I have explained in detail about the word religion, it’s essence, relevance, misuse and misinterpretation, in my previous blog post. In this post, let us understand the meaning, genesis, essence of Hinduism. This is from my point-of-view after reading various ancient scriptures, understanding and limited knowledge of the subject.
The term Hindu has been coined recently, as recent as some 2,000 years. And moreover, this word was framed to be used for political reasons few years ago; by dirty cum smart politicians. Anyway, the original name is Sanatana Dharma that means eternal duty or order. In the past many traders used to come here for trading; especially from Persia. They had to cross river Sindhu to enter. They couldn’t pronounce S properly and used H instead of S. This way Sindhu became Hindu and the land across river Sindhu became Hindustan. Thus, Hindustan, which is also another name for India, is nothing to do with a particular community living here but just a deviation of name that couldn’t be pronounced people and a geographic region. Period.
Respect all irrespective of their work. Yajurveda 16:27.
The heart of Hinduism is forgiveness, kindness, compassion and gratitude—it’s a science of salvation. You can worship anything you like, not worship anything you like, in all situation you can still be a Hindu. You’re a Hindu irrespective of what your belief systems are. You can follow any other way of living, even atheism is allowed. No strings attached and if you find anyone saying things that are out of the context of my article, ask them a valid written proof.
Hinduism does indicate that human beings are completely responsible for their actions and the paths they chose to lead their lives. It gives them complete freedom to follow their inherent nature and explore their inner world to arrive at the absolute truth about themselves and their existence.
Let us remember that Hinduism does not prescribe anyway of life, but a way of life which is in harmony with the eternal law of God as prescribed in the ancient texts, especially the Vedas and the other literature.
Women in ancient India enjoyed high status in society. Their condition was good. The women were provided opportunity to attain high intellectual and spiritual standard. Though monogamy was mostly common, some section of the society indulged in polygamy. There was no system of early marriage.
But from enjoying free and esteemed positions in the society, women started being discriminated against—in education and other rights and facilities. Child marriage, widow burning and polygamy further worsened the women’s position. Apart from child marriage, prostitution and Devadasi system became widespread.
There are some bright exceptions in this dismal picture. The role of women in Ancient Indian literature is immense. Ancient India had many learned ladies. There were two types of scholarly women—who never married and cultured the Vedas throughout their lives; and who studied the Vedas till they married. Ancient Indian grammarian—Panini—mentioned of female students’ studying Vedas. King Ashoka got his daughter inducted into preaching Buddhism. From the Jain texts, we learn about the one princess who remained a spinster to study religion and philosophy. Often, Buddhist nuns composed hymns. Women did write Sanskrit plays and verses, excelled in music, painting and other fine arts.
Women often enjoyed prominent roles in politics. Women from the aristocratic classes enjoyed education and other privileges but the common woman still suffered ignominy, deprivation and hurdles.
Women could shine as debaters in public assemblies. They usually occupied a prominent place in social gatherings but they were denied entry, into the meetings because these places besides being used for taking political decisions were also used for gambling, drinking and such others purposes. Women’s participation in public meetings and debates, however, became less and less common gradually.
It may thus be concluded that in ancient India, women did not enjoy an inferior status rather they occupied an honorable place. They had ample rights in the social and the religious fields and limited rights in the economic and the political fields. They were not treated as inferior or subordinate but equal to men.