a r t i c l e s    o n    h i n d u i s m

Dr. Krish Bastola from UK.

There 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. 

Hindu 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 communication gap. 


Culture 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 

 1. Prevalent philosophy and spirituality.

 2. The prevalent knowledge especially of science and technology.

 3. 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.

 4. Imposition a. 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.  b. 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.  

 When 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.  

A. Islamic influence-

Ever 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. 

B. European influence 

During 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 Raj. 


 It 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. 

Taking subjects from the list of impressions given above, I will try to explain about them to show their reality- 

UNTOUCHABLITY-Hinduism 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. 

EDUCATION OF WOMEN  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.  

 Hinduism 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. 

VARNA/CASTE - 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. 

 It 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. 

A 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.  

 It 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. 

 The 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‘. 

EQUALITY- 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.

Equality 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.

IMPORTANCE OF VARNA-    The 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.

The teaching, which says that one becomes of certain cast by birth, is not what Hinduism teaches. 

SOCIAL (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.

Whereas, 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. 

ACCESS TO TRAINING-   While 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. 

SATI-  The 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-

1.  A sacrifice 2.  A suicide 3.  Form of suicide. 4.  Social gold standard 5.  Direct compulsion 6. ?  Male sati. Let us discuss about them. 

Talking 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.

When 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.

MLECHHA-  In 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.

The 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.  

CHILD MARRIAGE- The 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. 

ANIMAL 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.

Why 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 anything-material. 

WORSHIP 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. 

Because 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.

The 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.  

Every 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.  

People 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. 

DEITY WORSHIP VIA IDOL/ICON-   The 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.  

As 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 figure. 

1. 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. 

DOWRY-  It has become apparent now that this was imported by the Indians from the Europeans rather than being endogenous to India. 

WHO WINS? -  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 wins.  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 don’t. 

Indian 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. 

Dress -- 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 independence. 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. 

The 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.  

MANU’S LAWS-  It 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. 

His 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 strict.  

WHERE 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. 

What 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.

PURITY-It 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. 

Man 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.

WHAT 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.           

WHAT 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. 

MODERN 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.

Now 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. 

The things which may not be known to the general people, about Hinduism in the west, are the following-

1. 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.

Because of the above factors, I am extremely proud to be a Hindu.

To 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.  Where 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 Basudhaiba Kutumbakam.                    



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