The Sermon on the Mount is one of the most commented upon and interpreted biblical passages, yet in a real sense Gandhi's interpretation of it represents a unique and significant point in the reception history of the Bible as a whole. Here we have a Christian scripture being reverently received and dynamically applied by a man who remained all his life a devoted adherent of the Hindu faith. This article argues that Gandhi's particular responses to the concepts contained in the Sermon on the Mount must be understood not only in the context of his dialogue with Christianity, but in the terms of his own Hindu faith as he understood and lived it. His interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount can only be properly understood through analysis of how he applied it in his political campaigns in South Africa and India. In this context it is important to consider what the text meant to Gandhi himself; what it meant to his, at least nominally Christian, opponents; and how it impacted on the struggle and dialogue between them.
For more than 2,000 years, Hindu communities have flourished outside the subcontinent of India. Despite the prohibitions against traveling across the ocean found in many Hindu texts, Indians settled in Malaysia and Singapore probably before the first millennium CE. Trading communities seem to have been set up in Cambodia by the first century CE. In the nineteenth century, indentured workers arrived in Fiji and in the Caribbean. By the time indentured labor was abolished in 1919, there were more than 60,000 Indians in Fiji. Hindus, who had come to work on plantations, settled in Uganda and other African countries in the early twentieth century and eventually became successful business entrepreneurs. Many kinds of Hindu communities exist in the United States. Perhaps the most noticeable feature of Hindu communities that settled outside of India is the tremendous time, monies, and energy expended on the building of temples. Just as the Hindu tradition appropriated and utilized print and audiovisual technologies, the Internet revolution has also been used to help articulate traditions and create communities.
David M. Knipe
In a survey of the extensive, complex, and cumulative history of Hinduism, it might be opportune to divide personal and cosmic eschatologies. Similarly, it could be convenient to separate the early from the classical history of Hinduism and concentrate solely on the latter. The early history, framed by a sacrificial world view and veering toward an almost mechanistic understanding of gods and the cosmos, is entirely dependent upon the eternal Vedas. With certain sectarian and modernizing exceptions, a generally acknowledged set of contemporary Hindu beliefs and practices would include the following: acceptance of the Vedas as basic authority, belief in transmigration and the effects of human action (karma) on rebirths, devoted recognition of certain divine beings (gods, goddesses, living and departed saints), acknowledgment of a class and caste social hierarchy, ritual attention to ancestors, and a general understanding of life as moral progress toward an eventual liberation from rebirths. This article examines Hindu eschatology, focusing on Hindu beliefs such as immortality, metaphors of regeneration, brahman, Aranyakas, Upanishads, classical Sanskrit texts, preta, and world dissolution.
Religious diversity is a central issue in the study of religion. To begin with, there are the diverse religions that are conventionally listed minimally as Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism. But the more we extend the scope of the term “religions,” the greater the diversity. But whereas in the other traditions, religious diversity has happened in spite of their centralizing beliefs and practices and is historical in nature, within Hinduism, it is theological and philosophical in nature, a nature that finds expression in its history. The tolerant and even welcoming attitude toward religious diversity is evidenced in Hinduism at several levels: deities, scriptures, scriptural interpretation, sects, and so on. The religious variety within Hinduism has had profound implications for the way it looks at other religious traditions. It tends to view these traditions as a further extension of its own variety and, therefore, in principle capable of being assimilated within it. This has major implications for Hindu identity.
O. P. Dwivedi
A society's cultural and spiritual underpinnings of environmental stewardship can be a solid source of strength as well as a benefit to that society. One does not have to go too far to locate such underpinnings, because each society's spiritual heritage can be used to provide new ways of valuing, thinking, and acting that are necessary to nurture the respect for nature and to be prepared to avert future ecological disasters. Hinduism (as well as other world religions in their own way) offers a unique set of moral values and rules to guide human beings in their relationship with the environment. This essay examines the Hindu concept of divinity being present in creation and as such exhortations for Hindus to treat nature with respect, the concept of an extended family of Mother Earth, our dharma and karma to the environment, and environmental challenges facing Hindus and India.
Emotion is viewed in both positive and negative ways in the Hindu religious and philosophical traditions. In those traditions that are more ascetic and emphasize mental control, emotions are distractions which need to be stilled. In those traditions that emphasize love of a deity, emotions are valuable—but they must be directed and transformed. However, in order to study emotion in the Hindu tradition, we must first look at the meaning of the term “Hinduism.” There are at least six major types of Hinduism: Hindu folk religion, Vedic religion, Vedantic Hinduism, yogic Hinduism, dharmic Hinduism, and bhakti or devotional Hinduism. All of these involve emotion in various ways, but two traditions—those of Bengali Vaishnavism and raja yoga—have written about emotion in greatest depth. This article examines what the term “emotion” means in India, and then describes the beliefs about emotion in Vaishnavism and Yoga in greater detail. In discussing the nature of emotion, it considers bhava and rasa. Finally, the article discusses the literature on emotion in Hindu tradition, focusing on religious poetry.
Over the course of 3000 years, Hindu intellectual culture has not only embraced differing notions of the divine, but also a variety of different ‘atheisms’—the most famous of these being the Carvaka, or Lokayata, school. This essay charts the history of Hindu ‘atheism’ in the various forms it has taken from the classical to modern periods, including scepticism regarding the supernatural, the soul and an afterlife, non-theistic approaches to divinity, and critical or subversive responses to religion. It also engages with and explains a number of key ideas within Hindu thought and practice, including Dharma and personalism. Finally it outlines a ‘Hindu axis of atheism’ by highlighting some of the key themes on which Indian critiques have centred.
The notion of conversion is closely associated with a particular notion of religion, namely, that the membership of a religion involves exclusive religious identity, as is typically the case with the Abrahamic religions. The idea of conversion from one religion to another makes eminent sense in such a context and so does the idea of proselytization. Hinduism as a religion, however, is typically quite comfortable with multiple religious participation, multiple religious affiliation, and even with multiple religious identity. This chapter explores the significance of this feature of Hinduism for understanding the word “conversion,” especially as this feature of Hinduism is shared by several Asian religions.
Guy L. Beck
This chapter discusses the theoretical and practical dimensions of music in Hinduism, including the philosophy of sacred sound (Nāda-Brahman), the aesthetics of rasa (“taste”), the rise of Saṅgīta (music) as a component of pūjā (worship) and early drama, the Sanskrit musical treatises of Bharata and Dattila, the development of rāga (melodic pattern) and tāla (rhythmic cycle) from early scales and Sāma-Gāna (Sama-Veda chant), musical instruments, bhakti (devotion), and various classical and devotional genres of Bhakti-Saṅgīta, including Kriti, Dhrupad, Khyāl, Haveli-Saṅgīta, Samāj-Gāyan, Bhajan, and Nām-Kīrtan, within southern (Carnatic) and northern (Hindustani) traditions. Music is essential to Hindu mythology, where divine beings perform and instruct humans in the gentle art that facilitates both enjoyment (bhukti) and liberation (mukti). Prevalent in sacrifices, temple rites, domestic worship, sectarian movements and films, music is invariably part of Hindu worship in India or the Diaspora.
Hinduism represents the religion and philosophy that originated in India. It is the religion of 16 per cent of the world's population, and India is home to more than 90 per cent of the world's Hindus. Today many historians and philosophers of science have started reviewing the dynamic events and historical processes that led to what is called the European Enlightenment and modern science. This article focuses on how Hinduism as a religion has coexisted with scientific pursuits, the underpinnings of such partnerships, and the significant contributions of such dialogues to the current engagements between science and spirituality. The discussion follows how apparently different enterprises of experience and reporting of experience were given a common space, as well as what the areas of convergence are that Hinduism posits for dialogues between and within science and spirituality. The article particularly looks at the Vedantic (Upanishads) tradition.