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Hindu by Religion

Hindu by Religion.

As stated above, a Hindu may be subdivided into the following categories namely:

1. Hindu by Religion.

2. Hindu by Conversion (Converts and Reconverts); and

3. Hindu by Birth.

Hindu by Religion:

Hindu by religion is two types of persons fall under this category:

(a) Those who are originally Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, or Buddhists by religion, and

(b) Those who are converts or reconverts to Hindu, Jain, Sikh, or Buddhist religion.

Any person, who is Hindu by religion in any of its forms and developments either by practicing or by professing it is a “Hindu”. It is very difficult to define what is Hinduism. “Acceptance of the Vedas with reverence, recognition of the fact that means and ways of salvation are diverse and realization of the truth that a number of gods to be worshipped is large, that indeed is the distinguishing feature of Hindu religion”.

Any person, who has faith in the above fundamental principles is regarded as a Hindu by religion. As a consequence of reforms and counter-reforms that took place, different forms of Hindu religion viz. Arya Samaj, Brahma Samaj, Veera Shaiva, Lingayat, Satsangi etc. came into existence.

Hindu by Conversion (Converts and Reconverts):

Hinduism recognizes conversion and Hindu Law is applicable to the converts to Hinduism from other religions. “Conversion is a process, by which a person gets converted from one religion to another, by performing the formalities/ceremonies, if any prescribed for the conversion. After conversion, he/she is called “Convert”.

A non-Hindu can become a Hindu by fulfilling the formalities/ undergoing the ceremonies if any prescribed for the conversion. Similarly, if a convert reconverts to another religion, he is called “reconvert” a Hindu again by reconverting into any one of the four religions of Hindus viz. Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, or Sikhism. By ('conversion, a person (Convertor reconvert) renounces his faith and adopts another.

The Dharmashastra did not prescribe any ceremonies for conversion to Hinduism. Among the Hindus, only Arya Samajists prescribed a ceremony known as ‘sudhi’. A person who undergoes ‘sudhi’ ceremony gets converted to Hinduism and he is called ‘Arya Samajist Hindu’.

Hindu by Birth:

Any person born of Hindu parents is a Hindu by birth. According to modern Hindu Law, a person is a Hindu by birth in the following two cases:

i) When both the parents are Hindus. Any child, legitimate or illegitimate, born of Hindu parents, who are Hindus. It is necessary that both the parents should be Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, or Buddhists. If one parent is a Hindu and the other is Jain, Sikh, or Buddhist, then also the child will be a Hindu.

In Maneka Gandhi v. Indira Gadhi (AIR 1985 Del 114)

It was held that in case Sanjay Gandhi, son of a Parsi father and a Hindu mother was a Hindu at the time of his death as he was brought up as a member of his mother’s (Indira Gandhi’s) community.

When one parent is Hindu:

Any child, legitimate or illegitimate, one of whose parents at the time of birth was a Hindu and was brought up as a Hindu (even though the Hindu parent converts to another religion subsequently). In other words, a person is said to be a Hindu, if the following conditions are satisfied

At the time of his birth, one of the parents was Hindu, and he is brought up as a member of the tribe community, group, or family to which the Hindu parent belonged at the time of the birth of the child. This was the position, even before the codified Hindu law.Under modern Hindu law, the child's religion is not necessarily that of the father. If the mother of a child at the time of the child's birth was a Hindu and the child was brought up as a Hindu, the child would be a Hindu. In the codified Hindu law it is made evident by the use of the word ‘belonged’ in explanation (b) of Section 2(1), Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

Hindu under codified Hindu Law:

The codified Hindu laws (viz. the Hindu MarriageAct, 1955; the Hindu Succession Act 1956, the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956, etc.) are applicable to two categories of persons as detailed below:

1. Those who are Hindus, Sikhs, Jains or Buddhists by religion or birth, and

2. Those who are not Muslims, Christians, Paris, or Jews by religion.

A person who is a Sikh, Jain or Buddhist is not a Hindu by religion, though Hindu law applies to him. Similarly, a person who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi, or Jew is not a Hindu by religion though Hindu law applies to him. This, virtually means that a uniform family law applies to all persons within the territories of India (excluding Jammu and Kashmir)who are not Muslims, Christians, Parsis, and Jews. Thus what Parliament meant to enact is apply clear from other provisions of the codified law.


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