Hinduism defined…

In a 1966 ruling, the Supreme Court of India defined the Hindu faith as follows for legal purposes:

1. Acceptance of the Vedas with reverence as the highest authority in religious and philosophic matters and acceptance with reverence of Vedas by Hindu thinkers and philosophers as the sole foundation of Hindu philosophy.

2. Spirit of tolerance and willingness to understand and appreciate the opponent’s point of view based on the realization that truth is many-sided.

3. Acceptance of great world rhythm — vast periods of creation, maintenance and dissolution follow each other in endless succession — by all six systems of Hindu philosophy.

4. Acceptance by all systems of Hindu philosophy of the belief in rebirth and pre-existence.

5. Recognition of the fact that the means or ways to salvation are many.

6. Realization of the truth that numbers of Gods to be worshiped may be large, yet there are Hindus who do not believe in the worshiping of idols.

7. Unlike other religions, or religious creeds, Hindu religion’s not being tied down to any definite set of philosophic concepts, as such.

I wonder if this has since been modified in any other ruling. Presently, I don’t believe in 4, so that makes me a non-Hindu! But by point #7, that doesn’t really matter, does it ?


Posted on November 24, 2004, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. The article India ascendant refers to three supreme court judgements regarding the definition of Hinduism and Hindutva.

    • Thanks! Interesting article. The 1977 and 1995 court judgements are very broad indeed.

      The 77 judgement says something like “A hindu can adopt a non-Hindu religion, and still be a Hindu.” By that token, everyone is a Hindu 🙂

      • And it is true.

        Coz the analogy is raised from the first meaning in the OED, and most other dictionaries, which define “Hindu” as “a native or inhabitant of Hindustan or India”.

        Another definition (drawn around the belief in the Aryan invasion theory), states (found this thru google definitions) Originally, the word “Hindu” or “Shindu” was an Aryan reference to the indigenous people of the subcontinent, i.e., those whom the Aryans had conquered ca. 1500 BCE. More specifically, it referred to those who lived “in and beyond the Indus River valley.

        So a Hindu (a follower of Hinduism) can adopt another religion, and still remain a hindu (a native of India). 🙂

  2. Ah.. interesting. Permit me to make my comments:

    Point 4 and 7 are not contradictory. What point 7 means is that there are many systems of philosophy within the scope of hinduism – for example yoga, sankhya, vedanta, vaisheshika, nyaya and mimasa. Each of these prescribe different forms of worship, ways to salvation, objectives to be pursued. Other than this, we have the more recent advaita, dvaita, and qualified monism. This is why hinduism cannot be tied down to any one system.

    However, all these systems have Points 1 – 6 in common, especially the concept of Karma (cycle of life) and the theory of Maya. That is one of the central concepts of hinduism.

    Also, before taking this Supreme Court ruling at face value, you may want to look at the context in which it was made. These definitions were made with reference to a specific context and cannot be universally applied.

    So you’ve now stopped believing in karma, eh??

    *gives hopeless sigh*

  3. Oh, I forgot to ask – what brought you to this topic in the first place?

  4. You know what, rebirth is no longer a concept – that it is true has been demonstrated (not as a concept, but empirically)…It might be that we might not believe in the existence of a soul, etc.

    But if you look into yourself, you will find that all these impulses that we have inherited (incl. animal), we have inherited from the ones that came before us – is this not rebirth? The same instincts born in us as unconscious aspects of our persona, and we add conscious thoughts to it.

    ALso, a person born in the 15th century wouldn’t understand say, quantum theory, because he/she wouldn’t have the unconscious knowledge in him/her about requisite concepts (not that we can understand it, but we are in a better position to understand it). In this sense, rebirth exists.

    Whether you choose to believe in it or not is another matter altogether.

    • Guess this links with the concept of the soul being continuous…

      As many spiritualists say: Deep inside, you feel you have ALWAYS been here.. and that you will ALWAYS be here. That’s what each of us feels. That feeling is the reality of the soul.

      Think about this.

    • I suppose science would answer “genes”, not rebirth 🙂
      But what do you mean demonstrated? Can you elaborate/exemplify?

      I am not ruling out the possibility, but presently, I don’t believe in it.

      • “But what do you mean demonstrated? Can you elaborate/exemplify?”

        I did not mean to say that science had proved it or anything. There are examples of people who have remembered their past lives and scientists have verified it by visiting those places. Anyway, that’s besides the point.

        When we talk about rebirth, we must first distinguish it from a talk about the soul. The soul, whether it exists or not, we do not know.

        But surely we inherit knowledge and other tendencies from our ancestors, right? Is this not rebirth? We add our own tendencies and knowledge and pass it on to future generations. Our memories and experiences have thus been reborn in them.

        For eg. we are conscious about many things, and also have unconscious tendencies. Not all of them are after our birth, there are many tendencies that have been present since all time. When we come across a new experience, or go through some suffering, say, we consciously understand and justify – and we don’t remain conscious about it. At a later stage, if you come across a similar experience, your unconscious (or subconscious) guides your action.

        This is a much debatable but interesting topic. More later.

      • What you say is no doubt true, but that’s not how I would define rebirth. I would not distinguish it from a discussion about the soul.

      • I don’t know if something called the soul exists. But I do know one thing – things like love, sympathy, other emotions, etc. cannot be measured in the laboratory, but we all do agree that they exist. When we are down, sometimes something in us (which we call spirit) makes us come back at times – this force is not the reaction of our body, nor is it a reaction from a reasoned conclusion (ie. the mind) – this too cannot be measured in the laboratory.

        In other words, there might be things that exist and we do not know about. Believing or not believing in them is not going to change our lives in any great way. Is your life going to change significantly if someone tells you that there is a soul, and there is rebirth? If not, then asking the question is meaningless. If yes, then you need to inquire deeper.

      • I can’t prove the soul exists either, but I believe it does. And actually, I don’t disagree with you on most of what you have say.

        Right now I don’t feel the need to inquire deeper – I believe in the existence of the soul, but I don’t believe in re-birth. Period. I don’t think it matters too much in any case. Some day, maybe I will inquire deeper, if I feel the need strongly enough.

        I was simply clarifying my position because of your comments.

      • ‘but I don’t believe in re-birth. Period. ‘

        You don’t have to, at all. It isn’t going to affect your life much.

        ‘Some day, maybe I will inquire deeper, if I feel the need strongly enough.’

        I guess you will feel it soon enough.

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