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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!

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.