Many people associate missionaries with Christianity, but other religions, including Hinduism, have missionaries, too. Hindu missionaries greatly differ from missionaries of other faiths, in that they do not aggressively seek converts, but unintentionally find them while ministering to members of their own faith living abroad. The Hindu religion is over 4, years old and has evolved during various time periods: the Indus Valley Civilization dating prior to B. During this time period, pillars of Hinduism, such as bhakti devotion and temple worship, arose.
Poetic literature written in Sanskrit became a unifying factor in Hinduism.
The Evolution of "Hinduism" | Religious Literacy Project
It was not until the 20th century that Hindu missionaries began to leave India to teach about their faith — and mostly to members of their own community living in other countries. Initially, Hindu clerics and teachers relocated to Britain and North America to cater to Indian immigrants there.
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However, these missionaries soon attracted Western religious converts and yoga practitioners. In the 20th century, Hindu missionaries also traveled to other parts of the world, such as South Africa, to serve the spiritual needs of the Hindu Indian diaspora.
They established religious institutions, gave lectures and worked with members of the immigrant Hindu communities. Nowadays, modern Hindu missionaries have been leaving India to spread Hinduism to Indians in other parts of the world. The religious movement initially was tied to a political movement that wanted to discourage Hindu expatriates from converting to other religions.
Politics and religion overlap in this situation as politicians fund clerics to achieve a common goal -- the Hindu retention of Indian expatriates.
Did Hinduism Have Missionaries?
These missionaries teach expatriate Indians about Hinduism and tend to the spiritual needs of the people. Throughout history, the religion never tried to spread.
Christianity and Islam are missionary religions. They urge their followers to spread the word of the Bible and the Quran. But Hinduism has never sought converts. Alas, Hinduism is changing. Shrill Hindutva followers have taken control of it.
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I used to hear this Hindutva charge 50 years ago. And I hear it today. The Hindus who say this actually believe it. These Hindus underestimate Hinduism.
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Muslim conquerors ruled us for years, but Muslims comprise less than one-fifth of our population today. British Christians ruled us for years, but the number of Christians in India at present is negligible. By contrast, look at Africa. Europeans colonised Africa for only 60 years, beginning in the early s.
But vast swathes of Africa embraced Christianity. So did the Korean peninsula and Latin America, which fell to Spanish conquerors centuries earlier.
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But in India, Hindus saw no reason to leave their own religion and embrace another. Its chaos is glorious. Lord Ganesha, with his elephant trunk, sitting on a mouse; Lord Shiva with a cobra around his neck; Laxmi with four hands; Yumdoot, the goddess of death, astride a buffalo: nothing makes sense in Hinduism. Yet everything does.
How else could it have survived 3, years? Even the word Hindu has no religious origin. Contrast this with the word Christianity, which comes from Christ. Or the word Islam, which is an exhortation Islam means surrender—surrender to God. But Hindu from Sindhu?
There is a certain irony here. The word Hindu is derived from a river that now flows through Muslim Pakistan. This post first appeared on Scroll.