Who is a Hindu & What is Hinduism
by S. ‘Vyas’
Hinduism is an incorrect name of Sanaatana Dharma or Varna-ashrama Dharma. “The Lord makes all the laws and orders, and these laws and orders are generally called dharma or religion. No one can create any religious formula.” – Srimad Bhagavat 1.8.4 Purport by Sri Prabhupada. The Vedas are the books of Hinduism, and the Vedas are given to Brahma, the first created being, by God Himself. This means that a Hindu (or Arya, meaning a believer in the Vedas) is surely a theist person, and Hinduism is a theist religion. Bhagavad Gita is the summary of the Vedas given by Bhagavan Krishna Himself. Therefore, Gita is well known as The Book of Hinduism.
Hinduism is not sectarian. It is true for all times, places, and peoples. Some religious scholars have said that Hinduism is the complete science of spirituality. Just as the laws of physical science are absolute, the laws of spiritual science are also absolute. They are always true, whether you believe or not.
Hinduism or Gita provides all possible ways how to know and worship and go to God or His kingdom. Some Hindus believe God is formless and soul and supersoul is same. They are the followers of Sripad Shankaracharya’s advaita vada or mayavada. Others believe God has a form. They worship Vishnu tattva incarnations (Narasimha, Rama, Krishna, etc.), Shankar, Ganesh, Durga, or Surya. They are called bhaktas or devotees. Please do not confuse them with “Bhaktas” or the followers of Kabir.
Hinduism has grown in Bharat (India). So, to a Hindu, Bharat is deva bhoomi, the land of the devas and the Home of the Hindus. Bharat always have thousands of holy personalities and places of pilgrimages. A Hindu is always desires to associate with holy persons who are great devotees or have realized God.
Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism are off-shoots of Hinduism. Buddhism is an anti vedic and atheistic religion. Hindus do not follow it, but consider Buddha as an incarnation of God. According to Bhagavatam, Jainism has started after Rishabhdeva, a Vishnu tattva incarnation, and it was theistic originally. But it its current form it is atheistic. Sikhism is a mix of Islam and Hindu faiths. Culturally and historically, Jains and Sikhs have always lived peacefully with the Hindus.
Most Hindus keep an altar of a deity in home and practice their sadhana. A temple is a religious community infrastructure and very dear to Hindu devotees.
– tulasi plant and pippal tree is holy.
– Ganga, Yamuna, and other rivers are holy.
– Himalayas including Kailash are holy.
– Cow is holy animal (no Hindu should kill or eat or cook cow).
– Gita, Bhagavat, and the Vedas are literary forms of God.
– Guru is God. So much they revere guru.
– Earth, queen, guru’s wife, teacher’s wife, elder brother’s wife, and cows are mothers.
In contrast to Islam and Christianity who have used brute force to convert, Hinduism is preached to interested people only. No one is forced to accept Hinduism just like no one is forced to love a beautiful and fragrant rose or lotus.