No one had said so simply the basic concept of Hinduism as Maria had done. A must read...
Let's all be Hindu Fundamentalists
June 6, 2013 ·
Religious fundamentalists are on the rise and that is bad for our societies. Most people will agree on this. Yet few examine who religious fundamentalists are. Obviously, such persons would want to stick to the fundamentals of their religion. They want to live a life that is advocated in their holy books and would please their God. Now, since religious fundamentalists pose a problem, does it mean that the fundamentals of religions are bad for our societies? Let's look at the three biggest religions:
Concerning Christianity, fundamentalists believe that God has revealed himself in the Bible and sent his only begotten son to earth to save all mankind. They believe in the first commandment: 'You shall have no other gods before me'. Therefore, all humanity has to believe in the God of the Bible and his only son, Jesus Christ. Those who do not do so, will end up in hell. "Go out into the world", is a central tenet of the Christian faith and fundamentalists consider it as their duty to convert as many 'heathens' as possible to Christianity by whatever means.
Concerning Islam, fundamentalists believe that Islam is the only true religion and Allah the only true God who wants the whole world to submit to Him. Those who do not become Muslims will go to hell. It is a central tenet and keeps recurring in the Quran. Fundamentalists see it as their duty to make all of humanity accept Islam and often take literally commandments in the Quran like "Strike terror in the hearts of unbelievers."
Concerning Hinduism, fundamentalists believe that Brahman (other names are allowed and in use) is the one true God. However, Brahman is not a personal God who saves those who believe in Him and damns all others. Rather, Brahman is the most subtle conscious essence that permeates everything and everyone, never mind, which religion he follows or whether he is an atheist. "Atman is Brahman" or "one's own Self is God", the Vedas proclaim.
Now, all religions claim that there is only one Highest, one 'true God' in English or one 'Allah' in Arabic or one 'Brahman' in Sanskrit. And of course there is only one Highest/ God – the almighty, all knowing presence that is responsible for the existence of the universe. How can it be otherwise? Hindus, however, often don't understand that Christians as well as Muslims are really convinced that their one true God, respectively Allah, saves only the brothers and sisters of their own faith and sends all others as heathen or infidels into hell. This conviction is indeed difficult to understand for humans with a normal reasoning capacity. Yet if one grows up hearing repeatedly that only one's own faith is true and other people are bad because they don't accept this, it may actually make sense. It happened to me as a child – it made sense that only we Christians go to heaven, because we have been chosen by God…
So we have a situation in the world where Christianity and Islam, each one over a billion strong, rival with each other: "Our God alone is true! If you don't believe it, you go to hell." And the other group counters, "No. Our God alone is true! And if you don't believe it you go to hell."
One could laugh it off if it were not so serious. Fundamentalists stick to this belief – and unfortunately, the official clergy of both religions uphold it, as well. It is naturally a cause for great friction in the world.
Hinduism (or Sanatana Dharma, as it used to be called) does not take part in this one-upmanship. It is ancient. It was there long before Christianity or Islam appeared on the scene. In Hinduism, Brahman is not a male entity who watches over us from somewhere. It is inside everyone, conscious, living and loving. It will always give another chance until everyone realises his true being and merges in Brahman, which may take many lives. The Hindu scriptures proclaim, "Humanity is one family". "Brahman permeates the smallest as well as the biggest." "Thou art That." "Brahman is not what your mind thinks but That by which the mind is capable to think." "See God in everyone." "Respect nature."
And they lead us in prayer: "May we be protected together, may we be nourished together, may we work together with great vigour, may our study be enlightening, may no obstacle arise between us." "Let noble thoughts come to us from all sides." "May everyone be happy", and so on.
Many Hindus, too, don't know these fundamentals of their religion and believe it is all about rituals, worshipping their favourite aspect of God to get their wishes fulfilled and celebrating festivals. They don't realise that Hinduism is the only religion that is all inclusive. It does not set one group of people against all the others. It is also not opposed to science and does not only allow using one's intelligence but encourages to do so.
Maybe that is the reason why in the west, Hinduism is sometimes even missing when the world religions are listed, as for westerners, a religion is apparently not a religion if it is not based on unverifiable dogmas, especially the one that sets it apart from other religions and which is so harmful for a harmonious living together of all humanity. Is it not about time for us in the 21th century to scrap such unverifiable, harmful fundamentals that set up one group of people against another group?
The best option is to follow the Hindu fundamentals. So let's be Hindu fundamentalists who see God in everyone, also in animals and in nature. Our world would benefit.
(Selected Comments )
I certainly appreciate the discourse regarding religious fundamentalism. As a Christian, specifically a Christian in the United Stated, even more specifically a Christian in the southern United States, I am confronted with fundamentalism daily. Be that through the conservative U.S. media's coverage of Islam, or the basic day to day occurrences of Christian fundamentalism in my own church and community. I don't necessarily agree with the statement that fundamental Christians are on a mission to convert non-believers by whatever means necessary. If that were truly the case, then we could at least call them devout! No, I think the conditions that permeate fundamental Christianity is simply ignorance and fear. Fear of the unknown that can only be conquered by true faith (faith in the most abstract sense mind you, be that a devout adherence to doctrine, or the complex acceptance of the existential), and ignorance towards the true principles of inerrancy, holiness, and forgiveness.
Maria, the only issue I have with your conclusion is that it's predicated on human observation rather than principle. As a statement of reason, I can certainly follow this discourse and arrive at the same conclusion. For instance, if the goal is to observe, document, and prescribe the most efficacious means to ensure peaceful interaction through religion, then certainly, fundamentalist Hinduism is the correct answer. However, that's not exactly the issue here. The issue is finding truth and acceptance through spiritual reconciliation (if we want to debate that premise, I would love to engage on that). Such a distance personal mission cannot be resolved through simple observation and reason.
At then end of the day, if the intent of this entry was to show how Hindu fundamentalism is the most peaceful form of religious fundamentalism in practice, then that end is acheived. However, in my opinion that's akin to stating that crime is lower in Calgary than any other city, so we should all live there. It may be accurate, but not very helpful.
Josh, I know that westerners often can't believe that conversions are still going on and are not a thing of the past. The clergy in the west don't talk anymore about 'eternal hell for heathen', otherwise even more of their 'sheep' would leave the Churches. I live in India and feel pained how much money flows here from abroad for the purpose of 'reaping a rich harvest for Christ". Please read "Breaking India" by Rajiv Malhotra. I can assure you that conversion is rampant and under the pretext of helping the poor, they uproot them. They work with deception, threat and allurement and try to instill fear and a feeling of superiority over the Hindus. Ultimately the converts land up becoming a 'miserable lot' as an Indian ex Christian described them.
In this article I simply wanted to show that the fundamental tenet of being the only true religion of both Christianity and Islam is harmful and has nothing to do with 'finding the truth', and that's why fundamentalists have a bad name. So why not give up this fundamental tenet? Because it is helpful to achieve world dominion and the purpose of these religions is precisely this and not about finding the truth.
Hindu Dharma in contrast is a genuine enquiry into truth, beneficial for all, inclusive of all and most helpful for the individual to find the truth. If you are interested, I have more articles on Hindu tradition on http://www.lifepositive.com/writers/Maria_Wirth3.asp