Thursday, December 25, 2008

Sanātana Dharma

Hinduism is often referred to as Sanātana Dharma, a Sanskrit phrase meaning "the eternal law", by its practitioners. Hinduism is often stated to be the "oldest religious tradition" or "oldest living major tradition."Hindū is the Persian name for the Indus River, first encountered in the Old Persian word Hindu (həndu), corresponding to Vedic SanskritSindhu, the Indus River.Hinduism is a diverse system of thought with beliefs spanning monotheism, polytheism,panentheism, pantheism, monism, and atheism. It is sometimes referred to as henotheistic

Most Hindu sects do not seek converts because they believe that the goals of spiritual life can be attained through any religion, as long as it is practiced sincerely. Concepts of conversion, evangelization, and proselyzation are absent from Hindu literature and in practice have never played a significant role, though acceptance of willing converts is becoming more common. Early in its history, in the absence of other competing religions,Hindus considered everyone they came across as Hindus and expected everyone they met to be Hindus.

Hinduism's vast body of scriptures are divided into Śruti ("revealed") and Smriti ("remembered"). These scriptures discuss theology, philosophy and mythology, and provide information on the practice of dharma right living. Among these texts, the Vedas and the Upanishads are the foremost in authority, importance and antiquity. Other major scriptures include the Tantras, the Agama, the Purānas and the epics Mahābhārata and Rāmāyana. The Bhagavad Gītā, a treatise from the Mahābhārata, spoken by Krishna, is sometimes called a summary of the spiritual teachings of the Vedas. It can even be considered as the holiest book for Hindus akin to Bible for christians or Quran for Muslims.

    The apparent multiplication of gods is bewildering at the first glance, but you soon discover that they are the same GOD. There is always one uttermost God who defies personification. This makes Hinduism the most tolerant religion in the world, because its one transcendent God includes all possible gods. In fact Hinduism is so elastic and so subtle that the most profound Methodist, and crudest idolater, are equally at home with it.

— George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) Nobel Laureate in Literature

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