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Home > History of religion > Hinduism > Origin of Hinduism
Origin of Hinduism
Hinduism has no particular founder but it had eminent teachers who through their teaching have made strong roots for Hinduism. Numerous sages and saints have accepted Hinduism and by their saintly lives and teachings have enriched Hinduism. In this sense, Hinduism is really a vast religion which includes many forms of devotion. In this wide sense, Hinduism means the entire culture, spiritual values and a general way of life with its roots in Indian origin of about 5000 years.

Naturally, Hindus have learnt the task of peaceful living having orthodoxy and non-orthodoxy within their limits.shiva Intolerance in the different forms and sects of Hinduism did not take as violent a form as we find in the case of prophetic religions. In due course, Shankara the most celebrated orthodox Brahmin and Kabir a Shudra and even an outcaste have forged the most formidable principle of unity amongst religions. In the same manner Ramanuja and Alvari have evolved the most important forms of theism, known to mankind, in the form of Bhakti cult.

In the wide sense of the term `Hinduism` and prophetic religions have important points of difference, broadly speaking, which cannot be easily ignored.

Hinduism inclusive of Brahminism and non-Brahminism:
There is one reality, usually Brahman of which this world is either real (Ramanuja) or illusory.
The doctrine of emanation is best taught in the Pancharatra and Bhagavat Purana. The earlier emanations are less contaminated than the later ones. In the same way, the earlier Yugas of Satya and Treta are better than the later ones.
In general, Hinduism teaches the cycle of creation and dissolution without any final end. As a matter of fact, Jains and Mimamsakas teach the eternity of the world.
With the doctrine of emanation goes the teaching of involution.
God or Gods are but manifestation of the one reality called Brahman. Hence, avataravada is a natural implication of emanation.
As everything is a manifestation of Brahman, so even a jiva can seek and attain identity with it.
For Shankara`s advaitism, the world is illusory and leaves Brahman wholly untouched.
Naturally Hinduism teaches the doctrine of avidya as the real cause of his coming into the world cycle of births and deaths, and his miseries.
The body is due to Kama and is a blemish. It is a product of Avidya and can be dissolved only through Jnana.
Even insects and trees are the emanation of Brahman. So they too are objects of our Reverance, respect and Ahimsa.

Hinduism is the oldest religion of the world and it has come in contact with a number of non-Aryan and non-Vedic religions in IndiaOmr Hence, some of its tenets have been changing their hues. Besides, religion for Hinduism has been taken most seriously and the acute and meditative mind of the Hindus has introduced many shades of opinion even with regard to the current terms of religion. Keeping these considerations in mind, we can mention the following features of Hinduism which distinguish it from prophetic and other Indian religions like Jainism and Buddhism.

Caste: At present caste is the most controversial issue among the Hindus. But there is little doubt that even Parsiism has four classes of people. However, there is nothing like `Shudras` who are like social slaves of the higher castes of Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas. The mention of caste has been in Manu Smrti, according to which Shudras have to serve all other members of the society.

Gandhiji also had accepted caste. According to him, efficiency of expertise and skill could result from their transmission from the fathers to their sons. Thus, the doctrine of caste by birth was given a social and professional sanction. But later on in April 1945 Gandhiji became dissatisfied with the prevalence of caste and advocated its dissolution.

Of course, non-Sanatani Hindus do not accept caste. (Sants, Nathas, Kabiris, Sikhs), Arya Samaj, Brahma Samaj and RamaKrishna Ashramite are Hindus coming under orthodox schools, but they repudiate caste.

It is to be noted that some of the most important figures in Hinduism did not belong to higher caste. Vidura was born of a Shudra woman, Vasistha was born of a prostitute, Vyasa was born of a fisher-woman and the sage Parashara was born of a Chandala woman, and so was Satyakama Jabala.

Varnashrama Dharma: The Vedic people were given to ancestor worship. If there be no son in the family, then this ancestor-worship will cease. Therefore, the Vedic religion, even from the time when Indo-Aryan and Iranian lived together had paid special sanctity to the life of a house-holder. Hence, the Vedic Brahmins, even when they accepted the doctrine of jnana and mukti, preserved the old sanctity of a householder. Thus, compromising with the doctrine of Sannyasa (renunciation), the Brahmins laid down the doctrine of four ashramas i.e., Brahmacharya Grhastha, Vanaprastha and Sannyasa. Sanyasa comes towards the end of life after completing the duties and obligations of a householder.

Thus, Hinduism teaches that corresponding to each stage of life there are duties for every caste. Here, the Gita too emphasizes caste-duties.

Remaining in the imperfect performance of one`s own caste-duty is better (more conducive) than the duty belonging to other castes even if performed perfectly.

Varlashrama Dharmas pertain to the conservation of the society. Karmavada and Purusakara: `Karmavada` is related to `Kama` and is a theory about `Karma`. Ingeneral karmavada simply means `as you sow, so you will reap`. People get in this life according to what they have done in their past lives. This theory serves to reconcile the needy, oppressed and exploited people to their hard lot. But does it mean fatalism? Yes, some of the ajivikfs held.to antinomism. According to this theory this life simply unfolds what has been accumulated in the past lives and no efforts, either good or bad, can change the course of events. However, Lord Mahavira refuted this doctrine of antinomism. If karmas have accumulated in the past lives, then even in this life they can be exhausted, and prevented from fructification and fresh accumulation. Hence, there is also the theory of Purusa-kara.

According to Purusakara, one can change the course of events in this and future lives by one`s efforts either through bhakti, fresh karmas and jnana.

Karmavada is also used to explain disparities in life, for which man is held responsible and not his Creator called Ishvara. Hence, this is a way out of the theistic tangle with regard to the evil in the world.

Idolatry: The Aryans themselves were not iconic. But by mingling with the native cult, present Hinduism has become iconic. By idolatry is meant that a finite being is taken for the Infinite. Except in few instances, the classical and dominant trend is that an idol is only a means for concentration but the real object is the Absolutely transcendent reality, usually called Brahman. It can also be said that the unqualified Brahman can be approached through some of its manifestations. For Shankara, even Ishvara in a general sense cannot be called absolutely real. Hence, for Hinduism, an image is only a support (alambana) for the purposes of meditation.

Avataravada: Closely connected with image-worship is the doctrine of Avatara (incarnation), specially in the form of `Rama` and `Krishna`.krishna This is peculiar to Hinduism, but is also accepted by the Christians who accept `The Apostle`s Creed`. There is also the doctrine of arcavatara, according to which some shrines are holier than others. This is really the doctrine of the Pancharatra which was canonized by Ramanuja. The doctrine of emanation is best taught in the Pancharatra and Bhagavat Purana. The earlier emanations are less contaminated than the later ones. In the same way, the earlier Yugas of Satya and Treta are better than the later ones.

In general, Hinduism teaches the cycle of creation and dissolution without any final end. As a matter of fact, Jains and Mimamsakas teach the eternity of the world. With the doctrine of emanation goes the teaching of involution. God or Gods are but manifestation of the one reality called Brahman. Hence, avataravada is a natural implication of emanation. As everything is a manifestation of Brahman, so even a jiva can seek and attain identity with it. For Shankara`s advaitism, the world is illusory and leaves Brahman wholly untouched.

Hinduism teaches the doctrine of avidya as the real cause of his coming into the world cycle of births and deaths, and his miseries. The body is due to Kama and is a blemish. It is a product of Avidya and can be dissolved only through Jnana. Even insects and trees are the emanation of Brahman. So they too are objects of our Reverance, respect and Ahimsa.
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