not any statement in the scriptures about converting to Hinduism. Just copying few lines from Wikipedia: "Hinduism does not advocate conversion and has no ritual of conversion. When a person becomes Hindu is ill defined as Hinduism never saw other faiths as rivals. A few Hindus hold that 'to be a Hindu, one should be born a Hindu' and 'if born a Hindu, one is a Hindu forever';" Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_conversion

By Swami Balendu on July 06, 2012

swami ji namaskaar, you are right in my view when you say that there is no rule is given in the scriptures which makes a non hindu in to hindu because hindu is not a religion in my view but it is a belief..................our religion or DHARAM is SANATAN DHARAM which includes many many beliefs and karam kaands . s.k.garg

Reply By hindu on July 05, 2012 08:26


It was really a good one. At the moment it is absolutely crazy what happen in the west. Some "clever gurus" find lots of stupid westerns and simply make money from it. The biggest problem is that people believe so much in this nonsense

Reply By Helena on July 05, 2012 04:17


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