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Hindu: The fallacy of 'Hinduism'

Discussion in 'Same Faith Debates' started by Surya Deva, Sep 4, 2012.

  1. Surya Deva

    Surya Deva Well-Known Member

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    My position: My argument is that the term 'Hinduism' is meaningless. It is a fallacious term that does not describe a single comprehensive religion, in the way Buddhism describes the religion founded by the Buddha and has central doctrines like the 4 noble truths, or Christianity describes the religion founded by Jesus Christ and is based on the authority of the bible and the central doctrine of Jesus Christ, the son of god, dying to redeem humanity or Islam the religion founded by the Prophet Mohammed, based on the authority of the Quran and the central doctrine that Allah is the only one true god worthy of worship and the Prophet Mohammed is his last and final prophet. I can form generally a good idea if somebody I meet describes themselves as Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or Jew on what they believe and practice.

    But if somebody describes themselves as 'Hindu' I am none the wiser. They can be anything from atheist, monotheist, pantheist, polytheist, henotheist, animist, ancestor worshipers, naturalist, shamanist, dualist, non-dualist, qualified non-dualist, oness and difference, Vaishnavist, Shaktist, Shiavism, Smartist, yogic/tantrik, RHP, LHP, Ganesha worshipers, Hanuman worshipers, Sun worshipers, Cow, Snake and Rat worshipers, river or tree worshipers or worshipers of 330 million other gods!

    I mean lets face it the term 'Hinduism' is a bad term created by the British attempting to classify the religious thought and diverse traditions and philosophies of an entire subcontinent under one monolithic label, simply because they accepted the authority of the Vedas as their founders. But that is like lumping all Abrahamic religions together like Islam, Christianity and Judaism and creating a religion called "Abrahamism" simply because they accept the authority of Abraham as their founder. If tomorrow such a religion was coined, I can bet you a million dollars Christians, Muslims and Jews would cry foul and demand they be treated as separate religions.

    In like manner Vaishnavism, Shiavism, Shaktism have all the features of a separate religion. They worship a different deity as supreme, they have a different canon of scriptures, different beliefs, myths and rituals. Historically, they have never got on with each other, more so true with Vaishnavism and Shiviaism. Vaishnavism denigrates Shiavism and vis versa and there have been terrible bloody religious wars between them, much like between Islam and Christianity.

    The above we can put under the category of Puranic Hinduism. There is also Vedic Brahmanical Hinduism, Yogic/Vedantic Hinduism, Folk Hinduism and none of them even vaguely resemble one another. Brahmanical Hinduism is the Hinduism of the elite Brahmins and involves ritual sacrifices to the gods and performing the ordained daily rituals; Yogic or Vedantic Hinduism involves yoga, meditation, philosophy and spirituality or gnosis; Folk Hinduism is the oldest kind of Hinduism dating back probably to the times of Indus Valley, the religion of tribal people and communities in India, following a more shamanic like religion.

    Thus I conclude my position that 'Hinduism' is a fallacious term, it does not describe a comprehensive religion. No such religion as 'Hinduism' even exists. The term is meaningless.
     
    #1 Surya Deva, Sep 4, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2012
  2. dyanaprajna2011

    dyanaprajna2011 Dharmapala

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    I actually tend to agree with this assessment, however, I do have one question: don't all the religions generally classified as "Hindu" all accept the supremacy of the Vedas? Or am I mistaken in thinking this?
     
  3. Riverwolf

    Riverwolf Amateur Rambler / Proud Ergi
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    Actually, the term "Hindu" comes from Persian (originally Sindhu), and used to not refer to any religion, but Indians in general.

    Not really an argument against your point(which I sort of agree with, though perhaps not to the extent of calling the term "meaningless"), just a playful nitpick. :p
     
  4. Riverwolf

    Riverwolf Amateur Rambler / Proud Ergi
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    The vast majority of them do.

    However, that's another problem with the word: it can also refer to other indigenous/village religions of India that may or may not have anything to do with the Vedas.
     
  5. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    Yes its a bad term, but we're stuck with it.
     
  6. Riverwolf

    Riverwolf Amateur Rambler / Proud Ergi
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    I think it's another reason why the term "Sanatana Dharma" is very often used to refer to the religion, often purported as the "proper" term. However, that just brings in even more problems, and doesn't really solve the primary problems with the term "Hinduism."
     
  7. Surya Deva

    Surya Deva Well-Known Member

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    For me the term Santana Dharma can only mean Vedantic/Yogic Hinduism because Santana Dharma means universal/timeless religion and the only aspect of Hinduism which is based on universal principles like atman, brahman, karma, moksha, yoga etc is Vedantic/Yogic Hinduism. All these core concepts are by definition universal principles, and they are found not only just in Hinduism, but in other religions, even in modern science. In fact the fact that they are not just localized to Indian thought is the proof of their universality. This is why modern Hindu visionaries like Swami Vivekananda brought the focus on Vedantic/Yogic Hinduism. He believed only it could be a basis for a universal religion for all of humanity.

    The movement of spirituality in the science is largely inspired by the ideas of Swami Vivekananda. Great physicists and philosophers of science have been inspired by him.

    All other kinds of Hinduism cannot be sanatana by the very fact that they are localized to the traditions of India only. Puranic Hinduism is not santana because it is based on Indian mythology, Indian gods, Indian traditions. Brahmanical Hinduism is not santana because it is defunct(purva-mimasa) and the caste system is no longer valid in modern society. Folk-Hinduism is not santana because it is again localized to only Indian tribes and it is primitive.
     
    #7 Surya Deva, Sep 4, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2012
  8. Riverwolf

    Riverwolf Amateur Rambler / Proud Ergi
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    Yet even these cannot be truly "Sanatana", since they are still limited by our flawed human perception.

    Nevertheless, I agree that this sort of philosophy is as close as we can get, at least for now. The Sages of the Ramakrishna Math have been among my favorite spiritual reads, demonstrating the fewest amount of logical fallacies and remaining very honest in their approaches.
     
  9. Surya Deva

    Surya Deva Well-Known Member

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    In fact, if the truth be told, Hindus only accept the Vedas in lip-service, more of an acknowledgement to them, but actually accept other scriptures as supreme over them. The Vaishnavists accept the the Gita and Vaishnava Puranas as their supreme authority. The Shivaists accept the Agamas/tantras and Shaiva Puranas as their supreme authority. The Shaktists accept the agamas/tantras.

    The Advaitists are the only tradition of 'Hinduism' that actually really accept the Vedas as supreme authority, but even then the emphasis is on the principal Upanishad part. Advaita also accept as secondary texts the Gita and Brahma Sutras. Together they form the triple canon. In addition to these the prakaranas(introductory texts) are accepted as valid textbooks by scholarly consensus: The works of Shankara, Panchadasi, Vedanta-sara and other works.
     
    #9 Surya Deva, Sep 4, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2012
  10. Riverwolf

    Riverwolf Amateur Rambler / Proud Ergi
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    One of these days, I'll read the Vedanta Sutra. :D

    I guess it could be argued, though, that there are several mantras from the Vedas that are regarded as Holy, and in many cases, magical. Namah Sivaya, the Gayatri Mantra, AUM itself, Purnamada purnamidam, etc.
     
  11. Jainarayan

    Jainarayan ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय
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    I'll concede that the term "Hindu" has taken on the connotation of an "Indians-only club" by Indians and non-Indians. This hasn't happened with Buddhism because Buddhism spread to so many cultures, but I see the same ethnicity issue with Sikhism as with Hinduism. One can be unbaptized and cleanshaven and still be a Sikh. Hinduism and Sikhism are equated with ethnicity. I see it also with Islam which is primarily equated with Arabs.

    However, I stand by my belief that when asked what religion I follow, answering with "Well, my ishta-devata is Krishna, the manifest and personal form of the unmanifest, impersonal and attributeless Brahman, so that technically makes me Vaishnava because Krishna and Vishnu are one and the same and Vaishnava is a vṛddhi of the name Vishnu, but in my beliefs Vishnu and Shiva are one and the same also, so I'm what you could call a Vaishnashaiva or Shaivashnava who believes that we are also one with God... Brahman... Harihara aka Shankarnarayana, but slightly different which we can't understand" if that doesn't make someone :eek: :thud:I don't know what would. At which point I myself would probably :faint: from lack of oxygen for saying that without taking a breath, trying to get that all in before the person says "OK, OK, sorry I asked :rolleyes: ".

    "Hindu" works for now.
     
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  12. Jainarayan

    Jainarayan ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय
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    I was prepared for the following conversation with my family, which did not come to pass (yet)...

    Them: "Hindu? You're Hindu now? So, you became Indian too?"

    Me: "You're Christian, right? Roman Catholic to be precise, right?"

    Them: "Yeah, of course."

    Me: "But you follow the teachings of a Galilean handyman who was an orthodox Jew; when did you become Galilean? Or did you become Roman? TOGA PARTY!!!"
     
  13. ratikala

    ratikala Istha gosthi

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    dear sureya deva ,

    what are you trying to proove?

    one minuite you are saying that there is no meaning to the term hinduism the next minuite you are saying .....
    you then call other people dellusional ????

    you allso confess to know more than others ?

    because you have studied the official schlarship ?

    what Is the official scholarship?
     
  14. ratikala

    ratikala Istha gosthi

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    I think we all realise that the older the tradition the more different branches or streams of thought exist within it , this is happening within buddhism allso and it is a fraction of the age of what we ar calling hinduism today .

    I agree with vinayaka that it may not be a perfect title but we are stuck with it .
    even within buddhism and christianity it is nececary to ask a persons tradition within their faith as there are many different methods of worship even with in a 2000 year old tradition such as christianity , and within the 2500 years of buddhism many schools and traditions have built up incorperating other prevalent thoughts of the culture into which it expanded .
    fortunately you have allready been corrected on this by another , so please stop blaming the british who simply addopted a term allready in common use for many hundreds of years .

    I can only see that having a unifying umbrella term such as hindu would do more to unify the individual traditions and put an end to the waring between factions !


    this is pure supposition on your part , but interestingly enough you continue to use the term hinduism throughout this paragraph , because there is simply no other word to use as when we reffer back to older civilisations we do not know enough about them to reliably say what their beleifs and practices were .
    no religion exists where all adherents are in complete agreement about all tenents and practices , that does not meen they should be devided in to seperate factions purely for the sake of clarity and for the benifit of the outside observer , this is what causes the animosity which creates wars !

    I there for suggest that the term hindu has its place in unifying many closely related schools of thought under one umbrella and for that reason it has its meaning and value and is something of which we should be proud :yes:

    I tend to use the title vaisnava but many do not understand what that means so amongst non hindu I might use the term hindu , which to the outside world simply tells them that I am not jewish , not muslim , not christian ......simmilarly if I were to say that I am a sanatana dharmi , I would get as many looks of confusion as a welshman would if he went to vrindarvan and said I am chapel !;)
     
  15. Surya Deva

    Surya Deva Well-Known Member

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    I use the term Hindu merely to show I am part of the same tradition, while recognizing how flawed this term is and preferring not to use it. I use the term "Santana Dharma" to refer to my religion which corresponds to Vedantic/Yogic Hinduism.

    Nope, you are misrepresenting what I am saying. I am telling Pleroma who is telling me I don't know anything about Hinduism because I do not recognize the one true Sun-God or recognize that intelligence exists in "Platonic realms" that I know more about Hinduism than he does. What he presents isn't even Hinduism, it is some bizarre mix of Hinduism, with Platonism, Gnosticism, Aryanism, new-age and Indian nationalism.

    The official scholarship is the scholarly consensus on the religion of Hinduism as regards to its history and development, its central beliefs. It differs from the religious account of things. For example, while the religious account claims the Puranas to be composed in 3000BCE by the eternal sage Ved Vyasa, the scholarly consensus is that they all been composed at different times after the common era.
     
  16. Surya Deva

    Surya Deva Well-Known Member

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    Christianity has sects. Islam has sects. Buddhism has sects. Hinduism does not have sects, it has completely separate religions, based on completely different canons, different traditions, different god/s, different beliefs and rituals.

    We don't have to be stuck with anything, we can simply stop using the term. For now I use 'Hindu' because most people have not heard of Advaita Vedanta(even many Hindus I talk to) but I also educate them about Advaita Vedanta at the same time and tell them about the limitations about the term 'Hindu' So I don't perpetuate their ignorance.

    Yeah but they do not diverge from another so significantly that they would become a different religion. All Buddhists accept the four noble truths, all Christians accept Jesus as their lord and savior and the bible as the word of god, all Muslims accept the Quran and the Prophet Mohammed as the last and final prophet. On the other hand, Hindus don't agree on anything, even the doctrine of Shruti vs Smriti. Most Hindus don't even care about the Vedas or have read the Vedas or the Upanishads.

    I already knew the term Hindu was used by the Persians and Arabs to describe the people of India. However, the classification 'Hinduism" to designate a religion was created by the British.

    On the contrary, Hinduism is easily the most fragmented and divided religion in the world, with no common consensus on a single issue and no overarching organization to decide religious matters. This is why many of the Hindu youth I encounter are hopelessly confused about Hinduism.

    We are not completely ignorant about the beliefs and practices of aboriginal people.

    Yes, of course there is no religion that has complete agreement on all tenets and practices, but they certainly do have fundamental beliefs and practices. I would never encounter a Muslim that gives more authority to some other scripture than the Quran, or a Christian giving more authority to a scripture other than the bible, but you will hundreds of millions of Hindus which consider as scripture the Puranas, the Gita, agams/tantras over the Vedas.

    You cannot unify contradictory religions and belief systems. Otherwise the term 'Abrahamism' would be used to unify Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

    This is why I use the term Hindu first to let them know which part of the world my religion is from, and then I educate them about my actual tradition. The result one less ignorant person in regards to Hinduism.
     
  17. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    I will do that too, if given the opportunity. But quite frankly, most people don't want to, or don't have the time to listen to the longer explanation. And it, by necessity, indeed is a much longer explanation.
     
  18. Satyamavejayanti

    Satyamavejayanti Well-Known Member

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    Hinduism, describes the philosophy founded upon the Vedas. All Hindu sects are just a philosophical attempt to understand the Vedas, all names of different Hindu Gods find their way back to the Vedas.

    Because Hinduism i think is not a religion based on any human founder, so its associated with many great sages.

    Yes the Abrhamics will, as their religions don't accept each other as Valid, in Hinduism all are valid and different and acceptable, its left to the individual to decide what they believe is more believable.

    No Vaishnava, will break a murti of a Shiav worshiper, no Shaki worhiper will destroy Hanuman temples, no Ram worshiper will kill Krishna worshippers because their gods are different, that is more a Abrahamic sects thing to do.

    No problems in that.


    http://www.religiousforums.com/forum/hinduism-dir/125075-why-i-am-hindu.html

    please read above discussion.
     
  19. Surya Deva

    Surya Deva Well-Known Member

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    A related point I want to make on the term 'Hinduism' is the term gives a misleading impression that Hinduism is a single comprehensive religion and its adherents share common beliefs and practices. But the more insidious ramification is that all its adherents must accept each others beliefs and practices as equally valid to their own - and this is when I cry foul. I do not recognize other forms of Hinduism other than mine to be valid, so I should NOT be forced to consider them equally as valid as mine. We will see constantly how Hindus make other Hindus feel like bad people just because they do not agree with their beliefs and practices. We can see this reflected in this thread itself:

    No and No. Absolutely not! I do not accept other forms of Hinduism as valid. The true Hinduism is Santana Dharma of Yogic/Vedantic Hinduism. True Hinduism is just pure spirituality. Puranic Hinduism, Brahmanical Hinduism, and Folk Hinduism are not valid. They are false Hinduism. Now before Hindus start to hurl abuses at me for being "intolerant" I would like to remind them that Jews, Muslims and Christians think the same about each others religion, despite the fact that they all accept the authority of Abraham. Abrahamic religions are not religious relativists, they all recognize that only their religion is the truest, and that is why they are adherent of it. Why would you be an adherent of any religion, if you recognized other religions as true as well?

    The politically correct attitude that Hindus are suppose to swallow without questioning that all religions are valid and lead to the same goal of God, sometimes known as radical universal-ism, has absolutely no basis in Hindu history and culture. Hindu history clearly shows that the different traditions of Hinduism did not agree with each other and were constantly debating with one another and even the occasional war or battle.

    I do not recognize others religions as true. There is no variance in truth. I recognize only my religion of Advaita Vedanta as true. As far as I am concerned Puranic Hinduism, Brahmanical Hinduism and Folk Hinduism are different religions. It is much better that we separate these religion from one another and stop perpetuating this fallacy of Hinduism.
     
  20. Shuddhasattva

    Shuddhasattva Well-Known Member

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    This is, in my opinion, a manufactured issue. Hinduism is based on Vedas, regardless of its stripe. Why make this an issue?
     
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