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A Primer On Hinduism

 
Poldano
 
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Poldano
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12 December 2014 05:58
 
Celal - 25 March 2014 03:25 PM
saralynn - 08 July 2010 11:59 AM

I believe Hinduism is the oldest religion, so the people have had more time to corrupt the original teachings than even the Christians have had.  I suspect the caste system is one of those corruptions, although I’m not really sure.

Based on quotes like this and the OP, I suspect NONE of you even know that there is no single religion that can be called “Hinduism”. It is a name given in the 19th Century to the coalitions of religions that exist India. So, Hindus therefore have different beliefs systems depending on the villages and the regions they are from. To call Hinduism a religion is like calling “Abrahamic” a religion. It is not. It a group name.

Within the Indian coalition of religions called Hinduism, some movements such as Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs became separate religions. The others developed their own traditions (under the umbrella of Hinduism) without becoming so independent. It is the “individual” traditions under Hinduism are called religion. Not Hinduism.

That makes more sense to me than the traditional Western categorization.

 
 
Pabitra Mukhopadhyay
 
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Pabitra Mukhopadhyay
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27 August 2015 10:03
 

Interesting primer!!! smile
I am irreligious to the extent that I do not believe divine intervention, creationism or ritualistic institutional religious philosophies. I do not need any religion to make meaning of life, seek personal solace or a so called liberation. I can jolly well live without it and happy that my pluralistic society does not give a damn for my ways, as long as I am within the law of the land (India ). However, I was born into a traditional orthodox high caste Hindu Brahmin family about 50 years ago.
My two cents are that I am absolutely uncertain if Hinduism is a religion in the western sense of meaning. The word Hinduism popularly refers to a colonial umbrella classification of great many people living with varied ways of worship and spiritual tradition in the Indian sub-continent who were neither Christians nor Muslims. This word itself is not more than 200/250 years old and its not Sanskrit. The word Hinduism or Hindu does not appear in any any canonical texts of “Hinduism” anywhere. If you know otherwise please enlighten me. What you described as Hinduism or what is popularly referred as one is known as Sanatan Dharma and this has an unbroken history of at least 3000 years.
Sanatan Dharma has no central text, no central priest or no given set of rules. If one calls it a religion then it is a very secular religion because within its followers/philosophers there are few who reject the idea of God, afterlife or creation theories. Sanatan Dharma literally translates as Eternal Righteousness which, to me, sounds more like a morality based philosophy rather than a theological organisation. This has a deep connection to the notion of Karma, I guess (good karma good results, bad karma bad results etc.). The 33 million Gods are not Gods, again in western sense of meaning, they are deities and possibly results of mythological imagination of later times.
As Dr. Radhakrishan, Ex-President of India, has observed: `The Hindu civilization is so called, since it original founders or earliest followers occupied the territory drained by the Sindhu (the Indus) river system corresponding to the North-West Frontier Province and the Punjab. This is recorded in the Rig Veda, the oldest of the Vedas, the Hindu scriptures which give their name to this period of the Indian history. The people on the Indian side of the Sindhu were called Hindu by the Persian and the later western invaders [The Hindu View of Life by Dr. Radhakrishnan, p.12]. That is the genesis of the word `Hindu’. So a Hindu is more akin to an American than a Christian.
In a historic judgment Indian Supreme Court has observed: “When we think of the Hindu religion, we find it difficult, if not impossible, to define Hindu religion or even adequately describe it. Unlike other religions in the world, the Hindu religion does not claim any one prophet; it does not worship any one God; 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.”
Semantically therefore, there are Hindu Muslims, Hindu Christian, Hindu Buddhists, Hindu Sikhs and Hindu Sanatan Dharm-ists in India.
More on Caste system later.
Cheers!!

 
 
Gregoryhhh
 
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Gregoryhhh
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27 August 2015 11:20
 
Pabitra Mukhopadhyay - 27 August 2015 08:03 AM

Interesting primer!!! smile
I am irreligious to the extent that I do not believe divine intervention, creationism or ritualistic institutional religious philosophies. I do not need any religion to make meaning of life, seek personal solace or a so called liberation. I can jolly well live without it and happy that my pluralistic society does not give a damn for my ways, as long as I am within the law of the land (India ). However, I was born into a traditional orthodox high caste Hindu Brahmin family about 50 years ago.
My two cents are that I am absolutely uncertain if Hinduism is a religion in the western sense of meaning. The word Hinduism popularly refers to a colonial umbrella classification of great many people living with varied ways of worship and spiritual tradition in the Indian sub-continent who were neither Christians nor Muslims. This word itself is not more than 200/250 years old and its not Sanskrit. The word Hinduism or Hindu does not appear in any any canonical texts of “Hinduism” anywhere. If you know otherwise please enlighten me. What you described as Hinduism or what is popularly referred as one is known as Sanatan Dharma and this has an unbroken history of at least 3000 years.
Sanatan Dharma has no central text, no central priest or no given set of rules. If one calls it a religion then it is a very secular religion because within its followers/philosophers there are few who reject the idea of God, afterlife or creation theories. Sanatan Dharma literally translates as Eternal Righteousness which, to me, sounds more like a morality based philosophy rather than a theological organisation. This has a deep connection to the notion of Karma, I guess (good karma good results, bad karma bad results etc.). The 33 million Gods are not Gods, again in western sense of meaning, they are deities and possibly results of mythological imagination of later times.
As Dr. Radhakrishan, Ex-President of India, has observed: `The Hindu civilization is so called, since it original founders or earliest followers occupied the territory drained by the Sindhu (the Indus) river system corresponding to the North-West Frontier Province and the Punjab. This is recorded in the Rig Veda, the oldest of the Vedas, the Hindu scriptures which give their name to this period of the Indian history. The people on the Indian side of the Sindhu were called Hindu by the Persian and the later western invaders [The Hindu View of Life by Dr. Radhakrishnan, p.12]. That is the genesis of the word `Hindu’. So a Hindu is more akin to an American than a Christian.
In a historic judgment Indian Supreme Court has observed: “When we think of the Hindu religion, we find it difficult, if not impossible, to define Hindu religion or even adequately describe it. Unlike other religions in the world, the Hindu religion does not claim any one prophet; it does not worship any one God; 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.”
Semantically therefore, there are Hindu Muslims, Hindu Christian, Hindu Buddhists, Hindu Sikhs and Hindu Sanatan Dharm-ists in India.
More on Caste system later.
Cheers!!

The primer (#1) was interesting - i just read it too. Your primer is more than an interesting opinion, it is scholarly and authoritative - i like the way you use the quotes and cites.

 
 
SkepticX
 
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27 August 2015 11:43
 
Celal - 25 March 2014 03:25 PM
saralynn - 08 July 2010 11:59 AM

I believe Hinduism is the oldest religion, so the people have had more time to corrupt the original teachings than even the Christians have had.  I suspect the caste system is one of those corruptions, although I’m not really sure.

Based on quotes like this and the OP, I suspect NONE of you even know that there is no single religion that can be called “Hinduism”. It is a name given in the 19th Century to the coalitions of religions that exist India. So, Hindus therefore have different beliefs systems depending on the villages and the regions they are from. To call Hinduism a religion is like calling “Abrahamic” a religion. It is not. It a group name.

Within the Indian coalition of religions called Hinduism, some movements such as Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs became separate religions. The others developed their own traditions (under the umbrella of Hinduism) without becoming so independent. It is the “individual” traditions under Hinduism are called religion. Not Hinduism.


Hinduism also isn’t really polytheistic (generally or maybe technically speaking at least), but rather about dividing God into aspects of God because God is too big for the human mind, basically, so we have a chance of meaningfully grasping aspects, but not the whole. At least that’s how the few Hindu friends I’ve had over the years have all explained it to me. The reason we see it as such is precisely because we throw all of the various manifestations together under one heading.

 
 
saralynn
 
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saralynn
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27 August 2015 12:11
 

I was sort of a Hindu for a period of time when I was reading Ramakrishna and Vivekananda.  Those two evoked in me a desire to become a saint and dedicate my life to service..  Not in India, though.  Too much poverty.  I wanted to take the train into Manhattan, then cab into Harlem.

BTW, what’s with the Gods’ blue skin?  At least Jesus looked like one of us.  Light brown hair bleached by the sun, softly falling down to his shoulders.  Blue, penetrating eyes.  A swimmer’s physique.

 
Gregoryhhh
 
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27 August 2015 19:06
 
saralynn - 08 July 2010 01:10 PM

GAD: Why do you believe that all religions started good and then got corrupted, maybe they all start as really big, ignorant, superstitious piles of shit that have to be corrupted to remain useful over time.

You’re right.  That may be an assumption on my part.  I guess I have it because when people have “enlightenment” experiences, it is usually accompanied by a feeling of love, clarity, and an appreciation of beauty.  Even if these experiences are self-induced, they are usually benevolent in nature.

Well, except for thebromo and his ilk -  the way these Abramic God people define “love’ as God loves you, but if you dont meet his conditions he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer, and burn, and scream, until the end of time.

 
 
Pabitra Mukhopadhyay
 
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28 August 2015 05:53
 
saralynn - 27 August 2015 10:11 AM

I was sort of a Hindu for a period of time when I was reading Ramakrishna and Vivekananda.  Those two evoked in me a desire to become a saint and dedicate my life to service..  Not in India, though.  Too much poverty.  I wanted to take the train into Manhattan, then cab into Harlem.

BTW, what’s with the Gods’ blue skin?  At least Jesus looked like one of us.  Light brown hair bleached by the sun, softly falling down to his shoulders.  Blue, penetrating eyes.  A swimmer’s physique.

The blue skin is just a metaphor. Like say, the green for Hulk. The skin of Krishna is supposed to be dark with a tinge of green popularly known as Shyam in Sanskrit. Krishna is not a God but God-incarnate (derivative of Vishnu). I particularly like him. He was raised as a low caste Yadav (milkman clan) and had a steamy youth, when he had relationship with Radha, a nubile neighborhood aunt!!! What he did with her can go as soft porn but in Hinduism sex is no taboo and pious people almost cry listening to his tales.

You should have reconsidered adopting Hinduism. smile

 
 
Pabitra Mukhopadhyay
 
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28 August 2015 06:49
 

There are many misunderstanding regarding Caste system prevalent in Hindu societies. There are few myths too. One can read a lot about Caste systems but I will prefer to indicate few misunderstandings and myths.
1. Caste system is a racist system : The word Caste comes from Portuguese Casta. When Portuguese travelers to 16th-century India first encountered what appeared to them to be race-based social stratification, they used the Portuguese term “casta” — which means “race” — to describe what they saw. This is not completely true but it unfortunately stuck.
2. Aryans created the Caste System to control population: The Aryan invation theory mainly developed by late 19th or early 20th century European linguists is now almost rejected. Modern scholarship does not accept that Aryans came from Europe and conquered South Asia and they created the Caste System. Rather it is now believed that there was social stratification in Indian subcontinent for millenia and these were in two levels namely Jati (meaning culturally similar people) and Varna ( literally meaning Color but in a purely metaphoric way like electric charges can be thought to have color, actually meaning class of profession).
3. Caste System is socially immobile : Not completely true. There are instances of people changing caste by changing profession. Indian Government simply does not acknowledge caste system other than for reservation of opportunities of education, work etc.
4. Caste System is scientific and beautiful: Not true. It is an archaic system, completely outdated now and it created untouchables which is a curse for Indian people.

 
 
KathleenBrugger
 
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29 August 2015 00:58
 

I thank both Celal (from 2014) and Pabitra for their posts. I was completely unaware of that history. Hinduism always did seem different from other major religions, and you’ve shown why: it’s not one religion. It’s a British invention. I’ll appreciate anything else you have time to post, Pabitra.

 
 
Pabitra Mukhopadhyay
 
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30 August 2015 16:39
 

I am more drawn to the historical and social basis of the so called Hindu religion, the popular misnomer. Since I have no religious affiliation my interest in it is purely academic.
The Indic religions are replete with suggestions of profound philosophical depth of introspection. Some of these references are extremely interesting. I am not aware of any other religion delving in such pure introspection.
Take Dashavatar for example. It is the belief that god incarnates do come to earth for reasons known only to them. As a theory it is quite different from the succession of prophets of Abrahamic religions. Prophets come with a name and purpose, Avatars may not. So what are their significance?
I see a clear suggestion of biological and social evolution in the Avatars of Indic religions.
I also find the phallic shrine of Shiva very interesting because of how it is positioned within a vagina. The perspective is as if we are watching it from the womb.
I simply mention these as my points of interest as any scholastic description of Upanishadic scripts may not be interesting to all.

[ Edited: 30 August 2015 16:42 by Pabitra Mukhopadhyay]
 
 
ClearMindOpenHeart
 
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06 January 2016 11:29
 
saralynn - 27 August 2015 12:11 PM

I was sort of a Hindu for a period of time when I was reading Ramakrishna and Vivekananda.  Those two evoked in me a desire to become a saint and dedicate my life to service..  Not in India, though.  Too much poverty.  I wanted to take the train into Manhattan, then cab into Harlem.

BTW, what’s with the Gods’ blue skin?  At least Jesus looked like one of us.  Light brown hair bleached by the sun, softly falling down to his shoulders.  Blue, penetrating eyes.  A swimmer’s physique.

Aliumz…

 
NAG5500
 
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NAG5500
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01 February 2016 20:23
 

.

[ Edited: 07 January 2018 13:34 by NAG5500]
 
Throwdare
 
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12 October 2016 15:51
 

What is refered to as hinduism mostely is about karma, reincarnation and a cast-system, ruling a society for the sake of stability, that is totally missunderstood as being fixed.

Actually the cast-system is meant to provide a solid basis for peoples interests and talents. It is not meant to dis-encourage individuals from thinking and trying to better the circumstance they find themself in. The cast-system is abused by the so called brahmanic cast to sustain its superiour position of being in charge regarding knowledge. The brahmanic cast in indian culture lie and cheat as much like any other priest cast anywhere else in the world. It’s in the nature of the priest-cast to keep it’s seemingly superiour status.

But it actually is meant as what Karl Marx and other thinkers stated as: Everybody should engage in life’s challenges according to ones own natural talents and interests.

Hinduism as such is a broad variety of intellectual and spiritual movements that can’t be boiled down into a few sentences. In so called hinduism there is as much superstition as in any other culture. It has it’s up-sides and it’s down-sides. But what can not be denied is that the Upanishads came from that area, currantely refered to as India.

“Ex oriente lux.” (Wolfgang Johann von Goethe)

“The Upanishads are the most up-lifting texts I ever come across.” (Arthur Schopenhauer)

[ Edited: 12 October 2016 16:05 by Throwdare]
 
 
Hypersoup
 
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02 November 2016 03:53
 

vishnu is better than brahma, ask any vaishnav…..

 
 
swamig
 
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14 May 2017 02:16
 

Western information about Hinduism comes from two kinds of sources. One, translations and commentaries from the first European thinkers who went to India, inevitably corrupted by Eurocentrism and colonial arrogance. Two, missionaries intent on finding, exaggerating and exploiting flaws and fallacies in Hinduism to save their souls for Christ. Neither was objective or pragmatic; both had axes to grind. That makes for a lot of confusion, subjectivity, unverifiable statements and distortions in Western view of Hinduism. It’s greatly exacerbated by the nature of Hinduism: it’s a smorgasbord, not a water cooler.

I’m a Hindu, and not a colonial thinker or a missionary. I am also a scientist. If you’re interested, read on. I’ll make it simple.

1. Hinduism is MONOtheistic. It recognizes only one Brahma, or God, and it states the purpose of life as attaining union with Brahma. The life force in all living beings is a molecule of the Brahma, which means respect for all living things.This is the origin of nonviolence (Gandhi).

2. Hinduism allows you to picture Brahma in whatever form you like, or no form, and worship Him/Her in your own way. What matters is the sincerity of your faith. This freedom of worship is often confused with polytheism, but Hindus consider all “gods” equivalent. Hindus have never had crusades, conversions or sectarian wars, and have accepted many waves of religious refugees—because to them, ALL gods or Gods are the same! ALL OF THEM.

3. The caste system, considered the very definition of Hinduism in millions of Western textbooks. is NOT central to Hinduism. It is a social practice that started as division of labor and with time got perverted into a power structure, and was OUTLAWED at independence. Only REVERSE discrimination remains: the government reserves half of all college admissions and government jobs for the formerly oppressed castes. And there’s NO religious revolt. NONE.

4. Hindus consider the body a temporary abode of a molecule of Brahma, and cremate it. After death, and a punishment phase for severe violations, the “molecule of Brahma” moves on to another species. The species is determined by your Karma: the cumulative record of your moral and immoral deeds in this and previous lives. What’s moral, or not,  is determined by your Dharma.  There is a universal core Dharma for all, but there are also specific provisions for your gender and means of livelihood. For example, the Dharma of a mother and father, or that of a soldier and a priest, are not 100% the same.

5. Hinduism developed historically under a system of Rishis, or exalted independent thinkers, similar to the academic research groups of today. Instead of laboratories, they had residential schools called Ashrams. The Rishis trained future Rishis through rote learning, hands-on training and intellectual debate. That’s why there are so many different books, schools of thought and tenets - but all built around a common core. Hinduism is the ONLY religion on the planet that has diversity of belief, diversity of worship, and respect for that diversity, BUILT IN. You can’t CONVERT anyone to Hinduism, but anyone can BE a Hindu.

 

 
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