- Question Eleven: Is Yoga a Hindu Practice?
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Though the Hindu scriptures are immensely significant to the tradition, they exert surprisingly little influence in the religious life of the average Hindu devotee. This is not to say that all Hindus accept the scriptures. It might accurately be said that atheists orient themselves in relation to the Bible, yet their position is opposite that of a Christian.
Similarly, Hindus are defined by the degree to which they accept or reject the Vedic scriptures. Some renounce the holy books on principle: most notable among these is Gautama Buddha, an Indian prince who abandoned the Vedas because they reinforced the caste system. The mammoth size and obsolete script of traditional Sanskrit scriptures renders them inaccessible to the majority, and even vernacular translations are unintelligible to a predominately illiterate population.
In the Laws of Manu, the Veda is held in highest regard:.
Question Eleven: Is Yoga a Hindu Practice?
The root of religion is the entire Veda , and then the tradition and customs of those who know the Veda , and the conduct of virtuous people, and what is satisfactory to oneself. Whatever duty Manu proclaimed for whatever person, all of that was declared in the Veda, for it contains all knowledge. So when a learned man has looked thoroughly at all of this with the eye of knowledge, he should devote himself to his own duty in accordance with the authority of the revealed canon.
For the human being who fulfils the duty declared in the revealed canon and in tradition wins renown here on earth and unsurpassable happiness after death. The Veda should be known as the revealed canon and the teachings of religion as the tradition. These two are indisputable matters, for religion arose out of the two of them. Any twice-born man who disregards these two roots of religion because he relies on the teachings of logic should be excommunicated by virtuous people as an atheist and a reviler of the Veda Manusmrti 2.
Contemporary Western and Indian scholars also acknowledge the centrality of the Vedas to Hindu religion. As noted above, Hindus do not unanimously accept any single text, or group of texts, as the authoritative body of eternal truth. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam each cherish a holy book containing everything that pertains to life and godliness, but Hindus have no analogous monolithic text.
As frustrating as this may be from a comparative religions standpoint, the lack of a definitive text is a source of pride for many Hindus who feel that tolerance and pluralism are the primary themes of the twenty-first century incarnation of the religion. Absolute scriptures lead to dogmatic beliefs, they reason, and dogmatic beliefs lead to strife and violence.
If any canonical scripture exists, it is the Vedas, which have been considered a gauge of orthodoxy see Manusmrti 2. All the various religious systems and scriptures of the Hindus look upon the Veda as the sole authority. Veda here is used in the sense of a canon, yet that canon is left undefined.
Limiting scripture to a few books tends to be the exception, not the rule; books are more often added to the Veda and deemed sacred. He argues that Indian scripture exceeds written texts—the written word is only one revelatory medium. The corpus of Hindu scripture is enormous. A person could spend a lifetime sorting through the millions of pages of sacred and semi-sacred texts. Even the most orthodox sections of scripture are many times larger than the Bible.
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So vast, so complicated, so full of contradictions, so various and changeable, that its very immensity is our refuge! The Bible seems concise in comparison, containing only 23, verses in the Old Testament and 7, verses in the New. A Hindu equivalent of the Gideon missionary society would have to donate an entire library of books to hotels rather than a single volume to each room.
Of course, Hindus have little interest in proselytizing, so it is not really a problem. If the size were insufficient to deter an honest seeker of truth, the incomprehensibility of the scripture certainly would. The Bible was written originally in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Though Bible students rarely master the original languages, sufficient lexical aids exists so that the original meaning can be understood with relatively little difficulty.
Hindu students are not so fortunate. Incidentally, as Clooney points out in his essay, postmodernists find this approach to understanding texts refreshingly in line with their own views. English translations are available for the primary scriptures, yet even the most careful translations are difficult to understand.
Most English translations of the Bible are on the reading level of a th grader, yet the same cannot be said of the Vedas. Archaic Sanskrit also called Vedic , the language of the Rig Veda , is a dead language, and inaccessible to most Hindus. Other scriptures are written in classical Sanskrit, Prakrit, Tamil, and other regional dialects.
The possibility of interpretation is further hampered by the belief that the Vedas consist of sacred sound, not written text. Were the language difficulties to be sorted out, the problem of incomprehensibility would remain. Hindu scripture contradicts itself time and time again.
One might expect works separated by thousands of years to disagree and they do , but these contradictions are found even within individual texts. There are logical contradictions, conceptual contradictions, and even factual contradictions. The beauty and value of such poems is clear. Hindu scripture confirms this suspicion, and actually embraces the contradictions. Hindu scripture is for all practical purposes useless to the average Hindu for these and other reasons.
This, of course, assumes that all Hindus have access to the scripture. The first three classes are known as the twice-born, and only the males of those classes are allowed to read the Vedas. The religion itself restricts to a select few the scripture that purportedly contains saving knowledge. There is much morally reprehensible material within the Vedic literature. The immoralities endorsed by Hindu scripture range from racial prejudices and rigid social hierarchies to rape and murder.
For instance, the earliest Vedic texts, which are traced back to the Aryan invasion of the Indian subcontinent, reflect the racial biases of the invaders. Critics might observe that the Old Testament is also guilty of ethnic cleansing; however, the Israelite battles were drawn over moral lines, not ethnic or racial see Bass , More disturbing than the Vedic treatment of race are the pervasive references to sex, and the its role in the religious ritual.
Violence and sexual perversion penetrates even the most orthodox scripture.
Surely, a woman who has changed her clothes at the end of her menstrual period is the most auspicious of women. When she has changed her clothes at the end of her menstrual period, therefore, one should approach that splendid woman and invite her to have sex. Should she refuse to consent, he should bribe her.
Bestiality is likewise advocated. A particularly solemn rite for the early Vedic religion was the horse sacrifice. Though it probably was performed rarely, it is mentioned frequently in the Vedic commentaries. Examples such as this could be multiplied.
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To the list of atrocities in the Vedic scripture may be added human sacrifice Aitaraya Brahmana 7. The Bible is the authentic, authoritative, and final revelation of the true God. Though written over a period of 1, years by forty very diverse men on two continents, The Book is completely unified and free from error. A single theme is expanded upon throughout—the redemption of man through the Messiah.
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The Bible was confirmed by predictive prophecies and the miracles of the inspired men who wrote it. The moral laws contained within are more reasonable and consistent than that of any other religious or naturalistic system. Subjective religious experiences are generally preferable to written texts. Hindu scripture contains little that is noble, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, or praiseworthy. Allegedly a progressive revelation, Hindu scripture contradicts itself both within particular texts and as a body of literature.
The Bible, also a progressive revelation, never corrects itself, but only compliments and fulfils that which has been written. The Vedas contain no predictive prophecy and offer no miracles to confirm the revelation supposedly sent from God. Thus the Hindus have no accessible ground of truth, no normative written word, and no objective moral or religious instruction.
Basham, Arthur, J.
Hindu art and culture, an introduction
Clooney, Francis X. Jayaram, V. Krishnamurthy, V. The Gita is the milk. The wise men are those who drink the milk of the Gita. The Gita is the most precious jewel of Hindu literature. It is a universal gospel. The Gita teaches the Yoga of Synthesis. It ranks high in the religious literature of the world. Arjuna saw before him his dear relatives and teachers in the battle-field. He fainted and refused to fight against them. Then Lord Krishna imparted knowledge of the Self to Arjuna and convinced him that it was his duty to fight regardless of consequences.
Afterwards Arjuna gave up his Moha, or delusion. All his doubts were cleared. He fought against the Kauravas and achieved victory. The Mahabharata contains also the immortal discourse of Bhishma on Dharma, which he gave to Yudhishthira, when he was lying on the bed of arrows.
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The whole Mahabharata forms an encyclopaedia of history, morals and religion unsurpassed by any other epic in the world. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata speak to us clearly about the ancient India, about her people, her customs, her ways of living, her arts, her civilisation and culture, her manufactures, etc. If you read these two books, you will come to know how great India once was, and you will be inspired to make her great once more.
No other country has produced so many great men, great teachers, great Yogins, great Rishis, great prophets, great Acharyas, great kings, great heroes, great statesmen, great patriots and great benefactors, as India. The more you know of India and Hinduism, the more you will honour and love it and the more thankful to the Lord you will be that you were born in India as a Hindu.