Hinduism is that way of life that has no comparison, no peers, no equals.
Hinduism, in fact, is not a religion in first place. It is neither a philosophy or an ideology. Religions, philosophies and ideologies are too time-bound, too specific, too geographical.
Hinduism, in contrast, is a ‘celebration’ of ‘being human’. It is all about ‘justifying’ being human. Hinduism, in fact, is synonym for ‘being human’.
Hinduism – Principles over Persons
A Christian cannot be Christian unless he believes in Jesus Christ. A Muslim cannot be Muslim if he refuses to believe Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as last prophet.
Regardless of whatever good that may be in texts of these religions, one must first believe in these pre-conditions – the special status of these people – to be eligible for anything else in these texts.
For example, if I believe in all the noble verses in Quran (which I firmly believe in), but reject those verses that call Muhammad Sahib as last prophet (because the concept of avatars or prophets does not appeal to my rational mind),
I will not be considered a Muslim. In fact if I call myself Muslim because I like a large number of verses in Quran, but reject the concept of Prophethood, I may be put to death in certain countries on charges of blasphemy.
Christians have become much more liberal but nonetheless the word ‘Christian’ itself states that belief in Christ is a must.
Now this may be a very good thing to inculcate discipline in certain situations. I am not arguing their merits or demerits.
But to my democratic and liberal mind, Hinduism appeals so much more for respecting and even celebrating my individuality.
It makes me feel so much special and values my uniqueness. It has no concept of blasphemy.
It is not threatened by views, deeds, speeches or writings of a few individuals. On contrary, it embraces even them into its fold, if they are driven by honesty.
Hinduism, due to its emphasis on honesty, does not offer any mandatory persons as pre-conditions. Yes, a large number of people may worship Krishna, Ram, Durga, Kali, Shiva, Hanuman and many other Gods and Goddesses.
Some worship a particular God or Goddess exclusively, some worship everyone. There are innumerable Gods and Goddesses and many are of even recent origin. For example Santoshi Mata, Gayatri Mata or Sai Baba.
For many it has become even a fraud business to resurrect a new God or Goddess and mint money on religious feelings of masses. Yes that is an issue of concern and pointed by many as weakness of Hinduism.
But that is not the complete picture. In reality, Hinduism offers freedom of choice without being dictatorial or judgmental. What critics of Hinduism forget to emphasize is that Hinduism is the ONLY way of life that ALSO offers worship of principles ALONE.
In fact even the so-called idol worshippers agree that while idol-worship may be first step, the ultimate goal is to reach a state of worship of principles ALONE.
Thus huge number of Hindus believe in formless God. Many are even atheists. Many believe only in core tenets – Patience, Forgiveness, Self-control, Non-Stealing, Purity, Control of Sense, Wisdom, Knowledge Enhancement, Honesty, Non-Violence.
So you can be a Hindu even if you don’t believe in any particular person or avatar or even concept of God. You simply have to be honest to yourself, and need not even take certificate of honesty from anyone.
And that is exactly why so many reform movements took place within Hinduism. Many schools fiercely debated and at times even abused other schools of thought. But that did not make them less Hindu. All of them naturally assimilated within Hinduism.
Sometimes freedom also tends to nurture social evils due to lack of enlightenment of masses. This is true for any society and any sphere of life. People misuse freedom to break signals and behave like rowdies.
That does not mean Freedom is bad. It means there is need to emphasize the importance of responsibility that comes with freedom. It means we need to find ways to make freedom even more meaningful.
Hinduism offers a way to combat these through wisdom and intellect. That is why Hinduism is not static. It is ever-flowing and ever-dynamic. It makes me love and enjoy being Hindu so much more!