12 December 2007

What Is Hinduism?

This question has long been bugging me. Let us look at the possible answers:

1. "Hinduism refers to the beliefs and practices of the Hindus" – This is the standard textbook/dictionary answer. It is correct, but not of much help.

2. We can list these "beliefs and practices of the Hindus". In brief: our key beliefs or concepts are Atma, Brahman, Samsara, Karma, Moksha, Purushartha, Ashrama, Varna, etc (Any religion’s chief purpose is to help man understand the inter-relationship between himself, the world and God). And our practices are the multitude of rituals and ceremonies that we follow.

This is an improvement over the first answer. But it still leaves us unsatisfied. The question "What is the core/essence of Hinduism?" remains. My previous post was an attempt to find an answer to this question.

Thus the essence of Hinduism is two-fold: universality and tolerance. Hinduism believes that:
a) There are many paths to the Truth.
b) You are free to take whichever path you like.
The paths may be different. But they all lead to the same Truth.

Whereas any other religion believes that:
a) There is only one path to the Truth: its own.
b) Those who do not follow the path (infidels) are doomed to eternal hell.

Every religion says,"I am right, and you are wrong". Hinduism is the only religion that says,"I am right, and you are also right".

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