Brown is all, all is brown

There emerged a question in the comments below as to what was “brown” or “desi”?

Ah, the old demarcation problem! Since there is no “Pope of Brownness” we can all offer our opinions. I take a “liberal” and “broad” view.

There are children adopted from India in the United States who are as physically South Asian as anyone. But often they were raised as English-speaking American Christians. Though many attempt to reconnect with “their culture”, the reality is that their family is the family who adopted them. Their culture is the culture in which they grew into adulthood. But, because of the way they look people make assumptions about them. Perhaps people are racist against them as South Asians.

Despite their involuntary cultural alienation from all things South Asian, I have a difficult time thinking that these kids are not brown. Especially if they so want to identify as such.

In contrast, you have the case of people of various races who convert to religions with a South Asian provenance or were raised in those religions. Imagine someone whose parents convert to Hinduism, and raise them in India, but they are half Japanese and English American. They don’t “look” Indian. Brown. Or desi. But if they are raised in India, and practice a form of Hinduism, and speak Indian languages, I have a hard time saying that they don’t have a right to “claim” being desi or brown.

There are obviously many other cases. But I wanted to present these two as opposing and inverted instances, as I think they are the boundary conditions of what desi or brown identity is. People can say what they want about themselves. They could be an Iyer raised in Chennai who claims that they’re really not Indian or desi. Or, someone could be a Russian Karelian who is devoutly Orthodox who claims they Indian. I suspect most of us would think that this is nonsense. To be brown or desi does have boundaries.

But we can make the boundaries crisp and tight. Or broad and loose. For example, to assert that to be desi one has to be a believing and practicing Hindu who is racially South Asian would be a narrow definition.

Or, we can make them broad.

As an American, a broad definition works best for me. My children may not speak a South Asian language, worship Hindu gods, or look particularly “Indian.” But of their eight great-grandparents, four of them were born in British India. They have some claim I think to that heritage and identity, if not as strongly as those genuinely encultured.

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40 Replies to “Brown is all, all is brown”

  1. Q: “The phenomenon of the “ABCD” — a short-hand that refers to the American-Born-Confused-Desi. This refers to South Asians who are born in the U.S. and are so disconnected from the culture of their parents, their ancestors, that they are classified as “confused.” I’ve had cousins and relatives dismiss me as an “ABCD” because I can’t read or write Bengali — and when I speak the language, it’s frequently stilted and awkward; I don’t know any of the colloquialisms of the language. It’s a term that’s rooted in the idea that because you’re an Indian growing up in the U.S., you’re inherently isolated from the culture of your parents and your ancestors.”

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  2. It’s all contextual. If you’re in the US, the “other” part of ancestry will get highlighted. But if you’re in India, especially in rural parts where people know each other forever, they’ll look at you as a foreigner which you are…

    The world isn’t that small yet, it’s only small in niche elite circles but I feel it has always been that way. Just that vertical mobility has increased/improved, so a lot of the noveau elites have a strong memory of their rootsy origins.

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  3. Example in Sri Lanka; a name in the news.

    Ryan Van Rooyen a popular TV actor (I dont have a TV). In the news these days because of drug bust in Dubai (thats how I knew about him).

    Obviously Eurasian/Burgher. For even the villagers here , Ryan is a Sinhalese.
    So what makes him a Sinhalese, Fluent Sinhalese. If he was a Buddhist into the bargain, no argument.

    Color does not seem important,he is on the lighter side of the Sri Lankan spectrum. Not sure if he was blond and blue eyed.

    I think in the US there is much more of color issue. Show a couple of photos of Native Americans to the average white person and they will say Mexican Immigrant (Tested out with photo below).
    https://photos.app.goo.gl/xQDhMcZS3HmhG6wFA

    Even African Americans are not considered “Americans” by people of recent European descent. In a place I worked there was a AfAm lady name Bertha originally from. She claimed part Cherokee (I think, we had long chats). Brad ( 2nd Gen Polish descent) asked Bertha to go back to Africa over some argument. Brad meant it.

    Will American continue to mean “White American”.
    What is the definition of an American, specially in the eyes of the rest of the world.
    a) Citizenship or b) Color c) Language

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  4. “to assert that to be desi one has to be a believing and practicing Hindu who is racially South Asian would be a narrow definition”

    The Hindu-right in India has been pushing this very concept since the colonial-era, though you can find sympathies for this concept even among many centrists.

    Growing up I always thought of Desiness being primarily about food. Whether it was from Punjab (my background), Bengal, or Karnataka, I felt like the food was always familiar in a way Middle-Eastern or East-Asian was not.

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    1. This is an interesting perspective. To the North and West of South Asia food delineates a pretty sharp boundary. To the East, though, food remains familiar through Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia almost as far as Cambodia.

      In fact Thai food bears a closer resemblance to some Indian cuisines – with its dependence on coconut/lemon grass etc. – than they do to other Indian cuisines.

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      1. I am nowhere near qualified enough to make these kind of judgments, but in my experience, SE Asian food (Burma, Thailand) is familiar to Indian only in that they use the word “curry” to describe a few of their dishes (which look and taste very differently despite their shared name). Obviously there are some shared aspects simply due to proximity, but I think there’s a fairly sharp culinary demarcation at Bengal.

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        1. There are deep cultural, religious and culinary similarities between SAARC, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia. Similar and diverse at once.

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  5. Indians from India are pretty colorist and casteist but conversely ‘desi’ identity in India is pretty broad as long as you can speak some Indian language.

    Even right wing Hindutva folks do not question Indian-ness of Rahul Gandhi, Omar Abdullah, Katrina Kaif, Meiyang Chang, Kalki Koechlin, or myriad other celebrities.
    (Any more than they question that of say Shahrukh Khan for his Pakistan visits)

    Sonia Gandhi is a different case but her Italian origin is way over-emphasized on the interwebs. Ordinary folks don’t bother about it as she wears saris and can speak broken Hindi.

    You might face more ridicule if you are a de-racinated South Bombay type.

    Food might be more important in the US. I wouldn’t know.

    ‘Brown’ is an American term that has very little resonance in India outside of small niches.

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    1. Prats, are Indians colorist or are Indians very influenced by physical attractiveness? I think Indians are deeply influenced by what they consider physically attractive. In this way most Americans are better.

      Do you think caste matters to graduates from quality universities? Or do you see it as mattering only in villages?

      How do you define caste? Anyone can join any caste they want. Temples and religious organizations across India give them out cheaply.

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  6. “For example, to assert that to be desi one has to be a believing and practicing Hindu who is racially South Asian would be a narrow definition.”

    I think it differs from region to region. If you are talking about N-India this definition more or less would apply. Apart from some small clusters of N-Indian muslim areas like in Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Allahabad,Lucknow,Bhopal etc where you can claim a distinct “Muslim” culture , almost all other N-Indian ethnicity would assert the narrow definition of both being racially and practicing an Indian religion to be considered desi.

    It differs in the South and East where ethnicity takes a larger role and thus you could get a wider definition of following a “non -Indian” religion as well as speaking a non native language as English. For example a malyali christain /bengali christian will not find himself out of place in a Desi setting of Bongs/Malus, while i am not sure how easy it will be for a Bihari Christan/Gujju Christian to be part of Desi get together of their own folks.

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    1. “Practicing an Indian religion”

      Islam is an Indian religion. Its been practiced by innumerable Indians and had a huge impact on the region.

      I suppose it isn’t “Indian” in the sense that Muhammad wasn’t an Indian and its core mythos is drawn from outside India, but by that standard, Hinduism isn’t really an Indian religion either (Aryan myths brought during their invasions).

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      1. i could have said dharmic.

        i think we can understand what i’m getting at without becoming excessively pedantic here. for example, buddhism is by origin indian. but it is clearly not indian in the same way that sanata dharma, jainism, or sikhism, are.

        hinduism in particular has a sacred geography tied to india on the whole. in contrast, islam’s sacred geography is mostly in the near east (exceptions obv are sufi shrines all over the world).

        because of history and demographics it is hard for a non-indian to not imbue some element of indianness when one converts to hinduism. the same is not true if one converts to buddhism.

        i think it is denying reality to not accept that conversion to islam for indians meant a certain level of alienation from our roots and a reorientation and identification with a supra-civilizaiton identity.

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        1. I agree with the thrust of what you are saying, but details matter.

          For instance, “the sacred geography” of Hinduism is largely in eastern-Afghanistan and Punjab, areas outside the traditional Hindu-civilization that took route in India following the Aryan conquests. The same could be said of Islam visa-vis Arabia.

          On the local level however, Hinduism (and Islam) in India has historically had little to do with where these core texts and idea came from, but rather what it meant to everyday people. The temples/mosques/shrines it built, the communities it organized, the scholarly discussion it generated, the celebrations it produced, etc. This is intimately a local affair (Indian in our case), but its true for both Hinduism AND Islam.

          I agree (to a degree) with your last paragraph, though you as a Bengali and myself as a Punjabi were always alienated from the Hinduism that had a subsumed most of inner-India following the Aryan conquests. It is due to our separateness from inner-India that out ancestors adopted Islam. So to see Islam as a detachment from our roots is wrong, I think. Its the opposite, a reflection of our peoples (Indus, Bengal), unique identity within South-Asia.

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          1. “Islam is an Indian religion. Its been practiced by innumerable Indians and had a huge impact on the region.”

            This is similar to saying English is an Indian language. Sure, you can make that case.
            But speaking in English doesn’t make anyone Indian. Neither does an English speaker look towards Indian English for cues on how to correctly use the language.
            There’s a reason it’s a big deal for new words to get into the Oxford English Dictionary and not some Indian dictionary.

            Indian Muslims are Indian inspite of Islam not because of it.

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          2. “For instance, “the sacred geography” of Hinduism is largely in eastern-Afghanistan and Punjab, areas outside the traditional Hindu-civilization that took route in India following the Aryan conquests.”

            Again you have no evidence that Arya peoples conquered SAARC.

            Many sacred Tirthas are also in Northern Afghanistan, Turin, Baluchistan, Tibet, Xinjiang, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, South India, Assam and Thailand.

            “The same could be said of Islam visa-vis Arabia.”
            The first Islamic mosque was built in India. India has been tied to Islam from the beginning. In 632 AD many of Mohammed’s pbuh family members fled to India to escape Islamists trying to kill them. Tariq Fatah argues that the famous Hadith “Ghazwa-e-Hind” was created on or after 632 AD because Islamists were angry that India protected the family of the prophet pbuh.

            “India has historically had little to do with where these core texts and idea came from”

            This is pure conjecture on your part without evidence either way. What you can say is that these texts and ideas may not have come from SAARC (assume you include Afghanistan and Pakistan in India) since we cannot prove they came from SAARC.

            Obviously Sanathana Dharma was part of a large civilization that extended from Turin to Iran to Xinjiang to Tibet to Indonesia to Malaysia to Cambodia to Thailand to SAARC. Many of the ideas germinated and were augmented from a large geographic region. This does not mean that many ideas and technologies were not developed in SAARC.

            Why do you think Bengalis were alienated from the rest of Hinduism? Bengalis that converted to Islam in the 1700s and 1800s (post Aurangzeb) did so for their own reasons. But Bengali Islam pre 1919 was a Hindu tilted Islam. I have seen large Sufi rallies in Bangladesh where the speakers use many Sanskrit Hindu words.

            Hindu and muslim Bengalis share a love of fish. And a lot else. Muslim Bengalis have long joined many Hindu festivals. And visa versa.

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            Do you think Punjabis felt alienated from the rest of Hinduism pre 1919? Where in Punjab? Lahore use to be filled with Hindus, Shia and Sufis.

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          3. , “the sacred geography” of Hinduism is largely in eastern-Afghanistan and Punjab, areas outside the traditional Hindu-civilization that took route in India following the Aryan conquests.

            the ganges is in india. i see what you’re saying, but i think this dodges the spirit of my assertion.

            I agree (to a degree) with your last paragraph, though you as a Bengali and myself as a Punjabi were always alienated from the Hinduism that had a subsumed most of inner-India following the Aryan conquests. It is due to our separateness from inner-India that our ancestors adopted Islam. So to see Islam as a detachment from our roots is wrong, I think. Its the opposite, a reflection of our peoples (Indus, Bengal), unique identity within South-Asi

            most of the barua (bengali) buddhists from chittagong seem to have migrated to kolkatta. i think within south asia there was a spectrum of ‘sanskritization’ to use an anachronistic term. the periphery was less dominated by that culture, and for various reasons was more open to switching religions.

            but islam is definitely more alienating than buddhism is. i’ve never heard of a sri lanka say stupid stuff about how their ancestors were persian, turk, or arab. i have heard of plenty of muslims of various stripes do this, though usually they realize it’s stupid if called on it.

            also, though i am sympathetic to eaton’s thesis, we shouldn’t take it as writ. and in my own family, i have a brahmin great-grandfather, and much of the rest of my family were hindu kayasthas only a few centuries ago. the shift to islam form hinduism in these cases was for rational reasons. but it wasn’t because we weren’t hindu.

            finally, using a ‘refined’ definition one could say most of the bengali peasanty was neither hindu nor muslim in 1800, no matter what they perceived themselves to be, or would identify as. but the process of islamicization and hinduization has occurred. and muslims and hindus are orienting themselves toward non-local identities that broader civilizational valences.

            in most of the muslim world local islam is giving ground to ‘international islam’ through modernization and urbanization. the process of secularization will probably result in some reindianization, but there is a definite phase of hyper-islamic (and in the case of hidnus hyper-hindu) self-conceptualization which is creating a mythic past.

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          4. Hello INDTHINGS,

            I would like to state my opinion regarding the sacred geography concept in Hinduism which is that except for probably a very-minor-number-to-none Brahmins (probably none really), most Hindus don’t consider eastern Afghanistan and Punjab as an any special sacred geography, at least it is not considered as the most sacred of all definitely. The river Sindhu is considered sacred by a lot of people but that’s about it. Rather, I believe that the sacredness of India for Hinduism is spread rather evenly across most parts of what is the Indian subcontinent, with major central rivers like Ganga, Narmada, Godavari, Krishna, Kaveri, most Shaktipitha sites, most Jyotirlinga sites, the Char Dham (Puri, Rameshvaram, Dvaraka, Badrinath) as well as the Chota Char Dham (Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri, Gangotri) sites, etc. located deep inside inner India.

            The thing is that, I doubt even the original Indo-Aryans of the northwest, who I think are what you were referring to (referring to Sapta Sindhu? please forgive me for any misinterpretations) may have placed a huge amount of emphasis on the northwest as a sacred geography. But I am not cent percent sure about this.

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          5. I have to agree with Prats’ comments.

            I would take your claim more seriously if (say, by the 2500s), Indian Muslims were to adhere to a form of Islam unique and *grossly* endogenous to the subcontinent.

            Perhaps similar to Shia Islam: yes, Mecca and Medina are its holy cities, and small minorities of Arabs practice it. But there is no doubt that its standard-bearer is Iran and the Persians, and it is also distinct and apart from Sunni Islam.

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          6. Razib say
            i’ve never heard of a sri lanka say stupid stuff about how their ancestors were persian, turk, or arab.

            I guess you have not met Sri Lankan muslims. Most claim Arabic or Moroccan descent, and it seems to become worse as they grow older and become more religious.
            Moroccan is probably because the the Brits and Dutch designated them as Ceylon Moors.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Lankan_Moors
            The Moors trace their ancestry to Arab traders who settled in Sri Lanka in waves beginning from the 8th century.

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      2. Well what’s indian and not indian is a larger discussion. I am just pointing out how different perception are there in diff regions of India. Razib children would be considered “desi” in bengali setting even if they need not follow Hinduism or look desi. There father being a bong would suffice. While in N-india it’s a coin toss and more often than not will not be considered desi. Take for example the gujrati festival of garba where in many place in gujrat , gujju Muslims would not be allowed to participate, while Jains and even other ethnicity are allowed. This is different from Malyali festival of onam which even though a hindu festival originally has a more ethnic element to it and mallu of all faith participate in it as a Mallu festival.

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        1. “For example a malyali christain /bengali christian will not find himself out of place in a Desi setting of Bongs/Malus, while i am not sure how easy it will be for a Bihari Christan/Gujju Christian to be part of Desi get together of their own folks.”

          This is more for historical reasons and is likely to change with time. Bihar, Gujarat, and north/west India in general hasn’t had evangelical activity to the scale Kerala has. Most Christians there would either be tribals or Anglo-ish. So there is cultural difference in source population.
          Give Punjab a few years and you might see bhangra-carol mashups.

          (As an aside, an innovative way to solve Kashmir for India might be to unleash Christian missionaries there.)

          Even so, there is huge difference even among Christians and Muslims.
          Christians in India, even in the north, are pretty assimilated in the Hindu society. They keep Sanskrit names (at least the first 1-2 generations after conversion. We’ll have to see how it plays out), are generally pretty liberal, and do not cry haraam at trivial stuff.

          I remember some Muslim kids in my school got offended when someone threw colours at them one Holi because apparently ‘Islam doesn’t allow it’. That sort of shit doesn’t happen with Christians.

          Also, not so sure about this East India thing. An Odia Brahmin friend of mine is marrying an American woman of Albanian origin. His extended family has refused a traditional wedding so they are now doing Arya Samaj rituals.

          Similar situation with a Bong friend.

          Btw in N India you would have a much better chance at acceptance than a random coin toss as long as you carry a recognizably Indian surname.
          (cf Evelyn Sharma or Priyanka Gandhi)

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          1. there is no religious reasons aside from saint names i think for name change in chrisitanity.

            erik svensson is a fine lutheran name with no hebraic connection. the syrian christians are different cuz they are/were connected with oriental orthodoxy.

            the american conservative ramesh ponnuru had a hindu and a christian mom, and converted to catholicism as an adult from agnosticism and didn’t do anything with his name.

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          2. “His extended family has refused a traditional wedding so they are now doing Arya Samaj rituals.”

            Is this because the family does not like the girl? If they liked the girl, they would do a traditional wedding.

            The girl can become a Brahmin before the wedding very easily. Lots of work arounds.

            In the Vedic times many females received the sacred thread and were Brahmins. Many of them revealed large parts of the Vedas.

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      3. Rajib, both the teravada and mahayana both say they are Sanathana Dharma. And the other Darshanas of Sanathana Dharma accept them as so.

        Buddha said “Esa Dhammo Sananthano” in Pali or this is Dharma Sanathana.

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        Inthings, many major Sufi orders (Quadisiyyah and Chistie among others) explicitly describe themselves as SAARC or Hindustani or Indian (in the pre 1947 sense).

        Two of the five largest muslim pilgrimage sites in the world are in India (Shirdi and Ajmer). Sufis are perceived to be an Indian religion. However post 1919 many muslims in SAARC have converted from Indian Islam to a type of Arab Islam. This causes consternation of the part of Indian muslims and Indian nonmuslims.

        Just see the difference in how religious muslim woman in Shridi and Ajmer dress compared to some conservative Sunni woman elsewhere in India. When muslims in India dress more conservatively than their great grandparents and grandparents . . . and shed Indian clothese in favor of Saudi ones . . . do you understand why that causes fear?

        It would help if more conservative Sunnis and Salafis outside India warmly embraced moderate Indian muslims. Just because an Indian muslim votes for the BJP does not mean they are not a good muslim. [About 40% of Gujarati muslims voted for Modi in the last election.]

        Sanathana Dharma or “Hinduism” as you call it is an Indian religion. It is also a religion for every other country which feels drawn to it.

        Ravana and Ghotatkacha are not described as human. Yet Sanathana Dharma was their religion too. Any species or category of being can join.

        Is there any evidence of an Arya invasion of SAARC?

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        1. Rajib, both the teravada and mahayana both say they are Sanathana Dharma. And the other Darshanas of Sanathana Dharma accept them as so.

          you can define anything however you want. becoming zen buddhist doesn’t make you more indian in peoples’ perception.

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          1. This is a different (mostly accurate) point.

            A Zen Buddhist is a subset of Mahayana Buddhism and as such is tied to the Shaivite lineages. They honor the 80 MahaSiddhas (technically a lot more since different lists of 80 have different people on them).

            Mahayana Buddhists are part of the Akkara (Hindu organizations), involved with Kumbha Mela.

            Japanese Zen in particular helped with major renovation, construction and expansion of Ankar Wat in Cambodia from circa 400 AD onwards. For the first few centuries of Japanese involvement Ankar Wat was Hindu (technically Buddhist Hindu since Buddhism was respected as a Hindu school by Hindus). The Japanese were accepted as their own.

            Someone could say that Advaita is a different religion from Dwaita too. Or that Kashmiri Shaivism, 18 Siddha Siddhanta (Shaivism), and Nath Sampradaya (Shaivism) are three different religions too.

            The idea that someone couldn’t authentically be many things at once is I suspect recent.

            To those who believed in Atma Buddha taught Anatma. To those who believed in Anatma, Buddha taught Atma. Buddha helped people break all theisms, concepts, irrationalities, unconscious patterns and habits in the brain and nervous system.

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      4. Exactly. The idea that Indian Muslims are somehow not really Indian because their holy land is in Arabia is something that the Hindu Right has been pushing for a long time. They want Muslims to do “ghar wapsi” in order to truely be accepted as Indian.

        For me, “desi” has always been a category linked to language, culture, food etc. Pakistanis are very much “desi” in this sense.

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        1. What you call the Hindu right prays at Ajmer, Shirdi and other Sufi and Irfan places.

          They like Indian muslims. They are worried about Indian muslims being influenced by Arab/Pakistani Wahhabis and Salafis.

          The RSS wants to add Islam as a Darshana inside Hinduism. They don’t want to convert muslims into any other religion.

          The RSS is criticized for adding Islam as a Darshana inside Hinduism by post modernists who see this as Islamophobic.

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          1. Savarkar wrote about how Christians and Muslims could not be loyal to India because their holy lands are in the Near East. This is still a part of Hindu Right thinking. Hindu Right is the mainstream term for Sangh Parivar orginizations. It is not something that I made up.

            “Ghar Wapsi” is a real phenomenon as a simple Google search will demonstrate. “Re-conversion” of Muslims to Hinduism is extremely offensive and problematic. In a secular state, citizens should be free to practice whatever religion they want, without facing any social pressure to convert to the religion of the majority.

            A selection of “Ghar Wapsi” instances from Wikipedia:

            “More than 8,000 people in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh converted to Hinduism from July 2014 – December 2014 under the Ghar Wapsi programme.[11] According to a VHP official, 1,200 people converted to Hinduism in a Ghar Wapsi event in Hyderabad.[5]

            In January 2016, 15 Dalit Christians converted to Hinduism in a Ghar Wapsi event, organised in Vellore district.[12]

            In April 2017, at least 53 tribal Christian families converted to Hinduism as part of the RSS’s “Christianity-free” block campaign in Arki, Jharkhand. And at least seven other Christian families underwent a Shuddhikaran (purification ceremony) in Kochasindhri village.[13][14]

            In May 2017, RSS performed conversion of at least 22 Muslims, including women and children, into Hinduism in a secretive ceremony at an Aryasamaj Temple in Ambedkar Nagar district of Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh.[15] ”

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghar_Wapsi

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    2. ” easy it will be for a Bihari Christan/Gujju Christian to be part of Desi get together of their own folks.”

      Why do you think this would be challenging?

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  7. Indian Muslims are Indian inspite of Islam not because of it.

    i think a good analogy is caste. south asian muslims seem to have it. but it fades really quickly outside of south asia (in the diaspora). for hindus, it fades too, but not totally and as quickly. jati kind of disappears, but a general varna awareness still persists. though it doesn’t really matter.

    *within* india the indianness of indian muslims is hard to deny. but in places like britain they ‘arabicize’ or ‘internationalize’ their religion really quickly and abandon south asian specific stuff. the same does happen somewhat to hinduism, but it’s pretty much impossible to really deindianize hinduism so quickly or totality.

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    1. Razib, Prof Long is writing a book on the convergence of Hindus from SAARC with Hindus who live in America but do not have ancestry from SAARC.

      Many Indians believe that non Indians will quickly rise to the leadership of many Dharmic institutions and organizations (Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist, Jain). I think they are right.

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  8. “finally, using a ‘refined’ definition one could say most of the bengali peasanty was neither hindu nor muslim in 1800, no matter what they perceived themselves to be, or would identify as”

    Why do you think this? Why would a village that has plays on the Ramayana, Mahabharata or Bhagavatam not be Hindu?

    Of course they may reject the idea that Hinduism is a religion or the concept of religion altogether, saying we are all the same. All paths lead to the same place. Etc. But I don’t think this is the point you were making.

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  9. “Even so, there is huge difference even among Christians and Muslims.
    Christians in India, even in the north, are pretty assimilated in the Hindu society. They keep Sanskrit names (at least the first 1-2 generations after conversion. We’ll have to see how it plays out).”

    I think you misunderstand Christians in N-India. Indian chritians in N-India are disproportionaly SC and STs. So you might find folks from the same family being half hindu and half Christians. If you are SC and you convert you wont get Reservations, so most of the time a christian SC would rather keep his name and Reservations. Also its too much of a hassle for them to go to registrar office and legally convert and all. This is different in S-India where you do find a lot of “Christian” names where they are economically and socially better off and need not clutch to “Hindu” names.

    So there is no romanticism attached to keeping their “Hindu” names.

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  10. I guess you have not met Sri Lankan muslims. Most claim Arabic or Moroccan descent, and it seems to become worse as they grow older and become more religious.

    yeah, forgot about them. and kind of proves my point.

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  11. “For instance, “the sacred geography” of Hinduism is largely in eastern-Afghanistan and Punjab, areas outside the traditional Hindu-civilization ”

    Is this guy for real? 😂😂

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