By Devakinandan


Ashtottaram 50: OṀ (AUM)-HIN-ḊU-BHOO-MYAI—NA-MA-HA

ॐ हिन्दुभूम्यै नमः

(Hindu: One who rejects untruth)

Hinduism is a major religious and cultural tradition of South Asia, which developed from the Vedic religion. Hinduism was originally called Sanatana Dharma, which means righteousness forever. The Persians, who invaded India in the sixth century BCE, gave Hinduism its name from the root word Indus.

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Hinduism is sometimes dubbed as a way of life and not a religion. It is better to have a life that helps one to elevate oneself and be useful to society than have a religion that makes an individual dogmatic and turns the society against other societies. At present, that is what is happening with other religions in the world. Hinduism is a comprehensive system that incorporates in itself all aspects of human life: philosophy, religion, ethics, and all facets of culture including the various arts, sciences, and literature.

In spite of constant invasions from outside or battles among the various rulers inside, Hindu society has successfully maintained remarkable stability, both at the family level and at the social level. Hinduism permits the acquisition of wealth and the enjoyment of the legitimate pleasures of life, but always within the perimeters of dharma, the true values of life, and the greatest good of the greatest number.

Hinduism is sometimes dubbed as a way of life and not a religion. Pixabay

Hinduism is sometimes dubbed as a way of life and not a religion. Pixabay

Sanātana Dharma has been the way of life for thousands of years for the inhabitants of Bhārata Varṣha. 'Hinduism' is not its original name! In fact, its adherents never gave it any particular name except dharma, which simply means- the eternal law that supports and sustains those who practice it. Nor was there any need to do so since, being ancient and in a way prehistoric and there was no other religion from which it had to distinguish itself. The origin of the words Hindu and Hinduism is geographical.

The land of the river Sindhu (Indus) and the people inhabiting it came to be known as Hindu among ancient Persians, in whose language the 'S' of Sanskrit became 'H'. And this name somehow stuck. From this angle, all religions of Indian origin became different facets of Hinduism (Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, or tribal cults). However, in practice, the term is applied specifically to the religion dependent on the Vedas. In Sanskrit, Hṃ means ASAT (untruth) and means reject. In other words, the Hindu is the one who is after Sat (Absolute Reality). Sanātana Dharma (the Ancient and Eternal Religion) is sometimes applied to Hinduism by its more orthodox followers.

Hinduism does not have a single founder, a single book, a single church, or even a single way of life. Its strength has been able to withstand all the onslaughts of time and the barbarous invasions and external aggression. Nor has internal upheavals destroyed it. Hinduism is not idolatry, nor fatalism -though it preaches through the theory of karma that one reaps what one sows, it is not the caste system and its hierarchies. Hinduism does not preach or uphold untouchability. Hinduism is not responsible for the occasional stagnation of Hindu society.

Hinduism is both ancient and modern and has survived the vicissitudes of history and onslaughts of time and is still standing as 'Hindu Bhūmi'.

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