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Sanatana Dharma - Aka Hinduism (3rd Bin)
Per consensus discussions will be split in three bins. In the first bin on Practice (Philosophical, Spiritual, Cultural), the second bin on Experience (Cultural/Social), the third on Community (Social/Political).

Each bin thus captures and represents one of the main ways that dharma is expressed which makes an impact on all hindus and others, living in the eco-system.

The first bin is for how religious practices can exert a powerful hold on people, and become focal points of their lives as they facilitate experiences of divine or ultimate reality [Whatever it is called in their own minds]. In other words, religious practices are powerful because they are vehicles for religious experience, let’s just look at it for what it is - {Let us avoid hair splitting here - orthodos or heterodox schools etc etc - we have philosophy thread just for that}

The second bin for discussing/analyzing different forms of religious experiences that shows how they not only involve people in relationships with divine or ultimate reality but its impact on immediate surroundings. Technically such experiences generate loyalty to religious communities and guide people in managing their immediate social world and concern for society (or lack there of) – discussion mainly on the latter part {We really cannot discuss personal experiences nor do we want to discuss opinions - Just the "local(micro)" impact}

<b>The third bin </b>for exploring the impact of such religious communities on society on a much broader scale – India/World - in light of increasing assault on Hinduism by the usual suspects, complicated by our own misunderstanding and laziness to put an effort into busting myths propagated by vested interests. For lack of better word, let’s call this “Theorizing Bin - Past, Present and Future” The past-present-future angle sets the context behind each argument, otherwise it is futile, in so far as developing a theory. If anything constructive comes out of this bin, then discussions to be based on accomplishing it at both micro and macro levels.
I am going to start by copying my post from the ISKCON thread.

Quick summary of how new cults emerge from Hinduism, with the potential to break apart from mainstream Hinduism and possibly cause havoc like former splinter groups like Buddhism, Sikhism and Arya Samaj.

The process of breaking apart first starts as a "reform movement", supposedly to fix some problems in Hinduism.

Next, it undergoes the process of monotheization, where the scoudrels claim their religion is also monotheistic like Xtianity and Islam. And they try to distance themselves from Hinduism. This involves attacks on traditional Vaidika Dharma by calling it a "corrupt Brahmanical order". This is a classic semitic tactic.

Next the cult proceeds to prove to how his sect is actually the orignal "pure" Vaidika religion before it was "corrupted" by Brahmanas.

Then the next generation of converts having grown up in the new nonsense sect starts claiming itself as a separate religion.

Finally, many generations down the line the descendants no longer find satisfaction in their new religion and become prey to predatory religions like Islam and Xtianity.

This is what is happening to Sikhs living in the west who are converting to Xtianity or Islam.

The same thing happened in Korea, where Buddhism first stealthily crept in and destroyed the native Korean religion. Now the place has been overrun by missionaries and has become a Christian majority nation.
I would like to point out that mitradena's point of view is more reactionary than substantive.

First of all hinduism has had a long tradition of internal criticism, like shavism , vaishnavism, advaita which have criticised each other and also co-existed. In a temple we can see both Shiva and Vishnu being worshipped side by side. This gives a holistic view to god realisation and also a more complete culture and method of living. Internal criticism is the reason of hindu tolerance and also for this being the only religion which has lived till time immerorial. Internal criticism has enabled hindus to be able to adapt and change and keep innovating to newer geopolitical situation. It is the great civilizational strength of hinduism which was able to stop the onslaught of islam(the great persian civilization perished in no time) and indeed completely blunt it. All of this due to the character of hinduism being like a water. Which can cut mountains with constant and persistent onslaught but can also change its course if situation so demands.

I believe that if internal criticism is removed and all new forms of expression is discouraged then the essential character of sanatan dharma will be gone. The most important aspect to keep in mind for this quest towards hindu resurgence is that we should not shun away new ideas(but logical) and close all doors to criticism and newer methods of preaching and cultures. New cultures indeed enrich hinduism. Buddhism added a dimension to hinduism and sikhism gave the much needed tool to fight the brutal assault of islam. Today sikhs are the most wealthy community in india and lead a very good life and are a pride of india as a nation.

To view Iskon or buddism or sikhism as against hinduism is a very narrow method of thinking. To view that hinduism means certain vedic way of life or certain concept of living and that this concept only should be hinduism is something like an islamic extremist saying that quran is the only truth and everything else is false.

We should not fall into the trap of getting into a shell, indeed like a confident civilization should come out and start contributing to the world heritage, art and culture in a distinctively hindu way. Hindus have a great knowledge endowed to them through veda, purana and upanishads. Vivekananda expounds some of the greatest methods to find happiness and peace. We should debate and create an environment of internal self assesement which keeps on innovating and changing us.

Lastly I will say the only thing constant in world is change. And hinduism understand and implements it beautifully and that is why it is sanatan and never ending. The writers of vedas were great visionaries.

As for christian missionaries ravaging South Korea, the simple reason is that Buddhism was an imported religion and so had no great affinity and strong philisophical roots like vedas and several and numerous seers giving tremendous support, so that is why it just got replaced from one popular religion of that time to another popular religion of present time. We cannot compare oranges and apple. India is the land where several religions were born and flourished and also given to people outside this land. It is not similar to South Korea.

"To view Iskon or buddism or sikhism as against hinduism is a very narrow method of thinking."

I do not think people here view them as against Hinduism but they certainly are not Hindus since they say that they are not Hindus, Sikhism and Buddhism are separate religions and ISKCON may look Hindu but they do say that they are not Hindus so that's it.

"India is the land where several religions were born and flourished and also given to people outside this land. It is not similar to South Korea."

Similar or not similar, we are on the losing side so far, many of the North Eastern states are now Christian majority and Hindu population is decreasing in India so I don't really see how Hinduism will survive in India especially with Hindus being some of the worst cowards after all these years of slavery and partition of the country.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->First of all hinduism has had a long tradition of internal criticism, like shavism , vaishnavism, advaita which have criticised each other and also co-existed.

Yes this is correct. But all the above Sampradayas have always considered themselves as part of Vaidika Dharma.

Criticism of another Sampradaya should be restricted to theological issues only.

On the political front it makes sense to create a federation called Hinduism under which all can fight as one unit.

Political unity need not imply theological conformity.

Further, Sampradayas are not the only division that exist in Hinduism.
An even bigger identity marker is Jati. An average man identifies himself with his Jati more than a Sampradaya.

Jati is the prime cultural unit. Here again the same rules apply.
It makes sense for different Jatis to come under one political front called Hinduism and fight as one unit.

The last and most important identity marker is the individual himself.
Every individual has his own opinion. There are strong disagreemts between individuals belonging to the same Jati and Sampradaya.

We cannot have Hindu society break into small pieces just because some disagreements exist.

Fighting as one unit does not imply that anyone has give up their unique culture.
Rather by fighting together everyone has a chance to preserve their own identity better.

Think of Hinduism as an alliance of free thinking individuals fighting to preserve their rights.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->To view Iskon or buddism or sikhism as against hinduism is a very narrow method of thinking.

We are not against them. They are against us. That is the problem.

Why can't Buddhists, Sikhs, ISKCONites declare themselves as Hindus and join us?

There is clearly a strong separatist streak among them.
Is this a zero sum game where you either are with us or against us? Whatever happened to live and let live?
Islam and Christianity started this business of a zero sum game.

An average Hindu could care less about what religion his neighbor believes in.
All he wants to do is follow his own cultural practices in peace.

I am pointing out how the average Hindu is ill equipped to deal with this threat.

So there is a need to put up a united front.
"Why can't Buddhists, Sikhs, ISKCONites declare themselves as Hindus and join us?"

The problem is that they are not Hindus, the sikhs have been saying now for a long time time that their gurus founded a new religion (that rejected Hinduism and Islam), only Hindus bury their head in the sand and refuse to listen to them and insist that sikhs are hindus and that they are the sword arm of Hindus and other such nonsense. Out of the 3 groups u mentioned only ISKCON can be considered separatist, the other 2 groups (sikhs and buddhists) have their own separate religion.
Well people who say that buddhism has nothing to do with hinduism should try and see what vivekananda has to say about buddha, or should see what Shankaracharya fought against.

Further sikhs maynot call themselves hindus politically but theologically and culturally all there interests lie in the vedic dharma, it is just that guru grant sahib is a book which has basics of vedas written down to make it easy to go about as an organised religion.

All the basic tenets of guru pooja, are there in guru grant sahib.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Think of Hinduism as an alliance of free thinking individuals fighting to preserve their rights.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Exactly politically I would like to have hinduism to be an organisation which fights for all the things dear to hindus and it should be a forum which encourages individual thinking, personal liberty and protection of rights.

There should not be canon laws saying that so and so is not hindu or and this is bad. Obviously there has to be a set rule and personal and community interests should be seen and most importantly in matter of grave disagreement community interests take preference.

As it is said that if sacrifice of one individual saves the community the individual should be sacrificed.

So i believe that the self critical nature of hinduism should be preserved at any cost inorder for it to be relevant at all times and in all places, exactly symbolising what is essentially sanatan.

Politically hindus have to be united. But the biggest problem is that politically hindus cannot be united on a religious basis. It is not possible. Hinduism is a macrocosm of ideas(so many ideas that it cannot be reconciled under one platform politically) and so many different and diverse ideas that it is simply not possible to unite them religiously also.

The only way to unite hindus politically is by a conservative political policy of security, economic development, fight against communism and fight against islamism.

The biggest challenge politically for hindus today is the onslaught of islamism and marxism. These godless characters are trying to create intellectual capital to incite people against the vedic culture of this land and turning them against there own system and local tradition, hence making it difficult to achieve better and faster economic growth, further they are also making it difficult to administer people and provide all the basics required for fast upward mobility socially.

So an average hindu should be united in this front for better economic and social progress. The splintered nature of hinduism politically should be removed and a clear direction looking into the long held local systems and tradition should be the platform on which hindus should be united politically. There should not be an effort to unite hindus theologically or religiously. First of all this is not possible, secondly it will backfire on hinduism big time after it is completed(if somehow it gets completed). We have to think about the end and what we want to do with the end. We cannot dry the great source of intellectual capital of vedas and purana for present day political purposes.

Political purposes should be solved politically by creating like minded political causes on which it can be fought. And I clearly see that by creating interest in people towards there local cultures(which is derived from the basic tenets of hinduism) will keep them interested in this religion and further will bring great economic development as policies can be implemented easily and faster. The failing of india especially congress party has been that some great secular intellectual who does not understand the local people passes laws totally irrelevant and unimplementable in the places where they are intended to be implemented, and the simple reason for this is that they donot understand hinduism or indeed wants to de-hinduism the system(which is essentially marxism in the indian sense). So our fight politically to unite hindus should be directed in this front and it will create a grand resurgence of hinduism per se. Because then the theology of hinduism can be taken by individuals, yogis, munis, seers and religious organisations, where dissent, criticism can be encouraged and hence creating a better theological discourse for further generations. We have to be patient and not reactionary, we will win over these islamists and marxist, we dont have to let it backfire on hinduism.

Lastly I will just say islam removed the concept of ijtihad in 13th century fearing that too much criticism will make islam fall, indeed just the opposite happened, it was the reactionary step of muslim clerics which made islam such a brutal and reactionary religion, if self criticism would have been carried, islam would not have fallen down so rapidly. We should learn from the history of other religions also.

I am not saying that Buddhism has nothing to do with Hinduism, I am saying that it is a separate religion according to its followers and we should respect their wishes. In the same way there are similarities between Sikhism and Hinduism but that does not mean that they are Hindus or follow vedic dharma, infact there are verses in the guru granth sahib that clearly reject the Vedas, here are some of them:

"The Vedas and the Scriptures are only make-believe, O Siblings of Destiny; they do not relieve the anxiety of the heart."


"Even Brahma who constantly read the Vedas died. All the four Vedas are mere fiction. The Vedas can never realize the greatness of a Sadhu." SUKHMANI, 7: 8.


Please use some discretion when using certain sources as the basis of any particular argument.
Sikh spectrum seems to be a anti-Hindu site with the cheerleader Angana Cheater ji contributing her diatribe
Viren thanks for pointing that out, I edited my post and used another quote from a diff link.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The Need for Dharmic Unity
An American Hindu’s View
by H.V. Shivadas

  There is a need to create a unifying force among the Dharmic Spiritual
Traditions around the globe, to spread the message of unity in order to
defend and preserve Dharma among various sampradayas of Sanatan Dharma,
otherwise known as Hinduism, as well as other spiritual traditions that have
sprung from the same roots, such as Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and even
other traditions that may not be dharmic in name, but that are dharmic by
their nature, such as the spiritual traditions of the Roma (gypsies), the
Neo-Pagan movement growing tremendously in Europe and America that is a
revivalism of the pre-Christian European cultures, the shamanic traditions
that are found around the globe from Siberia to the Native peoples of
America, and the many nature-based and animistic aboriginal traditions found
in Africa, China, the Americas and in the Pacific Rim.

While many of these Dharmic spiritual traditions have been organizing
themselves in recent years in an effort to unite themselves to preserve and
defend their traditions, there is as yet no comprehensive unifying force
that includes all those many traditions that for millennia untold have
always held each other in respect, before the coming of the monolithic
monotheistic triad of the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and
Islam. Many of these traditions have been reduced by colonization and
conversion, more often than not by force, to such small numbers that we can
fairly say that they are today an endangered species, and some that have
already become long ago extinct and found no longer on the face of Mother

  The near decimation of many of these spiritual traditions and their
attendant cultures continues as the conversion efforts of Christianity and
Islam in particular, as well as so-called secular and humanist Communist
regimes that yet remain, continue in their efforts to drive these dharmic
traditions apart, creating division and dissention between traditions that,
before the advent of these infant monotheistic faiths and modern atheistic
ideologies, had always been of a syncretic nature in an ancient world that
may have fought wars over many things as mankind has always done,  but never
over religion.

The result of Islamic and Christian efforts to drive a wedge
between the dharmic traditions have eroded the dharmic values which, even in
times of war, had always ensured fair treatment of each other, even in the
face of dissent. It was weakened the ability of these traditions to stand
against the continued onslaught of conversion efforts, these days disguised
in terms of offering humanitarian aid to the poor and suffering, as if their
own governments and religions were doing nothing, while using that aid only
as an inducement and a bribe to renounce their ancient heritage for the sake
of a few coins or a bit of food or empty promises of jobs and equality.

  The irony is that the aggressors, most evident in Islam, have achieved
such unity among themselves that even those Islamic nations that are
traditional enemies with each other will often unite to defend each other
against any perceived attack against any  Islamic nation, whether friend or
foe, while the most evident result of the forced division of the ancient
dharmic traditions is found in India, where Hindus, Buddhist, Sikhs and
Jains, by now having long ago been divided by invaders and colonists, today
bicker endlessly amongst themselves as to who is right and who is wrong, as
do the Abrahamics, and some to the extent of demanding secession from the
Motherland to ape the creation of Islamic “nations” torn from the body of
Mother India, as seen in the demand of many  Sikhs for the creation of a
Khalistan, or even worse, the discovery that Protestant Christians
missionaries from America have been providing bombs to their precious Indian
converts in the North to force the creation of a Christian state in the
subcontinent. And why should they not expect such a right to tear a piece of
Mother India’s body off for themselves, when all the Western world demanded
the Partition of India, on behalf of Muslim insistence, with a cowardly,
though reluctant, Congress Party’s acceptance, resulting in the creation of
a “pure” Islamic state, that has only multiplied itself and today seeks to
further gain more of Mother India’s flesh to feed the greedy belly of the

  It is a miracle that the dharmic peoples of the world have not vanished
altogether by now. But if what remains of us cannot unite against this trend
of creating nations based upon religious exclusivity, then our ultimate
demise is certain. Even the largest so-called “secular” democracy in the
world is not secular at all - at least not by the standards of secularism
set by the Founding Fathers of America, who would be aghast at the
suggestion that such a state of affairs as exists in India today would dare
to be called secular. What American would stand by if their government
should declare to subsidize the Hajj, or sacred pilgrimage to Mecca, for
American Muslims by paying for their trips with the taxpayer’s dollars as is
done by the so-called “secular” government of India?  Who can imagine the
American Government declaring that while all majority religions in the US
could continue to operate their places of worship and manage their finances
without accountability, the majority Christian religions must surrender
operation and ownership of their Churches and all assets to the Federal
Government as is done in India? And there would certainly be a revolution,
with every Cowboy, Redneck, Johnny Reb and Yankee in America taking their
shotguns down from their gunracks if our government declared a separate set
of civil laws for Muslims, much less any other religious minority.

  It is times, my brothers and sisters, to lay aside our differences,
whether we are Vaishnavas or Shaivas, Advaitin or Dvaita, Buddhist or Jain
or Sikh, it is time to stand together and refused to ever be divided and
conquered again!<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
The Vision of the Sages

Yoga International Magazine, Asia Edition, Nov./Dec. 2004
Pandit Raimani Tigunait, Ph.D.

There are still thousands of villages in India that are as yet untouched by the complexities and comforts of modern civilization. Here people live simply, farming, raising cattle, and practicing the same trades their ancestors practiced working as carpenters, blacksmiths, washermen, barbers, cobblers, tailors, ropemakers, potters, and fishermen. I was born in one such village and raised on the plains of northern India. I grew up in a world that was lighted only by sunlight, moonlight, and firelight, a world governed by the rhythms of nature the rising and setting of the sun, the waxing and waning of the moon, and the slow turning of the seasons. But it was not until my life in the village had become a childhood memory that I realized it had been shaped by the vision of the sages.

Our village had the only primary school in a ten mile radius, so it drew hundreds of children. The small building housed an office and one classroom, which was reserved for fifth-graders. The rest of us had our lessons under the surrounding trees. After fifth grade we went to a middle school in a village three miles away, but we considered ourselves lucky - some of the students had to travel fifteen miles to get there.

School was where we learned to read and write and work with numbers and where we heard about such exotic inventions as electricity, telegraphs, and telephones. But we learned how to behave and formed our concepts of virtue and sin - and of gods and demons - in the course of village life.

None of what we knew about the causes of disease had anything do with the principles of modern science. We learned that killing frogs would cause an earache, for example, and we were certain that anyone who eavesdropped would be reborn as a bat. We called ladybugs Rama ki Ghodi, "the mares of Rama," because it was from the back of these tiny creatures that Lord Rama inspected and nourished our crops, and we knew that harming them was self-destructive and offensive to God. We were convinced that a ghost lived in the eye of the small, powerful dust devils that swirled across the countryside in the dry season, and we knew that tucking an onion in our pockets would protect us from being possessed by these ghosts. But if the dust devil was exceptionally strong, the ghost might prove more powerful than the onion. The symptoms of possession thirst and feeling hot were unmistakable. I was possessed more than once, but I knew how to exorcise the demon: wash my hands and feet and recite a prayer to the mighty god Hanuman before taking a drink or eating anything.

These were facts of life as real to me as the ground beneath my feet. Even when I was quite young I never sat with my feet pointed toward the fire, because I knew it was a sin. Spitting, urinating, or throwing garbage in fire or water was a spiritual offence, and so was selling either fire or water. It was a sin to turn away a stranger stopping at your door in the evening, and no one ever ate before an invited guest began eating.

In our village, as in all of rural India, the economy operated on the jajamani system, in which every family in the village is a "client" of all other families. We all worked for each other, and remuneration for all labour was in the form of an exchange of goods and services. (Money was scarce, and scarcely needed.) The washermen collected and laundered the clothes of the entire village, and in return collected pots from the potters, rope from the ropemakers, hay and grain from the farmers; they got their hair cut by the barbers and their clothes stitched by the tailors. Our family owned some land, and by observing how my parents treated the barbers, washermen, cobblers, and others who performed services for us, I understood that giving these people less than their fair share of hay and grain was a sin.

In the interval between harvest and planting anyone's livestock could graze in our grain fields and those of the other landowners. The same was true of vegetable patches the owner took only what he needed and when he declared himself finished with his harvest, anyone could come and take what remained. When all the vegetables were harvested, cattle and goats ate the plants. Thus nothing was wasted, and at certain times of the year all the land around the village was open pasture.

The same attitude applied to fruit trees. We all understood that the person who owned the land where the tree grew was the only one entitled to pluck fruit from its branches, but anyone even a passing stranger was entitled to fruit that had fallen. (Shaking the tree to make fruit fall was theft.) Once I heard someone tell my father that a landowner had prevented other villagers from picking up fruit that had fallen from the trees on his land. "How low of him," my father remarked. "This is one more proof that the kali yuga [the dark age] is in full swing."

In the realm of personal behaviour, separating yourself from your aging parents and failing to take care of them in their old age was an unthinkable disgrace. Sleeping after sunrise and failing to light the lamps at dusk were spiritual offences. A teacher who did not pass on his knowledge to the next generation would remain unembodied after death. Using wind and light as a locus for his consciousness, such a teacher would become a brahma rakshasa and suffer regret, hunger, and thirst until the bad karma incurred by his negligence was exhausted.

There were many actions we all regarded as especially virtuous. Chief among them was planting trees, tending them, and renouncing all claim to them when they began to bear fruit. Thus the roads were lined with trees that gave fruit and shade to us all. We understood that the fruit from these trees could be plucked only when it was ripe taking unripe fruit was stealing. Cutting down one of these trees or indeed any tree growing on public land was a sin so grave that it carried the taint of murder.

The villagers associated lack of progeny with bad karma and believed that performing virtuous deeds, such as digging a pond for the use of the entire village, would wipe that karma away. A woman could enhance her chances of conceiving by planting banana trees, watering them daily, and watching them blossom. Building bridges across streams and rivers would strengthen the bond between wife and husband. Future troubles could be averted by building a doorless shelter on the roadside for travellers. Digging a well and offering the water to anyone who came ensured that you would never suffer from thirst.

In village life, almost every useful plant is believed to have some sort of association with the divine realm. My mother worshipped the neem tree because, like her neighbours, she saw it as the abode of the Divine Mother. We all revered the ashoka tree because Mother Sita had lived under just such a tree for ten months. We knew the peepal tree as the home of Shiva and revered the bilva tree because Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, lived there. We knew that the tulsi plant is always accompanied by Lord Vishnu; keeping one in the courtyard guaranteed Lord Vishnu's presence in your home. Durva grass is favoured by Ganesha. Sugarcane is the direct manifestation of Sri, the goddess of beauty and bliss, whose favourite flower is the aparajita. Palasha is the tree of Agni, the fire god, and the banyan is the tree of Krishna himself. Destroying or threatening any of them would offend the gods, and no religious ceremony was complete unless the leaves, the flowers, or the fruits
of one or more of these plants were incorporated into the ritual.

Each of life's transitions sacred or mundane was marked by ritual ceremonies. Conception, childbirth, naming a child, the child's first haircut, the first bite of solid food, the first day of school, marriage, death, the funeral, and post-funeral rites all had their own ritual. Each day of the full moon and of the new moon was dedicated to worshipping the god of protection and nourishment. In addition, those people wishing to lead a virtuous life performed specific rituals on certain days of the week. For example, they worshipped the sun god on Sunday, Shiva on Monday, Hanuman on Tuesday, the spiritual teacher on Thursday, and the Divine Mother on Friday. Then there were special days such as Diwali (the festival of lights), Holi (the festival of colours), Navaratri (nine days dedicated to the Divine Mother) which the villagers celebrated with grand rituals. There were also special days dedicated to honouring the plant and animal kingdom, such as Naga Panchami, honouring snakes (the fifth day August), and Vata Savitri, honouring the banyan tree (the day of the new moon in early summer).

All of these rituals centred around the fire offering. We could compensate for failure to perform the obligatory practices or any shortcomings (known or unknown) in our performance of the rituals simply by performing the fire offering portion of the ritual. Many of the villagers did not know the meaning and purpose of the fire offering; they made it because it was their custom their fathers and their forefathers had done it before them. But they all believed that fire is the mouth of God and whatever is offered into the fire reaches God. Every family tried to make at least three oblations to the fire each day. Chapatis (unleavened bread) were a staple of life, and the first one was always offered to the flames over which it was cooked. Those villagers who were especially devout also offered raw sugar and clarified butter into the fire each day.

The web of life

While I was growing up it never occurred to me that these were religious practices they were simply part of everyday life. When I was twelve I joined a traditional Sanskrit school and began to study the scriptures. There I learned that certain customs and rituals are more important than others. I began to believe that if I observed those customs and performed those rituals I would become a better person and that worldly and spiritual prosperity would be mine. I also came to believe that if I did not perform them, I would be abandoned by the benevolent forces. I admired my Sanskrit teachers, who were deeply devoted to rituals, and their company fuelled my conviction that I too should perform these rituals. But later, when I went to the University of Allahabad and began taking courses in social science, ethics, anthropology, and the history of philosophy, my attitude toward these customs and ritualistic practices changed. I began to regard them as silly and to believe that the villagers observed them only because they were backward, illiterate, and superstitious.

Then I met Swami Sadananda, a saint who in a mysterious way restored my respect for the web of rituals that governed village life. Though he lived simply, he was intelligent and highly educated, an expert in ayurveda, astrology, and all systems of Indian philosophy. He was also an unmatched scholar of Sanskrit and well-versed in the scriptures. And he was known for his miraculous healing powers.

One morning I arrived at his ashram to find him in the company of a man who suffered from epileptic fits so frequent and severe that someone always had to accompany him. After a short conversation Swami Sadananda gave this man a powder that looked like ash and told him to take it as a medicine. Then he instructed him to feed cracked wheat and other grains to wild birds before eating the first meal of the day.

When the man and his companion left I said, I understand the value of taking medicine, but why does he have to feed the birds?" "You should watch," Swami Sadananda replied. "When he is cured I will explain."

For three days the man went hungry because the birds would not eat the grain he scattered for them. Finally on the fourth day they ate the grain, and the man too could eat. It became his routine to feed the birds before starting his day, and within a month his fits came less frequently; within six months they vanished. When I asked Swami Sadananda to explain he said, "Birds are part of nature. Their relationship with humans is not contaminated by selfishness and expectation. Serving them is serving nature, the repository of all our karmas."

I did not understand how curing epilepsy had anything to do with feeding birds, and told him so. "You are unable to grasp this because you don't understand the spiritual aspect of the planet's ecology," Swami Sadananda replied. The earth is one living organism. Here everything in the web of life is interconnected. Our health and happiness are not separate from the health and happiness of others. Similarly, the world within us and the world outside us are interconnected. What happens in the outer world affects our inner life; our inner life affects the outer world. Everything within and without is part of the collective consciousness that pervades both the manifest and unmanifest aspects of creation. And if the collective consciousness is undernourished, then our individual consciousness becomes sick. If we are to be healthy and lead harmonious lives, nature's forces must be healthy and harmonious, for we are an integral part of nature. To cure this man of epilepsy, I used feeding the birds as a means of propitiating the collective consciousness that supplies healing energy to all individuals."

Then, after pausing for a moment, he said, "You are not yet satisfied with my explanation. You are a Sanskrit student. Study the Vedic and tantric scriptures properly and you will develop a better understanding of yourself and the world in which you live."

I had already read many of the scriptures Swami Sadananda was recommending and had found them to be a collection of prayers and mantras for ritual worship. But after this encounter I began to read them with a different intention and a new attitude. To broaden my understanding of the scriptures, I studied Hindi texts on Vedic and tantric mythology. I was particularly intrigued by the Hindi translation of the book Vedic Mythology by A. A. McDonald. An eminent twentieth-century Indologist, McDonald described the place of each particular god in the Vedic pantheon. According to him the people of ancient India were polytheists and worshipped a host of gods, each of which presides over a different aspect of nature. For example, Indra presides over rain, Varuna rules the ocean, and Vishnu presides over the three worlds – earth, heaven, and the space in between.

But when I discussed these Ideas with Swami Sadananda, he said bluntly, "This is a Western interpretation. The god Indra does not preside over the rain - rain itself is the god. The word for 'god' in the Vedas is deva, which means 'shining or bright being, one who is loving and compassionate, one who is constantly giving, serving, protecting, and nourishing all creation.' Life on earth depends on rain, therefore rain is deva. Further, rain is central to life, therefore rain is the central deva. All other forms of nourishment are secondary to rain which is why Indra is the king of the gods. The actual, physical form of rain is the body of god, and the dynamic forces that act together to bring the rain form the spirit of that god. The entire universe is the body of the Absolute Divine Being, known in the scriptures as Virat, the cosmic being. Different aspects of nature are the limbs and organs of that cosmic being. Everything in this world big or small is an extension of
one cosmic being."

This explanation helped me understand why the ancient sages called earth, water, fire, air, sky, sun, moon, stars, day, night, lightning, clouds, mountains, ocean, rivers, and forests "deva." These sages had a very simple definition of god: one who illuminates our path and enables us to complete the journey of life. We cannot survive without food, they realized, therefore food is deva. We cannot complete the journey of life without water or air, therefore these forces of nature are deva. There would be no light on earth without the light of the sun, therefore the sun is deva. There is a perfect symbiotic relationship between plants, insects, birds, animals, and humans because all are an integral part of the web of life.

Pandit Raimani Tigunait, Ph.D., the Spiritual Head of the Himalayan Institute, is Swami Rama's successor. Lecturing and teaching worldwide for more than a quarter of a century, he is a regular contributor to Yoga International magazine, and the author of eleven books. Pandit Tigunait holds two doctorates: one in Sanskrit from the University of Allababad in India, and another in Oriental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.
Does Hinduism Have a Future in America? - Dr. Frank Gaetano Morales

A) Hindus Must Develop a Formidable and Well-trained Leadership
We need to hold our present leaders – both Hindu activist leaders, as well as our current crop of gurus, swamis, and sadhus – to a much higher standard than we do at present. It is no longer acceptable for “swamijis” to flock to America, gain a large and profitable following among American devotees, only to then abandon their allegiance to Hinduism by telling their American followers that what they are practicing has nothing to do with Hinduism. Such Radical Universalist “gurus” wish to have it both ways – telling their American followers that they are not really practicing Sanatana Dharma per se, while simultaneously approaching the Indian Hindu community for donations and support. When our own supposed leaders shy away from being proud Hindus, how are we to expect our own children to behave any different? We need a stronger, more honest, and more credible Hindu leadership than this if Hinduism is going to have a meaningful future in America.

B) The Hindu Activist as a Servant of God
In their volunteer work, Hindu activists must be motivated by the insights derived from their own spiritual experience, an attitude of bhakti (devotion) toward God, and an overarching desire to serve God. They cannot be motivated merely by political ideology or ambition, or even merely by a fondness for Indian culture. Hindu lay-leaders, such as the many dedicated volunteers of the RSS, the HSS, the Vishva Hindu Parishad, and other Hindu activist organizations who are active today, must themselves deeply understand, and boldly proclaim to the world, that Sanatana Dharma is a religious tradition and has a purely spiritual goal, and that goal is to know God and to achieve spiritual emancipation. We must no longer shy away from the spiritual nature and goals of Sanatana Dharma.

It has been a source of amazement to me over the years that so many Hindu activists and lay-leaders I have met, who otherwise are very dedicated and sincere volunteers for the Hindu cause, are in their personal lives often very unspiritual people.

Several months ago, I had a meeting with one of the most important leaders of the RSS. After at least an hour of intense discussion with him about the current state of Sanatana Dharma throughout the world, and strategies for making Sanatana Dharma a global force again, he eventually shifted the conversation by asking me if I would mind a more personal question from him. When I said I would not mind a personal question, this is what he asked me: “Dr. Morales. You are so passionate and enthusiastic about your work to save Hinduism…more so than most Indian Hindus I've known. You weren't born Hindu; and you're not Indian. Why are you so eager to save Hinduism? What is it that motivates you?”

My answer to him was immediate and direct: “I care about Sanatana Dharma because I want to know and serve God.”

The reaction that this top leader of the Hindu RSS had to my answer has amazed and haunted me to this day. At first, his eyes glazed over, dumbfounded by my answer. Immediately proceeding this, his eyes then began to quickly dart around the room in a confused mental search as he tried to grasp the meaning of my answer. “What do you mean?!?” he finally thought to ask me a very long half-minute later.

“A deep personal yearning to know God, and a strong desire to serve God with bhakti (devotion) and an attitude of surrender, should be the only motivation for why one is a Hindu activist,” I said to him, “Without this pure spiritual motivation…why else would one care about the fate of Sanatana Dharma?”

Our leaders must be motivated by such a desire to serve God, and must have as the very foundation of their personal character, a deeply rooted experience of the Transcendent, fostered by a living and meaningful sadhana life. Without such purely spiritual motivations, our Hindu activists will merely be motivated by political gain, or at best, an empty pride in secular Indian culture.

C) Distinguishing Between Dharma and Adharma
We need to create systematic critical analyses of non-Hindu religions, ideologies, and thought-systems. Too often, when a modern Hindu encounters an anti-Hindu ideology (like Christianity, Islam or Marxism), instead of having the courage to defend Sanatana Dharma by, not only discussing the very real differences between the respective ideologies, but going so far as to show the actual superiority of Sanatana Dharma, they will instead try to weakly appease the opponent. "Oh we Hindus are the best Marxists!" "We love Mohammed in Sanatana Dharma!" “Oh, I'm a Christian Hindu…I love Jesus so much.” etc., etc. When we adopt such tactics of appeasement, we only end up looking like foolish children in the eyes of our opponents, and like cowards in the eyes of our children. We must no longer be afraid to actively engage non-Hindu systems of thought, and to show how Sanatana Dharma is not only distinct from them, but has much from which they can learn.

D) We must be able to vigorously defend the traditional essence of Sanatana Dharma, unaltered and unwatered-down, while also learning to adopt the famed American sense of excellence and professionalism. We must seek nothing less than absolute excellence in everything that we do in the name of Dharma. In everything we do in the name of Sanatana Dharma, we must aspire to the highest degrees of qualitative excellence - whether this be in the realm of writing, Hindu website development, organizational operations, philosophical polemics, the presentation of Sanatana Dharma to non-Hindus, in our behavior, ethics, eloquence and motivations. To merely say “It's good enough” is not good enough for Dharma.

The Future of Sanatana Dharma in America

Sanatana Dharma, I feel, not only has a future in America, but America, more than any other nation on earth at present, is potentially the stage upon which a revitalized Sanatana Dharma as a global force can once again reemerge. America itself signals several potentially important attitudes and mindsets that Sanatana Dharma must adopt if it is to have a future at all. This is so for the following reasons:

A) Sanatana Dharma as a Multi-ethnic Community
Unlike the case in Bharat, or any other nation on earth at present, Sanatana Dharma in America is very much a multi-racial, multi-ethnic phenomenon. Only here do we see Indian Hindus, Sri Lankan Hindus, Nepali Hindus, Caribbean Hindus, Caucasian Hindus, Black Hindus, Hispanic Hindus, Chinese Hindus, etc. all practicing Hinduism – even if they are not always practicing it together. In America, we are beginning to have a glimpse in microcosmic form of what the world would look like if Sanatana Dharma were to be the primary world religion, as I believe it will be in the not too distant future. Moreover, the example and fact of a multi-ethnic Vedic culture will display for the world the truly universal nature of Sanatana Dharma as the future religion of the world, and not only of Bharat.

B) Ancient Dharma with a Modern Face
Sanatana Dharma in America will be instantiated as the most ancient religion on earth, but with a thoroughly modern face and attitude. American culture is a culture that fosters and celebrates success. It encourages a sense of practicality, excellence, a no-nonsense attitude, and high standards in every endeavor. These are all mindsets that Sanatana Dharma at one time also shared and taught when Vedic culture was historically at its greatest strength. It will now relearn these values from America.

C) Sanatana Dharma on the Cutting Edge
Here in America, more than anywhere else on earth, we will witness a revitalized Sanatana Dharma coupled with the most cutting-edge technology. Just as the IT revolution has begun to transform Bharat in ways we could not imagine only a decade or two ago, similarly the IT revolution will help to bring about a Dharma revolution globally as we begin to use the latest technology in the form of the Internet, DVDs, computer graphics, etc., to get our message out. Not only is Sanatana Dharma not opposed to the use of technology, but we must and will use such technology in Dharma seva.

D) Revitalized Hindu Youth
Long have we bemoaned the Americanization of Hindu youth. My prediction, however, is that in America, we will soon witness a veritable army of these very same Americanized, savvy, cool, energized and very practically-minded Hindu youth coming back to Sanatana Dharma. And when they do, they will be the vanguard of a new and truly American Hinduism that will instantiate the very best of both worlds – bringing together the very best of the most ancient with the very best of the most cutting-edge.

Does Hinduism Have a Future in America?

Like two wings of the same powerful eagle, Sanatana Dharma and the best of American culture must be coupled together in partnership if either is going to have a meaningful future. If this can happen, not only will Hinduism have a future in America…Hinduism will be America's future!

Futures, however, do not merely occur. Futures are made. If Sanatana Dharma is going to once again become the meaningful and influential global force that history shows us it once was, then it is incumbent upon each and every Hindu to rededicate ourselves to our religion's future. We must learn not to merely be Nominal Hindus (Hindus in name alone), but to be Conscious Hindus – practicing our religion, studying the scriptures of our religion, and becoming living examples of God's grace (prasada) and compassion (karuna) alive in the world. It is up to each of us to be dedicated and loving stewards of this great religious heritage known as Sanatana Dharma. Hinduism's future is in the hands of every Conscious Hindu.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Swami Dayananda Saraswati chats with Journalists in Chennai

Under the auspices of 'Dharma Rakshana Samithi', an event was
organised at Chennai on 24.6.06 for mediapersons with spiritual
interest for an interaction with revered Swami Dayanandha
Saraswathiji, Founder and President , 'Arsha Vidya Gurukulam' and
'Dharama Rakshana Samithi'. The aim of the event was to gauge the
problems the mediapersons face in their profession especially while
covering matters concerning our Dharma, tradition and culture, and to
guide and motivate them to avoid distortions and present the true

Shri. Gurumurthy, the eminent columnist, economist and Nationalist was
the co-ordinator for the programme.

In his introductory address Shri.Gurumurthy said that though we
attained liberty from foreign yoke, we are not really independent. We
continue to be the slaves of a foreign mindset and alien thought
processes. For example a few years back when he was discussing with
Arun Shourie about a book titled 'Quotable Quotes', Shourie had
observed that all  the quotes in the book were by foreigners but did
not contain the immortal gems uttered by our Rishis, Sages, Yogis,
Saints, Gnanis and Gurus or the ageless wisdom found in our ancient

Spirituality is the very life- breadth of Bharatiya culture. In our
country since time immemorial spirituality has permeated every facet
of life- be it  economy, commerce or politics. Hinduism accepts all
paths and gods as true. But it is not the case with some alien
religions. Even some well-known intellectuals from the West have
observed that the 'One God Concept' is the only reason why the world
is in such turmoil.

In recent times a perversion has crept in the body politic. This is
very visible in the media. There is possibility of violence because of
the spread of terrorism based on religion. Hence to offset this
spirituality has to spread and the media has a role in it.

The Dharma Rakshana Samithi of Swami Dayanandha Saraswathiji was
established to correct such aberrations and guide the people on the
right lines

In his 'Anugraha Bhashan' the Poojya Swamiji said that the media by
and large is anti-Hindu and anti Dharma and carries on a committed
campaign on these lines. We Hindus worship nature. It is the bedrock
of our philosophy and culture even though there are different

For the Hindus the Air, the Earth and the Water are all gods. A farmer
whether in Kashmir or Rameswaram performs pooja to the land before
commencing ploughing. No Hindu will consciously step on currency or
books even if the book happens to be a history book full of blatant
lies written by communist historians.

America is the only country which has the legend "In God We Trust'
inscribed on its currency. But we Bharatvasis -even though we are the
inheritors of the world's oldest spiritual tradition- have not done
that. But we seem to steadfastly believe in the motto 'In Dollar We

There is an attempt to falsify History so as to prevent our children
from becoming justifiably proud about our culture and traditions. In a
History book written by a supposedly eminent writer it has been said
that there was no resistance to the demolition of the Somnath Temple
by Mahmud Ghazni since at that time there was no religion called
Hinduism and hence no Hindus! If that is the case, who rebuilt the
temple every time it was destroyed? The self-same people who
demolished it? Or did it get rebuilt o it's own?

During a Multi- Faith conference in Capetown some years back an
American, after going round all the camps of the various delegates
observed  that he found that all  the religions ultimately taught the

Our Dharma has immortal Truths like 'Tat Twam Asi ' or 'Thou Art That'
meaning that 'You Are The Brahman' One  must attain the Truth. Then
only one can attain moksha. For that one has to change. The eternal
bliss is within ourselves and not outside.  In our tradition all
knowledge is sacred. Everything is divine- house is Grihalakshmi,
children are Santhanalakshmi and so on. Even knowledge is Goddess
Saraswathi. We look at the entire cosmos in a single 'dhristi'. In our
country there is a single culture from the North to the South. .

A traveler gets into a bus trusting the shouts of the conductor that
it is bound for such and such destination. Similarly we must have
trust and faith in the sage words of our ancestors. But some faiths
promise to take you to heaven by short cuts. But should one convert to
those faiths for qualifying for the same?

We have adopted secularism which is non-interference in the religious
affairs of any group. But as practised to-day it is not real
secularism. In Thirumala, a conspiracy is being hatched. There is talk
that only two hills belong to the Thirupathi Devasthanam. And even
then it is restricted to only such and such area. May be we should
stop calling Lord Venkateswara  'the Lord of the seven Hills' but
only as 'the Lord of the Two Hills'.

The concept of religious minority is not prevalent anywhere in the
world but only racial minority .No Hindu is against the mode of prayer
any other religion. The Pooja- room of the Hindus have many gods and
they do not have a problem in accommodating one more.

A few years back a book was written by the catholic cardinal
Ratzinger, titled  'Proselytization vs conversion'. According to him
Proselytization is bad but conversion is acceptable. The publisher
wrote to the Swamiji to write few good words about the book. But he
refused because the Swamiji is against conversion. Because to convert
you need to have a programme. It is a sort of aggression and is
against the very basic of human rights.

The Pope is concerned when Catholics get converted by other sects of
Christianity like Seventh day Adventist, Jehova's witnesses or
Pentecosts. But he forgets that he is reaping what he had sown.

Our culture is under attack.  In some missionary schools girls are
discouraged from  sporting bindi on their foreheads or tucking flowers
in their hair. If the practice of one religion involves the
destruction of another religion we cannot accept it.

The Communists and the Congress are playing vote- bank politics.  It
is unfortunate that the media is a silent witness to all this. The
media has a responsibility to present the Truth. It has to shape the
public opinion and be the watch -dog of the Society. The blatant
antagonism against the religion of the land which has a spiritual
foundation is tolerated by the media. Media has to take up cudgels on
behalf of those who are wronged. It has stand up for justice. When the
Pope unfairly criticizes our country the media has to answer him.

The spiritual wealth of Bharat belongs to the entire humanity. It has
to be safeguarded. The entire world must benefit from it.

After Swamiji's address members of the audience put forth their views
and posed questions. The Swamiji answered them and cleared their
doubts. The session came to a close with the recitation of 'Shanti

Compiled By: R.Sridharan<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
does any one know about basavanna and his "religion" of lingayatism?? both he and his religion seem to be considerably influnced by all thats abrahamic.

how many followers of lingayatism are there and do they proselytise??

Traveling exhibit seeks to replace misconceptions about Hinduism

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