The evolution o Hinduism has been a saga of continuous progression from the unreal to the real, from the profane to the profound, in successive stage to the development. Hinduism has withstood challenges of all hues, both within and without.
It has had its periods of light and shade, occurring concurrently, through the course of history. Sometimes shady aspects assumed vast proportions and enveloped the lofty ideals of the Vedas, but prophetic souls appeared to redeem the society of evil, from Adi Shankaracarya to Bhakti reformers of medieval India, and from Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Dayananda and Swami Vivekananda to Mahatma Gandhi.
Like any other human faith, Hinduism has its philosophical and practical sides, called “the kernel and the husk” respectively. The survival of Hinduism has been due to its ability to separate the former from the latter, in an unending process, and to withstand challenges of all types by adhering to the timeless principles of truth (satya) and righteousness (dharma). Hinduism has been open, flexible and adaptable. It has discarded outworn ideas and institutes, absorbed the best elements of fellow cultures, and reinterpreted itself in changing milieus.
The present work is an attempt to explain the quintessential of Hinduism within the orbit of time and beyond it, in non-linear sense of the term, involving an explication of the eternal values and principles which sustain existence. It explores the dynamics of Hinduism in a religio-history framework through the second millennium of the common era.
On the top is seen the snow covered Himalayan peaks, in midst of which is the temple of Kedarnath. On the left is the Somnath temples in Gujarat, situated on the shores of Arabian Sea. On the right is Jagannath temples at Puri, Odisha, on the shores of Bay of Bengal. And at the bottom is seem the Ramanathaswamy temple in Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu, on the shores of Indian Ocean.
Though there exists innumerable other temples, these four ancient ones, at the four cardinal points of the Indian subcontinent, stand as a vibrant testimony to the Hindu faith-the faith of over a billion people.
Dr. Satish K.Kaoor is a versatile scholar, educationist, historian, and a writer on the subject of religion. A Punjabi University gold medalist and record holder in History, and an ex –British council Scholar at School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, he London he has to his credit seven books, twenty chapters in scholarly work, and about four-hundred articles and book reviews. He was Associate Subject Editor (Area O2) and substance editor of Encyclopedia of Hinduism, a project of Indi Heriage Research Foundation (USA), to which contributed 50 entries. He also contributed to Encyclopedia of Sikhism (Vol. IV) published by Punjabi University, Patiala. The Press Information Bureau, Government of India, commissioned him to write articles on historic occasions like Fifty years of Indian Independence (1997) and the Khalsa Tercentenary (1999).
He has broadcast and telecast more than 200 programmes on historical cultural and religious themes, and prepared scripts for Radia/TV features and documentaries.
Dr. Kapoor won accolades like State-level Republic Day function award (2005) conferred by Punjan Governor, S. F. Rodrigues, Shaheed Rajpal DAV Literary Award (2009) bestowed by ex-Governor of Karnataka, T.V. Chaturvedi, and Soham smarkam award (2010) for best contribution in prose to bhavan’s Journal, Munbai.
A former Principal of Lyallpur Khala college, Jalandhar (Punjab); Local Secretary, Dayanand institution, solapur (Maharastra), being run by DAV College Managing Committee, New Delhi; and registrar of DAV University, Jalandhar, Dr. Kapoor remains engaged in academic and spiritual pursuits.
Hinduism-the Faith Eternal, the present work of Professor Satish K. Kapoor, is based on his deep studies and reflections on Hinduism. He is a well-known scholar of Hindu tradition and culture. He is the author of many book, essays and articles. He is also a strong advocate of the study of Worlds’ Religions.
In the present publication, he points out the Hinduism is as ancient as human civilization itself, but it is very contemporary. He indicates that the Hindu tradition is not founded by a single person or based on a single historic event. It has emerged from the profound experiences of a number of great seers and saints. It has also produced an extraordinary wealth of art, architecture, iconography, music, dance literature, and philosophy; he spells out how all of them help to communicate the insights and values of Hinduism.
The author shows that the tradition has gone through several transformation, but the basic principles have been continuous since times immemorial. The tradition is continuously evolving, and at the same times stable at the core. The dynamic flexible character if the tradition enables it to adjust to the needs of times and conditions. In other words, it relates the eternal truths to the changing circumstances; this ability has enabled it to make the reformations in the tradition and to successfully overcome the many challenges that were thrust on it in history.
The pervasive recognition among the Hindus that people vary widely in both their psychological and spiritual competence ids highlighted. And the fact that spiritual reality may be variously experienced and expressed by different individuals and groups is emphasized. Hinduism has never prescribed a uniform belief or ceremony. It does not insist on adherence to a rigid creed. It never had a missionary agenda. It purpose has never been to convert humanity to any one set of beliefs. It refuses to reduce life to a formula, and looks upon all human-made institutions as restrictive. It has inspired many to strike new paths in the spiritual realm. Actually, Hinduism encourages it followers to celebrate each other’s ways of realizing God or Supreme Reality.
The ancient and inclusive term used by the Hindus for religion is dharma, says the author. Dharma is the central and most inspiring ideal in Hinduism. It comprehends a whole range of personal and social responsibilities and lays down a way of life which aims at securing the material and spiritual sustenance and growth of both the individual and society.
The sources of dharma lie in the Vedas, from which the Hindu tradition draws its inspiration and guidance. Since the tradition is characterized no by a corpus of dogmas, but y a way of life geared to the realization of the ultimate goal life, Hindus appropriately call it Sanatana Dharma, The faith eternal. Dharma is application of Truth in life. There is no higher dharma than. Truth is ultimate Reality, all pervading and indivisible. Truth is above everything; anything without Truth is nothing.
According to the author, the observance of Truth in thought, word and deed is the way to the realization of Supreme reality. Knowledge of Truth destroys ignorance; it solves the problems of life. Pursuit of Truth makes life meaningful. As we progress in spiritual life, we grasp more and more truths. If our search for Truth is fragmentary and scattered, we fail to see Reality. We have to search for it wholly through body, mind and spirit. The final goal of our spiritual endeavours is Supreme Spirit God, the source of all values. Truth, goodness, harmony, understanding, enduring happiness, selflessness, service, peace, ect. are values. Dharma gathers in its sweep the total well-being of humans-physical, mental and spiritual. Dharma provides stability in all realms of life. It is the foundation of culture. The world is looked upon as dharma ksetra, the field of moral and spiritual actions. Dharma tells us what to do what not to do it life; it is both individual and social. Life has to be lived harmony with self and society. Worldly and spiritual welfare are complementary. Dharma requires form each member of society a way of life that is consistent with the general welfare of mankind. Lord Sri Ramacandra exemplifies this; hi is the personification of Dharma. Dharma reveals a deep concern for human happiness; without there is no happiness. Performance of dharma ensures harmony in society. There is joy in wiping the tears of other persons. If one looks inside oneself, one is able to improve his relationship with others. Practice of dharma brings us health, wealth and happiness. Following dharma means doing our duties and avoiding prohibited actions such as dishonesty, theft, violence, etc. according to the author, sharma is the means of atmasuddhi, purification of the self; it is living beyond private existence, for a cosmic purpose. Further, death being a certainty for everyone who is born, it is wise to think about after-life, immortal life. Dharma takes us into a hearty, whole life. People are protected by dharma. We have the freedom of will to pursue dharma and create our society. We have to do the right things now; we should waste time regretting for the past which is gone. He gives many illustration for this from Hindu epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata.
The present work is a humble attempt to explain the quintessential of Hinduism within the orbit of time and beyond it, in the non- linear sense of the terms, involving an explication of the eternal values and principles which sustain existence. It explores the dynamics of Hinduism in a religio-historical framework through the second millennium of the common era. A millennium is just a speck in the course of time which on without interval, at an incalculable speed. “In Time, mind (kale manach), in Time, Lord of all (kalo ha sarvasyesvarah)”, says the Atharvaveda (XIX.53.7-8). Time ethereal cannot be measured, being a fundamental substance. But time human is subject to observation in finite modes and forms. Hinduism has its periods of light and shade, occurring concurrently, or at irregular intervals, through the course of history. Sometime shady aspects assumed vast proportions and enveloped the lofty ideals of the Vedas, the source of primeval knowledge, but prophetic souls appeared to redeem the society of evil, from Adi sankaracarya (8th-9th century CE) to Bhakti reformers of medieval India, from Raja Mohan Roy, swami dayananda and swami vivekanda of 19th century to Mahatma Gandhi, in recent times. There have been periods of twilight, no doubt, but never was light totally eclipsed from view.
The evolution of Hinduism has been a saga of continuous progression from the unreal to the real, from the profane to the profound, in successive stages of human development. Hinduism withstood challenges of all hues, both within and without, keeping pace with time. Confronted by militant Islam in the beginning and proselytizing Christianity in the latter part of the second millennium, Hinduism initially withdrew in its shell, tightening its hold over its flock, ideas and institutions. But overcame its trepidation and inhibition in each case and asserted itself through self reform, resuscitation of spiritual values, and restoration of social ideals. With its inbuilt corrective mechanism, it endeavoured to separate the primeval truths from accretions which cluster around a social organism as time passes by. Hinduism, like any other human faith, has philosophical and practical sides, or what Swami Vivekananda called, “the kernel and the husk”. The survival of Hinduism has been due to its ability to separate the former from the latter, in an unending process, and to withstand challenges of all types and hues, by adhering has been open, flexible and (satya) and righteousness (dharma). Hinduism has been open, flexible and adaptable. It has discarded outworn ideas and institutions, absorbed the best elements of fellow cultures and reinterpreted itself in changing milieus. As James H. cousins observed in the renaissance in India (Madras, 1918), Indian (meaning Hindu) culture is not eligible for “a place among cultural sidssertations because it lacks the one qualifition-deadness.”
The book is divided into four parts. Part I: The Faith Eternal describes the various connotations ascribed to the word “Hinduism”: civilisational, cultural, religious, philosophical sectarian and historical. It explains that the Hindu way of life rooted in the philosophy of the Vedas and auxiliary scriptures embodies the eternal (sanatana) and universally applicable principles of existence. The mighty tree of Sanatana Dharma has manifold branches; each representing the spiritual insights and perceptions of sages and seers through the course of time. It root are sustained by the Moral Law (dharma) in the soil of eternity. Like an old banyan tree, Hindu ism has grown aerial roots, eventually developing into new trunks and roots on ground. To quote James H. Cousins again: “India of today is the Indian of the centuries. She has never moved far herself. Her past is not a mere source of archaeological pride to her present; her past is her present.”
It has been argued that the mainstream Hinduism emphasizes spiritual experience and not just pedagogy, purusartha and not passivity, scientific outlook and not dogmatism, divinity of human beings and not Original Sin, family harmony and social integration and not individualism, material prosperity and not economic exploitation, reverence for life and not an thropocentricity, and so on. The substratum of ancient Hindu social order, varna vyavastha, the sublimity of Hindu art and architecture, the deeper meaning of icons and symbols, the richness and variety of variety of patterns of religious practices among Hindus, and the path of self transcendence, as laid down in Hindu scriptures-these and other aspects of the Faith eternal have been discussed.
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