Before we initiate a discussion on specific branch of Hinduism, let’s first focus on what ‘religion’ means to a common person. It usually comprises a set of beliefs, scriptures, mythology and method of praying to the chosen deity. Broadly speaking it helps to find a level of emotional security and strength to face the undesirable in our daily routine. As we earn leisure in our routine, we tend to look beyond these things i.e. security, routine and all that grind of daily life. The more we see, the more we question.
Our efforts to know about the Existence through the streams of science, art and humanities illuminate but the stray patches (even though they are ever broadening) of the Reality as a whole. The ever expanding knowledge in myriad fields is yet to grasp fully the mysteries of emotions, death and fathomless human thought process. The effort of any civilization to bridge these gaps leads to thought component of religion and the inspiration to its component of faith.
Just as any hypothesis or theory of Science is considered closer to Reality if it has scope to encompass further observations and continues to explain later discoveries; the Religious faith also evolves and is tested on these two touchstones. Thus the religious thoughts which could absorb the later development in society and science withstood the tests of time and expanded their horizon. Some such thought processes continuing from antiquity are still surviving like Zoroastrianism of Persia, Shintoism of Japan and Shamanism of China with shrunken base and Judaism and Hinduism with stable or expanding base. The line going backwards in chronology for these religions blurs in antiquity and their origin cannot be linked to any book or any prophet. But moving forward, these thought processes of survivor religions imbibed the later developments that came their way, internalised the evolution and thrived through the ages.
This is the outline of religious faith that emerges from darkness predating known history and proceeds to illuminate the modern mind.
So we shall take our next step to acquaint ourselves with Hinduism….one of the surviving faith.