KAUAI, HAWAII, July 5, 2024 (Hinduism Today, by Fred Stella): In the West, it is entirely possible to run into someone who is not ethnically South Asian yet studies the Bhagavad Gita, meditates with a Sanskrit mantra, is a disciple of a guru, chants bhajans and may even have replaced his or her birth name with Ram or Radhika. However, if you were to assume they were Hindu, you just might not be correct. Yes, everything I just mentioned has all the markings of a Hindu; but there is a chance that this person might deny the label of Hindu or any other religious category. They might be comfortable with identifying as “Spiritual But Not Religious” or something quasi-Hindu such as Yogi or Vedantist.

I’ll say from the start that I have no desire to criticize anyone for how they identify religiously. My goal here is to analyze the reasons for distancing oneself from Hinduism while embracing some of the most important elements of the tradition. And for our purposes, I will focus specifically on those who are ethnically non-Indian and typically of European or African ancestry. It is true that there are South Asians who also distance themselves from “The H Word,” but that is a matter for a different time.

Read more on why some people just can’t bring themselves to say they’re Hindus at source.