Not only does this word help a vast people affiliate themselves with the same theological faith but also does it pronounce the way to lead the perfect life on earth, given the follies and foibles life encompasses as well as the problems that people are accosted with. Again, as mentioned, Hinduism is no mere binding force that includes people from diverse backgrounds but is like a salad bowl wherein the individualities can be ascertained very easily though they appear to be part of a single entity. This is one unique feature of Hinduism and has lent unity in diversity to the religion. Lipner (2004), in his celebrated book, Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, asserts the true meaning of Hinduism. The author is of the opinion that Hinduism as a term in the general order of terms belonging to the ‘ism’ category is unique and differs from all others in form as well as content. According to Lipner (2004), Hinduism is like a banyan tree with all its branches. The simile of the banyan tree has been well explained by the author when he opines that the religion is basically an amalgamation of various ancient roots and branches, essentially “polycentric” though united as well as indistinguishable at times and “macrocosmically one”. This pattern of diversity is unique and lends variety to the same. However, he has also opined that the simile of the banyan tree is not applicable from all points of views. Since a banyan tree looks the same from all angles, so the simile of the banyan tree cannot be said to be apt from all view points since in case of Hinduism the point of view changes from time to time depending on the basis on which we are trying to take a look at Hinduism as a banyan tree. A further explanation of the reason why Hinduism does not appear to be a banyan tree is because though it may be a homogenous entity since the word Hindu refers to people belonging to a single faith, however, it is also a block reality (Lipner, 2004). Other theoreticians have also echoed the same thoughts as well as philosophies. Smith (1964) has been of the opinion that Hinduism is something that does not exist in reality given the fact that this particular word envisages encompassing so diverse a range of meanings in itself that it is but an impossible pursuit. Vertovec (2000) has interestingly noted his own interpretation of Hinduism. The author mentions that his definition of a Caribbean Hindu is not one who continually changes as per the demands of the situation but adapts to the social practices that he or she is in and also negotiates one’s position with the externalities that befall the Hindu individual. This again points out to the fact that not only in India but the world over, Hindus or followers of Hinduism have exhibited the same pattern of behavior. This natural propensity towards diversity is what sets Hinduism apart from all other reasons. Lipner (2004) has given another very interesting definition that Hinduism stands for a “family of culturally similar traditions”. This is indeed enough to give us initial insight into what Hinduism actually is. Of course, the homogeneity of existence among the followers of Hinduism becomes apparent. However, it also becomes clear that more than the existence of God or the convergence of religious beliefs, this is one religion that is enmeshed with the social life of the population and this is exactly
The term Hinduism, as per popular belief, casts an image of a religion practiced by a vast majority of Indians and is regarded as one of the oldest in the world. However, contrary to popular belief, Hinduism is not just a religion offering a common God or Gods to worship or even a congregation of people sharing the same religious ideology but much more than that…
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