Re: General questions about Hinduism
Subject: Re: General questions about Hinduism
From: email@example.com (Vidyasankar Sundaresan)
Date: 5 Aug 1994 01:52:30 GMT
Organization: California Institute of Technology, Pasadena
In article <firstname.lastname@example.org> email@example.com (NickJohnsn)
> I have practiced yoga for many years and have read much about
> Hinduism but am still confused about certain things. I have heard that
> one cannot convert to Hinduism but must be born a Hindu: is this true
> for all Hindu sects?
The orthodox answer on conversion is that no conversion to Hinduism is
possible. The real, practical reason why this is so, is because Hinduism
has never felt the need for a conversion ritual. Jawaharlal Nehru quotes
in his Discovery of India, how when a group of Muslims in Kashmir wanted
to reconvert to Hinduism, they were told by pundits at Benares that it was
not possible. On the other hand, in the recent issue of the magazine India
Today, there is a small article about a Muslim priest of a Subrahmanya
temple in Pondicherry, who claims to have the approval of the
Sankaracharyas of Sringeri and Kanchi. So you see, Hinduism is pretty
flexible. I know of a case where a pundit from Pune solved this problem of
"conversion" simply by adopting the European girl who wanted to do so!
There are a number of Hindu groups in the U.S. - all of which have
American followers. Branches of the Ramakrishna Mission, Self- Realization
Fellowship of Paramahamsa Yogananda, ISKCON, are a few examples. American
followers of these groups have been well received and generally accepted
by many religious leaders in India. One of these should be able to better
> I am also curious about the definition of Hindu sins. For instance, are
> homosexuality, sex outside of marriage and cussing considered to be
The Hindu attitude towards sex in general, is not that of `original sin'.
Improper sex is considered to be a sin - according to traditional law, one
who indulges in improper sex loses caste - which is not too serious, in my
opinion. For one can lose one's caste and still continue to be a Hindu.
However, to my knowledge, there are no specific guidelines whether
homosexuality, or extra-marital sex are considered sins. Is there anyone
on the net who knows whether these are specifically treated in the various
> Also, where did the concept of the sacred cow originate? Is it in one
> of the holy books?
> I have heard that not all Hindus are vegeterarians and am curious about
> any other information about Hindu dietary laws.
As with so many things Indian, the sacredness of the cow is tradition. A
whole lot of books mention the cow to be a sacred animal. Gohatya -
killing a cow - is considered a sin.
A large number of Hindus are not vegetarians. However, even meat-eating
Hindus draw the line at beef. Vegetarianism is generally accepted as an
ideal by most Hindus. Typically, Hindus who eat meat, do not do so on a
regular basis. The regular diet is more typically rice/wheat, milk,
cereals and pulses etc.
> As you might have realized, I am considering converting to Hinduism
> officially but don't even know if that is possible.
There are ways around this, as I indicated earlier. Hindu leaders who are
concerned about tribes converting wholesale to Islam or Christianity have
recently evolved some kind of a purification ceremony to admit them back
to the Hindu fold. According to popular legned, even Harihar and Bukka,
the founders of the southern Hindu kingdom of Vijaynagar were recoverted
from Islam to their old faith by the sage Vidyaranya.