Vedic culture/ Hinduism

RYR Logo small copyWhen it comes to Vedic culture, more popularly known as Hinduism, many people find it difficult or impossible to define it in a concise or adequate manner. It differs quite a bit from the conventional and western monotheistic religions with which many people are familiar. Hinduism is pluralistic. In other words, it does not claim any one prophet or savior; it includes all aspects of God; it does not subscribe to any one philosophy or dogma; it includes various schools of thought and ways of understanding spiritual Truth; it includes a variety of religious rites or sacraments; it does not exclude any particular scripture that can help a person understand more about God and spiritual Truth; and it does not say that you have only one life in which to become spiritually perfect or you will go to eternal damnation. Thus, Vedic philosophy is more of a way of living and an outlook on life than a religion.

Because of this, Hinduism and the path of Vedic culture includes a variety of customs, ideas, and philosophies. It accommodates a wide range of approaches for allowing people to advance and understand our spiritual identity and transcendental Truth. It allows everyone to question the scriptures to increase one’s understanding, and recognizes no single person or prophet as having an exclusive claim over the Absolute Truth. Everyone can follow a system of realization to approach God since this is everyone’s right and destiny. This flexibility is one of the reasons why Vedic culture has continued over so many thousands of years.  

This is also why many variations of philosophical thought or schools of religion can be viewed as branches or tributaries of the same great river of sanatana-dharma, which is the universal spiritual knowledge and practice that is the essential teachings of the Vedic literature. Such spiritual knowledge can be recognized in many forms of religion or their scripture. Because of this, it also means that no one is excluded or excommunicated from the Hindu or Vedic philosophy. There are no heretics, but there is room for everyone and respect for all who are practicing its basic principles of spiritual pursuit and understanding. This is also one reason why Hindus generally get along with other religions, though there have been many who have taken unfair advantage of their amiable nature.

So Vedic culture is not an organized religion like Christianity or Islam. It has no single founder. It has no Pope. It has no hierarchy, though people do recognize particular spiritual authorities or gurus. It also has a lot of scriptures. And in some of these Vedic scriptures you are actually studying the history and culture of India, just as through the 66 books of the Holy Bible you are actually studying the culture and history of the Jews.

Hinduism and Judaism are the sources of all modern religions in the world. Buddhism, Sikhism and to some extent Jainism and Zoroastrianism were outgrowths from Hinduism. Of course, Jainism existed during the period of the Rig Veda. Statues of Rishabha, the first Thirthankara and founder of Jainism was found in the Mohenjadaro and Harappa excavations. Islam and Christianity came from Judaism. Judaism, Islam and Christianity have Abraham as the common father figure. All three have many common prophets.

C.S. Lewis, the great author and theologist accurately explained, “Finally it will come to two religions. Hinduism and Christianity. The first [Hinduism] will grow absorbing ideas and concepts from everywhere and later [Christianity] will keep away from everything that is foreign to it.” This is one reason why Hinduism has continued for thousands of years and cannot be destroyed, even if we burn every Vedic scripture and kill every Hindu theologian on earth. Hinduism or Vedic culture is a very dynamic, living, breathing Reality. The strength of Hinduism lies in its most amazing ability to adapt to different circumstances and different ages while maintaining its strong continuity with the past.