Sunday, October 1, 2023

Hinduism – 2

Rajendra Singh Baisthakur

Many religions insist on having faith in one God and follow the ways of prayer prescribed. Any violation is discouraged. But Hinduism does not insist on belief nor does it insist about a specific god. It does not differentiate even non believers and treats them as their own. It declares that different religions or schools of thought are different routes to reach the same goal. The belief that world is one family (Vasudhaika Kutumbam) made the Hindu saint Swami Vivekananda address people from all corners of the world as ‘brothers and sisters’ in the Parliament of Religions in Chicago. This is practicing religion in life.

Hinduism is also called Vedic religion as Veda is the root of Hinduism. Veda is Sruti (heard). That is to say Veda is word of God heard by human beings. Sages who heard them memorized the words and recorded them. Sage Krishna Dwaipaayana divided the Veda into four parts. Since then he is called Veda Vyasa. Based on Vedas sages evolved six systems of philosophy called Darsanas. Sages Jaimini, Vyasa, Kapila, Patanjali, Gautama and Kaanada created Purva Mimamsa, Uttara Mimamsa, Saankhya, Yoga, Nyaaya, Vaisheshika systems respectively. They were in the form of ‘sutras’ (Definitions/ Principles) which needed further explanation for others. Vyasaa’s Uttara Mimamsa, which is full of Vedanta (spirituality) is also called Brahma Sutras. Later Sankaracharya and Ramanujacharya gave their own interpretations of Vyasaa’s Sutras. All these explanations could reach only the educated elite in the society. So eighteen Puranas were written in the form of (historical) stories for people to understand the concepts better. A further step to reach the common man is writing the Itihasas, (historical) epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Bhagavat Gita, the words of God Krishna, the song celestial, is Vedic philosophy in a nutshell. 

Any religion offers three things for the well being of its followers. First one is ritual that deals with procedure to be followed to pray and what to do in different situations like birth, marriage, death etc. The second part deals with dos and don’ts. In other words: code of conduct or governing laws. It is obvious that no human society can exist without certain rules for its own good. The third is the vital part that deals with the relation between man and god. The first two parts viz, procedures, codes are different for different religions. They being different do not matter much. But the third and the essential part is almost the same for all religions. It asks people to be good and get nearer to God by following His words. All the strife and struggle in the world between different religions is only because of not realizing the similarity in the third part, the real philosophy of the religion. Procedures and codes are external things where as philosophy is the core of a religion. People in different states of India eat, dress, speak differently but they are all united by one way of life. They realized the fundamental unity in them.

Also read: Hinduism – 1


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