Hinduism - Some hard facts

Various religions evolved in last 7000----10000 years. Some religions are now lost to posterity but some have survived. Top three religions of world with their maximum following are Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. Judaism having just around 14 Million followers is far behind. HINDUISM is being criticized right and left on the ground that various stories in its Manuscripts are not historical as there is no material evidence to back them, while same yard stick is not being applied to various stories in old and New Testament. Even Ramayana and Mahabharata are still being labeled Epic stories though proof of their historicity is now available, though scientifically not verifiable because of their antiquity. West is highly prejudiced against India’s past because acknowledging of that would mean their beliefs will no longer be forerunners of human civilization. While talking of major religions of world, they talk of Christianity, Islam and Judaism [HChannel].

Hinduism with over 900Million followers, Buddhism 50Million [some SAY 250 Mil] and Sikhs over 20Million are being ignored among major religions of world. Judaism with just 14 Mil following is preferred over these religions. Some even say Hinduism is no religion at all, citing it has no founder and no single book to follow. Then a pertinent question comes, how to define a religion. Religion can be defined as—“Rightful path to Truth”. Then by all means, be it scriptures and utterances Hinduism is a religion. Basically Western world and Abrahamic religions want you to believe that human civilization had its origins in West which is an absolute lie. Now it is proved beyond doubt that Aryans were Indian people and they spread from India to rest of world. This ARYAN Civilization started over 7000 years back in India. This is the time when Mesopotamia / Greek civilization were not borne. This shows antiquity of Hinduism [sanatandharma].With passage of times and foreign rule for a thousand years its most of manuscripts were lost/damaged. Yet what has survived, from that one can easily surmise the grandeur and extent of this Aryan civilization, also called Vedic civilization. By product of this civilization was Sanatandharma [Hinduism].Word Sanatandharma means Eternal Laws.

According to Hinduism Universe always existed, so GOD always existed. Bing Bang is a modern creation concept. Hinduism believes Cosmos goes under immense number of deaths and births. Time cycles of Hinduism match modern Cosmology. Universe is dream of GOD. There are infinite number of universes and gods are dream of Man.This religion evolved over a period of time. To start with there was worship of objects which he thought were essential for his life. Later he switched to worship of Cosmos [Sun, moon, Air, Rain etc. He labelled them gods and believed in that worship of these gods will bring in prosperity and happiness in his life. Evolution of his thought process continued and he stared in believing in ultimate reality—GOD. This GOD to start with was having form and much later became formless. While worshipping GOD with form he created his image, thus started idol worship. At no point he believed idol is GOD unlike some other religions. This is proved by the fact when Hindu immerses Idol after worship [Durga/ Ganapati immersion]. Idol is just point of concentration.

Hinduism originated around Indus river. Word Hindu was coined by Greek for people living around Indus.With passage of time from GOD with form to formless GOD various philosophies, Texts came into existence. Polytheism in Hinduism only means pleural approach to see ultimate reality. gods are principles under which reality is being pursued. Belief is just in one GOD and to reach it there are multiple ways. These ways are described in depth in texts. With so many books/philosophies explaining absolute truth it becomes pertinent to ask—“Who is Hindu”.

“Any person who believes in one GOD, law of cycles for this universe and law of Karma

Can be labelled Hindu”. It does not matter which book he follows and which deity he worships. Compared to Abrahamic religions its philosophy in simple words is, “Be a human and get close to GOD.” Abrahamic religions want you to get first converted to their religion and then convert everyone to their religion. With above philosophy in mind there is no role of proselytization as Hindus believe Creator and created are one and same. Abrahamic religions believe God and Universe are two different identities. Some salient features of Hinduism are:---

1. Objectives of life:-- a). Dharma----Right way of life.
b).Artha------Livelihood, wealth.
c).Kama-------Desire, sensual pleasures.
d).Moksha-----Freedom from samsara.
2.Texts-------Its sacred texts are Vedas , Upanishads , Epics , Puranas and Bhagwat Gita.

Vedas come under category of shruti [heard] while Ramayana and Mahabharata come under category of smiriti [remembered]. Shruti literature is veritable and inviolable. On contrary smiriti literature gets modified with time and place. Vedas contain sublime knowledge revealed to Rishi’s while doing penance. They acquired form much later. Vedas reflect all aspects of existence. They throw light on Creation, Atman and other spiritual matters. They are in form of Mantras. There are four Vedas --Rigveda, Samveda, Atherveda and Yajurveda. Of the four Rigveda is oldest. Vedas have four parts:---Brahmana’s and Samhita’s, both deal in rites and rituals.
-----Aranyakas and Upanishads-----Both constitute gyan.

Upanishads are concluding part of Vedas and were written somewhere around 800BC---500BC. They are in form of dialogue. They discuss Brahman, Atman, Life, and Universe in depth. Main message of Upanishads is to get awareness of Atman. Soul is identified with supreme Soul [BRAHMAN]. Atman is veiled by karma so say Upanishads. It is our duty to remove veil of ignorance, then only TRUTH will be perceived. There are more than 108 Upanishads, chief being Chhandogya, Isha, Kena, Mundaka, Katha and Brahadarkayana.

----- Bhagwat Gita:----It is part of bishma parv of Mahabharata epic. Its compilation date is around 500BC—200BC.This book is in away summary of Vedic and Upanishad teachings. Book has 18 chapters and has 700 verses. It was compiled by Ved VYASA. Book deals with spiritual foundation of human existence. There is synthesis of personalized Monism with impersonal Monism. Book says there are four ways to achieve salvation [Moksha]. Four ways are—Bhakti yoga, Karma yoga, Gyan yoga and Dhyan yoga. Karma is superior to renunciation says Gita. Moksha is way to get out of cycle of birth and death. Book also deals with Creator and Created and their relationship.

“Bhagwat Gita is the perhaps the loftiest and the deepest thing that world has to show”---Humbolt.

3. Holiest place---Varanasi.
4. Symbol----------OM, PRIMODIAL SOUND.
5 Animal-----------COW.
6. Revered river---Ganga.
7. Holy number----108.

---All Abrahamic religions talk of one God , one book and one path. Hinduism on contrary talks of one God, many books and many paths. Physics as we read today has no single author, in same way Vedas we have today have no single author. Vedic knowledge is cumulative wisdom of hundreds of Rishi’s which they acquired while doing penance. GOD is infinite so there must be infinite ways to approach HIM.

*Dr. Makhan Lal Babu, Born and brought up in Kashmir, lived in Kashmir till his migration from valley in 1990. Retired as Professor and Head Neurosurgery from Institute of Medical sciences, Soura, Srinagar. Has published a lot of professional articles, both in national and international journals. His interests, besides medicine, are in Ancient history of Kashmir, Vedas and Ancient India. His focus is educating youth who are fast losing track of their glorious roots and culture.