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Re: General questions about Hinduism

In article <31mkvc$s41@ucunix.san.uc.edu> nickjohnsn@aol.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? 

Hinduism is simply a catchall term for a number of different religions 
which sometimes overlap.  I see by your later questions, the "Hinduism" you are
interested in is the classical religion of the Sanskrt Shastras (holy 
books.)  By their standards you would not be considered a Hindu no matter how
sincere you were or what you did.  I wouldn't consider you one either. 

: I am also curious about the definition of Hindu sins. 
: For instance, are
: homosexuality,

I don't think the Shastras have a clear view on homosexuality.  Most 
Hindus today would find it pretty disgusting but a sin?  I don't know.

: sex outside of marriage

Definitely a sin.

: and cussing 

Not a sin.  But very rude.

considered to be sins?

: Also, where did the concept of the sacred cow originate?  Is it in one of
: the holy books?

What exactly do you mean by a sacred cow.  Cows have a connection with 
Shri Krshna and we don't eat them.  But that's true of a lot of animals.

: I have heard that not all Hindus are vegeterarians 

It depends on where they are from.  In some parts of the country, most 
people are not vegetarian.  Even in those places, Vegetarianism is 
considered to be more religiously advanced.  

:and am curious about
: any other information about Hindu dietary laws.

The Shastras do not actually prohibit the eating of meat.  However, they 
are not the only sources of Hindu customs, There is also Shishtachara -- 
the conduct of the wise.  Over time, Vegetarianism has become part and 
parcel of the Hindu religion.  The strictest people will not eat any kind 
of meat, fish, eggs, onions or garlic.  The laxest will eat anything 
except beef.  Unlike some Western vegetarians I've known, milk products 
are considered completely acceptable. 

: As you might have realized, I am considering converting to Hinduism
: officially but don't even know if that is possible.

It isn't.  Even if it were, it would confer no benefits.  Some of the 
modern sects might accept you if you're really that interested.

-- Jaldhar

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