THE UNIQUENESS OF HINDU DHARMA, the universal religion: Nirmal Laungani

It is a common sentiment for one to consider one’s religion as the best. Here in this article, we will attempt to discuss on those unique points that make Hinduism the most special religion in the world.

Actually, Hinduism – Hindu Dharma – can be truly called as the one universal faith that is able to fulfill the spiritual aspirations of every individual entity, not just those of an Indian background.

Today, many intellectuals in the West have accepted that society should be democratic, egalitarian, tolerant, liberal, pluralistic and environmentally friendly,  a far cry to the colonial, religious fanatic and Marxist ideas that still permeate a large part of the world.

However, all these core human values have always been intrinsic to Hindu Dharma. This article will elaborate this in more detail:



Hindu Dharma is the oldest practiced faith in the world, but despite being the oldest, it is also so refreshingly relevant to the present times. For example, the Bhagwad Geeta was spoken 5,000 years back, yet its message continues to resonate and be applicable today. Not just in India,  but  throughout  the  world,  the  Vedas,  the Upanishads, the Itihasas, Puranas  and  other ancient  Vedic scriptures continue to enthrall intellectuals and the common people alike with its depth of knowledge, philosophy and devotion.


The message of Hindu Dharma is for  the  entire  world, as it does not  divide the world into “believers and non-believers” and there is no such exclusive club of followers that alone can reach heaven. When Lord Krishna preached  the  Bhagwad  Geeta  to  Arjun,  He  never claimed  that  spiritual  benefits  were  only  open  to  Hindus or Indians.  Long  before the world  became aware of the concept of internationalism, or the idea of countries’ working together (League of  Nations  /  United  Nations),  the  ancient  Vedic  scriptures had boldly spoken of Vasudeva Kutumbakam – “the whole world is one family”.   What to speak of human beings,  Vedic culture encourages vegetarianism, and even those Hindus who do consume meat and enjoined to treat animals with dignity.


According to Hinduism, spiritual life begins when a person realizes that he is not this  body,  but  the  soul.  And  the  soul,  being a spiritual being, is not black in color or white, brown or mixed, so there  cannot  be  any grounds  for  racial  discrimination.  In fact, Megasthenes,  the  famous  Greek  ambassador  to  India during  the reign of Chandragupta Maurya about 2,300 years back, wrote that alone among the other countries in the ancient world, slavery did not exist in India.

There did arise at one point in history when birth based caste discrimination became widespread, but this was totally contradictory to what was preached in the Hindu scriptures. The very fact that Shri Veda Vyas, the compiler of the Vedas, the writer of the Mahabharat and the Puranas, was himself born of a fisherwoman, yet considered as one of the greatest ever Rishis / saints, is evidence enough that caste discrimination as understood today was completely alien to the values as represented by Sanatan Dharma.


The  soul  is  neither  male  nor  female,  so  where  is  the  question  of who  is  superior?  Even  otherwise,  Hinduism  is  the  only  religion where  the  Divinity  is  also  worshipped  as  SARASWATI,  LAKSHMI, DURGA and other forms of the Goddess. Also, Hindus have always worshipped the feminine with the masculine, as one without the other is  supposed to be incomplete – PARVATI  with  SHIV,  LAKSHMI with VISHNU and SEETA with RAM. Thus, Hinduism is the only religion in the world which is not male–centric. Women have always been held in high esteem in our religion.

Manu-Samhita says, “Where women are  honored,  there the Gods are pleased;  but where they are not honored, no sacred rite yields rewards. Where the female relations live in grief,  the family soon wholly perishes; but that  family where they are not unhappy ever prospers”.

Furthermore, according  to the Atharva Veda, when a woman is invited into the family through marriage, she enters “as a river enters the sea” and “to rule there along with her husband, as a queen, over the other members of the family”.

The Vedic hymns were  also  revealed  by  GOD  to  great  women  saints  such  as Lopamudra, Romahsa, Gargi, Ghosa, among others, so this clearly shows that in Vedic Dharma, there was total gender equality (with some even claiming that women were considered superior to men)

In ancient times, women had the same opportunities for education as men, and also could wear the sacred thread to study the Vedas. The ancient Dharma Shastra, Harita Smriti mentions a class of women called brahmavadinis who remained unmarried and spent their lives in study and ritual. The ancient Sanskrit grammarian, Panini clearly differentiates between an arcarya (a lady teacher) and acaryani (a teacher’s wife), between an upadhyaya (a woman preceptor) and upadhyayani (a preceptor’s wife), thus indicating that women at that time were not just students but also teachers of the sacred scriptures. He further mentions the names of several noted women scholars such as Kathi, Kalapi, and Bahvici.

The Upanishads also referred to several women philosophers such as Gargi Vacaknavi who debated with Yajnavalkya, thus showing that they were as knowledgeable and expert in the Vedas as the men.

The Rig Veda refers to women engaged in warfare; one queen Bispala is mentioned. The Ramayana describes how Dasharath’s youngest wife, Kaikeyi often accompanied him in his military campaigns. It was in fact in one of these campaigns that when Dasharath was badly injured, Kaikeyi not just repaired his broken chariot, but also rode him to safety and nursed him back to health, thus pleasing Dasharath to grant her the two (in)famous boons.

Even Megasthenes, the Greek ambassador of the Mauryan rule, makes a note of heavily armed women guards protecting the palace of Chandragupta Maurya.

And of course, they excelled in the arts and crafts, in music and dance, and other such activities.

In short, unlike other countries, women in ancient India were not deprived of anything, and were treated with full respect and dignity.


Even most non- Hindus agree that Hinduism is most tolerant – our GOD is not regarded as jealous or vengeful. The Vedic scriptures define GOD as SAT CHID ANAND (meaning truth + consciousness + bliss); Hindu kings and priests never forced or coerced anyone to become a Hindu.  Even  when  Hindu Dharma spread across the length and  breadth of South-East Asia, and when Hindu kings ruled these countries, not a single instance was recorded, where any non-Hindu subject suffered any discrimination because of his religion.

This is also the reason that persecuted Iranian followers of Zarathustra (who became known as the Parsis) and the Jews, could find shelter in India, and unlike in other countries, never faced any hurdles or obstacles to practicing their religion in India. In fact, they prospered and even contributed to their host country.

Even, the great  Hindu  king,  Chhatrapati Shivaji  Maharaj  who  fought against the temple-breaking and fanatic Mughals, Bijapur Sultans and the Portugese, was praised  by hostile  Muslim  chroniclers that he never broke any mosque or disrespected the religion; Muslims working in his service didn’t feel threatened due to their religion. Hindus are most tolerant and maintain respect towards others faiths.



There  is  complete  democracy  within  the  Hindu  religion;  some worship  GOD  as  impersonal,  others  in  the  personal  deity  form. Most Hindus  visit temples  and  take  part  in  various  rituals, while others simply spend time in meditation. Some consider Gyaan as the preferred method to realize GOD, whereas others would regard Bhakti as the best  way.  For some, the  Ramayana  is  the  most important scripture, while to the others it is the Bhagwat Purana or the  Shiv  Purana.  The  Bhagwad  Geeta  is  considered  by  most Hindus  to  be  the  most  venerated  scripture,  as  it was  spoken directly  by  Lord  Krishna  to  Arjun,  yet  others  would  give  more importance  to  the  various  Upanishads.  There  are  also  many Hindus  who would  consider all forms  of  the  Divinity  and all scriptures to be equally placed.

Yet, all these different paths form an integral part of Vedic culture and are in harmony with each other, and an individual is given full liberty to choose whichever is best suited to that person.



One  reason  why  Hindus  living  abroad  have  done  so  well  for themselves, have prospered in business and as professionals, have rarely gotten into  trouble  with  the  law,  and  are  considered  ideal citizens  by  the  Governments  of  the  countries  that  they  reside  in, has  got  something  to  do  with  our  liberal  culture  –  “Let  noble thoughts  come  to  us  from  all  sides”  so  said  the  Rig  Veda, considered by many to be the first Veda. Thus, Hindus have integrated with many different societies  in  the  world,  trying  to  take  the good from other cultures, while at the same time remained firm in retaining and preserving their own culture and traditions.



Today, millions of non-Hindus across the world practice and follow the  ancient  Hindu  traditions  of  yoga  and  meditation,  chant Sanskrit  mantras and  accept  the  Hindu  medicinal  system  of Ayurveda. It is estimated that anywhere between 16 ~ 30 million Americans practice yoga on a regular basis. Even though yoga and meditation  are  actually  spiritual  activities,  yet  they  have innumerable  physical  and  mental  benefits  and  are  also  highly recommended by doctors  and  specialists.  People  who  have ingrained  yoga  and  meditation in  their lives  have  found  sublime changes  –  they  have  been  physically,  mentally  and  of  course, spiritually  uplifted.  Across  the  world,  yoga  and  meditation  have been  acknowledged  by  experts  to  give  its  practitioners  the maximum health benefits, with 21st June, 2022 even being declared as World Yoga Day by the United Nations  since 2015.


  1. a) Says the Atharva Veda “The earth is our mother and we are all her children”.
  2. b) The Rig Veda says “Do not cut trees because they  remove  pollution”.
  3. c)  Yajur Veda declares,  “Do  not disturb the sky and do not pollute the atmosphere”
  4. d) And once again,  the  Atharva  Veda  declares,  “We  invoke  all  supporting Earth  on  which  trees,  lords  of  forest,  stand  ever  firm.”
  5. e) The Mahabharat describes Yuddhisthira telling his subjects not to cut trees more than it is needed.

Thus, from the ancient scriptures, we can learn  that  Hinduism  demonstrates  an  ecological  awareness and  great  respect  for  the  natural  world.  Ancient Hindus felt the Supreme Being’s  presence  in  everything  around  them,  and  thus lived  in  harmony  with  GOD’s  creation,  including  the  earth,  the rivers and the forests. Thus the modern environmentalists can find great solace and backing from the Hindu scriptures

 Even  otherwise,  the Vedic  religion  recommends  a  vegetarian lifestyle,  and  as  is  well  known,  rearing  animals  to  be  killed  for slaughter puts tremendous pressure on earth’s limited resources of water,  clean  air  and  land.  According  to  a  report  by  the  United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (of 2006),  livestock use 30% of the earth’s land surface, including 33% of the global arable land used to producing feed for livestock, plus livestock generates 18% more greenhouse gas emissions than transportation.

Today, despite a growing population of non-vegetarians in India, the country still has by far the largest number of vegetarians in the world. Even those who eat meat seldom eat it more than once or twice a week.

Finally, Hindus cremate their dead, and this also saves precious land. This is one reason why many in the West from a non-Hindu background also cremate, rather than bury their dead


Many  people  question  that  if  GOD  is  all-loving  and  caring,  why does HE  allow  so  much  suffering  to  take  place?  Why is  there  so much unhappiness? Why is there so much unfairness, where some people  are  billionaires  whereas  others  can’t  even  eat  two  meals  a day?

Hinduism  provides  very  logical  and  precise  answers  to  this. Whichever  body  we  get  –  man/woman  or  animal,  Asian  or African,  whether we are born in an aristocratic family or a poor one, etc – is  all  due  to  the  results  of  our  own  karma,  which  is  the  sum  of one’s  actions  and  the  force  that  determines  our  next  re-incarnation.  As  mentioned  earlier,  the  very  first  understanding should be that we are not this material body, but the eternal soul, which transmigrates from one body to the other. So, actually it is our  own  past  actions  that  have  led  us  to  “occupy”  our  current body, and it will be an accumulation of our past and present deeds that will take us to our next destination.

Many  intellectuals  from  non-Indian  /  non-Hindu  backgrounds, who  have  otherwise  been  skeptical  of  religion  in  general,  have found  this  core  belief  of  Hinduism  as  extremely  logical  and realistic.  With  this  explanation,  one  can  understand  that  GOD  is neutral,  and  does  not generally interfere  with  the  results  of one’s karma.  This understanding also makes us realize that it is upon us to be careful not to do any bad actions,  as  bad  deeds  may  not  even  guarantee  us  the  body  of a human  being  in  the  next  life  –  we  may  even  get  the  body  of  an insect or an animal. We should therefore always strive to perform good and noble deeds in this present life  as we are responsible for our own  actions. The cycle of continuous life and death only comes  to  a  stop  when  one  becomes  totally  detached  from  the results  of  one’s  activities  –  finally  achieving  Mukti  /  Moksha  /  a place in the spiritual world (in Hinduism, heaven and hell are only temporary destinations, not the ultimate)


It is generally accepted that Hinduism is the only religion which is in tune with science (though of course, science does not accept a creator,  and  Hinduism  does). It  is  a  very  vast  subject  and  not possible to cover in this article, but a very brief introduction from a brilliant article,  “Hinduism  and  Science”  written  by  the  late  T.D.Singh (former  Director,  Bhaktivedanta  Institute;  former  President, Vedanta  and  Science  Educational  Research  Foundation)  is  given here,  “Vedanta,  the  scientific  and  theological  doctrine  of Hinduism,  explains  that  in  principle  there  is  no  conflict between  science  and  religion.  In  fact,  the  two  fields  are complementary. This is because of the understanding that the domain  of  each realm  is  well-defined.  In  Hinduism  there  are two  categories  of  knowledge  –  (i)  para  vidya  –  the  spiritual knowledge and (ii) apara vidya – material knowledge. Scientifc knowledge  is the  realm  of  apara  vidya.  Spiritual  knowledge  – knowledge of God and life – belongs to para vidya. Hinduism points  out  that  scientific  knowledge  can  lead  to  spiritual knowledge…it’s  scientific  and  intellectual  contents  have attracted the attention of some of the world’s finest scientific and  philosophical  minds,  such  as  Erwin  Schrdinger,  Robert Oppenheimer, Albert Einstein, and Aldous Huxley. It speaks of billions of years of history, creation of the universe, medicinal science, metallurgy, space travel, embryology, art, music, etc. It is no exaggeration to say that there is almost no branch of knowledge that is left untouched in the Vedas. There are five core features in Hinduism: (1) God – Isvara, (2) Soul – Jiva, (3) Time – Kala, (4) Matter – Prakriti, and (5) Action – Karma. Of these  the  first  four  principles  are  eternal  whereas  the  last feature  is  temporary.  Based  on  these  principles,  Hinduism provides  a  deep  knowledge  and  understanding  of  life  and  the universe.  In  its  pure  form,  Hinduism  is  also  known  as Sanatana  Dharma  or  the  eternal  function  of  the  living entity…….Vedantic worldview in reference to many of modern science’s  perspectives  include  the  subjects  of  mind, consciousness, embryology, epistemology and cosmology” (the entire article – )

From all of this, we can conclude the reasons why Hinduism is considered as the most unique religion in the world. We can also better understand and appreciate why so many people, belonging to different ethnic backgrounds, are taking so much interest in Hinduism, in many cases even formally converting. Others, while still nominally Christians or atheist, have embraced many of the integral Hindu beliefs and customs so much so that a Newsweek article published in 2009 wrote “We are all Hindus now” detailing  how  American  beliefs  today  conformed  more  to  Hindu beliefs, than to Judeo-Christian ones – the article was not just about yoga, but also  on how 24% of Americans believed in reincarnation, that there was more than one way to Godhead, and  more  than  a  third  chose  cremating  rather  than  burying  the dead, which were totally contrary to Christianity and more in line with Hinduism.

Today, kids in our school learn so much about democracy, equality, environment, etc, so Hindu parents should take the lead in introducing our Sanatan Dharma to our children at a very young age, and explain to them how all these ethics and morals have always been the bedrock of Hindu civilization

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