Lecture: Hinduism, the meaning of “Hind” and “Hindu”
Lecturer: Rito Sengupta
Teach bio: http://peoplescolloquium.org/teacher-bios/
The world’s oldest surviving major religion brings to question the very notion and purpose of religion. With no Holy Truth, no ordained path to “God” and no compulsory notion of “God” itself, Hinduism is an eclectic faith that believes in many and in none. To the health conscious Hinduism may only be a repository of acrobatic poses; to a seeker, it may be a spiritual discourse; to some it is the fountain head of Eastern Philosophy and Theology; to some it is a social system and to some it may be a mumbo-jumbo of customs encumbered by discriminatory hierarchy. Yet, just like the notion of Hinduism, none of these narratives are completely true or completely false. In fact, in the very Vedas and the Upanishads that Hindus considers as their sacred bed-rock: Hinduism does not even exist.
In the first of a series of lectures, we will touch upon the following topics:
(a) The idea of divine in Hinduism
(b) The sanctity of thought: science and non-science in Hinduism
(c) The many sacred texts of Hinduism
Mahabharata, the longest epic of the world, constituting of over 200,000 thousand verses, is but a miniscule fraction of the pre-Christian works on Hinduism, and an even tiny fraction of the entire body of Hindu philosophy that exists to date. Thus, we would not even vaguely expect to skim the ocean of Hinduism. However, we will only look at the topic through the eyes of the narrator, whose endeavors at understanding Hindu philosophy is guided solely by personal curiosity .
(1) S. Radhakrishnan, The Hindu View of Life, London: Geo. Allen & Unwin, 1926.
(2) S. Tharoor, Why I am a Hindu, Aleph Book Company, 2018
(3) E. Eswaran, Essence of the Upanishads, Nilgiri Press, 1981
(4) Mahatma Gandhi, Hindu Dharma, Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House, 1950
(5) Friedrich Max Müller, The Upanishads: Part II, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1884.
(6) François Bernier, Travels in the Mogul Empire, Manchester: Archibald Constable & Company, 1670.