The Disadvantage of Being Born Hindu

I’ve spent too long being frustrated about not being born Hindu.

I admit I’ve wasted energy and time wondering why I wasn’t born Indian. Why do I have to stand out? Why do I live in a state of always having something to prove? Rachel Dolezal’s story fascinates me because I have felt a temptation, a desire that I fight to do what she has done, to fit in, to make myself pass for something I’m not. I suspect it’s because I get so tired at times. Tired of always being noticed, always being questioned, always being wondered about.

But lately I’ve been realizing that there are advantages to not being born Indian, not being born Hindu.

born hindu

We who were not born Hindu almost always discover and learn about the philosophy at the core of Hinduism first.

Granted, I’ve had Hindu philosophy in my life for longer than many other non-native Hindus, but still it was exactly that: philosophy. People who were not born Hindu find it through things like yoga, books, college courses. We understand the reasons behind things first. We start with the grand philosophy.

There are so many people born Hindu who never get to have that at all. Some come from generations of family who never learned the philosophy of Hinduism and only do things because they were told “This is what we do because this is what we have always done.” It isn’t always that way, but non-native Hindus skip that pitfall completely.

Following onto that, we get to choose the meaning that ritual has in our lives.

For people who are born Hindu, rituals have a lot of family history behind them. With that can come difficult connotations, family politics, and drama. A ritual’s potential meaning might be clouded by the weight of the history it has for someone. For us, we can learn about a ritual and incorporate it into our practice with no baggage.

Here’s another advantage: there is more meaning in a faith that has been chosen, that has been fought for.

People born into a religion, any religion, can make it their own, learn about it, deepen their knowledge and understanding, find its meaning in their life separate from the meaning it has for their parents. But too often people coast with the faith given to them by their family. Too often they don’t take the time to question, explore, and wonder about it.

Us non-native Hindus had to do a lot of learning, exploring, questioning, and soul searching to get here. We had to learn whether the eternal path of dharma was the right one for this lifetime. It’s not easy to break free from the shadow of the faith that is handed to you at birth.

So it turns out that those of us who were not born Hindus actually have a lot to be thankful for!

Hoping to be Born Brown

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Thank you to my wonderful Patreon supporters…

Brian Hanechak

Amit Agarwal

(views expressed here are mine alone and do not reflect opinions of my supporters. Links within the text may be affiliate links, meaning that if you purchase something I get a small commission for recommending it. I only recommend things I truly believe in)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • HARRY

    I don’t know if can agree with your statement on this fully , if I was born outside of the faith, then I would have more swayed towards being atheist.

    I still think you will never know how fish lives in the ocean even you swim with them, until you transform your self in to one, I don’t think one can become one just by observing them. I not being unkind here, when I say this.

    The one advantage you do have is, you didn’t have to carry heavy cultural baggage, which we born in the tradition had to, by carrying this baggage it gives you sense of sacrifice and purpose why you had to do what you did. You are first in the line of ridicule when it comes to your faith (caste system and other things you already know about ) but in your case, you are still kind of exempt from that ridicule, where you will not have to justify why and what, when you don’t need to or have to, regarding your faith and what you do, that’s when you realize what born in the tradition have to.

    So coming back to your statement, yes we are at disadvantaged when it comes to our own Faith at times.

    I think it kind of gives you different outlook which can not be described in just easy sentence.

  • kuntimaddi sadananda

    For Materialistic approach, some statements may be right. Unfortunately, It is not the ritualism per sec but understanding of meaning of the rituals and the philosophy behind it make one a real Hindu not just by birth. The parents are too busy trying to compete in the financial world and forget to teach the fundamentals of Hinduims. This ignorance is passed on to the next generation. One has to make an effort in terms of what it means by being born as Hindu. Hari Om!

  • ash

    the meanings and philosophy is not important. not knowing them does not make a person less of a hindu. just be a good person and you’re doing your dharma. it is a practical religion. there’s is no advantage/disadvantage. it’s a part of life. people’s pride over their religion spill over to arrogance too often.

  • Floki

    I especially agree with this header/statement:

    Here’s another advantage: there is more meaning in a faith that has been chosen, that has been fought for.

    One pure advantage in one’s fighting for their spirituality is that the believer genuinely owns their faith/worldview through their own study, from their own will, by their own reckoning/recognition – a realization of one’s Self. I would expect converts, reverts, and the honestly reborn to have a greater understanding of their faith through Self – as equivocation, or white noise really, is actively filtered or disregarded entirely – provided the tenets of their faith/worldview itself is given primary focus.

    Too many people, in my view, do become lost in addenda post-“scripture”.

  • loveendures

    why in this modern world one needs a label Hindu Christian Muslim etc ?. I read all scriptures, take some thing good, toss out the bad messages. You want to sound spiritual with bindhi, saree, crazy rituals etc etc .. these are just worldly attraction. It is perfectly OK to read BG wearing Jeans, you think Krishna will punish you ? Jesus was not religious and has made my life simpler. Thanks

  • Uma

    My Guru says all are born Hindus. They convert to other religions through rituals/ceremonies.