The concepts of Nation and Religion are a western world view imported into the Indian society. So saying that India is a mere nation or Hinduism is a mere religion would be a very narrow definition attributed to them. India is not a mere nation. It is a civilization unified by its diverse culture. Hinduism is at the root of this ancient Indian culture, and is not a religion. Let us see why.
Why is India not a mere Nation?
A nation is a western concept, as a political geography united in a “nationalist” idea. But a political nation need not necessarily always mean a unified society. Take the case of United Kingdom which is a nation, and Scotland which is a part of it, where a demand for a separate statehood exists, because there is no cultural unity or similarity with the larger nation of UK.
Nor do two nations living side by side mean their societies are not culturally unified. East and West Germany were separated as nations but they were a unified society and hence became unified later. So was North and South Vietnam which was artificially separated by political ideologies. People of North and South Korea have a lot more in common than the boundaries that separate them today. The society in India is lot more diverse than all the countries in Europe put together and still we are a single nation!
India is not a mere Nation, but a unified civilization
Hinduism is the world’s third largest religion (in its popular perception as being a religion) after Christianity and Islam. However, an overwhelming majority of Hindus live as a single nation. On the other hand you have Christian majority countries and Muslim majority countries that are a fraction of the size of India living as separate nations next to each other.
Hindus in spite of being such a diverse population in terms of language, geography, practices continue to live as a single nation. The reason? All Hindus share a common civilization which gives them a diverse yet unified culture, a common co-existing origin. They speak so many different languages and yet think as a single society.
Mere Religion can never be a unifying force, only a common culture springing out of a common civilization can be. Else the entire Europe could have been a single nation, so would have been a large part of the middle-east. We have a classic example in our neighborhood in how Bangladesh separated from Pakistan, because to be together you need an unifying culture, not religion.
And it is not just Hinduism alone. Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, all co-exist as a single diverse society in India, because they all share the same culture. Even religion and culture which entered India from outside like Zoroastrianism, Islam, Christianity all have been one in the diverse Indian society and yet maintain their unique identity. Be an invader or a refugee, neither can you destroy the Indian civilization nor does it destroy you. Everybody gets absorbed into this great Indian civilization, and the civilization remodels itself to adapt to the changes, absorbs the best aspects of the incoming wave and grows even more stronger.
Like the ancient Sanskrit Saying goes “Aano Bhadrah Krtvo Yantu Vishwataha” which means
“May noble thoughts and good things come to us from all directions, from all around the world.”
What started as the Vedic civilization has overtime become an integration of cultures across space and time, and has today evolved into a beautiful assimilation of cultures across the world. The beautiful Taj Mahal, the Sufi music, the Hyderabadi culture, the Parsi tradition, the Cochin Jews, the Portuguese Culture of Goa, the Chinatown in Kolkata, the French culture in Pondicherry, the Bahá’í in Mumbai, Delhi, the refugees from Tibet – all are part of this great Indian civilization today.
Civilizations have risen and fallen across the world – Mesopotamian, Babylonian, Egyptian, Sumerian, Roman, Persian all have had their times and vanished – Indian civilization continues to flourish magnanimously since time immemorial irrespective of whether it is a nation or a collection of kingdoms, rising and falling empires, invaders, refugees, doesn’t matter. For India is not a mere nation, but a grand culture with its roots firmly set in the welfare and well being of not just humanity but all life forms. The very idea of the Indian culture is “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” – The whole world is a family.
Why is Hinduism NOT a religion?
Try answering these questions, and you will see why Hinduism is NOT a religion.
- Who is the founder of Hinduism?
- Which is that single holy book in Hinduism which all Hindus have to abide by?
- Who is that almighty single personal God in Hinduism?
- Which is that single central religious institution of Hinduism?
- Who is that single religious head in Hinduism?
Answers to all these questions are in the negative. Hinduism has no single founder, no single holy book, no single religious head or institution, no single personal God. And there is even more, you can be an atheist and still be a Hindu. Yes, read about Charvaka school of thought in the Hindu tradition. You can disagree with all the popular holy books and still be a Hindu. You may have never visited a Hindu temple, and still be a Hindu.
It is not about doing Pooja and saying prayers. It is the way you live your life as a Hindu. You can be a Hindu and still go and pray at a Church, nobody can stop you! There is no blasphemy in Hinduism. You can criticize and debate about every aspect of it without any fear. In fact texts like Upanishads, Gitas are full of extremely critical debates and discussions on various core aspects of Hinduism, including the idea of GOD.
Why is Hinduism a Culture?
You practice your religion, but you live your culture. In Hinduism you don’t practice anything, it is your lifestyle. There is nothing like converting to Hinduism. You do not have missionaries in Hinduism. No where do you find in any Hindu text about how one can convert to Hinduism. You just live your life as a Hindu.
Every aspect of nature is divine in Hinduism which means nature should be respected for it provides us shelter, food and a life supporting system in this Universe. So Hindus worship rivers, mountains, trees, air, water, even other animals, Sun, Moon, planets, knowledge, wealth. For a Hindu, everything in the Universe is divine. So you respect nature, follow the laws of nature, and don’t be greedy. Tarudevobhava – trees are divine. You don’t cut trees just like that if you are a true Hindu. In fact you will do everything you can to preserve every aspect of nature around you. Birds build beautiful nests without damaging or altering the surroundings nature around their nests.
In Kerala and in the coastal belt along Karnataka every ancient family settlement has a backyard area which is called Kaavu in Malayalam (in Kerala) and Haadi in Kannada (in Karnataka). This Kaavu or Haadi is a mini forest area untouched by humans and left for wild animals. Kaavu or Haadi are home to many wild life forms. When the ancient Hindus started building urban areas, human settlements, they were quite aware that they were encroaching into the land of the wild animals and birds. So they created these mini forests and ensured continuous protection to these areas throughout generations. Such forest areas and trees were tagged sacred, to ensure people didn’t go and encroach them again. Do you see the reason why they paint the images of Gods and Goddesses on walls to prevent people from littering around?
You treat your guests like Gods – athithidevobhava. You wake up early in the morning in the Brahmi Muhurtha. Ayurveda and Yoga is your life style to be healthy and sound – both in mind and body. Ayurveda is not a medicinal system, but a natural life style you live so that you don’t ever need medicines. Yoga is not just an hour a day physical fitness session, it starts with teaching you how to breathe. And you breathe throughout your life, not for just an hour a day. So they are part of your life style. Hinduism is the way you live your entire life, not the way you pray once in a while at some temple.
Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam , the entire world is a family is what you abide by if you are a Hindu. Not just all humans, but all living beings are created equally. So we say Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah, may all living beings live happily, in peace, may good happen to all, may all prosper and live their lives to their fullest potential.
And all this is done without any prayer to a personal God or without following any religious rituals. Religious rituals are just that, original life styles with rational reasons which overtime become practices irrespective of whether they still hold good or not. Religions are stagnant, always have fixed set of laws, culture is not. Culture evolves, religion does not.
Hinduism is a culture that constantly evolves, you can discard earlier lifestyles which are no longer applicable or valid in your times or in your place. Which is why you find different sections of Hindus in different geographies having their own lifestyle which is so diverse from others.
A Hindu has no difficulty performing online pooja via the Internet to his favorite deity. Lifestyle in Hinduism is both time bound and geography specific wherever applicable – again the reason why it is a culture that evolves with numerous branches and not a religion.
And if you want a constitutional approval of Hinduism being a culture, below is an excerpt from a 1996 judgement by the Supreme Court of India on what Hindutva or Hinduism means
Hinduism is a culture not a religion, and India is a culturally unified civilization not a mere nation.
Thanks heavens you are back guru. I your absence for this long had started to worry me. How r you & where have you been these past years. I need to discuss something i feel very important regarding modernization of Indian philosophy by converging all our knowledge towards the ultimate truth. Trying to weave a story around it. Please please pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese contact me so we can have some personal chat.
Truly a fan of yours & possibly a modern a modern shishya (if you are open to accept me ;)
This is what I exactly feel by my consciousness and this is Best article I ever read on internet especially for those word..
It’s a brilliantly written article in such a simple yet beautiful way. Cleared so many questions and points. So thankful for this. Keep the good work going. Really good job. :)
True. Wonderful thought. Our aim should be one World One Family…
This may sound racist but it is not, it is the truth – but the white man has invented nothing. He has just copied/pasted everything.
Computers and Vedas – buy this book, I cannot, I stay aborad. No Western store has it.
In the Vedas, principles laid down in Mimamsa philosophy vis-a-vis the modern computational systems. Further it asserts that some of the latest principles of computer science were already recorded in Mimamsa texts. To corroborate with the above statement the author selects the FORTAN language of computer to demonstrate the value of expression by an assignment statement. Subprogram in Vedas, data transmission, categorization of statements, queues/stacks & paurvaparya & vitati; time sharing systems, processing time computers; Avilamba of Mimamsa; and password concept in the light of Adhikarvadhi
Amazing article..so refreshing..it simply reinforced my absolute faith in sanatan dharma..proud to be a hindu…
Its true that Hinduism is a way of life (or culture) having thousands of years of existance. But due to political reasons , some are trying to mould it to zemetic form, which will eventually destroy this culture. This culture is still persisting in spite of numerous invations and attacks due to its non-centric non-zemetic nature. In order to sustain this culture we should eradicate the evil of caste system from its body.
True, and the first and most important step to eradicate caste system is government should stop asking which caste a person belongs to. No government application form should have a column for caste.
guru ji input some of the load krishana bhajan ,like Anup Jalota song
Vedic Ancient Model and Modern Model of “Science”
Science is Science, but the fact is we are human, we may select wrong model or wrong direction, heading towards in search of truth and our identity or “to be exact” for our comfort ness.
Modern Science is more of in search of Comfort-ness than in search of eternal truth.
So our psychology is to find shortcut of everything to gain the fast comfort.
So this shortcut leads to Hazards, may long for 1000 to 2000 years at the most for our human civilization.
I want to discuss here, Model of Vedic Science and so the Eternal (sanatana) Science.
What are prime and basic model of vedic science, why it is so eternal, why do we eat fruits of that, today also. Why in regular interval, we think that oh! it was there in Veda.
Biggest question is “why we Indian people can not lead and propel further to our Vedic science” ?
1. Come out from Modern science model and the infrastructure associated with it.
2. Rebuild the Basic Infrastructure of Vedic Science Model.
3. Make Systematic and Compulsory learning of Veda.
4. Force the Government for above.
5. Re-establish the importance of Vedic Model
6. Re-discover the Logic and ideology of Vedic Science
7. Master the Logic and Direction of essence of Veda.
8. Re-discover Mantra-tantra-yantra Science which is some sort of comfort-ness for every day life instead of modern gazettes, Hence the Mantra science is more of Eternal science but can be utilize for daily comfort.
9. Movement for Mass adoption of the Vedic Science
Hm..that’s an interesting point-of-view that is. However, there are some loopholes that’d better be stuffed.
1. None of the people who died were from outside India (or say outside the purview of Hindu/Indian culture)
2. None of the people who attacked were from India! So, how does one explain the irony?
To this you may simply reply that reincarnation is not bound to a region or a culture and those who died in the earlier wars reincarnated in Europe and West Asia and took revenge. Fair game! But, there’s more trouble with your assertion.
1. It seems to be based on the famous one-liner western understanding of the concept of Karma – “That what goes around, comes around”. Which anybody who knows something about Karma will promptly admit, is not entirely true (Although it’s kind of true in essence and we must appreciate them trying to understand Indian ethos where appreciation is due). There’s more to Karma than that.
2. The scriptures in Hinduism are supposed to be a guiding force, not a strict routine that must be adhered to. Therefore,we must wait for modern science to patronize reincarnation until we take it as a matter of fact.
So, it’d be good if you changed ‘justify the facts’ to ‘justify the propositions’ until the research is done to fruition.
I, personally, do not believe in reincarnation as yet, but an interesting point-of-view yours is! Good luck with your research.
To end – Why could the Japanese not be invaded (bombed yes, but invaded no) when they invaded as many people as anybody else did in world history.
Hahaha, you are talking as if people in other parts of the world never warred with each other, were always at peace, and India went around destroying other parts of the world.
1) Why did Parashuram eradicate Kshatriya kings? What about the Karma behind his reason? Did he suddenly go nuts and start doing it?
2) Why did Rama attack Srilanka (he did not conquer it, the throne was handed over to Ravana’s brother), Was he a war mongering mongol or Iranian shah to go and attack Ravan? What about Ravana’s karma?
3) Why was the Mahabharata war fought? Did Pandavas never faced any injustice and they suddenly ganged up with other kings to start a big war? What about the karma of Kauravas?
I will tell you about the Good Karma India and Hinduism has. There have been onslaughts on other parts of the world too. Egyptian civilization got destroyed, so did Mesopotamian, Babylonian, Sumerian, Even Tibet got conquered by Chinese, Pagans vanished, Zoroastrianism vanished, Buddhist vanished from its earlier dominance. On the other hand Hinduism and Indian culture which is much older than all these cultures and civilizations survives even today, Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world, no amount of invasions, attacks have been able to destroy the culture of Hinduism and that of the Vedic civilization from India unlike what happened in Iran, America, Australia, Italy, and other parts of the world.
So if you look at it India and Hinduism has more good karma which has saved us inspite of all the odds, attacks, loot, invasion we have faced for thousands of years. So there is nothing to crib about for us, abrahamic religions succeeded in spreading across the planet, but not in India.
Now tell me, you still think we have bad karma ?
I dont buy this logic, both sides suffered in those wars, and wars have happened across the world civilizations. And as I said earlier, why did all other civilizations on this planet vanish without trace and new ones took over, while vedic culture continues to survive in big numbers?
You are speaking as if the situation today is permanent, but if you look at history that is not the case. There have been times throughout history where other philosophies, religions, cultures have risen above Hinduism and gone down without trace after that. So these are just temporary times.
Remember once upon a time Buddhist was the greatest threat to Hindu culture, if spread beyond what one can even imagine today occupying more than 80% of the world then. If you read the texts of those times people thought Hindus is as good as finished. Where is Buddhism today?
Yada Yada hi dharmasya, it has always happened in the past, will always happen in the future – reestablishment of sanatana dharma as a major world culture. I never worry about the survival of Hinduism, it has merit and will always be there. These are just cycles, nothing too much to worry about or break our heads about it.
really helpful info for today’s confused generations of ours.. Thanks a lot and please keep posting..
How can I thank you personally?..I have been following closely this Blog zine…every article is informative..insightful..eye opener..some times I feel so sad after knowing the fact of how we were and how we are today….at the same time feel really proud of the same fact, that we belong to such a gr8 culture heritage..hmm!..it must be the god’s grace that we have taken birth on this land…
by sharing all this information with everybody you can :)