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A Few Facts about Hinduism

Hinduism has a healthy tradition of settling the intellectual disagreements through debates called Shastrarth, held in full public glare. Literally, shastrarth means: Interpretation of scriptures. Later on, these debates evolved into brainstorming sessions in which participants quoted from scriptures in support of their arguments. In modern times, the weapon of shastrarth was used with considerable success by social reformers In India to purge Hinduism of various evils that had crept into it over the past 5,000 years. The most famous example of shastrarth being used to this effect is Swami Dayanand Saraswati defeating Kashi Pandits who supported idol worship.

The Western world can boast of only one philosopher king, viz Marcus Aurelius. In ancient Hinduism, every major king was a philosopher, Raja Janak being the most prominent among them. As a matter of fact, most of the spiritual and philosophical discussions were held in the royal courts. No!!! The King was never an arbiter in these talkathons, but himself a seeker of Knowledge. The distilled wisdom from these Shastrarthas forms the corpus of Upnishadas.

Hinduism has numerous scriptures of which Vedas are considered to be infallible. Yet Hinduism stresses on independent inquiry by individuals and not blind adherence to any book. More importantly, we are free to interpret these scriptures the way we wish as is borne the large number of Teekas i.e commentaries on Shri Bhagwad Gita.

Hinduism places Guru i.e. our guide in our spiritual quest on a pedestal higher than that of God. Yet, we have been given complete freedom in choosing our Guru. Moreover, despite so much importance accorded to our Guru, we do not consider him to be His messenger or even an intermediary between us and God. Even Bhagwan Ram and Krishna who are avtars spent Brahmacharya Ashram i.e. the first stage of life with Guru Vashishtha and Guru Saandipani respectively.

Contrary to the popular perception, Hinduism accords as much importance to this world as it does on the Other World. After all, the biggest festival of Hindus is Deepawali on which we try to propitiate Goddess Lakshmi i.e. the Goddess of Wealth. The spiritual Hindus always had an intense craving for the yellow metal. Way back in 77CE, we find the Roman naturalist and statesman, Pliny the Elder, railing against the drain of gold to the East ( Indian cloth and Chinese porcelain were the weaknesses of the nobility) and urging Roman women to boycott foreign cloth for the sake of the millions of gold sestertii leaving his country's shores for India. He went to the extent of calling India “the sink of the world's gold!” In the 16th century, Portugal protested that its hard-won silver from South America was being lost to India. The British Parliament in the 17th century exhorted the East India Company to interest Indians in English goods.

Hinduism is an exclusive club whose membership can be had by birth only. It is another matter it has a slightly large number of members, 1 billion to be precise. Never in its history, Hinduism sought converts.
Hinduism has no concept of Blasphemy. You do not have to believe in Ram, Krishna or any of the other countless Gods to be a Hindu. 

Hinduism does not recognise a personal God in the form of A Big Brother watching over us.

 There are billions of galaxies in the Universe and each galaxy has billions of stars in it. Yet, even on the clearest night, we are not able to see more that 5000 stars with our unaided eyes. It is for the simple reason that most of the stars very very far away from us and each other. In fact, to measure the galactic distances, astronomers use another unit called Light Year i.e. the distance light covers in one year, moving at the speed of 300000000 meter per second. So far away are heavenly bodies from us and each other that light from them takes millions and often billions of years to reach us. To put it simply, the light that we are getting today from a star 5 billion light years away, started five billion years ago. During this period, the star has most probably died. But we will continue to SEE it for the next billions of years. At the same time, billions of light years away, numerous NEW stars have been formed which we will not be able to see for billions of years to come. So what we are seeing today is already dead and does not exist. What exists today, we simply cannot see. Jo dikhta hai who hai hi nahi. Aur jo hai who main nahi dekh pata.  This is what Hindus call Maya.

Hinduism is not a religion in the modern sense of the term, but a way of life. And it is superlative ignorance to believe that Hindi translation of RELIGION  is Dharma. The fact is that Dharma signifies behaviour that conforms to order that makes life and universe possible, and includes duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues and ‘‘right way of living’’.  It is difficult to provide a single concise definition for dharma, as the word has a long and varied history and straddles a complex set of meanings and interpretations. There is no equivalent single word translation for dharma in western languages.

There have been numerous, conflicting attempts to translate ancient Sanskrit literature with the word dharma into German, English and French. While Grassmann translation of Rig-veda identifies seven different meanings of dharma, Karl Friedrich Geldner in his translation of the Rig-veda employs 20 different translations for dharma, including meanings such as ‘law’, ‘order’, ‘duty’, ‘custom’, ‘quality’, ‘model’, among others. None of these means RELIGION.

The meaning of word ‘‘dharma’’ depends on the context, and its meaning evolved as ideas of Hinduism developed over its long history. In earliest texts and ancient myths of Hinduism, dharma meant cosmic law, the rules that created the universe from chaos, as well as rituals; In later Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas and the Epics, the meaning became refined, richer, complex and the word dharma was applied to diverse contexts. In certain contexts, dharma designates human behaviours considered necessary for order of things in the universe, principles that prevent chaos, behaviours and action necessary to all life in nature, society, family as well as at the individual level. Dharma encompasses ideas such as duty, rights, character, vocation, religion, customs and all behaviour considered appropriate, correct or morally upright.

 

Posted On : March 2 ,2014 21 : 51
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