Hinduism A Perspective – What is Hinduism?
Hinduism is vast and accommodating the varied nature of people, still providing a framework for the lives to progress in spirituality. For one who has not taken up the study of Hinduism through established process, it may be confusing. Here is an attempt to provide a crisp overview of “what is Hinduism?”. Beyond this the seeker could decide to delve deep on specific subjects in Hinduism. God bless us through this sweet journey of exploration
How Do You Define Hinduism?
It is not easy to define Hinduism, for it is more than a religion in the Western sense. Hinduism can best be defined as a way of life based on the teachings of ancient sages and scriptures like the Vedas and the Upanishads. The word dharma connotes “that which supports the universe” and effectively means any path of spiritual discipline which leads to God. Hinduism is also known by the names Sanatana Dharma and Vaidika Dharma. Sanatana Dharma means the eternal religion. Vaidika Dharma means the religion of the Vedas. Hindu Dharma, as one scholar analogies, can be compared to a fruit tree, with its roots representing the Vedas and the Upanishads, the thick trunk symbolizing the spiritual experiences of numerous sages and saints, its branches representing various theological traditions, and the fruit itself, in different shapes and sizes, symbolizing various sects and subsects. However, the concept of Hinduism defies a definite definition because of its uniqueness.
A Religion of Freedom
Hinduism allows absolute freedom to the rational mind of man. Hinduism never demands an undue restraint upon the freedom of human reason, the freedom of thought, feeling and will of man. It allows the widest freedom in matters of faith and worship. It allows absolute freedom to the human reason and heart with regard to questions such as the nature of God, soul, creation, form of worship, and goal of life. It does not force or prevent anybody to reflect, investigate, enquire, and cogitate. Hence, all sorts of religious faiths, various forms of worship or Sadhana, diverse kinds of rituals and customs, have found their honorable place side by side within Hinduism, and are cultured and developed in harmonious relationship with one another. Hinduism does not dogmatically assert that the final emancipation is possible only through its means and not through any other. It is only a means to an end, and all means which will ultimately lead to the end are equally approved. The religious hospitality of Hinduism is proverbial. Hinduism is extremely catholic and liberal. This is the fundamental feature of Hinduism. Hinduism pays respects to all religions. It does not revile any other religion. It accepts and honours truth, wherever it may come from and whatever garb it may put on.
Emphasis on Practice
Hinduism provides spiritual food for all sorts of people to suit their temperaments, capacities, tastes, stages of spiritual development, and conditions of life. It prescribes Yoga Sadhana to attain God realization, while doing ones ordinary avocation in the world. Hindu yoga and Vedanta teachers lay great stress on self-restraint, meditation, renunciation and practical Sadhana, which is best to control the mind and the senses and unfold the Divinity within or attain Self-realisation. Yoga is eminently practical to practise. Religion is the practical aspect of philosophy. Philosophy is the rational aspect of religion. The philosophy of Hinduism is not armchair philosophy. It is not meant for intellectual curiosity and vain discussion. Hindu philosophy is a way of life. The philosopher of Hinduism seriously reflects after hearing the Srutis, does Atma-Vochara, constantly meditates, and then attains Self-realisation or Atma-sakshatkara. Moksha is his goal. He attempts to attain Jivanmukti now and here.