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Re: General questions on Hinduism

nickjohnsn@aol.com (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
> sects? 

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,


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