Can I Convert to Hinduism [Google Questions Answered]

“Conversion” is a very charged word for Hindus.

It is exclusively associated with the predatory behavior of Abrahamic religions (Islam and Christianity) as they work to convert Hindus by any means necessary (including bribery, withholding medicine, tricks, and other coercion). For many Hindus it is only religions that teach exclusive access to Truth that need the concept of conversion. Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma is the original term for the faith) is a way of life and it doesn’t put the Truth that it has discovered behind locked doors.

This is why you will frequently hear that you cannot convert to Hinduism, that there’s no such thing as conversion to Hinduism.

However, for the majority of Hindus that doesn’t mean that you can’t practice Santana Dharma. If you ask native Hindus about converting to Hinduism, many will say “Just practice it and you are.” 

I find that sometimes there is a lack of understanding about what issues, problems, and questions those of us not native to Hinduism experience. Sometimes our movement into the religious practice needs to be acknowledged (for that I took a poll of what words would be better to use than “convert”, here are the results: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/whitehindu/2014/11/better-words-than-convert/)

Sometimes we feel like we need an official welcome into the faith and a card to present that proves we are Hindu. While that isn’t something that’s usually required, there are Hindu groups that will give you an official conversion ceremony. One well known one is the Himalayan Academy (creators of Hinduism Today magazine). They have a wonderful system of “Ethical Conversion” which ensures that no one is ever pressured into joining. 

I have a small booklet available to help guide you towards finding a Hindu community to start setting down your roots. I think my method is the gentlest possible way to start bringing Hindu practice into your life!

The New Hindu Toolbox: Beginning Your Journey in Hinduism

newhindutoolbox

Amazon

Smashwords (all formats, including PDF and HTML)

 

There are some who will feel like you practicing Hinduism is a way of stealing their culture. This is why it is important to take each step towards Hinduism with great care and respect. If people express discomfort, listen to them without getting defensive. But you still have to do what’s right for you and your soul. Obviously I have chosen to involve myself deeply with Hindu religion and culture despite a few people’s objections.

I think that you, like me, will find far more people delighted to see you taking an interest in their religion and culture. Many people will help you and have lots of knowledge to share.

I certainly think that it’s better to get some authentic knowledge from qualified teachers than trying to cobble together a spiritual path from a couple yoga classes and the musings of a weed-smoking neighbor!

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • EmJay Cee

    This is a great idea for newcomers to Sanatana Dharma. There are a lot of books on the philosphy and mythology, but not the practical social type advice. I will get a copy and give it a read. I am sure I will learn something from your experiences.

    • Ambaa

      I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Angelina M. Vono

    This is one of my favorite answers to if one is able to convert to hinduism. Its the response to someone saying you can’t on tumbler. http://reverseracism.tumblr.com/post/77751071972/white-people-cannot-join-hinduism-in-order-to

    If it doesn’t display right. I can copy and paste it as nessisary.

    • Ambaa

      That is great! I will have to share that more places.

    • Seeker

      This piece assumes that only white people desire to convert. It was seemingly written to exclude people like me who are western but not white. As I read it I felt invisible. Also it says when people go to another religion on their own it is dharma. Question, why is it not karma? Any thoughts? Thanks.

  • M Raghavan

    There are traditions within Hinduism to which you can convert. Each tradition is a specific spiritual practice dedicated to a deity or a specific set of deities, under the tutelage of a qualified guru. Unlike the West, however, none of these paths sees itself as the only way to the Divine.

  • morris98

    Just a thought.
    Hinduism is a secular religion. As a Hindu you can pray to Christ, Allah or whatever. The moment you accept that religion exclusively you cease to remain Hindu. We are all born Hindu. If you do not accept any religion you remain a Hindu.by default. Millions of Hindus do not practice any form of Hinduism. In fact millions of Christians heading in the same direction. So who is Hindu? One who says he is a Hindu, is a Hindu. It is not Hinduism that ask people to come back home. Hinduism can only welcome those who wish to come home.. .

    • Ambaa

      You make a great point. That’s one of the things I most love about Hinduism. It makes me smile when my bhajan group sings hymns to all the Gods of various religions.

      • https://t.co/qWiGCV5Pu8 vikram II

        just adding Sanatan dharma means the first religion(dharma means way of life ) or the religion from the begining. The arabs and thus the westerners called people beyond the Indus river (in pakistan) as Hindus… that s how the name Hindu came for sanatan dharma.you do not need somebody’s acceptance. Caste is about one’s nature….not by birth according to scriptures…one who fights will be a soldier/king caste…lower caste people established kingdoms they became kshatriaya(king caste) etc…most of our holy books are written not by Brahmins but, people born in lower castes…. i do not like write an essay here but, after british rule hindu caste rigidity consolidated… check this one :
        http://yalifeslikethat.blogspot.in/2011/11/why-there-is-casteism-in-hinduism.html

        may be that is giving you doubt over acceptance into Hindu (caste) system… but, god is free from caste or the people who do not accept you… or accept you. let nobody say you are a Hindu or not a hindu.

        your own words to remind you:

        All people are capable of being racist. Having a wonderful religion like Hinduism does not shield people from misusing or misinterpreting it. It happens in every religion and in every way of life.

        so do not let somebody say whether you are a hindu or not , it is up-to you.

        finally for Indians western white people coming and practicing Hinduism will always make them curious 1. whites were the foreign rulers of India for 2 centuries , they were our masters whether we like it or nor….2. whites means hollywood -party boyz for the Indians and they prayers religion… 3. both white men and women with their white skin , colored eyes they are like a new student in the class room who looks like nobody in the class room, they will be approached with curiosity than to shake hand and go around. k,k.

    • Lokesh

      Well put

  • Rajiv Varma

    The question itself is invalid. Conversion, Faith, God, Belief, Commandments, Scriptures, these are all Abrahamic/Christian concepts. These do not apply to Hinduism, or for that matter, to Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism et al. Asking to convert to Hinduism is like asking “Could I switch from Roman numerals to the decimal system”? – Of course, the answer is yes. from a Hindu point of view, every human is already a Hindu be default, it is just that some realize it, and some do not. A better way to frame this question is “Could one convert OUT of Christianity or Islam or Judaism?” That answer is also yes. Just like a student of mathematics cannot do his/her math in Roman numerals, an Abrahamic needs to give up Abrahamism to pursue Hinduism – its associated spirituality. The process is simple – give up your Christian/Islamic name (there is a standard legal process available for it), disassociate yourself with any religious congregation – Church or Ummah, stop believing in God or prophet business (instead start practicing), and the ground is all set for you to pursue Hinduism. Although not absolutely necessary, but one can go through simple initiation – by installing a home temple and keeping up with Sandhya Vandanam (minimum light the lamp). The initiating sloka could be dedicated to Sri Ganesha – Vakra-Tunndda Maha-Kaaya Suurya-Kotti Samaprabha, Nirvighnam Kuru Me Deva Sarva-Kaaryessu Sarvadaa (O Ganesha, of Curved Trunk, Large Body, and with the Brilliance of a Million Suns, Please Make all my Works Free of Obstacles, Always.) Welcome to Hinduism !

    • Ambaa

      You have truly summed it up!

      I completely agree, although I sometimes do use the word “conversion” because there can be questions, issues, problems, and concerns that people who are new to practicing Hinduism have and so saying “convert” allows for the way that some people are newer to Hindu practice than others!

      • Uma

        Amba this may be out of context but an interesting post and documentary on “Paris Lakshmi”. Please google and see how the journey unfolds. Quite interesting

      • nikuj

        Hinduism is best practice, they never force people to join Hinduism like other religion…Also Shivlinga ( source of all energy) perfectly matches with Bing bang theory of physics… Cloning, aeroplane, Surrogate mother already present in Hindu mythology…

        Hindu kings or leaders have NEVER initiated war in history…!

    • https://sites.google.com/site/hinduvichaarah कश्चिद् विपश्चित्

      Nice answer, Rajiv!

    • Lokesh

      Dear Rajiv

      You are speaking as an Indian who doesn’t value concept of conversion.

      But when people from non dharmic majority countries want to follow dharmic traditions there is a real need to convert, we can say “read the philosophy, practice it and there is no need to convert”,

      but to them Religious freedom can not come unless they distinguish themselves and practice their faith (visiting temples, attending gita discussions, discourses), its especially necessary for the first generation Hindus.

      • Rajiv Varma

        Lokesh wrote: “… You are speaking as an Indian who doesn’t value concept of conversion. …”

        Being an Indian or not being an Indian does not alter the parameters of this debate. It is not that I do not value the concept of conversion.

        The point is that the concept of “conversion” – as it is understood in the English language with an Abrahamic/Christian backdrop – is completely invalid from a Hindu point of view. Reason is very simple – the act of conversion requires subscription to a dogma, developing a belief in God, having faith in divinity/revelations, be guided by a single scripture (Torah or Bible or Quran), look up to a prophet (Moses, Jesus or Muhammad), be part of a congregation (Church or Ummah), etc.

        Hinduism by definition cannot have a dogma, or God, or divinity, or single scripture as “word of God”, or a prophet. Hence, “conversion to Hinduism”, by definition, is a non sequitur. This definition is valid in India and outside of India equally. Also, the same holds true in Siberia, Alaska, North Pole, Antartica and Moon and Mars equally. Locale is inconsequential to this debate.

        What I do acknowledge is that post-Vivekananda has absorbed elements of Abrahamism/Christianity – affected by long periods of colonialism and the resulting colonial consciousness – that manifests itself in crypto-Christianity of modern guru owned and driven congregations, who may “convert” Westerners, in order to capture a certain business market. It is the dollar that is at work, not Dharma. I call this as Saffron Christianity, NOT Hinduism.

        The valid path available to a non-Hindu is the ritual of deeksha or upanayan/vedarambha, which is one of the original 16 samskaaras. Any non-Hindu can go to a local Sanatani temple, and have the acharya perform the upanayan ceremony. The important ideological point to note is that this is meant for all Hindus and non-Hindus alike, because Hinduism by definition does not and cannot make distinction between a believer and non-believer/heathen/kafir. After upanayan ceremony, the “student” of Vedas, should establish a home temple, and at minimum install Ganesha as a devata and keep up Sandhya vandanam – just 10 minutes light a lamp and chant Vedic shlokas. Then start celebrating major festivals, observe fasts – Ramnavami, Janmaashtami, Navaratri, Holi, Diwali, etc, then do Satyanarayana katha, and then move to the nest step in Adhyatma practice. That is the right way.

        What is not recommended is to leave Christianity and then jump into Crypto-Christianity of Saffron variety, where the Prophet is replaced by a 5-star guru, and so on, but there is NO change of system whatsoever. Hope you see the point.

        • Lokesh

          The point is that the concept of “conversion” – as it is understood in the English language with an Abrahamic/Christian backdrop – is completely invalid from a Hindu point of view

          I agree
          ———————————–

          the act of conversion requires subscription to a dogma

          We Hindus have Dogmas too, like Karma, Reincarnation, single god, atman- that we are spirit and not body. Though we are not subscribed to them exclusively, we still have distinct concepts that define us. My hinduism can be as philosophically far as “atheism is from theism” from your hinduism. Yet your concepts strike chords with me and mine with you, though not to the whole array of other religions. Isn’t that a enough common thread to say we are very much alike in thought than in comparison to others though different between ourselves.
          ——————————————

          Hence, “conversion to Hinduism”, by definition, is a non sequitur.

          I would not call it conversion, but identifying oneself as one who ascribes to this philosophical ideology. In fact you and I are not Hindus either, we are just those to whom the Hindu philosophy is appealing and worth practicing.
          ——————————————————-

          It is the dollar that is at work, not Dharma

          Not entirely true, I personally know many (like more than 10, and that too in India) westerners who are better meditators and well versed in Indian philosophy than me.

          Take Ambaa’s example, her parents did not convert to Hinduism but taught her Hindu philosophy, they were interested in Dharma, they knew it and taught it, certainly they were not mesmerized by a 5star guru.
          ———————————————————————
          The important ideological point to note is that this is meant for all Hindus and non-Hindus alike, because Hinduism by definition does not and cannot make distinction between a believer and non-believer/heathen/kafir

          I agree

          ———————————————-
          whether One passes an exam or fails is decided the moment he has finished writing, same way whether one is Hindu or not is decided the moment one knows it in oneself.

          Think of it as announcing to already being Hindu than converting to be Hindu.

          Yes, I think there is “being Hindu”, which is different from being anything else.

          I don’t honestly see much difference in our thinking, just the wordplay IMO

          • Rajiv Varma

            Lokesh writes: >>>>> “… We Hindus have Dogmas too, like Karma, Reincarnation, single god, atman-
            that we are spirit and not body. …” <<<<<

            This is an incorrect understanding of "dogma". A dogma is handed over to the people by a broker (prophet), by an 'a priori' God, which is ruthlessly enforced by the Church/Ummah. Second commandment is such a dogma, that prohibits worship of graven images (anti-idolatory). Throughout the Abrahamic history one can see how many metric tonnes of blood was shed to enforce this dogma.

            On the contrary to what you list above, Karma and Punarjanma (Reincarnation) are not dogmas. These are parameters of upholding a Dharmic system, where the onus on performance and subsequently its rewards is on the individual. Classic case is that of Valmiki and his wife, where the wife refuses to share the burden of bad Karma of her husband. This is Hinduism at its best. Very few people understand this nuance. A woman can be married to a man, and yet is not obligated in any way to share bad Karma of her husband. There is no compulsion of any kind. This is real freedom and liberty.

          • Thiago

            I believe you are over simplifying. It depends of how you define hinduism, if by ‘diksha’ you mean a guru initiation, most gurus are related to one sampradaya or lineage of though and practice. All sampradayas have very specific dogmas and doctrines, scriptures and religious hierarchies (guru shishya). Some important sampradayas were also founded by and prophet kind of figure, such as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu for Gaudiya Vaishnavas. Mtsyendranath for nath sampradaya etc . Also nothing of these are new concepts imported from abrahamic faiths, it all exists for centuries in these traditions, just study their history and see for yourself, as they were all founded before contemporary era.. Also not all acharyas would give upanayanam to a non-brahmin. I’m not personally against this, but fews institutions such as ISKCON and Arya Samaj are willing to give upanayanam for people who don’t have caste. These are all issues that must be discussed.

    • Robert Scott McKnight

      Thank you. You answered the question I have today two years ago. One of the decisions I have been struggling with is weather or not to give up my birth name. There are many that would deem it “cultural appropriation”. But, as others have pointed out here, it is simply adoption. If people label me as a cultural appropriator it is because of their issues. I am creating myself anew to mark the beginning of a long journey home.

  • Seeker

    The way we are instructed in the west is to get “formal classes” on religion. Those of us who are Catholic for example are given several months of instruction as adult “converts”. We get to learn The Bible, spiritual history, philosophics and ritual protocol. . Protestants have less formal training but they still have some as adult converts. As a finally, there is baptism.

    Baptism is an event. It is symbolic of the spiritual “adoption” of ones
    new spiritual identification. Coming from that back ground to being
    told basically that if you think you are a Hindu then you are one
    makes the aspirant feel as if s/he is not taken seriously.

    IMHO, one of the reasons ISKCON ( Hare Krishna) is so successful is that they actually teach people and allow them to satisfy their spiritual curiosity. They also have an event welcoming people into the Hindu religion. Here in the (San Francisco) Bay area they have classes every Wed at one temple and Sunday at another. They
    are very helpful in guiding perspective “converts”, “adoptors”….”embracors”….

    OK, maybe it is like marriage. There are those who may feel that two people can just live together and that is the same as undergoing a wedding ceremony. However most humans seemingly want the public proclamation of their love via of ceremony. Same as with baptism or “conversion”.

    It used to bug me but now it doesn’t. I am accepted at my temple as a Hindu and I worship there and at home. Shiva knows who I am so I am fine with that !

    aum namah shivaya!!

    • Rajiv Varma

      You are absolutely right. You have clearly stated the need for an initiation ceremony. And one already exists. It is called Upanayan/Vedarambha. The important point is that it applies to all. By definition any samskaara cannot differentiate between two humans – a formerly non-Hindu and a Hindu. That is the most important point. Hinduism does not have an equivalent term for a Heathen or a Kafir. In other words, an Abrahamic cannot leave one flavor of Abrahamism, and jump into another flavor of the same. That would not constitute a change. There could not be a Hindu ceremony that is symmetrical to what the Christians do – Baptism or whatever. Even though ISKCON means well, they have created/adopted some elements of Christianity – perhaps due to the overwhelming milieu they had to cope with. In the long run ISKCON will have to drop these elements if they are to be serious about Hinduism. Christianity in Saffron still remains Christianity.

      • Malai

        “Hinduism does not have an equivalent
        term for a Heathen or a Kafir.”

        What about mleccha?

        “In other words, an Abrahamic cannot leave
        one flavor of Abrahamism, and jump into another flavor of the same.”

        Protestants convert to Catholicism or Orthodox Christianity all the time and vice versa. Similarly Shia Muslims become Sunni Muslims. Moreover Jews become Christians and Muslims and and Christians also become Jews or Muslims, so YES “Abrahamics” leave one flavor of Abrahamic faith for another and it does constitute change.

        “There could not be a Hindu ceremony
        that is symmetrical to what the Christians do – Baptism or whatever.
        Even though ISKCON means well, they have created/adopted some elements
        of Christianity ”

        Such as? What ISKCON does is give diksha into their sampradaya. That is conversion and it is Hindu

        • HARRY

          Diksha is only performed when a person leaves gristha ashram for to become a vayragi. And no, and that is not same as conversion.

          • Malai

            “Diksha is only performed when a person leaves gristha ashram for to become a vayragi.”

            Another Indian who has no idea about Hindu sampradayas.

            Diksha is initiation into a specific mantra by a guru and putting oneself under his or her tutelage as a sisya.. It has nothing to do with becoming a vairagi.

          • Rajiv Varma

            Yes you are right. Harry missed this point. Deeksha/Vedarambha/Upanayan is an important samskaara. This initiation *could* become an equivalent of welcoming ceremony. But the deeksha ritual remains, and must remain for all humans. It is just like taking admission into a degree or diploma program. It means you commit yourself to learning a certain discipline and graduating out of it.

          • HARRY

            But you used it by saying that it’s conversion to Hinduism and not sisya, isn’t this same,you can’t be a sisya or sanyasi ,if you are not a vairagi. So why are you saying that Diksha is used as a conversion when you clearly know it’s not same.

          • Malai

            You appear to be very confused with no understanding of the sanskrit terminology in use. A sisya is a disciple.

          • HARRY

            I know what a sisya is, but you still didn’t explain how is giving Diksha is same as conversion and you are calling me a confused. You need to get your facts sorted.

          • Malai

            Diksha often acts as a conversion from one faith tradition to another if the person receiving the diksha was not raised in that tradition. What is so difficult to understand about that?

          • HARRY

            Two words, sisya and deciple. When you receive Diksha it’s usually for to receive sisya and not for conversion. Unless you are one of those Hindu who says that all the religious are same for being politicaly correct, when you clearly know that it’s not same.

            Next you are going to tell me that the old testament and the new testament are same as our purans. If you think that then you need to study them intensively.

            On that note I want to leave it at that.

          • Malai

            I don’t think you understand the meaning of conversion. It means formal entrance into a religion that you previously were not part of before. So if a person raised as Sri Vaishnava takes diksha into Shaiva Siddhanta, they have converted from the former to the latter. These are two distinct religions that are very different from one another.

        • Rajiv Varma

          I fully understand your point of view, which is valid from a Christian point of view, but what I am saying is equally valid, albeit from a Hindu point of view. From a Christian perspective, Protestants “converting” to Catholicism might be conversion, but from a Hindu point of view, it is not a change of system. Let me present a simile – for a drug addict to switch from smoking hashish to heroine is a change, but from a non-addict point of view, there is no change, because the addiction remains – only the parameter of substance is changing. This is an important point for those who want to pursue Hinduism, and that is they need to necessarily quit the dogma in all forms first as a prerequisite, before they can pursue Hindu spirituality – just like a modern mathematician cannot do modern maths by using roman numerals – he/she has to give up roman numerals and take up decimal system. Subscribing to a dogma, any dogma, being a believer – any set of ‘a priori’ beliefs – like belief in an (external) God, being a member of a theological congregation – Church style, being governed by a religious hierarchy – like Pope, Bishops, Cardinals, pastor – are all antithetical to the Hindu system of spirituality. Hence the need to be wary of New Age type formations where they retain such elements but paint them in Saffron.

          • Malai

            We Hindus don’t have popes, bishops, etc but we have gurus, acharyas, etc. Converting Sri Vaishnavism to Shaiva Siddhanta is a change.

          • Rajiv Varma

            Popes, Cardinals, Bishops, Pastors are not Gurus, and Gurus and Acharyas are not Pope/Cardinals/Bishops. A guru is a teacher who teaches spirituality to his/her shishyas (students), but then the students graduate from the teaching – just like one graduates out of high school or college. The role of a Pope or a Bishop is to be the custodians of the Christian dogma – and enforce it – whether to use birth control or not, etc. etc. On the other hand the role of the Guru is make his/her student better than himself in the discipline of knowledge that he is teaching. A good example is an engineering school that graduates civil or mechanical engineers. But once they graduate out of engineering school, they are on their own. They may build a Brooklyn bridge or build Trump tower, but they do this on their own. Their guru does not tell them or interfere with their building of the bridge or skyscraper. This is an important difference to understand for those Abrahamics who want to seriously pursue Hinduism. This is all the more important because certain greedy individuals have set themselves up as New Age gurus as a head of their “flock” and indulge in all those nefarious activities that Church fathers indulge in – including child abuse, sex etc. etc. Those who want to pursue Hinduism must avoid such charlatans posing as gurus. The best way to start the journey of Hinduism is at home by starting home pujas, then followed by going to mainstream (Sanatani) temples. DIY is a key to get initiated into Hinduism. (DIY = do it yourself)

          • Malai

            “The role of a Pope or a Bishop is to be the custodians of the Christian
            dogma – and enforce it – whether to use birth control or not”

            Catholics are not the only Christians. Many Christian pastors or preachers act similar to gurus. Besides that you are wrong that a disciple is ever on his or her “own”. A sisya feels eternally connected with and under the guidance of his or her guru.

          • Rajiv Varma

            I am fully aware of small decentralized Baptist churches dotted all over the Bible belt – and otherwise. The role of pastors in these small churches is no different from that of Pope, only the scale is small. A pastor cannot be a guru, because there is no physics or chemistry like discipline to teach or train. Pastors of small churches are relaying the same dogma of Christianity that a Pope would do for catholics. It is the same Bible and the same set of 10 commandments. It is not as if a Baptist pastor or minister will let his flock question the prophethood of Jesus.

          • Rajiv Varma

            Malai says: “… you are wrong that a disciple is ever on his or her “own”. A sisya
            feels eternally connected with and under the guidance of his or her
            guru. …”

            That is a Christian way to look at the guru-shishya relationship. Recently in one of the public engagements, where the audience was Hindu youth, I was asked the same kind of question. I had replied that suppose you are a doctor or a lawyer, but would you take your mother to operation theatre or a courtroom? In spite of the fact that your mother may have played the single most important role in your becoming of a doctor or a lawyer. Yes you feel connected to your guru as you would to your mother, but it would be absurd to take one or both of them to your workplace or a corporate boardroom.

          • Malai

            I’m not getting your analogy or connection. You seem to be a guruless Hindu with no sampradayik connection and therefore completely ignorant of the same while arrogantly presenting yourself as a knower of the experience.

          • Rajiv Varma

            Malai says: “… You seem to be a guruless Hindu with no sampradayik connection…”

            An overwhelming population of Hindus is guruless. They do just fine. Thank you.

          • Malai

            They do “just fine” and I have no problem with it – up until they start speaking like they know the culture, teachings and motives of sampradayik Hindus, and presenting masala Hinduism as the only type of Hinduism. An extremely large amount of Hindus DO have gurus – and specific rules, practices and traditions, that do not mix well with other Hindu traditions. Its not all one or the same.

          • Loretto Taylor

            Never seen a Christian priest or pastor that resembles a guru in any way. Even most Protestant denominations have their doctrines and dogmas that are rigidly enforced on the congregations. Often the dogmas are based on an individual pastor’s interpretation of the Bible, but with some exceptions (your more liberal Episcopalians and the United Churches of Christ, frex) Christianity is primarily a religion of “right belief” and stepping outside the dogmatic box is not allowed.

          • Rajiv Varma

            Malai says: “..Converting Sri Vaishnavism to Shaiva Siddhanta is a change. ..”

            This is a Christian/Abrahamic understanding, not Hindu. I will explain this. For a Hindu, Sri Vaishnavism and Shaiva Siddhanta are not mutually exclusive disciplines. A physics major must also study some maths and some chemistry, but his specialization is in physics. Similarly a seeker pursuing Vaishnava path, must also know/experience about Shaiva practices. By definition there cannot be mutual exclusivity between the two. I observe Shivaraatri and Ramnavami both with equal devotion. But if I want to specialize in Vaishnava path, then I would be doing more of it, but that does not mean I am converting from Shaiva to Vaishnava. This is another point to note by Abrahamics who want to pursue Hinduism. The correct way and path is to start from Kindergarten, then go to elementary school, then middle, then high, and then finally to college, masters and a Ph.D. program. Do not try to jump right into college or Ph.D. It does not work. If you try to do that you will remain a Christian in essence, because there are pseudo-sampradayas who operate as cults and will try to pull you in their flock. That is why I would stress home-based simple pujas as a good beginning.

          • Malai

            “For a Hindu, Sri Vaishnavism and Shaiva Siddhanta are not mutually
            exclusive disciplines.”

            Yes they are.

            “Similarly a seeker
            pursuing Vaishnava path, must also know/experience about Shaiva
            practices.”

            No, he or she does not.

            You know nothing of either one of these sampradayik traditions. You are a masala Hindu. Nothing wrong with that, but stop speaking of what you don’t know about, which is sampradayik Hinduism.

          • Rajiv Varma

            Malai: “… You are a masala Hindu…. but stop speaking of what you don’t know about, which is sampradayik Hinduism. …”

            Not sure what you mean by being a Masala Hindu, but an overwhelming majority of Hindus are this way. In India, both rural and urban, they do pujas at home, they go to temples, they observe fasts and festivals, do their Ganga snaan and pind daan. There is no such thing as sampradayik Hinduism – there are sampradayas alright – but you cannot call that “sampradayik Hinduism” – there is only one Hinduism. Sampradayas are meant for those who want to pursue specialization in their spiritual pursuits. That is fine. But the point of this discussion is how an Abrahamic would be introduced to Hindu spirituality, customs, rituals, practices. That would be through what you call masala Hinduism. Jumping straight into a sampradaya is not recommended. Certainly not joining some new-age type guru cult. Welcome to Masala Hinduism ! (nice term I like it).

          • Malai

            “Certainly not joining some new-age type guru cult.”

            Sampradayas are not new age cults. They are centuries, and sometimes millenia old lineages.

          • Lokesh

            Dharma by default means that which liberates,

            how can there be rules and regulations then?

            Yes there are rules, but only to help one become free, thus the rigidity that Shaiva and Vaishnava traditions are exclusive is mild, In Shiva purana doesn’t shiva himself tell Parvati “I and Vishnu are essentially one and the same”

        • https://t.co/qWiGCV5Pu8 vikram II

          no like criticism but, iskcon is more like church. i myself worship krishna and Bhagavadgita is my book but, ISKCON seems more like you have to do this do that… Hinduism is a free religion no rules except doing your dharma. you can pray to god by going to temple or staying at home. Dharma means your duty in the society. this vid will give you the idea of rigidity in Hinduism https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1rg6hOpxaY

          • Malai

            I’m not an ISKCON member but like a lot of Indians you are completely unaware of our Hindu sampradayik traditions if you think Hinduism is free of rules.

          • https://t.co/qWiGCV5Pu8 vikram II

            yes it has rules yet no rules

        • Lokesh

          “Even though ISKCON means well, they have created/adopted some elements of Christianity ” Perhaps that is necessary for the time being, otherwise it would be a sudden deep step to Hinduism

        • Lokesh

          mleccha means an unrighteous fellow, as i understand it can not mean being out of dharma, wherever one is it is his dharma to do little better.

          Atheists, Agnostics and those of other religions can be Hindus as well (without changing their identity that is)

    • Lokesh

      “IMHO, one of the reasons ISKCON ( Hare Krishna) is so successful is that they actually teach people and allow them to satisfy their spiritual curiosity. They also have an event welcoming people into the Hindu religion”

      Very true, more the drama, more the audience. that said there are many Non-Hindu origin people who practice Hinduism and aren’t bothered about naming their religion, or calling it a religion

  • RVenkatanarayanan

    I am an Indian and Hindu, interested for several decades now in Hindu philosophy. value system, rituals and practices. In my view it is not possible for any one to be “converted” to Hinduism or for any one to “convert” a “non-Hindu” to Hinduism. The steps required to become a practicing Hindu is to first understand the value system and world-view embedded for hundreds and hundreds of years in what is known as Hinduism; then could follow graded introduction to philosophical/metaphysical principles underlying that world view. With a certain amount of internalization, one can become and declare himself/herself as a Hindu. The icing on the cake is some contemporaneously feasible rituals and day to day life practices. If deemed necessary by the person concerned a ritual of recognition as Hindu can also be undergone. It is simple enough.
    Fundamentally to be a Hindu or to be recognized as a Hindu is to understand that it is NOT an “ism” or a “religion”, a word invented by and applicable only to Abrahamic faith and belief traditions, namely Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

  • HARRY

    This is same as you asking if you can be a woman. Lol

  • Som Dutt

    There isnt any concept of conversion within hinduism because they assumed everybody to be hindus, although the term hindu isnt that ancient – the actual term is sanathan dharma (eternal, never beginning nor ending) or just simply dharma.

    As you know there isnt any founder of hinduism..since ancient times things are being added in the form of theories, stories, hypes, slokes etc etc. and never in its lifetime it remained the same…you can consider it a huge framework where you have all sorts of things which is there to fullfil your spiritual needs….every human being is different hence every human has his/he own special needs so he would need some sort of customization…. this is what hinduism provides… u pick up things which you like and that way you create relationship with God…..yes we have many Gods and you can make relationship with each God according to your needs…….. offcourse if u r a genuis you can add your inputs into hinduism, which would be carryforwarded to future generations of hindus….. since no one is its owner!..

    Yes with the passage of time, things have changes new religions have come up…hinduism says you can practice other religions along with hinduism (hindu concepts which you would like) …since hinduism really doesnt have anything against others (because those relgions in question never exist when hinduism did!!..)

    Now i might have missed out lots and lots of points..but yes u might want to know how you can feel hinduism… this is where you might have to take advice from gurus!… but sometimes self learning is best learning!….. its isnt necessary that every hindus experiences spirituality and relationship with God but yes experiencing spirituality is important for those who are from different religion say someone is from europe/usa…u first have to understand hinduism is also attached to indian culture so you have to understand the culture of india, however just understand it (no need whether you agree to it or not) but since you might have to read some sort of hinduism stories of God you need to understand the people (so that its easier for you to understand)…anyway ..u may try out initially

    * understanding the story of ramayana and mahabharata..u may see animations

    * understanding what r the important books of hinduism..but dont get into deep straightaway since its not that easy to understand for normal humans!….it takes time to understand….

    * visit hindu temples so that u want to feel the deities

    * if possible purchase small idiols of god ganesha, shiva, vishnu, ram, krishna etc..just install them and read about them….

    * try out some slokes / hymes and understand them..

    * participate in hindu festivals…. try out some dharmic dress etc..do meditations ..

    * offcourse remember one thing u r part of God … thats how it is…

    * there going to be rituals and all those stuffs associated just try to see documentaries about that on youtube… just get knowledge too…because its important to know whats being done…. i think knowledge more important here

    * Read about various Gods as an entity and try to visualize …..just visualize as if real… try to create connections!!!… just feel him/her!… just feel everything….

    * dont dishearten its not that easy …. just have faith…just think +Ve and never/ignore abusing other religion just try to understand and try to get answers to your questions….think flexibly..just have a flexible mind..

    * Just remember the day when you are able to pray even in a christian chruch you are a hindu!!….’ 😉 because GOD is GOD !!!

    I am not revising the above stuffs…just wrote what i felt…..honestly not that easy to change your religion but i would suggest you just practice stuffs of hinduism side by side, as far as i can understand practicing hinduism concurrently is possible..the reason i am saying so, the religion is linked with asian culture and if u r a person from west some of the things u would notice is a bit strange/surprise to u … so just understand indepth!….

    • Lokesh

      “Just remember the day when you are able to pray even in a christian chruch you are a hindu” In deed Indeed

  • Seeker

    I was recently given the chant of Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya by the
    Spiritual Science Research Foundation. I found it to be rather cumbersome and I
    finally went back to Aum Nama Shiva. It is comforting and seems to be
    tailored to my spiritual needs. So I understand that need that calling to be “united” with ones comfortable chant. With all due respect to the SSRF, sometimes our own souls know what they need.

    • Ambaa

      “sometimes our own souls know what they need”

      Yes! And this is why I try to remind people that they have God within them and they are their own first guru.

  • Emily.E.N

    Personally, I don’t feel like I “converted” to Hinduism. To me, that word represents going from one thing to another, and I was never Christian (the cultural default that everybody just assumes I am) in the first place. From time to time I’ll use the word “converted” when talking to other people who have converted, such as a friend who went from Christian to Muslim or Christian to Baha’i, because it’s more a more relatable context for that person. I feel like I slowly became a Hindu/realized I was one, and never felt the need for a conversion ceremony. I can understand some people might see it as a samskara and want to mark an important shift in their life, but it feels like a leftover Judeo-Christian idea to me, like needing to be baptized to be legitimate, and mentally cleaning all those subtle Christian ideas of what religion is supposed to be out of my worldview was an important part of the process of becoming a Hindu for me.

  • nikuj

    Hinduism is best practice, they never force people to join Hinduism like other religion…Also Shivlinga ( source of all energy) perfectly matches with Bing bang theory of physics… Cloning, aeroplane, Surrogate mother already present in Hindu mythology…
    Hindu kings or leaders have NEVER initiated war in history…

  • betty lasri

    Can I be legally hindu even if im not indian and im from an arabic country but want to live in india .

  • betty lasri

    can i be legally hindu but im not indian and im arabic but want to live in india