Hinduism, I profess it, I express it, I accept and respect it, but what does it actually mean for me and my life?
Is there a simple answer to “what is Hinduism”, or is it more complicated and more challenging to define?
Those who have Shruddha in the Hindu idea, those that are not afraid or ashamed or shy about being Hindu, what is the answer to this question from the perspective of these people, I confidently say “I am a Hindu”, but what is this Hinduism that I and many others are so confident with?
Well I hope to read from all those who are willing to attempt this question, I will attempt to give my meaning to the word Hinduism.
Hinduism = Dharmah. Guna of Dharmah = responsibility, ethics, relationships, respect, worship, social wellbeing, individual wellbeing, practice, ritual, philosophy, wisdom, compassion, unity. Dharmah is the responsibility of the individual and the society at large, the practice of an ethical lifestyle, respect for the relationships we Humans have with each other and mother Bhumi, worship in any mode, in any style of many or none forms. Dharmah is the category produced for an individual to determine who is considered a Guru/Acharya/Purohita/Pundit/Swami/Deva and Devi so one can peruse personal wellbeing and happiness, Artha and Kama. Dharmah is there to produce an ethical, happy, content and respectful individual who forms part of a larger society so that the society of many well-grounded individuals can have wellbeing. Dharma is practical to be put into practice every moment of my life with rituals Dharmah creates a sense of responsibility and Shruddha, the philosophy of life and living is Dharmah. The wise who share their wisdom with those willing is a wise act within itself. Dharmah is extended not only to Humans but to all living and non-living beings/entities where compassion and respect are fostered not because this existence is for our use, but because Mata Bhumi has her own rights which we are taught to respect. Dharmah is diverse yet it is among hindus a uniting force.
I try to practice Dharmah not just because I am Hindu, but these ideals and practices of Dharmah are proven to produce the least amount of Hinsa and asatya, this is one reason I don’t consider “duty”, as much a good description of Dharmah, as Dharmah is not something like duty that binds us but the opposite, Dharmah is realese from the Bonds – Dharmah is Moksha.
This is just what comes to mind this morning, not mentioning Tradition, culture and a sense of belonging as these are not much specific to being Hindu.
The highest ideals of Hinduism I hold, are the practice of Satya and Ahimsa. Even if I just take these two principal practices of Hindu Dharmah, to me these encompass all that I can think of and beyond.
Each of these Guna of Dharmah that I can think of is not merely an idea, these are practical and come within the broader idea of “Sanatana”, or these Gunas of Dharmah are unlimited and unending.
I consider Dharmah as a perfect definition and representation of Hindu practices.
Also the contribution from our Shastras that are there as a Guide to Dharmah must be acknowledged and respected, not simply believed and followed, but thoroughly debated and discussed.
Here i post just a quote from one of our Shastra on the subject: From where it comes from i don’t know, but that i don’t consider too important at this stage.
“And that Dharmah which tortures one’s self and friends is really no Dharmah. It is rather Adharmah, producing calamities. Dharmah is sometimes also a human weakness. And though such a one might be engaged in the practice of Dharmah, yet both Dharmah and Artha forsake one like Kama and Dukha forsaking a person that is dead. He that practices Dharmah for Dharma’s sake always suffers. He can scarcely be called a wise man, for he knows not the purposes of Dharmah, like a blind man incapable of perceiving the solar light. “In the same way Artha is to be properly subordinated to the acquisition of Dharmah and Kama. He that regards his Artha to exist for himself alone, scarcely understands the purposes of Artha. He is really like a servant that tends cattle in a forest. He, again, that pursues Artha too much without looking to Dharmah and Kama, deserves to be censured and slain by all men… He that wishes to obtain Artha, seeks for a large share of Dharmah to crown his wish with success. He that wishes for Kama seeks Artha.” Thus Dharmah is necessary for worldly success, which in its turn leads to happiness. An exclusive pursuit of happiness leads nowhere. “He also that ever pursues Kama without pursuing Dharmah and Artha, loses his friends and Dharmah and Artha also. Destitute of Dharmah and Artha, such a person indulging in Kama at will, at the expiration of his period of indulgence, meets with certain death. ‘Kama is essentially connected with both Dharmah and Artha; but it is as a normal accompaniment of these and not as a means leading to any of these ends that it exists. Kama, therefore, unlike the other two is incapable of being a fresh source of moral growth. “They that are wise are ever careful of both Dharmah and Artha, for a union of Dharmah and Artha is the essential requisite of Kama. Kama has always Dharmah for its root, and Dharmah also is united with Kama. Know that both are dependent on each other, like the ocean and the clouds, the ocean causing, clouds, and the clouds filling the ocean. The joy that arises from the senses, the intellect, and the heart being directed to the objects proper to each is called Kama. That Kama is one of the best fruits of our Karma. ‘Kama therefore should be welcomed as a result of all normal and healthy activities; but it should not be an end by itself, “Kama, however, yields nothing in its turn. One Kama cannot lead to another, being its own fruit; as ashes may be had from wood, but nothing from those ashes in their turn… He, therefore, who misled by Kama, or covetousness beholds not the Kama of Dharmah, deserves to be slain by all? And becomes wretched both here and hereafter.’ A natural union of all three, each in due subordination to the other is the best thing to be aimed at.”
Hinduism therefore to me is not a commandment nor God given words to prophets, but is the mature attempt at producing a peaceful and harmonious individual and society. Real Peace is not merely declaring that my ideology is peaceful, it is the hard evidence from my actions that determines peacefulness. Real Love and compassion does not need to be told to a Human from any external source, Humans are naturally inclined towards Love and compassion and Hinduism provides the architecture for these to flourish.
Being a Hindu and having compassion towards other is a essential practice. Not only other Hindus or Humans, the idea of compassion and unity that drives Hinduisms peaceful nature and outlook is extended to the entire cosmos, when i say that Love and Compassion are Natural to us, this idea is somewhat ingrained in my DNA, This idea of Love and Compassion is rife in our texts as well, one such story from a Purana is the following.
“the Vysa (compiler) by name of Samadhi, and the noble king went to the Muni.” They were duly respected by him as prescribed in the ordinances: they both conversed on history. The Rajah said, “O divine personage! I am desirous to ask one thing from thee, explain it to me, my mind has lost its function, I am troubled with anxiety? O excellent Muni! what is this? though conscious of transitory nature, yet like an ignorant person I love my kingdom, and all my retinue. He (Samadhi) was banished by his son, wife, attendants, and his relations, yet he feels pity for them. In this manner we both excessively grieve, love draws us unto reprehensible actions. What is this, O magnificent sage, though we are ingenious, yet our affection produces scarcity in action.
The Rishi said, “O great sharer, wisdom exists in all living creatures that are desirous of life, love predominates in each individually. Some animals are blind in the day, others at night, and others again that appear equally blind both day and night. It is true, that kings appear prudent, but are not really so; all the beasts, birds, animals have knowledge. What knowledge mankind is possessed of, the others are equally endowed with. See the birds being wise, though oppressed with hunger themselves, yet lovingly pick up the crumbs with their beaks and feed their young ones? O chief of kings! do you not see men lovingly support their offspring for the benefit of others?.
By attraction they fall in the vortex of love. By the power of Mahamaya, the world was originally created. Mahamaya seized the lord of the world when at his slumber yoga; the great illusion enveloped Hari, she shackles the world. The divine goddess possesses irresistibly the heart of even the wisest, and forcibly leads into great deception. By her the universe consisting of animates and inanimate was created, her blessings procure emancipation. The knowledge of her is the means of supreme salvation; she is eternal and links mortality; she is the supreme goddess over all goddesses.”
As a Child i grew up without any doctrine of Hinduism, there was no emphases on texts at all. This is i think the main reason I am free as a Hindu to acquire knowledge from our texts without the necessity to be bound by them.
Although i think that today, Hindu texts are more relevant to an Hindu because the texts and shastras are a reason that Hindu Dharma has survived, while other non Abrahamic traditions have been destroyed due to conversions and colonialism, it is the Traditions and practices of Hinduism (sanatana Dharmah) that survives because we had Shastra while other traditions did not have the large collection of texts as we did. Plus i also think that the Hindu texts are a great means of imparting DharmahShikha to our next generation, which will ensure a more Dharmic society.