The Book ‘ Hinduism : Past , Present and Future ‘ for the Gen Next tries to provide the reader and the Hindu Youth in particular with basic information regarding the Vedas and other important scriptures which shaped Hindu beliefs and traditions, the stories of its important Gods and Goddesses, the wide diversity in , Hindu customs , systems of worship , fasts and festivals, temples and places of pilgrimage etc . , all at one place . It attempts to rationalise some of the beliefs and traditions in a scientific manner and clear the mythological superstitions , which have grown around them.
The book also aims to enlighten the people about the great advances in science made by the Hindus at a time when none of the modern tools and equipments were available , long before the western scientists who are now given credit for them . It also explains why and how all that knowledge gradually degenerated and was replaced by superstitions .
Hindu youth need to know this if they have to walk in the world with their heads held high . After all , there is something unique about Hinduism , which has enabled it to live so long and to draw attention of the troubled world once again.
The present volume seeks to present all this in a short picture of the glorious past of Hinduism and its present problems , along with a vision for the future when it can emerge as the universal religion of the world .
Born in a small town in Madhya Pradesh in 1929, Ram Narayan Vaidya had a bright academic career, standing first in order of merit in High School and Intermediate examinations of the Ajmer Board and in B.A in the Agra University . He did his post graduation in Mathematics , then LL . B . and again stood first in the LL.M . Even while a student , he wrote books on Arithmetic for secondary school classes, which were prescribed as test books for about twenty years .
He was selected by the U PSC for the post of Under Secretary for the Legislature Secretariat and was later promoted by selection for the IAS . He was appointed Member of the M.P . Public Service Commission in 1988 and retired in 1933 . Since then he has devoted all his time to the study of the Hindu scriptures and writing books on them , presenting a rational picture for the common readers .
His published books include :
Purano Ka Samkshipta Vaigyanic Adhyayan ( in Hindi) .
Ram Katha : Bharat Ki Samasta Bhashaon Me ( in Hindi ) .
Vedas: An Introduction for the common Man ( in English ) .
Hinduism : Past , Present and Future for the Gen Next
He has no fixed abode and lives with his sons and relatives at different place from time to time .
Hindusim is the oldest living religion of the world . During its long life, it has given birth to a voluminous literature in the shape of scriptures and religious poetry, besides prose commentaries . But Hinduism today suffers from ignorance and apathy on the part of its followers and mis -information and disdain from the West . Ask any Hindu what is Hinduism and he will not be able to explain it , beyond resorting to a few mythological stories or superstitious beliefs. We of the older age, were nurtured on that diet and never raised questions about them . It was also not necessary for us to be so inquisitive, because all were in the same boat . So we blindly followed . Rejoicing on festivals, observing rituals as per dictates of priests and having faith in the in the supernatural powers of our gods , we believed that it was our destiny and contentment was the best virtune . But when winds of change began to blow and we were exposed to realities and knowledge of the wide world through media, we found ourselves without rational explanations for our beliefs . Our younger generation his to contend with that every day as it is faced by questioning people all around , from amongst their friends , classmates , or teachers, sometimes belonging to other religions.
We are told that Hinduism originated from the Vedas but the reality is that the Hinduism that has been presented to us is not based on the Vedas but on the scriptures quoting the authority of the Vedas . It is a different religion (than true Hinduism ) which does not follow any of the salutary truths emerging from the Vedas . First we were very cleverly kept in the dark about those truths and then we were asked to follow the codes of conduct , known as Manu Smriti and stories contained in the Puranas .
Most of the Hindus have never read or even seen the Vedas. The source of Hinduism . they are also not aware of any other scriptures except the Epic Ramayana ( not the original one, but its regional version and the T.V. serial ) , Bhagvata Purana as it is recited by the preachers, and the Bhagvad Gita . This day some may have heard the name of the Garuda Purana also . because a chapter of it is sometimes recited after a death in the family . All sorts of interpolations have been made in these books. For example , Lord Rama is shown to have exiled his devoted wife Sita during her pregnancy , merely on hearsay in other to proclaim his righteousness as a ruler . He is also shown to have ordered the killing of a Shudra because he had the temerity to perform austerities which were taboo for his caste. The Mahabharata was inflated to ten times of its original size to accommodate a number of discourses and mythological stories in supports thereof . The most common version of the Bhagvad Gita also make it a scripture in line Of the Smritis due to inclusion in it of several things supporting them , like the importance of the Shastras and Yajnas and the theory of the defined duties of the four Varnas so that the shudras have to remain satisfied always with their job of serving others . These have been cleverly put in the mouth in mythology . thus , Hinduism is reduced to ritualism , belief in mythology and superstitions and caste sysrem subservient to priests and preachers .
Even after freedom from foreign rule and adoption of a liberal Constitution, , based on equality between sexes and abolition of caste distinctions in matters concerning Government policies, discriminations still continue in society . Thus , most of the Hindus are generally unaware of the truths behind the stories taught to them in the name of religion , and , therefore, they continue to believe in them and in the superstitions arising out of them . So when our children ask inconvenient questions, we either dub them as ignorant or keep mum .Has an average Hindu even been told. Rationally and apart from the traditional view , why Rama was God ; why Krishna was GOD , who were the Danavas and the Vanars and why were they so regarded , what do the four Yugas mean; why were there ten incarnations of God ; why are Vishnu and his and his Avatars coloured blue –black ; what did the Vedas contain; are there any scientific truths camouflaged behind their plain meanings; where is heaven or hell ; what is the reality is the reality behind the stories of Harish Chandra , Bhagirath ; Agastya and others ; what does Goddess Durga ’s killing of the Demon Mahishasura point to, and so on ? These and many other Questions loom large before a rational mind Hindus were never encouraged to find answers to such questions . Lord Tennyson ‘s poem ‘ their not to reason why , theirs but to do and die’ befits the Hindu mind . Thus , the religion which took pride in being thoroughly scientific and encouraged free thinking and rationality was reduced to mere mythology and superstitious beliefs . we came great worshippers. It was enough if we adored our idols by bowing before their portraits day in and day out, and it was not necessary to emulate them because they were all divine .
But the days of such blind faith are gone. The world today is not what it was even a hundred years ago. It is getting smaller and smaller and no person can today remain in solution. This is the age of communication and reasoning . Our children have to explain these beliefs rationally in a convincing manner, otherwise they would have to face ridicule.
Unfortunately , it is also true that one cannot find any book which answers all these questions . The books available either debunk Hinduism or only stress what has been said all along as per the teachings of the priests . That is precisely why I wrote this book , not as an ordinary Hindu who has been searching answers for the questions mentioned above.
While I was writing this book , I was reminded of the pain , anguish and humiliation of a Hindu girl study ing in a high school in Houston , USA , which she had expressed in her letter published in 2003 in the ‘ India Abroad ‘ newspaper, on the wrong portrayal of Hinduism in her class books and by her teachers . Recently , a similar incident which gained wide publicity concerns the demeaning portrayal of Hinduism in text books for Social Studies for the Middle School classes , approved by the California ‘s State Board of Education in 2005 . Objections of other religions also raised by the Hindu organizations of U.S.A Organisations of other religions also raised objections regarding portrayal of their religions. The Board then constituted a Content Review Committee to hear the objections. Objections regarding other religions were accepted. But the view points of the Hindu organisations were opposed by some Hindus in the USA and some progressive organizations , said to be working for the protection of the rights of the Dalits and the Untouchables . The Committee heard three eminent persons – Dr.Witzel, prof . on Religious studies at the Harvard University , Dr Stanley Wolpert , a great historian of the UCLA, and Dr James Heitzman , another historian . D r. Witzel sub mitted a letter supported by 47 academics in the world .Who mostly opposed any change .The Committee examined 1500 pages of arguments. For and against and then recommended to accept some changes and reject the others . The Board passed the orders accordingly .
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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