TREC Module 2 David Alexander Page 1
How is the concept of God understood by Hindus and Sikhs?
In approaching the question of the 'concept of God' for Hindus and Sikhs, let me first clarify a terminological issue. For Hindus, perhaps a better phrase would be 'concepts of transcendence', since this term encompasses diverse understandings of divinity.
Through investigation of this question, the evidence suggests that the Sikhs' concept of the transcendent is clearer cut than Hindu conceptions. This argument will be developed through the course of this essay.
Hinduism is an ancient and diverse set of beliefs and practices, which is challenging to study as a 'single religion'. For example, what were once heterodoxies within Hinduism (such as Jainism or Buddhism) have now acquired their own identities as separate religions. This essay's focus will strive to concentrate on what most Hindus would recognise as mainstream Hinduism.
Its origins are not reliant on one 'founding father' as in the cases of Christianity or Sikhism.
As Kanitkar and Cole (1) aver:
The Banyan tree of Hinduism draws from its varied doctrinal roots the energy to nourish the spreading boughs of expression and practice, under the shade of which the varied definitions and experiences of faith may thrive. It has been suggested that there are as many ideas of Hinduism as there are Hindus. . .
The question of how Hindus understand the concept of the Divine, then, is not straightforward.
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, former President of India, said, "Hinduism is more a way of life than a set of beliefs" (Langley 18). So perhaps what is more important than an objective explanation of Hinduism's concepts of the transcendent, is an exploration of how Hindus reach their understanding of the divine.