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Hinduism is known for its wide acceptance of other cultures. Most religions, like Christianity, Islam, etc. have very strict rules regarding this. They are not allowed to worship or visit any other religious places. But in Hinduism, I don't see such restrictions like in other religions- Hindus are allowed to visit other religious and pray to Jesus, Allah, and Buddha if they want. Why is it so?

Edit: As MKaama mentioned, there could be different opinions among different philosophical groups within Hinduism regarding this, but I am asking based on a general view, specifically compared to other religions like Christianity, Islam or Buddhism where visiting other religious places have very strict restrictions.

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    your question answers itself.. – Vineet Menon Jun 19 '14 at 7:52
  • Not true. Manah-šikšā by Raghunātha dāsa gosvāmī verse 4: My dear mind, you must categorically relinquish all frivolous and mundane talk, which is like a prostitute who steals all your intelligence and resolve. The desire for liberation is equally evil, for it is like a terrifying tiger, devouring your very being. I further request that you even abandon your attachment to Lord Nārāyana, the husband of Mother Lakšmī, the goddess of fortune, who offers the grand benediction of residence in Vaikuntha. I simply and humbly request that you live in Vraja and worship Šrī Rādhā and Šrī Krišna,... – MKaama Jul 15 '14 at 8:50
  • Question sounds like "Why Hindus (not hinduism) is liberal to other relegion". – Shekhar Pankaj Jan 6 '16 at 6:33
  • Hinduism is way before than any other religion – Vishu Jan 30 '16 at 13:28
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Because Hinduism is not structured like Islam or Christianity. There is no 'one' supreme god or 'one' single book to guide you. Everyone is free to find their own way to the ultimate freedom (moksha) and most of the religious books (Vedas, Upanishads, Geeta etc.) prohibit harming other living things. As long as you don't hurt anyone, you can live even without praying and not be condemned. If however you wish to pursue spiritual path to achieve moksha, you are free to worship any god/force/inspiration in a harmless way.

I am an atheist and have learnt a little about a few religions. I have come to believe that Hinduism is the next best thing to atheism and agnosticism.

EDIT:

I had answered this question 6 years ago, when I was way more ignorant (than now :) ), and largely unaware of my ignorance, and had many presumptions, and misconceptions. (Reading this extremely narcissistic, and idiotic line makes me cringe every time: "I am an atheist and have learnt a little about a few religions".. )

Now (year 2020), I would't even dare to attempt answering this question, as I wouldn't know what you mean by Hinduism, atheism, agnosticism etc. , let alone compare it to other religions (which I know even less about), because these concepts are defined / understood differently by almost everyone. Specially defining hinduism is even more difficult cause there isn't one definition / practice / book / institution accepted by ALL.

Also, though generally Hindu population (or a large section of it, if not the religion itself) do not have restriction on visiting other religious places, there are few Hindu temples, which do not allow non-hundu people to enter. So its not as open a culture / religion EVERYWHERE in India as well.

I did not want to delete / edit original text in my answer because it is an accepted answer, and has been upvoted a few times, so changing it would feel like cheating, even if the answer turns out to be inaccurate, (or as some comments below argue, completely wrong).

My original answer, would probably, still have some relevance, if you consider the question only asks why "Hindus" (not hinduism) have no restrictions, and the fact that most Hindus (even some religiously sincere ones), haven't read, are aware of, or even considered the question of what should be, THE authoritative book / god / person / practice etc. to follow.

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    this is a wide misconception. atheism and hindu dharma is like bullets and bullet proof vest. bullets are only used to test the vest and to show the world that they cannot penetrate it. similarly the scriptures play devil's advocate and argue atheism to the core and then strike them down with bigger truths. there is no place for atheism in hinduism. atheists are condemned in scriptures. – ram Nov 22 '18 at 5:18
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    Allowing the discussion as a debate, even if struck down by higher truths, is a generous thing for a religion. – Whirl Mind Dec 30 '18 at 15:46
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    That is not true there is a supreme god! Hinduism is a monotheistic religion. "As long as you don't hurt anyone, you can live even without praying and not be condemned." Also not true. There are many behaviors which are considered sins. "If however you wish to pursue spiritual path to achieve moksha, you are free to worship any god/force/inspiration in a harmless way." Also not true. There are rules for worship. For atheist you are not very familiar with Hinduism. – Wikash_ Jul 22 at 7:38
  • @Wikash_ "For atheist you are not very familiar with Hinduism" .. :) .. definitely. Can you also provide some more references for further reading to get more clarity on your points? Specifically about "Hinduism is a monotheistic religion", and "There are rules for worship". Where, when, and by who(m?) these rules are defined, and more importantly how they are / were followed by, or forced on majority of Hindu practitioners etc.? – Swapnil Luktuke Jul 22 at 8:52
  • @Wikash_ I am also very curious to know how polytheistic rituals / practices in hinduism like worshiping plants / animals, stars / planets, water / wind ( forces of nature) etc. fit into a "monotheistic" interpretation / view of hinduism, if there is one. – Swapnil Luktuke Jul 22 at 9:43
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Adding to what @Swapnil Luktuke has answered,

Hinduism is a way of living, it is a culture passed down by ancient rishis and Yogis. It just helps to realize who you are. As a culture, it does not need any conversions based on religions. Even if there are so many beliefs, rituals and sacraments in Hinduism it all leads to the single road, self-realization. According to Hinduism, for attaining self-realization you can follow any path. So for being a Hindu you do not need any conversions.

This culture knows that every God is the same. They see God in everything, in trees, in animals, in stones and in every human. So according to Hindus, Krishna, Jesus, Allah and Shiva are all equal.

The most important texts in Hinduism, the 4 Vedas, mahavakyas (ultimate messages) are the following.

  1. Rig Veda - prajñānam brahma - Wisdom/consciousness is Brahman (highest truth)

  2. Atharva Veda - ayam ātmā brahma - I am this Self is Brahman

  3. Sama Veda - tat tvam asi - You are that(Brahman)

  4. Yajur Veda - aham brahmāsmi - I am that (Brahman)

Hindus do not pray "Hindu Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu", instead they pray "Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu" (May all world be well). That world includes people of every religion, atheist and every living being.

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    Also Hindus don't claim exclusivity when it comes to liberation. While Christianity & Islam claim they hold the exclusive right to provide salvation. Hence Hindus are not restricted it believing in multiple versions of the same truth. – Bharat Jun 28 '14 at 17:36
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    There have been fierce disputes among philosophical schools, conversions, infiltrations and hijackings of knowledge and disciples. Consider Buddhism/Kumarila Bhatta/Mandana Mishra/Ubhaya Bharati/Shankara. Also, I want a reference that "according to Hindus Krishna, Jesus, Allah and Shiva are equal". And the four mahāvākyas are only prominent among monists, other schools have different values. – MKaama Jul 15 '14 at 8:03
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The answer to this question is to be found in Swami Tapasyananda's insightful explanation of Gita 4.11 which says

O Partha! Whosoever worships Me through whatsoever path, I verily accept and bless them in that way. Men everywhere follow My path.

Swami Tapasyananda in his Commentary on the Gita says the following on this verse:

'This verse is the fundamental tenet of the universal religion. Wherever worship is done, only the one Supreme Being is worshipped. No one, except the perfected sage, can worship Him in His fullness, since the human mind can grasp only limited aspects of Him. The more an individual or a community is evolved, the more noble and comprehensive will be their conception of the Deity. But the less evolved man too is adoring the same Deity, grasping such aspects of His as his undeveloped mind would allow. It is just like various forms being chipped from a huge block of marble. The more skilled the workman, the more artistic will be the forms chipped out of the block. Even if it is crude, it is of the same block. Such are the various conceptions of the Deity; none can claim that his conception embraces the whole of Him, because He cannot be contained within the limitation of a mind, as a bottle cannot contain the whole of the sea. He reveals only what one is fit to receive. So according to the stages of human evolution, there will be different conceptions of the Deity, and the followers of one, even if they think theirs is more refined, need not look down upon others as heathens or Kaffirs worshipping false Deities, and consider themselves alone as the followers of the true Deity. For whatever the path, God approaches man through that path, and if the faith of the votary is genuine, he will be led to higher and higher forms of worship. So the followers of every religion must have respect for, and have acceptance of, the faith and form of worship of other religions in spite of the differences that are sure to prevail in their ideologies and practices. For it is the same God that is worshipped by them all. Just as all rivers, in spite of their divergent courses, lead to the same ocean, so do all faiths lead to Him, i.e., take one to the same God who inspires them all. This Gita teaching has been proclaimed to the modern world by Sri Ramakrishna in his saying: "As many faiths, so many paths".'

Srimad Bhagavad Gita translated by Swami Tapasyananda

The above interpretation of Gita 4.11 does not mean that Hindus regard all religions to be same or of equal value as can be seen from the following quote:

You must remember that humanity travels not from error to truth, but from truth to truth; it may be, if you like it better, from lower truth to higher truth, but never from error to truth. Suppose you start from here and travel towards the sun in a straight line. From here the sun looks only small in size. Suppose you go forwards a million miles, the sun will be much bigger. At every stage the sun will become bigger and bigger. Suppose twenty thousand photographs had been taken of the same sun, from different standpoints; these twenty thousand photographs will certainly differ from one another. But can you deny that each is a photograph of the same sun? So all forms of religion, high or low, are just different stages towards that eternal state of light, which is God Himself. Some embody a lower view, some a higher, and that is all the difference.

Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, IV, p147

Why are Abrahamic faiths so strict about visiting places of other religions? The answer is that monotheism of Abrahamic faiths is really my-theism. It is either my way or the highway.

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  • This is unfortunately the same path which RKM takes. Agreed, Gita states about multiple paths to reach the supreme, but it doesn't say all paths lead to truth. Gita asks you to distinguish wrong path from the right ones. I feel really let down seeing how RKM literally worships Jesus and Mary on Christmas Eve (media.belurmath.org/christmas-eve-2015-533#sthash.Z3sDk9Wa.dpbs) being a Hindu organization working for Hindu cause. – Vineet Menon Jan 6 '16 at 10:39
  • Aid Shankaracharya doesnt interpret this verse as saying "I can be reached by all paths.' Here's how he interprets it: "Therefore, by granting fruits to those who hanker after fruits; by granting Knowledge to those who follow what has been stated (in the scriptures) and are seekers of Liberation, but do not hanker after rewards; and by granting Liberation to those who are men of wisdom and are monks aspiring for Liberation; and so also by removing the miseries of those who suffer- in these ways I favour them just according to the manner, in which they approach Me. This is the meaning." – Keshav Srinivasan Jan 6 '16 at 11:20
  • that delineation by shankara is based upon rewards from preyas versus those from sreya. – Kauvasara Oct 24 '19 at 1:17
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Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 7, Verse 21

यो यो यां यां तनुं भक्त: श्रद्धयार्चितुमिच्छति | तस्य तस्याचलां श्रद्धां तामेव विदधाम्यहम् || 21||

yo yo yāṁ yāṁ tanuṁ bhaktaḥ śhraddhayārchitum ichchhati tasya tasyāchalāṁ śhraddhāṁ tām eva vidadhāmyaham

Translation BG 7.21: Whatever celestial form a devotee seeks to worship with faith, I steady the faith of such a devotee in that form.

So, nature of the faith is of importance as per God, externally what is present is just a medium to believe in the Supreme almighty God.

While God also explained that if for fruits only one worships with faith, he himself has to grant those material benefits asked by devotees-

Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 7, Verse 22

स तया श्रद्धया युक्तस्तस्याराधनमीहते | लभते च तत: कामान्मयैव विहितान्हि तान् || 22||

sa tayā śhraddhayā yuktas tasyārādhanam īhate labhate cha tataḥ kāmān mayaiva vihitān hi tān

BG 7.22: Endowed with faith, the devotee worships a particular celestial god and obtains the objects of desire. But in reality I alone arrange these benefits.

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