Hinduism and other religions

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Hinduism and other faiths

Subsequent Dharma faiths: Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism

While scriptures or teachings of Buddhism and Jainism are not actively followed by Hindus, they are seen as equally valid paths to God. The founders of these two faiths lived in a proto-Hindu environment and denied the ultimate authority of the Vedas. Gautama Buddha's primary difference with Hindu beliefs was in the existence of Brahman, the Ultimate Self. He believed in Shunyata, or void, and also did not endorse the ritual aspects of the Vedas. In his Brahmajala Sutta, he expounds his own beliefs as they differ from Hindu thought. It is not fair, however, to say that Buddhism and Jainism completely rejected Vedic/Hindu thought, since both religions grew from Hindu understandings of Dharma, samsara, Maya, reincarnation, liberation, Yoga meditation, and many symbols which are now common to all Dharmic faiths, such as the Lotus, the Chakra and even certain Hindu goddesses who were absorbed into Buddhist beliefs of bodhisattvas. Certainly Buddhists and Jains deparated in many ways from Hindu beliefs, but they were not independent growths.

Sikhism emerged as one of the expressions of the bhakti movement that swept India following the Islamic conquest of the Indian subcontinent. The relation between Sikhism and Hinduism had been one of a very very peaceful co-existence. However the operation Blue star greatly harmed this unity. But now after almost twenty years of the Operation, the sikhs and the hindus have a peaceful co-existence. Many sikhs pay the same respect to goddess Durga as they do to the ten Sikh Gurus. Even the hindus who live in the Punjab highly respect The Sikh Gurus. This has been due to the mutual understanding and broad-mindedness, both of hinduism and Sikhism

Hinduism and Islam

Hinduism and Islam, from the arrival of the Mughals as far back as the 10 century CE, have had a long and varicolored history. It is undisputed that the invading Mughals slaughtered many Hindus and razed thousands of temples, especially in Northern India. Emperors like Aurangzeb left bloody legacies behind them and scorned the vast Hindu populace and their practices as idolatrous and the people as kaffir (infidels). Although this was certainly not the case with all converts, many Hindus were compelled to give up their religions.

On the other hand, there were also many Muslim kings who wished to live in harmony with the Hindus. Akbar and Ibrahim Adil Shah II of Bijapur Adil Shah dynasty are notable examples. Akbar's court was home to intellectuals and saints both Hindu and Muslim, among them the great musician Tansen, and he even went so far as to try and create a new religion to promote peace between people of both creeds. Vedanta, Yoga, Bhakti, and Sufism

The great Sufi movement that particularly flourished in the tolerant land of Hinduism, often conversing with the similarly tolerant mystic traditions of Vedanta, Yoga, and Bhakti, added a rich history of peace and spiritual growth to many areas of India.

Sheikh Muhammad was a Sufi saint who embraced the Hindu God Rama as his chosen bhakti ideal. Kabir wrote poetry and preached to the people, advocating a blend of philosophy and spiritual practices that was primarily based on Vedanta, Bhakti and Sufism, challenging the religious clergy of both Islam and Hinduism and claiming to be neither Hindu, nor Muslim.

Such was fruitive collaboration between certain Sufis and Bhaktas that in many regions of India it is not uncommon for Muslim and Hindu laity to worship together at a pir (Sufi shrine) that is attended by a Vaishnav priest. Indeed, Muslim and Hindu conflict certainly exists in India, but is often more communal than idealogical in motivation. Certain mandirs (Hindu temples) in villages in Bangladesh are known to be attended by, again, both Muslims and Hindus, together praying to the Divine Mother, Kali.

Mughal art forms, especially miniatures and even certain niches of Urdu poetry, were quick to absorb classic Hindu motifs, like the love story of Krishna and Radha. Hindustani classical music is a complex and sonorous blend of Vedic notions of sound, raga and tala and absorbed a many instruments of either Persian origin or Indian-Muslim invention. Practically all classical musicians in India worship the Hindu Goddess of Knowledge and the Arts, Mother Saraswati. This includes famous Muslim musicians, like Ustad Bismillah Khan, and for that matter, Sikh musicians.

Thus, while Hinduism and Islam, on the face, have irreconcilable differences in ideology, the common ground was extensive enough to result in a large-scale blending in India. Indeed, such unity is underplayed and is often obscured entirely by the current unrest and communal tension between the massive Hindu and muslim populations in the Indian subcontinent.

Similarities between Hinduism and Judaism

Since the Hindu kingdoms of West Asia of the second millennium BC precede the rise of Judaism, the commonality between Hinduism and Judaism has been traced as a remembrance of the Hindu past. The Rigveda knows Yahvah as one name of Agni. Tha Ugarits, a Hebraic people, spoke of 33 gods just as in the Veda.

Hinduism has much in common with Judaism. The two faiths' monist mystic streams, kabalistic Judaism and Advaita Vedanta, have so much in common that some scholars have seen the differences as being limited to mere nomenclature; this includes perceptions of illusory superimposition upon a divine monad, pantheism/panentheism and belief in knowledge of the self leading to salvation/liberation. If the broader Hindu religion, however, is taken as a faith (though impossible it is to condense its many beliefs into one system) and compared to Judaism, the primary difference can be seen in the fact that Judaism does not admit deities, even if such deities are but emanations or different aspects/forms of a singular and same source, Brahman (whether one God or a formless monad).

The Hindu and Christian Trinities

The Christian trinity, which came into being long after the Hindu trinity, has often been cited as possible common ground. There are three forms of God in the Trimurti: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The God Brahma symbolizes the creator, Vishnu represents the maintainer or presever and Shiva represents the destroyer in the cycle of existence. This concept of an ultimate three is seen by some as evidence of distant connections with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit of Christianity. Some would argue, however, that the Christian trinity sees the Father as the well-spring of the Son and the Holy Ghost, whereas the Hindu trinity sees the three as equal elements of an ultimate One: creative, preservative and destructive principles are all equal parts of a unitary existence. If anything, the parallel is tenuous, since the number three has long held symbolic importance in many cultures across the world.

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Topics in Hinduism
Shruti (primary Scriptures): Vedas | Upanishads | Bhagavad Gita | Itihasa (Ramayana & Mahabharata) | Agamas
Smriti (other texts): Tantras | Sutras | Puranas | Brahma Sutras | Hatha Yoga Pradipika | Smritis | Tirukural | Yoga Sutra
Concepts: Avatar | Brahman | Dharma | Karma | Moksha | Maya | Ishta-Deva | Murti | Reincarnation | Samsara | Trimurti | Turiya
Schools & Systems: Schools of Hinduism | Early Hinduism | Samkhya | Nyaya | Vaisheshika | Yoga | Mimamsa | Vedanta | Tantra | Bhakti
Traditional Practices: Jyotish | Ayurveda
Rituals: Aarti | Bhajans | Darshan | Diksha | Mantras | Puja | Satsang | Stotras | Yajna
Gurus and Saints: Shankara | Ramanuja | Madhvacharya | Ramakrishna | Vivekananda | Sree Narayana Guru | Aurobindo | Ramana Maharshi | Sivananda | Chinmayananda | Sivaya Subramuniyaswami | Swaminarayan | A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Denominations: List of Hindu denominations
Vaishnavism | Saivism | Shaktism | Smartism | Agama Hindu Dharma | Contemporary Hindu movements | Survey of Hindu organisations
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