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Nowadays most of the people are just considering Hinduism or Sanathana Dharma as a religion. But actually Hinduism touches almost every aspect of a human life. It clearly defines what to do in a particular stage of life. Human life is divided into mainly 4 Ashramas and clearly assigning duties to be done in particular stage:

  1. Brahmacharya or the period of studentship
  2. Grihastha or the stage of the householder
  3. Vanaprastha or the stage of the forest-dweller or hermit
  4. Sannyasa or the life of renunciation or asceticism

The cultural values have equal importance in Hinduism. Also it teaches how to live a perfect life through its vast collection of books like Vedas, Updanishaths, & Puranas.

Ayurveda & Yoga are some of the examples which deals with health. It also includes many scientific subjects. Vedic mathematics, Astrology, Vasthushasthra, & Geography are some examples. It also teachings about protecting nature. Also, Hinduism is hiding many scientific facts in most of its rituals and sacraments. Many discoveries of modern science were previously discovered by Rishis and Yogis. Religions don't handle all these subjects, they typically focus on worshiping Gods or following particular rituals according to the holy books.

Another thing to notice is that Hinduism does not have a founder. It does not have a single holy book, but it does have a lot of texts which are considered important and those texts discussing a variety of topics.

Christianity - Jesus - Holy Bible
Islam - Allah - Holy Quran
Buddhism - Buddha - Tripitaka
Hinduism - ? - ?

Hinduism does have the method of worshiping Gods, but we need to keep in mind that every culture naturally covers the religious aspects too.


Even though it includes religious aspects, can it be considered as only a religion? Can it be considered as religion like Christianity, Islam or Buddhism? Or, is it a culture which was followed in particular region India and then spread across the world as a religion?

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    You should define more clearly what you think the difference between a "religion" and a "culture" is. Christians would also argue that Christianity's sacred text teaches "how to live [a] perfect life" and that the Bible "touches almost every aspect of a perfect life". The Muslims and the Buddhists probably would, too. – senshin Jun 18 '14 at 19:19
  • Agreed. In my definition of "culture", religion is a component of culture. But it would be best for you define what you mean by each of those terms. – Laura Jun 18 '14 at 19:33
  • Christianity developed within the context of a specific culture & Christianity as practiced today looks very different than it did during early development. To fully understand their texts one needs to understand the early culture. Now, we can certainly call Christianity a religion b/c most of the cultural practices did not spread with it. E.g., when the Germanic peoples converted, they still practiced their traditional culture, but they replaced their Norse beliefs, deities, and practices. Islam is a decent comparison to Hinduism b/c its hard to divorce cultural aspects from the religious. – Rubellite Yakṣī Apr 13 '18 at 5:36
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The misnomer of Hinduism adds to the confusion.

The word Hinduism was coined by Muslims coming from the west who could not pronounce the "s" in Sindhu river. Therefore, they called everyone living east of the river as Indus, or Hindus. Therefore, Hinduism could refer to the entire geographical culture of the Indian subcontinent.

Within the culture of Hinduism, there are numerous lifestyles that are predominantly based around a particular religion, for example Vaisnavism.

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This question can never be answered well enough to satisfy everyone's appetite solely because Hinduism doesn't have any single authority which can pontificate over it's particularities.

But it is interesting to note that Hinduism was a name given to the practice of Sanatana Dharma. Now dharma, in its modern sense translates to religion indeed, but in the vedic sense dharma means righteousness. Righteousness in the way one leads his life and it's many nuances.

So one could argue that Hinduism is not a religion in the strictest definition of it, but with time and cultural advances the lines between a religion and a way of life have become blurred so it can also be argued that Hinduism is indeed a religion like the rest of them.

Since there will never be any official document declaring it as either, it would be best to go with what one believes it to be, albeit makes little difference either ways.

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A better word than Hindu is Vedantists, followers of the Vedanta - which means followers of the 'end of the Vedas' which are the Upanishads. All modern orthodox Hindus are Vedantists, or followers of the philosophical school known more formally as the Mimamsaka. Swami Vivekananda has said that all orthodox Hindus have 3 things in common. Those three are: 1) all believe in God 2) all believe that the Vedas are the revealed word of God and 3) all believe in cycles and rebirth. Whether a monist follower of Sankara or a Vashnavite or a Shakta or a Shavite, all have these three as a common.

Although many outside of India identify all Indians with the word Hindu, to be an 'orthodox' Hindu or 'orthodox' Vedantist, one has to adhere to the 3 things listed above.

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Hinduism says that there are four goals of life, dharma, artha (wealth), kama (desire) and moksha.

Many Hindus concentrate on the first three goals. They strive to acquire wealth, desire for good things of life and strive to do all these virtuously (if they do not want to ignore the precepts of dharma). These Hindus do not give much importance to the spiritual aspect of Hinduism. They don’t, for example, do spiritual practices and some may even be atheists. A system that includes atheism cannot be called religion. So one can characterize this as simply a way of life.

There is another way to live. A small number of Hindus strives to attain moksha and give up striving for wealth or desire for good things of life.

The key point is that Hindus have a choice. They do not have to blindly believe in a fixed doctrine to be a Hindu.

What is the spirit of Hinduism? What are the essential principles? The spirit of science is not dogmatic certainty but the disinterested pursuit of truth, and Hinduism is infused by the same spirit. Fixed intellectual beliefs mark off one religion from another, but Hinduism sets itself no such limits. It is comprehensive and synthetic, seeking unity not in a common creed but in a common quest for truth. Hinduism is more a way of life than a form of thought. It insists not on religious conformity but on a spiritual and ethical outlook in life. It is fellowship of all who accept the law of right and earnestly seek for the truth.

History of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa under British rule by L.S.S. O’Malley quoted in British Paramountcy and Indian Renaissance Part II edited by R. C. Majumdar

Hinduism allows its follower to choose freely his own way of life.

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It looks like your question is geared to promote answers that support views on how Hinduism is greater than other religions.

I will attempt answer parts of the question that I have knowledge about.

Can it be considered as religion like Christianity, Islam or Buddhism?

It is considered a religion by almost all countries. It is a religion according to the universally accepted definition. Most people especially those of other faiths agree that it is a religion.

However the like word puts me in a bit of stitch. Every religion is different and may share similarities. No, religion is perfectly like another.

If you look at most dictionary definition it is a religion.

1) It proposes the bleief or beliefs of the cause, nature and purpose of the universe which ofcourse involves supernatural elements.

2) Supernatural elements are involved.

3) The beliefs are passed on to children most of the time which happens with almost all religions.

4) A belief of a creator or God is involved most of the time.

5) There are of course moral codes given (which many times quote or refer to or involver supernatural forces or elements).

noun

1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.

3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.

4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.

5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/religion

Full Definition of religion

1 a : the state of a religious b (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance

2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices

3 archaic : scrupulous conformity : conscientiousness

4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/religion

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    Ok. What did you want to say? – The Destroyer Apr 13 '16 at 7:33
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    FYI, Hinduism is called as Sanatana Dharma or Eternal Righteousness before some persians named it as Hinduism. There's no word called Religion in Sanskrit or Indian Languages. Religion is a Abrahmic concept. – The Destroyer Apr 13 '16 at 7:46
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    Sanatana Dharma is based on Vedas and Vedas can be read by all 7 billion people on earth. So, Santana Dharma is moreover way of life than Religion. Gods like Shiva, Vishnu are Gods for all people and they are not exclusive to certain country or Religion. Your definition of Religion or "English" definition of Religion is not in accordance with Vedas. Religion has no meaning in Sanatana Dharma. – The Destroyer Apr 13 '16 at 9:03
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    You have defined religion is from a Western dictionary with its Western centric ideas sprung from Judaic-Christian cultural influences. But your answer does not answer the question. The question is whether or not Hinduism is a set of shared culturally defined values beyond just the shared religious defined values. – Swami Vishwananda Apr 13 '16 at 9:27
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    @Wally There are not many religions, there is only one religion. We all worship the same God, we just see Him from different aspects. There are no formalized churches with dogmas as in the West. The Mahimnah-stotra verse 7 says: "As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee." – Swami Vishwananda Apr 14 '16 at 15:09

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