The Uniqueness of Hindu Religion

Hindus have an interest in theology and often a passion for it. Few works of art or literature are purely secular: the intellectual and aesthetic efforts of India, long, continuous and distinguished as they are, are monotonous inasmuch as they are almost all the expression of some religious phase. But the religion itself is extraordinarily full and varied. The love of discussion and speculation creates considerable variety in practice and almost unlimited variety in creed and theory. There are few dogmas known to the theologies of the world which are not held by some of India’s multitudinous sects, and it is perhaps impossible to make a single general statement about Hinduism, to which some sects would not prove an exception.

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As a form of life and thought Hinduism is definite and unmistakable. In whatever shape it presents itself it can be recognized at once. But it is so vast and multitudinous that only an encyclopedia could describe it and no formula can summarize it. Essayists flounder among conflicting propositions such as that sectarianism is the essence of Hinduism or that no educated Hindu belongs to a sect. Either can easily be proved, for it may be said of Hinduism, as it has been said of zoology, that you can prove anything if you merely collect facts which support your theory and not those which conflict with it. Hence many distinguished writers err by overestimating the phase which specially interests them.

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All these views are tenable because though Hindu life may be cut up into castes and sects, Hindu creeds are not mutually exclusive and repellent. They attract and colour one another.

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