The words HINDU and HINDUISM are so complicated that even some of the greatest leaders of this country(INDIA) found it difficult to Explain!
The term "Hinduism" has been derived from 'Hindu'. "Hindu' is a Persian word which means dark* (Lughat sa'd (Kanpur:1963),p.633.
The word was first used by Muslims*(H.G. Rawlinson, Intercourse Between India and the Western World, (Cambridge:1962),p.20. for the inhabitants of the 'land beyond the Indus (Sindhu) river'and later, for the ancient Indians in general.
The word was never in Indian literature or scriptures before the advent of Muslims* (Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, (New York:1967), 6:699. & Swami Dharma Theertha, History of Hindu Imperialism, (Madras:1992),p.vii.to India.
According to Jawaharlal Neharu, the earliest reference to the word "Hindu" can be traced to a Tantrik book of the eighth century C.E., where the word means a people, and not the followers of a pirticular religion*.(The Discovery of India, (New Delhi:1983), pp.74-75.
The Muslim rulers used the term 'Hindu' to mean Indian non-Muslims only. The Brahmans Gladly welcomed it! The British rulers maintained it with one modification, they excluded the converted christians from it! The people of the South Asian sub-continent called Hindu had no precise word for their religions.*(Benson Y Landis, World Religions, (New York: n.d.), p.49.
Britishers Fed up with their thousands of casts and communities gave them the word "Hinduism" to be used as a common name for all these sects in about 1830* (The New Encyclopedia Britannica), 20:581.
Lack of common system
Hinduism is not a revealed religion and, therefore, has neither a founder nor definate teachings or common system of doctrines.*( Area Handbook of India, (Washington: 1975),p.163).
"There is in fact no system of doctrines, no teacher, or school of teaching, no single god that is accepted by all the Hindus"*(Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics,6:712).
In Hinduism, none is, therefore, regarded to have forsaken his or her religion, even if he/she deviates to any extent from the usually accepted doctrines or practices.
Superiority of Brahmans
The Brahmans occupy the highest order. They r said to have sprung from the mouth of brahma(god), they are the possesors of the Veda.
The Brahman is the diety on earth by his divine status*, born to fulfil Dharma.(Wilkins, Modern Hinduism, (London:1975), p.239.
Hindus believe in many gods and godesses. Some of them are human (e.g.Krishna, Rama)* (Theerta, p.37.)
some animals(e.g. fish, monkey, rat, snake), and
some other r natural phenomina (e.g dawn, fire, sun).
Their number is generally believed to be 330 million.
This god incarniates i.e. takes form of human beings and other animals and appear on Earth.
They have wives and children. No god possesses absolute power; some gods r weaker than the sages and others are weaker than the monkey god (e.g. Rama).
Status of their godhead is not fixed. Some gods are worshipped for some time and abandoned and new gods are adopted.
Now a days the gods and godesses worshiped in Hindu homes are not Vedic. Vedic gods like Agni(fire), Surya(sun), Usha(dawn), are completely rejected.
Rama who is currently recieving increasing acceptance among Hindus of the wide propogation of the official and media was never worshipped as diety until 11th century.
Sex and Sex-worship
Hindu scriptures are essentially pronographic in nature, full of sexual allusion, sexual symbolism, passages of frank eroticism and stories relenting to venal love.
Ritual intercourse was practiced by some sects to aid salvation.* (The Wonders That Was India (Calcutta:1967), p.172.). The temples are full of sculptures with all sort of sexual postures. The sex life of Krishna is well known for it's indecency.*
He had illicit relations with Radha, wife of his maternal uncle, in addition to number of Milk-maids, although he had a large number of wives*. (Wives of Krishna 16108, childrens of krishna 180,000 Ambedkar, Riddle of Rama and Krishna, (Bangalore:1988),p.25.).
Brahma is found guilty of cohabiting with his own daughter, Saraswati. It is for that reason he is not worshipped today.
Vishnu is guilty of deceitfully ruining the chastity of a married woman, called Tulasi.
Siva is not worshipped but the image of his linga (sex-organ) is widely worshipped*(Wilkins, p.281). this is because of the curse of some sage.
Prostitution is encouraged in the form of 'DEVDASI" (slave-girls dedicated to temple-idols).
Hindu gods and rishis are found engaged in sexual act with beautiful women and breeding illegitimate children.
E.g. In order that Rama could have strong soldiers in his army, the gods engaged themselves in begetting powerful sons. This they did by engaging themselves, in tne words of Dr. B R Ambedkar (Ambedkar p.7) "in wholesale acts of fornication, not only against apsaras, who were prostitutes, not only against the unmarried daughters of yakshays and nagas, but also against the Ghandarvas, Kinnars, and Vanaras (monkeys) and produced the vanaras who became the associates of Rama".
Reverance for the Cow
The Arthashastra*(Kautilya minister of Chandragupta, 4th century CE) refers the killing of cow as a crime worthy of death??
M K Gandhi in his book Hindu Dharma says"Cow protection is an article of faith in Hinduism"(p.108).
It is however interesting to note that, cow was slaughtered by the ancient Hindus to enjoy it's Beef, and as a sacrifice. Gandhi himself says, "I know there r scholars who tell us that cow-sacrifice is mentioned in the vedas. I..read a sentence in our Sanskrit text-book to the effect that Brahmins of old (period) used to eat beef" (Hindu Dharma, (New Delhi:1991),p.120.)
Referances to cow slaughter for sacrifices in Rig Vedas:
Hymn CLXIX* (The Rig Veda, translated by Ralph H Griffith, (New york: 1992),p.647.
Rig veda (RV VIII. 43.11)
Rig Veda (RV.X.16.7) mentions ritual envoloping of the corpse with cow flesh before applying to the fire.
Slaughter of Bull (Brahmanas 1.15) Aiteriya Brahmana.
Fat bull slaughter Brihadaranyaka Upanishada (VI.4.18)
Openions of some scholars:
"Frankly speaking, it is not possible to say definately who is a Hindu and what is Hinduism. These questions have been considered again and again by eminent scholars, and so far no satisfactory answer has been given. Hinduism has within itself all types of religions such as theism, atheism, polytheism, Adwaitism, Dwaitism, Saivism, Vaishnavism, and so forth. It contains nature worship, idol worship, demon worship, symbol worship, self worship, and highest god worship. Its conflicting philosophies will confound any ordinary person. From barbarious practices and Dark superstitions, there is place for all gradations and varities in Hinduism. Similarly, among the Hindu population are found half barbarian wild tribes, and depressed classes and untouchables, along with small number of cultured, gentle natures and highly evolved souls."
----Swami Dharma Theerta.
"Hinduism does not rest on the authority of one book or one prophet, nor does it possess a common creed- like the Kalma[sic.] of Islam-- acceptable to all. That renders a common defination of Hinduism a bit difficult."
----M K Gandhi.
[Hinduism is]"...a name without any content.. Its content, if any, has altered from age to age, from community to community. It ment one thing in the Vedic period, another in the Brahmanical, a third in the Buddhist-- one to Saivite, another to Vaishnavite and Sakta"*
--- Dr. Radhakrishnan, ex-President of india and interpreter of Hinduism.
(India An Introduction, (New Delhi:1990), pp.19-20)
"Hinduism, as a faith, is vague, amorphous, many sided, all things to all men. It is hardly possible to define it, or indeed to say definately whether it is a religion or not, in the usual sense of the word. In it's present form, and even in the past, it embraces many beliefs and practices, from the highest to the lowest, often opposed to or contradcting eachother".
----- Jawaharlal Nehru, (Nehru, p.75).
"In tracing the evolution of religion in India, no problem is more difficult than that of framing a defination of Hinduism as we observe it at the present day. Many of the tests which have been proposed from time to time are obviously inadequate... The difficulty of framing a defination of Hinduism arises from the fact that under the general title 'Hindu' are included classes whose belief, ritual, and mode of life are strangely diverse,-- the learned Brahman, who is the follower of the Vedanta philosophy; the modern theist or agnostic, trained in the learning of the west; the semi-barbarious hilman, who eats almost any kind of food without scruple, knows little of Brahmanical mythology, belief, or ritual, and in time of need bows before the stone which he supposes to be occupied by the god of his tribe or village"
-------Encyclopedia of Religions and Ethics, 6:698.
"Hinduism is far more unstructured than most other religions. It has no archbishops, chiefrabbis, grand muftis. Each Hindu decides for himself which manifestations of God are most important to him, what scriptures to accept as authentic, which holy man to follow. The one ineluctable certainity is a persons Dharma"
---The Economist, June 8th, 1991, p.22,col.1.