Why Hinduism is the most Liberal religion?

You might be wondering how a certain religion can be liberal. There is hype on the web, as well as in India, that Hindu fundamentalists are not liberal.  Gurucharan Das says [6] “With the rise in religious fundamentalism around the world, it is increasingly difficult to talk about one’s deepest beliefs.”

Fundamentalism can be termed as a belief system. The fundamentals are the basic principles defining the structure of any existence. They are the essential ingredients to construct any theory. Thus one needs to fathom the fundamentals first to grasp any subject. It is like mathematics rather than physical science. The principles of mathematics are absolute whereas the principles of physical sciences are not, they exists relative to some reference point. Thus in my opinion, any belief in the fundamentals, be it mathematics, science or religion, which allows you to perform the basic discourse, can be termed as fundamentalism.

Liberalism is an ideology, broad political tradition, and current of political thought, which holds liberty as the primary political value. Broadly speaking, liberalism seeks a society characterized by freedom of thought for individuals, limitations on the power of government and religion (and sometimes corporations), the rule of law, the free exchange of ideas, a market economy that supports private enterprise and a system of government that is transparent. This form of government favors liberal democracy with open and fair elections, where all citizens have equal rights by law, and an equal opportunity to succeed. Liberalism rejects many foundational assumptions, such as the Divine Right of Kings, hereditary status, and established religion. Fundamental human rights that all liberals support include the right to life, liberty, and property. [5]

Hindu philosophy is incomparably greater intellectual work. It is termed as “Dharma” which means “that which upholds supports or maintains the regulatory order of the universe”. It is a doctrine of service to mankind. It teaches that there is no eternal hell or damnation and every soul has the capacity to realize the Truth. It encourages each soul to find its own way and path whether through devotion, austerity, meditation or selfless service. Good conduct, love of all living and inanimate things, non-violence and law of Dharma define the Hindu path to salvation. [4]

Dharma” is derived from the root Sanskrit word “dhri” which means “to hold together”. It has a wider meaning than the word “religion”. There is no equivalent word for Dharma either in English or in any other language. In this sense, Hinduism is not a religion; it’s a “Dharma”. Those who profess the Hindu Dharma and seek to follow it, are guided by spiritual, social and moral values, actions, knowledge and duties which are responsible for holding the human race together. [3]

According to Swami Sivananda [7], “Hinduism allows absolute freedom to the rational mind of man. It never demands any undue restraint upon the freedom of human reason, the freedom of thought, feeling and will of man. Hinduism is a religion of freedom, allowing the widest margin of freedom in matters of faith and worship. It allows absolute freedom of human reason and heart with regard to such questions as to the nature of God, soul, form of worship, creation, and the goal of life. It does not force anybody to accept particular dogmas or forms of worship. It allows everybody to reflect, investigate, enquire and cogitate.” [3]

Among all religions of the world, Hinduism is considered as an ancient religion that is recognized as the foundation of civilization and as the most liberal democratic way of life. Hindu scriptures encouraged equality, freedom of mind, expression, self-discipline, and righteous values for a just and equitable society to provide social justice. Hindu society adopted the principle of universal well-being, equality and brotherhood in her customs, traditions, rituals and festivals. [2]

Hindu society is the only society that propagated the slogan of ‘वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम (world is a family) at the dawn of civilization, implying that entire universe is one large family where everyone has to play the assigned role for the wellbeing of all. [2]

In summary, the Hindu fundamentalists who believe in “Hinduism” to perform their daily discourse of “Dharma” are classical Liberals in the entire universe.

Their simple mantra is “जियो और जीने दो” (Let live and let others live). They do not want to impose their theories on anybody, as other religious dogma does, and not to pronounce that their ways are superior. They believe that Hinduism is their only way to attain perfect harmony in life. It is the fundamentals of their science which allows them to draw energy from the universe to create, support, maintain and regulate their life.

P.S: Mostly, history is written by the “WAR” in the rest of the world, but the history of India is written by the “SPIRIT” shaped by the spritual leaders. This is the reason India is called the empire of spirits. The spirit of India is “Hinduism” a liberal way of “LIFE”. 

[1] http://www.dlshq.org/religions/hinduism.htm

[2] http://www.weeklyblitz.net/670/hinduism-is-the-foundation-of-civilization

[3]  http://hinduism.about.com/cs/basics/a/aa060303a.htm

[4] http://www.boloji.com/index.cfm?md=Content&sd=Articles&ArticleID=1494

[5] http://www.hinduism-guide.com/hinduism/liberalism.htm

[6] http://gurcharandas.blogspot.com/2009/06/dilemma-of-liberal-hindu.html

[7] http://www.sivananda.org/teachings/swami-sivananda.html

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