|In the scope of its history it saw the
great religions of Egypt and Persia, both closely related to it, rise and
fall. It itself gave birth to many religions including the Buddhist,
Jain and Sikh teachings and it influenced the Muslims, Christians and Taoists. Hence it does not set
itself apart from other religions so much as other religions set themselves apart from it.
An educated Hindu has no problem accepting the member of another religion into his own or
participating in their religious practices.
Hinduism is religion in the generic sense, whereas the others are
more like name brands. As the most tolerant and non-aggressive of all religions it not only does not
try to promote itself, it even allows itself to be given a derogatory
name from others. We would not call Christianity "the Greek religion"
or Islam "the Arab religion". Yet we have imposed a geographical term
on what is the most complex of all religions. Within the subcontinent
of India is one of the greatest diversities of cultures, races and languages in all
Though the great majority of these people follow the religion we know
of as Hinduism, they are not all alike. They differ much more so than the cultures of Europe, which
we would not just simply call "Christian". Nor was what we call
Hinduism ever limited to India much less the banks of the Indus river.
Only a few centuries ago it prevailed in Indochina and Indonesia and still has a strong
presence in these cultures.
The great temple city of Ankor Wat in
Cambodia consists of mainly Hindu temples. The island of Bali in Indonesia is still Hindu. Hinduism
was often practiced in Afghanistan and Central Asia and Vedic Gods were worshipped in Syria and
Turkey in ancient times. While Hinduism never sought conversions it allowed itself to grow organically
and to spread to many different peoples. It was never simply an ethnic