Hinduism is considered to be the oldest faith to have ever existed on this Earth, and it draws the curiosity of people worldwide because of its rich culture, customs and intellectual fulfilment that this religion has to offer. It cannot be termed as a religion, but can be best defined as a way of life.
Hinduism is analogized as a tree- where the roots are symbolic of the Vedas and Upanishads, where the trunk has thickened with ‘tapasya’ or meditations of sages and gurus, its branches are the traditions of Hinduism and the fruits are the sects of the faith. This tree is unique in itself but bears a very sweet fruit, mentioned Subhamoy Das, a Hinduism expert on hinduism.about.com.
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Hinduism has so much to teach – both to Hindus and Non-Hindus. Hinduism is practised widely in countries like Fiji, United Kingdom, Canada, Nepal, the United States, etc. It has given the world spiritual assets like Yoga and ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness).
Hinduism, or Sanatan Dharma as it is called, also invites acceptance of people from all walks of life. It teaches one about Moksha and Mukti, Hindu terms for liberating or transcending the soul from worldly material possessions.
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Globalisation also plays an important role in the increasing interest of the West in Hinduism. Cross-cultural interactions and Indian diaspora in the West has resulted in their attraction to Hindu culture.
With vegetarianism becoming a ‘trend’ in the West, the fact that Hinduism preaches ‘ahimsa’ and discourages the consumption of meat is another reason why it is grabbing the attention of Westerners.
Hinduism has been repeatedly discussed in European literature since time immemorial. It is lesser known that literature’s finest piece ‘The Wasteland’ by TS Eliot has undertones of Hinduism. The poem ends with ‘shaantih, shaantih, shaantih..’ Besides this, the Romantic Age has been highly influenced by Bhagavad Gita. Poets like William Wordsworth, John Keats and many others have shown the impact of Bhagavad Gita and Shaivism in their poetry.
As a result, many Sanskrit words like dharma, moksha and nirvana have been added to English dictionaries. Hinduism has served the purpose of reformation and liberation of the Western mind, and shall continue to do so.
– prepared by Chetna Karnani, at NewsGram. Twitter: @karnani_chetna