The Essence of Hinduism

Sri Chinmoy states that Hinduism is more than an outer religion of certain rituals and formalities. Hinduism is in fact a way of life; a spiritual code. This spiritual code or Dharma is at the heart of Hinduism and governs the moral and spiritual practices of its believers. Through the practise of Yoga proscribed in Hindu scripture adherents can seek to attain union with God. As Sri Chinmoy writes:

"Know Thyself." This is what Hinduism stands for. This is the quintessence of Hinduism…
“ The most striking feature of Hinduism is the quest for firsthand experience, nay, realisation of God. If you study the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad-Gita and other Indian scriptures, you may be surprised to observe that although each emphasises a particular view or certain ideas, they all embody fundamentally the same perfect divine Knowledge, which is God.”

As well as stressing the need for self-discovery, another notable feature of Hinduism is its tolerance. This is tolerance of other religions, other cultures and other spiritual paths. Inevitably certain fanatics have ignored this aspect, but the heart of Hinduism is notable for its inclusivity and oneness. “Unity in Diversity” is its goal. Hinduism as a religion is perhaps unique in not stressing the need for conversion. The Great Rishis and Saints offer the sublime truth that many are the paths to the goal. Sri Chinmoy states:

“ Hinduism is called the Eternal Religion. It seeks union with God in every way known to mankind. It wants an all-fulfilling union of mankind with God, nothing more and nothing less. Its essence is tolerance. Hinduism refuses to think of world religions as separate entities. Housing within itself, as it does, all the religions of the world in its own way, it can be called, without being far from truth, a unique Fellowship of Faiths.”

“ True Hinduism abjures all that divides and separates.
It dreams of the Supreme Truth in absolute freedom, perfect justice in all-embracing love and the highest individual liberation in unconditional service to humanity.
Hinduism gives due importance to all the spiritual figures of the world. It recognises a great harmony in their teachings. Down through the ages, the firmament of India has sent forth the message of Peace, Love and Truth. It has fostered and encouraged the synthesis of all world religions. Further, Hinduism has always affirmed that the highest end of life is not to remain in any particular religion, but to outgrow religion and realise and live in Eternal Truth.
Hinduism is the embodiment of certain lofty, infallible ideals. These ideals within us live and grow, grow and live. Because of this fact, Hinduism is still a living force. It lives to lead. It leads to live.”


As well as embracing the spiritual wisdom of other cultures, there is also great diversity within Hinduism itself. The different branches of Hinduism will appeal to people of different temperaments. For example in bhakti yoga the seeker meditates and concentrates on his chosen deity (Be it Sri Krishna or MahaKali), feeling they are approaching God through the personal aspect of God. Another path of Hinduism, primarily the philosophy of Vedanta, stresses the Impersonal aspect of God and leads the adherent to see beyond the realm of matter or “maya”. Another confusion to outsiders is the multiplicity of Gods and Godesses within Hinduism, but the Hindu scriptures teach these are but the various aspects and manifestations of the One Supreme God who embodies both the finite and infinite and at the same time transcends both. Sri Chinmoy states how Hinduism happily embraces these diverse paths.

“ Hinduism is a river that flows dynamically and untiringly: Hinduism is a tree that grows consciously and divinely. Hinduism is variety. Unique is Hinduism in her Mother aspect. She is blessed with children who cherish various conceptions of God. One of her children says: "Mother, there is no Personal God." "I see, my child," she answers. The second child says: "Mother, if there is a God, then He can only be Personal." "I see, my child," she replies. The third child says: "Mother, God is both Personal, and Impersonal." "That is so, my child," she says. And now she says to them: "Be happy, my children, be happy. Stick to your own beliefs and learn through them. Grow through them and always be faithful to your ideals." Indeed, this is the Mother-Heart of Hinduism.”

Hindu Scriptures

At the heart of Hinduism are its collection of sacred scriptures, the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. The timeless truths of the Upanishads have recently been rediscovered here in the West. Although the Vedas were written at the dawn of creation the loft utterances of the Vedic Seers rings true even in the modern age. For example this immortal utterance from the Upanishads:

Anandadd hy eva khalv imani bhutani jayante,
Anandena jatani jivanti
Anandam prayantyabhisam visanti.

From Delight we came into existence.
In Delight we grow.
At the end of our journey’s close,
Into Delight we retire.

In the Vedas and Upanishads we feel the authentic voice of a true Seer in touch with the transcendental Truth. On the Vedas Sri Chinmoy writes:

“The Vedas have another name, Shruti, that which is heard. They are so called because they are based on direct revelation. The authority of the Vedas rests on direct, inner spiritual experience that stems from divine Reality. A Hindu feels in the inmost recesses of his heart that to doubt the inner experiences of the Vedic seers is to doubt the very existence of Truth. Vid, to know, is the Sanskrit root of the word Veda. Veda actually means the Knowledge of God. As God is infinite, even so is His Knowledge. We observe in the Vedas, with surprise and delight, that the Truth discoveries are infinitely more important than the Truth discoverers.”

There is a well known saying that to read a sacred scripture may take a few days, to understand it a few years, and to live the truths it contains many lifetimes. The immortal teachings of the Upanishads and the Gita are no different. Sri Chinmoy says:

“God-realisation abides in meditation, never in books. This is the supreme secret of the Upanishads. The sages and the seers in the Upanishads asked their pupils to meditate, only to meditate. They did not even advise their students to depend on the Vedas as an aid to realising God. "Meditate, the Brahman is yours! Meditate! Immortality is yours!" At the beginning of the journey of the human soul, the Upanishadic seers cried out, Uttisthata jagrata ... "Arise, awake, stop not until the Goal is reached." At the journey's end, the same seers cried out once again, Tat twam asi, "That Thou art."

The Bhagavad Gita has often referred to as the “Hindu Bible”. This is not really an accurate comparison because Hinduism does not rely only rely on one primary text. However the Bhagavad Gita or “The Song Celestial” is held in the highest regard because it offers a record of Bhagavan Lord Krishna’s epic conversation with his devoted disciple Arjuna on the Battle field of Kurukshetra. Its spiritual inspiration moved Christopher Isherwood to describe the Gita as: “Like a university lecture delivered by God” Sri Chinmoy says this of the Gita:

“ Now the Bhagavad-Gita or the Song Celestial demands our immediate attention. It is the scripture par excellence. The Gita is the life-breath of Hinduism. The Gita not only tells us to realise God, but it also tells us how. The Gita introduces three principal paths toward God-realisation: Karma Yoga, the path of action; Jnana Yoga, the path of knowledge; and Bhakti Yoga, the path of devotion. Emotional devotion and philosophical detachment not only can but must run abreast to fulfil the Divine here on earth. This sublime teaching of the Gita knows no equal. Without hesitation, a devout Hindu can say that the Gita has been the solace of his whole life and will be the solace of his death.”

Modern Hinduism

Hinduism has received sharp criticism for various elements associated with Hinduism. The treatment of women, the issue of the Caste, and others. However it must be remembered Hinduism is an evolving religion, over time cultural practises have been identified with Hinduism even though these cultural practises have no basis in scripture. For example Sati

Women in Hinduism - A Tribute to Hinduism ( See on Sati)

Sri Chinmoy says this of modern Hinduism

“Although it has had its periods of inertia, Hinduism is not a static religion. A static religion would lead only to sterility and finally to death. Hinduism has, in its long history, become an emblem of flexibility, independence, creative thinking, and spontaneous innovation in both thought and action. Hinduism knows how to absorb; it knows, too, how to reject in order to sit at the feet of Truth. Hinduism is a ceaseless mounting cry for Truth. It aspires to be the essence of an all-embracing spiritual panacea to feed humanity."

"India acts with neither fear nor a sense of superiority. Indeed, Hinduism has become self-critical of late. Hence its improvement is dawning fast. It is true that the Hinduism of today has countless problems. It is equally true that Mother India alone must and certainly will solve all her problems. An indomitable will is energising Bharat Mata (Mother India). Progress, both material and spiritual, is being effected with lightning speed. Of supreme importance, however, is the fact that the Hinduism of today is going to model itself - not on Western or Eastern or Southern or Northern patterns - but on the Infinite's own Pattern.”


Sri Chinmoy  

Chinmoy Kumar Ghosh (1931- ) was born into a devoted Hindu Family. (1) (The family deity was Mother Kali ) For 20 years  (1944 – 1964) Sri Chinmoy studied in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram giving him opportunity to study in depth the great Hindu scriptures. As well as studying the Hindu scriptures Sri Chinmoy has sought to practise and implement the lofty ideals they promote through his spiritual life of prayer and meditation. On coming to the West in the 1960s Sri Chinmoy was asked to give many lectures and speeches on the subject of Yoga and Hinduism. These talks were given during a period of growing interest in Eastern philosophy and Eastern spirituality, Sri Chinmoy's talks were compiled into a book “Yoga and the Spiritual Life” These are some extracts from Sri Chinmoy’s observations and thoughts of Hinduism.


  1. Source 1 Hinduism from Yoga and Spiritual Life
  2. Source 2 Hinduism: The Journey of India’s Soul 

  3. Source 3 The Quintessence of Hinduism

  4. Source 4 The Hinduism of Today

  5. From Book: Yoga and the Spiritual Life by Sri Chinmoy ISBN: 088497040X

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External Links

  1. A Tribute to Hinduism. Very good resource on Hinduism. Extensive source of materials and writings on many aspects of Hinduism. Particulalry interesting pages on the History of Hinduism and Hindu contributions to Science from the Vedic era. Pages are very long so sometimes takes a while to load.
  2. Question “Are you a Hindu” Q.A by Sri Chinmoy at Sri Chinmoy Library
  3. Sri Chinmoy featured at Hinduism Today
  4. Rennaisance Yogi - Article on Sri Chinmoy by Kusumita P. Pedersen
  5. Bhagavad Gita Online text of the Bhagavad Gita


Article by: Richard Pettinger

Picture top - Ganges at Dawn by: Unmesh Swanson, Sri Chinmoy Centre.


Hinduism Links


The Vedas

Life of Sri Krishna

About Sri Krishna

Introduction to Gita

Selections from the Gita

Commentary on the Gita