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Hinduism
Hinduism
Description
Foreword

Though man’s religious consciousness has been, time and again, enshrined in song and scripture, in art and architecture, from the beginning there has always been a need for exegetical literature. For the saint and the lay man, the literature of prophecy is enough, but the advanced initiate and the rational thinker always seek doctrinal support. Each major religion, therefore, has gathered a huge mass of expository material which helps project its true image. Nevertheless, it continually requires fresh thought and application inasmuch as it has to meet the requirements of the changing imagination. That is indeed how a religion remains a living force. The effort of the Guru Gobind Singh Department of Religious Studies, Punjabi University—the first Department of its kind in Indian universities— to bring out up-to-date volumes on the five principal religions— Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Sikhism—is accordingly a scholarly step of great value, particularly as it synchronises with the 500th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. The release of the volumes on this occasion, therefore, is an apt and concrete tribute to the catholicity of the Founder’s mind.

The primary aim of these publications is to give the reader an idea of the fundamentals of the religions in question. Thus, no comprehensive analysis or exposition has been attempted, though, I trust, the scholarship which has been commissioned, has made a good job of it. These skeletal studies are intended, in particular, to bring the younger people in our colleges and universities into contact with the various streams of religious experience, thought and practice. Religion, though frequently abused by the pundit and the padre, remains man’s most cherished heritage and hope. To open a window on to a long and beautiful vista is thus to invite the youth to unending pastures of pleasure. Literature of this kind has its own distinctive flavor and appeal. Once one has felt what Guru Nanak calls the touch of his love nothing else will quite satisfy.

Introduction

To a student of religion, the most fascinating and perhaps equally bewildering thing about the Hindu tradition is its enormous variety. In its long history extending over three thousand years it has developed innumerable religious sects and philosophical schools. One finds in its fold theological doctrines of different shades, religious practices of different types and numerous cults and creeds. The Hindu tradition has never prescribed a uniform way of life to be followed by all. The richness and variety within the tradition point to its inherent dynamism; it has inspired many to strike new paths in the spiritual realm.

The two characteristic Hindu doctrines, the doctrine of spiritual competence (adhikara) and the doctrine of chosen deity (Ista Devata) account partly for this phenomenon. The doctrine of spiritual -competence requires that a religious discipline prescribed for a man should be suitable to the level of his spiritual evolution. Different spiritual disciplines, therefore, are in order to serve the diverse needs and aspirations. The doctrine of ‘chosen deity’ implies that out of the numerous forms of the Supreme Being recorded in the scriptures, the worshipper is to be recommended that form which satisfies his spiritual longing and which normally becomes the object of his love and adoration. The psychological dispositions of the aspirant and his natural faculties are taken into consideration for the achievement of an integrated and harmonious way of life.

However, diversity is not the final note of Hinduism; there are strands of unity amidst variety. This unity can be found in some common values and goals of lire as well as in certain philosophical doctrines. The doctrines of karma, samsara, moksa, etc. are common to all Hindu philosophical and religious thinking. The doctrine of karma recognizes that one’s present life is determined by one’s previous life and that men are in different stages of their spiritual journey according to their actions, The doctrine of samsãra maintains that the cycle of birth and death continues until one attains maksa or liberation.

An attempt is made in this book by well-known Hindu scholars to bring into focus certain basic themes, affirmations and practices. Their accounts are intended to be introductory and not exhaustive.

Dr Sundararajan’s Historical Survey provides information regarding the Hindu scriptures and the leading personalities in the Hindu religious and philosophical schools. It also gives details regarding the different historical periods in the development of the Hindu religious tradition.

Dr T.M.P. Mahadevan’s article on Hindu Metaphysics is a brief account of the philosophical contents of the Vedas. Upanisads and the schools of Indian thought (Nyaya, Vaisesika, Samkhya, Yoga, Mimamsa, Advaita, Visistãdvaita, Dvaita, and the different schools of Saivism—Saiva Siddhanta, Vira Saivism and Kashmira Saivism. Dr Mahadevan points out that though there is a rich variety of religious and philosophical thought theistic and absolutistic, realistic and idealistic, pluralistic and monistic—there is a certain unity of purpose permeating through multiplicity.

In his article on Hindu Ethics, Dr Sundararajan shows that the Hindu morality has been from the very beginning committed to vindicating two types of moral duties: (i) Conduct that arises from one’s station and duties; (ii) conduct that flows from the very moral nature of man. He points out that social duties in the sense of caste duties have often predominated at the cost of categorical m5ral duties. And yet he draws our attention to the fact that there have been periodical protests against such domination.

Professor Raghavachar in the third chapter entitled Hindu Mysticism stresses the genuineness of mystical experience and deprecates the attempts to explain it away in terms of some other dimension of human experience. He identifies three types of mysticism: (i) The soul mysticism of the Yoga sutras, (ii) the Identity mysticism of the Advaita Vedant, (iii) the theistic mysticism of the Bhakti schools. However, according to the author, these types find their happy synthesis in the ‘surrender mysticism’ of the Bhagavad-Gita.’

The article of Dr Devasenapathi deals with the encounter of Hinduism with other religions and especially with Christianity. The author is firmly rooted in the Hindu tradition but appreciates the difficulties that men of other faiths may experience in understanding some of the Hindu concepts and doctrines. He also shows how a Hindu can sympathetically understand and appreciate the significance of certain doctrines and concepts of other religious traditions. While stressing the need for a sympathetic understanding of other faiths, he also warns against any attempt to undermine the differences. He believes that the uniqueness of a religious tradition is precious and, therefore, is to he preserved. He stresses that the recognition of the validity of the different approaches to Reality should not stand in the way of accepting one of them for one’s own spiritual benefit and fulfilment.

In his article on ‘Modern Movements in Hinduism’, Dr Seshagiri Rao discusses the different reform movements from the time of Raja Rammohan Roy. He carefully explicates the significance of Brahma Samaj, Arya Samaj, Ramakrishna and the Gándhian Movements and the impetus they have given to Hinduism in dealing with modern challenges and conditions.

One is surprised to note that a modern Hindu is provided no opportunities at all to study the contents of his own religious heritage. The lack of a centralized religious organization in Hinduism may partly be responsible for this state of affairs. The situation looks ironical when we see an educated Youngman, who is conversant with all the developments of philosophical and secular thought, lacks a basic knowledge of his own religion. Our young men are not exposed to the meaning and values of their own respective traditions. It is rather unfortunate because it gives an unintended edge to certain ideologies. We feel that in the changed social, economic and industrial set-up of Cur country, a knowledge of the living religions is most essential to imbibe and inculcate moral and spiritual values. The present volume, along with its companion volumes, published on the occasion of the birth quincentenary of Guru Nanak is a humble effort in this direction. We trust that it will satisfy, at least to some extent, the intellectual and spiritual needs of our young men and women.

I take this opportunity to record my profound appreciation and thanks to my esteemed friend Dr K.R. Sundararajan without whose assistance this volume could not have been published in time. My special thanks are due to the contributors to this Volume for their ready co-operation at every stage.

Contents

ForewordV
IntroductionVii
Historical survey1
Hindu Metaphysics18
Hindu Ethics40
Hindu Mysticism67
Modern Hindu Movements87
Hinduism and other Religions106
Our Contributors129

Hinduism

Item Code:
NAE663
Cover:
Hardcover
Edition:
1997
Language:
English
Size:
9.0 inch X 6.0 inch
Pages:
140
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 330 gms
Price:
$22.00   Shipping Free
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Foreword

Though man’s religious consciousness has been, time and again, enshrined in song and scripture, in art and architecture, from the beginning there has always been a need for exegetical literature. For the saint and the lay man, the literature of prophecy is enough, but the advanced initiate and the rational thinker always seek doctrinal support. Each major religion, therefore, has gathered a huge mass of expository material which helps project its true image. Nevertheless, it continually requires fresh thought and application inasmuch as it has to meet the requirements of the changing imagination. That is indeed how a religion remains a living force. The effort of the Guru Gobind Singh Department of Religious Studies, Punjabi University—the first Department of its kind in Indian universities— to bring out up-to-date volumes on the five principal religions— Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Sikhism—is accordingly a scholarly step of great value, particularly as it synchronises with the 500th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. The release of the volumes on this occasion, therefore, is an apt and concrete tribute to the catholicity of the Founder’s mind.

The primary aim of these publications is to give the reader an idea of the fundamentals of the religions in question. Thus, no comprehensive analysis or exposition has been attempted, though, I trust, the scholarship which has been commissioned, has made a good job of it. These skeletal studies are intended, in particular, to bring the younger people in our colleges and universities into contact with the various streams of religious experience, thought and practice. Religion, though frequently abused by the pundit and the padre, remains man’s most cherished heritage and hope. To open a window on to a long and beautiful vista is thus to invite the youth to unending pastures of pleasure. Literature of this kind has its own distinctive flavor and appeal. Once one has felt what Guru Nanak calls the touch of his love nothing else will quite satisfy.

Introduction

To a student of religion, the most fascinating and perhaps equally bewildering thing about the Hindu tradition is its enormous variety. In its long history extending over three thousand years it has developed innumerable religious sects and philosophical schools. One finds in its fold theological doctrines of different shades, religious practices of different types and numerous cults and creeds. The Hindu tradition has never prescribed a uniform way of life to be followed by all. The richness and variety within the tradition point to its inherent dynamism; it has inspired many to strike new paths in the spiritual realm.

The two characteristic Hindu doctrines, the doctrine of spiritual competence (adhikara) and the doctrine of chosen deity (Ista Devata) account partly for this phenomenon. The doctrine of spiritual -competence requires that a religious discipline prescribed for a man should be suitable to the level of his spiritual evolution. Different spiritual disciplines, therefore, are in order to serve the diverse needs and aspirations. The doctrine of ‘chosen deity’ implies that out of the numerous forms of the Supreme Being recorded in the scriptures, the worshipper is to be recommended that form which satisfies his spiritual longing and which normally becomes the object of his love and adoration. The psychological dispositions of the aspirant and his natural faculties are taken into consideration for the achievement of an integrated and harmonious way of life.

However, diversity is not the final note of Hinduism; there are strands of unity amidst variety. This unity can be found in some common values and goals of lire as well as in certain philosophical doctrines. The doctrines of karma, samsara, moksa, etc. are common to all Hindu philosophical and religious thinking. The doctrine of karma recognizes that one’s present life is determined by one’s previous life and that men are in different stages of their spiritual journey according to their actions, The doctrine of samsãra maintains that the cycle of birth and death continues until one attains maksa or liberation.

An attempt is made in this book by well-known Hindu scholars to bring into focus certain basic themes, affirmations and practices. Their accounts are intended to be introductory and not exhaustive.

Dr Sundararajan’s Historical Survey provides information regarding the Hindu scriptures and the leading personalities in the Hindu religious and philosophical schools. It also gives details regarding the different historical periods in the development of the Hindu religious tradition.

Dr T.M.P. Mahadevan’s article on Hindu Metaphysics is a brief account of the philosophical contents of the Vedas. Upanisads and the schools of Indian thought (Nyaya, Vaisesika, Samkhya, Yoga, Mimamsa, Advaita, Visistãdvaita, Dvaita, and the different schools of Saivism—Saiva Siddhanta, Vira Saivism and Kashmira Saivism. Dr Mahadevan points out that though there is a rich variety of religious and philosophical thought theistic and absolutistic, realistic and idealistic, pluralistic and monistic—there is a certain unity of purpose permeating through multiplicity.

In his article on Hindu Ethics, Dr Sundararajan shows that the Hindu morality has been from the very beginning committed to vindicating two types of moral duties: (i) Conduct that arises from one’s station and duties; (ii) conduct that flows from the very moral nature of man. He points out that social duties in the sense of caste duties have often predominated at the cost of categorical m5ral duties. And yet he draws our attention to the fact that there have been periodical protests against such domination.

Professor Raghavachar in the third chapter entitled Hindu Mysticism stresses the genuineness of mystical experience and deprecates the attempts to explain it away in terms of some other dimension of human experience. He identifies three types of mysticism: (i) The soul mysticism of the Yoga sutras, (ii) the Identity mysticism of the Advaita Vedant, (iii) the theistic mysticism of the Bhakti schools. However, according to the author, these types find their happy synthesis in the ‘surrender mysticism’ of the Bhagavad-Gita.’

The article of Dr Devasenapathi deals with the encounter of Hinduism with other religions and especially with Christianity. The author is firmly rooted in the Hindu tradition but appreciates the difficulties that men of other faiths may experience in understanding some of the Hindu concepts and doctrines. He also shows how a Hindu can sympathetically understand and appreciate the significance of certain doctrines and concepts of other religious traditions. While stressing the need for a sympathetic understanding of other faiths, he also warns against any attempt to undermine the differences. He believes that the uniqueness of a religious tradition is precious and, therefore, is to he preserved. He stresses that the recognition of the validity of the different approaches to Reality should not stand in the way of accepting one of them for one’s own spiritual benefit and fulfilment.

In his article on ‘Modern Movements in Hinduism’, Dr Seshagiri Rao discusses the different reform movements from the time of Raja Rammohan Roy. He carefully explicates the significance of Brahma Samaj, Arya Samaj, Ramakrishna and the Gándhian Movements and the impetus they have given to Hinduism in dealing with modern challenges and conditions.

One is surprised to note that a modern Hindu is provided no opportunities at all to study the contents of his own religious heritage. The lack of a centralized religious organization in Hinduism may partly be responsible for this state of affairs. The situation looks ironical when we see an educated Youngman, who is conversant with all the developments of philosophical and secular thought, lacks a basic knowledge of his own religion. Our young men are not exposed to the meaning and values of their own respective traditions. It is rather unfortunate because it gives an unintended edge to certain ideologies. We feel that in the changed social, economic and industrial set-up of Cur country, a knowledge of the living religions is most essential to imbibe and inculcate moral and spiritual values. The present volume, along with its companion volumes, published on the occasion of the birth quincentenary of Guru Nanak is a humble effort in this direction. We trust that it will satisfy, at least to some extent, the intellectual and spiritual needs of our young men and women.

I take this opportunity to record my profound appreciation and thanks to my esteemed friend Dr K.R. Sundararajan without whose assistance this volume could not have been published in time. My special thanks are due to the contributors to this Volume for their ready co-operation at every stage.

Contents

ForewordV
IntroductionVii
Historical survey1
Hindu Metaphysics18
Hindu Ethics40
Hindu Mysticism67
Modern Hindu Movements87
Hinduism and other Religions106
Our Contributors129
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