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“An Introduction to Hinduism” by Anantanand Rambachan

Hinduism is among the world’s biggest and most popular religions, yet people outside the regions where it is commonly practiced still struggle to understand it. Anantanand Rambachan takes the initiative to share knowledge about the basic pillars, concepts, practices, and beliefs of Hindus in the book chapter “To Recognize and Love God in All: An Introduction to Hinduism.” Ideally, the author centralized the book’s argument around two major points. The first one introduces the common practices, beliefs, and elements of the Hindu way of life. Rambachan clarifies the culture an astonishingly diverse and is only united by the umbrella name Hindu. The word ‘Hindu’, according to the author, refers to all the people living along the Indus river, who, with time, have come to be commonly known as Hindus, yet each has unique characteristics (Rambachan, 2005). By explaining the diversity of Hindus, the author intends to show that people living in the Indian subcontinent vary geographically, religiously, and language-wise.

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The second point made by the writer debunks the myths surrounding Hinduism. The author emphasizes that Hinduism is monotheistic as opposed to the common misconception that it is a polytheistic belief. Rambachan (2005) claims that the different names that various cultures within India recognize God with confusing many leading to the misplaced perception regarding Indian deity. The multiplicity of cultures is the reason for having numerous names that all refer to the same supreme being. Rambachan (2005) says that Hindu people believe in the oneness of God, but the names are limitless. While clarifying the point further, the author argues that God has many names, takes different forms (murti), and cannot be geographically limited (Rambachan, 2005). Thus, the author attempts to debunk the myths about the Hindu religion and show its religious diversity. Admittedly, human diversity has significant consequences affecting others spheres of culture, such as beliefs. For instance, most cultures across the world believe in the singularity of God, but the names and forms tend to differ.

However, reading Rambachan’s book chapter prompts numerous questions about Hinduism. One of the most disturbing concerns emanating from the writer’s explanations relates to the idea of pleasure and enjoyment. The culture appreciates the significance of fun as an important component of a full life. Nonetheless, the idea of the Kama, a concept referring to pleasure, limits the celebration of life to music, sculpture, and dance (Rambachan, 2005). It also warns against finding gratification in power, wealth, and recognition. Therefore, the question is how are Hindus expected to use their material gains, or should the Hindus not focus on them since these phenomena leave them incomplete? From the understanding of the text, it appears as though working hard to improve one’s living standards does not suffice in Indian culture. The idea of pleasure and enjoyment needs detailed clarification.

The other concern from the reading is the connection between Christianity and Hinduism. Ideally, the Hindus find it problematic that Christians believe that God revealed Himself to the entire world through one person named Jesus Christ in a specific part of the world several years ago. In addition, the Hindus do not accept that God bestowed the authority to a section of people as custodians of truth and the rest of humanity (Rambachan, 2005). Seemingly, the idea of Christians spreading the gospel across the world does not please the Hindus as they believe God shows Himself differently to every culture. Therefore, do Hinduism presume that people should worship and understand God the way He revealed Himself to them without imposing new beliefs on them? The question is contentious since the other major religions perceive other cultures as pagans for believing and following their traditional understanding of God.

Reference

Rambachan, A. (2005). To recognize and love God in all: An introduction to Hinduism. Five voices five faiths: An interfaith primer, 1-22.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "“An Introduction to Hinduism” by Anantanand Rambachan." October 22, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/an-introduction-to-hinduism-by-anantanand-rambachan/.

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