religious essay 4 - What I mean by the term `Hinduism' With...

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What I mean by the term ‘Hinduism’ With its rich history dating back thousands of years, and over 900 million followers, the concept of Hinduism should be well understood and identified at this point in time. However, this seems not to be the case. Hinduism finds itself straddling the line between religion and tradition, which scholars claim are two very different subjects. Some argue that Hinduism should be considered a “world religion because of its numerical magnitude, the global dispersion of its adherents, and its pervasive cultural influence” (Lipner 92). On the other hand, some scholars vehemently deny Hinduism’s categorization as a religion because of its lack of “the centrality of the concept of god, the veneration of a particular person as the founder of a religion, and the recognition of a particular book as an absolutely authoritative scripture” (Sweetman 331). These different ideas have caused much confusion regarding the study and classification of Hinduism, and create an ongoing investigation of how to define ‘Hinduism.’ A banyan tree is an enormous natural structure that grows not only from the ground up, but also from the top down as well as to the sides. Its lateral branches “extend aerial roots from lofty branches down to the ground below and which may eventually develop to look like established trunks in their own right” (Lipner 97). This extraordinary tree looks as though it is composed of many parts, while it is still one single unit. Julius Lipner uses the image of the banyan tree to demonstrate how Hinduism is a polycentric system. Polycentrism, in regards to religion, is a way of organizing religions around several “centers,” and not only one idea, doctrine, or god. He believes that Hinduism is polycentric religion because it does not have one main part to it, but several. There is not one founder of the religion. The term ‘Hinduism’ was originally given as a cultural label for the Indians who inhabited the area around the Indus river valley in India. No single person founded this term, nor did any one individual stand out among 1
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the Hindus to guide and lead them, earning the right to be considered the creator of Hinduism.
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religious essay 4 - What I mean by the term `Hinduism' With...

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