Hinduism is considered to be the oldest national religion of India. Its origins are usually built to the lifetime of the Proto-Indian (Harappan) civilization. Meanwhile, Hinduism still retains many customs and statutes of the ancient times, extending traditions of archaic culture that emerged at the dawn of history to the present times. Such a long, continuous and full-blooded existence, perhaps, had no other religion previously. Thus, the main aims of this project are to research Hinduism from various perspectives, and to share my own impressions and thoughts about this kind of religion.
Primarily, there are many beliefs and religions in India but, nevertheless, it has been and remains a country of Hinduism predominantly. Exactly Hinduism was a center of cultural, political and social unity to be built around in all ages. Considering the fact that Hinduism lacks a uniting belief system, it is possible to mention that Hinduism, as a religious phenomenon, differs by its unusual complexity and contradictoriness; moreover, it even seems confusing, chaotic and difficult comprehensible kind of religions to many people. Until now, there is no even a satisfactory definition of ‘Hinduism’, and a clear explanation of its parts and components is still in doubt. By the way, it is hard to strictly determine not only the content of Hinduism, but also to define the limits of this concept.
To add, according to Shattuck (1999), Hinduism is not a very harmonious belief, it does not have a universally recognized spiritual leader now and never had any leader in the visible past of the Indian subcontinent, as well as it does not have a clear and complete doctrine. And, in fact, it is characteristically to Hinduism that each guru interprets sacred texts of Hinduism in the own way, and each finds (or thinks that it is so) confirmation of the own personal views and preferences in these texts, or at least tries to convince the others. It being known that the higher value has the text of Hinduism, the more it usually has a characteristic vagueness which appears in its philosophical assertions in Sanskrit.
Thinking about the cultural and societal influences that have made Hinduism vital to the region in which it originated, it is good to mention that Hinduism has emerged as a comprehensive synthesis of social organization, religious and philosophical doctrines, theological beliefs and systems of psycho-physiological training for several millennia of its history. It permeates all aspects of the life of its devotee: ideological, social, behavioral, legal, and so on, right up to deep intimate spheres. In this sense, it is not only and not so much a religion as a way of life and holistic behavioral standards, focused on different social status and age stages.
Hindus see the future of their souls only in the improvement of the status of their subsequent incarnations, but extremely influential stratum of representatives of the ‘philosophical Hinduism’ is considering a future in the context of Moksha which means a total liberation of the soul from a succession of reincarnations. According to their view, the soul is chained to the ever-revolving wheel of reincarnation, which is set in motion by the law of karma. Thus, Zaehner (1966) stated that the main goal of Hindu is to achieve a total liberation, breaking the cycle of death and rebirth which is caused by karma. To sum up, the desire for liberation from earthly existence, in other words Moksha, appears after the realization and disappearance of all life purposes. Having lived many lives, each soul seeks liberation from the bonds of death; it perceives the self through the divine beginning, and eventually reaches Moksha, the final liberation from the cycle of births and deaths.
Observing Hinduism from various perspectives, it seems to me that Hinduism continues to develop because it is a living tradition. I strongly believe that Hinduism retains the ability to adapt and modify to meet the needs of believers, and recognizes the importance of the socio-religious environment in which it operates. It would be quickly degraded to the status of a monolith coated with cracked, mossy, silent and useless parts that has no positive relationships with seekers of the truth in the XXI century without such adaptability.
In conclusion, taking everything into consideration, it is possible to state that complex religious system of Hinduism flexibly combines the most seemingly opposite extremes and skillfully adapts to a variety of social and political conditions, while maintaining the extraordinary diversity, brightness and vitality. Hinduism has the amazing ability to constantly create new schools and trends knowing the ways how to connect the unconnected, and to present everything in fantastic shapes. All this boundless diversity exists in one common framework that allows us to speak of Hinduism as an independent and integrated system with common religious world outlook. Thus, Hinduism has always been extremely stable in spite of its seeming amorphousness.
Shattuck, S. (1999). Hinduism. London: Routledge.
Zaehner, R. C. (1966). Hinduism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.