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Article XXXI: Proselytizing in Hinduism

Unlike some other religions, Hinduism does not generally endorse conversion to Hinduism nor does it endorse coercion to follow the Hindu way. Namakarana, the naming ceremony, is often thought of as the formal conversion to Hinduism. However, in Hinduism it is generally believed that it is the way in which one lives that makes one Hindu. Therefore, no conversion is necessary. From a Vedantic perspective, it is unimportant for one to identify themselves as a Hindu, and it may not even matter if one believes in God. What is most important is the WAY one lives. Gandhi said, "If I were asked to define the Hindu creed, I should simply say: search after Truth through non-violent means." It is believed that there are many paths to enlightenment, and one may reach the illumined state through devotion, knowledge, righteous action, or a combination thereof, without necessarily recognizing that their way is prescribed by Hinduism or Vedanta. Nonetheless, there are certain sects in Hinduism that indeed endorse proselytizing to convert others to the Hindu way. The Hare Krishnas (ISKCON - International Society for Krishna Consciousness), in the name of Swami Prabhupada, are often considered very extreme in their approach to convert people to their religion. Also, people in less extreme groups often struggle to balance their love for others with the discomfort of pushing their beliefs upon others. One way to approach this ambivalence is through living by example.

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