Advice: Can I be a Christian & a Hindu? 31


Dear Lauren, I have been giving serious thought to converting to Hinduism. I was raised Christian and feel as if I am betraying Christianity by even considering converting. I do not belong to a church any more but do read my bible. I feel so lost, Hinduism is calling in a way that is soothing. I wanted to know if you are okay to share what was your prior religion and how did you handle the conversion?

Anonymous Reader

***

Many think Hindus believe in many Gods, but in fact they believe in one God, in many forms. Just as I am a mother, wife, daughter, granddaughter, sister, friend etc., there are infinite aspects to this one God. These are the deities. This makes God relatable, approachable, allowing us to connect to the divine easier (which could be compared to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit). That is my understanding of it anyway.

Many of the differences between Hinduism and Christianity are cultural. Obviously there are some fundamental differences in theology (reincarnation, heaven and hell etc.) but both promote a personal relationship with God. So, in my humble opinion, if you find both the bible and aspects of Hinduism soothing, don’t feel guilty.

I grew up being a moderate Anglican and haven’t formally converted to Hinduism. I do pray daily, in the same way I have since I was a child (a conversation with God) and find focusing on deities extremely helpful.

This is my personal opinion, and others will have different views on this, and I respect their beliefs wholeheartedly. I hope my understanding helps you understand your own feelings about feeling attached to both Christianity and Hinduism.

Keep reading, observing, contemplating and asking questions. You’ll soon discover what spiritual practices resonate with your soul.

***

Dear Readers, Do you have any advice, experience or a fresh perspective to offer? (Helpful and respectful comments only)

Are you looking for advice to help resolve your dilemma? Submit a question here!


About Lauren Mokasdar

Lauren fell in love on the internet, took a one way flight from England, got married & started a new life & bicultural family in India. She writes about finding happiness & balance between two very different worlds, when her baby takes a nap.


31 thoughts on “Advice: Can I be a Christian & a Hindu?

  • wcg2

    My advice to you is dont follow any advice. Its your personal choice and this topic is not to be discussed outside because it causes is unnecessary controversy. I have been critic of Abrahamic religions except Judaism owing to the history of bloodshed in India from 1000 CE to 1947 CE. Hence my advice will be biased towards eastern religions, hence I wont give any advice. At home read and understand whatever you want. But, belonging from Indian culture(not specifiying religion), I say this that I am not a sinner born due to the Original Sin, but I am divine. Having said so, I am still to realise that I am divine, which might take a couple thousands of rebirth 😀 😛

    • Lauren Mokasdar Post author

      I’ve had several people tell me they have converted to Hinduism, I *think* it involves a name change? I know some consider me part of my husband’s caste since marriage.

      I hope someone who knows more about this is able to reply 🙂

      • Tina

        I read the article and from what I understood it said more less the same thing as my husband always said – you don’t need to convert to Hinduism, you just start practicing. Having said that, I don’t consider myself a Hindu, as I don’t really know that much about their traditions and cultures, and I don’t believe in God. I know that you can be both a hindu and an atheist (it’s more of a cultural identity than a religious one, from what I read and heard). I always liked the idea of polytheism and I love learning about mythology, but if I ever started practising a religion, it would probably be Buddhism. It’s close to Hinduism, but doesn’the require so many different celebrations of festivals, focuses on you and your experience, instead of on some deity, so it’s possible to not believe in God and still practise it. I guess I also think you can’t be truly a hindu, unless you’re born in this tradition. It’s immersed so deeply in the Hindu culture and way of life, including caste, that it can take years until you truly get to know all the customs and their meaning. Also you have to want it, I’m not sure if I want to belong to a caste system, although probably according to my in-laws, I already do.

      • friend

        It is a perplexing question. I think this article may shed some light over it

        http://www.milligazette.com/Archives/15012001/Art26.htm

        I think that the major problem comes from the fact that conversion is very fundamental to some religions. You can convert to certain religions through a ceremony. If you apply the same logic to Hinduism, there is no such ceremony.

        The second problem comes stems from the concept of god. In Hinduism there is one god as well as many gods. The other religions have a more structured approach to this concept. How do you convert to something which is so loosely defined?

        So, if you combine both these factors, it a very pertinent question.

      • Dinamarquesa

        You can, through Arya Samaj, and maybe some other organizations. They will give you a certificate and all, and it is recognized by the government. That it is not recognized by all Hindus is a different matter.

      • Dinamarquesa

        And the name change part is optional. You do, however, have to sign an affidavit, saying that you renounce your former faith.

        • GS

          arya samaj revolution is the greatest revolution ever happened in the history of hindu religion. if any one chooses to become a hindu via conversion through arya samaj he or she is, in my opinion is more hindu than any hindu. some people i saw are talking about caste ,for them my humble request is please go through carefully vedanta once.arya samaj revolution was born out of this question of caste discrimination . someone who believes in vedanta the whole cocept of caste becomes useless to him or her as vedanta believes into praying to ” nirguna brahma”. and some one can pray to “nirguna brahma ” via showing devotion through gods manifestation aka traditional hinduism or by meditating and singing to them directly aka vedanta . In first case the concept of caste draws water to some extent in later case it draws none.

    • Rajesh

      According to Sanatan Dharma, the whole universe and the living beings in it are “Hindu”. So as a Hindu, I consider you one as well. It’s just that individuals who identify themselves with certain sects – Christianity, Islam, Vaishnava, etc., will eventually realize that there is only One Natural Law and an Omniscient Being (the Universal Self) above this Natural Law. The Natural Law (Law of Karma) is applied equally to all living beings regardless of what they might identify themselves as. This realization will is called Self-Realization/Nirvana/Moksha.

  • Justyna

    I read once very nice frase : every road that leads to God is good. Im totally agree, and I think its especcialy dificoult in interracial marrages to magae two faith and find stabilization in this. I was raised as a Christian but i never was to close to my religion, but I feel that Hinduism is closer to me. Anyways i think our kids we will raise in both religions, and then when they grown up they can pick themself which religion is closer to their belives. BUT, i think its no matter which God you belive, I belive that is one God in many faces (not only Siwa, Rama, Jesus but also Buddha, Allah, etc.), The thing is to be honest with myself and be good person. Its my opinion 🙂

  • RAHUL SINGH

    You can ofcourse get converted to Hinduism, Caste system is nothing but a cultural malpractice imposed in India by the Arabs and then the English as even McCaulay acknowledges in his speech when he said only way to rule India is to hit where it hurts the most which is to destroy its cultural heritage.
    You should read this book by P.N Oak which says that Christianity evolved from Sanatan Dharma.
    You can buy it from Amazon : –
    http://www.amazon.in/Christianity-Chrisn-Nity-P-N-Oak/dp/8188388777

    There is a theory that Jesus came to India to learn ” Krishna Neeti” which means the teachings of Lord Krishna which was later propagated as Christianity in the West.
    {Source Wikipedia – Christianity as Vedic Chrisn-nity or Krishna-neeti Theory[edit]
    Oak claims that Christianity was originally a Vedic religion following Krishna and claims that Christianity was originally known by either the names Chrisn-nity or Krishna-neeti (with Oak alleging these meant “The way of Krishna” or “The Justice of Lord Krishna”) these generally follow in line with Oak’s other theories and claims that the Vatican was allegedly originally called Vatika and that the Papacy was originally a “Vedic Priesthood” until Constantine the Great around 312 A.D killed the “Vedic pontiff” and installed in his place a representative of the tiny Christian sect.[18] Specifically, Oak’s followers make the following claims about what they claim as alleged Krishna-neeti. “Jesus went to India between ages 13 and 30 to learn Krishna-neeti (Christianity) from sages.”[19] }

  • ango

    I love this question. I am a Hindu and I’d like to say a few things from my point of view. The question is, can one be a Christian and a Hindu. Yes you can. One must understand that Hinduism is actually a way of living. U don’t need to visit temples to be a Hindu, u need not worship the Deities to be a Hindu, technically u need to have a caste but spiritually it’s not mandatory. I would have talked more about the caste but then I would divert from the point. In short, because of human nature, social hierarchy(caste) has turned into a social stigma. Coming back to the point, the pillars of Hinduism are the four Vedas. The Vedas are not religious books like the Bible, the Quran or the Bhagvad Geeta rather they are the guide to well being- mental , physical and spiritual.
    For example , it is written in the vedas on who should eat what type of food. If a person’s job doesn’t include much physical work then his diet should be different than the diet of the one whose work is more physical. Also what kind of food should be taken in the morning, in the noon and at night, all the wisdom is there in the Vedas. Now is this any different then the advice given to us by our physicians or the doctors? Be the doctor a Christian/Muslim/Hindu/Buddhist/Sikh or any other? Similarly many text in the vedas are dedicated on how to live. So knowingly or unknowingly if your way of living, your ideologies, matches the ways of the Vedas, u may be of any religion but u are a practising Hindu.
    What I’m trying to say is even if a person worships all the Hindu Deities, he/she might not be a Hindu and on the other hand a person may be a Hindu even if he/she doesn’t know what Hinduism is.

  • Ria

    Hinduism it’s not really a religion if you follow dharma you already are a Hindu. Find out more about it read Bhagavad Gita daily do your duty and you there.

  • Manab

    If someone has accepted the Existence of the SHIVA/SELF/BRAHMAN etc. SELF is everything everywhere everyone. You are the SELF. Don’t need any external manmade validation like being hindu, christian etc.. By conversion will you able to know the SELF? No! Many people say modern times popular idea that follow dharma, you became a hindu…it is also wrong…following dharma make you an aryan(noble being). But main goal is realization of the SELF, which is true you. SELF is eternal(sanatana), pure you is eternal. You a Sanatani(eternal being), to know you being the eternal SELF is the way, Not the conversion, calling yourself hindu, muslim, christian etc. is ego/pride, false indentity. SELF is your true identity. http://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/kena-upanishad/d/doc122449.html

    • Manab

      sorry for the word conversion, it was unnecessary. Yes! you can be hindu and christian both. Then again we don’t need external validation or identity to know the SELF. So it is also alright if you are neither hindu nor christian.

  • john

    The official line is that no you can’t.

    What I am going to say is not meant as criticism.

    As you don’t go to church, it would be wrong to say you are a practising Christian, so I think it is far more important to just lead a good life, without harming too many people along the way.

    Don’t try too hard to put a label on your faith.

    I am a Catholic, and I know that sometimes the things I do are totally unacceptable as a Christian, but i am human and have many shortcomings.

  • rohit

    “they believe in one God, in many forms. Just as I am a mother, wife, daughter, granddaughter, sister, friend etc., there are infinite aspects to this one God. These are the deities. This makes God relatable, approachable, allowing us to connect to the divine easier”

    your above lines clearly shows that you know Hindunisum (Hindu or called Sanatan Dharam, Sanatan means always new) you now dn’t need to think anything more. Not a single book in our religion told to convert anyone in any religion. Jesus talk about faith, Hindu Dharm also talk about faith. Difference just due to language/culture/Local life style. So dont’ see outside difference….

  • Kambhammettu Sri Krishna Sudhamsu

    Hi Lauren, I have been following your blogs for sometime now. Having been a Hindu since my birth, I thought I can share my understanding with you regarding this matter.

    Firstly, There is no formal conversion process into Hinduism. If you have heard about people doing some rituals for conversion, they are essentially doing prayaschitta karmas and not conversion rituals.
    If you think you are a Hindu, you are a Hindu. This looks like a very vague definition, but it is vague because the term Hindu is so broad that it has already encompassed so many religions into it. Attributing a definite belief system into Hinduism is simply not possible. There are advaitins, visistadvaitins, dvaitas, mimamsikas, charvakas etc., -each one of them having different philosophical understanding of God but all belong to Hinduism. In that sense, you can probably say Hinduism represents culture and not religion.

    And secondly, you need not change your name to become a Hindu. In reality, when a person changes his name, the act is not really looked upon in positive light in many parts of India. This act is considered as showing disrespect to one’s parents who named the person when he/she was born.

    Finally, regarding being Hindu and Christian at the same time — we do NOT believe in a single path to liberation (moksha). We believe that all paths are equally good and that one has to find a path and a God that he easily connects to. We have inherited saints and Gods from time to time even if they are born in different religions (Sai Baba for example) and I can say that there is nothing wrong in going to church while being a Hindu. This is all I can tell you. You can be considered to be a good Hindu even if you regularly go to church. What I cannot tell you ( or rather I dont know) is whether or not you will be considered to be a good Christian if you keep visiting temples.

    There is this Sanskrit sloka that I recite during my Sandhyavandana ritual everyday which I think is relavant to this context.

    आकाशात् पतितं तोयं यथा गच्छति सागरम् ।
    सर्वदेहनमस्कारः केशवं प्रतिगच्छति ॥

    “All waters that fall down from sky finally merge into the ocean. (Similarly) Prayers offered to any God finally reach the One”

    For us, Jesus is just one of those Gods.

    • Dinamarquesa

      Do you know where that sloka is from? It is very beautiful. I have saved it, thank you for sharing it with us!

      • Kambhammettu Sri Krishna Sudhamsu

        At the end of Sandhyavandana ritual, there are few slokas from all four vedas, few from some well known stotras and few from some subhasithani.
        As per my knowledge, this sloka is one of those aryoktis (elder’s good words) from subhasithani – No one knows who wrote it. It is just passed down through generations.

        But most Hindus performing Sandhyavandana chant it religiously. For that reason, today you can find this sloka in most sandhyavandana books.

  • Dinamarquesa

    So, here are some of my thoughts on it. I have struggled with the same question for quite a while, and have now sort of made peace with it. I converted through a puja in Arya Samaj, so that my husband and I would be able to marry under the Hindu Marriage Act and not one of the other acts – it was mainly for the paperwork. Throughout the time I have known my husband, I have to some extent participated in their family’s pujas and prayers, as I have done with every other individual who has asked me to pray with them, but it took me a while to warm up to Hinduism. However, for some reason I started developing a relationship with Lord Hanuman, and that, along with the conversion, made me feel that I have my own place within Hinduism. I felt rather guilty about this in a way, but when I discussed it with a friend of mine who used to study theology, she actually quoted the bible (even though I am not aware which part), saying that “In my Father’s house there are many rooms”, and that soothed me. Also, the priest who was in charge of the conversion puja, when we sat in a break between two parts, said “God is God”, and that I find to be very true.

  • amar patil

    I read your blog. Sanatan dharma is not only religion but it also way of life. Everyone who believed in god, he is hindu. There is no specific way to conversion. You never be a Hindu by conversion.

  • Aftsb Ahmad

    Its a very personal question and answer should be that what ever makes you happy and contended. Different people will feel differently on this issue. But in my openion it should be left as individual matter rather than society judge it in anyway.

  • VK

    I’ll add my two cents..Feel free to pick and choose any aspects of any religion and practice as you like (It can change over time of course).There is absolutely no need to explain or be defensive about it. As for the history of organized religion , the less said the better, they have caused more harm than good, but that is just my opinion.One can argue till the cows come home about that..

  • xaspireonfirex

    I feel for your reader, as it seems that he/she is struggling with the idea of leaving something behind – but perhaps he/she can take heart from others here who agree that a pluralistic approach does not diminish the authenticity of your belief, or, if you like, the Truth you perceive in any religious path. Of course, there are some who would not accept this. But perhaps even that is part of a broader lesson for us all; often in life, there is no right or wrong answer and many situations will leave us in doubt as I think it is a very human need to want to have that kind of clarity. What is right for one may not suit another – and it may be a lifelong lesson to learn to tolerate differences of opinion and, providing we are not hurting others in doing so, to try to identify and follow what feels true and compelling to us with the sincerity and commitment which is sustaining and enlightening for us, whilst retaining an openness about what may answer that in another. There are many thought-provoking quotations on this subject, but I find comfort in one from the Sufi scholar, poet and mystic Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, who I hope I am not misquoting by repeating, “there are as many paths to God as there are souls on earth”. I hope your reader finds his/her way.

  • Baldrick_Cunning Plan

    That is the beauty of Hinduism. It is more cultural than religious and affords endless degree of freedom. You can be a Christian while at the same time be an ardent ISKCON member. I know a number of American British and Japanese people who don’t convert or feel the need to do so. They are happy ‘Hindus’ never the less. So set aside needless worries and enjoy.

  • Sachin

    How can you convert to a “belief” system? A belief system cannot be proved.

    The belief system in india(Hindusim) is a collection of several different “school of thoughts”. Monotheism, polytheism, atheism, shaktism, shaivaism etc are one of the few schools of thought in hindusm. You can choose to agree with one of these schools but you cannot say that your school is the correct one and the rest are doubtful. This is why hindus say that “you cannot convert”. Btw, yes, atheism is one of the schools in hindusm but do note that while this school exists, it remains extremely unpopular among indians and is probably among the weakest schools.

    You swear allegiance to a nation, a political system, a country. You swear to “allegiance” to the saviour jesus christ. To allah.

    Sentences like the above or even words like “allegiance” are foreign in eastern philosophy relating of the divine. This is one of the core ideological differences between abrahamic and indian belief systems.

    There is a common misconception floating around on the internet that the indian belief systems are not a religion but rather a “way of life”. Contrary to the claim, the indian belief systems are the perfect candidates to qualify for the definition of a “religion”. The abrahamic belief systems are actually not “religions” but rather a “dogma”. The confusion is because people are comparing indian religions with abrahamic dogmas and getting confused and coming to strange conclusions. They are completely different from one another.

    In simple words, you can convert/swear alliegence(to jesus or allah) and this is acceptable in middle-eastern and western culture but the same cannot be done in eastern philosophy because this belief system intrinsically accepts that it is a “school of thought”, not a proved concept.

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