Hinduism: The One and the Many


1.      The idea of “Hinduism”

a.      Hindus = 80% of India’s 1 billion; 15% of the world’s population; emerging world power (economically and militarily); 815k US, 850k UK, 1033k S.Africa

b.      “Hinduism” = religion of the Hindus.  So named by early incomers (esp. Persians and Turks) – Indus valley & beyond, “people of” (initially no religious meaning), later “religion of” the people of the subcontinent

2.      The prominent role of the eyes in apprehending the sacred in Hinduism

a.      Darsan

b.      Opening the eyes of God

c.      Seeing as touching

3.      How do we look at Hinduism?

a.      Overwhelmingly visual; vast diversity of images. Multitude of aspects (arms, objects, number of gods, perspectives)

b.      How to grasp underlying unity in this diversity?

2.      The “polytheistic imagination” (Eck)

a.      The Hindu world is “radically polytheistic  Differs from traditions of the West this way.

b.      Western monotheism: one God, book, Son, church

c.      Hindu traditions stress diversity of all creation/ultimate unity at the same time

                                                  i.      nama-rupa – many names and forms, one reality.  God in everything

                                                ii.      many ways to the ultimate; many viewpoints

d.      The One and the Many: Hindu monism



  1. darsan
  2. polytheism
  3. monism
  4. “Hinduism”