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Encyclopedia > Criticism of Hinduism

This article deals with social and cultural criticism of Hinduism. For bias and/or prejudice against Hindus, see anti-Hindu. Anti-Hindu leaflet launched by fundamentalist Christian churches Anti-Hindu prejudice is a negative perception against Hinduism, Hindus and Indian or Hindu culture. ...

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Hinduism Hinduism is a religious tradition[1] that originated in the Indian subcontinent. ...

History · Deities
Literature Image File history File links Om. ... Hinduism, includes survivals of traditions of the Bronze Age Indus Valley Civilization and of Proto-Indo-Iranian traditions during the Iron Age Vedic religion and the historical Shramana traditions. ... Within Hinduism a large number of personalities, or forms, are worshipped as murtis. ... Hinduism encompasses many movements and schools fairly organized within Hindu denominations. ... Hindu mythology is a term used by modern scholarship for a large body of Indian literature that details the lives and times of legendary personalities, deities and divine incarnations on earth interspersed with often large sections of philosophical and ethical discourse. ...

Beliefs and practices

Dharma · Artha · Kama
Moksha · Karma · Samsara
Yoga · Bhakti · Maya · Puja
Mandir Hindu philosophy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ... For other uses, see Dharma (disambiguation). ... Artha is a Sanskrit term referring to the idea of material prosperity. ... Kāma (Skt. ... For other uses, see Moksha (disambiguation). ... Karma is a concept in Hinduism, based on the Vedas and Upanishads, which explains causality through a system where beneficial events are derived from past beneficial actions and harmful events from past harmful actions, creating a system of actions and reactions throughout a persons reincarnated lives. ... For other uses, see Samsara (disambiguation). ... For other uses such as Yoga postures, see Yoga (disambiguation) Statue of Shiva performing Yogic meditation Yoga (Sanskrit: योग Yog, IPA: ) is a group of ancient spiritual practices designed for the purpose of cultivating a steady mind. ... Bhakti (DevanāgarÄ«: भक्ति) is a word of Sanskrit origin meaning devotion and also the path of devotion itself, as in Bhakti-Yoga. ... Maya (illusion) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ... A puja as performed in Ujjain during the Monsoon on the banks of the overflowing river Shipra. ... The Gopuram of temples, in south India, are adorned with colourful icons depicting a particular story surrounding the temples deity. ...


Vedas · Upanishads
Ramayana · Mahabharata
Bhagavad Gita · Purana
others Template:Hindu scriptures - Vedic Scriptures Hindu scripture, which is known as Shastra is predominantly written in Sanskrit. ... Veda redirects here. ... The Upanishads (उपनिषद्, Upanişad) are part of the Hindu Shruti scriptures which primarily discuss meditation and philosophy and are seen as religious instructions by most schools of Hinduism. ... For the television series by Ramanand Sagar, see Ramayan (TV series). ... For the film by Peter Brook, see The Mahabharata (1989 film). ... Bhagavad Gīta भगवद्गीता, composed ca the fifth - second centuries BC, is part of the epic poem Mahabharata, located in the Bhisma-Parva chapters 23–40. ... The Puranas are part of Hindu Smriti; these religious scriptures discuss devotion and mythology. ... The following is a bibliography of Hindu scriptures and texts. ...

Related topics

Hinduism by country
Gurus and saints
Reforms · Ayurveda
Calendar · Criticism
Festivals · Glossary
Jyotisha Hinduism - Percentage by country The percentage of Hindu population of each country was taken from the US State Departments International Religious Freedom Report 2004. ... These are some of the most noteworthy Gurus and Saints of Hinduism (in alphabetical order): A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada Adi Shankara Akhandanand Mata Amritanandamayi Sri Aurobindo Baba Lokenath Brahmachari Bhakti Tirtha Swami Bhakti Vaibhava Puri Maharaj Bhagawan Nityananda Bhagwan Swaminarayan Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Chinmayananda Sri Chinmoy Dharmsamrat Paramhans Swami Madhavananda... Hinduism is going through a phase of regeneration and reform through the vehicle of several contemporary movements, collectively termed as Hindu reform movements. ... Ayurveda (Devanagari: ) or Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient system of health care that is native to the Indian subcontinent. ... A page from the Hindu calendar 1871-72. ... Glossary of terms in Hinduism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ... Jyotisha (, in Hindi and English usage Jyotish; sometimes called Hindu astrology, Indian astrology, and/or Vedic astrology) is the Hindu system of astrology, one of the six disciplines of Vedanga, and regarded as one of the oldest schools of ancient astrology to have had an independent origin, affecting all other...

Image File history File links HinduSwastika. ...

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Some aspects of Hinduism have been criticised, from both within the Hindu community and externally. Early Hindu reformers, such as Raja Ram Mohan Roy, questioned practices such as Sati and discrimination based on the caste system. Hinduism is a religious tradition[1] that originated in the Indian subcontinent. ...


Varna System

Main article: Varna in Hinduism

The Hindu system of varnas identified four varnas in Indian society.[1] The term varna is sometimes used synonymously with "caste" or "class"[2] The Sanskrit term for caste, in the sense of social categories, is jāti.[3][4] Class (varna) obligations were a major concern of the Dharma Sutras and Dharma Shastras, where fulfillment of one's obligation (dharma) with regard to class (varna) and stage of life (ashrama) was a sign of brahmanical orthopraxy.[5] The four varnas are in descending hierarchical sequence: Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra or the priests, warriors, business people and laborers. Untouchables (Dalit (outcast)) are considered either a lower section of Shudra, or outside of the caste system altogether. In practice this resulted in a great deal of social oppression and mistreatment of the lowest ranked castes, the Shudras and Dalits, who originally came from the older inhabitants of India (Adivasis). As a result, Hinduism and the implementation of the caste system are often criticized for allowing oppression of people of lower castes, even though the original design of the caste system was not intended to harm or oppress. Varna is a Sanskrit term derived from the root meaning to choose (from a group). ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Note that the word Brahmin is also known as Brahman in English due to some translation issues between the Upanishads (Hindu Holy Texts) and modern English* Brahmin, in Hinduism, traditionally refers to the priestly caste or a member of this caste in the Hindu caste system. ... For the Bollywood film of the same name see Kshatriya Kshatriya (Hindi: , from Sanskrit: , ) is one of the four varnas, or castes, in Hinduism. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Shudra (IAST: ) is the fourth Varna in the traditional four-section division in historic Hindu society. ... In South Asias caste system, a Dalit (formerly known as untouchable or achuta) is a person outside of the four castes, and considered below them. ... Ādivāsīs (आदिवासी) or tribal peoples comprise a substantial minority of the population of India. ...

Hindu religious literature, such as the Rig Veda, suggests that the original varna system was based on a flexible system, where people joined a varna and a related occupation based on their skills, qualities, and nature. However, over time, the varna system became a rigid caste system, preventing the 'lower' classes (also called 'backward-caste') from rising. Discrimination against classes began as a result of this rigid fixing of the caste system. Also, religious literature suggests that the inclusion of Dalits ('untouchables') outside of the caste system was a later addition, not part of the original system. The Rig Veda ऋग्वेद (Sanskrit ṛc praise + veda knowledge) is the earliest of the four Hindu religious scriptures known as the Vedas. ...

Dalit status has often been historically assigned to occupations regarded as ritually impure, such as any occupation involving killing or handling of animal dead bodies, the collection and disposal of bodily waste, and other jobs that brought the Dalit into constant contact with what society considered to be utterly vile. These occupations, however, were not merely seen as something unpleasant that nevertheless needed to be done: they were considered unclean and polluting towards the individual. Thus, those rendered polluted were considered unfit for physical or social contact with the other sections of society. Dalit is a demeaning term referred to the so-called outcast people of India in a hindu religion. ...

Untouchables used to live separately within a separate subcultural context of their own, outside the inhabited limits of villages and townships. No other castes would interfere with their social life since untouchables were lower in social ranking than even those of the shudra varna. As a result, Dalits were commonly banned from fully participating in Hindu religious life (they could not pray with the rest of the social classes or enter the religious establishments).

The inclusion of lower castes into the mainstream was argued for by Mahatma Gandhi who called them "Harijans" (people of God). The term Dalit is used now as the term Harijan is largely felt patronizing. As per Gandhi's wishes, reservation in universities is now in place for the Dalit community to bring them to the upper echelons of society. Dalit movements have been created to represent the views of Dalits and combat this traditional oppression. Caste-based discrimination is not unique to Hindus in India; converts to other religions and their descendants frequently preserve such social stratification[6]. Caste system among South Asian Muslims refers to units of social stratification that have developed among Muslims in South Asia(largely the region that comprises India and Pakistan), despite Islams egalitarian tenets[1][2]. // Sources indicate that the castes among Muslims developed as the result of close contact with...

Arguments on the Caste System

The varna system is a part of the organization of Hindu society as prescribed (not required) by the Hindu scriptures. Every society even today has intellectuals, scholars, priests (i.e. Brahmins), soldiers (i.e. Kshatriyas), businessmen (i.e. Vaishyas) and laborers (i.e. Shudras). The supposed purpose of the varna system was to ensure an efficient organization of society. It was misinterpreted by people, and that is why it is often criticized, because some people failed to interpret it correctly. The varna system was never rigid and there are significant historic instances of people moving from one varna to another. Some of the notable examples are Sage Valmiki; the author of the great epic Ramayana who was initially a wood-cutter and a robber, Sage Vyasa; the author of the epic Mahabharata, who was the son of a fisherwoman (who herself went on to marry a king later on), Sage Parashurama, a Brahmin who went on to become one of the greatest warriors etc. The greatest example is perhaps Lord Krishna, who was bought up as a cow-herd. He is depicted in many paintings as a young cow-herd playing a flute. Krishna (IAST , the Sanskrit for dark or black) (see below), is according to common Hindu tradition the eighth avatar of Vishnu. ... Yadavas redirects here. ...

The Bhagawad Gita which is one of the many holy books of Hindus mentions that every living being has a soul which is a part of God and has several references against discrimination between not just humans but even animals. The Chapter 5, verse 18 of Bhagawat Gita sums this up by saying that "The enlightened and wise regards with equal mind a Brahmin endowed with learning and humility, a cow, an elephant, and even a dog and an outcaste." The system of four classes incorporated in Righteousness (Dharma) is meant to provide guidance with regard to behaviour and spiritual practice to be undertaken in accordance with qualifications, that is potential and requirement, so as to acquire Bliss.[7] Bhagavad Gīta भगवद्गीता, composed ca the fifth - second centuries BC, is part of the epic poem Mahabharata, located in the Bhisma_Parva chapters 23–40. ...

Untouchability was outlawed after India gained independence in 1947.

Status of women

Main article: Women in Hinduism

Condemned practices like Sati (widow self-immolation or "bride burning") and widow remarriage were social practices that arose in India's Middle Ages, mostly in the northern regions of India, and had little to do with Hindu laws and scriptures. In the later medieval ages, this practice came to be forced on the widows. However this practice was abolished from the society in the 20th century due to the efforts of Lord William Bentinck, the Governor-General of India (1828-1835) and many Hindu reformists, including Raja Ram Mohan Roy.[citation needed] This article or section is not written in the formal tone expected of an encyclopedia article. ... // Ceremony of Burning a Hindu Widow with the Body of her Late Husband, from Pictorial History of China and India, 1851. ... The Lord William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, known as Lord William Bentinck (14 September 1774 - 17 June 1839) was a British statesman who served as Governor-General of India from 1828 to 1835. ... Indian reformer Ram Mohan Roy died in Bristol, England, where this statue of him stands. ...

Sati was not prevalent in ancient history. In the epic Ramayana, King Dasharatha (Rama's father) left behind three widows after his death who never committed Sati. In the same epic, Vali's wife, Ravana's wife, and wives of other fallen warriors did not commit Sati after the death of their husbands. In the Mahabharata, Kunti, the mother of Pandavas, was a widow who never committed Sati. There are no references to Kaurava wives committing Sati after their husbands died in Mahabharata war. Sati was also not practiced by south Indian Hindu communities, and arose after the establishment of Hinduism, around the time of the Gupta Empire, 400 AD. The geographical south of India includes all Indian territory below the 20th parallel. ... The Gupta Empire under Chandragupta II (ruled 375-415) The Gupta Empire was one of the largest political and military empires in the world. ...


  1. ^ Keay, pp. 53-54.
  2. ^ Flood, p. 58.
  3. ^ Flood, p. 58.
  4. ^ Apte, p. 451.
  5. ^ Flood, p. 58.
  6. ^ Ganguly, Rajat; Phadnis, Urmila (2001). Ethnicity and nation-building in South Asia. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 88. ISBN 0-7619-9439-4. 
  7. ^ How did decline in righteousness cause creation of four classes?


  • Apte, Vaman Shivram (1965). The Practical Sanskrit-English Dictionary. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 81-208-0567-4.  Fourth Revised and Enlarged Edition.
  • Flood, Gavin (1996). An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-43878-0. 
  • Keay, John (2000). India: A History. Grove Press. ISBN 0-8021-3797-0. 

  Results from FactBites:
Criticism of Hinduism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1315 words)
From the worldview of the three Abrahamic religions, Hinduism is criticized as being polytheistic, which is contrary to the tenets of those faiths.
Hinduism has often been thought to be polytheistic as many of Hinduism's adherents, i.e., Smartas, who follow Advaita philosophy, are monists, and view multiple manifestations of the one God or source of being.
Hindu women have today unprecedented access to higher education, and have rights to divorce, inherit property, run businesses and choose their own professions and are considered with respect and dignity in all Hindu religious activities.
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