Table of Contents

  About the Author
  Books by Bansi Pandit
  What is Hindu Dharma?
  Hindu View of God
  Why Hindus Worship Deities
  Hindu Scriptures
  Principal Hindu Doctrines
  Law of Karma
  Popular Systems 
  Moral & Ethical Ideals of Hindus
  Hindu View ...
  Hindu Reverence for Elders
  Daily Routine of a Devout Hindu
  Hindu Dharma
  Hindu View of Ecology
  Some Philosophical Aspects
  Hindu Response 
  Contribution of Hindus
  Practicing Hindu Dharma
  Timeless Wisdom 
  Swămi Vivekănanda's Address
  Works Cited
  Color Plates
  Download Book

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir


Symbol of Unity


Chapter 12: Why is Hindu Dharma a Universal Religion?

A religion is universal if its appeal is not restricted to any particular segment of humanity, religious group, nation, race, class, country or age. All religions have some universal aspects, but all aspects of Hindu Dharma are universal. The reason for this difference is that Hindu Dharma does not derive its authority from the teachings of a single person or a book. The spiritual experiences of numerous sages and saints of yore form the basic foundation of Hindu Dharma. A true spiritual experience is always rooted in the universal vision of mankind. The mystics of all religions have invariably held that beyond the apparent diversity of the physical phenomena, there is a perfect unity.

Thousands of years ago, the rishis discovered two basic universal principles: the spiritual oneness of all things and beings in the world and the divine nature of the human being. The scholars tell us that Hindu sages were the first to conceive of a true Infinite, from which nothing is excluded. Thus, from its very inception, the foundation of Hindu Dharma was cast into the bedrock of universalism. The following major doctrines, which are central to Hindu beliefs and practices, depict the universal vision of Hindus:

  • World Brotherhood: The most daring universal hypothesis man has ever conceived is the great Upanishadic doctrine "Aham Brahmasmi," meaning "I am the Infinite, the very Infinite from which the universe proceeds." This doctrine identifies every human being-regardless of race, religion, color, sex, or geographic location-with divinity and lays foundation for world brotherhood. Hindu sages have declared that no one is superior or inferior to others. Our individual past karmas have created us as unique individuals. But our differences are temporary and exist only at the physical level. All differences vanish when one attains self-knowledge through a spiritual experience.
  • Harmony of Religions: One of Hindu religion's greatest gifts to mankind is the attitude of religious harmony. Hindus declare that "holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any particular religion in the world and that every system has produced men and women of the most illustrious character." The Hindu scriptures declare, "As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their waters in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take through their tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee."
  • Reasoned Faith: Hindus declare that blind faith and dogma are the two most vicious sources of conflict in the world; only reasoned faith can ensure harmony in the world. "I know that I myself owe it to thinking that I was able to retain my faith in religion...," writes Dr. Albert Schweitzer.17 One's deepest convictions must be vindicated by reason. Reason says that it is irreligious to perform religious actions which cause pain and discomfort to others. It is alright if an organized religion inspires its followers in the existence of God and prescribes a discipline to reach Him. At the same time, it is also important to recognize that God is above all religious systems, even though theologians may set limits to Him.
  • Ahimsă (Non-violence): Without a true spirit of non-violence towards all forms of life, there can be no genuine peace in the world. For universal harmony, the individual and social actions of people and the economic and political actions of nations must be based upon the attitude of non-violence. In the words of Geoffrey Hodson, a twentieth century theosophical writer, ahimsă is "not mere negative non-injury, [but] positive cosmic love."

"Non-violence is the law of our species as violence is the law of the brute," says Mahatma Gandhi. "The spirit lies dormant in the brute and he knows no law but that of physical might.... Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man. Destruction is not the law of the humans....Every murder or other injury, no matter of what cause, committed or inflicted on another, is a crime against humanity." 15,18

  • Universal Prayers: one of the notable features of Hindu religion is the universality of its prayers. When a Hindu prays, he does not pray for wealth and riches for himself, his family or his community. Instead he prays for enlightening the intellect (to ward off fanaticism) and for the welfare of all the people of the world. This is evident from the following popular prayers that millions of Hindus sing daily in the morning and evening in their home shrines and temples throughout the world:

"Asato mă sad gamayo; tamaso mă jyotir gamaya; mrtyor mă amrutum gamaya; Om, shăntih, shăntih, shăntih." (Brihadăranyaka Upanishad 1.3.28)

"Lead me from unreal to the real; lead me from darkness to light; lead me from death to eternal life. Om, Peace, peace, peace be unto us and all the beings of the world."

"Om sarve bhavantu sukhinah, sarve santu niră-maya-ah; sarve bhadrani pashyantu mă-kaschit dukha-bhak bhavet. Om, shăntih, shăntih, shăntih."

"Oh Lord, may all [entire mankind] be happy; may all be healthy; may all experience prosperity; may none (in the world) suffer. May peace, peace, peace be unto us and all the beings of the world."

Referring to the above prayer, Arthur Schopenhauer says, "I know of no more beautiful prayer than that [of] the Hindus...'May all that have life be delivered from suffering!'" (Refer to page 71 for another splendid Hindu prayer, Găyatrî Mantra.)



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