Definition and scope of Hinduism.

Can a Hindu remain Hindu after conversion?

Hinduism:

Hinduism being the world’s oldest religious tradition, incorporates all forms of belief and worship without necessitating the selection or elimination of any. The Hindu is inclined to revere the divine in every manifestation, whatever it may be, and is doctrinally tolerant. A Hindu may embrace a non-Hindu religion without ceasing to be Hindu, and since the Hindu is disposed to think synthetically and to regard other forms of worship, strange gods, and divergent doctrines as inadequate rather than wrong or objectionable, he tends to believe that the highest divine powers complement each other for the well-being of the world and mankind. The core of religion does not even depend on the existence or non-existence of God or on whether there is one god or many. Since religious truth is said to transcend all verbal definition, it is not conceived in dogmatic terms. Hinduism is then both a civilization and a conglomerate of religions with neither a beginning, a founder, nor a central authority, hierarchy, or organization. Since religious truth is said to transcend all verbal definition, it is not conceived in dogmatic terms. Hinduism is then both a civilization and a conglomerate of religions with neither a beginning, a founder, nor a central authority, hierarchy, or organization.

The conundrum which has blocked the minds of a few today was given a riposte by Swami Vivekananda in the following words:

…we tend to reduce everyone else to the limits of our own mental universe and begin privileging our own ethics, morality, sense of duty and even our sense of utility. All religious conflicts arose from this propensity to judge others. If we indeed must judge at all, then it must be `according to his own ideal, and not by that of anyone else’. It is important, therefore, to learn to look at the duty of others through their own eyes and never judge the customs and observances of others through the prism of our own standards.

It would not be proper to hold that the painter/petitioner had a deliberate intention to manifestly insult Bharat Mata which is clear from his various interviews and reports placed on record where he has consistently maintained that he actually celebrates nudity and considers it as the purest form of expression. It also cannot be lost sight of that he had immediately withdrawn the said painting from the auction and apologised to those offended, thus making it clear that his is only an artistic impulse.

[Source: Maqbool Fida Hussain v. Raj Kumar Pandey. (Delhi High Court)]

Comments about conversion:

The observation of the court in this case seems to be slightly exaggerated. An apt example in favour is orthodox Hindus attending Sikh Gurudwara. Most Punjabi Hindu do it. It does not affect their status. But there are other circumstances as well. While it is correct that migration or movement within the numerous branches or analogous religions may not affect the status as Hindu but the effect is not the same if a persons adopts a monolithic religion which cannot be reconciled with Hinduism at all. Except with the core principle of ‘Nirgun Brahm ki Upasana’. Statutory law on Hindu Marriage provide conversion to another religion as a ground for divorce. Therefore it shall be necessary to read above judgement in that context only. Further the observations about conversion are obiter dicta. There was no issue before the court to decide about validity of conversion. Hence the observations have only persuasive authority to be tested in appropriate case.
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