How would one practice Carvaka Hinduism
10 Questions About Hinduism - The Third Largest Religion in the World (Part 2)
6. How does Hinduism react to other religions?
Answer: Not as bad as I have to say. At least as long as no other religion messes with Hinduism. Hindus have not been taught that non-Hindus will go to Hell, nor are they eager to conquer the world in the name of Hinduism. The Hindu ideas of the afterlife, heaven and hell are based on karma - and not on a specific savior, god or prophet. The doctrinal diversity of Hinduism has produced a general tolerance towards other beliefs and religions. Your head won't get chopped off when you convert to another religion; However, social exclusion could result if one converts to Islam, for example.
Islam fared badly in Hinduism, considering polytheism and idol worship as the worst sins. Although many Hindus and Muslims lived together peacefully across India for several centuries, invasions by Muslim armies in Indian history were traumatic events that cost many lives, devastated entire cities and were specifically directed against Hindus. The invasions of Mahmut von Ghazni, Muhammad von Ghor, Timur, Babur and Nadir Shah were particularly traumatizing, as the memories of them are kept alive by folklore and religious debates - such as the memory of mosques on the most sacred Hindu shrines were built. In Muslim-ruled kingdoms, Hindu nationals were forced to pay the jizya tax and had to withstand pogroms that the sultans initiated at will.
In 1947 India was divided and the Muslim state of Pakistan was created; as a result, millions of Hindus and Sikhs were expelled from Pakistan - which was actually the land of the Indus River where the first Vedas were written. Repeated victimizations and expulsions of the Hindu minorities in Muslim-dominated Pakistan and Bangladesh, as well as terrorist attacks on India by terrorist groups financed by Pakistan, fueled the anger of the Hindus against the Muslims. The legacy of the partition of India and growing Islamism is that in the minds of many Hindus there is a constant question mark about the loyalty of Indian Muslims.
According to the doctrine of the faith, Christianity and Hinduism are hostile to one another, as Christianity rejects polytheism and idolatry - and Hinduism in turn rejects Christianity's overzealous attempts to convert Hindus. However, the only Christians who established rule in India were the British, who in fact helped establish a secular legal system. The rule of Portuguese Catholicism was tough on the Hindus; however, it was restricted to Goa and other small areas. More than 28 million Christians live in India who, in contrast to the Muslims, are largely liberal, educated and upwardly mobile; for them, their religious identity does not contradict their nationality. Therefore, their coexistence with Hindus works well. Many Hindus admire the personality of Jesus, and the legend that Jesus also stayed in India has many buyers.
The doctrines of the Buddhists, the Sikhs and the followers of Jina differ from Hinduism, but since they are also Indian religions, there are no practical differences. Many Hindus worship the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, and attend worship services in the Sikh Gurdwaras. Sikh gurus such as Tej Bahadur and Gobind Singh are revered and considered heroes by Hinduism for protecting Hindus from pogroms and persecution during the rule of the Muslim Mughal Empire. Until the 19th century, Sikhism was not viewed as a religion in its own right. Many Hindus consider Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, to be an incarnation (an avatar) of Vishnu, and respect and worship him. Ahimsa (non-violence) is a doctrine that is common to Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism. There are few, if any, cultural differences between these religions; mixed marriages and social contact are common.
There are no recorded clashes with Zoroastrianism (Parsism) and Baha'iism that arose in Iran, and both communities have integrated well over the centuries. India is also one of the few countries where there has been no anti-Semitism towards Jewish settlers in the past. The only attacks on Indian Jews were carried out by Portuguese Catholics - and more recently by Islamic terror groups.
Syncretism is widespread in the Indian subcontinent. Most Hindus love Sai Baba, a mystical fakir who is said to have been originally a Muslim and a follower of the Holy Kabir; he is a true icon of Hindu-Muslim harmony. All his life he refused to identify himself as either a Muslim or a Hindu and stood up for love and peace. Millions of people, members of all religions, make a pilgrimage to Shirdi to venerate this saint. Hindus and Sikhs make a pilgrimage to the mausoleum of Haji Ali in Mumbai, taking no offense at his Muslim identity. This rare web of faith without borders is being seriously jeopardized by the spread of Islamism and backlash from extremist Hindu leaders.
7. Do Hindus conduct “holy wars”?
Answer: Will we ever worry about "Hindu terrorism"? I'm 99% sure that it won't. There is no concept, teaching, or effort to convert the rest of the world to Hinduism. Hindus do not practice "eat, bird, or die (and into hellfire)". Hindus who have settled anywhere in the world often remain closely connected in their communities, but they do not induce anyone to convert and do not oppose the practice of other faiths. There is no evidence of Hindu efforts to eradicate other religions in the history of Hinduism and the Indian subcontinent. The survival of ancient traditions such as Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism prove this.
In India itself, however, Hinduism is faced with the emergence of a political ideology that synthesizes religion and nationalism. The followers of the so-called Hindutva demand that all Indians call themselves “Hindus”, even if they belong to other religions, since for them the term “Hindu” stands for a national identity of all loyal residents of India. Sometimes they have asked for loyalty tests for Muslims and want India to be called Hindu Rashtra (Hindu nation). They are copying the tactics of the American religious right and claiming that India's secularism is due solely to Hindu ethos. For the past few decades, Hindu extremist groups have orchestrated rioting against Muslims and attacks on Christian missionaries. Their popularity continued to grow with the rise of Islamism and Islamist terror from Pakistan.
8. How does Hinduism view homosexuality?
Answer: He doesn't see it as a bad thing. Many Hindu scriptures and mythical narratives place intersex, androgynous, and homosexual characters in a positive light. The scriptures, myths, and temple art recognize sexual diversity.
That said, homophobia is widespread in India. Hindu nationalists, inspired by the strategy of the religious right, attempt to demonize gay and lesbian Indians, although the Hindu heritage has been shown to be more tolerant. The battle against a Victorian-era law, Section 337 of India's Penal Code, which criminalizes homosexual acts, continues - with the irony that Hindu nationalists are defending Victorian Christian law (aside from the nationalists themselves).
9. What do I think is the best thing about Hinduism?
Answer: The duration of the legitimate and long tradition of freethinking. "Hinduism" or the religious and philosophical systems of India include the Charvaka school of thought, which believes that there is no god, that the laws of nature stand alone and do not require a leading deity, and that materialism and hedonism should not be frowned upon rather, they are legitimate sources of happiness. That sounds a lot to me like something that could have come from Christopher Hitchens, except that it was said at least 3,000 years ago, before we knew anything about DNA or our solar system.
Although there is a certain amount of fanaticism and bigotry in Hinduism as well, it is not an absolutist belief like the Abrahamic religions. Its ethos was shaped by the enormous variety of philosophical and theistic schools of thought as well as by the sheer number of regional and cultural varieties. Perhaps this explains Hindu society's historical capacity for tolerance and adjustment, if not its true intellectual freedom.
The literature and poetry are extraordinary and brilliant. The Mahabharata is a deeply fascinating, poignant and exciting work. One does not have to believe that Krishna is a "god" - in fact Krishna is a far more fascinating and convincing personality as a philosopher and statesman, as a shrewd, witty and sly strategist. The moral themes in Ramayana deal with the ancient human pursuit of a moral way of life. I deny many of his lessons, but it is precisely because of this that he becomes the source of deep and interesting debate. I could tell endlessly about the complex and fascinating stories of Hindu mythology, but suffice it to say that I am very proud of this part of the cultural heritage.
10. What do I think is the worst thing about Hinduism?
Answer: fatalism. Not just the caste system itself, despicable as it is, as no society in the world has managed to withstand any form of division, tribal formation, racism or slavery.
No, I mean the fatalism that grew out of the teachings of karma and rebirth. A person born into a low caste or "Untouchable" is drummed into the fact that he or she is in that position and must suffer because of a past-life crime. Hence, you must endure slavery and humiliation in penance for a crime that you will never know if “you” committed. You will never be able to change anything in your position in life - do not offer any resistance, otherwise you will be faced with divine retribution and a birth in an even lower state.
This fatalism has kept many generations of Indians from wanting and advancing reforms of any kind. Indeed, the first efforts to end “untouchability” only began when the British introduced modern education and science in India. The higher castes have long considered it their God-given right to treat the lower castes as slaves as part of their continued punishment for these mythical sins. The worst part, however, is that this fatalism has long since seeped into the "untouchable" classes themselves - for many generations they not only disagreed about their resistance and unwillingness to this cruelty, but often formed sub-castes of "untouchables" among themselves.
This utter helplessness against the established “divine” order means that many generations of Indians have succumbed to a hysteria over superstition, ritualism, numerology and astrology - their only means of knowing what to expect and how to avert harm. Priests must be paid, revered, and fed to perform the ceremonies that will take your deceased loved one to heaven rather than hell - many millions of poor Indians have been fleeced and emotionally tortured for priests to pay for who they are with the Tormenting the idea that the souls of their family members are on the way to hell.
That a grieving family can be emotionally intimidated and ruthlessly exploited in their hardest hour, and that this practice persists even among many liberal and educated Hindus, is something I have witnessed myself and which I would like to call evil in its purest form.
Hopefully by now you can think of more questions about Hinduism that need answers. Hinduism is Indian through and through, but it is also the oldest religion that persists and flourishes despite the rise of monotheism. Understanding him is required to truly understand human nature, and considering how important he is in the lives of more than 900 million people, understanding his will also serve the advancement and advancement of humanity.
Translation: Daniela Bartl, Elisabeth Mathes
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