by Swami Bua
What is a Hindu and who is a Hindu? Anyone can be a Hindu, and all can be Hindus, but not everyone is a Hindu. Contrary to the belief of some, Hinduism is not a hodgepodge of different beliefs and practices.
Hinduism extols the cardinal principles of non-violence, truthfulness, non-covetousness, continence, and non-possessiveness. Hinduism requires one to be very selective about the food one eats, the thoughts one holds, the actions one does, and the company one keeps. VIVEKA, the power of discernment, is an essential practice of Hinduism.
Hinduism does not embrace all beliefs and practices. It only embraces those beliefs and practices that are in harmony with Truth and Righteousness, that are conducive to well-being and being well. It does not embrace those practices which are harmful to the mind, body, and spirit.
Hinduism embraces universality. It does not embrace dogma and ignorance. Hinduism is based on Eternity and that is why it is called Sanatan Dharma. That is also why it is impossible to define Hinduism and difficult to describe it (adequately).
Hinduism is not a manmade religion. Really it is not a religion at all (though it includes religious practices and beliefs). Hinduism is a way of life, an eternal way of life, a way of living in Eternity. One cannot live in eternity if one is engrossed in manmade images and gross unreality.
True religion gives sustenance to life. It holds life's secrets, reveals the purpose of life, and brings ultimate fulfillment. Hinduism encompasses every aspect of human life, and moulds man to MANUSHYATVAM, taking him to MUMUKSHUTVAM, and finally to MOKSHATVAM.
Hinduism is not a hellish religion. It does not accept those practices which are selfish, morally degrading, violent, and hurtful. Exclusive liberalism, supreme magnanimity, and unstinted forgiveness are evidenced in Hinduism more than in any other religion in the world. Hinduism always holds its doors wide open to one and all. Even those who decry and deny the existence of God and the Vedas, who condemn those who they do not understand, who reject all religious practices and rituals as mere superstition, who vandalize the temples (including their own body), and pervert our ancient traditions, even they are welcomed into the Hindu-fold (because only when one is exposed to the light of true knowledge can one begin to see one's mistakes and change for the better).
If one takes Hinduism as a religion, then it should be understood as a soul-religion, or as a Science of the Soul. To arrive at sound scientific conclusions one must have an open (but disciplined) mind. If one's judgment is covered with preconceived notions, one's perception will be distorted and self-delusion will follow. Superstition will replace science, fancy will replace fact, and blind faith will replace direct experience. As the saying goes, "If you start out with a wrong premise, you will end up in a wrong place." People end up imagining that they belong to a particular religious sect; or they become fundamental hindoos, or moslems, jews, or christians, and neglect the fundamental (basic) practices of being a good human being, which include forgiveness, compassion, mercy, high moral character, vegetarianism, wisdom, service, and devotion.
Why all this fuss about religion? For the most part, religion is a farce and many of those who profess one religion or another are frauds. When one is defrauded by mind and ego, he will not hesitate to defraud others also. Unfortunately, this is the condition of many of our ministers, gurus, swamis, and sanyasis of today. Few have the eyes to see or the ears to hear because they are too busy looking outside of themselves for recognition and only want to listen to those who praise them. But the way of the Hindu is to look within and recognize GOD-ParaBrahma-the Absolute (Para Brahman), shining in his own heart. He welcomes criticism, realizing he can learn as much from the observations of others as he can from his own observations and insights.
What is religion, after all? It is not a path to GODHEAD or to GODHOOD, but only a code of conduct without which there would be chaos in the society. Faith, or religion, is not a path to God-realization. "AS MANY FAITHS, SO MANY PATHS" is nothing but tom-foolery. Saintly persons speaking on spirituality, God, and religion often talk about the path less traveled, or not traveled at all. The truth is, the KINGDOM OF GOD is a pathless land, a land of no paths.
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