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Why hinduism is the most tolerant religion
Posted By Sarin on Aug 27, 2013     RSS Feeds     Latest Hinduism news
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Short overview on Hinduism
For more than five millenniums, Hinduism has contributed treasures of spiritual wisdom to global civilizations and even today, continues to inspire millions of relentless souls. Among all religions, Contribution of Hinduism remains unmatched across several domains, right from science, mathematics and astronomy to medicine, music and linguistics.  
With more than 1 billion adherents worldwide, Hinduism is the third largest religion of the world. Though more than 94% of the total Hindu population lives in India,  Nepal has the distinction of being the only official Hindu state with 90% of its population following Hinduism. Smaller number of Hindus are scattered across all countries including Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Pakistan, Guyana, Britain and United States.  
Why hinduism is the most tolerant religion
Hindus prefer to call themselves the follower of Santana dharma. Sanatana means “Eternal moral order” and Dharma means “righteousness". Adhering to dharma results in eternal bliss and guides the path of self realization.  
  
Why there is a need for tolerance?
Sri aurobindo, one of the greatest philosopher of all times declared that Hinduism would rise not only in India but all across the world. Arnold Toynbee Commented that 21st century would need the tolerance of Hinduism. Seeing terrorist and religious attacks across the world, one would realize the utmost importance of religious tolerance in this materialistic world. So, in this article, we will see a few precepts on intolerance in Hinduism.
  
What Supreme Court of India says about tolerance in Hinduism
According to 1996 judgment of honorable Supreme Court , Hinduism or hindutva can be defined as
“Hindutva is indicative more of the way of life of the Indian people. It is not to be understood or construed narrowly. It is not Hindu fundamentalism nor is it to be confined only to the strict Hindu religious practices or as unrelated to the culture and ethos of the people of India, depicting the way of life of the Indian people. Considering Hindutva as hostile, inimical, or intolerant of other faiths, or as communal proceeds from an improper appreciation of its true meaning.”
  
Hinduism-the most tolerant religion
Hinduism has the distinction of being highly tolerant compared to other modern religions. “Tolerance in abundance” is the hallmark of Hinduism.  One of the foremost reasons behind tolerance of Hinduism is the acceptance of all faiths. Intolerance arises when one does not agree to the views of others. Why hinduism is the most tolerant religion
  
Hindu is not a religious word (also read Origin of word Hindu) but a geographic word wrongly propagated by Muslims invaders.  Since Hinduism is a geographically and time bounded term, it is used interchangeably to convey both religion as well as culture. Religions are stagnant and have fixed set of laws, rules and doctrines Since Hinduism does not have any such doctrines or rules, it is not called as a separate religion and is better known as the cultural way of living life
Below are some of the reasons on why Hinduism is the most tolerant religion
All religions leads to the same supreme God
Hindus believe that all religions lead to the same divine truth, though the path (teachings) differs from one another.  Unlike other religion, Hindus don’t criticize or condemn non-Hindus, agnostics or atheists.  
  
He who hates no single being, is friendly and compassionate, free from self-regard and vanity, patient, contented, fixed on me in heart and mind, is dear to me-Lord Krishna

Liberty to choose your religion and god
You have the absolute liberty to choose or influence your faith, beliefs, deities etc. There is no compulsion of going to temples. Hindus have the right to worship even Jesus or Allah or adhere to atheism. Hindus are not punished or threatened for not praying or believing in God, though the scriptures do urge followers to chant the holy name of God so as to get liberated from the rough path of materialistic pains and gains.  Hinduism is the amalgamation of all kinds of worships with no mandate of any kind of selection or elimination.
Why hinduism is the most tolerant religion
Devotees happy to choose gods of Hinduism

Hindus are open to other religions
Hindus are absolutely open minded and nurtures the good things coming from all directions, best expressed in the vedic verse as “aa no bhadrAH kratavo yantu vishvataH”. Hinduism recognizes different spiritual paths to attain salvation (moksha) just like you can reach the mountain by choosing any one of the several paths.
Hinduism not only promotes tolerance but also respect the religious, cultural and traditional beliefs of other religions as one of the alternate ways to realize the ultimate truth (God). Below verse says the same
Ekam sat vipraha bahudha vadanti
Truth is one, the wise call it by many names.
Same was said in a different way by lord Krishna as  
"Whoever invokes a deity by whatever name, it is me he invokes"

Hinduism is open to critics and criticism
Hindus are aware that all religions or critics do not have the same level of goodness and truth, yet they grant them the freedom to express their views. As a result, we have many intolerant religious leaders like Zakir naiK who openly lambast Hinduism and spread the message of hate and violence all around India.  
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Instead of retaliating, most of the Hindus just ignore his speech by thinking him as some deceived retarded greedy materialistic man. Similarly, there are many news channels and authors who broadcast and write hateful false information against Hinduism to please their foreign missionaries funding their work (Read Why you should not trust foreign funded news channel).  Not to be deceived by such cheap materialistic distractors, Hinduism scriptures urges devotees to study and analyze all paths and variations (religions) to seek god in this materialistic world.

Hinduism thinks the universe as one big family
Hindus believe this world as one big family (vasudhaiva kutumbakam) and hence, there is no competition with any other faiths or religion.  Thousands of foreigners come every day in northern India with a quest to seek spirituality. None of them are asked to convert by authentic Indian gurus.  
Why hinduism is the most tolerant religion
One Big family taking a dip in holy ganga river at world largest religious festival-(kumbh mela) Read
Symbolism of story behind kumbh mela-world largest gathering on earth>

Hinduism venerates diverse philosophies, deities, symbols, rituals and practices and don’t derive the identity of an individual as believer/non-believer or Hindu/non-Hindu. Instead, Hinduism believes in following practices and philosophies that would make an individual a better human beings co-existing peacefully with peoples of other faith, creed or community. Hindu may embrace a non-Hindu because the soul should connect two individuals, not their religion.

Hindus embraces all religions
Oneness and inclusiveness is the soul of Hinduism. This is why there are millions of deities in Hinduism (also read How many Gods in Hinduism>  ). Hindus embraces all cultures and spiritual path to reach the same supreme god. One concept which makes Hinduism completely different from other religion is atheism. You can be an atheist and Hindu both.  
Hinduism is like a big ocean that opens his arms for every river irrespective of its place of origin. In this big ocean of Hinduism, everyone and everything is allowed. Hinduism is like a world wide web that is open and accessible by followers of all faiths, faiths, places, societies, countries etc. This is the reason why non-Hindus continues to flourish in India while Hindus are severely exploited in all other nations. Because of the tolerance of Hindus and non-tolerance of other faiths, Percentage of followers belonging to minority religions like Christianity and Muslims have increased in India whereas the percentage of Hindus living in non-tolerant countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia etc have declined by more than 500% percent.  
Note that Hindu-Muslims riots in India are not religiously motivated, instead politically triggered by corrupt politicians and bureaucrats.    
  
Hinduism does not believe in conversion
Hindus don’t have any interest in converting peoples of other faith. There is no concept of conversion in Hinduism because essence of god is in everyone. Only there is a need to invoke your inner consciousness to connect with supreme god through yoga and meditation. So, anyone who meditates and chants the holy name of the god is the follower of Hinduism. i.e anyone who does his acts in pursuit of seeking spiritual knowledge and divine consciousness, following the right set of ethical action is the  follower of Santana dharma.
Why hinduism is the most tolerant religion
They are Christian and not Hindu converts, yet they follow rituals of Hinduism

Hindus believe everything is god and god is in everyone
Followers of sanatana dharma believe in the manifestation of god in every particle, every atom and every molecules of this universe. (Also read Does God exists everywhere > ) . By accepting everything as divine, Hinduism see this universe as a big family (vasudhaiva kutumbakam).
Why hinduism is the most tolerant religion
  Since everything is divine, whom to hate? A true Hindu accepts all living beings as the manifestation of the same supreme god. Each soul in every being including plants and animals has the essence of god as its soul. (also read Why Animal worship in hinduism>Therefore, Hindus encourages the brotherhood and unity among all universal living entities. Humans are the most intelligent and spiritually evolved of all living organisms and hence, carry greater responsibility of not only tolerating, but also treating all living beings equally with love, care and respect.  
  Below is one of the most popular verses chanted by priests in temples
Om sarve bhavantu sukhinah. Sarve santu niraamayaah.
Sarve bhadraani pashyantu. Maa kaschid dukhbhaag bhavet.

May all beings be happy. May all beings be healthy.
May all beings experience prosperity. May none in the world suffer.
  
  
Hinduism offer freedom in rituals and practices
Hinduism is the religion of freedom. It allows absolute freedom in faiths and beliefs with regards to questions on Soul, God, Creation, goal and forms of worship.  Hinduism does not have any strict rules or dogma. There is no blasphemy in Hinduism. It offers you an ultimate freedom to enquire, reflect, investigate and debate all sorts of rituals, customs, traditions and forms of worship and if you still don’t find answers that suits your mind, you have the freedom to not follow that belief or ritual. Hinduism lays emphasis on finding the absolute truth through yoga and meditation, instead of following the dogmas and beliefs written in scriptures.  
Why hinduism is the most tolerant religion
All of them are happy to follow the rituals of singing prayers and chanting mantras

Hinduism does not have a single holy book
Unlike other religions, Hinduism is not derived from the teachings of any prophet or book nor does it state revelations in any book as the final and fundamental doctrine.  Hinduism believes that truth can never be defined by only one person of any sect, creed or community. Hinduism does not have the teachings recorded from the single source of knowledge or wisdom (EX: Muhammad in Islam, Abraham in Judaism and Jesus Christ in Christianity). Hinduism does not have any single book as the point of authority. Instead, it has congregation of books written by enlightened saints and seers. Some of these books are bhagavad gita, Vedas, Upanishad etc. One finds different ideas, beliefs, inspirations and stories in these books that guide them in all their daily activities. Though all books talks about following some rituals, you have the right to either accepts those rituals or rejects those rituals.

Hinduism was not founded by any prophet
Hinduism is the only religion that is not founded on any single historical incident or events of modern history. Unlike Islam, Buddhism and Christianity, Hinduism was not founded by a single person. Origin of Hinduism is beyond the boundaries of recorded history. Since it encompasses all other religions and has directly or indirectly influenced all other religions, it is rightly called as "the mother of all religions". No Body controls, governs or owns Hinduism. Like Pope of Vatican city, Hinduism does not have guru that defines, accepts or rejects practices of Hinduism. There is no one to tell you that “you should not do yoga because it is not declared in the religious teachings of your religion.” The problem with western organized religions are that they are not worshipping the god but the sayings or teachings of the group or the authority that claims to speak on behalf of god. Religion is a matter of intuitions and experiences. Hence, any organization or individual who try to influence others by conversion or false preaching is committing the sin of highest order.  
  
Hindus see deity in guest
Hindus believes in “athithi devobhava” i.e Guests are god.
Why hinduism is the most tolerant religion
  According to an ancient puranic story, god appeared as guest on the door of a spiritual saint to test his hospitality. Thereafter, it is believed “god may come uninvited in the form of guest.” So, all guests are treated as divine in Hinduism. This is the reason why India never attacked any other country but got attacked by every other country again and again. Following the belief of “Guests are god” and non-violence, legendary king Prithviraj chauhan left invading mughal king ‘Ghori’ 19 times before being killed treacherously in his 20th invasion.  

Hindus visualize the divinity in every living being
Hinduism believes in the divinity of all living beings and therefore practices ahimsa or non-violence against animals (also read <Why cow is sacred to hindus>  ). In the true sense, Ahimsa does not mean non-violence and is best defined as “the absence of desire to harm” or “causing the minimum harm possible”. Since everything is divine, Hindus believe in doing minimum harm to environment and taking only what is needed for the survival. This is the reason why Hinduism encourages vegetarianism and polluting the environment is declared as a punishable offence in manu smriti.(also read <Why humans are naturally herbivorous>  ) The Indian art of Vastu-shastra was idealized to construct building without obstructing the natural flow of air, rivers, flora and fauna. This ensured the peaceful existence with the deities (Vayu, varuna, agni etc) of materialistic world. Hinduism states that “Nature can fulfill everyman's need but not everyone's greed”. Every element of this nature is divine and subjected to worship for its shelter, food, manure and a full-fledge life supporting system. This is the prime reason why trees, air, rivers, mountains, Sun, Moon, planets, and even animals are worshipped in Hinduism. Scriptures says “Taru devo bhava”, meaning trees are divine. So, true Hindus don’t cut trees unnecessarily and strive daily to preserve each aspect of nature.
has never been a time when you and I have not existed, nor will there be a time when we will cease to exist. As the same person inhabits the body through childhood, youth, and old age, so too at the time of death he attains another body. The wise are not deluded by these changes”.-Lord Krishna

There is only one reality(God) in Hinduism
Hindus believe in only one reality. This reality transcend everywhere and in every living beings.  One reality is worshipped as the trinity gods: Brahma (Creator), Vishnu (Preserver) and Shiva (destroyer). Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are not different gods, but the manifestations of the same supreme divine god.  
Why hinduism is the most tolerant religion
They are called as deities and are accompanied by female consorts: Saraswati, Lakshmi and Sati (Durga). (Also read Is Goddess Durga the supreme universal mother <Is Goddess Durga the supreme universal mother> )
Religious tolerance can be best explained through the following example given by Ram swarup
In the spiritual realm there are two categories: God and your neighbor. There are two approaches
You look at god through your neighbor.
You look at neighbor through your God  
In the first approach, you think “If my neighbor is as good as I am, then his god must also be good as mine”. But in the second approach, intolerance arises. You think that “If my god is good for me, it must be good for my neighbor also. If my neighbor is not worshipping my god, then he must be worshipping some evil. So, he must be converted.”
First approach promotes tolerance and encourages worshiping the god in various manifestations. Second approach is highly intolerant and permits worshipping the god in only one way.
In short, the claim that there is only one way to god sounds like “spiritual racism”

“He who is full of faith and zeal, and has subdued his senses attains knowledge; having attained knowledge, he soon attains supreme peace”.-Lord Krishna

Best example of tolerance in Hindus
Best example of tolerance in Hindus is glorified in swami Vivekananda words at world religion parliament, where he started by saying “I am proud to belong to a religion which had taught the world tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal tolerance, but we accept all religions as true. My nation had always sheltered outsiders - for instance, fleeing Israelites and Zoroastrians.”
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Hinduism encourages intolerance against Evil
Though Hinduism is very tolerant in general, it does not justify intolerance against evil and adharma. All Hindus are inspired to resist evil and are taught to not tolerate injustice, violence or adharma(Unrighteousness). This is the centric message of bhagavad gita, mahabharata and all puranas. Bhagavad gita gives the clear indication on the divine and demoniac qualities in a man and advocates his follower to inculcate dharma by transforming themselves. Note that even the fight against evil has some rules and ethics. Unlike other religions that encourages burning, torturing, assaulting, imprisoning and brutal killing of humans/non-believers, Hinduism believes in convincing your evil opponent multiple times to follow the ethical path and still, if the mutual conflicts remains or arises, then kill him in an honorable way to protect the pious, destroy evil and re-establish the rule of law and justice.

Hinduism spreads the message of universal brotherhood
Devotees should follow the one (Guru) who preaches the message of universal brotherhood, unity and harmony. Imminent faith among the masses turns a human into a saint. A supreme example of this is an illiterate fisher woman from south India, Mata Amritananda Mayi(best known as hugging saint),  who has hugged more than 33 million peoples, thereby showering eternal peace, care and love on them.
  
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Born smiling, this young lady in white sari has even hugged communists, Muslims fanatics and Christians of Kerala.

Conclusion
This elasticity and flexibility in theologies and philosophies (discussed above) makes Hinduism the world oldest tolerant religion and way ahead of all other modern religions. Tolerance of Hindus has set the ideal environment in India for peaceful co-existence of all 9 major religions including Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Bahai’s and Zoroastrianism. Let us pray god to give us enough strength, wisdom and power to tolerate the cheap deeds of greedy materialistic man and fight against evil and unrighteousness.


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