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Post on Hinduism (Vincent Littrell, Belgium)
Created by John Eipper on 09/08/06 7:27 AM - on-hinduism-vincent-littrell-belgium

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on Hinduism (Vincent Littrell, Belgium) (John Eipper, USA, 09/08/06 7:27 am)

Vincent Littrell wrote, in response to Ronald Hilton's comments on

In my view, Hinduism as all other great religions should not be viewed
monolithically. There are strands of Hinduism that are highly spiritual
and don't hold to suttee, caste, etc... An interpretation of Hinduism I
highly admire (to the limited degree I understand it, anyway) is that
which was practiced by Mahatma Ghandi. Ghandi did not believe in the caste
system or Suttee. His view on religion was highly eclectic and all
inclusive, as he focused on spirituality as being the driving force in
religious endeavor vice dogma. He viewed Muslims and Christians as
brothers and sisters in spirit. I have read an English translation of the
*Bhagavad Ghita*, and find it a most interesting work. I detect spiritual
monotheism as an underlying aspect to the work, and there are monotheistic
threads in Hinduism.
Hindu philosophical tradition is deep and vastly intellectual. In my
limited reading of Hindu spiritual teaching and culture, spiritual "inner"
Hinduism has many parallels to Christian mysticism, Islamic Sufism, Baha'i
spirituality, and Judaic Kabbalism. Again this leads to the issue of the
need to come to terms about what constitutes a true religion. Are what I
view to be traditional superstitious practices like caste and suttee to be
associated religiously with the vast spiritual and moral tradition that
has so elevated Hindu religion and civilization for thousands of years? I
don't believe so. There are Hindus who believe Suttee is morally wrong
because suicide is against Hindu teaching as set forth in the Shastras,
the Hindu code of conduct.
The perfect example of how Hinduism cannot be viewed monolithically is to
be seen with the assassination of Mahatma Ghandi. His ecumenical vision,
his disdain for dogmatically driven political currents in less spiritually
minded Hindus, and his belief in the necessity for unity amongst all
Indians no matter their religious preference was viewed as anathema by
"Hindu" nationalists who then killed him. In my view true religion, and
therefore true Hinduism, is to be found more closely aligned with the
altruism of Mahatma Ghandi than the nationalistic narrowness of political
Hinduism, or what I view as the superstitious traditions of caste and
JE comments: A "googling" of suttee/sati links one to several websites
which emphatically deny that the practice is part of "true" Hindu
teaching. I am reminded (oops--I might have opened up a can o' worms
here) of a similar discrediting among today's Mormon/LDS faithful of the
polygamy practiced by their 19th-century ancestors. I ask: shouldn't all
religions, including Roman Catholicism and the "mainstream" Protestant
churches, own up to the more nefarious aspects of their own pasts?

For information about the World Association of International Studies
(WAIS), and its online publication, the World Affairs Report, read its
homepage by simply double-clicking on: http://wais.stanford.edu/

John Eipper, Editor-in-Chief, Adrian College, MI 49221 USA

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