I am a Hindu....
In the Lancaster University campus I've made a lot of new friends...some from countries I had never thought I would...mainly Pakistan. Since we share a turbulent past and a chaotic present .It was tough at first not to be judgmental towards them. As we got to know them better my prejudice waned...
We travel together, have dinners at each others place...discuss a lot of various topics..but completely avoid controversial subjects like the Kashmir issue..
One of the topic was about Hindu Religion. The only traditions of Hindu culture which they knew, was after seeing innumerable Hindi Movies and "Saas Bahu" serials.
I never knew it will become so difficult to answer the question "Who is a Hindu?" and "What is exactly Hinduism?". My husband and I both tried to explain them the concept, which I am sure was hazy at the most.Hindu Culture is so vast and old...how to encompass so many traditions in a single line...
Finally I decided to research a bit and came across these 2 definitions which I thought were the closest explanation possible.
"When we think of the Hindu religion, unlike other religions in the world, the Hindu religion does not claim any one prophet; it does not worship any two gods; it does not subscribe to any one dogma; it does not believe in any one philosophic concept; it does not follow any one set of religious rites or performances; in fact, it does not appear to satisfy the narrow traditional features of any religion of creed. It may broadly be described as a way of life and nothing more."
"Philosophically, Hinduism is an attitude of mind, and an outlook on life. But it is not only that. It is a number of cults, among which one may choose. And, whatever cult it may be, it is a cult, one of the immemorial Pagan cults, surviving in the midst of the modern world. The Hindus are one of the few modern civilised people who are openly Pagans." - Savitri Devi
Many books have been written about Hinduism but none can actually describe us Hindus.Its hard to explain why we worship god who has a head of elephant or why our gods have so many hands and so many heads.Gods who drank , cheated and still we worship them.
Basically Hindus believe that whatever the path you choose to worship, all will ultimately lead to the same god. Hinduism is more like a free spirited path towards achieving Moksha (when you are fee from the worldly concept of self) and where you achieve ultimate peace, ultimate knowlege , ultimate enlightenment and ultimate paradise. There are no compulsory rituals, no books to follow nor any method in which you can become a hindu.
To become a Hindu I guess you just need to follow any path you have chosen to reach god. You should be truthful in your beliefs. You can also adapt parts of teachings of Hinduism into your your life.
Ultimately all of us believe in a power greater than everything. All of us are trying to understand it in whatever way possible . We have just chosen different ways to do so..but ultimately its one and the same thing.