As one of the world’s oldest religions, Hinduism also serves functions of a considerable philosophical direction. On the one hand, millions of individuals throughout the whole world follow the main principles of Hinduism, thereby making this system of thought the third-largest religion after Christianity and Islam. On the other hand, this philosophy can be considered a tradition of Indian philosophical thinking, as it is not based on religious rites or performances. Therefore, Hinduism is more philosophical rather than a strictly religious system of cultural values.
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General Overview of the Philosophy
Taking into consideration that Hinduism has developed nearly four hundred years ago, this religion has a wide background. At the same time, it is essential to note that this system of beliefs does not have an identifiable beginning or end, as it does not have a specific creator or initial teacher. Currently, there is a variety of spiritual texts that guide devotees, including the widely known Vedas. This mix of hymns provides comprehensive information in terms of the divine forces of nature presenting key Hindu teachings. When it comes to the primary idea of this teaching, Hinduism highlights that the body and the mind do not determine a human being’s basic nature. Conversely, the spirit of God within the soul is the driving force of all actions that are taken by individuals.
Hinduism as a Philosophical Direction
Unlike numerous other religions, Hinduism cannot be described as a rigid religious set of beliefs. In turn, it is frequently referred to as a conglomeration of distinct philosophical points of view. At the present time, it is based on the combination of diverse traditions that can be used as a teaching tool throughout the entire life. Firstly, supporters of this philosophy believe in the continuous cycle of life, death, and reincarnation. Second, they usually highlight the significant impact of karma as the universal law of cause and effect. Accordingly, these teachings encourage human beings to remember that each action is accompanied by its consequences, which is why it is essential to behave in an appropriate way. In other words, taking into account that Hinduism seeks rational explanations and justifications for beliefs, it can be defined as a philosophy rather than a single religion.
Even though Hinduism has developed multiple religious and social aspects to be considered a typical religion, it is a practice of various tribal or ethnic customs in the first place. Based on the information from major Sanskrit epics of ancient India called Mahabharata (Suryasa, and Wirawan 5), Hinduism has such a vast widespread across the globe, as it contains much useful instruction on Artha and Kama. Hence, this system of teachings provides guidance from the perspective of an accurate way of life rather than getting closer to a specific God. Moreover, this philosophy is not associated with any fixed religious beliefs that would outline crucial rules that are considered by its followers. It is based on the idea to improve the spiritual and ethical outlook in life instead of insisting on religious conformity. Presently, Hinduism offers the opportunity to cleanse the inner self, which is why it has such a considerable spread. Its focus on rational actions is one of the main reasons why Hinduism is more philosophical rather than religious.
Finally, there is no concept of a single God or deity in Hinduism, which is why it is less popular than Christianity and Islam. The majority of religions recognize the power of the one true God who created the world, whereas Hinduism does not support this idea. Instead, this philosophy acknowledges different forms and representations of the divine. Presently, Hindu denominations, such as Saivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism, and Smartism, recognize different Gods. For instance, in the context of Saivites, God is Siva, whereas Vaishnavites perceive Lord Vishnu as God (Pandharipande 3). Thus, different population groups understand the one God in their own distinct way. Nevertheless, despite the name that is chosen for God, followers of Hinduism highlight that the one and only God live in humans’ hearts and souls. Subsequently, taking into consideration that people constantly feel the presence of God, they have the courage to make accurate decisions.
It is vital to note that Hinduism is a unique system of thoughts, as it has a well-developed philosophical and religious background. Its followers are offered the opportunity to be free in their choice, whether it is to believe in multiple Gods or simply follow rational recommendations related to life. However, Hinduism is still more philosophical rather than religious direction under the circumstances when religions have strict rules. In fact, Hinduism is not associated with restrictions when it comes to the way of life. Conversely, this philosophy encourages people to respect others equally and strive to be peaceful in any way that is suitable for each individual. It covers various dimensions of human existence, including the role of nature, and science, as well as the connection of human beings with supernatural powers. Therefore, Hinduism provides guidance in terms of different ways of life, which is why it can be defined as a philosophical approach.
Pandharipande, Rajeshwari. “Digital Religion and Hinduism in the United States”. World Englishes, vol 37, no. 3, 2018, pp. 497-502. Web.
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Suryasa, Wayan, and Nika Wirawan. “Karma on Hinduism Philosophy Perspective”. International Journal of Linguistics, Literature, and Culture, vol 5, no. 1, 2019, pp. 62-67. Suryasa and Sons. Web.