In the past I have wondered…

…how one might leave the Hindu religion (i.e cease to be called a Hindu, counted as one in the census, etc) without actually converting into another. Is this the solution?

9 Comments to “In the past I have wondered…”

  1. If you’re in India, it’s impossible to be “of no religion”. I know one guy who tried telling a prospective landlord that he didn’t have a religion and then the landlord asked him what his parents were and said ‘ah, you’re that.’ So there’s no escaping it.

  2. VS Naipaul said even though he wasn’t born in India but raised Hindu, he felt it envelope him whenever he visited, assigning him status that was always confusing and indistinct in any other country.

    I’ve always wondered the opposite–can a “foreigner” convert to Hinduism? George Harrison (((genuflects reverentially))) regarded himself as a convert, but do you have to go through specific ceremonies for this, as in most religions and Native American cultures? What caste are the foreigners? (Would I still be a redneck in India too?)

  3. The Bride – I know, they’ll never let us do it, will they? No one ever even bothers to ask me the question, since my name says it all, apparently.

    Daisy – Where’s the Naipaul quote from? I’ve never read it before, but it sounds about right.

    As far as I know (discussion on this in the comments of the post I linked to went around in circles) you can’t ritually convert into Hinduism because no such ritual exists. This is apparently because it’s a “lifestyle” or something, not a religion. Except if you convert to another religion that does have ceremonies for this, you’re no longer a Hindu. And if it’s a lifestyle, no one has been able to tell me what it entails, and if they did and I consciously avoided such a lifestyle I suspect I would still be considered Hindu. It’s bewildering!

    As for what caste foreigners are, I have no clue! Hopefully someone more knowledgeable will drop by the comments here and tell us.

  4. I think religion doesn’t matter… They should stop bothering others in that name…:-)

  5. The solution is to register yourself as atheist/agnostic whatever when the census people come along. Or leave such instructions at home since they invariably come in the middle of the day. Insist that your preference is put down by the person with the questionnaire. Should work.

  6. Its hard to escape religion, but i think with everything going around these days, its even harder to live with it. I am all for no religion, race, country and color.

  7. ApocalypsE – True, but since that isn’t happening, there doesn’t seem much we can do.

    Abhijeet – Is actual bullying required?

    Shekhar – I’d be happy to live with a religion (even a difficult one) if I’d chosen it in the first place and still believed in it.

  8. The VS Naipaul (paraphrased) quote is from one of his books about India… in attempting to look it up, I find he has written three different books about India… and I can’t remember which one it is! (((sorry)))

    He is just so fabulous with words, I’m sure all three books are great, though! :)

  9. Well it all began with the construction of the “Hindu” in colonial times no-and had a lot to do with census taking even then, from what I remember. People would say they were “lingayat” rather than Hindu, for example, and the British would put them down in one catch all category. Hinduism is not a religion in the sense that the Abrahamic faiths are, but it tended to be viewed/constructed as one by colonial travellers.

    Sometimes the word for religion doesn’t even exist in some languages, or so I’ve been told (instead the word is faith or something like “dharma” which doesn’t exactly translate into religion)

    I had a fight with the census lady once, she was coercing me to put down religion and caste.

    The Arya Samaj does have something approximating to a conversion or “purification” ceremony.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>