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Author Topic: Can One Be Hindu Without Believing In Reincarnation?  (Read 2964 times)

Riothamus12

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Can One Be Hindu Without Believing In Reincarnation?
« on: February 18, 2015, 11:05:27 am »
Now this seems like a rather foolish question given how deeply entrenched the concept of reincarnation is in Hinduism. However, I was thinking about this quite deeply. I have read a great deal on Hinduism in varying forms and have found the related scriptures insightful. It is a great influence on my own spiritual outlook. However, as odd as it sounds, I never really could bring myself to believe in reincarnation. Now, I'm not looking to "convert" if such a thing is possible, but it seems to me that people who follow certain religions do not necessarily agree with certain doctrines, even ones that seem essential to a number of adherents.  No matter what religion one follows, it seems that they would be hard pressed to find someone who adheres to absolutely everything associated with a given path in practice or philosophy. Yet, reincarnation is so heavily embedded in the fabric of Hinduism that imagining it without such an element seems outlandish. So is it possible for one to be a Hindu without believing in reincarnation?
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Ghost235

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Re: Can One Be Hindu Without Believing In Reincarnation?
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2015, 11:37:03 am »
Quote from: Riothamus12;171096
So is it possible for one to be a Hindu without believing in reincarnation?

 
Hmm.  Good question.  Unfortunately it isn't really answerable in its current form.  The problem is that there isn't really such a thing as "Hinduism" in the same sense that you have "Catholicism" or even "Wicca".  

You have Vishnuism, Shaivism, Shaktism, Smartism, Suryaism, Ganapatism, and Kaumaram and each of them have differing views in regards to how they view various ideas which may or may not absolutely require reincarnation.

With that said I'll try to give a stab at your question.  

Most forms of Hinduism, like most forms of Buddhism, seem to be designed to address the problem of reincarnation in relation to human suffering.  In a nutshell, human life involves suffering and that suffering is eternal because of reincarnation.  If you take reincarnation out of the mix then it removes a huge impetus for religious practice.  No matter how bad your suffering is it will all be over in about 80 years or so.  Also, if you achieve the goal of religious practice you will only enjoy it for, at most, 40 years or so.

So I would say no, I don't think that you can be a Hindu without reincarnation.

Redfaery

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Re: Can One Be Hindu Without Believing In Reincarnation?
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2015, 02:47:51 pm »
Quote from: Ghost235;171100
So I would say no, I don't think that you can be a Hindu without reincarnation.

 
I'm not entirely sure this is true. I mean, there's the big, shiny, intellectual Hinduism that gets trotted out by the folk writing books for curious Westerners, and then there's the Hinduism that's practiced in people's homes. I'd suggest that the latter is far more of a cultural thing, and thus more orthopraxic in emphasis.
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Ghost235

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Re: Can One Be Hindu Without Believing In Reincarnation?
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2015, 03:16:11 pm »
Quote from: Redfaery;171104
I'm not entirely sure this is true. I mean, there's the big, shiny, intellectual Hinduism that gets trotted out by the folk writing books for curious Westerners, and then there's the Hinduism that's practiced in people's homes. I'd suggest that the latter is far more of a cultural thing, and thus more orthopraxic in emphasis.

 
Oh, I agree fully.  Hence why I made sure to preface this with the fact that the question should be more specific.

However, you do bring up an interesting point.  The answer could be different depending on if the OP wanted to know the information to adopt that form of Hinduism as opposed to simple intellectual curiosity.

Which, unfortunately, brings us back to the same point.  We need to know exactly what type of Hinduism we are talking about here and/or if the OP is looking to find a particular sect of Hinduism that doesn't believe in reincarnation.

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Re: Can One Be Hindu Without Believing In Reincarnation?
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2015, 03:35:52 pm »
Quote from: Riothamus12;171096

So is it possible for one to be a Hindu without believing in reincarnation?


Here's another dimension to the question: whether one is coming from outside or inside a Hindu tradition. I think it's easier for someone who has been raised Hindu, who is immersed in its native culture, to dispense with an aspect of the religion--even something as important as reincarnation--and still call themselves Hindu.

"Cafeteria Catholics" may be a good example here. Most (all?) were raised Catholic but have jettisoned the parts of the religion that don't work for them; I'd argue they can still legitimately call themselves Catholic.

But if one is coming from outside Hinduism and its cultural context, and one wants to call oneself Hindu, it's more problematic to do so while rejecting one of its central beliefs, IMHO. (You mentioned you didn't want to convert, necessarily, so this may not be an issue.) It might be more accurate to call such a belief system "Hinduism-related" or "Hinduism-inspired."
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Redfaery

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Re: Can One Be Hindu Without Believing In Reincarnation?
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2015, 03:38:34 pm »
Quote from: Ghost235;171106
Which, unfortunately, brings us back to the same point.  We need to know exactly what type of Hinduism we are talking about here and/or if the OP is looking to find a particular sect of Hinduism that doesn't believe in reincarnation.

 
That's true. My own point was simply that the more cultural practices of average Hindus would not really require a belief in reincarnation. But then we get to the question of how an outsider really "joins" an orthopraxic, cultural religion...
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Jainarayan

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Re: Can One Be Hindu Without Believing In Reincarnation?
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2015, 11:44:20 am »
Quote from: Riothamus12;171096
...So is it possible for one to be a Hindu without believing in reincarnation?

 
I think one can believe in the Hindu Gods, worship the Hindu Gods, live a dharmic life, believe in one of the many forms of Vedanta and not believe in re-incarnation. However, I don't know that one could necessarily call themselves Hindu. Rather it's a matter of worshiping and living in the Hindu way. But as Altair said, there are cafeteria Catholics, and there are cafeteria Hindus. When I practiced Hinduism (as a western white guy) I tried to hold to all the particulars, even the every 11th day (of the new or full moon) fast for Lord Vishnu. I mentioned this to one lovely woman at temple who giggled and said her idea of "fast" was 70 mph. I think there are two extremes of people... converts who want to keep to everything and native born Hindus who are of the deep philosophical and theological, and I daresay fundamentalist mentality. The vast majority of Hindus are probably like everyone else in the world who just want to get through the day, and don't think deep theological thougths.
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Materialist

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Re: Can One Be Hindu Without Believing In Reincarnation?
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2015, 10:20:30 am »
Quote from: Riothamus12;171096
So is it possible for one to be a Hindu without believing in reincarnation?


Yes. That all Dharmists believe in reincarnation is a stereotype. Originally there was no such belief, coming later in the philosophies of the Upanisads. The Dharmah are not doctrinal religions; to convert one must simply adopt any one of the practices.

Materialist

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Re: Can One Be Hindu Without Believing In Reincarnation?
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2015, 11:59:25 am »
Quote from: Materialist;172367
Yes.


A brief introduction:
http://ssvt.org/Education/Hinduism%20FAQ.asp

RecycledBenedict

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Re: Can One Be Hindu Without Believing In Reincarnation?
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2015, 07:06:03 pm »
Quote from: Riothamus12;171096
Now this seems like a rather foolish question given how deeply entrenched the concept of reincarnation is in Hinduism. However, I was thinking about this quite deeply. I have read a great deal on Hinduism in varying forms and have found the related scriptures insightful. It is a great influence on my own spiritual outlook. However, as odd as it sounds, I never really could bring myself to believe in reincarnation. Now, I'm not looking to "convert" if such a thing is possible, but it seems to me that people who follow certain religions do not necessarily agree with certain doctrines, even ones that seem essential to a number of adherents.  No matter what religion one follows, it seems that they would be hard pressed to find someone who adheres to absolutely everything associated with a given path in practice or philosophy. Yet, reincarnation is so heavily embedded in the fabric of Hinduism that imagining it without such an element seems outlandish. So is it possible for one to be a Hindu without believing in reincarnation?


I have no idea if the Nyaya School, Vaishesika School and Mimamsa School are still alive within Hinduism, but at least older forms of these schools adhered rather to the belief in an afterlife ruled by Yama instead of the - more recently introduced - belief in cycles of transmigration. Samkhya, Yoga and Vedanta, on the other hand, insists on reincarnation.

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