THE fact that Hinduism has existed for about 6,000 years is a wonder of history. But that is only one fringe attribute of Hinduism which is too wide a religious phenomenon to be identified with it. From the ancient Vedic religion of worship of Nature-gods and sacrificial rituals through the Upanishadic concept of the atman, Vedantic philosophy of integral unity of human soul with the Ultimate Reality, epic or Puranic Hinduism of Ramayana and Mahabharata, to post-epic devotional cults of Vaishnavism and Shaivism, Hinduism is a big umbrella which shelters a large number of faiths, philosophies and cults rooted in the soil of India. “It is like a vast ocean with diverse forms of worship, beliefs and philosophies flowing and mingling into it as its tributaries. And it is continually developing and regenerating itself,” says the author.
She explains that Hinduism is not only a religious faith “in the narrow sense of the term” but a way of life and “a view of the cosmos or cosmology, a philosophy of Oneness of the atman with the Brahman, and, of course, an umbrella of religion embracing all other faiths emerging in the land of India.” It is this wide sweep and vastness of Hinduism which has prevented it from being swept off by such overpowering religions like Christianity and Islam through thousands of years of its existence, that is, on tracing its origin to the composition of the Rig Veda, the oldest religious scripture.
The author has extensively quoted Sri Aurobindo, Vivekananda, S Radhakrishnan, Jawaharlal Nehru in the context of their views on Hinduism but it is Sri Aurobindo who sums up Hinduism best: “The religious culture, which now goes by the name of Hinduism…gave itself no name, because it set itself no sectarian limits; it claimed no universal adhesion; asserted no sole infallible dogma; set up no single narrow path or gate of salvation; it was less a creed or cult than continuously enlarging tradition of the God-ward endeavour of the human spirit. As a many-sided and many-staged provision for spiritual self-building and self-finding, it had some right to speak of itself by the only name I knew, the eternal religion.”
Apart from describing the growth of Hinduism, the author talks of the Bhakti movement, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekananda, Dr Hedgewar, Guruji (M.S. Golwalkar) and how their contributions and love led to the growth of Hinduism.
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