Modern Hinduism
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Modern Hinduism

Hinduism in today's world is a reflection of the continuous and progressive changes that have occurred in its various traditions and institutions throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

By the end of eighteenth century, many ill-practices had crept into the religion, such as superstition, rigid rituals, social obscurantism, tyrannical polytheism and rites like animal sacrifice. Women were put through many tortures and injustices in the name of Hinduism. The Caste System had led to segregation and untouchability. It was the reformist changes to such practices that brought about the emergence of modern Hinduism.

The reform process was influenced by rational thought, exposure to Western Culture and modern education and also by the ideals of humanism, rationalism and religious universalism. This ‘awakening’ had different strands combating the conservative elements, imbibing a rational western outlook, adopting a western education system, countering Christian missionary criticism, supporting revivalist tendencies, reforming the legal system and improving social work.

Westerners also contributed to Hinduism. Orientalists and Indologists, like William Jones and Max Muller, brought in an awareness of the past while others, such as the Theosophical Society, contributed more directly. Theosophy was a mix of religion, philosophy and occultism. It stood for universal brotherhood and a more spiritual life and subscribed to the philosophy of Hinduism and its doctrines of Karma and the transmigration of the soul. The society became most famous during the time of Annie Besant (1847-1933). It also contributed to social work and education.

The Twentieth Century also saw the emergence of many philosophers and saints. Important among them were Aurobindo Ghosh (Auroville, Pondicherry), S. Radhakrishnan and J. Krishnamurti. Modern reformers and philosophers have generally emphasised Vedanta which represents the culmination of the long Vedic tradition into the finest philosophy of the Upanishads, the Bhagawad Gita and the Brahma Sutras. Vedanta (or Uttara Mimansa) incidentally is only one of the six systems of orthodox Hindu philosophy.

Outside India an example of change is Indonesia (as in Bali), where Hinduism in the form of ‘adat’ (tradition) has reconstructed itself to ‘agama’ (religion), which can be seen as an Indonesian variety of Hinduism.

What is another name for people known as "Harijan"?
Great Souls
Hari Krishnas
Mahatma Gandhi popularised the term "harijan" (which means 'Child of Hari' - Hari is an alias of Vishnu) for the untouchable caste of society also known as the Dalits
Which temple in India today has the highest number of visitors?
The Siddhivinayak Temple
The Meenakshi Temple
The Khajuraho Temple
The Iskcon of East of Kailash
The Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai was built by Vithu and Deubai Patil in the year 1801 and receives the highest number of visitors per day. It is dedicated to Lord Shri Ganesh
The Pashupatinath is the most popular temple in which country?
Sri Lanka
The UK
Pashupatinath is the most famous cremation ground and the most popular temple of Lord Shiva in Nepal
Although not a Hindu, which famous personality saved Hindu women from the heinous superstitions that crept into Hinduism from the 13th century onwards?
Earl Grey
Lord Kitchener
Lord Byron
Lord Bentinck
By abolishing the Satidaha Pratha, a system in the then Bengal in which widows were burnt alive after the death of their husbands, Lord William Bentinck marked his presence in the hearts of all the Hindus. This initiative was taken by Raja Ram Mohan Roy and was well-supported by Lord William Bentinck, the governor of India
Modern day Sri Lanka is thought to have been the home of which mythical ten headed king?
Ravana is the main antagonist in the Ramayana epic in which he is described as the King of Lanka. Lanka means 'island' and it is thought to be Sri Lanka, the island south of India
Which event is regarded as the beginning of modern Hinduism?
The birth of Sri Krishna
The birth of Raja Ram Mohan Roy
Swami Vivekananda's visit to the US
The Independence of India
Swami Vivekananda's speech in the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893 marked the beginning of a new era in Hinduism
Born into an untouchable family, which saint founded the Adi Dharma Mission?
Saint Ravidas, a popular Guru in the northern part of India, played a major role in uplifting the down-trodden society of the 15th century
Which country has the highest percentage of Hindus in its population?
81% of Nepal's population are Hindus whilst India comes second with 80%. Just over 1% of Australians and less than half of 1% of Americans are Hindus
Christianity is the most popular religion (in terms of number of followers in the world) but where does Hinduism fall in the rankings?
5th most popular
4th most popular
3rd most popular
2nd most popular
Hinduism has 1.2 billion followers, making it third in terms of popularity. Islam has 1.9 billion and Christianity 2.4 billion
Which saint dedicated his life to Hindu-Muslim unity?
Saint Kabir is still one of the most famous Indian saints. He was equally revered by Hindus and Muslims


Author:  Siddarth Bhattacharjee

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