Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hinduism - Philosphy or Religion?

I have seen few hindus who claimed that hinduism is not religion but a philosphy, is this true ? and if it is religion , how come gods originated from a philosphy ?

My Reply:
Hinduism has two main parts:

1. Jnana
2. Bhakti

Jnana is the philosophical part and Bhakti is the faith/beliefs/rituals part.

They are like two overlapping circles. There are some portions which are purely philosophical but nothing to do with Jnana. In the same way there may be some parts which are purely Bhakti and may not have (or may not be known) any philosophy.

Jnana and Bhakti are like Science and Engineering. I think there may be some people from non-science backgrounds here, so lemme first explain the difference between them.

Science is concerned about the principle and understanding of various phenomenon, while engineering is more bothered about just to get things done. Take making of fire for example. Science is knowing why fire is created, what should be the type of materials which can be used, whether the reaction is exothermic or endothermic, what are the atomic mass loss due to this, what is the efficiency etc etc. While engineering on the other hand is to simply get things done… knowing which materials can make fire (not bothered about what are their internal properties which makes it possible) and what’s the easy way to make it.. that’s all.

In the same way Jnana is to know how prayer works, what’s the nature of soul etc etc. Bhakti is not being bothered about thus “how” and simply get the things done.

Of course both are actually inseparable. Just for the sake of understanding I have mentioned them separately. Just like science helps engineering and vice-versa, inculcating Jnana helps Bhakti and inculcating Bhakti helps Jnana.

It the combination of these two that we call religion.


There was another intresting discussion on the subject of "Hinduism - a way of life" with a christian. The discussion is as follows:

Geetika said:
I am starting to have a pet peeve about the phrase "way of life". Everyone says their religion is not a religion, but a "way of life". What is that supposed to mean?

My Reply:
Usually Hinduism, Buddhism, Zen, Tao etc like to call themselves as “way of life” than as religions.

Most probable reason why most eastern religions tend to disassociate with the term religion is coz most of the times the term religion is defined or understood using all Semitic ideas.

Take the point one in above dictionary definition of Religion itself, posted by Paul. It reads Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe

But the truth is that most of the ER (Eastern Religions) don’t believe in a “creator” god.

So many followers of ER don’t like to call their religions as religions coz the word religion itself is defined in a different context.

Now about the other point of are not other religions a “way of life” too. People tend to use “way of life” when the choice is in the hands of the individual.

When ER’s say a “way of life”, they really give the freedom of beliefs to the individual and doesn’t impose them. While in the case of Christianity that “way” of life is fixed (or comparatively rigid) so its more apt to call it a “rule of life” than “way of life”.

Agreed that if seen from a purely grammatical angle, the “way of life” statement is flawed, but when seen in the context and essence your pet peeve is just nit picking.

>> but a "way of life".

Trying to careful mislead by emphasizing at the wrong words?

You have put the “way of life” in quotes, but what more important is what preceded it. Christianity claims itself to be “THE way of life”, while ERs claim to be just “A way of life”. The important difference is what precedes the way of life — THE or A.


Post a Comment

<< Home