Why Am I Called The “White” Hindu?

Why Am I Called The “White” Hindu? April 26, 2013

It comes up over and over, people wondering why I’m calling attention to my race. After all, in Hinduism we are all One God. Gender and race don’t give us different amounts of God. Everything is part of that One universal God.

I started writing on the Internet in 2009. At that time I was frustrated and lonely, feeling like I was the only non-Indian Hindu around! I felt like Indians were wary of me or didn’t believe that I was a Hindu or fully a Hindu. A lot of times I felt unwanted. I heard so often that one cannot convert to Hinduism. So what was I, then? (By the way, saying that there’s no such thing as conversion in Hinduism is NOT HELPFUL. You’re dismissing all the difficulties and concerns that come with starting out in one religion and now being in another. Yes, I understand that you don’t need to go through a ceremony to be a Hindu, you can just declare yourself to be one. But to say that there’s no such thing as conversion is hurtful).

A lot of that has eased over the years as I’ve been able to talk about my fears and concerns with wonderful people like you. Having a blog really allowed me to find my place in Hinduism.

Maybe calling myself out based on my race no longer makes sense. But it is the name I started with, so I’ll stick with it. It is NOT intended to be divisive. I absolutely believe in unity and that in reality, my pasty skin color is not important.

But this blog is about more than just Hinduism. It is about identity and our race plays a role in that. I continue to be fascinated with the role of culture and race in our experiences in our lives.

Here is a copy of a post from my old blog in December of 2010:


 There was a comment yesterday on one of my older posts that I wanted to address. Here is the comment and my response to it:

Svaha said… Ambaa, Why call yourself a “white” Hindu? Why is skin color so important as a means of identifying yourself? Sanatana Dharma is about unity, not separateness. Its not about the externalization of God, but the recognition of universal and internalized divinity. Its great that you want to identify yourself as a “Hindu” (whatever that means), but please do not insult our core religious beliefs by bringing confused notions of race and skin color into the mix. December 27, 2010 1:32 AM 

Aamba said… Well, Svaha, the reason I named the blog White Hindu is because at the time I felt that it was my skin color that was keeping me from being accepted as fully Hindu. It was extremely frustrating to me, so this was a way of taking back that word, taking control over how people see me. However, in the year since I’ve kept the blog, I have become more and more entrenched in Hinduism and have found the acceptance I was looking for. I now rarely feel kept back and taken less seriously because of my skin color, though it does still sometimes happen.  The other reason to put race into it is that this is not a blog about the definition of Hinduism, it is a blog about the intersection of culture and religion and ethnicity. That is the issue I am interested in exploring. How are religion and ethnicity related? How do people perceive them? How does one move into a religion that was not given to him or her by ethnicity? December 28, 2010 2:45 PM

The thing is, this blog is about race. I’m not interested in pretending that we don’t somewhat judge each other based on ethnicity. It happens, it is part of our world.Yes, Hinduism is universal and accepts all people as equally a part of God, but that is not always how it is practiced. People are still imperfect and do judge one another and make assumptions about one another.

I am confident and sure of my religion. It has been part of me all of my life. What I came to the Internet to explore is the cultural aspect of Hinduism and how I might fit in there. I think my skin color is relevant to this discussion and I don’t think that it is a confused notion of race. Different races exist and we are all still trying to figure out what that means and how it effects our lives.

There are many who are uncomfortable when we label ourselves by ethnicity. I do not label myself as white in order to keep others back or to separate myself. I would rather not be separate, but many times I still am. I felt that my skin color was an elephant in the room, as the expression goes. No one wants to mention it or acknowledge it, and yet it has an effect on how I am perceived.  People wonder about me and question me in ways that I don’t think they would if I were Indian.  They think, “Who does she think she is?” They think the same things they think when they see a white rapper with cornrows!

That is what fascinates me. Expectation v.s. reality. I’m sorry to people who are made uncomfortable by my direct reference to race, but that is exactly what this blog is about: what it means to be a non-Indian Hindu.

{Featured Image from http://www.bharatstudent.com/cafebharat/photo_gallery_3-Hindi-Movies-Marigold-Photo-Galleries-1,4,367,7.php Ali Larter and Salman Khan in Marigold}

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  • Rohan

    The name of the blog ‘The White Hindu’ is catchy , kinda the reason why im here lol

    • Ambaa

      🙂 Thanks!

  • Dharmshil

    Who are you to say that to her? Do you even know what our religion stands for? Ignorant mind.

  • Dharmshil

    You are no one to judge her. A gotra isn’t required to be a hindu. This is where it differs from other religions, you can’t come down to just one practice, verse or belief and set it as a parameter to judge whether she/he is Hindu or not. Its about faith, truth and light. You go where you find it. Though conversion isn’t encouraged in Hinduism but one can follow and lead the Hindu way of life. Just being born into a gotra doesn’t make you more of a hindu than she is.

  • Dharmshil

    Ignorant is the word.

  • Dharmshil

    You’re as much Hindu as anyone else is. You don’t have to go to a temple, wear a bindi or do other things to prove it. You just need to believe in the Hindu way of life and practice it, if possible. None is the final word as far as Hinduism is concerned. It is your personal wish as to how and what you see and believe in. “Satyam Param Dhimahi” – Truth is the greatest religion. Just try to follow the path of righteousness. While the Vedas (Rig Veda in particular) and Upanishads are sacred texts (along with many other), it would be easy for you to follow the ‘Gita’ which is the core of what we believe. Most importantly, no one has the authority to judge you or say that you’re not a Hindu. Not even the greatest of saints. Those who say it are ignorant. And people will not accept you at once because they are not used to the idea of someone converting to their religion. It takes some time to accept a new member into the family. I wish you all luck. May God bless us all.

    • Ambaa

      Thank you!

  • Rohan

    my advise to you..remove delusion….read- Swami_Vivekananda completely and his teachings and biography-(a complete Hindu and shisya of lord guru Ramakrishna paramhansha )……pls dont take it lightly…

  • Rohan

    India should be in the heart or in the soul of every Hindu….because(mother) India is the Vatican..of Hinduism…if there was no India there was no Hinduism and vice-verse…

  • Paulus Magus

    Well, the Aryans were white, so you’re in classical company.

    • Salim Alvi

      There is no Aryan race. It is a lie created in 19th century.

  • Morg GB

    I can look at this as to ways, but its interesting, first white is a generic term for Caucasian, but whites at least in america and other places, are viewed more homogeneous, calling yourself a “white hindu” may bring attention, that may not be a wrong thing, it can be a gusty move that can involve pride in a great way and a deserving way, if you didn’t call yourself it, then there wouldn’t be much interest not only in you but as a conservative starter.

    Of course, folks used the term “african american” or asian , be it engineer, buddhist, muslim, type of christian, etc. Of course white is generic, are jews mostly considered white, if so the term african or asian jew would not be controversial or atleast to moderate ones. But yes, in this sense white is usually a woman of european descent who isn’t jewish and most often from western europe aka anglo-saxon although that term is disputed (not sure if you have say russian, eastern europe ancestry, or jewish ancestry).

    Historically, however there were many hindus outside the indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia was hindu and had a rich history of hinduism before the spread of islam, balinese hindus are remnants of this.There are a lot of hindus and heritage in parts of burma and other parts. It is also be a sad thought that many historical artifacts were altered for preservation to appease conquerors or destroyed.

    1000 years ago, an indonesian,malaysian,vietnamese,burmese,etc hindu would not be an issue. There is also a degree of overlap between hinduism and buddhism, in countries such as singapore, folks may go to eachother’s temples or have tremendous overlap and respect. It isn’t controversial for non-asians to be buddhists it seems, and since asians overlap many countries it isn’t usually tied to just india and a couple small countries.

    Of course hinduism has many sub-sects, similarities, and differences, there are common traits, I’m not an expert, but if you do follow a particular trait or sect, you can let us know and talk about it, that doesn’t mean one is sectarian as folks often respect each other’s sects but what you identify with.

    There is of course discrimination against white hindus, who are identified as yuppies, hipsters, and not being serious. So calling yourself a white hindu could be a positive reinforcement of pride and start a conversation. It can also start a trend, hey an african american can start a “Black hindu blog” or “Russian Hindu”, asian hindu would be too wide encompassing. Of course many indians do tend to marry whites so I’m not sure why folks who are indian are complaining lol. I also feel that can be a great thing for intermarriages not just whites but asians and so on.

    Interestingly enough, the association of india and hinduism can be an example of victim of its own success or failures, while many people freely converted to say Catholicism in europe or islam in many parts of the world, there did exist violence, social pressure, and discrimination as part of wars and conquest. Thus for instance even though Jews can be considered white, they use the term jewish to identify race and religion together. This of course leaves hinduism more dominate in india, as of course they didn’t go around fighting wars in other countries of it as much like in europe and asia and there existence resistance to conversion and not so much the other way around although there is some sectarian violence, sadly in india and both sides are to blame as well since certain non-hindus are perceived as radically changing not just religion but saying that a christian wearing a sari is a sinner.

    Anyways that’s my nickel and dime of what I had to add. Let me know your thoughts.

    • Salim Alvi

      Even in MahaBharat lot of characters were not from subcontinent. Most of the town planners and architects were Mayans of today’s Mexico. Mayan architected Ravan’s Lanka. Another Mayan architected Indraprasth, today’s Delhi.

      Bedouins practiced Hinduism before Islam. Widow biz tycoon, Khaduja was a Hindu who married at age 40 25 year old Mohmad.

  • akhi

    Don’t worry about gotra and kuldevi/devta just believe in karma.

  • Vidyadhara Buddhiraju

    Yes there is no conversion among the Hindus. Because a conversion means giving up on a past. A sort of magical jumping out of your skin and becoming something else. This is a stupid idea. The notion of conversion belongs among the imperialist notions of monotheism. Carrying the stink of partisan politics to the high heavens.

    On the other hand there is “inclusion” which is a very different idea. And this is not by a process or endorsement. You are always included even if you did not know you were. Even if you refused such inclusion.

    That is the very nature of “sanatana” or eternal. All of existence is an undivided continuum. Perhaps one finds it comforting to go through a formal process of inclusion into a society. But this has never been an item of interest among the ancient Hindus. Because exclusion or inclusion by doctrinal qualification was never a serious theme among the Hindus. A different doctrine would only create one more sub group among the society of the Hindus.

    The thousand year shock of the turkoman-islamic invasions and then the british colonial stranglehold terrorized the Hindus into steel bound compartments. But these are circumstantial habits rather than a natural state of Hindu society. The growing prosperity of Hindustan is quite naturally easing the social divides.
    As the Hindus are restored to their natural easy going ways, the questions of inclusion and exclusion will become irrelevant. And yes there will then be no conversion, just inclusion.

  • Vidyadhara Buddhiraju

    My previous post got deleted, I dont know how.
    Because I have to type it again, I will make it shorter, less expressive.

    Conversion is a partisan idea. Conversion is the unfortunate notion of carrying partisan politics to the high heavens. Conversion implies that you have jumped out of your skin and become something new.

    That is why the Hindus are uncomfortable with the idea. This is not a notion that has a parallel among the Hindus. With the Hindus there is only an inclusion. And even that is not something they are doing to you. They are doing it to themselves.

    When you include someone or something in your own experience of being, you are simply expanding yourself. So if the Hindus accept you it is the Hindus who are becoming larger. It is not that you have changed in that process. Now if you include the Hindus into your being, then you have become larger. Yes we all need acceptance and inclusion from a society. But that is not conversion. Just inclusion. Which is atmost a social event or a process.

    You don’t give up your past or deny it or view it with disfavour, atleast not from an theological view point. Such notions are to put it in parliamentary language, lacking in substance.

    You were always and will for ever be part of the infinite unity of all existence. No matter what happens or does not happen. Whatever doctrine you pick up or refuse to pick up.

    To discover the sanatana dharma is just this. To erase the fiction that you have constructed within yourself that you are somehow separated from the rest of the universe. Therefore to come to the sanatana dharma can perhaps be called a deconversion rather than a conversion.

    Vande Mataram.

    • Ambaa

      Well said!

  • Nishant Patar

    Ambaa. I don’t think it is bad thing about white. Some time by our side is extra privilege. Example, many white people visit in India. Than they rounded by kids and people. Get more stuff. But this thing not happen with Black people. I know this because I use to one of those kids. Many time just happen. Again like they are many blogger wrote Article. But if person is white and write same stuff as Indian but for India. Than they get more traffic. It is kind a ridiculous. But it happen. I have nothing against white people or any race. But I think in society we create class. Where people offer them fixed stuff instead of there true capability. Which create problem for both groups. I assume I did not offended any body, Sorry in Advance.

  • Jacob Israel

    Do you seriously think God actually created the caste system, a heinous system equivalent to the worst racism?
    Do you seriously think God wants us to believe that the shadow of an untouchable falling on a brahmin will pollute that brahmin?
    Do you seriously think God created a system which reincarnates a person into a worm/dog/untouchable/brahmin according to their deeds in their previous life?
    Do you seriously think God has made dumb animals such as the elephant and monkey in his image?
    Do you seriously think God would want you to worship the cow, the dumbest of animals?
    Do you seriously think God wants you to worship the penis, and make temples in the shape of one?
    Do you seriously think that the disorder, confusion, intolerance, injustice, corruption, disregard for the poor, filth and disregard for the environment in India are not the fruits of hinduism?

    Then congratulations- you have become a hindu, regardless of what others may think. You deserve it.

    • Ambaa

      Your comment shows a ton of ignorance. Most of these things are not part of Hinduism at all and those that are you have misrepresented completely.

    • Salim Alvi

      Caste is Portuguese word. Most of the sages and writers of epics like MahaBharat (fisherman)& Ramayan (tribal) were not born as Brahman or Kshatriya. Varna is mere division of labor so society works smoothly.

  • Karna Pandit

    There has been overwhelming protest against sadhus in all over the world and especially in india. I just don’t understand that. Why only sadhus man? There are so many fraud mullas and priests our there in the world too! Go shout at them too! Just because you got one bad meal, are you gonna stop eating meal for rest of your life? No, you move on and find another one. And before you find it, it is your duty to check from inside out that this is the right person to make guru as hindu scripture describes it.

  • Karna Pandit

    Well I am interested in sharing my views and knowledge of hinduism I have to you. Let me know how can we communicate.

  • Seeker

    Interesting I had a slightly different take although similar. I call myself The Invisible (Western) Hindu. Because when people say Western Hindu they generally mean white or European Americans. Many of us who are also western but non white get overlooked. I still wish I knew more about Hindu culture but I am fortunate enough to have a community to teach me.

  • Aditya Rajan

    You cannot be a Hindu in an ethnic sense, in Hinduism neither ethnicity nor race exist, everything is brahman. This concept of ethnic Hindu is a made up concept, you cannot find it in any shrutis. It is exactly this attitude that is the basis for all the problems plaguing Hinduism today. Caste is a part of the same attitude, you have to be born something to be something. Absolutely Ludicrous and nothing but racial superstition with no basis in scripture.


    Dear Amba I am pleased to hear from you that you are a white hindu and this is the truth. I have my own research work on Meditation at Secret ism. & As per my own experience divine any lady or female structure is as great as God is! I have experience the Existence of lady Lord Kali the Lord of Justice. Hinduism clearly explain about the Female God! No other religion or philosophy accept Female as God. Anyone who take birth on this earth is Hindu by birth. Right from Birth we started living from our Mother same way we take birth again and again at our mother divine. I want to share my experience divine with you! hope you would like to have an interest at this.

  • Puneet Tiwary

    I am so sorry that you went (and probably still are going, to some extent) through that ordeal early in your journey.
    Really, because Hinduism never embraced the conversion obsession, most Hindus really have no idea how to react to a non-Indian Hindu. It is our undoing and our loss.
    If you look at muslims, they have a well-oiled machine focusing solely on conversion and converts, financed by billions from the arab states. If Hindus spent 1% of the effort of other religions on welcoming others into the fold, Hinduism would have a hundred times more converts than those religions.
    People like you are the key and I am so happy I found your website. Good luck, I wish you the best the Universe has to offer.

  • Salim Alvi

    Saptarshi from whom Gotra came, were spread all over the world. So you have a Gotra. U just dont know it since ur parents didnt know it.

    People spread in original one continent, Gondavan. Saptarshis are AdiManav.

  • Salim Alvi

    “Go” really means roughly English word Senses. So, GoTra means that decides or controls senses. Mind that mind itself is a super sense organ. So scientifically, GoTra means DNA or dominent characteristic of DNA. But it has been observed that DNA transforms after enlightenment. So Amba’s Gotra is that of her Guru (male or female, doesnt matter), if not then of IshtDevta like, Hanuman, Ram, Krishna, Durga, Saraswati, etc. Her Ishta will become KulDevta of her progeny. If she gets enlightenment and decides to settle in one place and invokes one deity to live in the village/town/locality temple, then that deity is her GramDevta. Devta can be considered as Prunciple like Gravitation, ElectroMagnetism etc and even more subtle. These principles aud in our progress and we can transcend them.

  • Salim Alvi

    There was nothing called Aryan and definitely not a race. Arya meant noble person. Nothing more! Noble by deeds only not by birth.

  • Salim Alvi

    Think he passed away in 1994. Used to publish Hinduism Today weekly.

  • Salim Alvi

    Arjun was white. So also Bhisma, Drona. Ashwathama was blonde.

  • Vivek

    Ever hear of a place called Bali? Or Thailand? Or Laos? The problem with your hypothesis is that there is no “religion” called Hinduism. Hinduism is a collection of religious practices that originated on the Indian subcontinent. It has its parallels around the world, from the Romans to the Goths to the Incas. Hinduism is a set of pagan practices, and realistically brings nothing significantly different from other pagan religions, which is why Hindu religions only spread to territories colonized by South Indian kingdoms.

  • sree kalyani bhogaraju

    In a pre abrahamic world, civilisations everywhere followed a variation of polythesm. Hinduism is the one of the oldest surviving polytheistic religion. So you have just returned back to your roots in a way. Incidentally we do have a term for conversion back to the Hindu fold – called Gharwapsi (ghar -house; wapsi- coming back). Welcome back! 🙂

  • Hello, Ambaa. Not sure if your blog came to my friend’s attention but she shared in satsang once about being in Ganeshpuri’s Siddha Peeth ashram. She is a follower of Gurumayi Chidvilasananda like me. She had an experience where she was not to do a seva because of her race. Only people of a dark skin were allowed to do this seva. She was disappointed. She shared that this whole distressing experience disappeared at her running into Gurumayi.
    I have read in the Hare Krsna literature about difficulties the young American devotees had in India after being initiated by the Hare Krsna movement founder Prabhupada. Many here in the United States like to project an opinion that Indians should be Hindus and Americans Christians. White people they think should have certain religions and opinions to be white. More so these days as I seem to hear only republicans are white people and only white people are Americans. Amazing, isn’t it? I can’t say that universities help so much. They do not study the Bhagavad Gita in philosophy classes and they have very little in religious studies that include eastern religions at least where I am in Florida at the site of the University of Florida. It’s really a minor thing though, that you have called yourself a white Hindu. Many yogic paths do not even refer to themselves as religions in any way. Siddha Yoga which I have followed for many years does not called Kashmir Shaivism a part of Hinduism. They have an absolute respect for that philosophy but separate if from the religion of Hinduism. They say the experience developed through Siddha Yoga is the fundamental experience of all religions. I’m sure I’ve read the same of Kriya Yoga which Paramahansa Yogananda brought to the United States in the 1920’s.