2 points | Post submitted by suyash95 159 days ago | 28 comments
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What are these Terms used in Media and how to define
Hindu” is a geographic term covering all the different religions, variant religions, philosophies, customs, traditions, usages and ceremonies of diverse and variant linguistics groups who have as much in common as the Spaniards do with the Ukrainians.So “Hinduism” is not ONE thing - it’s like the term “European”.The core of what is academically and sociologically called “Hinduism” is the Veda and the philosophy of the Veda is called Vedānta. So the core of modern “Hinduism” is the philosophy encapsulated in the Vedānta.
This will be more good acc to my understanding - Hinduism is a confederation of numerous religions and sects with no central teaching authority and contains a spectrum of beliefs and philosophies/theologies. Hinduism is not monolithic and is a co-op or consortium of several sects. All have different standards, values, customs, hierarchies etc. they are a conglomeration of different faiths & beliefs, all of which regard the Vedas as their mother & Dharma as supreme & eternal, but each of them making up a micro-minority part of the whole.
Hinduism represents a diverse range of philosophies and schools of thoughts, yet is this reflected in practice among Hindu laymen?
Absolutely - Hindus from different countries, provinces and towns all have different customs, traditions, rituals, practices and views as well as different festivals. We have just had Pongal which is celebrated with great éclat in South India but is virtually unknown in North India.
Just compare the traditions and customs of South Indians to North Indians or of Indians to Balinese or of ex-patriate Hindus to Indian Hindus.
Wedding ceremonies are one of the major events in the life of a Hindu and there are dozens of different formats and variations in customs and emphasis. For an uninformed observer Northern and Southern weddings would be from different planets.
Hindutva - is defined by the dictionary as Hindu conservatism and advocation of a “Hindu way of Life.”
Given the complex diversity under the catchall term “Hindu” one wonders what exactly constitutes a “Hindu-way-of-life”?
There is no template or head-office or CEO or Secretariat or Dear Leader or Dictatorial Sky-guy who can decide what it is or what the KPI’s are, or who will enforce compliance.
If someone could write a detailed answer explaining their vision of an all encompassing inclusive “Hindu way of life” it would be a very interesting read.
Hinduism is an umbrella term for hundreds of different religions, sects, cultures, languages, traditions and cultures. There is no official “Hindu” position on anything but rather multiple and disparate opinions. So individual Hindus can make up their own minds on every issue and still remain “orthoprax”. Whatever one says about “Hinduism” both positive and negative has some resonance somewhere in India and South-East ASIA.
Why does Hinduism change? This question generates several others, such as: If the old gods no longer exist, why the new ones do? Do the gods really exist? Is it possible that new gods still appear? Will the current ones be "forgotten" someday?
Hinduism is an open -source faith which is constantly evolving and changing as humankind evolves.
Who or what god is or is not, is a human cultural construct with no objective verifiable or falsifiable evidence. God is like a blank canvas which underlies every painting - we can paint whatever we like on the canvas - it remains canvas. Like that the Absolute is consciousness - paint it in whatever colours, shapes or forms you like and give it the names of your choice - it remains boundless and spacious consciousness.
This is the best ever article to understand Hinduism as open-source.
The God Project: Hinduism as Open-Source Faith
Hinduism” is a general term which includes and cover many different streams of thought, philosophies, theologies, religious beliefs and practices, different sects and lineages. It is in brief a “fellowship of seekers” or “religious confederation” or “spiritual collective”.
Within this fellowship there is an ancient philosophical system known as TANTRA or AGAMA which itself is divided and ramified into multiple sects and lineages.
Tantra is primarily Goddess and female power centred, and these 10 Mahāvidyas known as the “Wisdom Goddesses” have a central role to play in devotional and spiritual practice.
Hinduism” is a term coined by the British for administrative reasons and refers to a collective of divergent schools of philosophy and belief systems that originated in the Sub-Continent of India over 5000 years ago. We ourselves refer to “Hinduism” simply as DHARMA - which translates as deontology.
These diverse schools of thought have been evolving, developing, modifying and adapting to changing circumstances over millennia. So under the umbrella of “Hinduism” there are sects and traditions which are contradictory to each other and some are in sync with each other. So there is nothing general and definitive which can be said about Hinduism. In fact everything and anything you say about India or Hinduism can be located and identified.
So Hinduism per se cannot be truth of untruth - it is just a name of a collective. One needs to ask which specific elements or beliefs within the vast collective of Hinduism are true.
There are many diverse voices and opinions under the rubric of “Hinduism” and there is no consensus. So what one acharya permits another forbids - it is up to the discerning individual to make his/her own choice.There is so much more to Hinduism than meets the eye and one should not judge the ancient tradition from the corrupted and deviant modern customs and usages of the uninformed public.
In Indian politics, why is there a Hindu right but not a Hindu left?
The terms "left" and "right" were coined during the French Revolution of 1789 when members of the National Assembly divided into supporters of the king to the president's right and supporters of the revolution to his left. The "constitutionals" sat in the centre while independents sat on the left.
They then came to designate the division between capitalists/conservatives - right and the progressives/socialists/communists - left.
These are political designators not religious and certainly cannot sensibly be applied to Hinduism.
Hinduism is not monolithic and is a co-op or consortium of several different religions and sects. All have different standards, values, customs, hierarchies etc.
So when journalists speak of the “Hindu right” what exactly do they mean? If they wish to indicate “conservative” - then which sect are they talking about? Which philosophical system? Which community? Who is the representative of all Hindus? Who is the pontiff? Which is the steering committee? Who determines what “Hindus” should believe and what political views they should hold?
So Hindu right and Hindu left are nonsense terms which convey no useful information whatsoever.
If anything an appropriate and correct term to use in political discourse would be CHAUVINIST.
relating to or characteristic of a chauvinist: a chauvinist rejection of foreign interference.
What is Hinduism?
The term “Hinduism” is a category of people for the purpose of civil administration created by the British. The Portuguese, prior to the British, referred to the same category of people as Gentoo.
Hindoo was a term also used for the inhabitants of the subcontinent of India - everyone who was not a Christian, Muslim, Jew or Parsi. And as well all know the broad category of “Hindoo” includes dozens of different religious and belief systems with thousands of different customs and usages and dialects.
So you could very well ask the question “are non-Indians accepted as Gentoos?” Which makes absolutely no sense.
There are 7 million Hindus living in Indonesia where Hinduism has been established for over a thousand years - long before either “Gentoo” or “Hindu” were coined.
The whole of South East Asia (the population of which are ethnically descendant of proto-malay) - was at one time part of a great Hindu empire - greater one may say than any empire in India - since these non-Indians aka non-Hindoos built the largest Hindu temple on planet earth which also happens to be the largest religious structure ever built - Angkor Wat. So one wonders what they called themselves since neither of the descriptors “Gentoo” nor “Hindoo” were available to them.
Having ascertained the imprecise and vague nature of the above terms we now have to examine the second part of the question “ACCEPTED”.
I will answer the question with several questions.
Is Hinduism one of the world's oldest religions? How did it survive while others died?
Judaism and Sanatana Dharma aka “Hinduism” are the world’s two oldest religions. All the other major religions are off-shoots of these two.
Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) has survived because unlike the other religions it has:
Hinduism can best be understood by watching the flow of traffic in any big Indian city! The other example is the Kumbha Mela - the biggest gathering of humanity on the planet. No planning committee, no central authority, no board of directors, no OHS officers, no permits demanded or issued, no rules and regulations. The Indian Army goes in, lays out the infrastructure in terms of plots, roads, sanity arrangements. etc. and then backs off. Millions of people just arrive and set up camp - everything “just appears” - hundreds of different sects, castes, linguistic groups. All living and cooperating and coordinating together for the duration of the festival and then one day the whole camp finally just disappears.
Usually, it is forbidden to sleep or have food during the time of sunset (Sandhya) by Hindu. However, are we even forbidden to study textbooks during that time?
There is no “forbidden” in Hinduism.
To forbid something there must a a ‘forbidder’ a review process and a punishment of sorts. So who is the authority in Hinduism to forbid anything? We received no laws from God and we are at liberty to follow whatever we want from any of the “Law-givers” - as long as it is reasonable and productive of beneficial outcomes.
The Dharma Shastras consist of recommendations and are usually coached in the grammatical form of “should” or “shouldn’t” and not in the form of commands and diktats.
So you “shouldn’t” eat food after sunset and in fact you “should” eat only one meal a day to remain healthy.
You “shouldn’t” study at after sunset because in those days there were only oil lamps and you may hurt your eyesight.
So on and so forth.
Hinduism is a co-operative of dozens of different religions and hundreds of sects which were closed groups with a strong self-identity.Religion in India is completely decentralized with no head-office or Pope or Patriarch or Chief Rabbi - so no leader to dispatch or convert.There is no clerical hegemony like that of the Christians and Jews. So neutralising the priests had no effect on conversions.
Hinduism is like one vast educational campus with classes from kindergarten to PhD - the problem is there is no central office, no management committee, no recruitment office, no admissions centre, no campus police, no website or Facebook account or twitter feed, no ground plan, no notice boards and no signs directing you to your class - you yourself need to find the classes you wish to attend and attend them fully or part-time. So the onus is on YOU to explore the campus, and through talking to others and through magazines and books you will find the appropriate classes to your level of comprehension.
You are free to complete the course or to drop out - there are no exams and no degrees issued. No consequences for partial completion or dropping out - but immense personal benefit from graduating.
Hinduism is unique because it is open-source.It is like one huge wikipedia - everyone is entitled to give their own input - as stuff becomes outmoded and irrelevant it is dropped and new stuff added. The core doctrines are markers around which teachings develop.Every acharya and guru is independent and each yogi, mystic and saint can add their insights and experiences for others to learn from and enjoy.It is free from the handicap of set dogma and limitation of belief without evidence (faith). Everything is open to inquiry and investigation, there is no compulsion and each and every person can approach spirituality and transcendence in their own unique way, accepting or rejecting whatever they want.
Hinduism is decentralized, not open source. Each sampradaya has its own shastras to be adhered to. Decentralization is one of the main reasons for our survival.
HHindus is general take the guidance of their gurus and elders not the Shastra.
In Hinduism there is no Governing body that oversees training and appointments nor regulates and monitors KPI’s.There is no one in charge, no organizing body no supervisors, no moderators, no authority figures, no controllers - everything just happens, functions like an organic unit and then overnight dismantles and decamps. It has no founder and no management structure, or Central Command and Control syndicate. Gurus are all independent and their authority derives from those devotees who trust in them and support them financially.Their views are their personal views and cannot be referred to sole Authority on HINDUISM.It must always be remembered that there were hundreds of Vedic Acharyas and Vedic schools - they did not all agree on every point. For every 3 Indians you meet they will have at least 5 different opinions! It has always been thus on the sub-continent.The argumentative Indian is axiomatic! Hinduism accepts differences of opinion, belief, practice and is accommodating of diversity and inclusivity. So there may be some Hindu gurus who consider some Texts to be authoritiative n some do not. But Some Orthodox Hindu guru views have been percolated into Society as Hinduism sole view to denigrate Hinduism . It was first done by Britishers n after independence by Communists.
Hinduism by its very nature cannot be oppressive or discriminative since there is not one set of rules and regulations or standards that apply to everyone. There is no command and control structure and no one in charge.There is complete freedom to do as you please as long as it is legal according to civil law. No one is compelled to express belief in any dogmas or creeds, to pray, fast, go to temple, eat vegetarian food, or to abstain from alcohol of sex - it is up to the individual and his or her Karma - obviously there may be oppressive families and tyrannical patriarchs - but that has nothing to do with religion.The sacred law only applies to orthodox Brahmins and for them it can indeed be exceedingly oppressive - especially for those rebellious youth who push back against the dozens of rules and regulations which curate and control their behaviour and practice. The social disabilities and restrictions Brahmins submit to are overbearing for commoners and the Brahmins are forbidden to superimpose their values on others.The other reason why Hinduism can never be oppressive is because there is no supervising and enforcing bureaucracy like in the Abrahamic religions.
Hinduism never had a top-down Control n Command Structure n there never was an enforcing bureaucracy ever enforcing DHARMASHASTRAS in India unlike in Western n Islamic World where this was the common norm . In Middle East and Europe, Catholic bishops n Muslim Ulemas,Maulanas,Qazis had fatwa-like powers to give death sentences to normal public. eg- IS OF VARNAS
Varna WAS only a theoretical description based on what the person was currently engaged with.There never was any central organisation giving certificates of varna status to people.there never was an administrative structure in place to ensure the varna status of any person ,the problem with forced Varna label is- is that there has to be a central organisation and an administrative structure n bureaucracy in place to ensure the compliance of the people fixed with varna and with the imposed varna behaviour n duties. There was no organized state machinery so vast and pervasive like in Europe and Middle East that it could enforce any of those laws outlined in the Dharmashastras, which were merely theoretical textbooks. Think about this-India consisted of more than 1000’s of Languages,Very few People spoke Sanskrit which is the Languages of Smritis.
INDIA was never a Law based society,Becoz There was no Central Organization enforcing rules in India. The absence of a central authority was the main reason for the survival of Hinduism despite centuries of terror and genocide . Hindus were notorious for their lack of religious bureaucracy and indifference to the religious practices of others and there were no compulsory catechisms to study, daily masses and confessions to attend and no way to test or to monitor the knowledge of dogma and practices of the converted as in case of Islam and Christianity. It was the decentralised, stratified and compartmentalised structure of Hindu society which was not operating under any book which prevented it from being converted and culturally assimilated by the invading cultures.Other Centralized Book based Systems collapsed like Egypt,Persia and Mesopotamia.
There is no “conversion” n Conservatism to Hinduism - you just absorb and adopt and practice whatever you want and you can call yourself a Hindu if you so wish - there is no over-sight committee and recruitment board or regulatory agency you need to answer to.
You can eat whatever you like - diet is a self-regulatory thing, and one’s ability and skill in practicing DHARMA has no relation to diet.
But as you progress in Dharma practice you may find that your diet will change accordingly as your consciousness develops.
na māṃsa bhakṣaṇe doṣo na madye na ca maithune |pravṛttir eṣā bhūtānām nivṛittis-tu mahā phale ||There is no sin in eating meat, in (drinking) spirituous liquor, and in carnal intercourse, for that is the natural way of created beings, but abstention brings great rewards. (Manu 5.56.)
na māṃsa bhakṣaṇe doṣo na madye na ca maithune |
pravṛttir eṣā bhūtānām nivṛittis-tu mahā phale ||
There is no sin in eating meat, in (drinking) spirituous liquor, and in carnal intercourse, for that is the natural way of created beings, but abstention brings great rewards. (Manu 5.56.)
The goal of Hinduism is ultimately God-realization, and Swami Vivekananda the great pioneer of Neo-Vedanta said;–
“Is God a nervous fool like you that the flow of His river of mercy would be dammed up by a piece of meat? If such be He, His value is not a pie!”
DIKSHA in a SAMPRADAYA under a GURU - eg
The sādhana using the Dasa-mahā-vidyas without the guidance of a guru is dangerous because you are accessing and arousing sub-conscious psychological forces which, if not analysed and sublimated therapeutically can lead to mental disturbance.
All this was “secret” knowledge till the advent of the internet which opened up all the secret mystery teachings for everyone to have a look at and to play with.
Sādhana requires a life-long commitment - begun through extensive study, the taking of initiation and then applying the right views, discipline and regular systematic practice, and like any form of psycho-therapy, requires regular debriefing with a guru-mentor-therapist.
Hinduism has no single authority when it comes to religious scriptures. So your prohibitions are cultural, not religious.
Hinduism is a co-operative of dozens of different religions and hundreds of sects which were closed groups with a strong self-identity.Religion in India is completely decentralized with no head-office or Pope or Patriarch or Chief Rabbi - so no leader to dispatch or convert.There is no clerical hegemony like that of the Christians and Jews. So neutralising the priests had no effect on conversions.Temples and ashrams were not essential to Hindus like Churches and Synagogues were in the Middle East.Hinduism has always been open to assimilating other religions into its fold - other religions are usually digested or modified.
long before the Indian state was formed, a person could travel & live anywhere in India like his own home and that was because of a common society, culture and "religion".
“Hinduism” is a general term which includes and cover many different streams of thought, philosophies, theologies, religious beliefs and practices, different sects and lineages. It is in brief a “fellowship of seekers” or “religious confederation” or “spiritual collective”.
“Is Hinduism true?” - The several philosophical schools of Hinduism deal with this metaphysical question and in fact the Vedas and the Vedānta and all the other esoteric schools have the ULTIMATE TRUTH as their sole inquiry - so you would need to start studying Indian Philosophy to ascertain for yourself what is and what is not “truth” and how it is applicable to your particular situation and stage of life.
Philosophical Hinduism is perfectly rational - perhaps the most rational of all the religions barring Buddhism its sister religion.
But under the umbrella of “Hinduism” there is also an abundance of nonsense, pseudo-science, superstition, erroneous beliefs, irrationality, immorality, fake guru and their deceptive teachings, social injustice etc. All the ills of any society.
Are non-Hindu borns accepted as Hindus?
This is a frequently asked question but we always need to parse what we mean by terms.
If you - the gentle reader - don’t know the answer to these questions then you are part of the problem!
Hinduism is a very broad cooperative including numerous different sects and religions so there is not one single answer to any question. It all depends of which philosophical system or sect or community you’re talking about.
Why is vedic hinduism being phased out?
Hinduism is a river slowly meandering towards the great ocean - its very nature is to change, evolve, add new ideas and jettison outdated ones, modify and transform - but it is a slow river - over 5000 years old.
The “Vedic” religion of great yajñas sponsored by Kings and merchants has been phased out for centuries already - because it no longer answered to the needs of the common people. In it’s place stepped the Tantra/Agama system which incorporated some of the Vedic usages and is now the religion of the masses known as “Hinduism”.
All that remains of the “Vedic” religion is a diminishing sacramental part known as Karma-kāṇḍa - which is encountered in the sacraments (saṁskāras) which are still performed in a very small minority of Brahmin families - but also with more enthusiasm for the celebrations than for the intrinsic meaning and value of the rituals themselves. Vedic Karma-kāṇda is popularly still well and alive in marriage ceremonies.
The other aspect of the Vedic Religion which is already extinct is Upāsana-kānḍa - the meditational practices consisting of the 32 brahma-vidyās. In 50 years I have never encountered a single practitioner or teacher of these techniques.
And the last aspect which is very much alive, vibrant and flourishing is Jñāna-kāṇḍa - the philosophy and metaphysics of the Upaṇiṣads and it shows no sign of expiring any time soon.
scenario with us polytheist Hindus – we can gather in millions at one single site – hundreds of different religious groups, conflicting sects and lineages and different nationalities and all worship in perfect peace and amity.
Hinduism has no founder, no dogmas, no universally applicable rules and regulations, thousands of books and gurus and everyone has complete freedom to believe or worship whatever they want ,there is no one in charge - no pope or Rabbinical council or Ulema or Brahminical body that has jurisdiction and power over others.
There is no compulsion to abide by prescribed sets of rules and regulations and in fact contrary to popular perception there is no body of “clergy” with power and control over congregationsHinduism has a panoply of gurus and spiritual, guides past and present, from whom one may take guidance and instruction..
Hinduism is not focused on “belief” or “faith” it is focused on DHARMA. That is why its proper name is SANĀTAN DHARMA - which means “the Perennial Way.” because the principles of Dharma are universal and always applicable. Dharma is in short – duty, obligation and right conduct - the theory - i.e. philosophy or theology of your choice that helps to orientate to practice is not a big bother. The most important goal is to become a benevolent and benign presence in the world.
Hinduism emphasises behaviour above belief, other religions exalt belief above behaviour. DHARMA produces KARMA and KARMA conditions SAMSARA = rebirth. We have all emerged from Godhead and will eventually return to Godhead - so no worries - just enjoy the journey, be good, do good and have a happy day .
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