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Hindu, Hinduism and Hindustan: Part XIII
by Dr. Jaipal Singh Bookmark and Share
 

Religious Movements in Modern India

Continued from Part XII

In the previous part of the current series, it was pointed out how centuries of dominance and misrule of alien powers had a negative impact on the Indian economic, socio-cultural and religious life. Hindustan (India) and Hindus were in a state of intellectual and spiritual decadence and shock with the society diseased and divided by the eighteenth century of the previous millennium. With the decline of Moghul rulers, British colonizers were increasingly getting strong hold over the population and resources of the country. While adverse impact of the British colonizers are well known and documented, many social and religious reforms too began to manifest in the early nineteenth century largely under the influence and contact with the Western culture and education.

Thus the nineteenth century witnessed a socio-cultural, religious and literary resurgence in India – what is commonly known as the Renaissance in the modern India. It was indeed a period of great upheaval triggering the radical social, cultural and political change. The main trigger and enabling factors of the Indian Renaissance were the spread of Christianity on arrival of the Christian missionaries as a new potential challenge and threat to the conventional Hinduism, the introduction of English education by side-lining native languages, the Westernisation of many Indians and of course the enthusiastic reaction and response of Indians to these stimuli.

While reawakening of the Indian masses led not only to the awareness and acceptance of many Western values but also to a revival of interest in ancient heritage of the Indian culture, literature and religion. The social, cultural and religious weakness and decay of Indian society was visible in the form of evil practices like child marriage, sati custom, polygamy and illiteracy etc. Consequently, many educated and enlightened leaders emerged from among the Indian masses and worked systematically for the redressal and reawakening. These efforts and developments led to several movements in various parts of the country and significant reforms in the Hindu society during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Important movements during the period were Brahma Samaj (Brahmoism), Arya Samaj, Prarthana Samaj, Ramkrishna Mission, Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana, Swadhyay Parivar Movement, Ayyavazhi, Sathya Sai Organisation etc. The remarkable feature of these movements was that apart from attempting to rediscover and redefine religious practices and rituals based on Vedas and Upanishads, almost every movement also focused on eradication of the social and educational evils of the Indian society. In the following paragraphs, the major and important religious movements of the modern India are briefly elicited.

Brahmo Samaj

Brahmo Samaj could perhaps be quoted as the first formal Hindu reform movement in the nineteenth century mainly in the undivided Bengal province of India. It was a comprehensive reform movement addressing social, cultural and religious aspects though some scholars treat is a social component of the Brahmoism, a monotheistic reformist movement of the Hindu religion during the Bengal Renaissance. There have been factions, regrouping and redefining of the movement during its evolutionary course but we shall focus only on the basic points and chief components of the movement.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy, a great patriot, scholar and humanist, is known as the “father of the Indian Renaissance”, for his pioneer work and being the central figure in the social and cultural awakening of the Indians. He founded a new religious society in 1829 known as the ‘Brahmo Sabha’ which served the precursor of the larger movement in the following years as the Brahmo Samaj based on the principles of rationalism and Vedic philosophy. A staunch supporter of the Vedanta Philosophy, he strongly argued in favour of monotheism to defend the Hindu religion and philosophy from the onslaught of the Christian missionaries and evangelists, upholding the sanctity of Vedas and Upanishads.

Debendranath Tagore was another key influence on the Renaissance in Bengal who constituted the Tatvabodhini Sabha in 1839 to further propagate Ram Mohan Roy’s ideals, supporting the movement for the widow remarriage, abolition of polygamy, women’s education and the improvement in the condition of peasants. He merged his Tatvabodhini Sabha with Brahmo Sabha in 1843 after the death of Ram Mohan Roy, to pursue the Brahmo Samaj (Society of Brahman) movement that aimed to reform the Hindu religion and spiritual way of life. In the following years, Brahmo Samaj became one of the most influential religious movements with significant contribution to the making of modern India, particularly in undivided Bengal area.

The Brahmo Samaj literally means a community which worships Brahman, the highest reality or the universal conscience. The underlining principle was that the Samaj, without any discrimination based on caste, creed or religion, would be an assembly of people in quest of the eternal and immutable preserver of the universe, the nirguna Brahman or God. Though deriving some concepts from the Vedas, the Brahmo Samaj doctrine had no particular faith in any scripture, avatars, polytheism and idol worship prevalent in the society. Some salient features of the Samaj are as follows:

  • Brahmo Samaj emphasized that dharma or righteousness, knowledge, truth, reason, free will and observation are true virtues of human beings.

  • Brahmo Samaj did not have faith in revelations, avatars, gurus, prophets or messiahs as authority.

  • The Samaj embraced secular principles opposing sectarianism and imposition of religious belief by any institution, particularly by the government.

  • The Samaj rejected ritualistic approach to theism, more particularly the polytheism, idolatry, ascetism and symbolism.

  • Brahmos were also opposed to rituals by the priests or designated places such as temple for worship.

  • Although the concept of Brahman itself taken from Vedas, Brahmos were not in favour of the authority of scriptures, dogmas and superstition.

  • The Samaj rejected distinctions based on caste, creed, colour, race, religion, treating them irrational factors that divide human beings.

The most notable and successful reforms of Brahmo Samaj were of socio-cultural nature such as work done by many leaders for elimination of the sati custom, emancipation of women, rejection of the dowry system, widow remarriage, reform of the education system by setting many dedicated schools and colleges, education of the girl child, and so on so forth. The Samaj also continued its crusade against the caste system and its abolition with partial success.

The term Brahmoism is so often used with the Brahmo Samaj. An obvious doubt arises if both are same, and if not, what is the difference. Actually, the term Brahmoism is essentially used in the context of religion while the Brahmo Samaj is the larger community. Any person who believes in the existence of one infinite Brahman or God is said to be following Brahmoism by joining the Brahmo Samaj as member. As Brahmoism do not prescribe rituals, Brahmos could worship and adore the Supreme simply through meditation or even by doing good works. The movement is now on wane including its origin place Bengal, though as per estimates of the Samaj, there could still be about eight million adherents including all denominations of Brahmos.

Arya Samaj

Arya Samaj was another important religious movement which was started by Dayanand Saraswati duting the later part of the nineteenth century in 1875. This was based on the infallibility of Vedas, belief in one Brahman or God rejecting the prevailing concept of the idol worship. The main area of the influence of this movement was Gujarat and parts of the northern India. Though against idolatry, the Arya Samaj insisted on the Vedic doctrine of Karma and Reincarnation, and considered Brahmacharya (celibacy) important for the spiritual development and upliftment.

In his endeavour to reform Hindu society and Sanatana Dharma, Dayanand Saraswati established Gurukul (Vedic Schools) which focused on Vedic values and ethics, culture based on Satya (virtue). The education in these schools was based on Vedic parampara (traditions) and principles aimed at providing an alternate to the education system introduced by the British. In such schools, students received free lodging, meals, clothing and books with strict discipline. Idol worship was prohibited; instead pupils were trained to perform Sandhyavandanam i.e. meditative prayer using Vedic mantras with divine sound.

During life, Dayanand Saraswati preached against many Hindu traditions which he felt were dogmatic and oppressive such as idol worship, caste system based on birth, and the exclusion of females from the study of the Vedas. One of his main endeavours was to motivate Hindus to look at the roots of their religion i.e. the Vedas. He thought that by doing so Hindus would be able to improve their declining religious, social, political, and economic conditions prevailing in India those days. He also propounded ten principles of Arya Samaj which are as under.

  • God is the original source of all that is true knowledge and all that is known by physical sciences.

  • God is existent, conscious, beatitude, formless, almighty, just, merciful, unbegotten, infinite, unchangeable, beginningless, endless, incomparable, the Lord of all, all-pervading, omniscient and controller of all from within, ever-mature, imperishable, eternal, pure and creator of the universe. It alone must be worshipped.

  • The Vedas are the books of all true knowledge. It is the paramount duty of all to read them, to teach them to others, to listen to them and to recite them to others.

  • All persons should always be ready to accept the truth and renounce the untruth. • All acts ought to be performed in conformity with Dharma (Righteousness and Duty) i.e. after due consideration of the truth and the untruth.

  • The primary object of the Arya Samaj is to do good to the whole world i.e. to promote physical, spiritual and social progress of all humans.

  • Person’s dealings with all should be regulated by love and due justice in accordance with the dictates of Dharma (Righteousness).

  • Avidyaa (illusion and ignorance) is to be dispelled, and Vidyaa (realisation and acquisition of knowledge) should be promoted.

  • None should remain satisfied with one's own elevation only, but should incessantly strive for the social upliftment of all, realise one's own elevation in the elevation of others.

  • All persons ought to dedicate themselves necessarily for the social good and the well-being of all, subordinating their personal interest, while the individual is free to enjoy freedom of action for the individual well-being.

(Source: www.vedicculturalcentre.com)

Though Swami Dayanand died in 1883 but the Arya Samaj continued to grow, especially in the undivided Punjab. The Samaj also campaigned against the social evils like caste discrimination and untouchability while encouraging widow remarriage and women's education. The Samaj established chapters in British colonies such as South Africa, Fiji, Mauritius, Suriname, Guyana etc. wherever an Indian diaspora was present in a sizeable number. Even today, a sizeable number of Hindus are Arya Samajis in the north India. They have separate temples and schools under the nomenclature Dayanand Anglo Vedic (DAV) schools. The Gayatri Mantra, meditation and havan (offering to the holy fire), with or without a priest are common features among the followers of Arya Samaj. The ‘Satyarth Prakash’ of Swami Dayanand is the most illustrious and influential book followed by the Samajis.

Prarthana Samaj

After the Brahmo Samaj movement, people in other parts of the country too were inspired to take religious and social reforms in the Hindu society. Though formal credit goes to Atmaram Panduranga for the establishment of Prarthana Samaj in Bombay (Maharashtra) in 1867 but it gained more prominence, acceptance and popularity after Mahadev Govind Ranade and a few other leaders joined it. Prarthana Samaj was a movement for religious and social reform of people in Maharashtra.

Prarthana Samaj was too was monotheistic with a professed philosophy to make adherents believe in and worship one God. On social platitude, it was against the caste system and untouchability, favoured widow re-marriage, women liberation and emancipation of the oppressed class. In order to bring in sustained reform to the Hindu society, some allied organisation namely the Widow Remarriage Association, the Deccan Education Society and National Social Conference were also formed.

The Prarthana Samajists were followers of the great religious tradition of the Marathi Saints like Namdev and Tukaram. Namdev was a saint and poet of thirteenth century of Vaishnava tradition; his devotional songs had both nirguna and saguna Brahman elements with monistic themes, while Tukaram belonged to seventeenth century with his devotional poems dedicated to Vitthala or Vithoba, an avatar of Hindu God Vishnu. Like Brahmo Samaj of Bengal, Prarthana Samaj too pursued the ideals of theistic belief and multiple social reform. Another resemblance with Brahmo Samaj was that though inspired by the Vedas yet ancient Hindu scriptures and texts were not considered infallible or divine in the Movement. In essence, they drew philosophical ideals from the scriptures and continued the hymns of the stated Marathi saints in their prayers.

The reform movement of the Samaj led to many cultural changes and social reform in the Western India, such as the improvement of the lot of women and downtrodden people, abolition of child marriages and infanticide, education opportunities for women, remarriage of widows and spirited fight against the caste system. Activities of the Prarthana Samaj included study groups, night schools for working people, free libraries, women’s and students’ associations, missionary work, publishing a journal and creation of an orphanage. Like the Brahmo Samaj in Bengal and the Arya Samaj in north and central India, the Prarthana Samaj had considerable success in restoring Hindu self-respect and the growth of Indian nationalism, ultimately in furtherance of the cause of political independence.

Ramakrishna Mission

Ram Krishna was a nineteenth century saint, mystic and yogi with a liberal outlook towards religion and conviction that there was an underlying unity among all religions; only the methodology of worship was different. Therefore, God could be approached by any route or form of worship so long the devotee has conviction and unclenching faith in devotion. In due course, Swami Vivekananda became Ramakrishna's most influential follower and trusted disciple, popularizing the modern interpretation of Indian traditions, harmonising Tantra, Yoga and Advaita Vedanta and establishing the Ramakrishna Mission in 1897. The Mission with its headquartered at Belur Math in Howrah, West Bengal, was based on the ancient Hindu philosophy of Vedanta, seeking the harmony of religions and promoting peace and equality for the entire humanity.

In due course, Ramakrishna Mission, a socio-religious organisation, became the core of a worldwide spiritual movement in the name of Ramakrishna Movement or Vedanta Movement. The Mission and Math are the two key organisations that conduct and manage the religious and social works under the Movement. Ramakrishna himself had founded the Math in 1886 which primarily focused on the movement's monastic organisation carrying out the spiritual training and propagation of the religious teachings.

The motto and principles of the Mission were purely spiritual and humanitarian as Swami Vivekananda proclaimed "Renunciation and Service" as the twofold objectives of the Mission. The service activities revolved around Ramkrishna’s message of ‘Jiva is Shiva’ and Vivekananda's message of ‘Daridra Narayana’ which basically means that the service to poor is a service to God. Ramakrishna's life and teachings based on the precincts of Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita remains the main source of inspiration for the Mission. The motto of the Mission is Atmano Mokshartham Jagad-hitaya Cha, which translates to “For one's own salvation, and for the good of the world”.

The Mission’s religious activities include satsang and arati. Satsang includes community prayers, divine songs, rituals, discourses, reading and meditation, while arati involves the ceremonial waving of lights before the images of the concerned deity. The adherents also observe all major Hindu festivals including Maha Shivarathri, Rama Navami, Krishna Asthami, Durga Puja and even the birthday of Ramakrishna and his monastic disciples. Both the Math and Mission are characterised by their religious tolerance and respect for all religions, a tradition set by Swami Vivekananda long back.

Swami Vivekanand became the wandering monk and carried out the message and activities of Mission globally, particularly in the Western world after the death of his Guru Ramakrishna in 1886. His famous speech at the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago, USA in 1893 not only brought him fame and recognition world over but also fetched respect to Hinduism globally. Thereafter, he continued his lecture tours and private discourses on Hinduism and spirituality besides establishing the first Vedanta Society in the USA at New York. Hailed as the first Hindu missionary in modern times, he preached the followers to be true to own faith but simultaneously respect all religions true to the spirit of his guru Ramakrishna who held that all religions lead to God.

Apart from the spiritual and religious activities, the Mission is dedicated to carry out plethora of humanitarian work. This included health and medical care, disaster relief and educational programs, rural and tribal welfare, elementary and higher education and culture. The combined efforts of hundreds of the monks and householder disciples have significantly contributed to the humanitarian work globally. The Ramakrishna Mission has many centres world over with huge following working on the ideals of Karma yoga, selfless work and devotion to God. It also publishes important Hindu texts in furtherance of the Vedanta philosophy.

Ayyavazhi

The Ayyavazhi is a belief-system originated around the middle of the nineteenth century in the Southern India. The followers worship Lord Ayya Vaikundar believed to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. This is based on a mythical story of Lord Vishnu using the body of previous avatar (Lord Krishna) kept in Parvatha Ucchi Malai (a mythical mountain) energised with the soul of Mudisoodum Perumal, a deva granted liberation.

Akilathirattu Ammanai aka Thiru Edu is the main religious text of this Tamil belief system, and for the common ease it is more popularly known as Akilam. Saying goes that the author of Akilam, Hari Gopalan was woken by God during his sleep and commissioned to take his dictation. Akilam was on palm leaves till 1939 when it was given a printed form. The book records the historical narrative of the life and activities of Ayya Vaikunder with citations and reinterpretations from various Puranas and epics, in a form as if Lord Vishnu himself is narrating it to his consort Lakshmi.

Akilam forms the chief text delineating codes and ethics for the followers of Ayyavazhi in the form of the theological, sociological and philosophical teachings basically derived from the ancient Hindu scriptures and concurrent Hinduism and revolutionary teachings. The theological teachings revolved around the divine status and supremacy of Vaikundar, the sociological teachings mainly focused on removing the inequalities from the society and the philosophical aspects talk about the 'ultimate oneness' of the nature and all living beings. The majority of the followers of Ayyavazhi were from among the marginalised and downtrodden people.

The book contains narratives of all the major Hindu deities namely Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Sarasvati, Lakshmi, Parvati, Skanda and Ganesha, and even indirect references of Abrahamic religions and sacred books. The key philosophy being that the human beings have tendency to be away from the God under the influence of kali (Kaliyuga), so Lord Ayya Vaikunder arrived for their redemption. Ayyavazhi emerged as a recognisable Hindu sect in South Travancore and South Tirunelveli around the middle of the nineteenth century, with its followers pressing for reforms and revolution against the feudal system in South India.

The Sect, however, appears to have registered a significant following only from 1940s onwards after the publication of Akilam. After independence, Ayyavazhi has shown significant followings especially in the northern districts of Tamilnadu. At some places, it is claimed as an independent monistic religion but the majority of its followers call themselves Hindus. Hence Ayyavazhi is considered as a Hindu denomination. Though the followers are now spread across India but their main concentration is in Tamilnadu and Karala. The total estimated practitioners of Ayyavazhi are about eight to ten million.

Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana

The Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP) was founded by Sri Narayana Guru in 1903 for the spiritual and educational uplift of the Ezhava community in Kerala. Narayana Guru was a saint, spiritual leader and social reformer of the early twentieth century; born in a Ezhava family in 1856. The Ezhava is one of the largest Hindu communities in Kerala which were traditionally regarded as avarana (low-caste) in the caste-ridden society. He led a reform movement, rejected caste-based treatment of people and promoted values of spiritual freedom and social equality.

Narayan Guru strived for a modern outlook among the masses in social and religious matters. His concept of a temple was a place that provided a common social space for everyone to meet and exchange views. The chief institution under the SNDP is the Sree Bhavaneeswara Temple (Mahakshetram) with the deity as Lord Shiva which was consecrated by Sri Narayana Guru himself in 1916. Apart from the focus on spirituality, he was a staunch supporter of education, industrialization and abolition of caste system as necessary prerequisites for social regeneration; and he actually worked to promote these concepts. He was particularly against the casteism which was a major cause of discrimination in Kerala, as also in other parts of the country.

The SNDP was established as a charitable society which stressed need for the spiritual and social uplift of the downtrodden through own efforts. Many temples and educational institutions were established to meet these objectives. Sri Narayan Guru have remained the main inspiration and driving force behind the charitable activities under the SNDP Yogam, which, however, it is often alleged suited best to the aspirations of the upwardly mobile Ezhava middle class as the main benefactors of the movement. Besides, the objective and mission includes the welfare of the disadvantageous section of the society but it mainly works the Ezhava community, which constitutes about one-fourth of the Hindu populace in Kerala. The movement’s chief focus areas are education, employment in government service, industrialization, abolition of rituals and caste, and anti-alcoholism.

Swadhyay Parivar Movement

Swadhyaya implies to the 'study of self' in a spiritual quest. Pandurang Shastri Athavale started this movement in Maharashtra around the mid twentieth century with his own reading and interpretation of the Hindu scriptures like Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita. He died only in 2003 and his followers are still active with the Movement’s missionary work. He was even awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for the community leadership and India's civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan during his life time. After his death, the Movement is headed and guided by his daughter Didi Talwalkar.

The Movement is stated to have about 50,000 Kendras (Centres) and approximately six million followers in India, USA, UK, Canada, Portugal and the Middle East. Followers are believed to be engaged in the activities of self-development through self-learning, devotional activities and social awareness programmes around the world. Swadhyay Pariwar is open for all irrespective of caste, creed, religion, nationality, colour, education and one’s status in the society. 'Bhav Nirzar' is an important educational institution located in Ahmedabad, founded by Pandurang Shastri. The Hindu antecedents of the Movement are clear from its belief in Hindu scriptures and life size idols of Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati, Lord Ganesh, and a Shivlinga at Bhav Nirzar in Ahmedabad.

Sathya Sai Organisation

Sathya Sai Baba, an Indian mystic and religious head established the Sathya Sai Seva Organization {also known as Sathya Sai International Organization (SSIO)} during sixties of the previous century. The stated aim of the organization was to enable its members to undertake service activities as a means to spiritual advancement. Currently, there are estimated 1,200 Centers in almost 130 countries worldwide. The founder Sathya Sai was an Indian guru, cult leader and philanthropist who recently died in 2011. He claimed to be the reincarnation of Sai Baba of Shirdi, a widely venerated saint, faqir and satguru of nineteenth century (died in 1918) by both Hindus and Muslims. During his life, his purported miracles of materialising vibhuti (holy ash) and objects like rings, necklaces and watches with alleged virtues of healing powers, resurrection, omnipotence and omniscience have been a source of publicity, fame and controversies among the masses.

The professed principle objectives of the Organsation are causing awareness about the divinity inherent in the individual self; practice divine love and perfection in daily life; experience life with joy, harmony, beauty, grace, human excellence and lasting happiness; to ensure that humans are guided by Satya (Truth), Dharma (Righteousness), Shanthi (Peace), Prema (Love) and Ahimsa (Non-violence); and to cultivate devotees to be more sincere and dedicated in their respective religions in true spirit. As per Sai's teachings, these objectives could be achieved through japam (recitation of God's name), dhyaanam (meditation) and other sadhanas (spiritual practices) including devotional songs and satsang (good company).

The Organisation runs a number of educational institutions, hospitals, drinking water supply projects, trusts and associations, particularly in the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The spiritual activities include meditation, devotional singing, study circles, public lectures, seminars, etc. The activities of the followers is regulated through a notified code of conduct which inter alia include meditation, prayer, participation in educational programmes, participation in community service and study of the Sai literature. Adherents of Sathya Sai Organisation are found world over and their realistic number is not known. As per an estimate, this number may range between six to ten million.

The Author’s Note

The movements listed in the write up and their brief expansion is exclusive and not inclusive. Many movements with a smaller following and lesser religious and social impact have been consciously left for brevity and objectivity. Some such religious movements were Dharma Sabha (1830) in Kolkata, Paramhansha Mandili (1849) in Mumbai, Radhaswami Satsang (1861) in Agra, Theosophical Society (1975) in New York / Chennai and Dev Samaj (1887) in Lahore. Then Anand Marg of twentieth century has been consciously excluded due to serious controversies involved with the Movement and founder himself.

These movements were started in various parts of the country in the backdrop of the declining social and religious ethos of the Hindu community which was gripped in a serious crisis of identity and survival. A new threat in the form of religious conversion through evangelism, instead of forced conversion practiced by earlier alien rulers, had arrived with the growing influence of the European colonizers and Christian missionaries. This influence could be well perceived by the example of the Indian Bengali Hindu philosopher and social reformer Keshab Chandra Sen who even attempted to incorporate Christian theology within the framework of the Brahmo Samaj, and in the process founded his own breakaway ‘Brahmo Samaj of India’ in 1866.

The common feature among the major reform movements viz. Brahmo Samaj, Arya Samaj and Prarthana Samaj was that they either fully endorsed Vedas or were influenced with the basic philosophy of monism in these scriptures by endorsing one Brahman or God, a concept similar to the Abrahamic religions. Each of these movements talked about one God and basic unity of all religions, and favoured riddance with the rituals, priesthood, idolatry and polytheism. Besides, every movement had an agenda of social upliftment by removing the then extant social evils in the Hindu society and improving the status of woman through education and empowerment.

These movements indeed served the purpose and need of the time by reforming the religious and social status of the Hindu community. It also carried the impact of the modern western education and culture giving rise to new awakening in India. All this helped the revival of Hinduism protecting it from the onslaught and potential threats of forced and persuasive conversions. The simultaneous and sustained social works helped to improve the condition of women, untouchables, and other weaker and oppressed sections of the community. Almost invariably, all movements opposed the rigidness of the caste system, impact of which is now clearly visible in the modern India.

These religious and social movements were more pertinent in the prevailing scenario at the beginning of the nineteenth century and thereafter. They indeed served their intended purpose while remaining the part of the ever growing, accommodating and tolerant Sanatana Dharma. These movements still have a partial impact and following among the Hindus. But the truth remains that the majority Hindus continue to follow one of the four major sects namely Vaishnavism, Shavism, Shaktism and Smartism. The Sanatana Dharma beautifully explains the philosophy of the nirguna Brahman and saguna Brahman with its trinity and other associated deities. Though some of these movements opposed idol worship, but the Sanatana Dharma gives a logical and sustainable explanation of the idol worship for the ease of adherents (not so evolved as to directly connect with nirguna Brahman) through the concepts of Sadhya (deity), Sadhak (devotee), Sadhan (medium) and sadhana (devotion).

Rightly so the more appropriate nomenclature for the Hinduism is Sanatana Dharma, the ancient and original name. More than being mere a religion, it is a code of ethics, a way of living and a path for achieving moksha (i.e. enlightenment or liberation). Because of its inherent virtues and all-encompassing nature, it has survived hundreds of years of aggression and onslaught and still growing stable and strong. Today, it is recognised as the world's most ancient cultural, spiritual and religious tradition of over one billion people on earth. More than this, the Sanatana Dharma provides its adherents with a holistic worldview, a way of life and a coherent and rational path to pursue the supreme reality.

Continued to Part IXV

5-May-2018
More by :  Dr. Jaipal Singh
 
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