Hinduism in a nutshell

Our exploration of different religions continues with a look at the key aspects of the Hindu faith

Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, Lord Buddha are the 7th, 8th and 9th incarnations of the preserver Lord Vishnu and prior to them was the 6th Lord Parshuram, before that Lord Vishnu came in the form of a Lion, a tortoise, a fish and so on – quite in line with the Darwinian Theory of Evolution.

The fish incarnation, incidentally, is the story where king Manu and his subjects including animals were led to safety in the great flood – interesting that a similar story comes under Noah of the Abrahmic religion.

It might be opportune here to elaborate on the Manu dynasty here in that Brahma created the first 4 men to head the 4 original civilisations, the Caucasian, the Chinese, the Red-Mongloid and the Negro. These men were called Manu’s and each has a name in the scriptures but for the Caucasians the Adi-Manu was given the knowledge in Sanskrit to civilise his race and those are detailed in the Manu-Samriti – again it is interesting that Adi-Manu resembles the word Adam but the two stories are completely different. Adam’s story is not at all like Adi-Manu’s who was the first civilised man among many created to establish God’s law, even prior to the first Satyug era.

Adi-Manu established created 4 different groups of activity,
- Spiritual,
- Defence,
- Trade and agriculture,
- Labour

And the names of these professions he categorised as Brahmins, Kashtryias, Vaishyas and Shudras. At the time these were interchangeable professions - in the period of Rama we had the sage (Rishi) Valmiki who was born into a Shudra family but became a sage whom everyone sought fit to worship – but later with time these professions became very rigid in hereditary. The British coming form a class based society named these as castes. The Sanskrit word is Varuna which means activity or profession. All systems in society degenerate if not reformed continuously and some of the bad aspects of this system are now under reform through Government policy.

One positive aspect of the even degenerated system has been that the practice of slavery remained alien to the Indian culture.

One very important aspect of Hinduism is that man and woman are given equal status. Brahman created the male as the potential energy and the female as the kinetic energy in universe. The male cannot move without the female, they are equally important to achieve anything complete in life. Hence if there is a God there is an equivalent Goddess. The consort of Lord Vishnu is Goddess Laxmi, of Brahma it is Saraswati and Lord Shiva’s wife is the Goddess Paravti. The Goddess is called as Mother and represents Shakti (strength and security). Goddess Durga Ma is revered the most among Hindus.

Anil Bhanot read Actuarial Science at university but then qualified as a chartered accountant. He was one of the founding members of Hindu Council UK in 1994 and was first elected as general secretary in 2003.
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How to think about the EU result if you voted Remain

A belief in democracy means accepting the crowd is wiser than you are as an individual. 

I voted Remain, I feel sick about this result and its implications for what’s to come. But I’m a believer in democracy. This post is about how to reconcile those two things (it’s a bit unstructured because I’m working it out as I go, and I’m not sure I agree with all of it).

Democracy isn’t just fairer than other systems of governance, it’s smarter. It leads to better decisions and better outcomes, on average and over the long run, than countries that are run by autocrats or councils of wise men with jobs for life. It is simply the best way we have yet devised of solving complex problems involving many people. On that topic, if you’re not averse to some rather dense and technical prose, read this post or seek out this book. But the central argument is that democracy is the best way of harnessing ‘cognitive diversity’ — bringing to bear many different perspectives on a problem, each of which are very partial in themselves, but add up to something more than any one wise person.

I don’t think you can truly be a believer in democracy unless you accept that the people, collectively, are smarter than you are. That’s hard. It’s easy to say you believe in the popular will, right up until the popular will does something REALLY STUPID. The hard thing is not just to ‘accept the result’ but to accept that the majority who voted for that result know or understand something better than you. But they do. You are just one person, after all, and try as you might to expand your perspective with reading (and some try harder than others) you can’t see everything. So if a vote goes against you, you need to reflect on the possibility you got it wrong in some way. If I look at the results of past general elections and referendums, for instance, I now see they were all pretty much the right calls, including those where I voted the other way.

One way to think about the vote is that it has forced a slightly more equitable distribution of anxiety and alienation upon the country. After Thursday, I feel more insecure about my future, and that of my family. I also feel like a foreigner in my own country — that there’s this whole massive swathe of people out there who don’t think like me at all and probably don’t like me. I feel like a big decision about my life has been imposed on me by nameless people out there. But of course, this is exactly how many of those very people have been feeling for years, and at a much higher level of intensity. Democracy forces us to try on each other’s clothes. I could have carried on quite happily ignoring the unhappiness of much of the country but I can’t ignore this.

I’m seeing a lot of people on Twitter and in the press bemoaning how ill-informed people were, talking about a ‘post-factual democracy’. Well, maybe, though I think that requires further investigation - democracy has always been a dirty dishonest business. But surely the great thing about Thursday that so many people voted — including many, many people who might have felt disenfranchised from a system that hasn’t been serving them well. I’m not sure you’re truly a democrat if you don’t take at least a tiny bit of delight in seeing people so far from the centres of power tipping the polity upside down and giving it a shake. Would it have been better or worse for the country if Remain had won because only informed middle-class people voted? It might have felt better for people like me, it might actually have been better, economically, for everyone. But it would have indicated a deeper rot in our democracy than do the problems with our national information environment (which I accept are real).

I’m not quite saying ‘the people are always right’ — at least, I don’t think it was wrong to vote to stay in the EU. I still believe we should have Remained and I’m worried about what we’ve got ourselves into by getting out. But I am saying they may have been right to use this opportunity — the only one they were given — to send an unignorable signal to the powers-that-be that things aren’t working. You might say general elections are the place for that, but our particular system isn’t suited to change things on which there is a broad consensus between the two main parties.

Ian Leslie is a writer, author of CURIOUS: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It, and writer/presenter of BBC R4's Before They Were Famous.