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 It also cannot be lost sight of that he had immediately withdrawn the said painting from the auction and apologised to those offended, thus making it clear that his is only an artistic impulse.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.

Section 29A of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 (as applicable in Andhra Pradesh)

Joint property of minor female:

The Andhra Pradesh and Ceiling Act (Act 1 of 1973) Act was published in Andhra Pradesh Gazette on 1.1.73. Under the Act, the determination of the retainable area of agricultural land was to be done with reference to the land held by the ‘family unit’ on 1.1.75. The ‘family unit’ was defined in section 2(f) as comprising the individual, his or her spouse or spouses and their minor sons and their unmarried minor daughters. The petitioner before us was a member of the family unit as she was an unmarried minor daughter of the 2nd respondent as on 1.1.75. The declarant, her father under Section 8 was obliged to declare the total land held by himself and those lands held by other member of the family unit. The excess land was computed in respect of her father’s family unit under Section 9 of the Act and the father had to surrender the same as provided in Section 10. That excess land would vest in the State free of encumbrances under Section 11.

Under the Land Reforms Act, 1973 if the family property comprised ancestral or coparcenary property of a Hindu, and if the declarant had no major sons, the entire extent of the said property was liable to be shown in the declaration together with any separate property held by the declarant or other members of the family unit. If on the other hand, there was (say) a major son as on 1.1.75 entitled to a share in the ancestral or coparcenary property then the declarant was to declare his share in the said property along with any separate property held by himself or other members of the family unit.

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