Indian religions

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The endless variety of Indian philosophy and religion seems to the European mind interminable, bewildering, wearisome, useless; it is unable to see the forest because of the richness and luxuriance of its vegetation; it misses the common spiritual life in the multitude of its forms. Sri Aurobindo

Indian religions, also termed as Dharmic faiths or religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent; namely Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. These religions are also all classified as Eastern religions. Although Indian religions are connected through the history of India, they constitute a wide range of religious communities, and are not confined to the Indian subcontinent.

See also:
Hinduism
Buddhism
Jainism
Sikhism

Quotes[edit]

  • The endless variety of Indian philosophy and religion seems to the European mind interminable, bewildering, wearisome, useless; it is unable to see the forest because of the richness and luxuriance of its vegetation; it misses the common spiritual life in the multitude of its forms. But this infinite variety is itself, as Vivekananda pertinently pointed out, a sign of a superior religious culture. The Indian mind has always realised that the Supreme is the Infinite; it has perceived, right from its Vedic beginnings, that to the soul in Nature the Infinite must always present itself in an endless variety of aspects. The mentality of the West has long cherished the aggressive and quite illogical idea of a single religion for all mankind, a religion universal by the very force of its narrowness, one set of dogmas, one cult, one system of ceremonies, one array of prohibitions and injunctions, one ecclesiastical ordinance.
  • In view of deliberate attempts in recent decades to project Buddhism and Jainism as separate religions, distinct from Hinduism, it would be in order to deal with them in passing. the attempts have clearly been motivated by the design to separate their followers from the parent body called Hinduism just as Sikhs have been to an extent. Though not to the same extent as in the case of Sikhs, the attempts have succeeded in as much as neo-Buddhists and at least some Jains have come to regard themselves as non-Hindus. In reality, however, Buddhisms and Jainism have been no more than movements within the larger body of Hinduism, not significantly different from Lingayats, Saktas or Bhaktas of more recent times.
  • A number of Indians have tried to define secularism as sarva dharma samabhava (equal respect for all religions). I cannot say whether they have been naive or clever in doing so. But the fact remains that secularism cannot admit of such an interpretation. In fact, orthodox Muslims are quite justified in regarding it as irreligious. Moreover, dharma cannot be defined as religion which is a Semitic concept and applies only to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Hinduism is not a religion in that sense; nor are Jainism and Buddhism, or for that matter, Taoism and Confucianism.
    • Girilal Jain, "Limits of the Hindu Rashtra", in : Elst, Koenraad: Ayodhya and after, Appendix I
  • Likewise, there is much truth in Voltaire's enthusiastic Orientalist assumption that unlike Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the Indian and Chinese “religions” were not based on prophetic “revelations” but on a purely human contemplation of reality.
    • K. Elst: 2001, Decolonizing the Hindu Mind, p. 44
  • As part of their entrenched power position, the British colonisers and later their Nehruvian successors have always tried to control the discourse on religion. Among other concerns, they have seen to it that the term "Hindu" got divorced from its historical meaning, which quite inclusively encompassed all Indian Pagans, in order to fragment Hindu society. In parallel with their effort to pit caste against caste, they have tried to pit sect against sect, offering nurture to the egos of sect leaders by telling them that in fact they were popes in their own right of full-fledged religions, equal in status but morally superior to Hinduism. Hindu Revivalists have countered this effort by reaffirming the basic Hindu character of tribal Animism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism and more recent reformist sects. In some cases, the separation of sects from the Hindu commonwealth was entirely contrived and artificial, in others it had a partial doctrinal justification, though even there the proper distinction was never between them and "Hinduism" as historically conceived, but between them and the Vedic-Puranic "Great Tradition" of Hinduism.
    • Elst, K. (2002). Who is a Hindu?: Hindu revivalist views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other offshoots of Hinduism.
  • Yet, at the sociological level, the Jain community is entirely part of Hindu society... Historically, Jainism has always enjoyed a place under the umbrella of Hindu pluralism, suffering clashes with southern Shaivism only a few times when its own sectarianism had provoked the conflict. Deciding the question whether Jainism is a sect of Hinduism requires a proper definition of Hinduism... On the other hand, if Hinduism means the actually observed variety of religious expressions among non-Muslims and non-Christians in India, then there is nothing in Jainism that would make it so radically different as to fall outside this spectrum. If Hinduism means all traditions native to India (as per Savarkar and the original Muslim usage), then obviously Jainism is a Hindu tradition.
    • Elst, Koenraad (2002). Who is a Hindu?: Hindu revivalist views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other offshoots of Hinduism. ISBN 978-8185990743
  • Jains are the best Hindus of all.
    • BJP President Murli Manohar Joshi, Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2002). Who is a Hindu?: Hindu revivalist views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other offshoots of Hinduism. ISBN 978-8185990743

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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