Hinduism is one of the most diverse religions in the world. As a matter of fact, it may be more proper to speak of ‘Hinduisms’ or the ‘Hindu religious and philosophical complex’, for no single doctrine or set of beliefs can represent all of the numerous traditions, philosophies and practices that fall under the heading. Even to use the term ‘religion’ may be too limiting, because there are strands of Hinduism that are atheistic. Yet there is a unity in this diversity. Despite differences, there is a bond among those who variously follow the path of Sanātana Dharma.
Hindus, themselves, are also an incredibly diverse people. Outside India, there is a simplistic view that since over 80% of the people in India are Hindus, that this eighty per cent are somehow homogenous. Nothing could be further from the truth. In India today, there are about 80,000 ethnic subcultures, over 325 languages, innumerable dialects, and 25 written scripts. Yet more than eighty per cent of this enormous diversity of people have found enough in common in their philosophical and religious systems, lifestyle and practices to fall under the generally unifying term ‘Hindu’ (yes, there is a good deal of discussion on the efficacy of the term ‘Hindu’, as opposed to other terms, which is something for another blog post. Very fascinating in its own right).
Added to the diversity in India, there is a good deal of diversity among Hindus outside of India that is rarely spoken of, rarely in the public eye or part of the general public conception of what Hinduism is and who Hindus are. Whether by conversion, marriage or being born into a Hindu family, there are a good deal of Hindus now who are not Indian, who are adding to the profile of the diversity of the Hindu community.
In my first post, I said wanted to address the issue of being a black Hindu. Or, to put it better, I wanted to add to what is already a vibrant online conversation among Western Hindus, being fostered from blog to blog, about what it is like to be a Hindu convert or a non-Indian Hindu in the world today. Usually, the conversation is structured along the lines of white Hindu converts addressing varying levels of acceptance and understanding from their natal communities and from the Indian Hindu community. While I had found one blog written by a Western Latino Hindu convert, I had not found one written from the perspective of an African-American, Afro-Caribbean Briton, Afro-European or African, about experiences or perspectives that might be peculiar or particular to being a black Hindu. So, while my own blog will cover pretty much anything about Hinduism that comes across my mind, I will try to dedicate a good amount of space to sharing these unique perspectives and stories, among others.
Just this week, on the blog The Western Hindu, a really eye-opening article was published called Not all Western Hindus are white Hindus…. and not all Hindus from non-Hindu cultures are Western Hindus. I was very excited about it, for what it adds to the discourse of ‘Western Hinduism’ and Hinduism at-large, and it lit a fire under me to get going with a few ideas of my own.
So, in the coming weeks and months, I will be posting feature articles on non-Indian Hindus. My first will be about an African-American who has been a bhakti yogi for four decades now. And while I will also be including profiles of famous converts, I am hoping to be able to do more profiles of just every day people…. So, if you are a black Hindu, African Hindu, Caribbean Hindu, Latino Hindu, Chinese Hindu, Inuit Hindu, a mixed race Hindu, etc., etc., etc., and want to be featured, CONTACT ME!
Consider this an open call to get in touch (using the contact link on my profile or via twitter) with your stories, so I can help you share them. We will all benefit from broadening our understanding of how diverse and interesting the Hindu community worldwide really is.
Another blogger out of the USA is also doing interviews with non-Indian Hindus.
Please have a look at Desh’s blog. He’s got two interviews up already (one with yours truly!).