[Advaita-l] How to become a Hindu?

Ramesh Nagarajan rameshnj18us at gmail.com
Mon Aug 23 10:26:37 CDT 2010

Dear Sandanada,

You have raised very beautiful and fundamental questions.  These questions
challenge the person who claims to be a Hindu.  We can get all kinds of
definitions, rituals and details of worship from so many scriptures.
Theoretical knowledge without practice is useless. Secondly, even practice
without understanding the import of these scriptures is baseless. This would
result in just blind faith, with conscious or unconscious questioning of
within oneself why we need to practice them in the first place.  I have
provided some responses from a pragmatic standpoint.  I have used the word
Hindu(ism), please substitute this word as “one who leads a way of life
based on his mental dispositions (vasanas) to reach the ultimate goal of

>>>>>What are the essentials of Hinduism that he needs to know?

Hindu comes from the word Sindhu, civilization born in Sindhu province.
Persians couldn't pronounce Sindhu and they call it Hindhu and became
Hindu.  It is more of a geographical and cultural identity of people who
lived in that region at that time.

To begin with the person can be an atheist and still can call as Hindu, as
some do in the school, work related forms.  No one questions that and that
is why Hindu(ism) is not a religion.  The important point is questioning of
God should not be just a flat right denial or accepting existence (exception
is surrender).  Rather the person who claims to be a Hindu would go deeper
within oneself to find answer to this question.  In that sense, the practice
to find the ultimate answer is itself a way of life.  This way of life can
be called as Hindu(ism).  Please note that the way of life can subtly vary
depending on the individual's mental dispositions (vasanas).  One set of
people can simply believe only one God and call other Gods as demigods.
Others could believe in the existence of multiple Gods, each having its own
powers.  Some others are being atheists.  Hindu way of life allows it as
long as the ultimate goal is understood and who is determined to pursue the
goal by following the right path.

The ultimate goal of a Hindu is to realize by experience that there exists
nothing but only one ultimate source (call it as God, Atman, Self, etc.,)
and get liberated.  In that sense, the person need not be born in a Hindu

This ultimate goal also answers one of the frequently asked questions about
Hindu(ism) - why there are so many Gods.  If there exists nothing but God,
one can have any number of Gods.  Today we may have 100,000 Gods, tomorrow
it could be a million, because all forms are God.  Of course, there are
reasons why sages and rishis have depicted God in certain forms which have
their own deep meaning and significance.  But the important point is there
is only one reality.

>>>>>What is a simple ceremony that we can suggest - that he should do, in
order for him to feel that he has converted to (or even converted back to)

In spite of being called as the known oldest religion in the world, there is
not a single founder who claimed himself or the people who follow the
religion point to a single person as the father of the religion.  Rishis and
sages didn’t claim that they had written Vedas and Vedanta, only bashyams
are written.  They claimed that the words in Vedas are themselves GOD.  Thus
it is not is an “ism” but a way of life.

In that sense only ceremony one could think of is to completely and firmly
understand the ultimate goal of life – to realize by experience that there
is only one reality.  Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati Mahaswamigal of Sringeri
Peetam, emphasized on the following along these words – “The person has
every right to choose and practice is his own religion”.  The person can
continue to perform rituals as per whatever religion he represents
(Christian, Muslim, etc.,) as long as it leads towards that ultimate goal.
In that sense he can be called as Hindu as it is a way of life to reach the
goal – all possible ways.


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