Proud White Hindu?

I recently shared an article about Nikki Haley (who I have since learned is the US Ambassador to the UN. Yes, I didn’t know that. I’m ashamed) and whether she claims to be white or changes back and forth about being white or Indian. I don’t know whether the article is accurate but I thought it brought up some interesting questions, particularly around how long we are supposed to identify with the ethnic identities of our ancestors. But anyway, that is not what this post is about.

One commenter said everyone here is following someone who is a “proud white Hindu.”

That startled me. Am I a proud white Hindu? I’m proud to be a Hindu. I’m proud that I have found the path that works for me and leads me ever closer to peace, bliss, and Truth. I’m proud of everything Hinduism has to offer the world.

But I’m not proud to be white.

Proud of my makeup? Sure. But my coloring is just how I was born.

Whiteness is not a thing to be proud of or ashamed of. It’s not a value judgement. It’s a category that I happen to fit in based on my skin tone and my ethnic heritage in my current society. It’s a factual statement and not about better or worse.

This is a misunderstanding I have been trying to clear up since the blog first started eight years ago. Over these years I have learned that many people do seem to attach a value judgement to whiteness. Some people think white people are better (this is so horrifying but in the age of Trump one cannot deny that some people think this), some people think paler skin equates with virtue and beauty, some people think whiteness is bad because white people were colonizers, some people are afraid that Indians have been so brainwashed by white colonizers that they take a white person more seriously. So much baggage connected to the color of one’s skin.

When I say I am a white Hindu, I mean none of that. People seem to assume I’m trying to say I’m better in some way. What I actually mean and what I have always meant is that my ethnic background is different from the majority of people in my religion and that leads me to have experiences, thoughts, and questions that native Indian Hindus might not. Hence I write about Hinduism primarily from the perspective of culture and community.

I am not proud of being white because white is just a skin color. It is not good and it is not bad. Some people also accuse me of being ashamed of my skin color. That is equally absurd. I just don’t think that skin is a thing to hold pride about. Except when I do a good job clearing up my acne. Then I’m proud of my skin.

In some ways I do regret that I named my blog as I did. On the other hand, it certainly draws attention. And it’s easy to find me. If you tell someone to look up “white Hindu” they are certain to find me. It gets people worked up. I did not expect that when I first named this blog. But it’s been eight years and I feel that this is my blog’s identity and this is what it will stay. How would you know it was me if I wrote under a different title? And so I will have to continue to field questions every day about why I’m making this about race, why I’m being racist, why I’m setting myself apart from other Hindus. I do not believe that I am doing any of those things but it certainly highlights something about our cultures and lives that using an accurate descriptor of my skin tone can cause such unrest.

New to this blog? Check out these posts:

What Makes Me A Hindu?

Did I Start Out Christian?

Why Am I Called “The White Hindu”?

New to Hinduism? Learn more here:

Hinduism 101: What Do Hindus Believe?

Can I Convert To Hinduism?

Your First Visit To A Hindu Temple

Super Simple Daily Puja


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  • Ayla

    Namaste Ambaa, I have been absent from the blog for (well..) years. I want to get caught up, but thats not the point of my comment. I recently found out that I actually have Indian in my ancestry, and I am “white” like you. But my point is that, like in your post; skin color is just that. Skin color. It just is. And to me, it doesn’t matter, what your race, class, gender ect is. Like you (and probably many other Hindu’s out there), I believe that all the Gods and Goddesses want, is your worship, your devotion and love. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, they will still accept your offering (if you offer it with devotion and love). But this is just me. And I want to thank you for writing your book, the new Hindu toolbox. I love that you put assignments, and I am doing them. I had a couple questions though

    1) When I get around to creating my alter, I know the space needs to be clean; but what about the rest of the house? Not to say that my house is, or is not. But I can’t find anything regarding this. My google fu is not up to this task, LOL!

    2) In your travel alter post, you mentioned drawing the Ganesha on, I want to do the same thing for Gods like Shiva and Kali and others, but where did you look for “Simplified” images of these Deities.

    3) are you still doing the Hindu movie “club”?

    Thanks for all you have done and continue to do, as always. 😀

    • Ambaa Choate

      So good to have you back! The years fly by so quickly, don’t they? I have struggled to keep up with writing the blog. I have a toddler now and I’m pregnant with a second baby, so it’s quite exhausting.

      As to your questions:
      1) I think it is best to keep the whole house clean. Kind of like how we take off our shoes when entering the home and not just the altar room. The whole house becomes a sacred space when it has an altar in it. Not that I’m great at doing this. I take the opportunity of events like Navratri to really scrub my space clean!
      2) I kind of just made it up. I looked at a lot of images and tried to see what was the simplest way to convey the shape of Sri Ganesha. You could try tracing over some more complex images? Or print out images to use instead of drawing them?
      3) No, we haven’t been watching movies in a while!

  • Anonymouse

    Carolyn Choate,

    I’ll be glad to tell you that your fellow Irish Catholic, Jeffery D. Long, who also makes a laughable claim that he is a Hindu and has a acquired an ethnic Hindu wife for gaining legitimacy, lives in the city of Elizabethtown, PA, a town that is 96.32% white as per the US Census ‘2000. I wonder why is this need for gated communities in exclusive ZIP codes???

    People are like bruhaha about the “Hindu caste system”, but the Brahmin lived in the same village, in the same neighborhood, and indeed in the same street as a fisherman for thousands of years; and although many might not have personally touched a fisherman, they refused seek a different social life.

    There was never a “Brahmin flight” or “Kshatriya flight”. Au contraire, “White flight” was and is a living thing.

    When the Rajputs built their magnificent fortress cities in the deserts of Rajasthan during the middle ages, everyone was allowed inside. Compare that with White-only hospitals and restrooms in Alabama in living memories.

    When the Saurashrians were driven out of their homes by Mahmud of Ghazni, it was the Tamil kings of the Chola Dynasty that gave them refuge.

    A thousand (yes, a THOUSAND) years before the involuntary dismantling of the South African apartheid, the great Vaishnavite theologian and philosopher Ramanuja hugged an untouchable whom he recognized as wiser than himself, and invited him to his home for lunch.

    And in the sixteen century, when Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was speaking of the divinity of all humans, YOUR Roman Catholic Church was seriously pontificating on whether Indigenous Americans have souls or not!!!

    We Hindus have our own ethno-cultural ethos which is MUTUALLY INCOMPATIBLE with the Western ethno-cultural ethos.

    The “Western Hindu” is a contradiction in terms. You can be born in two (quite antagonistic) Civilizations no more than you can be born in two wombs.

    It is anatomically impossible.

    To quote the poet: “Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet”

    • Agni Ashwin

      Why is Long not a Hindu?

      • Anonymouse

        I suppose you are EITHER a non-Hindu OR a rootless, soulless, Westernized Hindu.

        Hinduism is a religion AND an ethnicity, and they are inseparable.

        Long is not ethnically Hindu, which means he’s not a Hindu. Is that too difficult to understand???

        Jeffery Long and Carolyn Choate are anti-Hindus who want to destroy the Hindu ethnicity by proselytizing the evil creed that says that the Hindu religion is separate from the Hindu ethnicity.


        • Agni Ashwin

          So, Long’s children might be Hindu, but Long himself cannot be?

          • Anonymouse

            I can understand your muddled conception of the word “ethnicity” given that you are the product of a culture where a Pashtun tribesman and a Japanese sumo wrestler are alleged to share an “Asian” “ethnicity”.

            Long’s children are Anglo-Indian, in other words, NOT HINDU. Long is an Irish (Catholic), in other words, NOT HINDU.

            None of them are Hindu.

          • Shridas

            “Anglo Indians” are a particular ethnicity in India. They have a long history, especially in Bengal. I suppose Long’s kids may be called something else. But you make some interesting points. Rajiv Malhotra and many other Indian Hindus are trying to convince western yoga practitioners to identify as Hindu. They actually criticize westerners who practice yoga, pranayama, meditation, do kirtan, etc but do not claim to be Hindu as “U-turners” and “traitors. Your concept of Hindu being an ethnicity that one must be born into is one that has been familiar and common to me. This new trend with desis like Malhotra and others actually desiring non-Indians to claim Hinduism is new and strange. Not saying I think its wrong, it just appears to be a new development. Malhotra also lives in a gated New Jersey community, so there’s that.

          • Anonymouse


            As I have said before, I suppose you are EITHER a non-Hindu OR a rootless, soulless, Westernized Hindu.

            Just try to enter Puri Jagannath Temple and I’ll see how Hindu “You” or “Jeffery Long” or Jeffery Long’s mongrel offspring or Carolyn Choate or “Agni Ashwin” are……..

            No amount of sprinkling of “Holy Water” or declaration of “Faith” (whatever that is supposed to mean) can turn a Mlechchha into Arya.

          • Shridas

            Not every desi Hindu is allowed in Jagannath Mandir either. Could be the original gated community. 😉

          • Zakariya Ali Sher

            And when I was living in Indonesia, I actually knew a Hindu friend who was turned away from Puri Jagannath Temple. They were Balinese, not Indian, but their family had been practising Hinduism for thousands of years. In fact, Bali is mostly a Hindu island. Indeed, Hinduism was once widespread across Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, the Philippines and various other Indonesian islands. Are you going to tell me that Hinduism never accepted converts? Or that such people aren’t Hindus today? Clearly they think they are, and practice their own rituals, maintain their own temples, etc.

          • Zakariya Ali Sher

            Haha, no, if Jeffrey Long is an Irish Catholic, then he wouldn’t be “Anglo” anything. I suppose you’d have to call them “Hiberno-Indian,” given that Irish are a separate culture from English, just as Bengalis are a separate culture from Tamils. Also most English aren’t Catholic. You’d probably find this amusing but their king explicitly broke from the Catholic Church centuries ago over the issue of divorcing his wife.

        • Ambaa Choate

          I’m very sorry that you feel that way. Being Hindu is the most important thing in my life and it breaks my heart that anyone could think I was an anti-Hindu. I am struggling to understand why the Hindu religion cannot be practiced by anyone seeking Truth. There are groups of Hindus, such as those in Bali, who are not Indian but are generally still accepted as Hindu. Do the Gods only care about people who are of Indian origin? I know some say I should wait to be born in India but a human embodiment is such a precious gift that I couldn’t stand the thought of wasting it waiting to be born in the right body.

    • Agni Ashwin

      Why is Long not a Hindu?

    • Agni Ashwin

      Why is Long not a Hindu?

    • Ambaa Choate

      Well, I can see some of your point. I do wonder, though, as I was brought up with Eastern philosophy. I have been in a Catholic church only about twice in my life and have very little knowledge of it, though that was the religion of half my ancestors (the others being Lutheran). By the time I was born no one I know was still a practicing Catholic at all. I believe that I have a mind that is more Hindu than Christian. How many generations do you think it takes? Will my son, raised completely Hindu, be accepted as such? Is it possible?

    • Zakariya Ali Sher

      I have no idea who Jeffrey Long is, nor why you are so against the idea of conversion, but I would chalk it up as a win for Indian civilization if you can acculturate white converts. Indian culture spread throughout much of Asia due to Hinduism and Buddhism. You realize that the Balinese are descendant from converts, and there were plenty of Hindus in ancient Funan, Srivijaya, Angkor, Majapahit, and the rest of Southeast Asia. Regardless, both Islam and Christianity are quite accepting of converts of all ethnicities, ass are the Indian religions of Buddhism and Sikhism. Or are you going to argue that Indian Buddhism and Sikhism are somehow “incompatable” with Western cultural values?

      Also, I do find it rather ironic that you are quoting Kipling, of all authors…

  • mjm

    ambaa i was going to invite you to this post with the @ function on disqus. anyway, after looking for you in a couple of comment sections i figured i would just do a link: