Hindus are concentrated in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka and these places have been the hot spot of this culture since time immemorial. Unlike other religions, Hinduism does not recognize a single prophet and has multitude of gods and goddesses, mythologically numbering at around 30 millions! Such a figure is given in mythology by people of wisdom who have included all such perceptible forms as things of worship, so that man can see god in them and respect the existence of such all forms (plant, animal, stone, sky, stars, soil, water, rain, fellow human being, etc.
While failing to appreciate such deep meaning of the practices and beliefs, few people from within and outside have started criticizing negatively the Hindu way of life as something of superstition and irrelavancy.The same people have done precious little in appreciating the basic tenets, principles, thoughts, etc. of Hinduism while magnifying the seemingly negative and negative things.
Also, Indian communists never miss an opportunity to point out that the name 'Hindu' or 'Hinduism' is not ancient and that the name has been given by Persian invaders. Yes, it might me true, but the way of life, its culture being followed since thousands of years in India, Nepal and in earlier days, in many other countries surrounding India, does not cease to exist, just because it does not have a indigenous name. For example, though coconut and rice are predominantly grown in south of India, they are mandatory for religious purposes in all parts of the country. Lord Srirama or Sri Krishna, though are believed to hail from the northern India, and are worshipped through out all the three nations.
The Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists, though follow their own religions are still part of the Hindu way of life in that they worship the Hindu gods and goddesses and even name themselves after the Hindu names. Thus the term Hinduism, irrespective of the time and origin, represents the much older native culture and traditions of ancient India, comprising of India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, etc.
Unlike the earlier Islamic invaders, known for violent way of promoting their religion by invading and destroying the local cultures and Christianity which is known for aggressive promotion through missionary activities, Hinduism is never known to have been promoted aggressively or purposively.Hindusim or people of the ancient culture of India have allowed religions like Buddhism to take root in India. In act Buddhism has not been promoted in other countries by Indians who traveled abroad, but it has been taken by those people from other countries who have traveled to India and back to their countries.
Another great aspect of Hinduism is that it has promoted spirituality and recommended restraint in becoming overly materialistic. The knowledge gained by learned people, has been used for general good of the public (such as Ayurveda, Yoga etc). I believe, no other religion or religious literature has such copious mix of spiritualism and knowledge related to daily life applications.
Even many traditional practices, have a scientific background relevant either to the olden times or even the present day. For example cow dung mixed with water is sprinkled in the front yard daily after sweeping and even the mud floors are applied with a dung paste periodically. Sprinkling dung mixed with water is known to be germicidal.
Die hard detractors of Hinduism (read communists of India), should note that the good old traditions cannot be looked with oversight and that Hinduism is not equivalent to casteism alone, which they frequently refer to.
Explaining the Hindu way of life (Dharma)in an article such as this, though may not do justice, it will give insights for further research and understanding the ancient Indian way of life.
Ravikumar Uppaluri holds a Masters degree in Agricultural Sciences and is cofounder of an organization involved in Nature conservation and sustainable development. The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org