There really is no such thing as Hindu-ism. This term and concept was coined only in recent times.
The Hindu civilisation was born on the banks of the river Sindhu, which is known as Indus today. When the Persians came, they introduced the term ‘Hindu’, derived from the Sanskrit word Sindhu, to denote the people who live beyond the river Sindhu. Essentially, what you call Hindu is a geographical and cultural identity. It had never been the intention to organise it into a religious identity. Basically, the whole culture was oriented towards realising one’s full potential.
It is only recently and due to external influences that this geographical and cultural identity has attempted to transform itself into a religious identity. Hindu was never an ‘ism’, and the attempt to organise it as a religion is still not successful because the Hindu way of life, which is referred to as Sanatana Dharma or universal law, is all-inclusive in nature and does not exclude anything. The Hindu way of life is not an organised belief system, but a science of salvation. The conflicts in the world have always been projected as good versus bad, but really, the conflict is always one man’s belief versus another man’s belief. In the past, religion was far more important to people than it is now, but still there were no theocratic states in this culture; the ruler had his religion and the subjects had the freedom to follow theirs. There was no conflict because people did not look at religion as an organised process.
There is no belief system to the Hindu way of life. Someone believes in God, someone else can choose not to believe in God. Everybody can have their own way of worship and way to salvation. Essentially, this whole culture referred to as Hindu is rooted in the spiritual ethos of each individual working toward ultimate liberation as the fundamental goal in life.
In the East, spirituality and religion were never an organised process. Organisation was only to the extent of making spirituality available to everybody—not for conquest. People worshipped whatever aspect of life they related to most, and that was perfectly fine.
Essentially, in the East, religion is about you, it is not about God. Religion is about your liberation. God is just one more stepping stone that you can use or skip towards your ultimate liberation. The essential purpose of God is to create reverence in a person. What you worship is not important. It is not about liking something or disliking it. The object of reverence is irrelevant. If you make reverence the quality of your life, then you become far more receptive to life. Life will happen to you in bigger ways.
This culture recognises human wellbeing and freedom as of paramount importance versus the prominence of God. This is a place where people understood that God is our making and not the other way around and hence, the whole god-making technology evolved into the science of consecrating various types of forms and spaces.
In this culture, the variety of gods and goddesses are unbelievable and endless, from the subtlest to the weirdest. Mark Twain heard so much about Indian mysticism that he decided to travel to India and spend some time here. Before he left, he said: “Anything that can ever be done either by man or by God has been done in this land.”
If you explore mysticism in India, it is absolutely incredible and this has been possible because it does not come from a belief system but it happens as a scientific means to explore dimensions beyond the physical.
The author is a prominent spiritual leader.