Many misconceptions circulate about Hinduism, mainly because scholars have relied exclusively on popular sources or political slogans of Hinduttva. The Eternal Hinduism, which is fundamentally a study of text and context, balances social reality and scriptural description with a dynamic analysis of the interacting elements. It cannot be understood on the basis of non-rational factor of one God, the Almighty. As an anthroposmic religion, Hinduism has a great beauty. It can be understood by reading the cosmic law of nature and culture. This book sums up the essentials of Hinduism.
It will be useful to a range of readers scholars of Hindu religious thought and philosophy as well as general readers interested in understanding the essential Hindu religious thinking and belief.
Baidyanath Saraswati, an anthropologist, has spent some four decades in unraveling the relationship between traditional thought and modern science. He is known to a wide public for his ambitious attempt to make sense of Hinduism, an extremely complex religion. His works on Brahmanic Ritual Traditions, Kashi: Myth and Reality; Spectrum of the Sacred; and Cultures and Cosmos are major contribution.
There exists no universal term to invoke the truth about man’s relationship with the universe. The English word “religion”, from religare, means that which “unites”, links up” man to his divinity. In its numerous classical usages, religion always indicates a “bond”, a decision,” an “object”, a “reversal” (when it is not a scruple), a “superstition”, etc. The Sanskrit word dharma (Pali, dhamma) is far more comprehensive than “religion”. Derived from dhr, which means hold, keep or maintain, the term dharma reflects (Pali, dhamma) is far more comprehensive than “religion”. Derived from dhr, which in no less than ten different contexts” “attributes of mind,” “ functions of the sence organs,” occupation, “ “Speciality” or “peculiarity” of man in “different places,” “attributes of an object,” “certain objects in total perspective,” “difference in human conduct according to time (kala dharma),” eternal law (sanatana dharma),” and, in a special sense, Hindu dharma, Buddha dharma, Jain dharma, Christian dharma and Islamic dharma. The epistemological difference between “religion” and dharma arises from a world-view that reflects the key features of man and his world. With reference to Christianity and Islam, the subject-matter of religion is concerned with human beliefs and practices (the material or psychological aspects) of the individuals, concerned with what is called God or Allah. Accordingly, the difference is made between the “religious”, the “non-religious” and the “anti-religious” Dharma, a key-word for the entire Asian conception is related to the Vedic notion of rta, to the Latin word, ordo, and the greek concept of cosmos. Unlike religion, dharma stands for the universal truth or cosmic law, applicable to all beings (human as well as non-human). Hence, one cannot say that my dharma is true and that of the others is false. The term, dharma, is not reducible to “divinity”, as religion is, Gautam Buddha preached the fundamentals of dharma, without reference to God. Hinduism is not a founded monolithic construction of religion as Christianity and Islam are; it is s self-perpetuauting “eternal law” (sanatana dharma), which holds good with regard to the numinous feeling (sat, cita) identified with joyful exaltation (ananda), forming the cosmic structure of religious systems. On the origin of the term Hindu, there are several constructions. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (1971), earliest refrences go back to the Achaemenian “Zend” (or Zendu); and wrere taken from the Sanskrit name “Sindu” (for the river Indus). According to some western scholars, the term hindu and the dialectical alternative sindhu are the Indo-Aryan word for the river, and as a proper noun, for the great river for the north-west of the subcontinent, still known, locally, as the Sindhu , and in the west through the Greek transliteration as “Indus”. As a designation for the territory around that river (that is, meaning rougly, “India”) the word was used by foreigners, but not, internally, and indeed, it (and the Persian counteroan “Hindustan,” introduced and used by Muslims) is still, primilarily, an outsider’s name for the country (the Indian name for India is Bharata). So used, “Hindu” also referred to the natives of northern India or anything, that wasnative, there to. Al Biruni, in his great treatise on India, mentions “theories of the Hindus” being similar to “theories of the Greeks.” So used, the term came into later Persian and Urdu usage, as applying to anything non-Muslim or native to “Hindustan”. It is said that the word, “Hindu”, appeared in Gaudiya Vaisnava text of the sixteenth century. But, here also, it appears only in texts, describing episodes of strained relationships between Hindus, as natives, and Muslims, as foreigners (“Yavanas” or Mliecchas”). The term was never used by Hindus, among themselves. The term was never used by Hindus, among themselves. The term “Hinduism” is truly modern. As such, it may be seen as a, relatively, recent invention.
The term sanatana dharma is aptly used in traditional thought for the people of this land, associated from the “age of purity” (satya yuga). They had visualized the cosmic process of creation (srsti), existence (sthiti) and dissolution (pralaya), regulated in a cyclical order. This grand world system, they said to be sustained by Truth (satya). The concept of sanatana dharma provides as essential explanation of what is called, today, as Hinduism, a cosmic federation of faith, not limited to human organization at the temporal level. Since its key paramters are cosmological, sanatan Hinduism may aptly be called as anthropocosmic religion.
The validation of the cosmic theory of religion comes from the people, having a special experience of the wilderness. The so-called “tribes” or “aborigines”, living today in various ecological conditions, have a powerful faculty of “seeing” the presence of the divinity in a primordial state (prakrti, Nature). Their forest and the sea serve as a sancturm,” effects everything that exists. Their sacred myths of cosmic power are drawn by the mysterium tremendum. Acknowleding the human limits, they pray and propitiate the divinities with a native imagination and wonder. A more complex vision develops among those having a higher imagination or sensitivity to read the signs of Nature. However, the aboriginal, bonga, and the Upanisadic Brahman signify the same reality. For, both look at prakrti (also order). There is no real difference between the two societal groups. The cosmic vision of both the simple and the complex societies is an essential element in building up the structure of Faith. At a relatively higher level of meditation, the concept the primordial order gets crystallized. With the development of human consciousness, a world order was visualized. The theory of the origin of the universe from the cosmic Man (purusa) helped the construction of a unified social fabric. The Universe was accepted as a virtual arena. The idea of the “fourfoldness” in cosmic creation and the “fivefold order” of Nature (Sky, Water, Fire, Wind, Earth) appeared as a revelation, a self-manifestation of the world order. The sages visualized the primal mystery and made a brilliant exposition” “the Beginning before the Beginning was discovered by a Non-being, the gravitational centre of all that exists.” This, indeed served as a ground work for what is called today, the Hindu vision.
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