religion widely practiced in the Indian subcontinent

Hinduism is a religious tradition which originated in the Indian subcontinent in ancient times, often referred as Sanātana Dharma (सनातन धर्म) by many of its practitioners, a Sanskrit phrase meaning "the eternal principle." Having over 1 billion adherents, it is counted at one of the most popular religions, and often referred as "oldest religion".

I think I have understood Hinduism correctly when I say that it is eternal, all-embracing and flexible enough to suit all situations. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Hinduism is a relentless pursuit after truth and if today it has become moribund, inactive, irresponsive to growth, it is because we are fatigued. As soon as the fatigue is over, Hinduism will burst forth upon the world with a brilliance perhaps never known before. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
The Hindu religion appears … as a cathedral temple, half in ruins, noble in the mass, often fantastic in detail but always fantastic with a significance — crumbling or badly outworn in places, but a cathedral temple in which service is still done to the Unseen and its real presence can be felt by those who enter with the right spirit. ~ Sri Aurobindo

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  • One of the most enriching yet frustrating aspects of the study of Hinduism is its huge body of religious writing. The fledgling scholar is confronted by a vast array of sacred literature that presents confusing and often conflicting ideas. Because Hinduism is such an ancient religion, its textual heritage has been compiled over considerable time. Most importantly, the sacred books of the Hindus do not replace each other but instead have built up into an extensive mass of sacred knowledge.
    • Stuart Abbott, in Hindu Goddesses : Beliefs and Practices (2009), p. 44
  • The Hindu religion appears … as a cathedral temple, half in ruins, noble in the mass, often fantastic in detail but always fantastic with a significance — crumbling or badly outworn in places, but a cathedral temple in which service is still done to the Unseen and its real presence can be felt by those who enter with the right spirit.
    • Sri Aurobindo Letters, Vol. II (1949) p. 53; also in The Soul of India (1974) by Satyavrata R Patel
  • After a study of some forty years and more of the great religions of the world, I find none so perfect, none so scientific, none so philosophical and none so spiritual that the great religion known by the name of Hinduism. Make no mistake, without Hinduism, India has no future. Hinduism is the soil in to which India's roots are stuck and torn out of that she will inevitably wither as a tree torn out from its place. And if Hindus do not maintain Hinduism who shall save it? If India's own children do not cling to her faith who shall guard it. India alone can save India and India and Hinduism are one.
  • This is the India of which I speak - the India which, as I said, is to me the Holy Land. For those who, though born for this life in a Western land and clad in a Western body, can yet look back to earlier incarnations in which they drank the milk of spiritual wisdom from the breast of their true mother - they must feel ever the magic of her immemorial past, must dwell ever under the spell of her deathless fascination; for they are bound to India by all the sacred memories of their past; and with her, too, are bound up all the radiant hopes of their future, a future which they know they will share with her who is their true mother in the soul-life.
  • India is the mother of religion. In her are combined science and religion in perfect harmony, and that is the Hindu religion, and it is India that shall be again the spiritual mother of the world.
  • During the early life of a Nation, religion is an essential for the binding together of the individuals who make the nation. India was born, as it were, in the womb of Hinduism, and her body was for long shaped by that religion. Religion is a binding force, and India has had a longer binding together by religion than any other Nation in the world, as she is the oldest of the living Nations.
  • Based on knowledge it need not fear any advance in knowledge; profound in spirituality, the depths of the spirit find in it deeps answering into deep, it has nothing to dread, everything to hope, from growth in intellect, from increasing sway of reason.
  • It is no secret that we in the West live in a time of spiritual crisis. Western civilization has been guided by Christianity. Now it appears that this period is drawing to a close. Both religious institutions and social structures are in disarray. A great many things that were considered basic assumptions of western thought are being challenged. The reality of the external world, the soul, the linear nature of time.
  • Although the ancient and modern scriptures and practices of Hinduism have been examined by European scholars for more than a century, it would be hardly an exaggeration to say that a faithful account of Hinduism might well be given in the form of a categorical denial of most of the statements that have been made about it, alike by European scholars and by Indians trained in our modern skeptical and evolutionary modes of thought.
    • Ananda Coomaraswamy in his book Hinduism and Buddhism (1943) quoted in Kak, S. Racism, Eurocentrism, and Indology.
  • India was the motherland of our race, and Sanskrit the mother of Europe's languages: she was the mother of our philosophy; mother, through the Arabs, of much of our mathematics; mother, through the Buddha, of the ideals embodied in Christianity; mother, through the village community, of self-government and democracy. Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all. Nothing should more deeply shame the modern student than the recency and inadequacy of his acquaintance with India....This is the India that patient scholarship is now opening up like a new intellectual continent to that Western mind which only yesterday thought civilization an exclusive Western thing.
The Indian teaching, through its clouds of legends, has yet a simple and grand religion, like a queenly countenance seen through a rich veil. It teaches to speak truth, love others, and to dispose trifles. The East is grand—and makes Europe appear the land of trifles … All is soul and the soul is the Almighty. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Let me confess that I cannot share the confidence in the superiority of Europeans and their ways which is prevalent in the West. European civilization is not satisfying and Asia can still offer something more attractive to many who are far from Asiatic in spirit.
  • I do not think that Christianity will ever make much progress in Asia, for what is commonly known by that name is not the teaching of Christ but a rearrangement of it made in Europe and like most European institutions practical rather than thoughtful. And as for the teaching of Christ himself, the Indian finds it excellent but not ample or satisfying. There is little in it which cannot be found in some of the many scriptures of Hinduism..."
  • The claim of India to the attention of the world is that she, more than any other nation since history began, has devoted herself to contemplating the ultimate mysteries of existence and, in my eyes, the fact that Indian thought diverges widely from our own popular thought is a positive merit.
  • Hinduism has not been made, but has grown. It is a jungle, not a building. It is a living example of a great national paganism such as might have existed in Europe if Christianity had not become the state religion of the Roman Empire, if there had remained an incongruous jumble of old local superstitions, Greek philosophy, and oriental cults such as the worship of Sarapis or Mitras.
  • Compared to Islam and Christianity, Hinduism’s doctrines are extraordinarily fluid, and multiform. India deals in images and metaphors. Restless, subtle and argumentative as Hindu thought is, it is less prone than European theology to the vice of distorting transcendental ideas by too stringent definition. It adumbrates the indescribable by metaphors and figures. It is not afraid of inconsistencies which may illustrate different aspects of the infinite, but it rarely tries to cramp the divine within the limits of a logical phrase.
  • The Hindu has an extraordinary power of combining dogma and free thought, uniformity, and variety. Utmost latitude of interpretation is allowed. In all ages Hindus have been passionately devoted to speculation. It is also to point out that from the Upanishads down to the writings of Tagore in the present day literature from time to time enunciates the idea that the whole universe is the manifestation of some exuberant force giving expression to itself in joyous movement.
  • The only Hinduism which they like is museum Hinduism; any Hinduism that displays a will to survive is treated with the same horror that would be aroused if a mummy were to show signs of life.
  • The Indian teaching, through its clouds of legends, has yet a simple and grand religion, like a queenly countenance seen through a rich veil. It teaches to speak truth, love others, and to dispose trifles. The East is grand—and makes Europe appear the land of trifles … All is soul and the soul is the Almighty.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson. source: The West Looks at India, Krishnanand Joshi. Quoted from Gewali, Salil (2013). Great Minds on India. New Delhi: Penguin Random House.
  • The Hindu mind represents humanity's oldest and most continuous stream of conscious intelligence on the planet. Hindu sages, seers, saints, yogis and jnanis have maintained an unbroken current of awareness linking humanity with the Divine since the dawn of history, and as carried over from earlier cycles of civilization in previous humanities unknown to our present spiritually limited culture.
  • The Hindu mind has a vision of eternity and infinity. It is aware of the vast cycles of creation and destruction that govern the many universes and innumerable creatures within them.
  • For me the most important thing is to spread the Hindu knowledge about the soul. This is more important than any other knowledge and is my main priority.
What the divine author of the Mahabharata said of his great creation is equally true of Hinduism. Whatever of substance is contained in any other religion is always to be found in Hinduism, and what is not contained in it is insubstantial or unnecessary. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
  • What the divine author of the Mahabharata said of his great creation is equally true of Hinduism. Whatever of substance is contained in any other religion is always to be found in Hinduism, and what is not contained in it is insubstantial or unnecessary.
  • Hinduism is a relentless pursuit after truth and if today it has become moribund, inactive, irresponsive to growth, it is because we are fatigued. As soon as the fatigue is over, Hinduism will burst forth upon the world with a brilliance perhaps never known before.
  • Hinduism is like the Ganges pure and unsullied at its source, but taking in its course the impurities in the way. Even like the Ganges it is beneficent in its total effect. It takes a provincial form in every province, but the inner substance is retained everywhere.
  • I think I have understood Hinduism correctly when I say that it is eternal, all-embracing and flexible enough to suit all situations.
    • Mahatma Gandhi, as quoted in Relentless Brush Strokes : A Memoir (2008) by Lalitha Shankar, p. 185
  • Hinduism has made marvelous discoveries in things of religion, of the spirit, of the soul. We have no eye for these great and fine discoveries. We are dazzled by the material progress that Western science has made. Ancient India has survived because Hinduism was not developed along material but spiritual lines.
  • I believe that the civilization India has evolved is not to be beaten in the world. Nothing can equal the seeds sown by our ancestry. Rome went; Greece shared the same fate; the might of the Pharaohs was broken; Japan has become westernized; of China nothing can be said; but India is still, somehow or other, sound at the foundation.
  • Hinduism is a living organism liable to growth and decay subject to the laws of Nature. One and indivisible at the root, it has grown into a vast tree with innumerable branches. The changes in the season affect it. It has its autumn and its summer, its winter and its spring. It is, and is not, based on scriptures. It does not derive its authority from one book. Non violence has found the highest expression and application in Hinduism.
  • Hinduism is a living organism. One and indivisible at the root, it has grown into a vast tree with innumerable branches. Knowledge is limitless and so also the application of truth. Everyday we add to our knowledge of the power of Atman (soul) and we shall keep on doing so.
  • I am unable to identify with orthodox Christianity. I must tell you in all humility that Hinduism, as I know it, entirely satisfies my soul, fills my whole being, and I find solace in the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads that I miss even in the Sermon on the Mount....I must confess to you that when doubts haunt me, when disappointments stare me in the face, and when I see not one ray of light on the horizon I turn to the Bhagavad Gita, and find a verse to comfort me; and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming sorrow. My life has been full of external tragedies and if they have not left any visible and indelible effect on me, I owe it to the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita.
    • Mahatma Gandhi, The Collected Works, Volume 27, New Delhi, 1968, p. 435.
  • I have no other wish in this world but to find light and joy and peace through Hinduism.
  • Hinduism insists on the brotherhood of not only all mankind but of all that lives.
  • On examination, I have found it to be the most tolerant of all religions known to me. Its freedom from dogma makes a forcible appeal to me in as much as it gives the votary the largest scope for self-expression.
    • Mahatma Gandhi, The Collected Works, Volume 35, New Delhi, 1969, p. 166-7.
  • Hindu Dharma is like a boundless ocean teeming with priceless gems. The deeper you dive the more treasures you find.
  • It is impossible for me to reconcile myself to the idea of conversion after the style that goes on in India and elsewhere today. It is an error which is perhaps the greatest impediment to the world’s progress toward peace … Why should a Christian want to convert a Hindu to Christianity? Why should he not be satisfied if the Hindu is a good or godly man?
  • Hinduism would scarcely be recognizable today, if Vaishnavism had been actively suppressed in the 16th century: other devotional forms may have taken its place, but we cannot know what those would have been. It is a simple fact that contemporary Hinduism as a living practice would not be what it is if it were not for the devotional practices initiated under Mughal rule. The sad irony of the assault on the Babri mosque is that the Hindu fanatics who attacked it destroyed a symbol of the very accommodations that made their own beliefs possible.
  • Before long, I read my first book on Hindu philosophy. It was like a blow to my solar plexus; it jarred me awake. Here, at last, was what I sought. Instead of an object of dispute and often ridicule, here, reincarnation was taken for granted. The teachings were logical, unsentimental, yet filled with the spirit of non-harmfulness, compassion, understanding, love.
    • Nina Graboi One Foot in the Future: A Woman's Spiritual Journey (2000), chapter nineteen
  • India indeed has a preciousness which a materialistic age is in danger of missing. Some day the fragrance of her thought will win the hearts of men. This grim chase after our own tails which marks the present age cannot continue for ever. The future contains a new human urge towards the real beauty and holiness of life. When it comes Hinduism will be searched by loving eyes and defended by knightly hands.
  • When we read in the valuable production of those great Oriental scholars...those of a Jones, a Wilkings, a Colebrooke, or a Halhed, - we uniformly discover in the Hindus a nation, whose polished manners are the result of a mild disposition and an extensive benevolence.
  • After these conversations with Tagore some of the ideas that had seemed so crazy suddenly made much more sense. That was a great help for me.
    • Werner Heisenberg, on conversations with Rabindranath Tagore on Hindu philosophy, as quoted in Uncommon Wisdom: Conversations With Remarkable People (1988) by Fritjof Capra, who states that after these "He began to see that the recognition of relativity, interconnectedness, and impermanence as fundamental aspects of physical reality, which had been so difficult for himself and his fellow physicists, was the very basis of the Indian spiritual traditions."
    • Variant: After the conversations about Indian philosophy, some of the ideas of Quantum Physics that had seemed so crazy suddenly made much more sense.
      • As quoted in Pride of India (2006) by Samskrita Bharati. p. 56
  • Long before it became a scientific aspiration to estimate the age of the earth, many elaborate systems of the world chronology had been devised by the sages of antiquity. The most remarkable of these occult time-scales is that of the ancient Hindus, whose astonishing concept of the Earth's duration has been traced back to Manusmriti, a sacred book.
  • The sparkling energy of India lies in Hinduism. Without the framework of Hindu belief India would fall apart. Without Hinduism India is not herself... Because Indian society has, like the Chinese, been a unitary one where science and religion have never been in conflict, there has been no basic split as has happened with our own Christian background. Our own antagonism between the two disciplines of theology and science has created chaos in our thinking and a curious dichotomy during the past two centuries. In India I found a thankful release from our restricted vision of the creation of God... Hinduism has remained in constant, replenished usage throughout this tremendous stretch of time, impervious to outside influence, as onward flowing as the imperturbable Ganga itself. Not even Moghul invasion and Muslim supremacy for 700 years, nor the arrival of the British, Dutch, French and Portuguese with their own civilization and standards, penetrated into the imperious core of this steadfast faith. Hindu thought took and absorbed according to its own will, folding itself inwards at the sense of approaching danger like some gigantic sea-anemone drawing up all its tentacles, only to stretch outwards and flourish when the danger was past. One continues to hope that this will remain so, that modern Indians will realize that this is their enviable strength despite all their understandable yearnings for the material advantages of technology which they have seen give power and monopoly of advantage to the Western world. But their quality of synthesis, of intelligent absorption, may still save them from the sterility of urban life and the monotonous obsession with quantity and things, rather than with quality and life-perspective.
    • (source: The Music of India - By Peggy Holroyde p. 44-52).
  • I believe the Gita to be one of the major religious documents of the world. If its teachings did not seem to me to agree with those of the other gospels and scriptures, then my own system of values would be thrown into confusion, and I should feel completely bewildered. The Gita is not simply a sermon, but a philosophical treatise.
  • Many Hindu intellectuals are just not able to comprehend the fact that there is no human aspiration or experience which lies outside the range of Hinduism; it provides for even demon-Gods. In contrast, all religions are in the nature of sects, though they cannot be so defined because of their insistence on their separateness and, indeed, hostility to Hinduism.
  • In view of deliberate attempts in recent decades to project Buddhism and Jainism as separate religions, distinct from Hinduism, it would be in order to deal with them in passing. the attempts have clearly been motivated by the design to separate their followers from the parent body called Hinduism just as Sikhs have been to an extent. Though not to the same extent as in the case of Sikhs, the attempts have succeeded in as much as neo-Buddhists and at least some Jains have come to regard themselves as non-Hindus.
    In reality, however, Buddhisms and Jainism have been no more than movements within the larger body of Hinduism, not significantly different from Lingayats, Saktas or Bhaktas of more recent times.
  • "Over time, apparent misunderstandings have arisen over the origins of Jainism and relationship with its sister religions of Hinduism and Buddhism. There has been an ongoing debate between Jainism and Vedic Hinduism as to which revelation preceded the other. What is historically known is that there was a tradition along with Vedic Hinduism known as Sramana Dharma. Essentially, the sramana tradition included in its fold, the Jain and Buddhist traditions, which disagreed with the eternality of the Vedas, the needs for ritual sacrifices and the supremacy of the Brahmins."
  • As to Jains being Hindu dissenters, and, therefore governable by Hindu law, we are not told this date of secession [...] Jainism certainly has a longer history than is consistent with its being a creed of dissenters from Hinduism.
    • Girilal Jain, in L. Jaini, (1916) Jaina Law, Bhadrabahu Samhita, (Text with translation ) Arrah, Central jaina publishing House p. 12-13
  • In Hindu lore, each of the three primal gods appeared in many forms. Siva could be Parmeswara. Vishnu could be Narasimha or Venkatarama. They had consorts and relatives, each of whom themselves had, over the centuries, become the objects of worship, the centers of their own cults. Vishnu, for example, was worshipped in the form of his consort Lakshmi, and as the monkey god, Hanuman. Each was endowed with distinct personalities; each gained its own adherents.
    Some worshippers, certainly, construed those stone figures literally, viewed them as gods, pure and simple, in a way not so different from the grama devata worship of the villages. Indeed, one history of South India spoke of a "fusion of village deities and Vedic Brahminical deities" going back to around the beginning of the Christian era that had brought a comingling of different forms of worship.
    But sophisticated Hindus, at least, understood that these stone "deities" merely represented forms or facets of a single godhead; in contemplating them, you were reawakened to the Oneness of all things. For those whose worship remained primitive, meanwhile, the garish stone figures could be seen as hooks by which to snare the spiritually unsophisticated and direct them toward something higher and finer.
    The genius of Hinduism, then, was that it left room for everyone. It was a profoundly tolerant religion. It denied no other faiths. It set out no single path. It prescribed no one canon of worship and belief. It embraced everything and everyone. Whatever your personality there was a god or goddess, an incarnation, a figure, a deity, with which to identify, from which to draw comfort, to rouse you to a higher or deeper spirituality. There were gods for every purpose, to suit any frame of mind, any mood, any psyche, any stage or station of life. In taking on different forms, God became formless; in different names, nameless.
    • Robert Kanigel, in The Man Who Knew Infinity : A Life of the Genius Ramanujan (1991), p. 35
  • The above remarks about conservatism could be made with equal or even greater force about the Mogul Empire. Despite the sheer size of the kingdom at its height and the military genius of some of its emperors, despite the brilliance of its courts and the craftsmanship of its luxury products, despite even a sophisticated banking and credit network, the system was weak at its core. A conquering Muslim elite lay on top of a vast mass of poverty-stricken peasants chiefly adhering to Hinduism. In the towns themselves there were very considerable numbers of merchants, bustling markets, and an attitude towards manufacture, trade, and credit among Hindu business families which would make them excellent examples of Weber's Protestant ethic. As against this picture of an entrepreneurial society just ready for economic "takeoff" before it was a victim of British imperialism, there are the gloomier portrayals of the many indigenous retarding factors in Indian life. The sheer rigidity of Hindu religious taboos militated against modernization: rodents and insects could not be killed, so vast amounts of foodstuffs were lost; social mores about handling refuse and excreta led to permanently insanitary conditions, a breeding ground for bubonic plagues; the caste system throttled initiative, instilled ritual, and restricted the market; and the influence wielded over Indian local rulers by the Brahman priests meant that this obscurantism was effective at the highest level. Here were the social checks of the deepest sort to any attempts at radical change. Small wonder that later many Britons, having first plundered and then tried to govern India in accordance with Utilitarian principles, finally left with the feeling that the country was still a mystery to them.
    • Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (1987), pp. 12-13
  • Hinduism at its best has spoken the only relevant truth about the way to self-realization in the full sense of the word.
  • The absolute superiority of India over the West in philosophy; poetry from the Mahabharata, containing the Bhagavad-Gita, “perhaps the most beautiful work of the literature of the world".
  • Benares is holy. Europe, grown superficial, hardly understands such truths anymore.....I feel nearer here than I have ever done to the heart of the world; here I feel everyday as if soon, perhaps even today, I would receive the grace of supreme revelation...The atmosphere of devotion which hangs above the river is improbable in strength; stronger than in any church that I have ever visited. Every would be Christian priest would do well to sacrifice a year of his theological studies in order to spend his time on the Ganges; here he would discover what piety means.
  • Hinduism has proven much more open than any other religion to new ideas, scientific thought, and social experimentation. Many concepts like reincarnation, meditation, yoga and others have found worldwide acceptance. It would not be surprising to find Hinduism the dominant religion of the twenty-first century. It would be a religion that doctrinally is less clear-cut than mainstream Christianity, politically less determined than Islam, ethically less heroic than Buddhism, but it would offer something to everybody. It will appear idealistic to those who look for idealism, pragmatic to the pragmatists, spiritual to the seekers, sensual to the here-and-now generation. Hinduism, by virtue of its lack of an ideology and its reliance on intuition, will appear to be more plausible than those religions whose doctrinal positions petrified a thousand years ago.
When ignorant missionaries dilate upon the three hundred and thirty million gods of the Hindus they are making a very gross misrepresentation of a religion which is far more scientific than their own. Hinduism, like every other religion, knows perfectly well that there can be only one God, though there may be countless manifestations of Him. ~ C.W. Leadbeater
The images of the Indian deities are usually highly magnetized, and when they are carried round the streets at the festivals their influence upon the people is unquestionably productive of much good. In many of the Hindu temples there are strong permanent influences at work... ~ C.W. Leadbeater
  • The great civilization of the Indian subcontinent, has had its roots deep in antiquity, some seven to eight thousand years ago, and its flowering in the third millennium B.C. still lives on. In contrast, when we look round the world we are surprised by the fact that the Egyptian and Mesopotamia civilizations that flourished alongside this Indic Civilization have all disappeared, leaving hardly any trace behind. Why? The Indian psyche has indeed been pondering over this great cultural phenomenon of 'livingness', and this quest.
  • What is that ‘something’, some inherent strength? Doubtless it lies in the liberal character of the Indian civilization, which allows for cross-fertilization with other cultures, without losing its own identity. Even time (kala), the great devourer, has stood testimony to the fact that the deep foundations of Indian culture could not be shaken either by internal upheavals, however great may have been their magnitude.... " the soul of India lives on!"
  • In these researches into the remote past we have frequently found the disciple Jesus, who in Palestine had the privilege of yielding up His body to the Christ. As a result of that act He received the incarnation of Apollonius of Tyana, and in the eleventh century He appeared in India as the teacher Ramanujacharya, who revived the devotional element in Hinduism, and raised it to so high a level. p. 13
  • In thinking of the Lord Buddha we must not forget that He is very much more than merely the founder of a religion. He is a great official of the Occult Hierarchy, the greatest of all save one, and the founder in previous incarnations of many religions before this one which now bears His title. For He was the Vyasa who has done so much for the Indian religion; He was Hermes, the great founder of the Egyptian mysteries; He was the original Zoroaster, from whom came the sun and fire worship; and he was also Orpheus, the great bard of the Greeks. In this last of His many births, when He came as the Lord Gautama, it does not appear that He had originally any intention of founding a new religion. He appeared simply as a reformer of Hinduism —a faith which was already of hoary antiquity, and had therefore departed much from its original form, as all religions have. It had become hardened in many ways, and appears to have been very far less elastic even than it is now. Even now we all know how strictly drawn are the lines between the castes, what an iron rigidity there is as to forms and ceremonies. We know that even now no man can be converted to Hinduism; the only way to enter that faith is to be born into it. p. 98
  • When ignorant missionaries dilate upon the three hundred and thirty million gods of the Hindus they are making a very gross misrepresentation of a religion which is far more scientific than their own. Hinduism, like every other religion, knows perfectly well that there can be only one God, though there may be countless manifestations of Him. p. 129
  • The images of the Indian deities are usually highly magnetized, and when they are carried round the streets at the festivals their influence upon the people is unquestionably productive of much good. In many of the Hindu temples there are strong permanent influences at work, as is the case for example at Madura. Once when I visited that city some white ashes from the temple of Shiva were given to me, and also a bright crimson powder from the temple of Parvati, and I found that both of these were so powerfully magnetized as to retain their influence for some years and after much travelling. India is essentially a country of rites and ceremonies. The religion is full of them, and a great many of them are said to have been prescribed by the Manu Himself, though it is quite obvious that many others have been added at a much later date. p. 130
  • The civilization of India, at root purely religious, is only now becoming known in Europe; and as the mystery surrounding it is unveiled it emerges as one of the highest achievement in the history of mankind. By the very breadth of the outlook it affords on to the destiny of man the Vedic religion offers in abundance the spiritual experience that has inspired the Indian people since the dawn of their history. The vocation of India is to proclaim to the world the efficacy of religious experience.
    • Solange Lemaître in Hinduism (1959), p. 9; also quoted in A Tribute to Hinduism : Thoughts and Wisdom Spanning Continents and Time about India and Her Culture (2008), p. 120
  • She has left indelible imprints on one fourth of the human race in the course of a long succession of centuries. She has the right to reclaim in universal history the rank that ignorance has refused her for a long time and to hold her place amongst the great nations summarizing and symbolizing the spirit of humanity.
    • Sylvain Levi, Ithihaasa: The Mystery of His Story Is My Story of History, p. 612
  • We possess, in the sacred and secret books of India, of which we know only an infinitesimal part, a cosmogony which no European conception has ever surpassed.
  • We cannot tell how the religion of the Hindus came into being. When we become aware of it, we find it already complete in its broad outlines, its main principles. Not only is it complete, but the farther back we go, the more perfect it is, the more unadulterated, the more closely related to the loftiest speculations of our modern agnosticism.
    • Maurice Maeterlinck, source: The Great Secret, Count Maurice Maeterlinck. Quoted from Gewali, Salil (2013). Great Minds on India. New Delhi: Penguin Random House.
  • He sometimes spoke of "zero" as the symbol of the absolute (Nirguna Brahman) of the extreme monistic school of Hindu philosophy, that is, the reality to which no qualities can be attributed, which cannot be defined or described by words and which is completely beyond the reach of the human mind. According to Ramanujan the appropriate symbol was the number "zero" which is the absolute negation of all attributes.
  • [I]t must be borne in mind that Hinduism is far more than a mere form of theism resting on Brāhmanism. It presents for our investigation a complex congeries of creeds and doctrines which in its gradual accumulation may be compared to the gathering together of the mighty volume of the Ganges, swollen by a continual influx of tributary rivers and rivulets, spreading itself over an ever-increasing area of country and finally resolving itself into an intricate Delta of tortuous steams and jungly marshes. … The Hindu religion is a reflection of the composite character of the Hindus, who are not one people but many. It is based on the idea of universal receptivity. It has ever aimed at accommodating itself to circumstances, and has carried on the process of adaptation through more than three thousand years. It has first borne with and then, so to speak, swallowed, digested, and assimilated something from all creeds.
  • The Hindus worship only one God. At any religious function, the Hindus utter the dominion of one God and to Him they direct the offerings of every religious ritual or observance whatever be its form. It is only fools who call the Hindus as idolators on the ground that they offer their devotion through some image built of stone or wood.
  • Whatever may be the date of the Vedic hymns, whether 1500 B.C.E. or 15,000 B.C.E., they have their own unique place and stand by themselves in the literature of the world. They tell us something of the early growth of the human mind of which we find no trace anywhere else.
    • Max Muller, in The Six Systems of Indian Philosophy (1899)
  • The key Hindu concept of dharma — the right way, the sanctioned way, which all men must follow, according to their natures — is an elastic concept. At its noblest it combines self-fulfillment and truth to the self with the ideas of action as duty, action as its own spiritual reward, man as a holy vessel.
  • From ancient times down to the present, there is found among various peoples a certain perception of that hidden power which hovers over the course of things and over the events of human history; at times some indeed have come to the recognition of a Supreme Being, or even of a Father. This perception and recognition penetrates their lives with a profound religious sense. Religions, however, that are bound up with an advanced culture have struggled to answer the same questions by means of more refined concepts and a more developed language. Thus in Hinduism, men contemplate the divine mystery and express it through an inexhaustible abundance of myths and through searching philosophical inquiry. They seek freedom from the anguish of our human condition either through ascetical practices or profound meditation or a flight to God with love and trust.
  • The general notions about human understanding… which are illustrated by discoveries in atomic physics are not in the nature of things wholly unfamiliar, wholly unheard of or new. Even in our own culture they have a history, and in Buddhist and Hindu thought a more considerable and central place. What we shall find [in modern physics] is an exemplification, an encouragement, and a refinement of old wisdom.
  • Today young people and adults in both Europe and the United States shuffle from day to day and year to year imprisoned in roles assigned to them by families, friends, and employers. But who am I really? What is my true self?
    The Danish nuclear physicist Niels Bohr once wrote, “I go into the Upanishads to ask questions,” and the Upanishads, the midwife birthing early Hinduism out of Vedic religion, ask these questions with even more urgency than Don Quixote or Holden Caulfield. Often ignoring and sometimes attacking the ritual obsessions of the Vedas, Hinduism’s homeless sages preoccupied themselves with philosophy instead.
    • Stephen Prothero, God Is Not One : The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World and Why Their Differences Matter (2010), Ch, 4 : Hinduism : The Way of Devotion, p. 144
  • If there is one place on the face of the earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India....For more than 30 centuries, the tree of vision, with all its thousand branches and their millions of twigs, has sprung from this torrid land, the burning womb of the Gods. It renews itself tirelessly showing no signs of decay.
  • Let us return to our eagle's nest in the Himalayas. It is waiting for us, for it is ours, eaglets of Europe, we need not renounce any part of our real nature...whence we formerly took our flight.
  • Religious faith in the case of the Hindus has never been allowed to run counter to scientific laws, moreover the former is never made a condition for the knowledge they teach, but there are always scrupulously careful to take into consideration the possibility that by reason both the agnostic and atheist may attain truth in their own way. Such tolerance may be surprising to religious believers in the West, but it is an integral part of Vedantic belief.
  • The true Vedantic spirit does not start out with a system of preconceived ideas. It possesses absolute liberty and unrivalled courage among religions with regard to the facts to be observed and the diverse hypotheses it has laid down for their coordination. Never having been hampered by a priestly order, each man has been entirely free to search wherever he pleased for the spiritual explanation of the spectacle of the universe.
  • The greatest human ideal is the great cause of bringing together the thoughts of Europe and Asia; the great soul of India will topple our world.
  • The vast and tranquil metaphysics of India is unfolded; her conception of the universe, her social organization, perfect in its day and still capable of adaptation to the demands of modern times; the solution which she offers for the feminist problem, for the problems of the family, of love, of marriage; and lastly, the magnificent revelation of her art. The whole vast soul of India proclaims from end to end of its crowded and well ordered edifice the same domination of a sovereign synthesis." There is no negation. All is harmonized. All the forces of life are grouped like a forest, whose thousand waving arms are led by Nataraja, the master of the Dance. Everything has its place, every being has its function, and all take part in the divine concert, their different voices, and their very dissonances, creating, in the phrase of Heraclitus, a most beautiful harmony. Whereas in the West, cold, hard logic isolates the unusual, shutting it off from the rest of life into a definite and distinct compartment of the spirit. India, ever mindful of the natural differences in souls and in philosophies, endeavors to blend them into each other, so as to recreate in its fullest perfection the complete unity. The matching of opposites produces the true rhythm of life.
  • Of course, this entire fabric of Indian life stands solidly on faith, that is to say, on a slender and emotional hypothesis. But amid all the beliefs of Europe, and of Asia, that of the Indian Brahmins seems to me infinitely the most alluring. And the reason why I love the Brahmin more than the other schools of Asiatic thought is because it seems to me to contain them all. Greater than all European philosophies, it is even capable of adjusting itself to the vast hypotheses of modern science. Our Christian religions have tried in vain, when there were no other choice open to them, to adapt themselves to the progress of science. But after having allowed myself to be swept away by the powerful rhythm of Brahmin thought, along the curve or life, with its movement of alternating ascent and return, I come back to my own century, and while finding therein the immense projections of a new cosmogony, offspring of the genius of Einstein, or deriving freely from the discoveries, I yet do not feel that I enter a strange land. I yet can hear resounding still the cosmic symphony of all those planets which forever succeed each other, are extinguished and once more illumined, with their living souls, their humanities, their gods – according to the laws of the eternal To Become, the Brahmin Samsara – I hear Siva dancing, dancing in the heart of the world, in my own heart.
  • In the great philosophy of Brahma, such violent turns of the scale are quite unknown. It embraces vast stretches of time, cycles of human ages, whose successive lives gravitate in concentric circles, and travel ever slowly towards the center....
  • The Hindu religion is the only one of the world's great faiths dedicated to the idea that the Cosmos itself undergoes an immense, indeed an infinite, number of deaths and rebirths. It is the only religion in which the time scales correspond, no doubt by accident, to those of modern scientific cosmology. Its cycles run from our ordinary day and night to a day and night of Brahma, 8.64 billion years long. Longer than the age of the Earth or the Sun and about half the time since the Big Bang. And there are much longer time scales still.
  • The most elegant and sublime of these is a representation of the creation of the universe at the beginning of each cosmic cycle, a motif known as the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva. The god, called in this manifestation Nataraja, the Dance King. In the upper right hand is a drum whose sound is the sound of creation. In the upper left hand is a tongue of flame, a reminder that the universe, now newly created, with billions of years from now will be utterly destroyed.
  • A millennium before Europeans were willing to divest themselves of the Biblical idea that the world was a few thousand years old, the Mayans were thinking of millions and the Hindus billions.
  • This life of yours which you are living is not merely apiece of this entire existence, but in a certain sense the whole; only this whole is not so constituted that it can be surveyed in one single glance. This, as we know, is what the Brahmins express in that sacred, mystic formula which is yet really so simple and so clear; tat tvam asi, this is you. Or, again, in such words as "I am in the east and the west, I am above and below, I am this entire world."
  • The unity and continuity of Vedanta are reflected in the unity and continuity of wave mechanics. In 1925, the world view of physics was a model of a great machine composed of separable interacting material particles. During the next few years, Schrodinger and Heisenberg and their followers created a universe based on super imposed inseparable waves of probability amplitudes. This new view would be entirely consistent with the Vedantic concept of All in One.
  • Vedanta teaches that consciousness is singular, all happenings are played out in one universal consciousness and there is no multiplicity of selves.
  • Hinduism is not a religion; it is just a way of life that thousands of Rishis have written about. It is such a democratic religion where everybody has the freedom to think, write or say whatever they want. We have no opposition for any other philosophy coming into us. We have no opposition for the Bible to be part of our own study. Nobody here will say, 'If you read the Bible, you will go to hell'. It is an inclusive way of looking at life, and that is what we need in the world today. We have no objection taking food from every part of the world, listening to music from every part of the world. So we need to globalize wisdom too.
  • Indian astronomers had calculated that life started 1 billion, 955 million, 818 thousand and 501 years ago and that 28 cycles of yugas have already happened. The ancient sages knew these facts. This is why they devised the mala (necklace) with 108 beads, which stand for the 12 constellations and the nine planets and the 108 different permutations which affect one's life." Everything is this universe is interconnected.
  • India conquered and dominated China culturally for twenty centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border.... Never before had China seen a religion so rich in imagery, so beautiful and captivating in ritualism and so bold in cosmological and metaphysical speculations. Like a poor beggar suddenly halting before a magnificent storehouse of precious stones of dazzling brilliancy and splendor, China was overwhelmed, baffled and overjoyed. She begged and borrowed freely from this munificent giver. The first borrowings were chiefly from the religious life of India, in which China’s indebtedness to India can never be fully told.
    • Hu Shih.source: India and World Civilization, Damodar P. Singhal. Quoted from Gewali, Salil (2013). Great Minds on India. New Delhi: Penguin Random House.
  • After gradual research; I have come to the conclusion that long before all heavenly books, God had revealed to the Hindus, through the Rishis of yore, of whom Brahma was the Chief, His four books of knowledge, the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda, the Sama Veda and the Atharva Veda. The Quran itself made veiled references to the Upanishads as the first heavenly book and the fountainhead of the ocean of monotheism.
  • The apparent multiplicity of Gods is bewildering at the first glance; but you presently discover that they are all the same one God in different aspects and functions and even sexes. There is always one uttermost God who defies personification. This makes Hinduism the most tolerant religion in the world, because its one transcendant God includes all possible Gods… In fact Hinduism is so elastic and so subtle that the profoundest Methodist and the crudest idolator are equally at home in it.
  • They have made present-day India, and Hinduism even more so, out to be a zoo – an agglomeration of assorted, disparate specimens. No such thing as ‘India’, just a geographical expression, just a construct of the British; no such thing as Hinduism, just a word used by Arabs to describe the assortment they encountered, just an invention of the communalists to impose a uniformity – that has been their stance... But Hinduism? Why, there is no such thing: it is just an aggregation, a pile of assorted beliefs and practices – ... And anyone who maintains anything to the contrary is a fascist out to insinuate a unity, indeed to impose a uniformity, where there has been none.... This is the continuance of, in a sense the culmination of, the Macaulay-Missionary technique. The British calculated that to subjugate India and hold it, they must undermine the essence of the people: this was Hinduism, and everything which flowed from it.
    • Arun Shourie (2014). Eminent historians: Their technology, their line, their fraud. Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India : HarperCollins Publishers.
  • Hinduism’s cosmology was prodigious in scope and depth, but India did not stop there. She went on to advance what was probably the most daring hypothesis man has ever conceived. We ourselves are the infinite, the very infinite from which the Universe proceeds. Everything in Hinduism works to drive the point home... While the West was still thinking, perhaps, of a 6000-year-old universe—India was already envisioning ages and eons and galaxies as numerous as the sands of the River Ganges. A universe so vast that modern astronomy slips into its folds without a ripple.
    • Huston Smith. source: The Soul of a People India and the Infinite, Huston Smith. Quoted from Gewali, Salil (2013). Great Minds on India. New Delhi: Penguin Random House.
  • Hinduism is like a great reservoir of water from which many streams take their rise and to which they again repair after passing through many strange and fair lands. It is a great, creative matrix giving birth to many beautiful and living forms. Itself a historical, it has given birth to many sects and branches with interesting, chequered histories. Paying sole allegiance to the Guide within seated in the cave of the heart, it has put forward from time to time many teachers and sages of incomparable power and vision, incarnating the very Gods above and within.
    • Ram Swarup (2000). On Hinduism: Reviews and reflections. Ch. 3.
  • The Vedic approach, is perhaps the best. It gives unity without sacrificing diversity. In fact, it gives a deeper unity and a deeper diversity beyond the power of ordinary monotheism and polytheism. It is one with the yogic and the mystic approach... In this deeper approach, the distinction is not between a true One God and false Many Gods; it is between a true way of worship and a false way of worship. Wherever there is sincerity, truth and self-giving in worship, that worship goes to the true altar by whatever name we may designate it and in whatever way we may conceive it. But if it is not desireless, if it has ego, falsehood, conceit and deceit in it, then it is unavailing though it may be offered to the most true God, theologically speaking.
    • Ram Swarup, The World As Revelation: Names of Gods.
  • Every Hindu may not be conscious of the finer points of his faith, but he has been raised in the tradition of its assumptions and doctrines, even when these have not been explained to him. His Hinduism may be a Hinduism of habit rather than a Hinduism of learning, but it is a lived Hinduism for all that.
  • In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial.
  • Belief in the Vedas, many means, no strict rule for worship: these are the features of the Hindu religion.
    • Bal Gangadhar Tilak, reproduced in V.D. Savarkar: Hindutva, and quoted in Elst, Koenraad (2002). Who is a Hindu?: Hindu revivalist views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other offshoots of Hinduism. ISBN 978-8185990743
  • It is already becoming clear that a chapter which had a Western beginning will have to have an Indian ending if it is not to end in self-destruction of the human race. At this supremely dangerous moment in human history , the only way of salvation is the ancient Hindu way. Here we have the attitude and spirit that can make it possible for the human race to grow together in to a single family.
  • So now we turn to India. This spiritual gift, that makes a man human, is still alive in Indian souls. Go on giving the world Indian examples of it. Nothing else can do so much to help mankind to save itself from destruction.
  • There may or may not be only one single absolute truth and only one single ultimate way of salvation. We do not know. But we do know that there are more approaches to truth than one, and more means of salvation than one.’’‘‘This is a hard saying for adherents of the higher religions of the Judaic family (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), but it is a truism for Hindus. The spirit of mutual good-will, esteem, and veritable love … is the traditional spirit of the religions of the Indian family. This is one of India’s gifts to the world.
  • At the close of this century, the world would be dominated by the West, but that in the 21st century "India will conquer her conquerors."
    • Arnold J. Toynbee, Development Planning for Agriculture: Policies, Economic Implications, p. 39
  • Land of religions, cradle of human race, birthplace of human speech, grandmother of legend, great grandmother of tradition. The land that all men desire to see and having seen once even by a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of the rest of the globe combined.
  • It is a good and gentle religion, but inconvenient.
  • India had the start of the whole world in the beginning of things. She had the first civilization; she had the first accumulation of material wealth; she was populous with deep thinkers and subtle intellects; she had mines, and woods, and a fruitful soul.
  • Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India.
  • "Land of religions, cradle of human race, birthplace of human speak, grandmother of legacy, great grandmother of tradition. The land that all men desire to see and having seen once even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of the rest of the globe combined."
  • I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true.
    • Swami Vivekananda, Address at the Parliament of the World's Religions, Chicago (1893)
  • I am convinced that everything has come down to us from the banks of the Ganges, — astronomy, astrology, metempsychosis, etc. It is very important to note that some 2,500 years ago at the least Pythagoras went from Samos to the Ganges to learn geometry...But he would certainly not have undertaken such a strange journey had the reputation of the Brahmins' science not been long established in Europe.
    • Voltaire, Lettres sur l'origine des sciences et sur celle des peuples de l'Asie (1777), letter of (15 December 1775)
  • To the philosophers of India, however, Relativity is no new discovery, just as the concept of light years is no matter for astonishment to people used to thinking of time in millions of kalpas, (A kalpa is about 4,320,000 years). The fact that the wise men of India have not been concerned with technological applications of this knowledge arises from the circumstance that technology is but one of innumerable ways of applying it.
  • Ordinarily, the propagation of Hinduism occurs in approximately the following way. ... Native deities are rebaptized with the names of Hindu gods and goddesses. ... Some Brahman is requested to provide and take charge of ritual concerns and thereby also to convince himself and provide testimony to the fact that they—the rulers of the tribe—were of ancient, only temporarily forgotten, knightly (Kshatriya) blood.
  • Legitimation by a recognized religion has always been decisive for an alliance between politically and socially dominant classes and the priesthood. Integration into the Hindu community provided such religious legitimation for the ruling stratum. It not only endowed the ruling stratum of the barbarians with recognized rank in the cultural world of Hinduism, but, through their transformation into castes, secured their superiority over the subject classes with an efficiency unsurpassed by any other religion.
  • In the family of religions, Hinduism is the wise old all-knowing mother. Its sacred books, the Vedas, claim, 'Truth is one, but sages call it by different names.' If only Islam, and all the rest of the monotheistic 'book' religions, had learned that lesson, all the horror of history's religious wars could have been avoided. Which other religion has its God say, as Krishna does in the Bhagavad Gita, 'All paths lead to me.'
  • If only the Church had the sense to allow so many different and seemingly contradictory approaches to God, how much saner its history would have been!
  • It was the sublime ancient tolerance of Hinduism that he often stressed, that was the true proof of the wisdom and mature dignity of the Hindu tradition.

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