Dr S Radhakrishnan, one of the most profound philosopher-authors and educationists of the 20th century to serve as President of India from 1962 to 1967 before retiring from public life. His books are read the world over and his most popular ones are An Idealist View of Life and Indian Philosophy.
What is Hinduism? It cannot be defined except to describe it as a way of life than a form of thought…That what is important about it is that it has altered from age to age, from community to community. “The ease with which Hinduism has daily absorbed the customs and ideas of peoples with whom it has come into contact is as great as the difficulty we feel in finding a common feature binding together its different forms,” says Dr S Radhakrishnan, thus making a very pertinent point for those who have so far not been able to assimilate themselves into the Hindu culture and way of life. “Though peoples of different races and cultures have been pouring into India from the dawn of history, Hinduism has been able to maintain its supremacy and even the proselytising creeds baked by political powers have not been able to coerce the large majority of Indians to their views. The Hindu culture possesses a vitality which seems to be derived from some other more forceful currents.”
The Hindu civilisation is so-called since its original founders or earliest followers occupied the territory drained by the Sindhu (Indus) river system corresponding to the North-West Frontier Province and the Punjab. This is recorded in the Vedas, especially the Rig Veda, the Hindu scriptures which give their name to this period of Indian history. Hinduism set itself no limits as fixed intellectual beliefs mark off one religion from another. “Intellect is subordinated to intuition, dogma to experience, outer expression to inward realisation,” say Dr Radhakrishnan.
He then talks of the four stages of brahmacharya, of artha, jnana, moksa (salvation), marriage, samnyasins, as also what Krishna said in the Bhagvadgita. He discusses the caste and the varna system and the other important aspects of Hinduism.
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