Who is Hindu?

Hindu is an individual who accepts as authoritative the religious guidance of the Vedic scriptures, and who strives to live in accordance with Dharma, God’s divine laws as revealed in the Vedic scriptures.

all of the Hindu thinkers of the six traditional schools of Hindu philosophy (Shad-darshanas) insisted on the acceptance of the scriptural authority of the Vedas (shabda-pramana) as the primary criterion for distinguishing a Hindu from a non-Hindu, as well as distinguishing overtly Hindu philosophical positions from non-Hindu ones. It has been the historically accepted standard that, if you accept the Vedas (and by extension Bhagavad Gita, Puranas, etc.) as your scriptural authority, and lived your life in accordance with the Dharmic principles of the Vedas, you are then a Hindu. Thus, an Indian who rejects the Veda is obviously not a Hindu. While an American, Russian, Indonesian or Indian who does accept the Veda obviously is a Hindu.

Scriptural Authority

In general, what determines whether a person is a follower of any particular religion is whether or not they accept, and attempt to live by, the scriptural authority of that religion. This is no less true of Hinduism than it is of any other religion on earth. Thus, the question of what is a Hindu is similarly very easily answered.

Common Answers given by Hindus about definition of Hinduism.

Some of the more simplistic answers to this question include: Anyone born in India is automatically a Hindu (the ethnicity fallacy), if your parents are Hindu, then you are Hindu (the familial argument), if you are born into a certain caste, then you are Hindu (the genetic inheritance model), if you believe in reincarnation, then you are Hindu (forgetting that many non-Hindu religions share at least some of the beliefs of Hinduism), if you practice any religion originating from India, then you are a Hindu (the national origin fallacy).

The Real Answer

The real answer to this question has already been conclusively answered by the ancient sages of Hinduism, and is actually much simpler to ascertain than we would guess. The two primary factors that distinguish the individual uniqueness of the great world religious traditions are a) the scriptural authority upon which the tradition is based, and b) the fundamental religious tenet(s) that it espouses. If we ask the question what is a Jew?, for example, the answer is: someone who accepts the Torah as their scriptural guide and believes in the monotheistic concept of God espoused in these scriptures. What is a Christian? – a person who accepts the Gospels as their scriptural guide and believes that Jesus is the incarnate God who died for their sins. What is a Muslim? – someone who accepts the Qur’an as their scriptural guide, and believes that there is no God but Allah, and that Mohammed is his prophet.


Seven Features of Hinduism Recognized by Indian Law Courts

The Supreme Court of India defined the features of a Hindu in its 1995 ruling of the case, “Bramchari Sidheswar Shai and others Versus State of West Bengal.” At one place, it says that the court identifies the following seven defining characteristics of Hinduism and by extension Hindus:

  1. Acceptance of the Vedas with reverence as the highest authority in religious and philosophic matters and acceptance with reverence of Vedas by Hindu thinkers and philosophers as the sole foundation of Hindu philosophy.
  2. Spirit of tolerance and willingness to understand and appreciate the opponent’s point of view based on the realization that truth was many-sided.
  3. Acceptance of great world rhythm, vast period of creation, maintenance and dissolution follow each other in endless succession, by all six systems of Hindu philosophy.
  4. Acceptance by all systems of Hindu philosophy, the belief in rebirth and pre-existence
  5. Recognition of the fact that the means or ways to salvation are many.
  6. Realization of the truth that Gods to be worshipped may be large, yet there being Hindus who do not believe in the worshipping of idols.
  7. Unlike other religions or religious creeds Hindu religion not being tied-down to any definite set of philosophic concepts, as
    such.

 

What is Hinduism?

Hinduism is the world’s oldest extant religion, with a billion followers, which makes it the world’s third largest religion. Hinduism is a conglomeration of religious, philosophical, and cultural ideas and practices that originated in India, characterized by the belief in reincarnation, one absolute being of multiple manifestations, the law of cause and effect, following the path of righteousness, and the desire for liberation from the cycle of births and deaths

How is Hinduism unique from other religions?

Hinduism cannot be neatly slotted into any particular belief system. Unlike other religions, Hinduism is a way of life, a Dharma, that is, the law that governs all action. It has its own beliefs, traditions, advanced system of ethics, meaningful rituals, philosophy and theology.

The religious tradition of Hinduism is solely responsible for the creation of such original concepts and practices as Yoga, Ayurveda, Vastu, Jyotish, Yajna, Puja, Tantra, Vedanta, Karma, etc.

How and when did Hinduism originate?

Hinduism has its origins in such remote past that it cannot be traced to any one individual. Some scholars believe that Hinduism must have existed even in circa 10000 B.C. and that the earliest of the Hindu scriptures – The Rig Veda – was composed well before 6500 B.C. The word “Hinduism” is not to be found anywhere in the scriptures, and the term “Hindu” was introduced by foreigners who referred to people living across the River Indus or Sindhu, in the north of India, around which the Vedic religion is believed to have originated.

What are the basic tenets of Hinduism?

There is no “one Hinduism”, and so it lacks any unified system of beliefs and ideas. Hinduism is a conglomerate of diverse beliefs and traditions, in which the prominent themes include:

It also believes in truth, honesty, non-violence, celibacy, cleanliness, contentment, prayers, austerity, perseverance, penance, and pious company.

What are the key Hindu scriptures?

The basic scriptures of Hinduism, which is collectively referred to as “Shastras”, are essentially a collection of spiritual laws discovered by different saints and sages at different points in its long history. The Two types of sacred writings comprise the Hindu scriptures: “Shruti” (heard) and “Smriti” (memorized). They were passed on from generation to generation orally for centuries before they were written down mostly in the Sanskrit language. The major and most popular Hindu texts include the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, and the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Who is a Hindu and how to become one?

A Hindu is an individual who accepts and lives by the religious guidance of the Vedic scriptures. While the teachings of the Hindu tradition do not require that you have a religious affiliation to Hinduism in order to receive its inner teachings, it can be very helpful to formally become a Hindu because it provides one a formal connection to the “world’s oldest continually existing enlightenment tradition.”