Am I a Hindu

On April 23, 2004, I was flying from JFK NY Airport to SFO to attend a meeting at Monterey, CA.

An American girl was sitting on the right side, near window seat.

It indeed was a long journey – it would take nearly seven hours!

I was surprised to see the young girl reading a Bible – unusual of young Americans! (Later I came to know that September 11 has changed mind-set of lot of US citizens. They suddenly turned religious, it seemed.)

After some time she smiled and we had few acquaintances talk. I told her that I am from India.

Then suddenly the girl asked: “What’s your faith?”

“What?” I didn’t understand the question.

“I mean, what’s your religion? Are you a Christian? Or a Muslim?”

“No!” I replied, “I am neither Christian nor Muslim”.

Apparently she appeared shocked to listen to that.

“Then who are you…?”

“I am a Hindu”, I said.

She looked at me as if she is seeing a caged animal.Please continue reading at

Udaylal Pai
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51 Responses

  1. Prince Singh says:

    Your writing style is engaging and relatable. It feels like having a conversation with an expert in the field.

  2. shami says:

    who said to you that Allah is Male God? Allah is not male or female .

  3. pooja says:

    Very well written Shrimaan Pai. But yes, Hinduism does have scope for personal Gods. Don’t we all have our iShTadaiva. Whether it is the naughty butter-thief Krishna or the gambhIra kodanDa Raama, or the majestic umaa-maheshwara or the silent Dakshinaamurthi.
    And Hinduism is more than just belief and practises – it is a way of life, one which takes every individual (which you have so beautifully put across) in a custom path of his/her own journey towards realization.
    You have very beautifully put across Hinduism in plain terms 🙂

  4. Sivakumar Viswanatha Sarma says:

    Behove all professes in Hinduism;For those who live as a Hindu, it’s a way of life and not a cult.That is very important.

  5. SHANKER PAI says:

    it tells what is Hindu without complicating
    excellent writing
    easy to read and understand
    best wishes from
    S.S.Pai and Co Advocates
    “Demography is destiny ” foundation

  6. SHANKER PAI says:

    excellent writing
    easy to read and understand
    best wishes from
    S.S.Pai and Co Advocates
    “Demography is destiny ” foundation

  7. Darshnee Merchant says:

    Fantastically explained Sir.
    Someone also asked me same question in flight.

    Proud to been Indian inheritance!!!

    Dhanayawaad Udayji

  8. M S Srinivasa Raghavan says:

    Your article is well conceived and informative even to laymen.

  9. govindarajan says:

    This is the best description of what being a Hindu means. Simple and well explained.

  10. Pai Maam , very nice article. But I feel Hinduism is too broad and open to be called a religion. And the Rituals have very deep meaning which I feel the recent generation lacks the understanding of! And this has been due yo Hinduism being termed as a religion rather than a philosophy. I was raised a Hindu, I remember My mom comparing Christian and Muslims and asking me to goto the temple weekly, there were no particular day assigned in the Hindu week to as a prayer day. I was young then and did not understand the deep meaning of this. As I see it now, Religions of the world sometimea impose rules and constrict your freedom to reason and think, While Hinduism is all accepting and makes you think. I also dug deeper into the Hindu beleif ayatem, And realised that Temples were more than a place of worship, they were places where you could meditate, reason , contemplate, discuss your thoughts and Ideas, the temple was architecturally designed to improve the atmosphere so as to be conducive to meditataion. There is a lot more stuff that I learnt , which Ironically made me give up the Hindu Religion, and take up Hindu philosophy of reasoning and critical thinking which I believe is a very unique characteristic unlike in Christianity or Islam.

  11. Nagesh Kini says:

    I am overwhelmed by your strait forward still simple way of description of Hindu religion. In Hinduism every being is God by itself by its connection with “Atma” and “Paramathma”. This multiplsity concept is not in any other religions.

  12. Kenton says:

    Remarkable! Its genuinely amazing post, I have got much clear idea on the topic of from this article.

  13. raghu prabhu says:

    All religions are subset of Hinduism. I am Hindu by birth, don’t believe in the existence of a higher being, all are equal regardless of material wealth, ability, education. I don’t differentiate between people.

  14. Ravi says:

    It is very cleared to every one, I got the feeling after reading…. Am I a Hindu …

  15. Sastry Ramachandrula says:

    Well written article. Love 🙂

  16. Sabaji Dhond says:

    Excellent Udaybaab….Very RIGHTLY SAID… Hattsoff to U yar…

  17. Girish Baliga says:


    Crisp, precise and lots of clarity. Sticking to the basics. Enjoyed reading it. Cleared lots of doubts.

    Keep up the great work, Mr. Pai. We need more people like you. 🙂

  18. mohammed says:

    Hindu is way of life ! How come ? Someone should show a way ? Which is that way ? Is that way correct way ?

    Spending your money is not multi-level marketing. A perfect hindu missionary.

  19. Agus Suariadi says:

    very well narrated… proud to be Hindu… Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

  20. E. A. Mukunda Pai says:

    Dear Paimam,
    nicely given the concept of Hinduism. let me have my comments.

    Hinduism is not a religion it is a way of life. Our scriptures explained clearly all the details of the universe, from evelution to disaster. But some forces who creates religions just like political parties try to expand the parties by adding followers. These forces are branding the Hinduism the way of life as a religion Hindu.

    A major portion of Hindus (Hindu means those following Hinduism) also believing Hindu as a religion.
    This is because, Human Psychology is such that “If you say alie 10 times 11th time you will believe that it is truth” This is what happens.

  21. shri says:

    Am I a hindu ? A:- I do not know
    Why am i a hindu? A:- Is it necessary to have a reason?

  22. Madhuri says:

    Namasthe Dr.Udaypai ji,

    I came across this site and especially this article abt “Am I a Hindu?” and it blew me away by the way u narrated it and tried to put in simple words so that the girl can understand.A gem of explanation.Hats off to u. Absolutely loved it loved it.

    Thank u for this great site.

  23. Apurv says:

    Mr.Pai, firstly , I must congratulate you on a well constructed and an illuminating post on Hinduism. Often we ,as individuals don’t introspect enough and seek answers in organised religion. As you correctly pointed out, Hinduism is not a religion, it is a way of life. The set of rules and beliefs help us and guide us in finding answers to everyday problems. Hindu scriptures, rather all holy scriptures help us in doing that. Yet we fail to see the bigger picture.

    I am sure that your post will definitely help others understand more about Hinduism and I hope more people will learn about it and benefit from it.

    This being said, I hope people observing different faiths will put up similar articles so that we may learn about them as well.

    Once again a very good article and job well done Sir!!!

  24. Dr J Sunil Kumar Elankath says:

    Excellent article.
    Proud to be a Hindu.

  25. Vetriselvan says:

    Dr. Udaypai,
    Good definitions about HINDU and genuine emotions. Religion is realization and not a multi level marketing, canvasing etc…..
    Very nice article….

  26. Mukesh says:

    Its a fantastic article i was looking for to convey my Christian friends in Brazil about Hinduism . I am in Rio de janerio now & few people know about Hinduism . They always ask why dont we pray only 1 god ? and i have found a good answer in this article.Thanks a lot . I would like to share it with my friends but not able to copy .Kindly help me to do it .

  27. S Karthik says:

    Beautiful and thought provoking article Udayji.

  28. Priyanka says:

    To the Author of the blog
    Maybe you misunderstood what your fellow passenger was saying or something
    Yahweh is the God of judaism and NOT christianity! Christ is the God fro Christians…else she might have been reading the Toah and not the Bible!
    But nice point the last one- about non violence…

  29. Vijay says:

    When the Religion is subjected to continuous onslaught from different directions, from ruling elite in particular; there is no one to guide or direct our thoughts. Lack of interest, numbness and thus actual knowledge about the religion is the root cause, where the divine energy is lost in transit.
    Well, thought provoking and may the Al-Mighty bless for providing more such articles for time to come.

  30. subash chandra dash says:

    Very nice article .I feel myself proud for you because you are a real HINDU.

  31. Savita says:

    Could not be explained more beautifully. I could never explain my feelings about my religion and belief before because I could never find words. While reading your blog I felt that somebody is giving words to my thoughts and feelings.

  32. Vivek N Kumar says:

    Great words sir. I will treasure this in my heart. It gave me an insight on why my ancestors were Hindus and why I am born a Hindu and why I remain a Hindu.

  33. Raviprem says:

    Good one Uday, An Excellent post … I was searching for something else and fortunate enough to get directed to your website and later read exact same posts under different name unfortunately they did not even acknowledge your name or quote your website …..



    This blog is eye opener for Hinduism , about Indian Culture and Traditions. Thoughts are nicely presented by Udaybab.

  35. Awesome explaination of hinduism.

  36. Gopal Shanbhag says:

    Dear Shri. Udayji,
    I liked reading your blog. What ever you have written is absolutely right and what I believe in, that we need to approach the supernatural power with a happy mind and an open heart and with love. And this is possible only when a person has a pure heart. Hence all our endeavours and actions all the time should be aimed at performing our duties keeping our mind at peace and without expecting results that are desired by our mind. This I feel is possible when we reflect on the supernatural power at all times.
    Hinduism is free without any kind of shackles and is therefore described as a way of life…very nice post Sir. I congratulate you for such a wonderful piece so well written. Please do continue writing and inspiring us.
    With regards,
    Gopal Shanbhag

  37. Ariel Benito says:

    It’s hard to come by educated people about this subject, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  38. Mrs V.S.Shenoy says:

    Excellent Article!! Hindu philosophy always taught us to respect other faiths and beliefs. That is why there are so many alien religions existing and spreading in India. I find that the people of other religions look down upon Hindu religion and its practices may be because they do not understand or due to lot of propaganda by certain political parties against it so that they can garner votes from minorities. Unfortunately, Hindu bashing is the new definition of Secularism and not equal treatment to all faiths. Those who study different thought with thirst for understanding and knowledge find that all religions are uniting and not dividing. It is the narrow minded who feel their religion is the only one and they have all the right in the world to convert others to their belief and thus obtain the grace of God who in turn grants a place for them in the heaven. It is also necessary for Hindus to read our scriptures and understand true meaning of them and further enlighten our children so that they follow the logical path.

    Sir your article comes as a fresh breeze in today’s highly vitiated atmosphere of hatred/ mistrust. Please keep up the good work…

  39. pritom kumar mondal says:

    First of all I must say , it is a great article. It is certain that by reading it ,some changes will come to everyone’s thinking.My religion suggest me to be a non violent person. But my question is if any attack either physical or mental comes from other beliefs then what I will do ? If I am failed to understand them by negotiation and then if they attack me my property, then what will I do ? Because it is a common scenario of the miseries of the minority population.In this case what I should do ? If I remain calm and allow them what they want to do, is it not violation the old notion “God helps those who help themselves ?” .Please pardon me If I am rude in my comment.

  40. SHIVRAJ SHINDE says:

    Very nice,…thanks for sharing!
    जयोत्सु हिंदुराष्ट्राम!!!

  41. South beach says:

    your blog is very nice very nice

  42. Sekhar Ray
    Jun 19, 2012 at 10:09 pm
    This is one of the best blogs on ST. It’s an eye opener about the general concept of religion in western world .Your concept about Hinduism also vivid and clear.

    Tej Tiwary
    Jun 20, 2012 at 01:55 am
    I was trying to convey the same message as above but was not able to organise the thought and give proper words to it. Thanks for speaking my heart & mind in your language.

    Ca Subramanian Iyer
    Jun 20, 2012 at 08:13 am
    Uday such a beautiful narration – Yes u r right Other religions are known because they have been propagated . Hinduism is swambhu and does not need propogation.

    Nita Agarwal
    Jun 20, 2012 at 01:22 pm
    Thanks for the beautiful blog. I absolutely agree with your views but however, could not convey it through my blog…..Hinduism is a way of life that teaches us to accept all religions and follow your own path but believe in Dharma of honesty, sincerity, goodness, love and compassion for fellow being because God lives within us and as such we must respect all living beings.

    Tincy Mathew
    Jul 07, 2012 at 09:26 am
    Though I am of Indian origin I have settled down outside India. Reading “Am I Hindu” and Dr.Pai’s other articles made me proud about my heritage, vastness and broadmindedness of our Ancestors.
    Traditionally, we are Christians. But I understand that we were all Hindus first, then converted to Christian faith. So truth being Hindu and faith being Christian, I can call myself a Hindu-Christian…Now I understand that most of the things I read about Hinduism in media is just non-sense.
    Thank you Dr.Pai, your writing style is unparallelled and unique – that makes us proud and happy. There is no hurt in any of your sentences though you say just opposite of our faith. You are writing not for Indian Hindus, but for international readers who do not know anything about Hinduism or Indian tradition.
    Though all your articles appear lengthy, a reader can’t stop it without finishing it. I am adding everything to my spiritual diary.
    -A true Hindu-Christian.

    Prakash Bajpai
    Jun 21, 2012 at 12:32 pm
    Dear Udaylal Pai,
    For last 20 years I have been asking HINDUS that “why are they Hindu?” I have never received
    satisfactory correct answer to this Question ! Like followers of Christianity, Islam, Jains or Buddhism etc., because we are never taught or told that why are we Hindu.

    Neeraj Sharma
    Jun 21, 2012 at 02:32 pm
    Lovely Sir,
    best of the best on ST ……….
    A blog which is worth to add to my spiritual diary….

    Krishnamoorthy Pillai
    Jun 21, 2012 at 06:51 pm
    A very clear and pure explanation for being HINDU. Thank you sir.

    Bikash Mukherjee
    Jun 21, 2012 at 10:47 pm
    A lovely narrative of our religion.I like it most. Thanks.

    Sandesh Saboo
    Jun 24, 2012 at 08:33 pm
    Interesting conversation.Bhagwatgita says you should not propagate geeta to a non believer.

    Ram Krishna Kumar R
    Jun 29, 2012 at 02:01 pm
    The best of the best. I would like to promote such articles and writers. While 90% of texts appear in SpeakingTree are trash, this kind of articles need to be promoted.

    Aditya Choudhary
    Jul 03, 2012 at 05:15 pm
    Non Violence is highest duty : and working towards betterment for everyone as if everyone is one big family is highest understanding !
    anyone who has cared to look into what being a hindu means, can not be but proud of being a hindu, ( this pride is not vs. any one, a hindu is happy to see a person who is proud to be a christian or a muslim )
    Today, conversion is sin. it was Ok intimes when there were vast populace who were not ‘having’ any god 1 now everyone has ( on choice ), ! If one belives in god, one may as well beleive that teh religion one was bron into is what god knows is best for him…. one can always experiment with diffrent religions, there is no need to seek sanction of the priest !

    Lata Jagdeesh
    Jul 03, 2012 at 05:28 pm
    This blog is beautiful. There are so many points which drew my attention reiterating the many goodness of the Hindu religion. Some of these are-
    ‘You can’t compare Hinduism with any of the present leading religions where you have to believe in one concept of god.’
    “You can believe in one god and he can be a Hindu. You may believe in multiple deities and still you can be a Hindu. What’s more – you may not believe in god at all, still you can be a Hindu. An atheist can also be a Hindu.”
    “being a Hindu allows me to think independently and objectively, without conditioning… I remain as a Hindu never by force, but choice.”
    Reading your blog has strengthened my faith further. Thank you Dr.

    Sathya Lakshman
    Jul 04, 2012 at 09:55 am
    I am a Hindu because I am all and I am nothing. I balance all the contradictions even as I fall many times while doing so. Hinduism which is a word coined fairly recently to mean a way of life, to me represents life itself. It just mirrors life, as absurd, as wonderful, as intelligent, as ridiculous as life is. You can live the way you wantwith no diktat hanging on your heads.
    Perhaps, that is why there were no conversions to Hinduism (if we exclude some politicinas doing it), because it has no fixed dogma to give you. However, as I said, it covers all. So, I would not paint it with one brush and say it is about npon violence or just highlight any single favourable aspect. For while some of it is about non violence , a large part of the scriptures is about gory violence, while chastity is admired, at timews promiscuity is not condemned. This freedom has allowed many of us to see it for what it is, instead of glossing over only the better aspects and turning an ostrich eye to what is not favourable for its image.

    Sebastian Joseph
    Jul 11, 2012 at 03:07 pm
    “Loka Samastha Sukino Bhavantu. Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti” every child born in India should be taught this basic prayer first…. An enlightening write up. Every Indian should come to the realization that he/she is a Hindu by birth, and be proud of this noble heritage.

    Mahavir Nautiyal
    Jul 05, 2012 at 06:23 pm
    Dear Udaylal Pai,
    You have explained with good clarity and understanding what Hinduism essentially is. It is as catholic and all pervading as the cosmos itself is. Principles of Hinduism are not contained in any particular book but are scattered in Vedas, Upanishads, Vedant, mimansas, teekas etc created by known and unknown sages, though Bhagavad Gita can be a reference point. Every one is free to believe in a particular book or belief or system. It does not bind you but frees you to seek answers yourself. One may or may not believe in any God and still be a Hindu. All that is expected of a good Hindu is a righteous conduct and love and compassion for His manifestations- insentient and sentient. Mindless rituals, superstitions , caste differentiation based on birth gathered over the years , under the influence of priestly class, are some of its negative points.

    Tony Joseph
    Jul 17, 2012 at 06:06 pm
    I do not agree with the author in some points. But I liked this article very much. The way he presented is unique. A positive tone is evident everywhere. I felt happy, he doesn’t harass other religions (the way some people do) and tells the girl to follow Jesus Christ.

    Seema Deshpande
    Jul 19, 2012 at 09:19 pm
    Wonderful. Hinduism. Sarve loka sukhina bhavatu. Om shanti, shanti, shanti om. Respect all religions.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Shiva Prasad
    Jul 28, 2012 at 07:19 am
    Nice to read….goood you explained the gril in crisp and more clarity way…thnx for sharing…:)

    Sureshkumar Puthiyedath
    Jul 30, 2012 at 07:55 pm
    Dear Sir,
    I bow down to your caliber of making things ridiculously simple as Sachin makes sixes off Glen Mag-rah. But I know how difficult it is and how much effort it takes. Hats off to you Sir.
    As a scientist I see God as follows. Please correct me if I am wrong. I know I am biased.
    Space defined by any form is Nature or material or natural resource
    Energy defined by any time duration is Life or Power resource
    Siva->Kalam->Parvathy or Shakthi
    Science defined by wisdom is knowledge is Information resource
    Shastra or Brahma->Budhi->Saraswathy
    So I feel God is formless, timeless and wisdom-less SCIENCE too. As I am a scientist I would be proud to define everything as Science (I know God once defined is no God anymore) still I take the privilege of a scientist. Ha ha ha!!!!
    Pragyanam Brahma!!!!
    Sureshkumar Puthiyedath
    English Club Mala

    Ramesh Shenoy
    Aug 11, 2012 at 06:23 pm
    Sir, This story appears very simple. But I can see the profound knowledge years of sadhana behind it. Only people with divine blessing can write and talk like this

    Ashok Sinha
    Aug 21, 2012 at 10:01 pm
    ——– According to her (or anybody who doesn’t know about Hinduism), a religion need to have one Prophet, one Holy book and one God. The mind is so conditioned and rigidly narrowed down to such a notion that anything else is not acceptable. I understood her perception and concept about faith. You can’t compare Hinduism with any of the present leading religions where you have to believe in one concept of god.
    “You can believe in one god and he can be a Hindu. You may believe in multiple deities and still you can be a Hindu. What’s more – you may not believe in god at all, still you can be a Hindu. An atheist can also be a Hindu.”
    Because, being a Hindu allows me to think independently and objectively, without conditioning… I remain as a Hindu never by force, but choice.
    I don’t think that God is as silly as an autocratic emperor who wants others to respect him or fear him.
    “Nobody can convert you to Hinduism, because it is not a religion, but a set of beliefs and practices. Everything is acceptable in Hinduism because there is no single authority or organization either to accept it or to reject it or to oppose it on behalf of Hinduism.”
    Hinduism is referred to as Sanathana Dharma, the eternal faith. It is based on the practice of Dharma, the code of life. The most important aspect of Hinduism is being truthful to oneself. Hinduism has no monopoly on ideas. It is open to all. Hindus believe in one God (not a personal one) expressed in different forms. For them, God is timeless and formless entity. ———
    Sir, I have tried to prepare a summary of your blog. Please forgive me for any distortion caused in my naive attempt.

    Nagaraja Mandalgeri
    Aug 22, 2012 at 06:29 am
    You have got the gist of Hinduism firmly rooted in you, your every word can reverbarate it to spread around the world. If every Hindu first, others next, can understand the catholicity in this philosophy no one need hate it, in fact one starts loving it. we do not register our birth in any temple or mutt, no record created for marriages-we have agni as witness, shakuntala had the trees as witness, many a time divine souls in the sky are witnesses-what a broad areana for living and life with trust and promises-wonderful concepts. we can appreciate more of them only when we start comparison with other isms, religion, philosophy in the world. Long live Sanatana Dharma.

    Kishan Kishan
    Aug 30, 2012 at 04:44 am
    You are doing a great service to Hindus. Many Hindus are no different from religious Christians or Muslims in their beliefs, rituals, dogmas etc. They are more into rituals than what they can experience God through their own life situations, nature and human relationship.
    You say non violence is the highest duty but unfortunately it ends in not eating meat. The term is not well defined well perhaps you can elaborate. To me there is no such thing as nonviolence, Hindu mythologies are full of violence. All the Gods in Hinduism carry a weapon.

    Abdul Gaffar Anwar
    Sep 02, 2012 at 02:31 am
    Brother Uday Lal
    Namaskar Salaam.
    The British coin the word “Hindu” and considered it as a religion. Still, you said:
    “Then who are you…?”
    “I am a Hindu”, I said.
    So Sanatana Dharma is your Dharma, does it say:
    I tried to explain to her: “You can believe in one god and he can be a Hindu. You may believe in multiple deities and still you can be a Hindu. What’s more – you may not believe in god at all, still you can be a Hindu. An atheist can also be a Hindu.
    Does the above statement of yours confirms Sanatana Dharma as per Holy Vedas?
    Your Well Wisher Brother
    Abdul Gaffar Anwar

    Arun Sharma
    Sep 07, 2012 at 11:21 pm
    Dear uday I have just your article & other artcles too. I feel like i have expressed myself. You are very much correct on each & every thing you have commented. Great work, Please keep on doing this great work of unchaining the mindset of peoples. danger is after you or may be even in your presence udayism or udaysect may became another chain as happened with gandhi, buddha & osho. my goodwishes are with you. After osho & Ramkrishna paramhansa i have met a such a free mind.

    Courtesy: (Please visit the link for more comments and discussion)

    • OMAR LUTHER KING says:

      A Hindu who becomes a Hitler ceases to be a non-violent Hindu and becomes a violent Hindu.

      Not so in the case of Christianity. A Christian is one who loves God and His children. If he hates even his enemies he belongs to Satan, the Father of lies, and he does not belong to Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

      • Adam says:

        Christians are not violent? Who are waging war worldwide ? Did you forget 8 organized crusades? Christian Missionaries are still continuing their hypocrisy to convert human into christian.

        Jesus was also a False prophet like Muhammad. There is no such thing as prophet indeed.

  43. George says:

    Oh well put. I was born a christian… but im a practising Hindu.

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