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Who is a Hindu?: Hindu revivalist views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism and other offshoots of Hinduism
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Author : Koenraad Elst
Pages : x,358p., bib., ind., 23cm.
Year : 2002
ISBN : 9788185990743, 8185990743
Publisher : Voice of India
Place : New Delhi
Binding : Hardcover
Price (Airmail) : INR 564.00
About the book:

As part of their entrenched power position, the British colonizers and later their Nehruvian successors have always tried to control the discourse on religion. Among other concerns, they have seen to it that the term Hindu got divorced from its historical meaning, which quite inclusively encompassed all Indian Pagans, in order to fragment Hindu society. In parallel with their effort to pit caste against caste, they have tried to pit sect against sect, offering nurture to the egos of sect leaders by telling them that in fact they were popes in their own right of full-fledged religions, equal in status but morally superior to Hinduism. Hindu Revivalists have countered this effort by reaffirming the basic Hindu character of tribal Animism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism and more recent reformist sects. A more practical way of dealing with the question whether given sects are Hindu or not, is to study the specific claims made by the separatist ideologues of the communities concerned. When we do so, we find that Hindu Revivalist critique has pin-pricked (though not yet exhaustively) some of the cheap modern apologetics by which community leaders want to affirm the uniqueness and superiority of their own tradition as compared to Hinduism. This is especially true of the number one selling argument of all non-Hindu or would-be non-Hindu religions in India: that they, unlike Hinduism, are egalitarian. If a man is poor and without social posit the Self can be expressed equally well in polytheistic as well as monotheistic terms, and that One God or Many Gods are opposed only on the mental plane while they meet in the unity of the Spirit. Fourthly, it invites us to extend this new approach to promote an understanding of several existing religions and many classical religions of the past--of Egypt, Iran, Greece and Rome. Such a study should help the modern Europeans to have a better understanding of their old Gods as also of the Gods of the Africans and American Indians. Finally, though briefly, the book offers a practical advice. A meditation on the Names and Attributes of Gods has a transforming power not only for the individual but also for his physical, social and cultural environment. As an individual's consciousness is purified and raised by meditation on the Names of Gods, he becomes increasingly aware of the inertias and impurities around himself and is activated towards achieving a spiritually meaningful environment.
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