Hinduism refers to our way of life as Sanatan Dharma.
The Vedas are the source scrip-tures of Hindus.
Other peoples religions are however deliberately
misrepresent-ed to gain converts.
has come to mean the religious practices of the people who
inhabit the land called India.
Legend has it that Alexandras army, in its attempt
to conquer the Indian subcontinent, was stopped at the Indus
River. Alexandra and his men described the inhabitants on
the other side of the Indus as Hindus.
The belief is propagated that the Greeks pronounced the
I as H and this led to us being
called Hindus. But our religion stretches far back into
antiquity and we refer to our way of life as Sanatan Dharma.
The Vedas are the source scriptures of Hindus and the supreme
scared knowledge contained in the four collections provide
the anchor upon which subsequent religious and spiritual
experiences have been recorded. The first book is referred
to as the Rig Veda and contains scared songs or hymns of
The Sama Veda comprises a collection of melodies used by
our pundits who chant at the sacrificial fire, while the
Yajur Veda consists of sacrifice formulas. The Atherva Veda
is the fourth collection based on many local traditions
Over a period of thousands of years, the experiences and
spiritual diversities in Hinduism have led to the production
of books that are described as post-Vedic scriptures. The
popular Ramayan and Gita that record the experiences of
Gods incarnate Lord Ram and Lord Krishna lead us right back
to the religious messages of the Vedas.
Those churches that seek to convert the people of the world
to their religion rely on a belief system based on a messenger,
prophet or the book. The messages contained
in these books remain untouchable despite the discovery
of ancient manu-scripts that differ from the word.
Other peoples religions and spiritual experiences,
however, are deliberately misrepresented to gain converts.
Archaeologists use of modern technology continues
in the Middle East but any scientific discovery that is
different from the word or the event
is ignored. Those who wish to convert the world refuse to
acknowledge that spiritual truths were discovered by others
long before the messenger, prophet or the book arrived.
In a quarterly magazine called The Hindu Renaissance, writer
Ram Manohar examines the difference between a belief
system and a knowledge system:
Organised systems of thought and humanity developed through
the ages can be categorised as belief systems or knowledge
A belief system advocates supernatural origins of knowledge.
The concept of divine revelation is central to this system
of thinking. Most of the major religions of the world exemplify
On the other hand, a knowledge system professes natural
origins of knowledge and human agency as the key component
in the process of knowledge acquisition.
Rational systems of thought that were nurtured in ancient
India, Greece and such other parts of the world, and of
course science, illustrate this approach.
In a belief system, the authority of a deified personality
is the ultimate proof for the validity of knowledge. In
very rigid belief systems, a single authority is worshipped
as the ultimate source of knowledge.
In a knowledge system, however, observation and experience
become the criterion for valid knowledge. What cannot be
verified experientially does not constitute knowledge.
A cardinal feature of a belief system is the tendency to
accept a teaching uncritically and without investigation.
Everything is a matter of belief and nothing can be questioned.
A knowledge system accepts a proposition only after a thorough
investigation. Any new suggestion is subjected to critical
inquiry before being accepted as knowledge.
A belief system resists change and does not allow revision
of previously accumulated knowledge. What has been said
once is the final truth.
A knowledge system is typically open to revisions and accumulates
knowledge on the go. Old theories are modified, elaborated
or abandoned and new theories are introduced.
A belief system is not based on any well-defined or rigorous
methodology to acquire and verify knowledge. It just transmits
beliefs from one generation to the other.
In contrast, a knowledge system thrives on rigorous methodology.
Transmission of knowledge itself is a process of verification,
wherein the teaching is subjected to rigorous analysis and
internalised before acceptance.
The message of the Hindus is being recognised by a new survey
of religious affiliation by the Pew Forum on Religion and
Public Life published in the New York Times. Writing about
immigrants to the US, it found:
are the best educated and among the richest religious groups.
Prof Stephan Prothero observed:
the Hindu population is negligible, they (other Christian
groups) wont have to worry about it. But if it is
wealthy, then they may have to pay attention.
n Satnarayan Maharaj is the
secretary general of the
Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha