WHAT IS HINDUISM
Hinduism is the only so-called religion which is not only beautiful but bountiful. It is the oldest religion of world. It is mother of so many religions. Unlike other religions, Hinduism has a series of prophets and a bouquet of incarnations of God. It has so many acclaimed religious books, so many holy places to visit and a large number of realized saints; as against other religions which have limited options. This is because, Hinduism has pretty long organic growth and provided solutions to different problems and challenges faced by different civilizations. In fact, India has been ever been vast laboratory for religious experiments.
India has been spiritual homeland where saints, seers, avtaras and siddhas appear as such it is the homeland of religions and spirituality. Although in Hinduism a number of deities cater the spiritual & material need of the devotees, yet it proclaims unity of consciousness, Oneness of existence and declares, “There is only one reality of truth. That is Brahman or Pramatama. It is “One without a second.” Names and forms are but appearances.
The wisdom of Hinduism is for self-realization and self-experience rather than for only second knowledge gained from religious books. Holy books & spiritual teachers are great and big aid to self-development. Hindu wisdom provides various paths for self-realization.
Swami Vivekananda experimented and realized that life itself is suffering, that suffering has a cause, that suffering can be removed and there is a way to remove suffering. Ignorance and desires are the cause which can be removed by prajna or intuitive wisdom. The eradication of cause of suffering, bring eternal happiness or bliss. So, heaven (ecstasy or bliss) can be realized in this lifetime, as per Hinduism unlike many religions which claim heaven or hell is at distant place, somewhere in sky. Thus, Hinduism is more realistic and practical.
During the course of its developments, Hinduism inculcated among the followers’ great qualities such as patience, harmony, respect for faiths of other people, etc. the focus of Hinduism has been to realize the divinity in people and that process to suppress, nay surpass, the lower human instincts and to recognize the brotherhood of humans and in fact the unity of all life. The maladies of many religions such as religious conversions, intolerance, etc. are non-existent in Hinduism.
The real word for Hinduism is ‘Sanatana dharma’. ‘Sanatana’ is that which is permanent in nature and ‘dharma’ is that which holds the society together. It means the code of conduct which holds for all times for social harmony and integration.
Sometimes it is said that Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life. It means that Hinduism is not like other religions. In other religions, there is only one book and one belief system about God, heaven and the devil. Hinduism has a number of belief systems under the umbrella of one single philosophy. Hinduism was not propounded by a single prophet. It did not originate in troubled times.
Hinduism can be explained as under:
Swami Vivekanada, the Hindu monk of India, during his address at world Parliament of religions at Chicago in September, 1893 explained the Hinduism as under:
Swami Chinmayanandaji was a renowned saint. Once, a 'secular' minded journalist, who generally showed Hinduism in poor light, asked a question to Swamiji:
Q: Who is the founder of Islam?
A: Prophet Mohammad.
Q: Who is the founder of Christianity?
A: Jesus Christ.
Q: Who is the founder of Hinduism?
Thinking that Swamiji has no answer, the lady journalist proceeded: There is no founder and hence, Hinduism is not a religion or Dharma at all.
A: Then, Swamiji said: You are right. Hinduism is not a religion. It is a Science.
She did not understand that. Swamiji put some more questions to her.
Q: Who is the founder of Physics?
A: No one person.
Q: Who is the founder of Chemistry?
A: No one person.
Q: Who is the founder of Biology?
A: No single person.
A large number of persons, from time to time, contributed to the wealth of knowledge of any Science.
Hindu Dharma is a Science, developed over the centuries, contributed by saints and sages for giving right direction to the society. Islam has only one book -Quran.
Christianity has only one book -Bible. But for Hinduism, I can take you to a library and show you hundreds of books. Hence, Hinduism is a scientific religion- called Sanatana Dharma.