Converting to Hindu Dharma

There is considerable discussion in media, politics and society about illegality of forced conversions and laws preventing conversions. Usually discussion is centered around conversions from Hindu Dharma to Islam or Christianity. There is very little or no discussion around conversion from Islam or Christianity to Hindu Dharma.

Indeed, it is often assumed that Hindu Dharma does not allow conversions to its fold. And visibly this seems to be true. There is very little visible activity of conversions from Islam or Christianity to Hindu Dharma. And this has been historically true. There has never been an epoch of history where millions have been converted from different religions to Hindu Dharma.

While theoretical evidence of conversion to Hindu Dharma is not easily available in scriptural guidance, empirical evidences do largely suggest that Hindu Dharma is non converting and does not seek converts from other religion. There are also reports that converted Western-born Hindus were not allowed entry into temples on the grounds that such entry was only allowed to those who were born Hindus. Such exclusion might have valid reasons in some cases, but it reinforces the belief that Hindu Dharma is a non-converting faith.

We can debate whether Hindu Dharma is converting or not for ages and still not reach any conclusion, since scriptural guidance on this matter is scant and scarce, if not necessarily contradictory. What we can discuss however is if it is healthy or beneficial for Hindu Dharma to be a non-converting faith, assuming for a moment that Hindu Dharma is a non-converting faith since empirical evidence suggests so.

If one looks at history, religions or ways of life that are converting have thrived and flourished, whereas religions or ways of life that are not converting have languished and withered away. Just consider Buddhism. It spread from Bharat to China, Japan, Thailand, and scores of lands, converting millions to its folds. If Buddhism was non converting, it would have died a quick death.

Islam is another religion that has spread far and wide. One may debate on methods used to convert to Islam, which by many credible accounts include force and coercion, but Islam is a converting and proselytising religion. And Islam spread from tiny corners of Arabia to as far flung places such as Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Bharat and Indonesia. So also Christianity, which spread from its roots in Middle East to cover Europe, Americas, Africa and Asia.

On the other hand, consider the faith of non converting religions. Zoroastrianism barely survives. Same is the fate with Judaism. These two religions and they are among the oldest religions in the world have very few followers and are always under threat of complete annihilation.

Hindu Dharma is the only way of life that is non converting and has hundreds of millions of adherents. But the fate of Hindu Dharma is not enviable by any stretch of imagination. Bharat, the nation of its origin, has been vivisected into Pakistan, Bangladesh and what remains of Bharat. As if that was not bad enough, the world’s fastest growing religion, Islam, is increasing its spread across Bharat by sheer fact of higher birth rate among Muslims.

Admittedly, Hindu Dharma is under no threat of extinction in next few decades of even a century or so. But what about the road ahead? The Hindu birth rate is far less compared to Muslim birth rate and this would mean that percentage of Hindus in Bharat would steadily decline and not only become minority in a century or so, but even face possible survival threats.

It is imperative that leaders of Hindu Dharma wake up and take a collective call on whether Hindu Dharma can be complacent in face of such possibilities. There are only two roads ahead at this juncture – either Hindu Dharma becomes a converting religion and thrives and flourishes, or Hindu Dharma continues to remain a non converting religion and languishes and reaches extinction.

This is not the first time that there has been a call for converting people to the Hindu Dharma. Indeed attempts at converting to Hindu Dharma have been made since at least nearly past one century. Swami Dayananda and Swami Shraddhananda have separately led Shuddhi movements for converting Muslims and Christians back to their original Hindu Dharma.

In recent times, there have been sporadic ‘Ghar Wapsi’ programs that have attempted to bring back those who have strayed from Hindu Dharma. Some of these programs have been muzzled in search of political expediency. Some have been dismissed as actions of fringe elements or even actions of Hindutva hardliners which do not have main stream acceptability or support in the larger Hindutva movement.

This has to radically change. Hindu Dharma has to become a converting religion or way of life at the very core and as part of its main stream, if Hindu Dharma is to survive, thrive and flourish. There has to be wide spread discussion regarding this within the main stream elements of the Sangh Parivar – RSS, BJP and VHP.

Bharat can no longer afford for Hindu Dharma to be a side liner watching Islam, the fastest growing religion in the world, completely swamp the nation with its adherents, thus threatening religion, culture and way of life of Bharat.

Just as in the early nineties, Ram Janmabhoomi movement became a main stream activity, with the support of entire Hindutva movement; so also, the new century must see a dawn of Hindu Dharma becoming a converting religion. This is not very difficult. It is matter of social and public will for this to happen. This requires wide discussion across the entire Sangh Parivar.

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  • Abhijit

    Dear Mr Deshpande,

    The RSS has been doing this Ghar Wapsi for past many decades. What’s new to discuss within Sangh Parivar ???