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Article: Criticism of Hinduism
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(Mythology)
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{{about|social and cultural criticism of Hinduism|bias and/or prejudice against Hindus|anti-Hindu}}
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{{about|social and cultural criticism of Hinduism|bias and/or prejudice against Hindus|anti-Hindu}
 
{{Weasel|date=July 2010}}
 
{{Hinduism}}
 
Some of the practices and beliefs held by [[Hinduism|Hindus]] have been criticized, both by Hindus and non-Hindus.
 
Early [[Hindu reformer]]s, such as [[Raja Ram Mohan Roy]], had questioned practices such as [[Sati (practice)|Sati]] and discrimination based on the [[Caste system]] and Jantu Bali i.e. animal sacrifice. However, these are no longer prevalent in Independent India.
 
 
There was no mention of self immolation (Sati) in any of the Hindu scriptures. Social practices evolved to this pass with passage of time particularly with invasion of India by barbarians from foreign lands.<ref>Axel Michaels, ''Hinduism: Past and Present'' 188-97 (Princeton 2004) ISBN 0-691-08953-1</ref><ref>{{Cite web
 
|title=Hindu Wisdom: The Caste System
 
|url=http://www.hinduwisdom.info/Caste_System.htm
 
|accessdate=2006-12-08
 
}}</ref><ref>{{Cite web
 
|title=Caste prejudice has nothing to do with the Hindu scriptures
 
|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/india/story/0,,1967446,00.html
 
|author=Nitin Mehta
 
|publisher=The Guardian
 
|date=2006-12-08
 
|accessdate=2006-12-08
 
}}</ref><ref>{{Cite web
 
|title=Is Caste System Intrinsic to Hinduism? Demolishing a Myth
 
|url=http://www.epw.org.in/showArticles.php?root=2003&leaf=11&filename=6474&filetype=html
 
|author=[[Mangesh V. Nadkarni|M V Nadkarni]]
 
|publisher=Economic and Political Weekly
 
|date=2003-11-08
 
|accessdate=2006-12-08
 
|archiveurl = http://web.archive.org/web/20070312101009/http://www.epw.org.in/showArticles.php?root=2003&leaf=11&filename=6474&filetype=html <!-- Bot retrieved archive --> |archivedate = 2007-03-12}}</ref><ref name="brit">[http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?tocId=9070518 "suttee." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2004] Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.</ref><ref name="rf">[http://www.religionfacts.com/euthanasia/hinduism.htm Euthanasia and Hinduism - ReligionFacts]</ref> Similarly several critics allege that the stringent caste system evolved over several centuries a by-product of the [[Varna in Hinduism|varna system]] that is mentioned in the ancient [[Hindu scripture]]s.<ref>{{Cite web
 
|title=Face to faith
 
|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1951144,00.html
 
|author=David Haslam
 
|publisher=The Guardian
 
|date=2006-11-18
 
|accessdate=2006-12-08
 
}}</ref>
 
 
==Mythology==
 
Hinduism in [[Kali Yuga|Kali era]] is a compilation of Scriptures and philosophies over 5000 years. Hinduism has Theist, Atheist, Vedic, and non-Vedic Scriptures.
 
 
''New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology'' (1977) states: "Indian mythology is an inextricable jungle of luxuriant growths. When you enter it you lose the light of day and all clear sense of direction. In a brief exposition one cannot avoid over-simplification. But at least one can point out how, in the most favorable circumstances, paths may be traced leading to a methodical exploration of this vast domain"<ref>{{Cite book
 
| title = New Larousse Encyclopedia Of Mythology
 
| author = [[Robert Graves]]
 
| publisher = Hamlyn
 
| location = Indian mythology
 
| year = 1977
 
}}</ref>
 
 
Only a true religious person can understand [[Theism|theistic]] Hinduism. Actually,it is based on universal principles of nature,life and universe. For example look their basic mantra i.e. Gayatri Mantra,it is about the Godess Sandhya or gayatri that is morning or evening time it is regarded good time to pray or be calm in every religion or living style/pattern whether human or not.
 
 
==Idol Worship==
 
{{original research|date=May 2012}}
 
Western criticism of Hinduism as superstitious idolatry are based on the religious texts of Abrahamic religions which denounce and condemn the practice of creating Idols and Worshiping them.<ref>Nur Jahan, Empress of Mughal India, Ellison Banks Findly - 1993, Page 192 "His main criticism of Hinduism was its idolatry, and his main criticism of idolatry was not a theological abhorrence of giving the unknowable form, but a visual repulsion at the specific form this particular phenomenalization took"</ref><ref>Orientalism and Religion: Postcolonial Theory, India and 'the Mystic East' - Page 123 by Richard King - 1999, "Thus, under fervent pressure and criticism from Christian missionaries and increasing interest from Orientalists, one finds an emphasis among the various Hindu 'reform' movements on the repudiation of idolatry (particularly in the cases.."</ref> One of the passages in the Bible that criticize idol worship reads as follow.
 
{{Quotation|Their idols are silver and gold, The work of the hands of earthling man. A mouth they have, but they cannot speak; Eyes they have, but they cannot see; Ears they have, but they cannot hear. A nose they have, but they cannot smell. Hands are theirs, but they cannot feel. Feet are theirs, but they cannot walk; They utter no sound with their throat. Those making them will become just like them, All those who are trusting in them.- Psalms 115:4-8}}
 
<ref>[[Bhagavad Gita]], Chapters VIII through XII</ref> Hindu reformist movements in the 18th - 19th centuries such as the [[Brahmo Samaj]] and [[Arya Samaj]], were highly critical of image worship.<ref>{{Cite book|title=Hindu iconoclasts: Rammohun Roy, Dayananda Sarasvati and nineteenth-century polemics against idolatry|last=Salmond |first=Noel Anthony|authorlink= |coauthors= |year=2004|publisher=Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press|isbn=0-88920-419-5 |page= 65|chapter=3. Dayananda Saraswati|url=http://books.google.com/?id=wxjArixq5hcC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Swami+Dayananda+Saraswati&cd=57#v=onepage&q=Swami%20Dayananda%20Saraswati&f=false |ref= }}</ref> The [[11 th century]] [[Persian people|Persian]] scholar, [[Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī]], was the first non-Indian to analyze Hinduism in the context of idol worship while translating the works of Hindu cleric [[Patanjali]] from [[Sanskrit]] to [[Persian language|Persian]]. He concluded:
 
{{Quotation|The Hindus believe with regard to God that he is one, eternal, without beginning and end, acting by free-will, almighty, all-wise, living, giving life, ruling, preserving; one who in his sovereignty is unique, beyond all likeness and unlikeness, and that he does not resemble anything nor does anything resemble.<ref name="fravahr.org">Biruni and the study of non-Islamic Religions by Professor [[W. Montgomery Watt]] at [http://www.fravahr.org/spip.php?article31].</ref>}}
 
 
However the truth is, although Vedas describe God as a power beyond imagination, they do not reject Idol Worship. In Puja Vidhaan/Prakriya, there is a host of procedures such as (1).Suchi i.e. cleanliness, use of silks, (2). Muhurat i.e. Auspicious Timing (3).Guru vandanam(4).Symbols such as wearing preferably silks, donning tilak or decoration of the pooja griha and mandir with lights, flowers & rangoli (5). Solemnising the diety - avaahana (invitation), sthaapan (installation) and puja (worship). (3). Use of 'puja dravya' such as ganga jal, akshata, kumkum, turmeric, panchamrita et., (6).Invocation through mantras or dhyanam i.e. silent meditation (7).'kirtans / bhajans' i.e. transcendental experience (7). Gifts to friends & relatives and Charity to the poor. Inter alia, the idol becomes an interface with the God - although He is formless the devotee can conjure the Lord of his definition in all his grandeur, power and divine attributes like karuna and kripa. That 'He' is formless is known to every Hindu but idol worship is one of the several ingredients of Bhakti to enable mortal beings of different backgrounds and limitations to approach and experience Him the one Supreme Being.
 
 
Christopher John Fuller, professor of anthropology at London School of Economics notes that an image cannot be equated with a deity and the object of worship is the deity whose power is inside the image, and the image is not the object of worship itself.[8] It is that mind and soul are thrown into the idol in the same manner as a ventriloquist throws his voice into a nearby person.
 
 
In fact A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada translates the Bhakti Yoga the essence of which was delivered by Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita, "Be steadfast in yoga (yoga-sthaḥ), O Arjuna. Perform your duty (kuru karmani) and gain knowledge of the ultimate truth about me and abandon all attachment (sangam) to success or failure (siddhy-asiddhyoḥ). Such evenness of mind (samatvam) is called yoga." This higher level knowledge is since time immemorial. It is well known that Lord Sri Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, worshipped Lord Shiva at [[Rameswaram]] - before the war making a 'Saikatha Lingam' to grant him victory and once again after the victory to absolve him any sins that he might have committed during his war against the demon king Ravana in Srilanka.
 
 
Criticism is levelled by those whose understanding of Sanskrit and the full theme of Hindu Ideology is poor and that's the reason many scholars have asserted that the notion carried by Abrahamic religions about Hindu Idol Worship is wrong and misleading.{{cn|date=May 2012}}.
 
 
==Varna System==
 
{{See also|Varna in Hinduism}}
 
Caste system is a popularly pracitised system in hinduism however Vedas which are considered to be fountain head of all disciplines never uses the word jati(birth based categorization) rather it uses the word varna (grade/knowledge based categorization) and classifies man on the basis of knowledge. When a baby is born he is considered to be "shudra" lowest level of knowledge but when that baby comes to know the secret of '''"Brahmanda"''' and the Creator '''"Brahman"''' he attains highest level of knowledge i.e. he or that person becomes '''"Brahmin"'''.
 
Some common examples are:
 
'''"Aitareya Rishi was son of a Daasa or criminal but became a Brahmin of highest order and wrote Aitareya Brahman and Aitareyopanishad. Aitareya Brahman is considered critical to understand Rigveda."'''''
 
 
'''Ailush Rishi was son of a Daasi, gambler and of low character. However he researched on Rigveda and made several discoveries. Not only was he invited by Rishis but also made an Acharya. (Aitareya Brahman 2.19)'''''
 
The [[Hindu]] system of [[Varna in Hinduism|varnas]] identified four varnas in [[India]]n society.<ref>Keay, pp. 53-54.</ref> The term ''varna'' is sometimes used synonymously with "caste" or "class"<ref name="Flood, p. 58">Flood, p. 58.</ref> The [[Sanskrit]] term for [[caste]], in the sense of social categories, is ''{{IAST|jāti}}''.<ref name="Flood, p. 58"/><ref>Apte, p. 451.</ref> In historical Indic traditions the varna and caste systems are not the same system, although they are related.<ref>[[Mark Juergensmeyer]] (2006) The [[Oxford]] Handbook of Global Religions (Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology), p. 54</ref> The classical authors scarcely speak of anything other than the varnas. Indologists sometimes confuse the two.<ref name="Chicago">{{Cite book|author=[[Louis Dumont|Dumont, Louis]] |title=Homo hierarchicus: the caste system and its implications |publisher=University of Chicago Press |location=Chicago |year=1980 |pages=66–67 |isbn=0-226-16963-4 |postscript=<!--None-->}}</ref> Type (''varna'') obligations were a major concern of the Dharma Sutras and Dharma Shastras, where fulfillment of one's obligation (''dharma'') with regard to class (''varna'') and stage of life (''ashrama'') was a sign of brahmanical orthopraxy.<ref name="Flood, p. 58"/> The four varnas are in descending hierarchical sequence: [[Brahmin]], [[Kshatriya]], [[Vaishya]], and [[Shudra]] or the priests, warriors, business people and laborers. There was no varna like untouchable in Hinduism. The untouchables are considered a lower section of [[Shudra]] ([[Dalit]]) and was prevalent during the general deterioration of Indian society in middle age. The Varnabahya (outcast) is the one who never lived in cities and thus never became part of the Varna system. Many tribals ([[Adivasis]]) were Varnabahya. Varnabahya is not to be confused with untouchable. The varna system resulted in a great deal of social oppression and mistreatment of the lowest ranked castes, the Shudras (Dalits). As a result, [[Hinduism]] and the implementation of the caste system are often criticized for allowing oppression of people of lower castes, even though the original design of the caste system was not intended to harm or oppress.
 
 
Hindu religious [[literature]], such as the [[Rig Veda]], suggests that the original varna system was based on a flexible system, where people joined a varna and a related occupation based on their skills, qualities, and nature. However, over time, the varna system transformed into a rigid caste system, preventing the 'lower' classes (also called the 'backward castes') from rising. This caste system has gone beyond Hindus and includes Dalit or lower caste people in other religions like [[Islam]], [[Christianity]], [[Sikhism]], etc. in India, [[Pakistan]] and other countries in the [[Indian subcontinent]]. Discrimination against classes began as a result of this rigid fixing of the caste system. Also, religious literature suggests that the inclusion of Dalits ('untouchables') outside of the caste system was a later addition, not part of the original system.
 
 
Untouchables used to live separately within a separate subcultural context of their own, outside the inhabited limits of villages and townships. No other castes would interfere with their social life since untouchables were lower in social ranking than even those of the shudra varna. As a result, Dalits were commonly banned from fully participating in Hindu religious life (they could not pray with the rest of the social classes or enter the religious establishments).
 
   
 
The inclusion of lower castes into the mainstream was argued for by [[Mahatma Gandhi]] who called them "[[Harijans]]" (people of God). The term Dalit is used now as the term Harijan is largely felt patronizing. As per Gandhi's wishes, reservation system with percentage quotas for admissions in universities and jobs has been in place for many lower castes since independence of India to bring them to the upper echelons of society. Dalit movements have been created to represent the views of Dalits and combat this traditional [[oppression]]. Caste-based discrimination is [[Caste system among South Asian Muslims|not unique to Hindus]] in India; [[religious conversion|convert]]s to other religions and their descendants frequently preserve such social stratification.<ref name="RG">{{Cite book
 
The inclusion of lower castes into the mainstream was argued for by [[Mahatma Gandhi]] who called them "[[Harijans]]" (people of God). The term Dalit is used now as the term Harijan is largely felt patronizing. As per Gandhi's wishes, reservation system with percentage quotas for admissions in universities and jobs has been in place for many lower castes since independence of India to bring them to the upper echelons of society. Dalit movements have been created to represent the views of Dalits and combat this traditional [[oppression]]. Caste-based discrimination is [[Caste system among South Asian Muslims|not unique to Hindus]] in India; [[religious conversion|convert]]s to other religions and their descendants frequently preserve such social stratification.<ref name="RG">{{Cite book
Reason: ANN scored at 0.934764
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Reporter: Bradley (anonymous)
Date: Wednesday, the 21st of October 2015 at 05:59:34 PM
Status: Reported
Monday, the 10th of September 2012 at 11:40:12 PM #88201
Anonymous (anonymous)

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Wednesday, the 21st of October 2015 at 05:59:34 PM #101672
Bradley (anonymous)

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