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#1059 - January 09, 2003 04:10 PM Who is a Hindu
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This is a record of a discussion on another forum.

Pathmarajah wrote..

What is Hinduism
Hinduism is the religion that accepts the Vedas and Agamas as
Revealed Truth.

Hinduism is a generic term that comprises several hundred sampradayas
(spiritual lineages), and these lineages and their adherents can be
classified into four traditional sects or religions, namely Saivism,
Vaishnavism, Saktism and Smartaism.

There four are described as sects of a one religion due to their
acceptance of the Vedas as supreme and final authority, as well as
due to the near identical practices.

The four are also sometimes referred to as religions because they
have their own revealed scriptures, temples, lineages, practices, the
vast gulf of differences in philosophy, making them full and complete
religions unto itself, having all he ingredients of a religion. In
short they are independent of each other.

Also included in Hinduism are the numerous, mostly 20th century, neo
Hindu reform movements such as TM, Sai Baba, Ananda Marga, Arya
Samaj, Brahmo Samaj, etc.

All Hindus belong to one of the sects or groups.

As the Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs do not accept the Vedas, and do not
subscribe to a key requirement of worship of any one of a hierarchy
of the Vedic gods, they are not Hindu. The same applies for Osho, and
other neo Indian sects. At best they can be described as Hindu
influenced.

Balinese are recognised as Hindu because they accept the Vedas and
their practices are near identical to other Hindus in India.


Who is a Hindu
Anyone who accepts the beliefs and teachings of the Agamas or Vedas
is theoretically a Hindu.

Anyone who practices, even a single one of these teachings, however
intermittently, is a Hindu.

It is both belief and practise that makes one a Hindu.

Categorisation
In order to recategorise for better understanding, using western
terminology, Hinduism, its sects and off shoots can be described as
follows(from the point of view of the Vedic religion):

Saivites are fundamentalists.
Saktas and Vaishnavas are traditional reformists.
Smartas are liberal reformists.
Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs are radicalists.
20th century neo Hindu groups are revolutionists and ecumenists.

But all part of a larger family, the Bharatiya Religions, (in much
the same way Judaism, Christianity and Islam are described as the
Judaic Religions)

Sanjeev Nayar wrote..
read yr comments, interesting, have yu read the entire piece on who is a hindu, disagree with yr comments that sikhs, jains, buddhists are not hindus. read section why, as to why sikhs are hindus, jains are only a sect, read essentials of jaina philosophy, on buddha am yet to read but sri aurobindo is his book foundations of indian culture said buddha only borrowed stuff from the upanishads.


jimi45 wrote..

as a buddhist, i must agree that buddhism is essentially a subsect of hinduism. you are correct in your assertion that the teachings of siddhartha guatama are found in the upanishads. i do not believe it was his intention to create a new, separate religion but, rather, to distill the essence of his ancestral relgion to what he saw as its fundamental truth. furthermore, arguements that buddhists of southwest asia and the indian subcontinent were killed, forcibly converted, or driven out by hindus is illogical. perhaps this did happen in a few cases, but muslims--who were likely to convert at swordpoint--are a much more likely culprit. it is also likely that many buddhists were simply re-absorbed into the greater hindu population. as a buddhist, i am quite comfortable with hindu traditon, to the point that among my practices i include the recitation of the sacred gayatri mantra and readings of the very same hindu texts lord buddha read. any other voices on this subject?


Manish Nodi wrote...

Jainism is a unique and independent religion of India. Not a sect. I suggest that you read the dictionary meaning of the word "Sect" before you go about labelling Jainism as a sect.

Why are you obsessed with proving that Jains are Hindus? They are not. You have no clue what Jainism is all about, yet you keep shouting from rooftops that Jains are Hindus. Why don't you read original Jain books, Buddhist books and Sikh books and then pass judgements on whether Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs are Hindu or not.

We have discussed this issue umpteen times on the net and in person, yet, you are delighted in carrying on your wrong impressions and try to pass them on to others.

Stop obsessing about trying to prove that Jains are Hindus, we are not and no amount of sending emails to yahoogroups and websites is going to change that.

I suggest you read "Bharatiya Darshan Ki Chintandhara" by Prof. Rammurty Sharma, Vice-Chancellor, Sampurnanand Sanskrit Vishwavidyalay, Varanasi.
He is as Hindu as they come, and one of the world's greatest living scholars on the subject. He explains that Jains and Buddhists are not Hindus. I think that after reading him, you will be convinced. But for that you needto read the book.


Pathmarajah wrote...

A key characteristic that has endured since Vedic times is worship.
Before we worshipped the vedic gods with sacrifices(yagna) through
the homa. Then it evolved into murthi worship in temples. Hindus are
worshippers of the gods. Anyone who worships any vedic god is a hindu.

Hinduism is not just guru worship. Following the precepts of the guru
(buddhism, jainism and sikhism) is not enough. Bowing to a holy book
is not enough, doesn't make you a hindu. Remembering and revering a
line of gurus or tirthankaras is not enough. Hinduism is not just about

gurus and books.

Hinduism is about gods and thats the centrality. Hinduism is about
worshipping gods. Gurus and books are (important pillars but) not
central, just instruments, just like the temple bells, like
indispensable tour guides. We need the tour guides but all the time
we are looking, and searching for god.

This is where we differ from Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. For these
religions, gods and worship is not the centrality idea, rather, the
guru lineage, their precepts and the holy book is the centrality, as
well as worship of their guru (buddhism).

Hindus worship god but buddhists worship the icon of their guru, that
is buddha. Sikhs bow to their holy book. Hindus dont do that. Hindus
revere the holy book, revere their guru but worship their god. there
is a difference between reverence and worship.

I have mentioned that from the point of view of the vedas, buddhism,
jainism and sikhism are radical religions. If their teachings were
just a variation of vedic themes, then they would be classified as
reformists. But their teachings is so far removed from vedic and
agamic ideas that they have to be classified as radicalists. A major
and significant departure from Vedic teachings and practices.

They have completely rejected the vedas and agamas and it has no
place in their religion, they do not have worship of any of the vedic
gods, they have redefined karma and dharma, and the grace of god for
moksha has no place in these religions.

When Gautama Siddharta left his palace, he rejected dharma.Hindus dont
do that until they reach the age of sannyas, that is about the age of
72.

There is nothing that I am saying that these are not enlightened
religions. They are, just that their paths are different. BUT they
are not Hindu. And they do not want to be classified as Hindus.

In the south Indian Saivite tradition, 4 major saints, namely Appar,
Sundarar, Sambhandar and Manickavasagar, worked tirelessly to reject
athiestic religions like Jainism and Buddhism from Tamilnadu, which
were gaining dominance then in the south.One of these saints even
watched satisfactorily when the king there put to death 12,000
buddhists and jains by staking them. So thorough were their efforts
that today there are hardly any Tamil buddhists or Jains left. this
is how southerners deal with athiestic and foreign religions.(Please
also remember that several of the southern saints and law givers,
both saivites and vaishnavites, were dalits.)

so now how can we classify buddhism and jainism as part of Hinduism?

To insist on including buddhism, jainism and sikhism as Hindus would be
a 20th century socio political decision, to be politically correct, a
decision based on nationalism. It has no theological basis.


Chitra wrote...

I feel compelled to say a few words in defense of Sanjeev, whether he wants me to or not, because both of you seem to have taken considerable umbrage -- for different reasons -- that Sanjeev classified Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism as part of Hinduism.

Although I did not have the time to study this particular post in detail I must say from what I know of Sanjeev's efforts I am sure he was neither out to diminish the stature of these religions or to mislead his readership, but rather meant to show the commonalities that exist between faiths that evolved in the company of the Vedic religion.

These are times when politically and spiritually, people worldwide ONLY see the differences between each other. What is wrong with attempting to see the connections between faiths as well?

I hardly see any emails here in praise or acknowledgment of the considerable and painstaking efforts that Sanjeev takes to assemble and place information concerning our Indic heritage within easy reach of all.

Mr. Nagalingam, I disagree with you when you say Hinduism is solely about worship of the gods. What would you say about Vedanta, which a growing number of Hindus study and attempt to live by?

Also, Im not so sure that Buddhism can be reduced to worship of the Buddha, and Sikhism as bowing down to the Granth Sahib. The Granth is the repository of wisdom, SO it is revered. The Gurus are the channels of wisdom, SO they are revered. In other words, the wisdom, the path to, and the ultimate goal of existence as defined by these faiths is the main point, NOT the Gurus or the Tirthankaras, though they may be held in high esteem.

Im not so sure what your point is when you cite an instance of some "saint" who stood by gloating while buddhists were barbarically staked to death. If mass murder proves any point, it is certainly not one concerning the superiority of any particular religion. On the contrary, it just means some inferior mortal's political power base was threatened.


rajivi wrote...
I agree that Buddhism, Sikkhism Jainism are all part of the federation of religions with a mix oof commonalities and some differences - and which go by the name Hinduism, sanatana Dharma etc.

In fact, both in my shrine at home and in our manidr we have large pictures of Buddha, Jain Mahaveer, Guru Nanak alongside Devatas, Avataras and sants.


jimi45 wrote...
thanks, raviji. you raise a good point. and perhaps the hindu-derived religions might best be indentified as "dharma-based" or even "indic" religions. this doesn't lump such religions under the catchall "hinduism", but it does make the relationship clear. dharma may or may not be interpreted similarly within these religions, but it is a common thread nonetheless. sematically, this sort of approach is similar (though not the same--please no flames on this statement!) to the western approach to judaism, christianity, and islam, whose foundations are built one upon the other. (of course there's always the sikhs and sufists to throw a monkeywrench into the works, with their hybrid east-west approach. well, i did say it was only for the purpose of semantics, did i not?)


Pathmarajah wrote...

We understand commonalities and differences. But we cannot stretch
commonalities, in an ecumenical spirit, to a point we cover
everything under the sun. That would best be left to the Bahais.

Vedanta is a philosphy, from which about half a dozen schools
emerged; advaita, dvaita, visisadvaita, etc. These schools all
subscribe to worship of a particular vedic god. It is a central theme.
Not everyone sitting cross legged, meditating or chanting some mantra
is a Hindu. Tibetans do that but we do not classify them as Hindus.

Visit Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand or Cambodia and see for yourself
in their buddhist temples whether in any stretch of imagination, it is
Hinduism. Talk to these peoples, talk to their monks; the Thais,
Myanmarese, Sri Lankans and Cambodians, and tell them that they are
Hindus, and you will have them laughing in stitches and rolling on
the ground. Tell them that they are only revering buddha, that he is
only a channel of wisdom and not the goal, and they will declare you
insane.

They want nothing to do with us. They see Hinduism as a precusor to
their religion and that the teachings of their founder has superceded
all Hindu teachings and that their founder's teaching is the last
word. Mahavira is the last of the 24 tirthankaras. Mohammed is the last
of the prophets. The rest are waiting for Jesus and Buddha to raise
again.

To all Hindus the vedas and agamas are sruti, revealed scripture and
the final authority on all matters. This would be a definition of
Hinduism, and consequently by extrapolation we know who are Hindus.
The buddhists, jains and sikhs do not accept that.

All the Hindu sects I mentioned subserve their sect to the vedas. The
buddhists, jains and sikhs dont do that. To all Hindu sects worship
is a central and indespensable theme. All the Hindu sects I mentioned
want to be classified as Hindus. The buddhists, jains and sikhs dont
want that.

"Im not so sure what your point is when you cite an instance of some
"saint" who stood by gloating while buddhists were barbarically
staked to death."

That was a serious lapse of judgement in choice of words and tone.
Your reference to Manickavasagar as 'some saint' betrays scorn and
condescension and an attempt to belittle. You used the word gloating,
not I. It was a death duel debate and it was the king that put them
to death not the saint. The point is that they are not Hindus and our
Hindu saints did not accept them as such. Same for Shankara. Period.
In the Siddhanta philosophy Jainism and Buddhism are classified as
'outer religions', beyond the pale of the vedas, in the abyss. The
matter is closed. Please read about Manickavasar at this link below:

http://www.thedivinelifesociety.org/download/nayanar.pdf

The life and works of Manickavasagar is in the Tiruvasam, the 12th
book of the Thirumurais, written circa 11th century ce by Sekkilar. The
incidents referred to were also discussed in the translation of the
Tiruvasagam by G. U, Pope.

There is a difference between saints, sages, gurus, archaryas and
prophets. As a saint, a man in communion with god and a miracle
worker, he is christ like in stature, far beyond the other teachers and
rishis of the world. He and the other saints i mentioned raised the
dead, cured the sick and the blind, floated on water, talked with god
etc.

If there are theological reasons as to why we should accept them as
Hindus, please state your case.

I fully accept that religion is a western concept and it involves a
creed, and in India there is the concept of dharma which is more
encompassing.


chitra wrote...

I assure you I intended none of the above. I must have missed the name.


All that I remembered was your mentioning him in connection with, if you do not appreciate the choice of the word "gloating" let us say tacitly approving of a BARBARIC method of execution of Buddhists.

Thank you for providing an URL for more information on Saint Manickavasagar. I confess frankly I know nothing about his life.

I realize that the point you were trying to make is that Hindus, Buddhists and Jains have always mutually regarded each other as belonging to different and exclusive faiths. Fine. Let us consider that argument settled.

But I still dont understand why you highlighted the massacre of Buddhists by a Hindu King witnessed by a Hindu saint to make this point, since you seem to present other, fairly adequate arguments on the differences based on the content and approach of these faiths.

All I know about this episode is what you wrote, and it appeared to me to be a political act.


Sanjeev wrote...

1. religion is a western concept, semitic, what exists in india is dharma period.
2. pl read my definition of who is a hindu, it includes some aspects of the jaina view, yu have to first define who is a hindu before yu say others are different.
3. the book that yu gave me in yr shop is jaina darsana in gujarathi, and jaina philosohy and dharma in English, in that book first few pages is said ki jain is only a sect.
4. on sikhs pl read my article on the site, scriptures of sikhs are full of names of hindu gods, read khushwant singh article of 31/3/1999 in outlook, of the 15000 names of god in the guru granth sahib the name hari comes over 8000 times, the name of golden temple is hari mandir.
5. sweety surely wil read the books suggested by yu and will stand corrected wherever.


Manish Modi wrote...

This is a beautiful answer to the question, Who is a Hindu? Mr. Nagalingam has very aptly described who is a Hindu and who is not. I hope this is the last word on this matter.


Sanjeev wrote...

Much as I had resolved not to get involved in this, this mail has made me share a few thoughts.
1. Have been to a monastry on the banks of the Holy Mansrovar in Tibet and Ki monastry in Spiti valley in Himachal, both of them were full of Trishuls. Every Tibetan truck that we saw while driving from tibet border to kailash had Shubh Labh ka sign on it.
2. Tibetans worship Lord Shiva and Mount Kailash with greater fervor than we do as did our Buddhist sherpa from Nepal.
3. Go most Jain shops in Mumbai, they would have a Ganapati and Lakshmi.
Jains worship Saraswati with great fervor.
4. Read the Guru Granth Sahib, it is full of Hari, Ram, Govind, Gopal, Parmatma.
5. What unites us is Culture& characteristics of philosophy like Direct experience, Acceptance of authority, Harmony amongst schools, Parallel growth and co existence of so many schools, open mindedness, support of logic and reasoning, belief of eternity, law of karma, moral and ethical teachings, acknowledgement of suffering, thoroughness, practicality and being inward looking.
6. Sikhism is nothing but distilled Vedanta and Bhakti movement said Khushwant Singh, author history of Sikhs.
7. Thanks to various constitutional benefits everybody wants to say he is not a hindu.
8. The King of Thailand sent his chief priest to the Shankaracharya of Kanchi recently to learn the Vedas.
9. Go to Cambodia and see the Angkor Wat dedciated to Lord Vishnu, my brother in law met this may people there who called themselves hindus.
10. The problem with most people is that they define religion based on the Western understanding, if they Indianise the definition they will see the difference.
11. From a pure positioning perspective if the Tibetans, Chinese, Thai say what they have is from india, they loose relevance, so friends it is human nature to say they have nothing to do with Hinduism and India.
11. To say yu are not a Hindu means logically that yu must say who is a hindu to say yu are not one, can someone give a comprehensive definition that would not be challenged by atleast a 100 scholars. The problem is yu cannot define a Hindu so how can yu say who is not one. Please read my 18 pg article have quoted Vivekananda and Aurobindo from a Supreme Court case in 1995 when the Ramakrishna Mission said they are not Hindus.


rajagopal Iyer wrote...

Couldn't we simply accept the definition of a hindu as the one who ascribes to presence of praNava or AUM?

aa no bhadraaH kratavo yantu vishvataH (let noble thoughts comes to us from the Universe - veda)


Sanjeev wrote...

Said former President Dr S Radhakrishnan, Hindus are those who live to the East of the Indus, indicates residents of a geographical area, to me it is culture, philosophy and a way of life. For a detailed analysis read my article, who is a hindu.
Incidently I am a 33% Sikh, actually descendant of the 3rd Sikh Guru. The rest is for yu to decide.


Indu dey wrote...

his is really news to me that jains are not hindus, which for the first time i found out thru this discussion. I have so many jain friends and they have always filled HINDU in each of the forms where they ask your religion.
I think Mr manish wants to say that all radhaswami's, brahamkumaris or nirankaries etc are all not HINDUS.
Half of my relatives are radhaswami's and all of them are hindus and feel proud to be called hindus.


vpcnk wrote...

In this context it is pertinent to note an observation of Prof VV Raman on the Indology list who said something to the effect that even if Sikhs and Jainaas don't wish to identify with "Hinduism", still "Hinduism" as the source of these religions can validly claim a more inclusive perspective by claiming all of them for its own - even as a mother with quarrelsome children. Each is entitled to their own perspective.


Anand Manvi wrote...

IMHO, even more importantly, opinion of a handful of Sikhs are Jains SHOULD not be taken as the opinion of the whole community. These opinions should be effectively counbtered, though.


vpcnk wrote...


It is to be noted that the problem lies in the definition of "Hindu" - which is very very hazy. However much Jains like Manish can claim their a unique identity for themselves (which is quite remniscent of people like Periyaar and Karunaanidhi who claims they belong to a seperate "dravidian" race), they cannot deny the unique identity of the various sects that make up "Hinduism" too. Quite like Manish, Itoo can claim to be an Advaitin and not a Hindu. Likewise a Shaivite or a Vaishnavite.

I would also suggest Manish to seriously start studying some related texts on the subject and furnish arguments based on textual evidence and logic, than merely voicing his views forcefully, as though such will suffice.

It should be noted that Vardhamaana was of the Kaashyapa Gotra, which is a Vedic tag. However much one speculate about the "non-Hindu" origins of the Thirthankaras (were they not the countrymen of the sages of the Upanishads?), without doubt Jainism over the millenea got its followers only from "Hinduism" - quite like the Jainaa scholar Haribhadra Suri who was originally a brahmin. And he wrote his works in Sanskrit. BTW the language used by the early Jainaas for their scriptural/philosophical works is Ardha Maghadi.


[This message has been edited by Webmaster (edited January 09, 2003).]

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#1060 - January 10, 2003 01:52 AM Re: Who is a Hindu
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Pathmarajah wrote...

Even a hundred years ago, we had problems defining Hinduism.

I remember reading books written in late 19th century and early 20th century, I think between 1880 to 1910, by Sri Lankan tamil writers and scholars.

They described as India having 3 main religions; Saivism, Vaishnavism and Hinduism. We know what Saivism and Vaishnavism is. As for Hinduism, they described it as the religion of Hindustan (ie UP, MP and Bihar), and that in Hinduism, Brahma is the creator, Vishnu the preserver and Siva the destroyer, and that the Aiyers(smarthas) are the main followers of this religion.(In saivism and vaishnavism the main brahmin followers are the sivacharyas and aiyengars). Clearly this is Puranic Hinduism. It can be readily seen that this Hinduism is nowhere close to Saivism and Vaishnavism. This definition seemed to make sense.

However, once the independence movement got underway with Tilak, Gandhi, Aurobindo, etc, such definitions disappeared, possibly due to political compulsions.

Coming to Jainism and buddhism and Sikhism, we see that they do not have a brahmin following that act as their priests. This makes them different from Hinduism. This would therefore be another definition of Hinduism, and who is a Hindu. The Hindu community today is led by guru sampradayas(who are our teachers of the faith) as well as brahmin priests, who serve the lord in our temples. The latter (a defining feature) is absent in jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism, thereby making these religions outside the fold of Hinduism.

[This message has been edited by Webmaster (edited January 10, 2003).]

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#1061 - January 27, 2003 03:36 PM Re: Who is a Hindu
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The Invention of Hinduism ?
"Brian Muehlbach <bri_mue@y...>" <bri_mue@y...>
Fwd from hindureform


With the advent of missionary activity in the 19th century, theclaim that `Christians were already Hindu' managed to diminish the threat of conversion to Christianity.

Diminution of the Threat from Buddhism - Ambedkar led a massBlack Untouchable movement of conversion Buddhism in order to escapethe astika Brahmanist (Vedic, Vaishnava) caste system. The claimthat Buddhists were in any case Hindu served to diminish any threatfrom Buddhism.

This reactionary movement to the oppression of the dark-skinned 'dalits' by the 'aryan'birth-caste adwaiti 'Vedic' and often Ram-associated Vaishnava Brahmins in South India continues to gather steam at the present. Often this reactionary movement is fueled byblatant disinformation campaigns and lies against Vaishnavism such as the "protocols of Zion"-like disinformation campaign promoting the now tragically pervasive idea that the vanaras forest-dwellers in the Ramayana were actually dark-skinned Dravidians enslaved as sub-human 'monkeys' by the white Aryan race hero RAMA.

Along with this completely baseless idea is the allied one that the demonsor asuras of the Ramayana were also dark skinned Dravidians. This racist reading of the Ramayana is a purely modern phenomenon, which WAS Promoted by the British and their Euro-aryanist alliesto drive a wedge between the lighter-skinned caste brahmins and Theravadin Buddhists of India and Sri Lanka and the darker skinned, often Shaivite Tamils of South India and Sri Lanka. The Europeans projected their 'white' aryanist racism onto the ancient Sanskrit Vedic and Vaishnava scriptures, inventing the 'aryan invasion' myth to support their global campaign for white-racist imperial domination of the world. Thus they re-imagined the high civilizations of India and Egypt as the product of THEIR OWN REMOTE ANCESTORS, THE 'WHITE ARYAN' INVADERS.

To promote this idea, they reinterpreted and in some cases redacted Sanskrit Shastras / scriptures. They re-interpretedthe vedic-Vaishnava Purusha Sukta Hymn as promoting birth-caste-ism by insisting that the varnas of the mystical sacramental social body of the cosmic Purusha referred to racial colors, and not to a symbolism connected to the gunas and occupational 'modes' of being and work. They also re-interpreted, redacted and aggressively promoted, with their printing presses and educational systems, other ancient Sanskrit 'aryan' VedicLiteratures from the perspective of their own 'white' racism.

In doing-so, they laid the ground-work for the Aryan versus Dravidian defined wars of Sri Lanka and South and other innumerable atrocities ever since. The Theosophical thought-leaders were involved in this aryanist myth-making . Olcott spent a great deal of effort in Sri Lanka promoting aryanism among the Sinhalese Theravadin Buddhists. With an alliance with the Buddhists, Olcott used his influence to diffuse Aryanism globally via a movement for Theravadin Buddhist unity.

Thus racist aryanism was spread exoterically by the colonialist governments of Europe and Russia, esoterically by the occult and secret societies of Theosophy-related groups (including forms of Indian, Persian and Arab racist Sufism),and exoterically by the racist elite (often mayavadi and smarta) brahmins of India and the Elite priests and monastics of Theravadin Buddhism, where ever it was connected to the Sri Lankan led movement for Buddhist Unity. In the next century this Buddhist aryanism would significantly unite some Theravadin Zen Japanese, Sri Lankan Theravadin and Nepalese-Tibetan Theravadin Buddhists in their aryanist support of the Third Reich.

I would like to suggest to anyone who thinks that the claimed racist reading of the Ramayana is authentic, that they should look at the illustrations of the Ramayana commissioned by Akbar in 1582. These full-color miniatures can be viewed from the Freer Gallery of Art at the Smithsonian Institution,Washington , D. C., U.S. A.. They are also available in publications such as the Palace Publishing Edition of "The Illustrated Ramayana". In these illustrations Rama, the Epic's Hero, an Incarnation of Vishnu, isdepicted as black, gray, blue or greenish, but NEVER as a 'white' human racial 'aryan'. Furthermore, Hanumat (Hanuman) and the other VANARA FOREST DWELLERS are real monkeys with tails, and theASURA demons are giant multi-colored shape-shifting monsters. Ravana their demon leader (a 'white' skinnedbrahmin by the way) has ten heads and twenty arms. The other demons and demonesses are also clearly giant shape-shifting non human monsters with bizarre forms and colors. So the reading that the Ramayana is a story about a white 'aryan' race-hero's subjugation of the dark-skinned natives of South India and Sri Lanka is ridiculous.

The English census-compilers created Hinduism in the 1830s as a blanket term for several communities, but arbitrarily excluded Buddhism (since it was found in East Asia) and Jainism. It is thus not surprising that many `native' scholars have classed Jainism and Buddhism as `Hindu'. In favor of Jainism and Buddhism being merely `Hindu' religions, the following points have been put forward:

Jainism and Mahayana Buddhism share a common language of belief with Vaishnavism, thus whenthe World Hindu Organization formed under the Patronage of the late lamented King of Nepal,H. M. King Birendra, the entire "family of Hindu ' Indic Sanskrity" INCLUDING JAINIS AND MAHAYANABUDDHISM was included in its membership. I sat on the Executive Committee of this Organization in Kathmandu,and saw Jain and Buddhist leaders enthusiastically participating there. Sanskrit, the 'aryan' (but NOT RACIST) language of the Vedas unites all the later Vedic-Related (thus Indus or 'Hindu') traditions INCLUDING THE JAIN, MAHAYANABUDDHIST, SHAIVITE, SHAKTA, VAISHNAVA, ADVAITI etc. traditions.

Buddha and the Jain Tirthankaras are classed as incarnations of Vishnu in Aryan Vaishnavite literature. This is a fact. Black Krishnas and white Balas and the Krishna of the Gita are also mentioned in Jain lore. The Mahayana Buddhist Forms of Amitabha and Lokeshvara are Forms of Krishna-Vishnu, and the M. Buddhist Names of Amitabha-Lokesvara are Names of Krishna-Vishnu.

The Tamil epic poem Manimekalai mentions the 6 systems of philosophy current in India in the early centuries AD as the Lokayata, Bauddha, Sankhya, Nyaya, Vaiseshika and Mimamsa, and thus a Brahmanist author claims that " the Bauddha and Lokayata far from being non-Hindu, formed 2 of the 6 Hindu systems" [ Man.Mek. canto xxvii ][ 1800, p.225 ]. The auther then concludes that the Europeans have made a mistake in classifying Buddhists and Jains as separate religions, and that these persons are Hindus !

[Please note that the author of the Manemekalai was a Jain. Webmaster]

It all depends on how 'Hindu' is being defined. The Nepalese-based World Hindu Organization (this is NOT the Vishva Hindu Parishad of India) defined 'Hindu' as inclusive of all those Indic Traditions belonging to the family of Vedic-related Sanskrity.

To further strengthen his point, he claims that the mistake was due to the Europeans following Madhvacharya's `Sarva-darsana-sangraha' of the 14th century, which mentions 6 systems : 1. purva Mimamsa, 2. Uttara Mimamsa or Vedanta, 3. Sankhya, 4. Yoga, 5. Nyaya, 6. Vaiseshika. Since this list did not include Jains, Buddhists and Atheist Carvaks, these were not included by the Europeans as Hindus [ 1800,p.225 ].

Madhvacarya was describing the traditional orthodox systems of Vedic Thought. Furthermore the modern classificationof "Hindu" would not have been known to Sri Madhvacharya.

In late 1998, the Hindu (ie. astika Brahminist, or Orthodox Vaishnavite) Fundamentalist party, the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), then the ruling party of the Government of India, issued several statements that the Buddhists were Hindus. Other statements also claimed that the Muslims were mostly converted from `Hindus' (a fact long controverted by the English census, which showed that even in Bengal half of the Muslims were of `Foreign' origin). This coincided with widespread violence against Christians, Muslims and Buddhists, with attempts to `reconvert' the `lost' Hindus.

This author's perception of the BJP is rather strange. Has he ever heard of SHAIVISM ? Doesn't he know about the long oppression of hundreds of millions of Vaishnavas by the non-Vaishnava caste brahmanas ? Why is it traditionally joked all over India that the Brahmin devotees of Shiva are rich and powerful while the devotees of Vishnu are poor and powerless ? Why did Gandhiji call the Untouchables the HARI-JANAS or CHILDREN OF HARI (KRISHNA), and why did hundreds of millions of poor Vaishnavas follow the Pranami and RAMA VAISHNAVA Gandhi in his stand against BOTH THE BRITISH and all forms of undemocratic, racist and class oppression?

Thus, the noble faith of Buddhism has been insulted and denigrated by being included in the Hindu monolith of Vedic apartheid, sati and dowry-burning -

Using these anti-Hindu buzz-words of the Dalit Movement, this author clearly suffers from extreme, blinding anti-Vaishnava prejudice, of the kind exhibited by the long-oppressed South India Dalits who have bought-into the anti-Ramayan "we are not your monkeys' movement. While I am sympathetic to his cause to free the Dalits and others oppressed by racism and caste-ism, it saddens me that he is unable to realize that his thinking has been corrupted by Euro-aryanism, so that he cannot understand who the real enemy of Indian brotherhood and solidarity is.

" Advani delivered himself of some newfangled wisdom on November 6 at Sarnath, while addressing an "international" seminar on "World Unity in the Buddha's Trinity" as part of the Buddha Mahotsav organised by Union Tourism Minister Madan Lal Khurana, and much publicised in the media in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The Buddha, he declared, "did not announce any new religion. He was only restating with a new emphasis the ancient ideals of the Indo-Aryan civilisation." According to The Telegraph (November 7), "Advani said (the) Buddha derived his teachings from the Bhagvad Gita and was an avatar of Vishnu." -- [ Bidwai ]

The bigoted Vaishnavas have also made many attempts to subvert the separate religion of Jainism to the `Hindu' yoke. Naturally, the Jains have valiantly resisted these sinister attempts to destroy their religion and heritage, as is evident from the following recent press release :

" Jains demand minority status Sunday, February 14, 1999 The Indian Express PUNE: The national conference of Jains Saturday passed a resolution to recommend to central government to include Jains in the list of minority communities . The conference, 'Jain Action 99', organised by 'Jain Sahyog' also passed a resolution that out of the expenses which the Jain community spends on religious functions, some part should be kept aside to promote education, social and cultural activities of the Jain community in the local areas, reports PTI.

Another resolution urged for creating unity among Jain groups of different castes and sects and to bring all the national as well as local level organisations together to form a pressure group at the national level. The conference also mooted health projects by providing homeopathic medical service to the community. Among other states, delegates from Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Maharashtra were participating in the two-day conference. Dalchand Jain, treasurer of All India Congress Committee, in his inaugural speech called for preserving ancient Jain temples in a better way. He also called for setting up of hostels for Jain students. Milind Phade, chairman of Jain Sahyog, outlined the purpose of the conference. Assistant editor of 'Maharashtra Times' Ashok Jain released a special issue of 'Divya Shakti', a booklet on Jain community. " -- [ Min_J ]

This is an extremely important point. When I was meeting with religious and governmental leaders in Sri Lanka, India and Nepal in 1982, I was repeatedly told by all the Vaishnava, Shaivite, Jain, Sikh and other leaders about the problems caused to ALL religious communities by the secular and communist-influenced government's insistence on lumping all the groups politically into the single category of "Hindu" as opposed to "Muslim'. Funds to support communities, for education, social services, infrastructure, to restore temples, preserve heritage and archeological sites...funds for everything were tied-to obliterating "sectarian differences" and accepting the government's one-category-fits-all "Hindu" political label. The effect was that if a group insisted on preserving its unique identity and heritage by not identifying itself on the census as part of the generic 'Hindu' category, it would become a governmental non-entity, and be deprived of all future tax-dollar paid services. Thus the secular government was using the tax dollar developmental monies purse-strings for anti-"communal' social engineering.

The above example of the Jains' efforts to fight this is a good one, but it gives the erroneous impression that the Vaishnavas and other "sectarian' and 'communal' groups are not ALSO subjected to the same anti-religious and ultimately genocidal forces to conform-or die-of-neglect.

Judeo-Christian Hindus Indeed, so vague is the definition of `Hinduism' that one can include Jews and Christians in it ! This has already been done by our bigoted Brahminists and Vaishnavas. Jews Who has put forth the claims that Jews are Hindus ? A Pandit from Kashi Mandir ? Or an Acharya from Poona Vedic Institute ? No ! A European Aryan friend of the Brahmin Aryans has put forward these claims. Madame Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society, which originated the Nazi version of the Aryan race theory, wrote:
" Megasthenes says that the Jews were an Indian sect called Kalani, and their theology resembled that of the Indians. Other authors also suspect that the colonized Jews or the Judeans were the Yadus from Afghanistan -- the old India. " -- [ Isis.I, p.567 ] Madame Blavatsky notes that the old French scholar Jacolliot, who lived in the 19th century, had already realized that India was the cradle of humanity. The august Jacolliot derived the Books of Moses from India:

" He [ Jacolliot ] shows the sources whence proceeded the revelations of all the ancient creeds, including the inspired Books of Moses, and points to India directly as the cradle of humanity, the parent of all other nations." -- [ Isis.I, p.584 ] What these citations show is that the main culprits in the spread of the bogus Hindu-Aryan race theories were European Aryans, who were bolstering their race pride.

One of the tragic things about the disinformation of the European Aryanists is that it has polluted the entire field of Indological studies. Aryanism really pervaded the western humanities. As a result, real unbiased inquiry into the ancient relationships between the Eastern, Levantine, Afro-Egyptian and European cultures has been severely inhibited. Any evidence for real ancient interactions between the African and Semitic and Indic civilizations has been contaminated by the nonsense racial aryanist speculations of the Euro-Aryanists. At present, one good thing to come out of the Dravidian pride movement, is a new look at the possible connections between Agamic Shaivism and other S. Indian traditions, and those of very ancient Sumer, Akkad, the traditions of the Biblical Western Semites in general, and traditions of Africa.

All the above and below aryanist 'historical' nonsense is typical of the bizarre mixture of truth, fantasy and out-rite racist lies being promulgated by various fanatical aryanist 'Hindu' groups today. Over the years I have written letters to the authors of some of the outrageous claims made in this post, refuting them and demanding the lies be retracted. This has not made me very popular with the Hindu aryanist fanatics whether Advaiti, Vaishnava or Shaivite. Fanatical Hindu Aryanism does unite the elite powerful brahmins of India as a pro-Brahmin, anti-everyone else POLITICAL, not religious entity.

The authors and promulgators of some of the below ideas are also HEAVILY INFLUENCED by the Western Occult traditions, and have wholly adopted some of their racist Aryanist, anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic lies and doctrines from these sources. In reviewing a recent book by ISKCON's popular historical-fiction-as-fact writer Stephen Knapp (2000 World Relief Network) it is noteworthy that not only is his work pervaded by Rosicrucian, Masonic and Theosophical ideas, but he actually sites western esotericists like Spencer Lewis, and New Age occult 'wisdom' pseudo-historians like Kersten as quotable authorities alongside bona fide scholars, as if there is no difference ! In the above and below statements, some of which come from Knapp's book and the very popular bizarre writings of P.N. Oak, Western esoteric sources have been used. Above Louis Jaccoliot, and his avid Theosophical Society promoter H.P. Blavatsky are both mentioned. Theosophy-related and New Age influenced Eastern and Western Vaishnava sites on the internet often refer to the imaginative esoteric and aryanist teachings of persons like Blavatsky, Jaccoliot, Nicholas Notovitch, Eliaphas Levi, Spencer Lewis, Manly P. Hall, Kersten, Gruber and the spurious 'Tomb of Jesus' esoteric Sufism related Amahdiyya Muslims. P.N. Oak's rabidly fanatic writings are very popular in some Hindu and Vaishnava circles. None of Oak's or Knapp's fans seem to have any ability to discriminate between authentic historical scholarship and the imaginative fictions of the esoteric channeled 'masters; and their earthly spokespersons.

http://mailbox.univie.ac.at/~muehleb9

[This message has been edited by Webmaster (edited January 27, 2003).]

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#1062 - April 21, 2003 03:54 AM Re: Who is a Hindu
webmaster Offline
Member

Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
The only reasons for a defn of a Hindu/Hinduism is for census
purposes, for identity in a global community, as well as for Hindu
Solidarity. When I travel, inorder to identify myself, I say that I am a
Malaysian, then from Kuala Lumpur, and then from Subang suburb. As for
Hindu solidarity, we share common scritures, common concerns and common
causes. Therefore a defn is necessary. No doubt about this.

I would not be here in this forum, like most of you, if the forum did
not identify itself as Hindu.

Being Hindu is beliefs and practices; and the practices must conform
with the beliefs. Even a single Hindu practice would be sufficient to
identify as one. Some symbol, like the forehead marks, rudraksha malas,
or an altar in the home are distinguishing marks.

The siddhanta shastras have already attempted to identify Hinduism in
the 14th century as set out below. We therefore have a basis to work
from.

The Siddhantins distinguish four schools of faiths.

Pura-puraccamayam (The most external),

Puraccammayam (The external),

Ahapuraccamayam (Those which are half in and half out) and

Ahaccamayam (The innermost).


Those which do not recognise the Vedas or the Sivagamas are the most
external or outermost schools. They are the Lokayata, Buddhism and
Jainism. The external or the outer schools, viz, Tarka, Mimasa,
Ekatmavada, Sankhya, Yoga and Pancharatra, accept only the Vedas. The
schools which are half in and half out are the Pasupata, Mahavrata,
Kapala, Vama, Bhairava and Aiykyavada. These accept the Vedas and
Agamas but only in a restricted sense. The Ahaccamayam or the
innermost schools are the Pasanavada Saiva, Bhedavada Saiva,
Sivasamavada Saiva, Sivasankrantavada Saiva, Isvaraavikaravada Saiva
and Sivadvaita Saiva. These differ only in their conceptions of Mukti.
A Tamil work called Sankarpa Nirakaranam by Umapathi Sivachariyar
treats about these various schools and gives a clear exposition of the
flaws ingrained in their various doctrines.

[This message has been edited by Webmaster (edited April 21, 2003).]

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#1063 - July 03, 2003 01:58 AM Re: Who is a Hindu
webmaster Offline
Member

Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
originally posted in sulekha.com

Is There A Need To Redefine Hinduism?

Harsh Verma ~ Jun 30, 2003



My last series of articles focused on the internal weaknesses of
Hinduism that led to the Hindu Defeat. I now open another series relating to strategies for
Hindu Reform, especially in relation to the modern era so that our ancient faith may recover its
lost glory. This series of articles is largely based on a series of conversations that occurred in the
Hindu Reform group.

At the outset, I would like to state that I would like fellow Sulekhaites to ponder over the
points that I raise and improve on them. The first article in this series looks at a discussion on
the current definition of Hinduism and poses the question whether there is a need to redefine
Hinduism. Two themes arose during the discussion and these are presented here separately.
There is no conclusion since I have deliberately left it open-ended in order to encourage debate
on the issue.

1. The Need to Re-examine the Role of the Vedas in Hinduism

What is the present definition of Hinduism? While there are many variants, most definitions
identify Hinduism with the worship of Gods like Shiva, Brahma, Vishnu etc, with social
practices such as the caste system, and with philosophies such as Vedanta. This has become
beset with a variety of misunderstandings that have gone a long way in lowering the stature of
our faith in the modern era. Further, it has led to a number of social schisms within our society
that are now threatening to tear us apart.

A member of Hindu Reform pointed out, “A study of Indian history reveals two factors behind
many schisms that have split Hindu society and prevented any sort of unity. These are: the
authority of the Vedas and the authority of the Brahmins. The various reform movements in
India starting from the Buddha to Guru Nanak split from Hinduism on differing perceptions
related to these crucial issues. It is indeed surprising that Indian leaders at the time of
independence who wished to break free from the oppressive baggage of the past would define
"Hinduism” to be based on the Vedas. Modern idealists may interpret the aastika traditions in
various ways, but the fact remains that braahmanical authority and the Vedas have gone hand
in hand -- one dependent on the other. To try to define "Hinduism” based on the Vedas
excluding brahmins does not work and only reveals the naivette of modern reformers who
instead of taking the effort to understand the complexities involved, simply try to find an easy
way out. That even after fifty plus years of "reform" there's still no end to the problems in
"Hinduism” only reveals the hollowness of such arguments.”

He further pointed out that it might be easy for those abroad to have a definition of Hinduism
based on the Vedas since it would enable Westerners to understand the religion easily. But this
runs directly into the hands of Hindu baiters who smear dung on “Hinduism” as casteist and
racist! They quote from the Purusha Shukta and the Dharma Shastras and show how the
dvijas used religion to supress the non-dvijas and exploited them. In a way, they are quite
right too. So it's important that people not shy away from the complexities involved in evolving
a definition of Hinduism considering all its dynamics. In case the dynamics are understood, a
simple and clear definition of Hinduism can be articulated.

He pointed out several reasons for his claims. Firstly, the current definition effectively excludes
peoples like the Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, and those sects within “Hinduism” which oppose the
caste system. Secondly and more importantly, there are people in India today who have been
historically discriminated in the name of the caste system which has often been enforced by
scriptural sanction. Indeed, to define Hinduism based on the Vedas and expect the
discriminated people to accept it reveals an extraordinary degree of insensitivity.

Thirdly, a major problem before us today is that we're experiencing grave problems with
fundamentalists of religions like Christianity and Islam, many of whom have a single-minded
focus to destroy our faith and culture and convert us to their faiths. If a certain section of the
population identifies itself as Hindus in such a way that it effectively excludes others in the
country then those excluded can still be manipulated to serve the interests of forces inimical to
Hindus. This is what has happened with the Sikhs and Tamils and is currently happening to
the Dalits.

Another member, however, objected to these assertions and pointed out that the Vedas were
revealed scripture akin to the Bible and the Quran and had a central position in the Hindu
religion. While the above assertions were valid in their own way, the Vedas were central to
Hinduism and any definition of Hinduism had to be based on the Vedas.

A third member pointed out that he would be particularly cautious about drawing too close an
analogy between adherence to revealed scripture in the Abrahamic religions and adherence to the
Vedas in Hinduism. This is because the idea of revelation in Abrahamic religions is, as Arvind
Sharma says, “radically different,” than in Hinduism. In the Abrahamic religions, God reveals
propositional truths to a particular human or set of humans in a supernatural way. This divine
revelation is embodied in a scripture which is regarded as unique, exclusive and final. He said,
“As I understand it, in Hinduism the revelation contained in the Vedas was given with the world
and was then recognized and transmitted by the rsis. The authority of the Vedas does not lie in a
God-given guarantee of inspiration and inerrancy but in their unique correspondence to the
truth as perceived and experienced by humans. Revelation is not in Hinduism "once and for all"
but is ongoing and varies in nature and in form.”

Another member introduced a new strand into the conversation by stating that few
philosophical systems actually accepted the supremacy of the Vedas. He stated, “Except for
the schools of Mimamsa, we cannot really say that the rest of the schools really stood by the
Veda. Where their doctrines agreed upon they were most eager to claim support of the shruti
and where it differed they just ignored it. Saivas, for instance, assert that while the Vedas are for
everybody, it is the Saiva Agamas which contain the secret special teachings. And even within
schools of Mimamsa there're differences between Purva and Uttara Mimamsa.”

This was countered by another member who said, “The criteria for whether a person is a
Vaidika is whether they accept that Veda is the valid means for attaining knowledge of the
Absolute. There are two definitions of the term Vaidika. One is denotative of the followers of the
chatur Veda Samhitas (the four Vedas), as in Purva Mimansa. The other connotes a distinctly
epistemological stance. That is, whether Veda is accepted as a proper pramana for cognizing
the nature of the Absolute. It is specifically the second definition of the term "Vaidika" that I
refer to. On this second point, Yoga, Sankhya, Purva Mimansa, Uttara Mimansa, Nyaya,
Vaisesika, and Vyakarana (i.e., the distinctly Hindu schools of Indian philosophy) are agreed.
Such acceptance has historically been the minimal criteria accepted for what constitutes a
Hindu.”

He further stated that whether one school of Vaidika or Hindu thought accepts the preeminence
of the four Vedas over against any other Sruti or Smrti scripture is seen as less relevant as long
as epistemic allegiance is given to Veda. So, for example, the Gaudiya Vaisnavas view the
Bhagavata Purana as a more reliable soteriological scripture. They consider the Veda
Samhitas to be incomprehensible in the Kali Yuga. Despite this assertion, they still accept the
epistemic validity of the Veda Samhitas as apauruseya ("of trans-human origin")
sabda-pramana. They still give their allegiance to the Veda Samhitas. For this reason, they are
considered Vaidika, both by their own acaryas, as well as other Vaidikas. Sri Vaisnavas,
likewise, give equal prominence to the Divya Prabandham; some Saivas the Saiva Agamas,
some yogis the Tantras, etc. They are all still Vaidika, however, for the same above reason.

He went on to say that merely because “there are different opinions on the actual meaning of
the Vedas in various texts and sects, it does not in any way negate the fact that all the diverse
voices of Hinduism's philosophical history have accepted that there is an accepted scriptural
authority to have precisely such diverse opinions about. All Christians accept the Gospel. The
fact that there are 10,000 differing Christian sects, all with their own interpretation of the
Gospel, does not negate the fact that the Gospel is accepted by all Christians, and more, that the
precise meaning of the truth of the Gospel is the very thing they are contending about!”

There are indeed problems about pressing too hard on the notion of adherence to the beliefs of a
religion as contained in the revealed scripture of that religion as a primary marker of identity. At
least this cannot be valid for a faith like Hinduism. Given the diverse sects and scriptures that
we have, it's next to impossible to make any text a revealed scripture on the lines of the Bible
and the Quran. Further, none of the revealed scriptures in Hinduism play any comparable role
to the Bible or Quran. Is there really a need to acknowledge the primacy of the Vedas? How
many Hindus have even seen the Vedas let alone read them? An epistemic allegiance to the
Vedas does resolve the issue somewhat yet the Vedas are indeed the bone of contention
between Hinduism and other offshoots. Any definition based on supremacy of the Vedas is
bound to mar any grand unity of Indic faiths and encourage those who feel discriminated by
Vedic authority to leave the Hindu fold.

2. Uniting Indic faiths under Hinduism

It is important to understand the nature of the non-abrahmic faiths in India. According to the
member who was first quoted in this discussion, all indic sects, despite differences in
metaphysics or sociology, agree on certain fundamentals:

1.Belief in an ultimate reality (in its theistic sense it is Ishvara, philosophically it is
nirvana or Brahman), which can be directly experienced by anybody without a
middleman such as a Prophet or a holy book of absolute authority

2.Belief in the law of karma and rebirths

3.Belief in dharma or the way of life which is characterised by control of the senses (mind
and body), compassion and charity. The purpose of dharma is to attain the ultimate
reality

4.Tolerance towards other faiths and recognition of them as valid paths to the goal --
except that each stream considers its own path as the 'best' way to attain reality and
thus there's healthy competition between them to evolve further.

None of these faiths, except probably Buddhism, is really interested in prosyletization. Even
Buddhism believes in peaceful means and real change of heart to convert people to its flock.

He stated that the exclusivity of the definition of “Hinduism” enabled anti-dharmic elements to
sow seeds of distrust amongst those excluded and pit them against the “Hindus”. In his opinion,
it was necessary to forge an alliance by all Indic faiths. He asked the question whether it was
necessary to create a new concept such as dharmic or dharmism to unite the various streams.
Even if this were plausible, it would not stand for long due to its inability to bring together all
dharmic faiths for a positive reason. Internally there would be squabbles resulting in internal
dissensions and weaknesses.

In the past, the emphasis was on the exclusive identity of each sect and the national identity of
the dharmic faiths wasn't strong. If dharma is to survive, it should be the other way around.
Though each sect might still celebrate its individuality, greater emphasis should be focused on
this collective identity of the dharmic faiths. This is an extremely important historical lesson we
need to learn in order to avoid our past subjugation again.

He said, “In order to bring together the dharmic peoples, a new term is not needed. Instead it is
better to expand the scope of "Hinduism" itself. Hinduism, which has its definition rooted in
geography and dharma, must become inclusive. This would show the willingness of the Hindus
to reconcile with the excluded peoples and embrace them as brothers based on their dharmic
identity. People like Dalits who have genuine grievances against "Hinduism” would perhaps
see this as a positive step where their grievances are recognized. Though many have become
Buddhists, they may still agree to retain their historical dharmic identities as 'Hindus'.”

Yet he was not blind to the weakness of this strategy. It could be unfair to certain people within
Hinduism and impede religious reform. Indeed, many people have lost touch with their
individual sect identities and have grown up without any solid base in their specific historical
traditions. For example, Sati has long been held to be an evil in Hinduism, yet it is unknown in
South India. The followers of Apastamba in Tamil Nadu for example have no precedent of the
practice of sati. In fact, Apastamba has counseled that a widow acquire progeny through
cohabitation with a male relative of her deceased husband. But it's equally true that many
Hindus do follow barbarous practices such as female infanticide, untouchability and others.
Such people could hide under the vast umbrella of “Hinduism” and evade reform.

In his opinion, it was best if the traditional identification as smarthas, Vaishnavas, Shaktas were
revived as a secondary identity within the primary identity to Hinduism. This would build
healthy individual identities and enable people to actually pinpoint and eradicate barbaric
practices occurring in each sect/community.

Based on his thoughts he made a definition of Hinduism which incorporated the above issues:

Hinduism can be defined as:
1. Belief in the existence of Supreme reality/spirit
2. Direct personal experience with this reality leads to salvation
3. Belief in scriptures as the teachings of enlightened beings which propound various paths
(dharma) to attain spiritual experience

Without a prophet or a holy book of absolute authority, there's no room for intolerance or
fanaticism. In order to unite the various dharmic people, this is the way to go. If this conception
of Hinduism is repeated again and again in media etc, over a period of time such an identity
amongst the dharmic populace will take root and thus will the dharma be strengthened.

Another member however disagreed with some of his perspectives. He pointed out that by
referring to a grand alliance of Indian faiths under the Hindu banner, the first member was
confusing ethnicity with religion. Hinduism as a religion transcended ethnicity, culture and
nationality. There is an important difference between Indian philosophy and Hindu
philosophy. "Indian philosophy" is describing the philosophical history and/or tendencies of a
geographic region. "Hindu philosophy" is describing the philosophical schools of a specific
religious tradition. To give an illustration, we can speak of European philosophy and of
Christian philosophy. There are overlaps, but one is still describing the philosophical
developments of a geographic reality, whereas the other term is describing the philosophical
developments of a religion. In speaking of European philosophy, we are including Marxism,
Humeanism, Existentialism, Positivism, Deconstructionism, etc. All of which are decidedly
non-Christian. Similarly, not every current Christian philosopher is European.

He stated that it was difficult to bring other similar religious faiths under a single Hindu
identity. The Buddhists were one of the main philosophical opponents of Vedanta, and the Adi
Sankaracharya for example, devoted many, many pages in his Vedanta bhasya to defeating the
Buddhist metaphysical views. When a member challenged his views pointing out that the
government of India has refused to accept a religion like Jainism as a separate religion, he
conclusively stated that the government of India pronouncements could not be a defining
statement on theological issues. The reason Jainism is not a “part of Hinduism” is for the most
basic reason that Jainas themselves say so!

He said that this has been an interesting, and highly unfortunate, recent development in
Hinduism. On the one hand, many modern Hindus wish to assert that Hinduism teaches that all
religions are perfectly equal and valid. On the other hand, when Buddhists, Jaina and Sikhs
themselves insist that they are not Hindus (which classical Hindu philosophers and acaryas
would readily agree with), then we want to force them to be a "part of Hinduism.”

However, he accepted that from a purely political perspective, attempting to unite all the
Dharmic (in the loosest sense of the word) and indigenous religions of India in the fight against
predatory ideologies makes sense. For that matter, Hindus must unite with Pagans, Jews,
Taoists, Native American religions, etc., in the face of Christian/Islamic/Marxist imperialism.
But philosophically and theologically, we must allow Buddhists, Jainas and Sikhs to not be
Hindu when they very clearly say themselves that they are not!

So what do we need -- a grand assimilation or a grand alliance? A new definition of Hinduism or
a broad front of free thinking faiths? Or both?

Top
#1064 - February 02, 2007 01:05 PM Re: Who is a Hindu
Anonymous
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i don't know more about hindusm and veds.
i know one thing and that is " we are the vedic children" who believe in rebirth. as the time changes definition of hinduism also changes . as per the current senerio a hindu is one who " beleive in god, respect his nation, follow the guru and believe in the holy scriptuals or veds and give respect to other relegion."
all the relegion are different path to find the truth or GOD. it dosen't matter which way you choose. people choose their way as per thier belief.

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