Who is a Hindu? What is Hindu-ism?
I need at least a life time to fully write about the whole philosophy and the ocean of knowledge in the spiritual books. So I only state points, here, that have been lost in translation and interpretation over generations about the so called religion. This post starts with the points and then the explanation. To understand the post you need prior knowledge of Set Theory and an open mind.
- Hinduism is NOT a religion.
- Indian and Hindu refer to exactly the same entities.
- There is one explicit and one implicit rule to be a Hindu.
- There is only one concept of God – The one you believe in.
- The governing ideology most Hindus believe in.
- Present day problem.
Hinduism is NOT a religion. An equivalence can be drawn with Mesoamerica (before Mexico was formed). If you read about Mesoamerica you can easily understand what I mean by Hinduism is not a religion. Hinduism is just a collective name given to the various Indian cultures and traditions with diverse roots. It is purely a catholic “way of life” (catholic here is an adjective). You could follow any religion, any tradition, culture, god or diet and still be Hindu. It is the most tolerant, flexible and encompassing conglomerate.
Indian and Hindu refer to exactly the same entities. The actual term ‘hindu’ first occurs, states Gavin Flood, as “a Persian geographical term for the people who lived beyond the river Indus (Sanskrit: Sindhu)”, more specifically in the 6th-century BCE inscription of Darius I. The outsiders used the word Hindu to describe the beliefs and culture of native people. This essentially means, prior to being visited, everyone lived in co-operation without a name to it.
India consists of people from Africa, Europe, etc, etc. Some were always here, some came a few millennia ago (Aryans and Parsi), some a few centuries ago (Muslims) and so on. How do we decide according to the meaning of Hindu, who is rightfully Hindu? It is not the absolute. Hence, leaving the discussion of who is rightfully native, the word “Hindu” is simply a union of present India and its neighbouring countries, including all religions, beliefs and cultures. Now our neighbouring countries choose to have their own identity. So we shall just stick to India. Everyone inside the present Indian Line of Control are Hindus. The flow chart below explains it all. So from the Persians’ definition “Hindu” is everyone in India’s LoC. Assuming they were really the ones who coined the term, we should stick to keeping it this way for harmonious purposes.
There is one explicit and one implicit rule to be a Hindu. There is only one explicit rule to being Hindu – Believe in whatever you want to but learn to live in harmony with your environment. There is a strong spirit of tolerance and willingness to understand and appreciate the opponent’s point of view based on the realization that truth is many-sided. Other than this explicit rule, most of the other rules/law made in Hinduism is not universal. It is a more decentralised law making system which changes geographically to suit the community’s needs. Hence change was accepted. There was absolute flexibility and zero rigidity. (throughout I use “was” and not “is” because it is no longer the same).
There is only one implicit rule to being Hindu – Be physically or mentally attached to Hindustan/India.
There is only one concept of God – The one you believe in. Hinduism follows monotheism, polytheism, panentheism, pantheism, pandeism, monism, atheism, etc. Huh? Yes You can believe in no god and still be a Hindu. Hinduism’s oldest books, which some believe in, the Vedas (Advaita Vedanta), describe that there is no physical god. The inner soul of you and me is the ultimate. Another philosophy from the Bhagavad Gita says the “Om” is transcendental. It means everything that is OMnipresent, OMniscient and OMnipotent is the ultimate – like the universe, the atoms, energy and so on (limited by our imagination). Here the reference is that Lord Krishna is the Om indicating Lord Krishna is god. He was born and brought up in what is now called Lahore (Pakistan) which makes me think that he is not God (debatable). The book revolves around his character to send moral messages to us to define the law of the society (what is good deed and what is bad). These are just two of the innumerable philosophies out there.
You believe the nature is god? so be it. The sun is god? so be it (Here in the north west European region sun shine is virtually prayed for 🙂 ). Love is your god? Knowledge is your god? Truth is your god? Your soul is god? Empathy, compassion, etc are gods to you? So be it.
There are approximately 330 million deities. How did so many spring into existence? You are unable to imagine god as abstract entity? Give the thought shape and form and that’s how deities come into life. Believe in god in any form or no form or no god at all.
The governing ideology most Hindus believe in – There is no founder, no single religious book, no single philosophy and no concept of conversion. You are Hindu or you are not. Most of the ideology is tailor made per community but few overlaps include,
Dharma – There is no english word that translates to “Dharma” and hence the simplest translation is “universal or eternal law”. Before the republic of India was formed and constitution was established, this Dharma served as common law for governing the community. This is a common practise and most of our laws were unwritten. Like I already said, it was tailor made and no fixed formula for everyone.
Karma – What you put out into the universe is ultimately with you because you’re in the same dimensions as cause and effect. Like it or not, Karma is entangled to the very existence of the universe. (Food for thought on social experiment “The three degrees of influence rule”).
Yoga – We Hindus believe in Yoga (meditation). Now this is something to experience, not express. I am not the right one to talk about this because I do not practise. (Yes that is shameful and I will learn it).
Present day problem – I want to talk less about the present day Hindu. Our present is a minuscule of our glorious past. The only thing increasing with time is our foolishness. From some of the greatest inventions, discoveries and extraordinary societies in the past to scoring good marks at present. Take for example, the sophistication of the saree, the sanitation, flush toilets, the great bath amongst other things of the Indus valley civilization. We knew the value of pi centuries before the world, the distance from the sun to the earth without telescopes, the identification of Mizar-Alcor stars and more Astronomy. Maybe everything was not perfect, but without any present-day kind of technological equipment, we knew so much. We knew how to extract zinc centuries before others could, have rust free iron (Iron pillar of Delhi) for centuries now and our knowledge of medicine was ahead of its times. Concluding here, from such a technologically advance society to such a narrow minded society is of great depression to me.
How did we end up in such a dire situation?
The biggest of all problems is misinterpretation and blindly believing concepts and following rules without fully understand the purpose they solve just like the way some of us learn in the schools – to score maximum while learning nothing in the process.
This mis-interpretation, greed for power, politics and its after-effects, understanding, or lack thereof, the inherent concepts of the philosophy has mis-led us to believe Hindus are different from all the other religions within India. If you understood who is “Hindu”, you would have understood we are all just one big Indian (Hindu) family and some motivated individuals still play the nefarious divide and rule policy as an ace card destroying the very fabric we are all wrapped in.
What I believe – I clearly believe Hindu-ism is not a religion but a collection of all faiths and beliefs. I don’t believe in any religion but I am as Hindu as every other Indian. My god is an abstract entity that I connect with. In a more logical sense, I talk to myself with an image of God in my mind.
For the time being let us assume the other “religions” don’t want this Hindu definition and want their own unique identity yet want to be Indian. Religion was made to live in harmony. If we fight in the name of Religion, what is the purpose it has solved? The problem is not in the religion itself but the manifestation of it. Caste was not made. It just happened. And again thanks to the foolishness of some it has reached inevitable heights.
Instead of competing for the number one spot in the religion and caste race, why can’t we just live like our ancestors did – In peace and prosperity. I am talking about millennia ago. Not our immediate ancestors.
Thanks to transfer of knowledge, we are, in terms of knowledge, better than our ancestors. We know nothing that they did not. Oh may be we don’t know how to live wisely like them. This is what unwritten law teaches and this is what we are not learning well from our forefathers.
In most of my posts you will not have spoon fed suggestions or references. My posts are only for you to think and search about the topic in more depth, broaden your horizon and find solutions that are sustainable. This post is no different. I am not going to tell you what is right (if I do so then that is an added rule).