Question 1. What is Hinduism?
The ancient Persians in whose language the letter 'sa' got metamorphosed into 'ha', used to call this land of the river Sindhu (Indus) as Hindusthan or Hindudesh, the people as Hindus and their religion as Hind Dharma. When looked at from this angle, all religions of Indian origin whether it is Jainism, Buddhism or Sikhism become different facets of Hinduism.
However, it is the religion dependent on the Vedas and practised by the Aryan race that has been generally included under the .definition of Hinduism. Hindu tradition, more appropriately, calls it as 'Sanatana Dharma', a religion which is very ancient and comprises eternal values (Sanatana ancient and eternal).
The word dharma connotes that which supports the universe (dhr to support) and means God Him self in the ultimate analysis. Any path of spiritual discipline which leads to God experience, can also be designated as a Dharma though in a secondary sense. From the most ancient times right up to the modern days, the various paths of spiritual discipline prescribed in Hinduism, when followed seriously and sincerely, have been leading to God experience. They can certainly do so in future also. Hence the name Sanatana Dharma is very apt.
Author : Swami Harshananda