India has the hoary history of civilization, culture and religions. Hinduism constitutes the religion of the majority population of this country though other religions are given the due importance. Hindus constitute about 80.5% of India’s population.This religion has a cosmopolitan outlook respecting the ideologies of other religious groups as evidence by the co-existence of people following their own faiths. This implies the tolerance and cooperation by the people following Hinduism: A unique feature of the Hindu religion which you wouldn’t find in any other part of the world.
The basic tenets of Hinduism indicate that each individual can worship any god of his/her choice by adopting any methods to practice it. That’s why this religion has thousands of gods though only two major sects as Saivism (worship of God Shiva) and Vaishnavism (veneration of God Vishnu) exist with rituals and traditions peculiar to a region or society. So, there should not be any harm or disrespect to the beliefs and methods of others following that sect or religion. Naturally, each person respects other religion and its practices.
Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism emerged in India only. Foreign religions of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc. have spread here as the local people adapted them purely based on their own volition. Religions other than Hinduism are treated as a minority. However, members of such religions enjoy special rights and privileges in India. Government grant exclusive funds to the people of Islam and Christianity to undertake holy pilgrimages to Mecca and Bethlehem.
Numerous foreign invaders did plunder the abundant wealth of India. Persians, Afghans, Mongolians, Britons, Dutch and French people landed in this country and destabilized the oldest, but intelligent political, economic and religious systems of the world. These invaders established and made all efforts to spread their religion, but no appreciable resistance ever came from Hindus.
Principle of Equality is the hallmark of Hinduism. Even the creatures and matter in Nature are given equal importance as they are considered to be the creations of the Almighty. Animals and Birds are used as carriers of the Gods as depicted in the scriptures and the temples of the Hindus: Bull as God Shiva’s vehicle, Lion for Shakthi, Mouse for Ganesha, Peacock for Muruga, Eagle for Vishnu, etc.. The leaves, flowers and fruits of many trees are used in the daily worship at home and in the temples. Some examples are Coconuts, Banana fruit, Betel leaf, Areca nut, fruit, Jasmine and Lotus flowers. The holistic approach can be understood from the gardens maintained inside many temples.
The present Constitution of India also maintains the past tradition of respecting the citizens’ freedom to life. Any person, irrespective of the religious or cultural lineage, feels proud to be called as ‘ Indian.’ Really, India is an incredible country having unity in diversity with Hinduism serving as the strongest underlying link.
On the occasion of Independence Day, let’s remember the Five Golden Principles of Mahatma Gandhi that motivated millions of people towards securing Independence of India are.
1) Patience: enabled him to be tolerant during the tough situations.
2) Perseverance: determined and repeated efforts proved successful
3) Principled: Simplicity and Humility are hall marks.
4) Peace lover: Led to the concepts of Non-Violence(Ahimsa) and Non-Coopeartion Movements against British Government. But at the same time, he volunteered to serve the soldiers during the war time also.
5) Pious; acted based on the inner instinct or call , which he identifies as God. This manifested as Honesty to the core.
These principles form the best of Gandhiji’s life which we should cherish and follow for leading a simple and complete life.
(Author is a Ex-Banker and can be contacted on [email protected])