The Religions of Hinduism
There is perhaps a greater
diversity of religions inside of Hinduism than outside of it. The
different religions of the world - Judaism, Christianity, Islam,
Buddhism and Taoism - do not have any greater variety of forms and
practices than do the different sects of Hinduism - the Vaishnava,
Shaivite, Shakta, Ganapata, Brahmanical, and so on.Hinduism has been regarded
as a collection of sects, not as a singularly formulated religion.
More properly speaking, as Sanatana Dharma or a universal approach,
Hinduism is a collection of religions rather than a single religion
as commonly understood. Yet it is more than a collection of
These different religions of
Hinduism are integrated into a greater and more universal Truth, and
not merely haphazardly thrown together. Each of the main sects of
Hinduism can be seen as a religion in its own right. Several sects
of Hinduism, like the Shaivite and Vaishnava, have a longer
tradition and a more extensive literature than the predominant
Western religions. Almost whatever is found in
any religion by way of forms of worship or view of the Reality
worshipped - including rituals, prayers, yogic practices and
meditations of all kinds, monotheism, pantheism, polytheism,
agnosticism, atheism, and monism - can be found in Hinduism.
Each is respected according to its place
in human development and none is allowed to be the last word for all
people. This is not to say that all views and practices are regarded
as equal or the same - generally meditation is the highest practice
and Self-realization the highest goal - but each practice is given
its appropriate place.One Christian fundamentalist group has said
that there are only two religions in the world, Hinduism which
absorbs everything and Christianity which excludes everything.
One can be a Hindu and practice whatever
religious teachings one finds beneficial, whether they arise from
the Hindu tradition or outside of it. Hinduism defines itself as a
pursuit of Truth, not the insistence upon a particular
belief.Another of its names is the religion of Truth, Satya Dharma.
It says that Truth alone wins, not untruth. One does not cease to be
a Hindu by pursuing truth in different forms but only be ceasing to
pursue Truth and instead promoting dogma.