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A Layman's Guide to World War III - Hinduism
By Kevin Filan

Religions:    Christianity | Judaism | Hinduism | Shi'a Islam | Sufism | Wahhabism

The Persians and Greeks, referred to the people living beyond the Indus River as "Hindus;" the Moslems, and later the British, used it specifically to describe those who did not profess Islam. Today one out of every six people in the world are followers of what they call "Sanatana Dharma"; it's difficult to estimate how many others have been influenced by concepts and practices like Karma and Yoga, as Hinduism has blossomed in the West into the New Age and Theosophical movements.

The term "Hinduism" encompasses a number of disparate sects. There are monotheistic Hindus, polytheistic Hindus, pantheistic Hindus and atheistic Hindus. Hinduism does not believe that there is one way to heaven, nor do they believe that one can only attain salvation by following any particular religious path. As a result various Swamis (holy men) have emerged, each with his or her own particular interpretations of divinity and of Hindu holy texts like the Rig Veda and Upanishards. The present Indian government lists as Hindus several sects which do not themselves identify as Hindu, including Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs. (The Sikhs are particularly miffed by this classification: many Sikhs have been fighting for independence from India and the establishment of Khalistan, their own state).

Hinduism has produced some of the most profound texts ever written; it has also been responsible for its share of atrocities. Officially discrimination based on caste has been illegal in India since its 1947 independence. In practice there is widespread discrimination against the Dalit, formerly known as the "Untouchables." This discrimination is particularly widespread in the populous Uttar Pradesh and Bihar regions, where violent clashes between lower-caste Maoists and high-caste landowners have claimed thousands of lives. The recent election of the Hindu Nationalist Bharatiya Party does not bode well for the Dalit, or for India's 20+ million Christians, many of whom have reported increasing attacks and social opprobrium in recent years.

Hindus tend to see Islam as a colonizing force which was even more insidious and destructive than British rule. While Hinduism is deliberately many-faceted and even at times internally contradictory, Islam is a religion which demands adherence to Q'uranic law; the Moslems also had little tolerance for India's long tradition of graven images. India's 1947 independence was quickly followed by the war which gave birth to Moslem-ruled Pakistan. India is likely to be an enthusiastic supporter of any war on "Islamic Terrorism" - particularly if that war involves Pakistan.

Rig-Veda (English translation)
http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/index.htm

An Introduction to Hinduism
http://hinduwebsite.com/hinduintrod.htm

The Hindu Universe
http://www.hindunet.org/

Kevin Filan is a freelance contributor to hybrid based in New York. Last month, Kevin wrote a piece entitled The Thermonuclear Men's Club.

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