Hinduism is the predominant religion of the Indian subcontinent.
Hinduism is often referred to as Santana Dharma, a phrase meaning "the eternal law".
Hinduism can be described as the 'museum' of religions. No other religious tradition
is so eclectic, so diversified in its theoretical premises as well as its practical
expression. Hinduism can be called as Sanatana Dharma or the religion Perenis. As
the name implies ananta (without a beginning), it is eternal and ever-lasting (Shashvata).
It is the only major religion which has not been traced to a specific founder and
the only one which does not have a holy book as the one and only scriptural authority.
Sacred texts of Hindu religion consists of Vedas, Upanishads Bhagavad Gita etc.
Hinduism always absorbs anything that is good and valuable and at the same time,
it shares its wisdom with whomever earnestly seeks it. Its doors are open to all.
Hinduism does not attempt at conversion. It is against any forceful conversion or
inflictions on the non-believers. Its faith is that all men are born, children of
Sanatana Dharma. Once people become aware of this inheritance and follow its universal
principles, there is no need for any further conversion. Even the most uncompromising
atheist finds a place in Sanatana Dharma and his philosophy and way of life are
duly noticed and his arguments heard with all patience. This arises from the belief that even such a person may one day realise his fundamental values of life and become
a follower of Dharma.
Hinduism has not only recognized the different aptitudes and temperaments of people
but devised ways of life, catering to such needs. It has also divided individual
life into different stages or ashramas. Thus a child is treated as an Anupanita
or uninitiated, lives a life of discipline and study and acquires knowledge and
virtue (Brahmacharya ashrama). He leads a life of voluntary poverty, subjects himself
to strict disciplining of his senses and mind and becomes a well groomed and highly
cultured person. Then he marries and leads a family life (Grihastha ashrama) and
brings up his children in the right traditions. By learning the Vedas, offering
sacrifices to gods and begetting a son, he pays off the three debts --debt to sages,
to gods and the manes. As he grows older, he becomes a forest dweller (Vanaprastha
Ashrama) with all passions and prejudices removed. There perhaps is no better scheme
of life, that harmonises the needs and the development of the individual and society
in such a well knit fashion. Thus the Sanatana Dharma emphasises a comprehensive
view of life which aims at the realization of both Abhyudaya and Nishreyas - worldly
prosperity and spiritual good.