Who is a Hindu (January 2012)

Hinduism is one of the most ancient and rich religions. However, because of the plurality of gods/goddesses, rituals, discourses, beliefs and practices, sometimes, the core definition and essence of our religion gets muddled in our minds. While we can unequivocally call ourselves Hindus, we may not be able to consistently describe our religion. To ensure we and our kids are able to gain a firmer understanding of the religion, the topic this year is Hinduism (title “Being a Hindu”).

The goal of the exercise is that by the end of the year, kids are able to

  • understand the basic tenets of Hinduism
  • identify & appreciate the core beliefs and teachings in various aspects of life
  • answer the basic but key questions and concept of Hinduism in their own language, like, who is a Hindu? What are the attributes of Hinduism? Various names and forms of Gods.

Starting on the theme, this month’s assignment is “Who is a Hindu?” From time immemorial, scholars, academician, saints, and spiritual leaders have made attempt in defining Hinduism.  Some of the definitions are:

“A Hindu is he who believes that the Vedas contain self-evident and axiomatic truths.”

“A Hindu is one who believes in a religion which has originated in India.”

“Those who burn the dead are Hindus.”

“He who protects the cows and the Brahmins is a Hindu.”

“A Hindu is one who regards India as his motherland and the most sacred spot on earth.”

“He who calls and considers himself a Hindu is a Hindu.”

“He who accepts the Vedas, the Smritis, the Puranas and the Tantras as the basis of religion and of the rule of conduct, and believes in one Supreme God (Brahman), in the Law of Karma or retributive justice, and in reincarnation (Punarjanma), is a Hindu.”

“He who follows the Vedic or Sanatana-Dharma is a Hindu.”

“He who is a follower of the Vedanta is a Hindu.”

This month, kids will share their understanding of the word Hinduism in their own words. We encourage parents to let kids take lead in answering the question “Who is a Hindu?” Please use the preparation for the monthly assignments as an opportunity to have healthy discussions and reinforce your beliefs and values.

Best regards,
Harsh Mendiratta