Why Conversion from Hinduism to Any Other Religion is Highly Discouraged? – Part:3

This is Part: 3 of the article on Why conversion from Hinduism to other religions is highly discouraged.

In the part 1, some solid and important facts about the relevance of Hinduism has been discussed. Please read it first, before proceeding here.

In the part 2, some frequently asked questions from religion/ spiritual point of view have been answered, which can be read HERE.

In this 3rd and concluding part, some FAQs from sociological point of view are being answered.

Q: Are not the curse of untouchability and the vagaries of caste system the prime reasons for people to leave Hinduism and embrace religions like Islam?

There is no denial of the fact that practice of untouchability by Hindus was one of the prime reasons for a marginalized segment of society to get alienated with Hinduism. This alienation was rightly cashed in by vested interests from other religions to convert them to their religion citing their trump card of so-called equality.

The Varnashrama Dharma (classification of the society into 4 classes of people based on their work and role in society in Hinduism), which unfortunately got hardened and compartmentalized into a system of castes, is frequently blamed as another major reason for underprivileged people in the lower strata of the society to leave Hinduism for good.

While the caste system and the consequent demarcation of some of them as ‘upper’ and some as ‘lower’ can be blamed for some of the ills in the social practices of Hinduism, it is outright foolhardy to imagine that “Varnashrama” does not exist in any other religion or society!

In any other religion, where an overt caste or profession-based demarcation does not seemingly exist, there will invariably be the rich, powerful and influential persons who become de facto “upper castes” and the rest who are not so privileged become “lower castes”. Again there will indeed be different levels of people fitting between “upper” and “lower” depending on the clout they have with money, power or influence.

In any part of the world, in any decent society, you will find these sort of people:

  • Teachers, professors, clergies, preachers, research scholars, scientists, intellectuals, linguistics — They are de facto equivalent to Brahmin class
  • Politicians, statesmen, ministers, Top officers in administrative services, chiefs of Defense (Army/ Navy. Air force), military officers — they are de facto equivalent to Kshatriya Class.
  • Businessmen, traders, Industrialists, small Industry owners — they are de facto equivalent to Vysya Class.
  • Laborers, workmen, craftsmen, technicians — they are de facto equivalent to Shudra Class.

In the present times, even in India, it is common place to see Brahmins by caste being engaged in politics, civil services, trading/ business etc. Poor under-educated Brahmins too work as cooks, technicians etc. If a shudra by birth becomes a Sanskrit professor, he is in a way a Brahmin only, as per original definition.

Even if caste systems go, the social class differences between the rich and poor, the elite and the underdog are not going to vanish. That is the reality of human society.

 

A person from a so-called lower caste of Hinduism, by converting to Islam does not become equal with Muslims of the elite class. A converted Muslim worker doing a leather processing work at Vaniyampadi , Tamil Nadu does not become equal to a Mappila Muslim Businessman doing export of leather goods in Kannur, Kerala. An elite Muslim from Hyderabad Nawab’s family cannot claim equality with a native Saudi Arabian Sheik who owns a couple of oil wells! The same is applicable to any other religion that claims non-discrimination.

Another bare fact is that the religions that Hindus are wooed to get converted to claiming ‘equality’ or ‘love’ as their trump card are not in any way free from strife from internal squabbles. Islamic Shias and Sunnis are perennially in loggerheads with each other and the extent of bloodshed that took place in the past the and taking place at all the times within these “equals” is a never-ending history. To some extent it is true with regard to the “unconditional love” of Jesus Christ being practiced in the form of outright bitterness between Protestants and Catholics in Christianity.

Hence basically it is a “human failure” and not the shortcomings in a religion that causes divisions in society within a religion. No religion including Hinduism is ever going to be free from it. Consequently it is meaningless to get converted to another religion citing such shortcomings in one’s own religion.

Q: Is it not really good for the marginalized people to embrace another religion to get saved from discrimination and marginalization?

Actually, people getting converted to another religion will have to face a tougher social discrimination in reality, rather than equality.

The ground reality is that the discriminations practiced in a society are not going to vanish like a magic by getting converted to another religion. We should not fail to notice that untouchability was not something practiced by Brahmins (the upper class) alone. The truth is that in many Indian villages, it is the people in the so called ‘Shudra class’ (lower caste, also known as ‘Jaathi Hindus’) who contemptuously discriminate scheduled castes and refuse to accept them as equals. It is they who refuse equal access to Dalits in local temples, cremation grounds, tea shops and eateries.

If village people belonging to schedule caste convert to Christianity or Islam and remain in the same village, the mindset of the other Jaathi Hindus is not going to change in any way! In fact, their tendency to discriminate them will only get harder, because those converts are not part of their religion too now!

Even within one caste, if some people get converted to another religion, they are frowned upon by their community. They get socially alienated and marginalized. The emotional bonding with relatives gets broken. The new converts, out of their new association with the religion, tend to be very staunch in their new-found belief for two reasons: Firstly, they want to ‘prove’ to the outside world that they have indeed made the right choice and they want to take pride for their boldness; secondly, they are very eager to establish a closer association with people of the new religion. Thus the gaudy behavior of “over-enthusiastic-converts” irks and irritates their erstwhile community. The people of their new religion also become rather cautious and reserved to accept the converts who seem to display a ‘more-loyal-than-the-king’ attitude, as their social equals.

Another blatant ground reality across the globe seems to be that Muslims, despite whatever goodness they may possess as individuals, are getting alienated and marginalized amidst the people of most other religions. On account of the widespread practice of terrorism against other believers by misguided Islamic fanatics as though terrorism is part and parcel of their religion’s basic tenets and teachings, this religion is getting estranged in plural societies. Consequently, common and good hearted people belonging to this religion have to face the evils.

In India, people belonging to this religion, when they need a rented house accommodation, find it very difficult to get in localities where people of all other religions live in majority. Hence they are forced to seek living accommodation only in localities where their own religious people live in majority, which is not really good for communal harmony.

Q: What is wrong if a man or woman, truly loving a person of opposite sex from another religion, gets converted to the religion of his lover for the sake of marriage? Is it not a worthy sacrifice done for the sake of upholding true love that every religion seems to preach?

Such a question creates some disturbing questions on the veracity of the so called true love itself! If the Hindu is expected to forsake his/ her religion for the sake of love, what is the real stand of the other family that demands religious conversion as a basic condition for the consummation of love? It only means that their “love” of their religion is so powerful that they are not prepared for any compromise in the matter of human love!

It means that family thinks that their boy or girl involved in the love affair belongs to a superior class – a superior religion; if the other Hindu boy/girl really wants the marriage to take place, then he/she should essentially forego their “lower” religion with all its associated emotional bonds. It is the “inferior” one that needs to compromise, not the “superior” one!

It means the Hindu boy or girl foregoing his/her own religion for the sake of marriage is starting his very new life with a huge compromise – with a covert acceptance that he/she is an underdog. It is bound to leave a bad taste, an imperceptible emotional wound deep in the psyche. It is bound to bounce up in future at some opportune time to create serious emotional bickering or retaliation in some way.

It is bound to be so because religion is not just only a means of communication with God; religion is deeply bound to one’s culture, family traditions, principles, values, ethics, emotions and sentiments. Religion is somehow closely interwoven with many things including food habits, dressing habits, living habits, manners, interpretations on what is right and wrong and so on.

A person may not be religious from the point of view of practicing religious disciplines (like going to a temple, worshiping God, doing prayers, practicing austerities etc) and may even think that religion is not a practical necessity for conducting day today life. But in reality, his / her life right from childhood would have got molded with many habits, beliefs, sentiments and practices deeply associated with the religion. It is extremely difficult get rid of these associations even though one may externally forsake his/ her religion. It is these associations that can cause deep emotional conflicts between the spouses post marriage.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa used to explain this with a funny story. Once during Moghul rule, a Hindu Shakta (worshipper of divine mother Shakthi/ Kali) was forcefully converted to Islam by Moghul soldiers, at the point of sword. They would torture him and beat him and force him to shout “Allah”. The man would cry out “Allah” but in between, he would involuntarily shout, “Oh Jagadamba!” (Oh divine mother). Hearing that, the soldiers would beat him still harder. The man with folded hands would plead to the soldiers “Oh! Wait, wait. Please have a little patience and mercy on me. What can I do? I only want to call out “Allah, Allah” but this Jagadamba (divine mother) has already been occupying me up to my throat and she is pushing out your Allah and not allowing him to enter! What can I do?!”

Take for example a Hindu girl whose parents have the habit of practicing fasting on some of the holy days. She might have observed her parents eating only fruits or drinking only milk just one time in a day on such days. Or she might have seen them not eating any food, but taking water nevertheless. Or she might have seen them totally avoiding non-vegetarian food on some holy days. When they finish the fasting, she might have seen them eating simple food, without heavy spicing, avoiding garlic etc.

If such a girl relinquishes her religion and converts to Islam for the sake of marriage, the observance of fasting during Id festival would look very strange and extremely difficult to follow or practice for her. The very idea of keeping fast for the whole day time without taking even a sip of water might look too scary to her from health point of view; after fasting in day time, the practice of eating nutritionally very rich, highly spicy and non-vegetarian food with no holds barred during night time could look too contrary to the very lofty purpose of undertaking fast in day time to her. It is only natural for her deep-rooted Hindu culture, beliefs and principles. If she happens to be a vocal type, she might even question and criticize her husband about the veracity of such a fasting technique and surely she is bound to end up with hurting her husband’s religious sentiments and facing its consequences.

The joy of familiy get-togethers on a festival like Deepavali can never be compensated…

The above is just one example. There could be umpteen such things that would come up as conflicts between the spouses in the matters of habits, practices, sentiments and values.

If the erstwhile Hindu girl happens to be a person following some religious practices, her life will become much more miserable. She is bound to suffer from the loss of emotional necessities like going to temples, praying to her favorite Hindu God, singing devotional songs, celebrating festivals in the traditional way, the joy of the coming together of close relatives and exchanging of pleasantries on festival days etc. Marriages and other celebrations in Hindu families are such joyous occasions that she would have enjoyed so much in the past. Post marriage, practically she would get distanced from her erstwhile relatives on account of her conversion. Her relatives are bound to ignore her in extending invitations for her for such family functions. Even if she were invited, she would have to face lots of embarrassment in facing them.

Post childbirth, the conflicts are bound to get deeper. Her erstwhile religious leanings will prompt her to inculcate Hindu values, habits and cultural tendencies in her child; she may face very stiff opposition from her spouse and in-laws on such endeavors and it is bound to add more marital discards in her life.

Thus a short time compromise on the matter of religion for the sake of ‘love’ has every potential to wreck the very marriage itself in the long run.

Conclusion

To summarize all the 3 parts of this article series,

  • Hinduism is such an ancient and so well established a religion lacking in nothing, that anyone discarding this religion and converting to other religion can only be faulted for ignorance and misguided adventurism or opportunism.
  • Hinduism is never concerned with attracting and converting people of other religions to Hinduism.
  • It is only in Hinduism that there has been a never ending and continuous arrival of Avatars and Saints at all times. Many of such saints are most sought after by earnest seekers from other religions too for spiritual guidance. These saints did not support people converting from Hinduism to other religions.
  • It is a total misunderstanding of Hinduism if people believe sinners have no scope for redemption in the religion.
  • It is foolhardy to believe that converted people get into a classless society without any discrimination. No religion in the world can assure cent percent universal love, equality and freedom from class conflicts and strife.
  • Religion plays a major role in one’s culture, habits, tastes, lifestyle, principles, values and ethics. These influences follow one even after converting to another religion and have strong potential to cause internal and external conflicts. Love marriages happening after a religious conversion have every potential to end up in strife on account of these factors.

-=o0o=-

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What would you do if God were to ask you on the Judgement Day why you weren’t in Islam because it is the only true religion?

God: Why were n’t you in Islam? Don’t you know that if you were not, you will have to end up in hell?

Me: Excuse me, may I know who you are?

God: This is ridiculous ! I Am GOD!

Me: Sorry! We are meeting for the first time; Glad to meet you! I am a Hindu, you see; I have seen you only in pictures and statues and you don’t look like what I have seen. That’s why I got confused . May I know your name please?

God: Everybody knows; my name is Allah!

Me: Are you the one and only God? Are you the one all knowing, all pervading, all encompassing, all powerful and ever merciful God ?

God: Yes! Of course!

Me: Oh! Then you must be knowing that all along I have been worshiping you in the form of Lord Rama, chanted your name as Rama, Krishna and so on, depended on you fully for all my support and needs, cried to you when I suffered, shared my joys with you, celebrated your birthdays and festivals, offered food to you before I ate.

I knew without a doubt you were hearing me all the time, supported and sustained me, consoled me when I suffered, was with me in troubled times but without showing your face.

Our Hindu self-realized masters always said that you are the same person that Muslims call Allah; you are Jesus’s Father in heaven, you are Vishnu, you are Shiva and all! Are they wrong? Are you not the one who was sustaining and supporting me all the time?

God: I don’t care what your religion or its masters said. You have remained deluded all the time. This is my rule, my dictum that if you have not worshiped me as Allah, if you had worshiped any other God with name and form, you have committed serious blasphemy; that is simple and straight. I have no option but to roast you in hell fire.

Me: If it is so, then you are not the all knowing, all powerful, all encompassing, all pervasive and ever merciful God! Do you mean to say that you never heard my prayers, you never knew me, you never came to my support all along? Then who was that Rama or Krishna?

God: How do I care? See, they have not come to you for your rescue now! Only I am here with my rule-book! Now it’s clear to you, right?

Me: Oops! I am so sorry! I am so confused now. May be I was deluded by my religion and its Avatars and great masters! I foolishly believed one Ramakrishna Paramahamsa who said “Do you think God is like an ordinary person who will turn back only when you call him with his specific name? If you are worshiping God in a statue, does he not know that you are only worshiping Him? Will he not be happy that you are calling him and remembering him through your worship to that statue? “

Now that you have told me the truth, will you not give me another chance? Let me take another birth and in that birth let me worship you as Allah without name and form.

God: Sorry. There is no such scope in Islam. There is no such thing as rebirth. Your fate is sealed. You should have listened to Zahir Naik and mended your ways when you were alive. His videos are there all around Youtube! Now it’s too late!

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How come so many Gods survive together in Hinduism?

Survival depends on patronage. We have so many varieties of people with varying tastes and temperaments. People patronize different Gods to suit their tastes and preferences. So, naturally so many Gods are there. Different strokes for different folks. Gods have to stay because people keep worshiping them and people are there continuing with their Gods because they do get their blessings and succor through their prayers!

Win-win situation. That is the beauty of Hinduism’s “ishta-nishta” (steadfast devotion to one’s favorite God-form) concept.

In reality, God is one in Hinduism. But each devotee has been given the freedom of devoting himself to his ishta with a full conviction that his ishta is that one supreme God. Such a belief strengthens his devotion. That’s why Shiva puranam would say Shiva is the supreme God and all other Gods worship him. Devi Puramnam will say that Parashakti is the creator-protector-destroyersand Brahma-Vishu-Shiva are all subservient to her. Same with Vishnu, Muruga and so on.

People at lower rungs of religious practices tend to fight and argue with other believers as to who the real supreme God is. Let them. It is a matter of time before they mature and evolve. It might even take a few more births to grasp the unity in diversity, but it does not matter. Better to be a believer than an atheist!

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Why do people convert from Hinduism to Christianity? What benefits do they seem to get in doing so?

(Caution: Those who do not like sarcasm need not read this answer!)

Here are the benefits for a Hindu to get converted to Christianity:

  1. You can have a flashy, American/ western sounding name.
  2. Whetever financial, educational or other concessions you get for converting to Christianity are your short term profits; demand and extract as much as possible. These missionaries get plenty of dollars.
  3. If you believe in what the missionaries said , then you can commit sins without fear , because ‘Jesus has already shed his blood for all the sins of His believers’.
  4. Enjoy life. Religious moralists will not be breathing behind your neck to say “Don’t eat beef; don’ t drink liquor; don’t smoke; don’t have girlfriend” and so on
  5. You can save lot of money by not spending on numerous festivals like Deepavali, Shankranti, Navrathri and so on. You can save all and spend just on Christmas only.
  6. You don’t have to salute in front of the countless Hindu temples that throng along all the roads, nooks and corners.
  7. It is enough if you worship just Jesus Christ only. Oh, what a relief!
  8. It is enough if you read just one Holy book — Bible, instread of trying to break your head with Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, Brahma Sutra, Yoga Vasishta, Yoga Sutra, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Srimad Bhagavatam, Vishnu Purana, Siva Purana, Devi Bhagavatam and so on and the various interpratations of them by various masters! Oh, what a relief!
  9. You don’t have to run around spending money, time and enegy to visit holy temples across India, take bath in Ganga, Godhavari, Sethu and so in.
  10. You don’t have to memorize or chant the various stotras that please and glorify various Gods — Vishnu Sahasranama, Lalitha Sahasranama, Various Ashtotra sada Namavalis and so on.
  11. You don’t have to sing bhajans tuned to boring and archaic Carnatic or Hindustani tunes. You can now sing prayers tuned to western music!
  12. You don’ t have to worry at all about your karma, future re-births after death and so on. Either you remain in suspended animation till the day of your judgement or end up in heaven after your death.
  13. If you believe in what the missionaries said, then you don’ t really have to fear hell for 2 reasons: One, you have escaped the punishment of hell for having worshiped Hindu Gods with forms, and two, you have accepted Jesus who has already, sensing your future arrival into his fold with enough load of sins, shed his blood in necessary extra quantity to absolve you of your sins!

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Can Partners with Diametrically Opposite Qualities make a Success of a Marriage? Do inter-religious marriages have more risk of failures?

In magnets, opposite poles attract each other; in marital relationship, similarity in tastes and qualities attract the partners initially. However, it is mostly when the honeymoon period ends, that the partners get exposed to the presence of diametrically opposite qualities in each other!

The diametrically opposite qualities may range across many aspects of personality, habits, beliefs, principles and values, ethics and convictions, cultures and so on. The trouble really starts when one of the partners starts displaying a “holier than thou” attitude, justifying, glorifying or emphasizing his/her side of qualities to be superior to the other; when he/she expects the other partner to drastically modify and adapt to suit his/her preferences, the problems get compounded.

While what one of the partners claim as a better trait/ quality/ value may even be true, the resistance

to accept the other becomes strong when one starts trumpeting one’s superiority at every opportune moment and starts attempts to “reforming” the other.

Let us take an example. The man is an owl type who goes to the bed late and gets up late in the morning. His wife on the other hand is an early bird who rises up briskly even before dawn and goes to bed early. The wife has been indoctrinated to believe right from her childhood by her parents that rising early is the best of all habits. She starts chiding her husband for his sloth and dullness in the mornings. She tries to reform him by forcefully waking him up early in the morning and compelling him to go for jogging!

To make a success of marriage in such diametrically opposite qualities, here are some guidelines:

 

Accept and respect biological differences

Early rising or late rising, taking a nap habitually in the afternoons, disliking certain food items that are really good for health, sumptuous eating or sparse eating, excessive desire in sex — these are some basic biological differences that exists in nature in the individual constitution of people. There is really no point in forcing the partner on such matters. It is best for the cordiality of the marital relationship for one partner to accept and adopt oneself to the differences in the other.

Accept the views of the partner whose ethics and values are better

Let us consider another example. The husband comes from a family where accepting or giving bribes is considered highly unethical. On the other hand, the wife comes from a family where accepting money or goodies in return for doing out-of-turn favors is never considered wrong. The wife may pester her husband, who works in a Government office where bribing is taken for granted, to accept bribes (like the other colleagues in the office who have no qualms about it), in order improve their financial status. This puts the husband into a very disturbing mental agony and moral dilemma. Whose resolve should succeed in such a situation?

In the interest of long term mental peace and wellness of the family, it is always best if the morally sound partner takes the upper hand and convinces the spouse on the importance of sticking to time-tested principles and values.

Take another example — one of the partners is a spendthrift while the other is miserly. Lots of tempers can raise in such a combo! In such a scenario, only through healthy discussions, arguments and give-and-take, the couples can pull along. The spendthrift has to curtail her instincts while the miser should learn to open his wallet wider and more frequently to satisfy genuine needs of the partner.

 Tread extra cautiously in matters of religion and cultural differences

Thanks to the mind blowing advancements in communication, traveling and globalization of businesses, people get lots of exposure to other cultures, religions, languages and communities. Naturally, men and women are exposed to falling in love with persons having diametrically opposite religious and cultural moorings. In fact, even such differences have the potential initially make the love affair extremely attractive and thrilling!

But unfortunately affinity to one’s religion or sub-sect of religion, culture, language, food habits etc are so strongly and fundamentally interwoven in every individual’s psyche that, sooner or later, one-upmanship on these sensitive issues are bound to sprout in a marital relationship.

Unless the husband and wife look at each other first as a human being, next as a loving and lovable personality and lastly as a person of religion/ cultural deviation, conflicts cannot be brushed away. Mostly one of the partners who has better adaptability many have to adjust more than his / her due share and sacrifice for the sake of sustaining the marriage in the interest of long term bondage.

These steps may include a high degree of tolerance to criticism on one’s basic religious faiths at the lower end to conversion to the spouse’s religion at the extreme end. Other adjustments may include changing dress codes, learning the spouse’s mother tongue, learning to cook to the weird tastes of the other and sacrificing most loved food items (for example, a husband accepting vegetarianism for the sake of his wife). It may be painful to miss the joyful family get-together functions in the erstwhile relatives’ families, celebrating favorite religious functions, visiting and praying in traditional places of worship (of the original religion) etc. One has to tread very carefully if he/she feels tempted to laugh at the cultural idiosyncrasies of the partner, because many people have very sentimental attachment to religion and they may react angrily rather than logically.

Love Jihad — (Hindu girls getting lured by Muslim men through love affair to get converted to Islam) – Is it real? (Click onto the picture to know more)

An overpowering love for the partner, desire to retain the sanctity of marriage, lots of give and take, a broad-mindedness, a high degree of sense of humor, a drastic surrender of egotism, tenacity to withstand the negative counseling by relatives and friends – these are some of the essential qualities needed in one or both the partners on the matter of differences in religion, culture etc. Only with these qualities, the couple can make a success of marriage under very trying conflicts.

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How to convert to Hinduism – Is there really a way for converting?

No single, universally acceptable procedure ever exists for getting converted to Hinduism – this is the basic truth. Why? Hinduism, in absolute reality, is not a religion, but “sanatana Dharma” – the righteous way of living; it encompasses the entire creation; it is not a religion founded by any one messiah.

Hinduism is quite different from Christianity or Islam from the point of view of its vastness in the scope of practice and perception. The concept of one supreme God, who is amenable for worship in multitudes of names and forms, is one major aspect of religion that sets Hinduism apart from other religions. This has resulted in numerous sects and sub-sects in Hinduism. Further, Hinduism as practiced at the grass root level and as comprehended at the elevated spiritual and philosophical level has a vast difference in between.

Thus, Hinduism is a multifaceted religion; it is like a pyramid with multiple faces at the bottom, culminating at a single point at the top. Obviously, there is no “single point of entry” available to the religion which is amenable and acceptable one to all. This being the reality, let us now see how one can “convert” to Hinduism for all practical purposes.

For that, one basic question must be answered. What is the motive of one to adopt Hinduism?

Adopt to Hinduism purely on spiritual motive

For some non-Hindus, Hindu’s way of worshiping a personal God with a name and form and choosing the path of Bhakti (devotion) as a way to God realization may be very appealing. For such of them, the social need of a formal conversion need not exist. For them, nothing can really hinder their choice of the personal God, method of worship, following the traditional Hindu dress codes (like wearing a Sari or Dhoti) wearing kumkum or any such religious marks at the forehead. It is up to them to seek a Guru of the particular sect of their liking and even get a “Mantra Diksha ” of the specific God form (i.e. getting initiation of the sacred name of the God for chanting and Japa).

One bhakti movement of Hinduism very popular amongst westerners is ISKCON (International Society of Krishna Consciousness), where Lord Krishna is worshiped as the prime deity.

                       Westerners singing and dancing the glory of Lord Krishna – ISCKON movement

For some other non-Hindus, the exalted spiritual truths expounded in Upanishad s (Vedanta ), Bhagavat Gita , etc. may be very appealing. At this level, the need for a personal God is non-existent. Great spiritual masters of Hinduism are of the firm opinion that the purpose of human birth is to attain Brahman or realize one’s atman, which are one and the same, viewed from two different perspectives.

This is the ultimate goal to be attained and it is varyingly termed as God realization, self-realization, attaining the knowledge of Brahman, attaining birthlessness/deathlessness (“Moksha”, “Mukthi”, “samadhi”, “nirvana”). It is this class of spiritualism that attracts quite a lot of westerners to Hinduism.

For some others, the Yoga (Kundalini Yoga, Raja Yoga, Hatha Yoga) may be attractive.

For such earnest seekers, the best advice is to seek a Guru or rather a Satguru (a guru of the highest order who has attained the truth by self-experience), surrender to him and seek his guidance. Religious organizations like Sri Ramakrishna MathVedanta Society (belonging to Ramakrishna Math), Mata Amritanandamyi MathDivine Life Society, Anandashram, Ramanashramam, etc. can be of help to them.

A typical Hindu Homam (fire ceremony)

Convert to Hinduism based on worldly, social and legal motive

For example, you belong to some other religion (you could be an Indian or a foreign national) but you love a boy or a girl belonging to Hindu religion. Your in-laws are very particular that you should be (become) a Hindu; perhaps you too would love to become a Hindu or at least you have no objections to becoming a Hindu. You want to settle in India along with your spouse; you want to make sure that your religious conversion is perceived as valid, and that your marriage is valid as per laws under the Hindu Marriage Act, so that you won’t have any legal disputes whatsoever related to your marital relationship or the shared properties with your Hindu spouse.

In this case, Arya Samaj, a religious organization founded by Swami Dhayananda Saraswati (1824-1883) could offer help. This organization offers service for procedural conversion to Hinduism. This conversion practice was originally started by the founder as early as in 1877 to bring back such of those Hindus who had been converted to some other religion by choice or by coercion, who were subsequently willing to come back to Hinduism.

The procedure involves a vedic purification ceremony Called “Shuddhi Karma”.

One who wants to convert to Hinduism can approach AryaSamajTemple (existing at several places in India), make a written application along with an affidavit stating that he/she is agreeing for the conversion based on his/her free will, along with proof of age and residence signed by the applicant along with 2 witnesses.

The Shuddhi Karma (purification ceremony) involves conducting a “homam” (a typical Hindu ritual done in front of fire) involving chanting of certain Hymns from the Vedas by the applicant, as guided by a priest. It may take about one to one-and-a-half hours to complete the ceremony. After the purification ceremony, a Certificate of Conversion to Hinduism is issued to the applicant.

It is said that the conversion certificate issued by Arya Samaj is legally valid based on Indian Government Order dated March 19, 1985.

With this certificate in hand, the converted Hindu can marry the Hindu man/woman in Arya SamajTemple as per traditional Hindu marriage rites. For the marriage too, the couple has to give an application with proof of age, place of residence, etc. and an affidavit for consenting for marriage out of free will. The application must be signed and supported by 2/3 witnesses. After completion of marriage ceremony, A certificate of Marriage will be issued by Arya Samaj.

The Marriage certificate from Arya Samaj is a perfect legal document (Arya Samaj Marriage Validation Act, 1937 & Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, Sections 2(a) and subsection (c) of the explanation to Section 2).

For the purpose of getting a passport, immigration, Visa. etc. a formal marriage registration with the Registrar Office will be required, which can also be done by submitting the Arya Samaj Marriage Certificate.

A few words of caution

(1) Though “Indian Government Order dated March 19, 1985” is mentioned above, it is based on other sources at Internet. This author has not personally verified the statement, nor could he locate the specific document’s contents or details on this Government Order in other Internet sources. Perhaps it has to be verified outside the web.

(2) In Hindu society, caste system is a practical and sociological reality. Certain castes in Hinduism considered backward get privileged reservation in educational institutions and Government jobs; Arya Samaj Certification will not help in the caste orientation of the converted Hindu.

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If Jesus is truly the son of God, how can he die?

If Jesus is the son of God, how can he die? Why should he die?

“A son of god is a god, no matter how you look at it, and since he was the son of a god, he couldn’t die.” – this was one posting recently found in the Hubpages discussion forums; it was posted to contradict the belief that Jesus is the son of God.

Though such arguments or any reply to them cannot be “scientifically” or logically explained without some form of faith, this subject – whether Jesus is indeed God and if so how can he die can be explained from a different religious point of view. Again it cannot be termed scientific or cent percent logical, but another religious system, namely, Hinduism offers explanation on this. Those of you Christians (who are believers, or born-as-Christians but remain non-believers) can take a look into this for whatever is worth.

Hinduism has two approaches to the creation, existence of the world and God’s role in it.

The dualistic approach (Dwaita) -God and His creations are two

In this school of philosophy, God and his creation are two different identities. God is all powerful, all encompassing, all-knowing. He is without form as well as with form. He is real and his creation is also real. Out of his sweet divine will, he creates the world and all living beings, he nurtures and support them all and again out of his divine will, he destroys them. It’s all his divine play. By virtue of his infinite power, he can take any name and form and out of his infinite compassion, he makes himself available in name and form for the sake of his devotees. He is the protector of Dharma (righteousness) and destroyer of the evil.

Everything in the physical world is made of 5-elements (earth, water, fire, air and ether). Everything in this perceptible world has a beginning, growth and an end. Anything made of the 5-elements of the earth has to decay and die. Death is not an end to one, who is bound to the attractions of the world, who is not prepared to abandon everything for the sake of God. As long as this bondage is there, people have to undergo the cycles of birth and death again and again and go through the cycles of pleasures and pains, life after life.

The goal of human beings is to know him, to surrender to him and after death, to be near him. He being the creator, is the father of all. While he has created the pleasures in this world for his children to enjoy, he has also kept the pain together as the second side of the same coin. In this scheme of divine play, he seems to derive joy in keeping people ignorant of their lineage. He seems to enjoy being a mute spectator to see people running behind sensual pleasures, in quest of wealth, in accumulating and hoarding, in trying to live longer and enjoy better and in the process end up with lots of suffering too. He seems to watch in joyous abandon, people forgetting Him, people questioning his very existence or people negating Him altogether. He also accepts those who seek his help in acquiring the fleeting things in this world in exchange for lasting peace and tranquility.

He is also gracious enough to reveal the truth behind all his divine drama, to such of those who can understand the hopelessness of this divine magic of things and seek to know Him, the magician. Thus He is most amenable to those who love, adore and be devoted to him. Those who ignore the pleasures of the world, accept the pains of the world too as parts of God’s scheme of things and seek to derive joy only in their contemplation of God are the ones most dear to him. Only such people, upon death attain the abode of God and they escape the cycles of rebirth.

Jesus and Krishna – hand in hands! (Some Hindus & Christians may never like to see such a picture!)

Hinduism in this dualistic school of philosophy says that God descends to earth in Human from time to time to show the right path of salvation most suited to the times, to protect the good people, to punish the evil doers and to give joy, succor and salvation to his true worshipers and believers. When God comes in human form, he is called an Avatar. Such an avatar is one of the greatest manifestations of God, visible and comprehensible to human beings. But, an avatar is also bound by the rules as well as the limitations of His creation, namely the physical world.

Jesus Christ, from the point of this Hindu philosophy is an avatar. He was a knower of God. Unlike ordinary mortals who are ignorant, he was aware of his origin with God. That’s why he declared “I am the son of God”. He knew that at the exalted level, He and His father are one.

Jesus, thus, as the son of God, is God. Jesus, as a person in Human body knows pretty well that he, in essence is not the body. His divine nature thus is not affected by all that pain and suffering inflicted to his body. He had no ill-will to the evil doers who punished his body. At the death of his physical body, his soul merged with its source and the “Father and son became one”.

The creator and the created are one!

The Non-dualistic approach (Advaita) (God and his creation are one)

In this school of philosophy, the entire creation and cosmos is illusory, transient, namely Maya. Only God alone exists and this God (called Brahman in Upanishads*) is all pervading, infinite, all comprising, without beginning and end, beyond name and form. God has not created anything. God simply exists as everything, by the power of his Maya, since nothing including maya can ever be exclusive of him.

How is then the existence of this world, the cosmos, the innumerable living creatures that we see, feel and coginize around us came in the first place? If God has created them, where from did he get the materials? If a potter is to make a pot, he needs clay. Who made the clay? If God has to create this world made of 5-elements (earth, water, fire, air and ether), where from did he get these? If those elements existed earlier for the use of God for creation, then is there a power other than God that created them?

So, it leads to the idea that God became all these and he exists as an indweller in all these. It means every living being is potentially divine because it’s God who is the indweller.

So, the non-dualistic philosophy says that each one of us, essentially in our soul (Atman), is none other than God but the only problem is that we are covered by the ignorance of maya that prevents us from knowing our true nature. Since maya is also part of God, this school suggests that it’s the God’s own will, whim and fancy, his own inexplicable divine play, that has made him become all these, that makes each soul to identify itself with body and ego, that makes every soul to forget his true infinite nature. An un-evolved soul of this nature is called jivatman.

Everything in the “created” sphere including the human body is made of the 5-elements (earth, water, air, fire and ether) and anything made of these is subjected to beginning, evolution decay and death. The human body thus shall perish one day, but not the soul within. This soul, even after death, is not freed of maya , until the time the soul comprehends and attains the truth of its nature, that it’s essentially God. Until then, it undergoes the cycles of births and death in this world of maya.

That one’s real essence is his soul (atman) and that this atman is nothing else but Brahman (God) is the ultimate spiritual knowledge to be attained by every human being. By shunning worldly pursuits that are illusory, by constant contemplation of one’s true nature and through the guidance of a Satguru (A spiritual teacher of the highest order) or by the will of the Supreme, a jivatman one day realizes the ultimate truth. After contemplation, striving and by getting the dine grace, some attain it at the time of death; a few outstanding seekers attain the status even when physically alive. Those who realize that their atman is nothing but God when physically being alive are called “Jivan Muktas” in Hinduism. Such realized souls live in this world purely for the sake of giving spirutal guidance and solace to others. They see none other than God (or Atman) in everything around.

Thus in the above light, Jesus Christ is a realized soul; he is a jivan mukta. He has found his true identity with God; in that sense, he is the son of God — as long as he is bound to the human body. He knows pretty well, like all realized souls, that he is not the body; but the physical body is bound by the rules of the creation. It has to die one day. On that day, the body perishes, but his soul merges with the infinite that is God. “The father and the son become one” at the death of the physical body.

How to explain Jesus’ resurrection from Hindu point of view

Again, from Hinduism point of view, Jesus’s death and resurrection can be explained. In Hinduism it is called Yoga Samadhi.

In the deepest state of meditative union with God (yoga samadhi)a yogi’s external symptoms of living, namely breathing, heart pulse etc stop. The duration of stoppage can vary depending on the spiritual power the yogi has.

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, a great spiritual master used to remain in such a state of samadhi over several minutes, several times in a day. Mata Amritanandamayi, a living saint had remained in that state for about 8 hours during her youth and everyone thought she had passed away.

In Jesus’ case it remained quite longer.

Practitioners of Hatha Yoga, a specific yogic discipline in India, are capable of burying themselves under the earth for several days and they would come back alive. It is more of a very disciplined and fine-tuned yogic practice with excellent mastery of Pranayama (breathing control). Many Hatha Yogis may not even be spiritually evolve people, and several schools of Hinduism will not consider Hatha Yoga as a worthy practice for true spiritual unfoldment.

Further, spiritually evolved saints can manifest in front of people in physical form, even after they had left their mortal body. Swami Vivekananda saw his master Ramakrishna Paramahamsa on several occasions at crucial times of difficulties in his life, long after the death of Ramakrishna.

Paramahamsa Yogananda, a very popular Hindu saint at the west used to mention in his book “The autobiography of a yogi” about his Guru’s Guru, Mahavatar Babaji whom he met physically at Benares. This Guru is believed to be living in the Himalayas for more than a couple of centuries and is said to be visible only to his disciples and devotees.

The crux of the Hindu system is that a physical body in this earth is bound to die a physical death one day, whatever be the extra-ordinary miracles associated with the great spiritual masters. What is important is that a physical death is not the end of the soul of such masters who have found true identity of their Atman with God.

Since I am explaining these from a Hindu perspective, it may not go well with christian beliefs of some schools and that’s quite natural. The purpose of the article is not to undermine Jesus Christ in any way, but to give a fresh light to Jesus Christ’s life from a different angle.

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Related reading:

Understanding relationship between religion and health

Why God permits evil in this world if he is truly all powerful?

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If a person is compassionate, law abiding, kind, loving, considerate and leads a good personal life, but doesn’t believe in God, would he really go to hell?

If we seriously analyse the interpretations given by staunch believers in Abrahamic religions (particularly Christianity and Islam), we will have to painfully conclude that a kind, loving, considerate, compassionate and law abiding person will have to end up in hell because he has not accepted Jesus Christ/God/ Creator.

WHAT CHRISTIANITY SAYS:

From whatever I understood from the explanations/ interpretations available on Bible scriptures (here in Quora and a few other sites) I gather the following ideas (knowledgeable Christians can correct me if there are mistakes in my understanding):

  • When a person dies, this physical body perishes but soul remains as if in sleep.
  • The soul remains in this state of suspended animation till the ‘Day of Judgment’.
  • There is an alternative interpretation available (again based on quotes from Bible) that the souls of those believers in Jesus Christ, immediately upon death, end up in heaven and remain there blissfully, but without their bodies. (both good people as well as sinners, who are believers, end up in heaven).As per the same alternative belief, the souls of non-believers (be it sinners or good people) end up in hell, suffering in blistering fire/ in darkness etc.
  • ‘When the day of Judgement’ comes, (God only knows when), those believers of God will get their buried bodies resurrected and they will reach heaven (with a body) to remain in eternal joy in the presence of God for ever. It includes both sinners and good people. Sinners are cleared off all their sins purely based on their faith on Jesus Christ. He had already shed his blood on their behalf and that blood purifies the sins of all the believers.
  • On the day of judgement, those who are alive too will be judged the same way — Are you a believer or not believer? Your fate is frozen accordingly.
  • In case of non-believers, on the day of judgement, they too get the body resurrected, but they continue to suffer eternally in hell.
  • Man gets only one birth/ chance to live in this world. Soul lives for ever and it is either in heaven (in case of believer) or in hell (in case of non-believer, irrespective of whatever good qualities he possessed). So, better believe in Jesus Christ while you are alive! You are NOT entitled for any more chance.

WHAT ISLAM SAYS:

From whatever I understood from the explanations/ interpretations available on Koran scriptures (in a few other sites) I gather these ideas (Knowledgeable Muslims can correct me if there are mistakes in my understanding):

  • When a person dies, their body perishes but soul remains as if in sleep
  • Those souls who have done good deeds and have faith in Allah are taken royally to the heaven, and will enjoy being there till the day of judgment
  • Those souls who have done evil acts and have no faith in Allah will be painfully dragged out of their bodies and they will end up in hell to suffer
  • The souls with a mix of good and bad deeds remain in the state of suspended animation till the ‘Day of Judgment’, but in the grave they will undergo suffering for their evil deeds , waiting for the day of judgment.
  • On the day of Judgment, Allah comes to the rescue of those locked in the grave yard. If the person had sinned but has faith in Allah, he is saved by Allah’s grace and sent to Heaven. For a non-believer, the fate is sealed. He has to suffer eternally in hell. His acts of good are of no avail to him.
  • People of all other faiths who worshiped any other God (other than Allah) are also doomed. They are all cursed to live in Hell.
  • Man gets only one birth/ chance to live in this world. Soul lives for ever and it is either in heaven (in case of believer) or in hell (in case of non-believer, irrespective of whatever good qualities he possessed). So, better believe in Allah while you are alive! You are NOT entitled for any more chance.

WHAT HINDUISM SAYS

  • Every human being is potentially divine. Only problem is people don’t know it (unless they go deep into practical spirituality) because of maya and ego.
  • Lured by maya and deluded by ego, man does lots of acts (karmas) which may be good or evil. A man naturally does both in varying proportions.
  • Every Karma creates a Karma phala (fruit of karma) which one has to enjoy or suffer. A bad karma’s effect does not cancel out a good karma’s effect or vice versa. Accounts of good and bad acts have independent existence.In this specific case, the man who is “kind, loving, considerate, compassionate and law abiding” has really accumulated good fruits (called Punya) because all these are essentially qualities that are part of Satva guna (pure and auspicious qualities). These qualities will be for his benefit irrespective of whether he is a believer or not.
  • Human birth does not end in one life. It is a continuous on going process : birth-live-die-next birth-live-die and so on. It is called Samsara. It is there because you have to enjoy or suffer whatever good or bad that you keep doing till you settle all your accounts.
  • It is by God’s will that the next birth takes place with a specific load of fruits of one’s previous karmas (from the total account done across may previous births). While the person enjoys or suffers by exhausting his previous fruits of karma, he keeps engaging in fresh karmas (good or bad, prompted by his likes and dislikes) too in this birth that will start adding to his karma loads leading to future births!
  • In between two births, the soul may also undergo a stint in Heaven (to enjoy the extraordinary punyas acquired in previous births) or in Hell (to suffer the extraordinary sins acquired on account of outright evil acts committed in previous births).
  • But it has to return to earth in any case to continue the process with the balance loads. Unfulfilled desires on account of all the experiences keep on goading the souls to to hopelessly engage in karmas and getting caught in the samsara cycle.
  • But where is the end to this maddening cycle? There are two ways – Bhakti or Gnyana. Understand the futility of samsara, understand the hopelessness of running behind fulfilling desires, shun the deluding maya, shun your ego — surrender to God. When the surrender is total, God saves you out of compassion on you from samsara and takes your soul to his eternal abode. This is the path of Bhakti.
  • In the path of Gnyana, you inquire: Who am I? Am I this perishing body? Who is true the enjoyer or sufferer? Is it the body, mind, ego, soul or what? I am atman; the witness; imperishable. This way, the soul further realizes that it is none other than the Almighty (Brahman), but getting all along deluded by maya and ego! When this self-realization happens (after many births), there is no more desire to fulfill. There is no fear of death. ‘I am eternal. There is no more birth and death for me.’ “Aham Brahmasmi” (‘I am Brahman”).

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