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western mind characteristically downplays Hinduisms importance as a religion. In
many contemporary studies of world religions Hinduism is left out altogether. Because it
has no overriding one God, single historical founder, or set creed, Hinduism is looked
upon as a disorganized collection of cults. Few westerners know what Hinduism is, or what
Hindus believe and practice.
Most are content with negative
stereotypes that make them feel comfortable about their own religions. If Hinduism is
mentioned in the western media it is relative to disasters, conflicts or backward social
customs. It is the one religion that is still politically correct to denigrate, if not
belittle. There is also a general impression that Hinduism is closed, ethnic or castist
creed and therefore not a true world religion.
This is strange because historically Hinduism spread throughout South
Asia and specific ways of becoming a Hindu are described in many Hindu teachings. Hinduism
could not have spread so far if it was not expansive in bringing in new members.