Re: General questions on Hinduism
firstname.lastname@example.org (Nick Johnson) writes:
> 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
That "to be a Hindu, one must be born to be one" is absolutely not true.
This apsect of "conversion" is a concept entirely alien to the Hindus and
comes from the western notion of organized religion. That is why one
cannot see paid Hindu missionaries wandering around the world searching
for weak, hopeless and vulnerable people and trying to convert them to a
"better" religion than the one that they presently follow.
As far as I know, there is no definite way one can convert to Hinduism.
Many social workers in the past have formulated some symbolic rituals for
this conversions. However, I believe, nothing specific is desired for
this "conversion" process.
Feel free to refer yourself as a Hindu without any guilt. However, if you
so desire, pay a pious visit to a nearby temple and offer humble
oblations to God and declare yourself a Hindu. You may want to request
the "poojari" (priest) in the temple to shower you with sacred water, if at
all that matters to you.
Be a good, noble, cultured person -- and that is what is an Arya, a
> I am also curious about the definition of Hindu sins. For instance, are
> homosexuality, sex outside of marriage and cussing considered to be sins?
As you are extensively read in Hindu literature, you must be aware that
there are no strict definitions, as provided by a "book", on how to
behave. However, the ancient seers and rishis have provided guidelines on
which posterity can tailor their code of conduct -- for the benefit of
their self as well as the society in general. For the "sins" committed,
you are accountable to yourself first and later, the society -- as you are a
part of it. Understand what the rishis say, apply logic and rationale to
how you behave and decide whehter or not you have "sinned". And if you so
have, try to avoid such behavior the next time. You may be fooling
yourself, if you have "sinned" and do not wish to correct it.
> Also, where did the concept of the sacred cow originate? Is it in one of
> the holy books?
Cow has been treated as a Mother, since it has been the provider (eg.
milk) of essentials required for diurnal existence. Because of its
tremendous utility, it has been rendered so much importance -- tantamount
to that of one's Mother. Therefore, it is respected and revered in the
highest sense. That is why it is sacred.
Also, symbolically, "gow" (cow) is a represenation of a "ray of light".
That is, it is considered as a source of knowledge and enlightment.
Therefore protecting a cow connotes protection of knowledge. That is
another reason why it is sacred to the Hindus.
> I have heard that not all Hindus are vegeterarians and am curious about
> any other information about Hindu dietary laws.
As you may witness, differents parts of India (as the cradle of Hinduism
alias Sanatana Dharma) have developed different diets according to
geographical locations and climatic conditions. However, it has been
suggested to avoid all "tamasic" food (like meat and alcohol) since it
brings "ignorance" and "voilent tedencies". Also, the concept of "ahimsa"
(non-killing without a cause) demands that humans be vegetarians. So,
study the advise provided by the scriptures and then form your own
dietary laws. Our behaviour, or better, the influence of guna(s)
[qualities] upon us depends on what type of food one eats, how is the
food cooked, the attitude of the person who cooks it, etc. Therefore, not
just the diet, but the enrironment is which it is cooked is also
> As you might have realized, I am considering converting to Hinduism
> officially but don't even know if that is possible.
I am happy that you have read, studied and analyzed ancient Hindu
scriptures and found a certain "way of life" [Yogic] to be suitable for
you. Please welcome to Hinduism alias Vedic/Sanatana Dharma.
With best wishes,