HINDU CULTURE VS. RELIGION
Dr. Krish Bastola from UK.
has been a confusion, in the general people, about Hindu culture and religion.
The Hindu culture (in fact, a distorted Hindu culture) is generally regarded as
Hindu religion. This idea is prevalent, in both the Indian community, as well as
the Europeans. We have also seen neo Hindus, many of whom call themselves
Vedantist, wearing sari and dhoti. Culture
is defined, in the oxford dictionary as the custom and civilization of a
particular group of people. Religion is defined as belief and worship of a
superhuman controlling power, specially a God or gods. The Hindu religion can be
divided into two parts, one the philosophical and the second spiritual. The
philosophical part influence more upon the common people where as the spiritual
part influences more on the ascetic people.
religion has generally been seen as one, which advocates, caste as per birth,
untouchability, sati, disdainful look at others as mlechha, self imposed
superiority, cocoonification of the society, by creating a myth that crossing
the seas, would make their member impure, worshiping many gods (said to be
polytheistic) of different shapes (multiple limbs) and forms, and worshipers of
animals, including cow and worshipers of idol. It is also said, not to support
charity work. Dowry is regarded as part and parcel of Indian culture. We will
discuss about these later. Those who have read the higher scriptures and are
impressed by them, like to detach themselves from the 'problems’ associated
with the above list and call themselves Vedantist, as mentioned above. While
on the one end, we have some Hindus, who have read the scriptures and think that
the philosophy and spirituality it entails, is the highest of the high, and are
proud of it, on the other end, they at times come, face to face, with the
members of other religious groups, who consider the Hindu religion, not more
than a culture. This concept of Hinduism being a culture, rather than a
religion, is especially prevalent, in the hungry Christian Missionaries. It is
clear from the above fact that the disparity is simply because of a
is nothing, but an agreement, by majority of its members, to follow certain
pattern, in the form of social standards, which in essence could be right or
wrong. Because it is agreed upon,
by the majority of people, it tends to stick to itself, unmodified, and goes on,
from generation to generation. This does not happen, in just any society, it
happens in intellectual groups like the scientific community, as well. If you
take a new theory to the scientific community, and if it is against the norm of
their scientific belief, then they will more likely reject it. The new theory
will be accepted only after 10 years or even more. Culture changes according to
the new knowledge available. Culture is affected by the following factors
Prevalent philosophy and spirituality.
The prevalent knowledge especially of science and technology.
Prevalent customs- As handed down by previous generation, which has not been
challenged, because its members, rightly or wrongly, believe that it is the
right thing to do, hence follow without questioning. It thinks that it is good
for the society at large and tries to resist any new ideas.
From within- while some members of the culture may know that, what they are
practising is wrong, but do continue to practice it, because it suits them. Some
of the members, may add to the culture to benefit themselves.
From without- in this the culture is imposed, from other culture, by means of
worldly power. In case of India the imposition of Islamic and Lord Macaulay's
western culture are good examples.
the factors affecting the culture changes, the culture has to change. Culture is
often affected by, what I would call a madness of purity. When a culture gets
refined to a certain extent, its members think that it is the best and its
members great. This feeling of greatness is also seen in the form of the members
believing themselves to be pure and descendents of great people or god.
The madness of purity, could extend into its own people, with some
members in the culture, thinking that they are better or purer than the others,
or their group is purer than other group in the society.
INFLUENCES IN INDIA
A. Islamic influence-
since the Afghani Muslim King invaded India in the early part of the second
millennium; Islam has had a tremendous influence over the Hindu culture, to the
extent that it deprived Hindus of their past. As taught by their religion, and
as recorded by Muslim historians, the devout Muslims tried to do away with the
practices of Hindus and tried to convert them to Islam. In this process, while
many Hindu temples were ransacked and destroyed and those who did not agree to
convert, were killed or shunted out in the form of slaves. Those who agreed to
convert became second class Muslims, with the Arabs being the first class. Sadly
they also destroyed the educational institutions and burnt thousands of precious
books. This later act has resulted in a virtual cut-off of the present with the
past, leading to great difficulty in understanding the pre Muslim Hindu culture.
The other problem is that we do not know much about the progress in science and
technology that Indian had achieved, before the invasion. It is surprising to
have the copies of books by the great Aryabhata and few others. It can perhaps
safely be said that Islam had some influence on Sikhism.
the British raj, Lord Macaulay introduced British education, which was
specifically designed to denigrate Hindu culture and make the Hindus pro
British. When the British arrived, the Hindu culture was already in a distorted
form. Lord McCauley's programme was very successful. Because the Indian civil
service was made glamorous, and a sort of gold standard, the Hindus went crazily
after this materialistic gain and did not bother to study their past. The most
obvious example of change, is the change of dress of Hindus from dhoti to
trousers. While the Indians learnt about liberty from the colleges and perhaps
that helped in the liberation of India, the education system created a group of
Intellectuals, who refused to study their own culture and philosophy. Because
the language of study and communication was English, the Hindus forgot about
Sanskrit. While it is said that this language unified Indians, in the fight
against the British, I wonder, what happened to the unifying effect of Sanskrit,
specially from the point of view that Adi Sankara, used that language, to argue
the cause of Hinduism, with the religious teachers, from Kathmandu and Kashmir
in the north, to the tip of India, in the south. It has to be mentioned here
that Hindus did have a system of civil disobedience against the rulers who were
not giving them their rights. They did not need to rely on the teachings of the
west. The dowry system is regarded as an import to India from Europe, during the
is difficult to define Hinduism or a Hindu. But it is safe to say that who ever
believes in the authority of the Vedas and worships the Hindu deities, is a
Hindu. This means that any teaching, which is against the teaching of Vedas, is
not Hindu teaching and therefore not Hinduism. Any teaching, which does not
believe in God, can be regarded as a philosophy and not a religion, because the
very definition of religion, as stated above, says that religion means belief in
God. Some atheistic Indian philosophies are only philosophies and not religion.
subjects from the list of impressions given above, I will try to explain about
them to show their reality-
says that God lives in every human being, in the form of atman (soul) and not
only that, in animals as well. In fact the whole creation is an extension and
emanation of God and God is present in every living thing. A gnani sees the same
soul in man, woman and animal. There is no difference between these for a gnani,
because they are all divine. Of course Hinduism strives to produce gnani.
Because a divine being cannot be untouchable, a person who believes in
untouchability can never be gnani. From this, it is clear that in the eyes of a
Hindu, there should be nothing called untouchablility, Whichever book teaches
against this is not teaching Hinduism. There are only 4 vernas described in
Hinduism the 5th ‘varna’ (untouchables) is not Hinduism.
According to Ashvalayana Grihya sutras, wives have to recite Vedic verses along
with their husbands. Vedic text mentions a female rishi Visvara. Panini mentions
Kathi, Kalapi, and Bahvici as intellectuals. So whichever book says women do not
have access to Vedas is not teaching Hinduism. During the Vedic period there was
equality of sexes.
says that women also have to strive for salvation i.e. mokcha. Mimamsa Sutra
(chapter 6, Pada 1) says that women are entitled to the performance of Vedic
Rituals, even independently of men, and to the best of their ability, because
they also have a desire to attain salvation, just like men.‘ There are four
paths of salvation i.e. the path of karma, gnana, bhakti, and finally the path
of yoga. In order to acquire gnana, one has to study books or get knowledge by
other means. From this point of view alone, there should be no restriction to
the education for woman. These women did not have any restriction to education.
In the Upanishads we find the great women intellectuals like Gargi and
Maitrey debating with the famous Yagyavalkya. We have Tamil saint-poetess
Auvaiyaar, whose aphorisms (Aatichchuvadi) initiate Tamil lessons for children
at the earliest stages The poetess Aandal of Tamil Nadu, who was one of the
intellectual of her time, who among others, wrote "Tiruppaavai", which
is sung at every Vaishnava temple in TN. The great intellectual Bharati, a
women, was the JUDGE when Adi Sankaracharya debated philosophy with Mishra. So
any book which claims that women should not have access to the scriptures is
against the Vedic practice, as well as the reality and hence not Hinduism. Hindu
society is the only society in the world which can show women intellectuals like
the ones mentioned above. Other religions only show, dedicated but not
intellectual women, as women did not have the opportunity to be teachers or
indeed have access to higher knowledge. In fact the British parliament passed a
resolution in 1543, not allowing ordinary women to read the Bible. Even in this
modern era the catholic Church refuses to give recognition to their ability.
- Caste is the word created by Portuguese missionaries, in the 16th century, to
describe the Hindu society and denigrate it. It has nothing to do with varna,
which divides society into 4 functional classes, which constitute the
‘colours’ in the spectrum of society.
is difficult to imagine a world without class. People are divided according to
money or property they have or according to what they do, like doctors, lawyers,
engineer, minors etc or by other parameters. In the modern society education is
given priority and who ever attains higher education, is given more respect. In
fact society has always believed in that concept. The varna system is similar.
It is designed to give knowledge the most importance. It is not surprising that
knowledge of spirit is given more importance because, the religion believes that
spiritual salvation is the ultimate human goal. It has to be noted here that
when I am talking about importance, I am talking about importance in normal
circumstances. In exceptional circumstance a sudra doing a physical work may be
more important than the learned one, like the digger in Mahabharata. Time is the most important factor. At times same action of a
person may be important, while at other time it may not be so.
brahmin means that he is able to think rationally and hence is able to teach
what he has learned, including religion. Since, he is the one, who knows and
teaches spirituality and since spiritual salvation is given the first priority,
it is no wonder that brahmins were given highest respect.This is only so long as
he does that function. If he fails to do that then he looses the respect. People
in any society, in the past, have tended to follow the training and profession
handed down to them, by their parents, like the black smiths, goldsmiths etc.
The influence is so strong that despite access to free knowledge nowadays, we
can still find doctors children opting to become doctors. Because the siblings
of brahmin, kchhetriya, vaishya and sudra opted for their fathers profession, it
was taken for granted by the distorted Hindu society that the sons would become
what the father had become and were said to be of that cast. This is simply an
assumption, and the distorted Hindu society got so carried away that it
automatically took the son of a brahmin, as a brahmin and son of a kchhetriya,
as a kchhetriya and so on. Though in its undistorted form, especially in
Mahabharata, a son of a brahmin was called brahminputra and not a brahmin.
Krishna himself gives several reasons why Arjun was a kchhetriya. Though birth
was one of the factors, and we cannot ignore genetic and environmental
influences, it alone, did not make him a kchhetriya.
It is foolish to think that a son of a brahmin, will think rationally,
without qualifying and if that happens then it is a distorted Hindu culture and
not real Hindu culture. The varna of a person almost entirely depends on
training and circumstances. A brahmin’s son or daughter does not entirely
become a brahmin just by birth; he or she has to go through training to become
one. According to the training received, the person becomes a member of whatever
varna (like the being a member of a group of doctors, layers etc.) varna changes
according to training. We can site several examples. Narad rhishi was a son of a
maidservant, which essentially means that he was a sudra but he became a brahmin.
Similarly Biswamitra became a brahmin from the so-called sudra. The Nanda kings
were sudras, they became kchhetriyas later. Parsuraam became a kchhetriya by
action. Karna was socially a sudputra but by his training and action he was a
kchhetriya. More over these varnas are emotions and qualities which are
expressed in different forms in different circumstances by the same individual
We are all made up of the 3 gunas the satwa (brahmin) the rajak (kchhetriya),
the tamas (sudra) or mixture of these forming vaishya. Because of aptitude and
training, one of these gunas are exhibited and the person is identified
accordingly. A single person becomes a brahmin when he imparts knowledge, he
becomes a worrier when he defends, he becomes a vaishya when he is dealing with
money and sudra at other times when he is doing a laborious work. Say for
example the brahmin acharyas acted as a kchhetriya during mahabharata war. They
showed their rajas guna there.
is not right to equate social class determined by economics, to varna, which is
determined by action and training, rather than financial status. In a society
governed by economics there are two categories of people, one is the governing
group and the other is the working (governed) group. The governing group, which
is the privileged one, forms the higher class and the working group, which do
not have the privilege and the money, but help the governing class attain
privileges, forms the lower class. Since the governing class does not want to
come into contact with the working class directly, because of various reasons, a
group of people come in the middle, to make contacts, between the above
mentioned two groups and transmit messages, akin to pimps in the sex industry.
This group constitutes the middle class. So the functioning of an economic
society in practice should give only 3 classes. When a society promulgates 4
class of people, then its reason should not be taken as economic. Rather this
curious misfit should be studied deeply to understand it.
distorted caste system of India, fitted into the concept of, class struggle and
exploitation, of the communist philosophy, whose followers were heavily
influenced by, the European Karl Marks and along with it, the propaganda of the
non existent, Aryan invasion of India. The later in an interesting way, fitted
more into the concept of divide and rule, which became an effective
armamentarium used by the British to rule the vast and diverse land of India,
despite the Indian followers of Karl Marx, believing that the cast system, was
because of social exploitation of the Dravidians by the invading and victorious
Aryans. The enigmatic 4 classes instead of 3, as discussed earlier, was somehow
explained. It was suggested that the Aryans of central Asia already had brahmin,
kchhatrias and vaishya and they got sudras from the Dravidians. It is difficult
to imagine the central Asian society being developed and victorious without
labourers. Varna system of Hinduism has nothing to do with class struggle, as
its origin. It is wrong to say that brahmans were rich and they were the
exploiters. The fact is that many brahmins were living in poverty right from the
Mahavharata period (Guru Drona). Prof
Elst makes it clear when he says ‘They assumed that the Brahmins commanded the
same authority and power as the Christian clergy did in their own time in
Europe. The reality is that the Brahmins in India never commanded the authority
and power of the Christian clergy. They controlled neither the economy nor the
army, both of which the clergy did in Medieval Europe‘.
I am yet to see a society, which is equal in every respect. If the communists
tried to create that sort of society, they created some people, who were more
equal then others, effectively creating an unequal society. There are always
people who have privilege while others simply don't. The members of soviet
politburo, who have power and privileges, like the tycoon in the west, is
nowhere equal to the labourer in the cold Siberia, who is not different from
homeless vagabond in the capitalist west. Giving a word comrade and feeling
contented that we are all equal, simply defies intellect. If every human being
was equal then what is the use of education to be somebody in the society? What
is the use of hard labour we do to make ourselves trained in certain fields?
What is the point in competing to be better than others? If everybody was equal
then surely there would be no stimulus for education and training to be
exceptional. There would be no concept of respect because respect comes out of
being exceptional. People work hard to be doctors layers and engineers partly to
be respected. If they are seen as no more then labourer than what is the point
in going through all that training? Mao tried to do just that during his
cultural revolution and failed miserably. It is clear from above that it will
only lead to social malaise.
under law has two expects, one is the equality in proving people guilty, the
other is giving equal punishment. The modern society follows equality in proving
people guilty, it does not always follow equality in punishing people. A person
who is learned or who is supposed to have protected but did the opposite will
almost certainly get worse sentence than other. Hindu society believes the same
principle as exemplified by Yudhisthira’s decision to punish the brahman the
most when he commits the same crime, as the uneducated sudra. People expect good
conduct from learned people, if they do not show that they get worse punishment.
When we talk in terms of equability in training we must talk in terms of
equality in basic training and not advanced training. Say for example a doctor
cannot demand an equal treatment to compete in postgraduate engineering training
nor the reverse. When I say basic training I mean equality in basic education.
When the education branches, there is nothing called equal opportunity for every
one in general term as shown above. Equal opportunity means the opportunity
available to all people irrespective of class, race, sex etc after certain basic
criteria are met. Those who are outside the criteria cannot claim for equality
of opportunity in that particular field.
Verna divides people, in a society into 4 broad categories.
It only attempts, to divide people into certain categories, sharing some
common ethos, establishing an identity, like division of students into several
houses, in school, which gives them their added identity. In the class we also
find students in different groups, like group A, B, C etc according to their
achievements in the class. If a society in a school can be comfortable, with
that classification, why cant the general society? I am sure the reds would not
suggest, even with their jaundiced views, this is exploitation.
Identity is very important, that’s why the African Americans, are
searching for theirs. Some of the Indian natives, who believed they were made
civilised, by the Europeans, unlike proud Hindus who refuse to be called
natives, who believe that they were already civilised in the past, are
getting a jolt in the west, and are looking for their identities. A person with
a lost identity is not very healthy to the society. Being in a group creates a
bond between the members of that group, which leads to stability in society.
Intermingling of people of that group, makes understanding easier and the
bondage stronger, at the same time each group compliments other group as part of
a spectrum- in fact that is the meaning of varna. There is no society in the
world, which has not got different groups of people, according to function for
example, the western society also has, the teaching group, the defender group,
the business group and the labourer group. What Hinduism has simply done, is
recognised those groups and emphasised their function, in the form of duty, so
that they do not deviate from that duty. It is something like the fact that
members of the diverse animal kingdom were always there along with their unique
characteristics, it is only the scientist, who came and divided them, into
different species and genus and other groups, according to their
characteristics, so that the animal kingdom could be understood properly. I
don't see any harm in doing that. I think the Hindus should deeply study this
concept of varna.
teaching, which says that one becomes of certain cast by birth, is not what
(CHARITY) WORK- It
has been said, by the propaganda machine of the missionaries that Hinduism does
not support charity work, and that only they do. This is a myth, because niskaam
karma, which essentially means, charity work is not only recognised as a good
work, but one of the very works to attain salvation. Considering whether Hindu
society ever had that principle, one can look at the writings of the Chinese
traveller, Hsuan Sang, who says that there was a lot of charitable work in
ancient India. The charitable work by the Hindus, in India, are plenty but are
not seen, because, unlike the likes of mother Teresa, these, not so fortunate
Hindu charity workers, do not have excess to the media. Since the Internet has
given the privilege of a voice, the pious activities of Hindus, will not remain
unnoticed all the time.
with the renaissance of Hindu society to the undistorted Hindu society, gives
privilege to the born Hindu sudra, to train and become a brahmin, the converted
Indian Muslim always remains a second class Muslim, because he has to be born,
as an Arab, to be a first class Muslim and because of the modified Catholic
religion made, not so long ago, by the Pope, by his infallible power of Vatican
authority, the converted sudra always remains a Vatican sudra.
Manu smrity denied born Sudras as well as women access to higher training, we
all know from the above examples that Narad, and Karna did have excess to
education and training in the past. Yes Hinduism gives excess to training to all
people if they want to. The fact that many of the poets in India came from the
humble class does say something.
Vedas don't mentioned about it. It did however come as a part of Hindu culture.
It is a sacrifice made by a woman for her dead husband. There
are several expect of sati-
A sacrifice 2.
A suicide 3.
Form of suicide. 4.
Social gold standard 5.
Direct compulsion 6.
? Male sati. Let
us discuss about them.
about sacrifice, we also think in terms of soldiers sacrificing their lives for
the sake of the nation, and the Islamic Jihadists sacrificing their lives for
the sake of God (Allah). We have
also come across, glorified and romanticised stories, of Romeo and Juliet, Hir
Ranja and others who sacrificed their lives, for the sake of their respective
loved ones. It seems that when we are looking at sacrifice only, then anybody
who wants to sacrifice what ever they have, cannot be said to be bad.
The cause of sati seems to be love and devotion to husband and spiritual
gain. While sati is definitely a suicide, does it fall in the category of right
to suicide? There is a hot discussion in the west, about euthanasia, in which a
person having an incurable disease is allowed to die, with the help of a doctor.
This is a painless suicide by a patient, who has incurable disease and does not
want to live any longer. Other form of suicide is, when pious people feel that
it is time for them to go to the spiritual world and fast onto death. Since the
later two types of suicides, are not violent, they do not generate so much of
mass hysteria as sati does. Looking at the mode of suicide, we see that fire has
always been very important to the Hindus. It seems to be a connector or a medium
between the materialistic world and the spiritual world. In a religious
sacrifice butter and rice are thrown into the fire, which constitutes a Homa. In
sati the woman throws herself into the fire. This in a way could constitute Homa
and may have certain spiritual benefits. The act however looks very violent and
scary. The indirect compulsion manifests, when this practice is regarded as a
gold standard, of a pure society, and those who don't attain that standard are
at risk of being frowned upon. It should not be a social standard because, as
stated above, that creates an invisible compulsion to reach that gold standard,
which many may not wish to. If a woman is directly pressurised, to do that, then
it is totally unacceptable and has to be condemned. The other thing to look at
is, is the sati in the right state of mind to decide what she is doing is right,
when her husband has just died? Even
though the act of Sati may have some spiritual benefits; because of the violent
nature of the action, it cannot be accepted as a gold standard in a society,
simply because, there are other far less violent and less painful actions which
will give, equal or even more, spiritual benefits and one also should not forget
the fact that the two souls are two
entities, with their own karmas, and don't unit even after a combined death,
however the depth of love. She could express her love and devotion to her
departed husband, by doing special pujas or other pious activities to further
the spiritual journey of her husband.
we are talking about sacrifice, what about a male sati? A sacrifice by man for a
woman. We have some instances where males have sacrificed for females e.g. king
Edward of UK abdicated his throne for the sake of his love for Edwina. We also
have love stories like Romeo and Juliet and others in which males have
sacrificed their lives for females. These deaths have been glamorised and in a
strange way have been accepted.
the past the distorted Hindu culture, regarded people outside India, as mlechha-
meaning dirty. There are instances, when the Indian priests refused to teach the
British people, how to learn Sanskrit and the local king had to order them to
teach. Hindus regarded, crossing the seas, would make them impure and who ever
crossed the seas and came back, had to go through a process of purification.
This is all a part of madness of purity and cocoonification, which Manu,
mistakenly proposed. In fact he has recommended his people to live in certain
areas, even of India. This is against the principle of Basudhaiba Kutumbakam,
which means world is a family. It can therefore safely be said that this
teaching of Manu was against Hinduism.
culture becomes part of a civilisation which thinks that their civilisation is
the best and are proud of it. However every refined culture, had this sort of
feeling, for example the Japanese and the Europeans, which in its turn, is
basically due to lack of communication and a rather disinterest in learning
about other cultures. In fact as recently as 30-40 years ago this was seen in
the UK, when the local whites did not wish to learn about the Muslim people and
their culture because of arrogance, which made intercultural understanding
difficult. Some of them now say, that it was their mistake, not to learn from
the other culture.
practice in ancient India was swayambara, which essentially meant that the women
selected her husband of her choice. This, in its turn, meant that she showed
liking for the opposite sex, making her a grown up woman. There seems to be no
room for child marriage. It seems that child marriage started as a compulsion in
the Hindu society and followed as a culture thenceforth. It has perhaps rightly
been suggested, that this custom started, during the Muslim invasion, when it
was fraught upon by families to have an unmarried adult woman in the house, less
she be sexually abused. Since this child marriage does not involve the concept
of swayambara this is not according to Hinduism hence anti Hindu.
WORSHIP (RESPECT)- While
looking at it straightforward, it seems rather strange and even dumb, but it
behoves a great philosophy inside. Greatness of Hinduism relies amongst others,
on the fact that it teaches us to respect. A civilisation cannot develop without
the concept of respect. The simple social phenomenon is, the more we bow to
respect, without arrogance, the more we are called gentle, wise and civilised.
It is the wise people who create civilisation.
Arrogance and hatred lead to war and hence is not part of a great
civilisation. There is absolutely no harm, in respecting any thing or any body,
but there is a great danger to the society, if we disregard animals calling them
beasts, specially when the present civilisation, recognising the potential of
monkeys, and have started asking for special rights for them. Before I go any
further, I would like to say that there are two forms of puja that Hindus do;
one is that, we do it, to show respect, which the Hindus are duty bound to do
and don't ask for favours and the other is puja, in which, we ask for favours
from the higher soul which we adore and have an awe of (Please read the article
Is Hinduism a polytheist religion?). While respect is a mark of civilisation,
Hinduism not only limits that respect to humans, its greatness goes even
further, to show respect to the animal as well as the plant kingdom. Looking at
it from the above point of view, this Hindu civilisation looks very much
advanced, wise and caring While an insensitive and uncivilised person, may not
see the deeper side of this phenomena, a sensitive and civilised person, who
goes deeper than the superficial layer, can easily discern the depth of the
philosophy. If the beholder cannot see the beauty, it is not the fault of
beauty. One of the animals we show our respect, by doing puja, is the cow.
do the Hindus specially respect the cow? They respect the cow because it gives
milk and its products, which is necessary for our existence. It’s mowing
sounds exactly like the sound of Om. The sound of Om is extremely important to
the Hindus because the Om is the ultimate mantra and through it the universe
emanates. The cows dung has been used to clean the floors of the house without
any ill effect. Its urine has medicinal value. Its hide is used in many ways. It
is like a mother who always gives. The reason why we don't eat beef is simply
out of respect towards this motherly figure, as a mark of civilisation. It is
something like the western people not eating dogs flesh. While we know the
importance of dog in the modern family and how it is almost regarded as a member
of the family, giving rise to huge problems during divorce, Hinduism has always
respected it’s quality and respected it in the form of puja. It has to be
clearly said here that these animals are shown respect for as a part of a duty
of members of a civilised society, but are not done to achieve
OF MANY GODS WITH SEVERAL LIMBS-Hinduism has becomes defensive in two issues,
one is the caste system and the associated untouchability, as discussed above,
and the other is that, it is identified as a polytheistic religion, like the
Greek and the Roman religion, which in the past were thoroughly denigrated and
conquered by Christianity. Since Hinduism is regarded as polytheistic, by the
Abrahaminic faiths, it is not studied deeply and hence not taken seriously. It
rather erroneously is believed to be inferior, by being polytheistic, and hence
inviting a compulsion, in the eyes of the missionaries of the Semitic faith, for
a change akin to the Greek and Roman beliefs. The sense of past victory gives
them further impetus.
of the many gods (deities) in Hinduism, it has been taken for granted that
Hinduism is a polytheist religion. Hinduism is not that simple nor is
Christianity. As suggested in my article 'Is Hinduism a polytheist religion?’
Hinduism is a monotheist polydeitic religion, where as Christianity is
monotheist bideitic religion. The study of Hindu monotheism is unparallel in any
other religion. To regard Hinduism, as the Greek and Roman polytheism, is a big
mistake, which underscores the need, for a deep study of this great religion.
Hindus believe and worship the all-powerful and infinite God, who is the
‘creator’ (emanator), sustainer and destroyer of, everything in this
universe, including evil, hence truly omnipotent. This should be enough to
reveal the monotheist part of Hinduism.
human being is after material or spiritual gain. A person may be lucky enough to
progress and get materialistic gain, (not spiritual) and may rely on themselves
for further progress and decry external help, majority of the people in the
world are however not so lucky. People need help for both material and spiritual
gain. This leads them to seek help from somebody, who has the power. Help is so
important in people's lives that even Muslims have been going away from their
rigid beliefs and coming to take both material and spiritual help from some
Hindu gurus, who have been bestowed with spiritual powers and it is also well
known that Christians, both in India and in the west, have been taking the help
of Hindu Astrologers for material gains, even though decried by their religious
institutions. Deities (gods) have that power to change our lives. People pray to
these deities because they have an adoration for the deity and have a feeling of
awe about it. While Christianity has 2 deities (Jesus Christ and the Holy
Ghost), Hinduism has many. This is because many of these deities lived in Satya
yuga and others attained power through the techniques of yoga and meditation
which is only available in Hinduism. This simply gives Hindus the chance to
choose their deity according to their temperament.
seem to be surprised by many hands of these deities, because we human beings
normally have only 2 hands. It is very important to note that they are not bare
hands, in the sense that each hand is carrying something. These objects, which
they carry, have some meanings. There are two ways to look at it; one is that
these hands are symbolic in nature, while the other is it being, real spiritual
anatomy. While we know an expert surgeon can modify an anatomy of a person, so
much that he effectively creates a new organ (e.g. sex change operation) it is
not surprising that these deities, who have supernatural powers, and who can
change our destiny, being able to extend their spiritual anatomy, to create new
limbs. Not understanding the depth of message it contains and labelling it devil
worship, is simply ignorance, hence darkness. People can only be enlightened,
for that matter get out of darkness, as we have been taught in our school days,
by proper study of the matter or through yoga and meditation, which is available
only in Hinduism.
WORSHIP VIA IDOL/ICON-
statue of Jesus Christ is said to be icon and the statue of deities in the
eastern religions are said to be idols. While the Christendom
believes and dislikes, the eastern religion worshiping idols, they
themselves worship statues. In fact Muslim worship the stone in Kaba. The stone
building of Kaba has got so much religious importance to the Muslims. Almost all
people worship deities or the invisible via the statues or figures made from
non-living matter. There is no point in denigrating just Hindus for that. It is
better we understand why we all do that.
suggested in my article, ‘Image worship: right or wrong?’, visual stimulus
is very important for us. It is said to be better, if one is deaf rather than
blind. If we see figure of someone that we know, it makes us appreciate the
whole personality of that being represented by that statue or figure. In
Hinduism there are 3 ways in which we worship the deity via the statue or the
We worship the deity via the statue which has got shakti (power) embedded in it
which, could be natural e.g. Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu, or shakti
impregnated by Gurus who have shakti.2. We make a special call (abahana), during
the puja, to the deity to come to the statue and then we pray to the deity.3.
The statue acts as a powerful and symbolic representation of the deity
concerned. (Please read the article Image worship: right or wrong?) While
Christianity uses the 3rd method for its prayers, Hinduism uses all 3.
has become apparent now that this was imported by the Indians from the Europeans
rather than being endogenous to India.
As we have noted above, society is very much influenced by the
development of science and technology as well as other branches of knowledge.
Science progresses in A+B+C fashion, it does not progress in geometrical
progression. For it to progress it needs communication between minds, for which
freedom of expression is essential, otherwise one will reach the fate of
Galileo, in the hand s of Catholic church. Once this is provided, other thing it
needs is, eccentricity of thought i.e. people, who want to change the prevalent
rule, rather than follow it. Once these two forces are provided, along with the
means of communication, then discoveries are the norm rather than exception.
This is what is happening, all around us, every day. A society, which asks its
people to follow strict social rules and not to transgress them, will not
develop, where as the cultures which allows, free thought and expression, always
Whichever society, which facilitates change, wins. The distorted Hindu society,
following Manu, opted for status quo with purity, as a theme and gave importance
to moral codes and going further, even limited international travel, creating
followers rather that eccentric inventors. Looking at the history of India, the
inventors seem to be concentrated in the first millennium, despite the above
factor, which perhaps loudly says that one cannot stop geniuses, and not much in
the second, because of subjugation. In the second millennium the number of
European inventors is far more than Indian. This is because of several factors
coming into play, including; 1.The Indian discoveries were transmitted to
Europe, via the Arabs, during the first millennium, forming a good base for
further progress in Europe. 2. When Europe was enjoying the discovery of
Guttenberg's printing press, which increased the number of thinkers and
increased communication between them, the Indians had their books burned and
were under subjugation, effectively making it a dark age. In addition, in that
period, there was a rise in free thought in Europe, specially with the French
revolution, which triggered a process of eccentric thoughts, challenging the
orthodox beliefs and the society went against the dogmatic church, which in its
turn facilitated invention and progress, as per A+B+C... A culture or a society
needs a stimulus. Like the European culture received a jolt from the Protestants
and the French revolution, the distorted Hindu culture got the intellectual jolt
from the British raj. When the Hindus got the jolt, they were under the British.
As second class citizens, they could not produce ‘Hindu’ scientists, of
their own because they were taught in western methods, consequently they could
not learn about the Indian philosophy, science and technology, including Vedic
mathematics. Yes, this mathematics is so easy that if there were no computers,
this science of mathematics would have made the life of student of maths, so
easy. Sadly despite the so-called Indian independence, the Indian science and
technology of the past, has still remained unread. It is even hopeless, when
people from the west sincerely ask the Indians to do research, on the ancient
Indians scientific achievements, like the Pushpak Biman, and the Indians
people eat with their hands. It is said that it is European culture, to eat by
knife and fork and it is Indian culture, to eat by hand. Many Indians may not
know, but the fact is that the British used to eat with hand, before 16th
century, essentially meaning that before that century, the culture of Britain
and India was the same, as far as method of eating was concerned. The only
difference is that while Indian faithfully followed its culture without
question, the British culture opted for a change.
Everybody knows how the cultures all over the world, including the
British culture, has been changed over the
last 200 years, with the development of science and technology. Since culture
just represents patterns of human activities, now the number of activities have
increased so much that even culture is divided into many branches, like the
culture of travelling, the culture of reading, the culture of eating, playing
etc. And these cultures change so much.
-- The suit has become an international standard. It is not that the British
made the dress overnight; the present suit is the end result, of so many changes
in the dress of the British. This can be appreciated if one visits the museums.
This is because they followed the concept of change. While India did not change
its common dress, dhoti, for the last 5000 years and suddenly changed to
trousers and shirt during the Raj, without much thought and continued post
It is true that despite Ambedkar being educated in USA, hence being
moulded by the American civilisation, he did not have the power to influence the
constitution of India. Indians regarded USA, as uncultured as opposed to the
British, who were regarded as cultured and the latter's constitution was
followed, instead of the American. While America was regarded as uncultured,
just 50 years back, now the Indians are following the Americans and it is not
surprising that now the Indians want to change the constitution of India. The
only reason USA is the world leader, and the centre of philosophy, is because it
followed the concept of change in every sphere of life. If it had resisted the
change it would not have been what it is today.
world has started to recognise the fact that Indians are intelligent people.
This is evidenced by the success of Indians in the west, especially in the USA
where Indians are competing, almost neck to neck, with the Jews. Why did not
these intelligent people produce more scientists like the other groups of
people? I think the answer is that they did not have a suitable environment, to
show their talent, because of subjugation before independence and political
misadventures, pseudo intellectualism and emotional decision making, in the not
so free India, post independence. It is important to note that the Indians who
were called natives in the past, after coming to the suitable competitive
environment of the west, have come a long way to prove, and be part of, the
cream of the western countries, in some ways. It is not surprising, that the
ancestors of these intelligent people could produce such great civilisation. On
the other extreme, it is rather surprising that some western scientists,
especially in Scotland, want to do research on, inferiority in intelligence, of
naturally tanned people, compared to white people.
is difficult to say, who Manu was historically. What is however important is,
his book or at least the book identified by his name, contains things, which go
along with the teachings of the Vedas, as well as against it. It is difficult to
assume that a leaned figure like him, could agree to things which are are
against the teaching of the Vedas. He seems to be regarded as an authority, in
sociology and religion. Some of the passages of the book, give reference to
other authorities, which clearly shows that he was not a divine figure. Like all
authority figures, he has made mistakes, if not in writing them himself,
agreeing to the rules. It has been said that some passages in the book have been
added during the Islamic rule. This is open to research. This is the first time;
perhaps in the history of India that hard working Indians have got billions of
dollars. I am sure some of this will go to research of Indian history.
book had an everlasting and powerful influence over the Hindu culture. It has
been followed without question. Why did it have such a powerful effect
continuously since a long time? Hindus have basically been divided into
ascetics, who are in search of God, who did not have a cast out of birth and
accepted that all are equal and who tried without much success, to change the
society, and others who lived a family life, who enjoyed the social privilege
given to them by the Manus laws, and who did not want to change their ways and
the law. While freedom of expression given by the religious philosophy was used
to give rise to different sects (schools of thoughts) which concentrated on
spirituality, the society at large, did not utilize that freedom, hence did not
change much, but rather followed what was handed to them and asked others to
follow. While some followed the laws, thinking it to be right, other were more
concerned about purity who made further changes to the law making it further
MANU WENT WRONG-His teaching of untouchability, varna according to birth,
confinement of women to house not allowing them and the born sudras, to study
higher scriptures, advocating his people to live only in certain areas of India
and disrespect to foreigners, was distinctly against the values of Hinduism.
Manusmrity did was, to create followers with rigid laws, giving them the concept
of purity. Hindus adhered to it and cocooned themselves both physically and
metaphorically. This went against inventions, which needs people to come out of
the cocoon and think differently. In Europe people came out of their own cocoon,
in the second millennium and thought differently; that is why we have so many
scientist in the west. It is said that India has changed more in the last 5
years, than in the last 5000 years. Yes India has actually become freer only
after it recently opened its gates. Because of this second jolt, India is in a
confused state, at times, not knowing how to deal with the young generation.
is a very relative term and hard to define. Pure gold could be an impurity when
you are trying to eat with the hand, which has got gold dust. You have to wash
the hand before you can eat. Purity is something, which is useful to us at that
moment of time. We
know that after we eat, the food goes through a chemical reaction in our
alimentary tract and it comes out
as stool. This we regard as dirty, because it has a bad smell and the rest.
Where as the honey produced by the bee, goes through the same process and comes
out, but it is called pure because of its taste and other value.
cleans his skin and thinks that he is pure. He simply cannot be pure because he
has what he considers impure faeces in his rectum just 2 inches from his anal
skin. So if a Manu’s brahmins body, for that matter anybody’s body, is laden
with faeces, he has to be impure. If he says that he is pure and the untouchable
is impure and should not touch him, on that account, is simply wrong. The
Manu’s brahmin touches his faeces everyday and after simple washing of his
hands he becomes pure. He on the other hand, if touches an untouchable, has to
do a process to purify himself. This is illogical and nothing but madness of
purity and not Hindu at all.
TO DO WITH CULTURE-A culture should be no bar to change. A culture that resists
change and cocoonifies itself cannot develop. A culture should produce new
editions, to follow, all the time. USA is producing a different culture, every
decade. The old culture has to be put in museums and libraries, with respect. It
should be respected, because by doing so, we are respecting our forefathers.
Secondly, it will be available for later research, leading us to understand our
past generations and learn from theirs as well as our mistakes and correct them;
effectively constituting a process of audit.
TO DO WITH MANU SMRITY- Now
the Hindus have come out of the cocoon, they have to think rationally. They have
to take the authoritative books like the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Gita,
compare their teachings with that of Manu smrity and see the difference, in
their teachings. If Manu’s teaching is against those books, then they have to
be excluded from Hindu religion. In fact Hindu religion considers, individual to
act according to his own dharma, determined by his own circumstances, therefore
the rigid rules of Manu which is for population at large should be done with.
While it is clear from the above discussion, is that, Manu was not a divine
figure and that he has gone beyond the teachings of Hinduism, his prescription
of result, both positive and negative, as per action, cannot be trusted to be
divinely sanctioned; therefore have no importance. In fact his teachings has
given the untouchables so much of problems, which led these innocent souls, to
live a secluded and a measurable life, over the centuries. It has done enormous
damage to the cause of Hinduism, in terms of society and religion. In fact, in
this cruel world, the identity of Hinduism has been the Manus laws, rather than
the Vedic and the upanishadic philosophy. It is only, some great thinkers in the
west, including professors, lawyers and doctors, who went beyond Manu, to study
the Vedas and the Upanishads and realised this great religions, true spirit and
converted to Hinduism.
CULTURE-Over the last 200 years there has been three factors, which has had, and
is having the greatest impact on every culture- 1. Tremendous progress in
science and technology- which gives both knowledge and better amenities,
including better communication tools for tele and travel. 2. Education of
women-- giving rise to change of the accepted role of them, in every culture.
Women's education has had a huge impact, in the change of cultures, of the
world, in which the laws had to be re written. People are now, only gradually
realising, the power of women. Some intellectual men are openly saying that they
want to be a woman, in their next life. Sex is given so much of importance,
woman are in demand. Religions like Christianity and Islam, which did not
advocate education of woman, are having a tough time, because women are asking
for their rights, including the right to lead the religious masses. Though it is
called post feminist period, I would still call it a transitional period. Women
power is yet to be seen. When its power is fully manifest, men will have to work
harder otherwise their suicide rates will be much higher.3. Freedom of thought
and expression- this has given a huge impetus to research. While in its
traditional form i.e. newspapers, magazines and journals, one may not be able to
express ones views at times because of big brotherly attitude of some, Internet
on the other hand has provided the most effective tool for expression and
propagation of views. This will lead to explosion of inventions and true
interpretation of facts, both historical and others.
the concept is more of a global culture - a youth in the USA may be affected by
the same Internet culture, as a Japanese or for that matter an Indian. The
science and technology has helped to create a global culture. Global effect of
stock market crash in one part of the world is another factor. The chicken tikka
mashala has become the most popular food in the UK. This shows that the culture
is exchanging and learning from one another. In practice, however, the most
important factor guiding the present civilisation, seems to be finance. Yes this
is a finance-governed civilisation. By this I mean, money associated with patent
rights, which gives rise to the craze for research and the importance given to
countries with totalitarian regimes, with huge resources, but less then good
human rights record.
things which may not be known to the general people, about Hinduism in the west,
are the following-
It does not support slavery like the Semitic religions.
2. It believes in the all-powerful, timeless and infinite God, the creator,
sustainer and destroyer of this universe (its monotheist part).
3. There is not only the pathway of belief and bhakti in Hinduism, for attaining
salvation, as in the Semitic religions, but other pathways as well, like the
pathway of yoga, the pathway of knowledge and the pathway of karma. As is clear
from the above statement, people have more choice of pathways to salvation in
Hinduism, and people are free to choose any one of the pathways, according to
their affinity and temperament. It has been erroneously believed that to attain
salvation, in Hinduism, one has to leave his/her family. Rather, as mentioned
above, people can remain with their families and attain salvation by doing
niskaam karma, which basically means karma dedicated to the cause of general
people and not to one self.4. Belief does not play a major role in Hinduism. The
followers are encouraged to use logics and the technique of yoga and meditation,
to recognise the truth, rather than take things according to belief and follow
the dogma.5. It is the only religion in which, for attaining material or
spiritual gain, there are several deities to choose from, according to the
temperament of the person. These deities at times in effect become like a very
close companion, which is very much needed in the present time.6. It is the only
religion, which provides paranormal evidence to assess the reality, by the
person him/herself, in the form of yoga and meditation. Yes it is the only
religion that gives us a chance to feel God IN THIS LIFE. People don't have to
wait for after life, like in the Semitic religions, to have that access.7. It is
the only religion, which prays for, not only peace in the human society but
peace in vegetation and the space as well.8. It is the only religion that
respects the animal and plant kingdom for their qualities.9. It is the only
religion, which recognises the importance of ecological balance and identifies,
respects and protects individual beings, which play part in that balance.10. It
is the only religion, which says the Truth (God) is one, but people call and
pray to it by many names. This ever so inclusive philosophy, which contributes
to peaceful coexistence, in the world, is very much lacking in the Semitic
religions. One only needs to ask the Jews, who have been peacefully living in
India, since centuries. The above statement is wrongly interpreted, as all
religions are the same. This is not what it means. It simply means that all
religions are, attempting to reach the same God, by calling it by different
names but the attempts are not the same or even similar. Some of the methods,
used by some religions, are simply abhorrent. 11. It is the only religion, whose
time, since creation of the universe matches the scientific view in terms of
billions of years. 12. It is the only religion that has brought forward women
intellectual like Gargi, Maitry and others. 13. It does not confine the sex of
the omnipotent God, who can create asexual to hermaphrodite beings, to male. It
is difficult go fathom, a God with penis and testes without a complimentary
vagina, even in a spiritual sense. Hinduism understands God, the omnipotent, to
be male, female, hermaphrodite and asexual at the same time. 14. Hinduism is the
only religion that does not treat God, something like a pop idol star, believing
it to be untouched by evil and not the creator of evil. Hinduism believes that
everything in existence, is created by God, including evil, and also the fact
that any evil, that comes in contact with God, automatically becomes pure. 15.
Hinduism is the only religion that teaches us not to use extremely destructive
weapons like Dibyastras, akin to Atomic bombs. It gives respect, to person, who
doesn’t use it despite provocation, and denigrates who uses it carelessly. 16.
Hinduism is the only religion, which talks about relative difference in time at
different places, similar to theory of relativity. 17. Hinduism is the only
religion, which does not condemn people of other faiths, to everlasting hell.
Hinduism says that every body is the creation of God and cannot understand Him
condemning His own creation, in the other faiths, to everlasting hell and still
continue creating people in those faiths, many of whom have no idea that the
Semitic faiths exist. Hinduism is the only religion, which says, if people of
other faith do niskaam karma, then they too will attain salvation. 18. Hinduism
is the only religion, which does not only rely on prayer for material gain. It
is the only religion, which has got the technique of Homa, to achieve many
worldly necessities. 19. Hinduism is the only religion which gives us the
glimpse of the future, make people aware of danger and prescribe remedies in the
form of astrology. 20. Hinduism is the only religion, which teaches us the
holistic method of treatment of disease, in the form of ayurveda. 21. Hinduism
is the only religion, which does not condemn its people, to everlasting hell,
but gives chance for people to learn from their mistakes and still continue
their further progress towards divinity. It gives us the profound concept of
karma and reincarnation. 22. Hinduism is the only religion that does not, even
logically, blame God for human misery. 23. Hinduism is the only religion, which
provides astronomical data of more than 10.000 years ago. 24. Hinduism is the
only religion, whose God is ALL POWERFUL, hence truly omnipotent, because
everything in this universe, even evil, is his creation. 25. Hinduism is the
only religion, whose God does not have any enemy, like the Devil or the Satan.
There is no concept of hostility and hatred in the divine. Since insecurity is
inherent in hostility, there is no concept of insecurity in Hinduism (there is
no concept of attack of the believers of God, from devil or Satan). 26. Hinduism
is the religion, which does not recognise certain race (e.g. Arabs) to be a
first class member or the chosen people (Jews) like in some Semitic religions.
Hinduism believes that world is a family (Basudhaiba Kutumbakam). 27.Hinduism is
the only religion which gives, civilised rules governing war and the treatment
of prisoners of war. 28. Hinduism is the only religion, which has great
similarities, with the modern civilisation and can contribute spirituality and
philosophy to it, for the latter's further progress.
of the above factors, I am extremely proud to be a Hindu.
call the religion, which supports the above mentioned great ideals, devil
worship, is simply ignorance, which demands a deep study of this great religion,
and also demands us, not to comment about something, which is not known, merely
on impression, which in its turn, is taught to us in schools, during our
childhood days The only difference between a Hindu and a non-Hindu, is that, the
later has not had a chance, to read the Hindu scriptures.
as, I understand, the things I use for my day to day living (tooth paste to
dress), as well as my education, has been given to me by the west and I have
respect for the west, I am very proud to be a Hindu, because I feel, as my
ancestors did in the first Millennium, I can give the west, what my forefathers
taught and practiced, as stated above and help the west or the world in general,
attain world peace, understand the cosmos better, realise supernatural forces in
this life through yoga and meditation, help respect the animal kingdom and the
other players of the balance of ecology, decipher the encrypted knowledge in the
Vedas including astronomy and mathematics and finally delineate the origin of
mankind and its future course. I am sure, if I could do this, it will earn a
great deal of respect, for, not only the people of my kind, which it will
certainly do because the social law says one who gives is always respected by
the receiver, but also for people of all races through the philosophy of