What Are the Problems Associated with Attempting to Define Hinduism?

1915 Words Mar 24th, 2008 8 Pages
What Are The Problems Associated With Attempting To Define Hinduism?

What is Hinduism? Who are the Hindus? Why is there this problem of association within this religion? This paper will try to give a few simple reasons to answer this question: a brief Hindu history, the multiplicity of faith, a comparison made with Christianity (the dominant worldwide religion ). However, when trying to define, or describe, something, it is always best to start from the beginning and so let us look at Hinduism in Context.

Hinduism, perhaps the oldest religion in existence, in today’s recorded history, can be traced back to the Rig-Veda , to today’s one billion followers, most of whom still inhabit the Indian subcontinent. In fact, the word Hindu
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Perhaps it is also because there are four Varṇas and four different pursuits of life . The other problem relates to the mystery of faith, where no body has apparently written the texts on this religion, unlike that of the Bible or the Koran. Just by skimming the surface of Hinduism, it is already very apparent how difficult Hinduism is to define. As you have previously read, Hinduism is an interfusion of different trains of thought and belief. Although the Veda is a collection of written texts, they were traditionally handed down via word of mouth so that the holy secret could be contained within the religion. Perhaps there was just an original Veda, and the other four are either one split into four due to sages’ likes, dislikes, way of life etc, or maybe they are all part of the same, but the big picture has yet to be revealed. Therefore, if we are unable to rely on the word of Hinduism to help us define it, why not look towards the smrti to see if that may be able to help.

Whereas the Veda are the authority for everything in Hinduism, the smrti are the law and order that one must follow with regards to the relation in and with their family, society, ancestors and the gods. The smrti are also a lot more flexible than the unmovable śruti, as they are changed over time by the daily practice of Hinduism. One thing to briefly mention though, is that as the smrti means

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