Is Hinduism a religion?
The normal history of the word “Hindu” was used by Greeks to denote the country and people living beyond the Indus river. There is a group of people who support the thought that the word “Hindu” was never used in any native Hindu scriptures.
The original name for this religion is Sanatana Dharma or The Eternal Law. Unfortunately, there is no exact English word that equals the term “Dharma”. Its meaning extends from the moral code of human beings to the instinctive and compulsory nature of animals to the forces that maintain the sun and moon in their orbits. It is derived from the root word ‘Dhri’, meaning ‘that which holds’. So Dharma is ‘that which holds things in order’. The opposite is Adharma, or ‘that which leads to chaos’. So we see that the very name of our religion is a term that covers the phenomenon of time (Eternal) and every scientific law that exists in nature (that which holds the Cosmos and the individual in order). This is far superior to names like Christianity, Islam, Communism, etc. that are centered on a personality, place or fixed concept.
It does not seem that the word Hindu is of recent origin as made popular by a group of historians and scholars, In Vriddha Harita Smriti
Himsayaa Dooyate Yashcha Sadaacharana Tatparah
Veda Go Pratimaa Sevee Sa Hindumukhashabdabhaak.
Meaning: A Hindu is one who shuns violence and earnestly pursues good conduct. He serves the Vedas, the cow (represents Knowledge) and the image of the Lord.
Thus according to definition, a Hindu is someone who is:
- Shuns violence
- Earnestly pursues good conduct
- Serves the Vedas
- Represents Cow (knowledge) and
- Worships the image of the Lord
According to the oxford dictionary Religion is defined as
- “The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.”
- A particular system of faith and worship.
- A pursuit or interest followed with great devotion.
From the definition of religion above and the definition of a Hindu, it is clear that Hinduism is a religion
Apart from the definition of a Hindu, Brihaspathi Agama defines the geographical extent of Hindustan as follows:
Himaalayam Samaarabhya Yaavadindu Sarovaram
Tam Devanirmitam Desham Hindusthaana Prachakshate.
Meaning: That divine land, made by the gods, extending from the Himalayas up to the Indian Ocean, is called Hindustan.
It is clear that Hinduism and Hindustan are clearly defined in the scriptures and not only a culture as propagated by some Abrahamic religious followers, especially Christian missionaries in India.