Matthew Disti on the Indian Philosophy Scholars group blog:
Also, it’s hard to take the claim that genuine converts don’t count as real Hindus or Buddhists to be anything more than fashionable racism. By “convert” I mean people who have taken some formal connection to a tradition–or something analogous–and aren’t just dreamy hippies.
Conversion is an interesting subject to discuss and the first thing that may be said that is indisputable is that Buddhism is an openly proselytizing religion so there is no doubt that one can become a convert to it. Hinduism is different with the oft heard claim that theirs is not a proselytizing religion and their well observed resentment of the poaching of their members by other religions. There is a certain amount of ambivalence on this front as there is a standing army of swamis in Europe and North America. ‘Certainly’, the response would be, ‘Sanathana Dharma is the natural birthright of everyone and it does not require any formal induction naming ceremonies, commisioning of japamalas (rosaries) and the like’. Another objection not generally voiced but which to me seems insuperable is that unless you are born into a caste you cannot assume the duties of a member of that caste as laid down by the dharma shastras. However there is no central authority in Hinduism, itself a contested label, that would disallow some Swami to create his own induction and conferring ceremony. There might even be a little charge for it, have you looked at the price of ghee recently, and coconuts, aiyo. ‘Then there’s garlands and sphatik japamalas and rudraksha from the far Himalya. Ganga jal. Very costly. Martin Luther had only 39 articles itself, much more is wanted for us.’
swami can get it wholesale