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A Primer On Hinduism

 
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14 May 2017 04:48
 
swamig - 14 May 2017 02:16 AM

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.

 

Interesting.  Thanks for the post.  Hinduism doesn’t get much action on this forum.

 
MrRon
 
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22 May 2017 03:04
 
swamig - 14 May 2017 02:16 AM

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.

How is this not a contradiction?

Ron

 

 
Celal
 
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22 May 2017 12:05
 
MrRon - 22 May 2017 03:04 AM
swamig - 14 May 2017 02:16 AM

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.

How is this not a contradiction?

Ron

It is a contradiction only if you think of Hinduism a name given to a single religion. There is no such single religion called “Hinduism”. It is a name given in the 19th Century to the coalitions of religions that exist India. Therefore no contradiction.

 
swamig
 
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22 May 2017 17:13
 

About apparent contradiction: First, thank you for an awesome question.

Pardon my imprecise language. I mean to say that all FORMS, that is, all REPRESENTATIONS of Brahman are equivalent. They’re all God to people who believe in them.

The Sanskrit text is, Ekam sat, vipram bahudha vadanti, meaning there is only one Truth but saints describe it in many ways. An example is given of water in different vessela: It appears in different shapes but it is exactly the same thing. Similarly, different traditions of worship are equivalent, for they all lead to God.

The emphasis is on faith, devotion and good deeds, not on whom you worship and how - or not. That’s right, an atheist can also LIVE BY Hindu principles. Even if s/he does not believe in God.

 
MrRon
 
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23 May 2017 03:13
 

Thanks.

Ron

 
swamig
 
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26 May 2017 14:20
 
Celal - 22 May 2017 12:05 PM
MrRon - 22 May 2017 03:04 AM
swamig - 14 May 2017 02:16 AM

It is a contradiction only if you think of Hinduism a name given to a single religion. There is no such single religion called “Hinduism”. It is a name given in the 19th Century to the coalitions of religions that exist India. Therefore no contradiction.

Actually, that’s a Western misconception. There are no “coalitions of religions”. It only looks that way to the naked eye if you don’t know that there is only ONE Brahma and only ONE Sanatan Dharma (means Eternal Religion). What you see as different “religions” are just different pathways to the ONE AND ONLY Brahman. I know this is counter-intuitive and non-obvious .. but think about it. Just like Newton’s concept of mass applies to every body, no matter how small, large, oddly shaped, solid, liquid, gas or plasma, the Hindu concept of Brahma subsumes all objects of faith or worship. We’re all human. Our Creator is the same. No matter what shape/form/name we give Him or Her, and no matter how we choose to worship HIm/Her. That is the foundation of Sanatan Dharma.

 
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