On the Hindu contradiction of intents

A few days ago some Indian politician was making the case for ghar wapsi (conversion of non-Hindus of Hindu ancestral background to Hinduism). Of course, he had to withdraw the comments due to an uproar. Myself, I’m American, and people convert from religion to religion all the time. It’s a bit tasteless for a public official to engage in this, but it happens.

India’s a different country, so I understand that this official had to be prudent.

That being said, these calls to bring non-Hindus back into the fold are in my opinion kind of a joke. Yes, if someone is born a Hindu, or if someone’s family converted a generation ago, perhaps ghar wapsi is feasible. One can slip back into the social network that one was born into, or that is accessible in cultural memory. But outside of particular sects, like Hari Krishna, Hinduism is too “community-oriented” a religion to accept large numbers of converts. Perhaps if a whole community converts back all at once, that’s possible then, but there won’t be the low-level social-network-based conversions that drive a lot of the constant defection or adoption (e.g., it is well known among Mormons that most converts come through friendship networks between Mormons and non-Mormons, as well as marriages between Mormons and non-Mormons, not door to door conversion).

Calls for ghar wapsi are just rhetorical. If large numbers of Indian Muslims began to convert to Hinduism would they be accepted with open arms? I doubt it. The social system is just not set up for that (again, outside of sectarians like Hare Krishna).

Consider the fact that on social media Hindu nationalists (some) routinely refer to me as a Muslim. I am not someone to patrol what terms people use to refer to me as (you can use any pronoun, I don’t care), but it seems weird to call me a Muslim when I’m an atheist that has drawn and posted a photo of a drawing of Muhammad getting sodomized by a camel (on this weblog), something most Hindu nationalists would never do out of religiosity or cowardice. But it’s not about my identity (I don’t socialize with any Muslims nor do my children even know anything about the religion, so I’m not one of those “atheist Muslims”), it’s about the fact that many Hindus reflexively view religion as ascriptive. Something like race, an identity that you’re born with.

With that in mind, Hindus should work on their birthrate. Most Indian Muslims that convert to Hinduism will have Muslims who hate him, and Hindus who will still think of them as Muslim.

Note: Obviously, my generalizations apply to a particularly low IQ set. I actually know Hindu nationalists or fellow travelers in that movement who don’t have this sort of collective/ethnic mentality. But it’s a minority position from what I can tell.

35 thoughts on “On the Hindu contradiction of intents”

  1. //If large numbers of Indian Muslims began to convert to Hinduism would they be accepted with open arms? I doubt it. // actually, it is easier in this scenario than for individual converts. Because, when they come in large numbers, they come with their own community network and can thus be a distinct caste within Hindu society. Only individual converts would have issues, as they will not have a caste to come into. But even that is less and less of a problem these days, as urban Hindu life is largely caste free. Even marriage market for cross caste marriages is pretty good. And that’s the hardest thing. So all else is much easier. Thus Ghar wapsi for individuals in urban India has never been easier.

    1. This is historically true with “Dudekula” caste. They have separate reservation category in Andhra under Muslims. Well-known story of a Muslim follower of an Indian guru.

      It’s also common for Hindu converts to take up particular gotras. Something like “Devuni gotram” and adopt some sages as their spiritual gurus like “Ramanujam” or “Ramana Maharishi”.

      There are >120 castes on reservation list, what’s one more specifically for the converts.

  2. the hindus who are open to and talk up reconversion who seem the most sincere happen to be ones in cross-caste marriages, and i don’t think that’s a coincidence

  3. Well Razib, the context in which the said politician uttered those words is interesting. He comes from the state of Karnataka where the state government is passing a bill to penalize “illegal conversions”. His call was to reconvert those who have been for some reasons converted into other folds by the means of fraud. It is not intended to convert the non Hindus to Hindu fold. The problem with the media is that not giving the context and generalizing the shit. Those who have visited Karnataka and specially the coastal and southern karnataka knows what the politician was talking about.
    Birthrate question. National Family Health Survey 2019-20 has revealed India’s TFR down to 2.0 from 2.3 in 2015-16.

    1. His call was to reconvert those who have been for some reasons converted into other folds by the means of fraud.

      You’ll have to explain to an American what exactly it means to convert somebody by fraud. In America, religious conversion occurs when someone decides they like the tenets of the religion they are adopting more than that of the religion they are leaving. Fraud in that context could mean the tenets they learned were made up. But the solution to that in an individualistic country is quite simple; slip back into the identity you came from. Clearly, that is not what you are referring to. So you’ll need to explain how exactly “fraud” occurs and why it can’t be left to the individual to return to their previous identity when they discover that they’ve been defrauded.

      1. >> You’ll have to explain to an American what exactly it means to convert somebody by fraud.
        >>> we will explain right after American liberal pundits and msm explain to us how millions of Americans were convinced to vote for trump by few hundred dollars of Facebook ads from Russia.

        1. I was asking Shashank to explain to Razib, not for “India” to explain to “America”. Also, what you said about Facebook and Russia and liberals is BS.

          1. If you meant that American liberals did not hype the impact of Russian influence on 2016 election, then Please google “facebook 2016 russia“ . You will find stories from 2018 on wired, nyt, bbc etc on the fb ads. NPR is still sticking to party line and has recent story.

  4. Tbh it would probably easier to wholly restructure Hinduism than to raise Hindu birthrates. Not even joking. I don’t think anyone has cracked the code on pronatalism, even Ceausescu’s Decree 770 had a fairly transient effect, and nothing that drastic is in the cards for India.

    If there is a solution, I think, as with everything, China will get there first.

    1. I am not an expert as so many others on this Blog, but here is my uninformed observation of patterns or gut instinct. When societies/ethnicities are expanding their frontiers/living spaces, then biology does it’s job.

  5. ghar wapsi to hinduism, at-least at the folk ways level has to happen at the entire community/caste level, if at all it happens. In case of Northern Muslims, the nirguna/nirankari tradition is quite compatible with Islam’s prohibition against idol worship. The only remaining issues are toleration of hindu traditions, beef and ummah. The concept of ummah is the main stumbling block.
    Another un-stated objection to inter marriage with returning muslims, is marrying someone whose pedigree has first cousin marriage.

    1. @bhumiputra
      Becoming hindu is so complicated! On a related note, there is a couple I’m friends with, the wife is a white american “hindu” and the husband is an urban person of hindu heritage you could say. They met and married in India, she’s lived with his family and sincerely tries to carry forth family religious observances. And yet, all of her sincere efforts are sort of treated with eye-rolling behind her back (among their social group). All of this leads me to think that you can’t become a hindu, at best you can become a shiv-bakht, krishna-bakht ect ect.

      1. girmit, that leads one to the impression that Hinduism is quintessentially a “defensive” religion rather than an offensive one. Very good at surviving in a hostile environment, much worse at expanding, let alone recuperating losses.

        1. It’s not religion, it’s the culture. Ours is a culture that once imposed a taboo on crossing the ocean, a stupid and counterproductive taboo if there ever was one. People are mentally conditioned to be extremely parochial in our country (I’m generalizing here) and not believe in the possibility of change or reinvention. It feels more like an end-of-life strategy than a defensive strategy to me (i.e., we have reached a culturally terminal stage, and we just need to keep doing the same thing, generation after generation). If you read Al-Beruni, it looks like we had such a culture before the invasions too.

      2. @girmit,
        iirc razib expounds on this in his 3 body problem. Hinduism is closer to east asian traditions. An ideal world for a Hindu is not one in which an european/west asian/african/east asian is praying exactly like he does. The ideal world for him would be where people follow their own ancestral traditions/gods. These gods could in turn be incarnations of Shiva/Dionysius etc.
        Re the white american “hindu”, part of the cold reception stems from doubting the “stickiness”. If someone who grew up in White America can so readily give up her traditions then tomorrow she could do the same to her new found hinduism. This could partly explain the reception razib gets from “low iq” set of online hindus. In contrast, Islam can afford to be very welcoming to new converts since it is a one way door and the bar on exit is enforced fairly effectively at least in Islamic countries.
        For the cosmopolitan western set of people, ISKCON seems to be the natural home.

        1. Yeah way to go at calling any opposition from Hindus as “low iq” set without even accounting for the fact that English is a poorly taught second language for many and the need to express succinctly on the bird platform.

          Perhaps someone should always start with “ since you went to Madrassa as preteen instead of visiting Tirumala Balaji Temple annually, let me explain this religious background nuance..”

          But then who cares, everyone is LARPing for some group or other and can’t see their own hubris. All in the effort for maximizing the number of genetic grand children. What else is there to achieve/influence? All else said and done will be heard/read and forgotten.

      3. @girmit

        You being a little unfair here by conflating social issues with religious issues.
        Even Meghan Markle has trouble with British Monarchy rituals even in such modern times. (e.g. proper curtsying to the Queen).

        Despite great sincerity, people without Indian language background have difficulty with religious wording and pronunciations. Although people who spend time on it can do it well, not regular people on the fly. So, yeah there could be some eye rolling in that instance.

        There are a lot of sincere California yogis who are into Hinduism rituals (check Youtube) but you can’t seriously argue their sincere chanting isn’t killing the meaning behind the Sanskrit words due to poor pronunciation.

      4. There’s actually been a significant trend towards conversion to Hinduism in….Ghana (the West African country), of all places.

        Whether they are “really” Hindu or not seems besides the point: they believe that they are, and there aren’t a lot of South Asians around to tell them that they aren’t, so for all meaningful purposes they are Hindu.


      5. Eye rolling is one thing, but unless the eye rolling actually has some dogmatic force, who really cares?

  6. I just wanted to say that You are in a difficult position regarding this and i am sorry for that, most Indians dont know you, and even if they did, they need to read you enough times to know where your position is. And generations of Indians are coming online, again and again and again people will have to discover you. Maybe few videos with some Indian streamers will do them some good and get you some name recall( but even that will be momentary, my suggestion is to label yourself as atheist on your bio to keep enough idiots away atleast as per your wish.). I see the same things happening among Indians time and time again, they keep rediscovering same old ideas that have not been taught in school online, over and over again. Same old discussions, same old questions. As though there is no memory of discussions from past ever being shared among themselves. There is no horizontal transfer of even the most basic knowledge happening among them. Of course this hurts Hindus much more. How many times do they make the stupid assumptions that put people off over and over again. This happened to few individuals already. And then there is sub field of modi cult. who even went after arun shourie as he had a grouse over not getting his preferred post and he did contribute to ideology, what ever the faults he had. They went far enough as to mock his disabled son. A degree of vileness that is despicable. In other ideologies there is an independent space for thinkers. In Hindutva, that does not exist. It is Sangh/BJP and few individuals who stand alone. whether it be sita ram goel, koenraad elst, subramanian swamy or arun shourie etc. These individuals come and go. Together they did not build their own platforms yet to inform policies etc. And the law and order situation in the country is such that in order for any organization/individuals to exist, they need support of a political party or they will be at the receiving end of a backlash. Today bjp is in power, if congress comes to power, many might disappear. And there is not much freedom for temples either, they are not free to build own mission either. With rare exceptions like rama krishna mission and aurobindo . As for birth rate, that is collapsing. It wont happen. And bjp does not see any reason to value thinkers, their whole worldview is built on elections. everything is about elections. They see nothing else. 2 books : How Bjp wins elections, How India votes. There is another book of jugalbandhi, but I only read reviews.
    “How India votes” by pradeep gupta, of axis my India is the best exit poll in India. It is a short book, but it is a must have book for anyone to know anything about Indian elections.

    caste/kinship and political organization vs religious organization is a strong problem. As long as caste/kinship remains important, political organizations are more important for hindus than religious organizations. Because political organizations can decide ,organize power sharing agreements between extreme diversity of different caste groups. As I said before. inter caste quota both for reservations in jobs and also in politics should be instituted and not be less than 10%. Without strong incentive , there is not much hope for that happening fast enough. Once caste matrix is of less value, religious organizations can hopefully take over. BJP is in power, but has no ideas of what to aim for long term stability yet . One gets the feeling that often they take ideas from online and others to make up for lack of own thinkers(karnataka cm is promising freedom of temples from govt). Any other party in their place would have been able to get some number of ex muslims on to their side and turn down the need for vile bigotry. They do this to shore up asabiya in every election, to make sure they did everything they could to win the election.
    there wont be any post from me for months.

  7. What if we thought about this less as “religion” in the western sense, and more about a broad combination of indigenisation and pietas?

    Of course, to Hindutvards, their idea of indigenous pietas is to believe mythology is reality, and talk about flying chariots. That aside, as you have pointed out, there is a genuine matrix of indigenous belief that is characterised by community practices.

    However, I think what is intended is a sense of moving the “qibla” of belief and identity back to the subcontinent, with a reclamation of heritage and civilisational identity along those lines. In the past the dargahs, with their associated mendicants could easily pass as “indigenous” Islam, but shifts to world-normative belief have also provoked reactions from Hindutvards.

    In the end, I think more Hindu leaning, but educated and non RSS types, want a sense of conversion based on pietas – a dutiful observation of reverences or worship – based on the “ashes of his fathers, temples of his gods” type. They want a kind of Shinto based on Indian deities, but don’t care too much about actual belief.

    1. What you wrote isn’t easy to comprehend because you used so much jargon to make one point which is in the end.
      False:- Shintoism has fallen in Japan. You are seeing conversion to Christianity at extraordinary pace. Same like South Korea. Why did Shintoism fall is the big question? The Western capital comes with the consequences. Traditionally, northeastern India till 18th century had “Indigenous” duty based faiths which the so called “Brahminism” couldn’t wipe out. Christianity did it in 100 years. Educated Indians are a lost cause to me because they are more stupid than uneducated ones. The kind of crap Indian universities are producing is unparalleled specially in social sciences. Any hope for change will come from the uneducated masses exactly why RSS and Hindutvatards will come to power

  8. One weak point of this Ghar Wapsi thing is that it cannot attract many educated people. On the surface level Hinduism looks like a huge collection of primitive pagan cults, but one also sees things that can only come from an advanced culture (resistance to other religions, complexity of Sanskrit grammar, epistemological pluralism etc.). The invisible hand of Hinduism that unites all these cults and generates the advanced features was an important topic in Vedanta philosophy 2500 years ago, but street level Hindutva folks knows nothing about it. So when educated potential converts
    start asking deeper questions they have nothing interesting to offer.

    1. You need the alpha breeders first. The advanced features that beta virgins care about will happen in due course of time.

  9. The Virgin Chinese: “Hide your strength and bide your time.”

    The Chad Hindu Nationalists: “Go around swinging your dick and provoking your enemies while doing jack shit to actually advance your position.”

    If Hindus were serious about seeking converts, they would have to do a lot more ground work in terms of preparing a transmissible ideology, preparing missionaries, finding target audiences, etc. If they were smart, they’d be quieter about it to avoid provocation.

    Instead we get the worst of all worlds.

    1. tbh, I would swap the virgin and chad labels. A lot of our problems are due to our leaders being “virgins” in terms of over thinking and analysis paralysis. No wonder it attracts derision from foot soldiers. A society that separates its warriors and scholars has its thinking done by cowards and its fighting by fools — Thucydides.

  10. Most of the Sinhalese early politicians and leaders were second third gen Anglicans (Church of England). Later they professed to be practicing Buddhists, doing the Buddhist things like kneeling in front of Buddhist Priests (big no no for Christians, thou shall not bow before anyone, not even parents.)

    However, dont know of a single SL Tamil Protestant leader who has reverted to Hinduism. .

  11. > “Consider the fact that on social media Hindu nationalists (some) routinely refer to me as a Muslim.”

    When people say that someone is “Muslim”, they mainly mean that the person has very recent ancestry from people who come from Muslim background. Socially, “Muslim” is an inherited identity similar to Hindu castes. Anti-muslim hatred is more about ethnic hatred and less about religious hatred.
    So, if an agnostic/atheist individual has recent ancestors who come from a vaguely Muslim social background, he will be considered “Muslim” and will be hated for being “Muslim”.
    The same can be applied in many other cases too.

    1. You are right. I just don’t want to sound harsh but Razib will always be a muslim in the eyes of the Hindus no matter whatever he does to Quran or hadis or what not. Not that India is particular, you go to South Korea and Japan you see the same hatred for the Sino-Koreans or Sino Japanese identity holders. Vietnam is similar I heard. Han Chinese behave similarly to non Han Chinese of Inner Mongolia and Tibet. In Europe you see this behavior among the Germanic belt countries and other distinct communities.
      PS:- I read on this blog Razib once mentioned that his maternal side had a brahmin lineage- if he adopts their surname which could be “Sen Basu Chattopadhyay Bandopadhyay Misra” then Razib will be a “Hindu” even if he reads the Quran and prostrates for 5 times a day.

      1. ‘if he adopts their surname which could be “Sen Basu Chattopadhyay Bandopadhyay Misra” then Razib will be a “Hindu”’

        I doubt that. The way things are moving, soon even the original “Sen Basu Chattopadhyay Bandopadhyay Misra” might not be counted within Hindus.

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