Who is Hindu ?
Who is Hindu ?
Religion’ is Apartheid and Flawed Western/Islamic concept
This post is just to answer many friends, who have asked me about Hinduism, Buddhism and difference. What Hinduism constitutes. Post reflects my understanding and facts I came through.
First a word on Hindu perception of abrahmic religion. Abrahmic religions developed independently of Hindu religions. Despite the stories of kaba being Shiva Lingam or Jesus doing meditation, these seem to me more cooked up stories. Hindus developed philosophy and story telling, habits of distortion quite early, as they had lot of time to think, it was a custom to portray or start a good cult in form of a new story.
Second let us discuss the main topic, to deal with it we need to go into history of Hindusthan.
Hindu word itself came from distortion of Iranian pronunciation of Sindhu river and people living across it, as Hindu. (‘S’ in samskrit become ‘H’ in persian, like the main Persian God Ahur Majda was called Asur in Sanskrit and still exists in all Hindu texts as Asur as reference to Iranian Aryans)
Greeks called it Inde, Portugese distorted it futher as India.
But there was no central belief system in India as it is perceived today.
Dharma the translation of religion found in dictionaries is wrong translation. As dharma is a wide subject, for Hindu people it meant all forms of ethics and duties.
Land of Hindu people was separated from rest of the world by natural barriers. If you look to geographical map, on western side Suleman and Kirathar mountain ranges and then Hindukush mountain ranges(meaning Mountain of death of Hindus) on west of Kabul valley, provide effective barrier to avoid large scale migration and intermingling with our Iranian neighbors and Arabs. On west side only few narrow passes like khaiber (Now on Pakistan Afghanistan border) led access to India.
In the north and east, Himalayas isolated India completely.
So we had a territory which was completely separate from rest of world. We had one of most fertile land mass and very healthy climate. All this helped development of a civilization, people had extra time so they used it for art and thinking.
By this time it must be clear to reader, how Indians (India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Srilanka, are Hindu.
There were always incursion from tribes outside India, on western border but they were meak mostly, even when outsiders were strong and they defeated Hindu emperors, they adopted the local culture and became part of Hindu society as some new cast for examples Jats, Gujjars etc.
Many thoughts developed, in North, south, east and west. We can say Vedic thoughts were most popular among them.
First Vedas were written by a Rishis, I am not sure Ved Vyasa alone could compile all vedas, or he had some texts before him, only he better put things togather, or it was just shruti (words listened, memorized and passed) before.
After that Upanishadas were compiled, then Puranas and Ramayana, Mahabharata. There is lot of contradiction about actual years when these texts were written. And there were many other scriptures in different parts of India, which are popular and sacred to local Hindus. You can find such distinctions in every 100 kms.
But all I can say that all sacred texts, as a form of explanations of Dharma, Morality, supernatural God, developed in sense of popular life styles and subjects.
Treatment was more based on class, people were either warriors, or class of thinkers, or traders or tillers. Many didn’t classify in anyone of them, these classifications were fluid (We can see cast system becoming rigid after period of Mahabharata and certainly from around 600 BC and during Muslim rule).
Till now all Hindus were Hindu.
In 563 BC, Buddha was born in a Hindu Warrior Family. Mahavira was born 599 BC. I am bringing Mahavira here to explain a phenomena that goes unnoticed often whenever a shallow analysis of Indian so called religions is done.
At age of 36, Buddha felt he has grasped the reality while meditating under pipal tree and then he felt necessity to help others also get rid of pain and suffering. He started moving and preaching. Buddha promoted others who were convinced with him to assist him in preaching and to preach after him. He asked them to live begging like he did himself. Disciples of Buddha were called beggars. Begging in Maghi language (Magahi is present language being spoken in Magadh area, where Buddha lived, in time of Buddha it was Pali language) is Bikha, in Pali also it was Biksha, and Bikshu meant beggars. So to live no confusion, disciples of buddha were called beggars.
They were certainly one of the ascetic sects like we have today Naga sadhus (sadhu means ascetic seeker), Vaishanava Sadhus, Shakta sadhus, Kabirpanthi sadhus how many. It is personal choice of citizens the kind of attention individual pays to certain sect, but as a Hindu, I realize that it is inborn in Hindus to respect all views.
Little more on this. My village is 15 kms from Rajgir (old capital of Magadh). Begging is not a shame, my own grandfather was a Lawer in British India, he had certain problems and he performed rituals, he collected all stuff by begging. It is a noble act, to own nothing and live on alms. Still in Bihar province (Magadh in ancient times) in India, in villages, some people beg as custom, when they are doing penance or have some belief. Also during festival dedicated to Sun God (chhath puja), people from well to do families, gather all the food and other things for rituals by begging.
Mahavira did follow even more ascetic life and traditions, he came up with elements of Dharma which were more nuanced and fundamental than analysis of Buddha, Mahaviras was linked a line of thought, which 33 sages before him contributed. They were called Jen sadhu meaning ascetic meditating seekers.
Buddha and Mahavira were essentially few of the sages striving for knowledge and bringing succor to masses in their own style. Before Buddha there were hundreds like him, after Buddha there were hundreds like him. Shankracharya, Kabir, Nanak, Eknath, Jaydeva, Ravidas, Ramanuja, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu…many many.
Geography had a big role in what was passed ahead and in which part of India. Buddha and Mahavira both spent their life of teaching and meditation in Magadha and near by kingdoms of east India (present day Bihar, eastern Uttar Pradesh and Nepal).
Kings of Magadh and nearby Kingdoms in Ganges valley were most influenctial kings those days. King of Magadh and all other Kings of the region, fought battles in ethical manners and never harmed peasantry and working class. Evidence of ethical battles can be seen in Mahabharat itself. It meant, thinkers and rishis and yogis they remained sacred and patronized all the time, losses in ethical warfare was minimum.
It was natural that all Magadh kings had enough wealth and they patronized Brahmin, Bikshu (the so called Buddhist monk), and Jen intellectuals in his court. Each king made enough donations to all saints and sages during festivals. Like on auspicious occasions sages of all traditions performed rituals for King.
To get a feel, every university has studies in different engineering or art subjects, professors of different disciplines, while it is part of same university and area of a professor doesn’t become part of his identity in sense religion becomes in Abrahmic societies.
All the thoughts and traditions, influenced by Buddha, or Traditional Vedas, or Mahavira, or many others which existed that time were a subject of debate and had patrons everywhere in cities specially.
After 200 years of death of Buddha a group of Bhikhus decided to organize and compile his teachings, and they wrote the tripitaks after that.
Buddha gave all his speeches in Pali. Now local Maghi language.
Similarly teaching of 34 ascetic saints who were called Jens were compiled.
Until now no religion was there.
304 BC King Ashoka was born, 266 BC, a 38 years old Ashoka had won all the Kingdoms of india through warfare. Now he attacked Kalinga. War continued till 262 BC, about 200,000 deaths, still king of Kalinga didn’t submit, After death of king his daughter takes the sword. Ashoka had an emotional feat and refused to fight women. Ashoka sunk in deep regret over the bloodshed he and his army had done. A bhikshu consoles him during that period of agony. Ashoka when he comes into senses, he decides not to fight a war again in life and he vows to spread dharma in all the known world. His life is changed, now he starts promoting Dhamma ( Dharma in Pali language), in which he puts essential elements of buddhas teachings and his own thoughts for a peaceful painless living of all humans and even animals. He establishes traditional hospitals all over the kingdom for animals also (can be rad in translations of his edicts from Iron Pillar of Sarnath and several other places).
He sends his sons, daughters, grandsons to other countries to spread the dhamma. Dhamma became sole goal of king Ashoka.
Today we don’t have teachings of Mahavira, or other sages, spread all over the world, because they didn’t get any Ashoka.
Kings of Magadh had built several buildings (Vihara in pali, Vihara is a so called monastery) for these bikhus, among them Nalanda, Vihara Shree were largest.
Ashoka donated 100 villages to Nalanda, and helped to establish a grand University there.
All the major structures related of budha were built by Ashoka. Some later by another king Kanishka.
Still all Indians were Hindu and Hindu bikhus were promoting teachings of buddha in south east Asia and rest of world as dhamma (Dharma), ”Buddham sharanam gachhami, Dhammam sharanam gachhami”.
One can notice in every Hindu family, something like father is worshiping Shiva, mother might worship Parwati, son might be going to ISCKON and daughter might be going to arya-samaj temple. These ways of approaching God never sticks to identity of Hindu. Ashoka spreading teachings of Budhha was just like a son having more interest in ISCKON style of puja.
After Ashoka, kings of Magadh had reduced interest in Buddha, some king was influenced by teachings of Jen ascetics, some by intelligent Brahmin.
Teachings of sages and scriptures had varying influence depending on time and kind of patronizing it receives among rich, inclination of people themselves, but there was a respect for all scriptures, and all sages (bikhus, brahmins, or Jens or others) in all times, all scriptures became part of Hindu knowledge heritage. Just like fashion of clothes changes in modern world, but essence of cloth is to cover ourselves, and all kind of cloths serve that purpose.
One particular feature was, teachings of Buddha and Mahavira were more popular in trading class and cities, because they had money and luxury to patronize bikhus and ascetics and to follow principles. Farmers in villages were less influenced by intellectual novelties, which cities saw.
In all times, in Nalanda University itself there were several types of bikhus and other thinkers, teachers and students. Only requirement to get admitted in Nalanda was intellectual capacity. There were 1400 teachers and 10,000 deciples at time when Chinese tereveller Fahyan visited Nalanda. Each teacher used to be author of ten books at-least. There were mathematicians, philosophers, ayurveda teachers, hedonist thinkers, atheists, the one who considered Buddha as God, many who considered other Hindu Gods or Mahavira to be more important, tantriks, many considered Buddha as teacher.
If one visits Nalanda museum, he can see the sculptures recovered from ruins include many Hindu pantheons. And to remind these traditions existed before Buddha also, a glimpse of that can be found in Upanishadas, which was written in time when all the sages struggled to understand dharma, humanity and everything.Trying to understand it much deeper, more better, and all were continuously producing many versions of their understanding of Dharma. History of India is full of such periods of intellectual churning. A famous philosopher with atheistic views ( I forgot name) made corridors Mahakal temple of Ujjain his seat, where inside sanctum there was Shiva.
Around 600 AD or so bikhus started becoming lazy and lost the charm as they were patronized too much by wealthy trading class in North and East. Brahmin priests like Shankaracharya and many later toured all over India to to spread their own understanding of dharma. Dhamma of bikhus became old junk, like many other previous explanations which lost its popularity after some time or many didn’t ever become popular. Still thanks to old institutions established by early kings, Buddhas message kept spreading into outside countries from Nalanda and many other monasteries.
AD 708, India was first time attacked by Muslims. AD 712, third Muslim attack and first conquest of Muslims in Sindh (India, presently in Pakistan), all Young men were butchered, all women were abducted and all children were taken slave and converted to Islam. For the first time in History of India, there were two types of people, Hindu and Muslims.
1199, Muslim General Bakhtiyar Khilkji after gutting all cities in north India, he arrives at heart of Indian buddhist teaching, Nalanda University. Complete University is gutted, 9 storey building of library was in flames for six months(I am not sure fact or exaggeration). All cities were full of Muslim soldiers who did not want to see a single temple or Vihar, a single brahmin or bikhu. In villages brahmins survived, Jens survived in cities in Rajput kingdoms of Rajasthan, and Gujrat. Few bikhus who managed to survive, fled to Nepal and other mountain regions.
(From now on, the followers of Buddha in east Asia, Tibet, Japan, China were completely cut from their intellectual fountainhead, Magadh, Nalanda. They developed independently thereafter in the East Asian societies
Still Buddha remained a teacher or God but not mark of religion. But when Europeans came to east, they saw people following Buddha as a religious group. Just like their understanding followers of Jesus Christ forming a separate identity a religion, Christianity. For the first time in History of world we had a Buddhist religion. )
From then on, east and north India saw Muslim rule, where Hindus were not allowed to read and write, build temples, spread or pursue knowledge openly.
Things started changing after Maratha Hindu King Shivaji from Mumbai area conquers many territories in mid of 17th century, but by this time most part of memory of Buddha, in this part of India (Bihar) is lost.
When British conquered complete India in late 17th century, for the first time in history of India there was detailed classification of people on basis of religion according to concept of religion understood by British. This served two purpose, one to divide Hindus and keep Hindus confused about their identity, second to make Hindus feel ashamed of their heritage, identity, and establish British Christian supremacy. Every every possible group of people were persuaded to identify themselves as some different religion. Sikhs, Jains, Hindu, Zoroastrians, Muslims, newly converted Christians. Hinduism was invented, Sikhism, Jainism.
(Before 16th century, there were small Christian and Jewish settlements in cities in west cost, and they received all kinds of freedom by Hindu kings, but they remained attached to their different non-Indian identity and didn’t dissolve in Indian society. India was only country where Jews were not persecuted.
On contrary to Christian settlers, Zoroastriansim almost became part of Hindu society as one of the Hindu casts. Zoroastrian Persians fled Iran after Muslims conquered Iran and everyone was forced to convert in Iran. Zoroastrians had a rule that in certain vicinity of their main Fire Temple, only Zoroastrians can be there. King Jadav Rana in Gujarat gave a part of his territory to Zoroastrian Persians, to build Fire Temple, to pursue their life style freely. Later on they forgot distinction and became part of Hindu society, adopted Hindu culture. Nowadays thanks to British there is a separate Zoroastrian religion in India, but still they intermarry and share customs with Hindu neighbors, and there has never been a single conflict in last 1400 years.)
In India Buddhas only memory remained in form of few symbols like date of Buddh Purnima (the date of birth of Buddha according to Bikram samwat, the Hindu calender), People whenever had found broken statues of buddha from muslim period, they restored them in Hindu temples like one of their Gods.
During British period in late 18th century, British archaeologist saw a pattern in description of Buddhist texts being followed in east Asia and mountain regions of Himalayas. After researching and archaeological excavations, most of the physical symbols like Stupas, Iron Pillar of Dhamma built by Ashoka, Bodh Gaya, ruins of Nalanda University were located. British informed world about existence of a new religion Buddhism.
Europeans and their sycophants in India saw this as new opportunity to degrade Indians, to show British Christian supremacy, distorted stories were produced about Buddha being a rebel and many things.
British were in Hurry to recognize as many possible religions in India as they could.
Even now, Indian Muslims are called Hindu by Arabs, during their Hajj pilgrimage.
Personally, as a child, I only knew that there are two types of people, Hindu and Muslim. Buddha was like one of Hindu Gods, which my mother would ask to respect, it came to my knowledge much later that Buddha is part of another religion also, the so called Buddhism.
The only reason I understand about an Indian Muslim being different from Hindu is his refusal to respect the other view, his refusal accept the heritage of Hindu ancestry. Only reason I see a Indian Christian different from Indian Hindu is his refusal to respect any other view.
One of the oldest sun temple in Nalanda, which is close my paternal village, sun temple of Aungarika dham, it was attacked by Muslim army and like all other temples it was being converted mosque.Unfinished task, they closed the door in east and opened a door in west of temple building(towards makka), they left it incomplete. Inside the temple is broken statues of Budhha, Mahavira, Sun God and Ganesha.
Today also, there are many types of spiritual trends, many sects in India. Among social groups, Brhamkumari, Aryasamaj, Sanatani, if one counts it will be thousands. If one goes by personal beliefs then there are 1 billion sects because there are 1 billion Hindus. Church, Muslims or anti-nationals they would certainly like to call it hundred religions of India, and tyranny of Hindu elite.
One more example, Chinese society has seen several influential thinkers, but they did not call it religion of Confucious or Buddha or religion of Lao Tzu, they remained Chinese.
Sawarkar, Vivekanand and many true Hindu intellectuals of modern India never found Buddha as separate from Hindu.
Tallest Ideologue of Indian Hindu nation, V.D. Sawarkar said in his book ‘Hindutva’, Every human who considers India as his/her holyland is Hindu…. entire humanity is single race. Sawarkar himself didn’t believe in existence of God. For Sawarkar his belief was merely a personal opinion, which existed in harmonious company with 330 million other personal opinions of all Hindus (Hindu population in 1940 was 330 million).
According to me, essence of being Hindu is not worshiping one of pantheons, but to strive to establish Dharma/ethical living, striving for wisdom, truth with same vigor as our ancient rishis did.
I consider Hindu-ism, the ism of Hindus as intellectual property, which ancient sages and todays intellectuals created and updated for moral well-being of Humanity. Just like science, arts, literature etc.
Humanity cant experience its true spiritual potential, unless we open our minds, learn to respect all explanations of Dharma/Ethics on merit of kind of character it develops in people, kind of harmonious life it brings for living beings of this earth. We need to grow together, share the wisdom, and bread, that is only way out in face of adversity and sufferings facing us today.
In late 20th century and 21st century, Indian middle class and lower middle class is too greedy and corrupt to act (not just think and speak) for nation and Hindu spirit, self improvement. Society is just a tool to fulfill personal needs. Gods are just a mean to fulfill greed and hunger for wealth, prayers are sham.
Indians in cities are more materialistic than western people. No wander, Indians didn’t only continue with British classification but many used it for advantage of a particular group etc.
Khalistan movement, and support it received in 1980s among rich Jat Sikhs, recent development of according religious minority status to Jains, jostling among all cast groups to get reservation in job and to get special privileges from Govt, are few examples.
The fad of conversion to so called Buddhism and Christianity is not inspired by justice or wisdom, but mainly a matter of convenience to get freebies from Christian missionaries and anti-national elements. I have seen many incidents of Hindu converting to Islam to get married to some girl or to get one more wife after his wife dies, which is immoral act as they leave kids in limbo. Can it be called call of wisdom or greed?
As I see today majority among all caste and class of Hindu has only one ambition, to become wealthy and make material for his own family.
My suggestion to rational Hindus would be to strive diligently and learn as much critical thinking from west as possible. At they same time re-research our own ancient wisdom which I have observed are best philosophical literature to manage ordinary Human brain.
Hindu wisdom is result of critical thinking not blind emotion. Best brains will now need to update Hindu literature and include more knowledge in the light of modern scientific discoveries (a process which stopped 1200 years ago after Muslim Invasion of Hindusthan) while omit some which have become anachronistic.
Stop with nothing less than complete truth. World is slowly heading towards complete control of problems of life, metaphors will not work too long, living in darkness one can only fool oneself. Same for cultures.
Hindu wisdom can offer soothing breeze in this period of transition in the world marred by sick religious philosophies. And Hindu identity and wisdom will/should ultimately melt down into global civilization which it has enriched with Vedas, Buddha, Nanak, Mahavir, Upanishad, Geeta and Ramayana.