Hinduism is an Attitude
Is Hinduism a way of life
Emphatic no, Hinduism is not a way of life. On the contrary it gives complete freedom to live life according to an individual’s choice. In fact it is a chaotic assembly of individuals who are not bound to any core doctrine. Even though there are scriptures specifying ways to conduct life but nobody is bound by these scriptures and hardly anyone follows them. Hinduism is in fact an attitude; an attitude that allows coexistence of myriad ideas often in contradiction to each other.
Hinduism is not a religion
On the contrary it is more than a religion, it is a collection of religions like Buddhism, Jainism, Dvait, Advait and many more each having a complete philosophy of religion.
Hindus worship many Gods
It is true that Hindus worships many Gods but they know that the various Gods they worship are only subordinate Gods something like Angels who have power to bestow boons to make life better. These Gods cannot deliver ultimate salvation in any stream of the various religions. Each of the streams either believes in a supreme entity or such an entity is totally irrelevant in their scheme of things. The subordinate nature of Gods is clearly explained in the ‘Viraat Swaroop’ of Krishna in Bhagvat Gita. Everyone including Brahma and Gods are seen within the open mouth of Krishna, they are all within Krishna not outside of Him. Shiva seems to be the sole exception.
Hindus believe in God
Only a few philosophical streams have existence of God whereas in majority of the streams God is either rejected outright or it has no relevance. But even in those streams where God is acknowledged, the God is not central in a Hindu’s quest. In reality most Hindus believe in God.
Then what is essence of Hindu spiritualism?
It is the self discovery more than realization of God. Most Hindus believe in existence of ‘Atman’ indestructible across death and rebirth. The essence of Hindu philosophy centers on unraveling Atman. It is all about finding oneself the realization of God is a consequence of self discovery.
So anybody who gives space to other faiths is a Hindu?
No, a person should also believe in Dharma to be a Hindu. Dharma is living righteously, not necessarily a theist but live ethically. In reality most Hindus don’t live ethically therefore are not really Hindus.
If Hinduism is so liberal and capable of abstract thought then why rampant tribalism in its practice?
This schizophrenia is result of abstract thought evolving concurrently with tribal practices. Hinduism didn’t borrow tribalism it was born from tribalism, the cult of sacrifice to appease elemental forces were natural corollary to base human fear associating inflicted injury as a consequence of anger of the powerful adversary. Overtime there were too many aberrations in this linear reasoning to explain cause and effect relationship of events therefore more esoteric concepts evolved to explain the nature’s way of working. In addition evolution of human mind was bound to raise questions of occult and at some stage seek meaning of life. Relative peace in the subcontinent and leaving the thinkers alone by warring clans allowed ample time for wise men to evolve abstract concepts of Brahman and Atman to explain meaning of life. When esoteric abstract concepts began to evolve the wise sages did nothing to curb the cult of tribalism as they realized the abstract concepts of Brahman and Atman were too esoteric for the common folks to comprehend. It was natural that at some stage need to synthesize practiced religion with the abstract philosophy would arise. The result of this synthesis was gold plating of tribalism with fine Sanskrit poetry and razzmatazz of elaborate and colorful rituals.