Indic Religions
#1
Indic Religions
India has many religions practiced by many of its citizens. Some of these religions have evolved indigenously and some have come from outside and got modified to some extent to become Indic religions. The religions that are practiced now are cults of Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism and Zoroastrianism. There are some other minor religions that are insignificant in population. In a Wikipedia essay the following information is available:-
“According to the 2001 census, 80.5% of the population of India practice Hinduism. Islam (13.4%), Christianity (2.3%), Sikhism (1.9%), Buddhism (0.8%) and Jainism (0.4%) are the other major religions followed by the people of India. There are also numerous minor tribal traditions, though these have been affected by major religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity.
The amount of diversity in the religious belief systems of India today, is a result of both the existence of many native religions and also, the assimilation and social integration of religions brought to the region by travelers, immigrants, traders, and even invaders and conquerors such as the Mughals.”
The statement in the second paragraph above is noteworthy. Which are the native religions of India and which are assimilated from outside? I would say that there is no native religion today because both the indigenously evolved religions and incoming religions underwent changes by mutual exchange of ideas and practices. According to the recent scientific studies on genetic migrations worldwide, all the people of India came from Africa some time or other as primitive hunter gatherers or as nomadic pastoralists and contributed to the development of Indian religions. Hinduism being the major religious group, a separate essay has been added here on Hinduism. Other Indian religions will be discussed as and when the context justifies it.
What is religion?
It is difficult to define religion comprehensively. A general definition can be “Religion is organized set of beliefs, ceremonies and rules for a group of people” Important nature of religions are: it binds people; it may or may not include belief in supernatural and god; it generally has some set of rules to follow; and above all religion guides people towards a set of behavior within the group and in relation to other groups. Religion is mostly associated with staunch following of the rules and beliefs without questioning and analysis. In this respect religion is equal to dogmatism and repulsion to the beliefs of other people outside the group. In this respect there is perceptible difference between Hinduism and other Abrahamic religions. While Hinduism is more tolerant towards other religions Abrahamic religions such as Christianity and Islam are close minded about their beliefs. This is because Hinduism has no single founder or prophet whose words rule the minds of the followers. For Christianity the words of Jesus Christ and his twelve disciples are sacrosanct; for Islam the words of Prophet Mohammed are uncontestable. In this respect some thinkers call Hinduism as a cultural array of different sub-cultures bound by a common conviction in accommodation and adjustment of diverse ideas. This characteristic of Hinduism allows and facilitates argument and dissent and leads to cooperation and coexistence of opposites.
Is religion necessary?
Yes and No is the answer.
Yes because majority of people need some kind of mental support to keep mental balance in the face of anxiety and distress that is part of everybody’s life. Personal religion and belief in a God as a supernatural entity may help them out when in distress providing hope. The hope soothes the agitated mind and helps to regain control. When human mind is in distress it is incapable of rational analysis of facts and chooses the most soothing idea whether the idea is true or false being immaterial. This is because human mind has an organ called amygdala that hijacks the decision making brain. The following reference will explain the science behind it:-
“From the thalamus, a part of the stimulus goes directly to the amygdala while another part is sent to the neocortex (the "thinking brain"). If the amygdala perceives a match to the stimulus, i.e., if the record of experiences in the hippocampus tells the amygdala that it is a fight, flight or freeze situation, then the amygdala triggers the HPA (hypothalmic-pituitary-adrenal) axis and hijacks the rational brain. This emotional brain activity processes information milliseconds earlier than the rational brain, so in case of a match, the amygdala acts before any possible direction from the neocortex can be received. If, however, the amygdala does not find any match to the stimulus received with its recorded threatening situations, then it acts according to the directions received from the neo-cortex. When the amygdala perceives a threat, it can lead that person to react irrationally and destructively.
In the case of religion this mental hijacking by the amygdala acts constructively so that a mental disaster is avoided. When we feel safe and free from threat we can realize the irrationality of our earlier behavior.
The answer is No because, religion when becomes institutional and organized invariably becomes hypocritical and dogmatic. This is what happens in most situations, in most religions. In an institutionalized religion two developments take place: 1) funding and accumulation of money power; 2) inherent compulsion to expand membership by proselytizing. Accumulation of money power makes it corrupt and power hungry like any other public institution. This leads to illegal and unethical practices and even crime.
How to use religion positively?
In the foregoing we saw that religion helps us at the personal level. Hence if we try to keep our religious practices for ourselves and respect others’ religion we avoid the negative bigotry of religion. In the case of institutionalized religion if we avoid proselytizing and construct our institution on the positive aspects of the religion we can be useful to mankind at large. An example of the second type of use of religion is Mother Theresa’s work to humanity. She used the tenets of universal compassion of Christianity for serving people without prejudice. Similarly the Sufi saints of the past used the positive aspects of Islam for serving people of all religions. An extract from the Internet says the following: -
“Sufi Islam, especially one belonging to the Wahdat al-Wuhudi school - the school that believes in the Unity of Being - is highly tolerant and sufis in India took to local customs, traditions, cultural forms and wrote in local languages and showed great respect for other religions. Some sufis even maintained that Ram and Krishna must have been prophets of Allah. Muhiyuddin Ibn Arabi, founder of this school of Sufism, says in one of his poems that 'my religion and my shari'ah is love and love alone'. Rumi, another great Sufi whose epic poem Mathnawi is revered by millions, also says, "I am neither Muslim, nor Jew nor Christian nor Zoroastrian (as these three religions were present in that region in his time) and my only identity is love.
Indian Islam
Here is an extract from Wikipedia:-
“Islam first came to India with Arab traders as early as 7th century AD to coastal Malabar. Islam arrived in 11th century to coastal Gujarat. Islam arrived in north India in 12th century with Turkic invasions and has since become a part of India's religious and cultural heritage. Over the Centuries, there has been significant integration of Hindu and Muslim cultures across India and the Muslims have played a prominent role in India's economic rise and cultural influence.”
Indian Christianity
Wikipedia Extract:-
“The works of scholars and Eastern Christian writings state that Christianity was introduced to India by Thomas the Apostle, who visited Muziris in Kerala in 52 AD to spread the gospel amongst Kerala's Jewish settlements. Although the origins of Christianity in India remain unclear, there is a general scholarly consensus that Christianity was rooted in India by the 6th century AD, including some communities who used Syriac liturgically, and it is a possibility that the religion's existence there extends to as far back as the 1st century. Christianity was as such established in India even before some nations of Europe had been Christianized.”
Hinduism
Hinduism being a de-facto non-religion but a way of life as late Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan put it, is by nature tolerant and open to criticism and debate. From this debate only other indigenous religions Buddhism and Jainism sprang up. Still these dissenting new religions could not replace Hinduism in India. They went out to other parts of Asia and survived. This is because Hinduism itself got reformed by adopting their new principles of vegetarianism and nonviolence. Some Hindu sects even made Buddha as a Hindu God in its Dasavatara concept. [A separate essay is there on Hinduism.]
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#2
(25-Apr-2014, 11:07 AM)MKV Narayan Wrote: Hinduism being a de-facto non-religion but a way of life as late Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan put it, is by nature tolerant and open to criticism and debate

And what is the basis for claims. The lack of social progress of Hinduism clearly indicates that thats not the case. India, with Hindu majority, has history of censorship of criticism of Hinduism.

Also refer
http://nirmukta.com/2009/05/11/hinduism-...y-of-life/

PS: Please format your posts to make them more readable.
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#3
(25-Apr-2014, 10:06 PM)Kanad Kanhere Wrote:
(25-Apr-2014, 11:07 AM)MKV Narayan Wrote: Hinduism being a de-facto non-religion but a way of life as late Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan put it, is by nature tolerant and open to criticism and debate

And what is the basis for claims. The lack of social progress of Hinduism clearly indicates that thats not the case. India, with Hindu majority, has history of censorship of criticism of Hinduism.

Also refer
http://nirmukta.com/2009/05/11/hinduism-...y-of-life/

PS: Please format your posts to make them more readable.

I am happy to get a reply from the Super moderator of Nirmukta. I agree that I should format my posts for easy readalbilty. Regarding the line on Hinduism being a way of life rather than a religion I could not locate the actual reference but I have read in many books such as of Romila Thapar, A.L.Bosham's cultural history of India about such a view of Hinduism by scholars lke S. Radakrishnan. In his essay Dr Radakrishanan refers to Hinduism as culture and the like.

I read through the article referred by you and I like it.The last line, "Let us rid our house of that dirty rug that has been allowing superstition, bigotry, hate, and inequality to fester, destroying the things that really count as the achievements of our predecessors." is quite in line with my thinking. As I am new to Nirmukta I just sent a couple of my old essays to see the reaction. Thank you for the response and advice. Regards.

MKV
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#4
**I have read in many books such as of Romila Thapar, A.L.Bosham's cultural history of India about such a view of Hinduism by scholars lke S. Radakrishnan. In his essay Dr Radakrishanan refers to Hinduism as culture and the like. **

That might very well be true, ie Dr. Radhakrishnan might have said that. But is Dr. Radhakrishnan's assertion that Hinduism is a way of life correct? I think that it was to challenge this notion that Hinduism unlike Islam and Chtidtianity somehow enjoys this special position - way of life or non-religion - that Kanad refered you to the article from Nirmutha.com. It seems you have either not read the article or have totally misunderstood it for the article shows that Hinduism is no different from other religions. If Hinduism is a way of life then so is Islam and Christianity.

**As I am new to Nirmukta I just sent a couple of my old essays to see the reaction.**

Your essays are verbose and loaded with BS. My reaction: Eye rolls and yawns.
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#5
(27-Apr-2014, 04:31 AM)Captain Mandrake Wrote: **I have read in many books such as of Romila Thapar, A.L.Bosham's cultural history of India about such a view of Hinduism by scholars lke S. Radakrishnan. In his essay Dr Radakrishanan refers to Hinduism as culture and the like. **

That might very well be true, ie Dr. Radhakrishnan might have said that. But is Dr. Radhakrishnan's assertion that Hinduism is a way of life correct? I think that it was to challenge this notion that Hinduism unlike Islam and Chtidtianity somehow enjoys this special position - way of life or non-religion - that Kanad refered you to the article from Nirmutha.com. It seems you have either not read the article or have totally misunderstood it for the article shows that Hinduism is no different from other religions. If Hinduism is a way of life then so is Islam and Christianity.

**As I am new to Nirmukta I just sent a couple of my old essays to see the reaction.**

Your essays are verbose and loaded with BS. My reaction: Eye rolls and yawns.

I have no objection to your going to sleep after your yawns and rolls. Good night. - MKV
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