Criticism of Hinduism

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This article is about social and cultural criticism of Hinduism. For bias and/or prejudice against Hindus, see anti-Hindu.

Some of the practices and beliefs held by Hindus have been criticized, both by Hindus and non-Hindus. Early Hindu reformers, such as Raja Ram Mohan Roy, had discrimination based on the Caste system and Jantu Bali, i.e. animal sacrifice.[1][2][3][4][5] Similarly several critics allege that the stringent caste system evolved over several centuries a by-product of the varna system that is mentioned in the ancient Hindu scriptures.[6]

Idol Worship[edit]

Hindu reformist movements in the 18th–19th centuries such as the Brahmo Samaj and Arya Samaj, were highly critical of image worship.[7]

Varna System[edit]

Untouchables used to live separately within a separate subcultural context of their own, outside the inhabited limits of villages and townships.No other castes would interfere with their social life since untouchables were lower in social ranking than even those of the shudra varna. As a result, Dalits were commonly banned from fully participating in Hindu religious life (they could not pray with the rest of the social classes or enter the religious establishments). [8]

The inclusion of lower castes into the mainstream was argued for by Mahatma Gandhi who called them "Harijans" (people of God). The term Dalit is used now and the term Harijan has gone out of use. Many recent political leaders consider it offensive as it is synonymous to being the people of Brahmin.[citation needed]. As per prominent Dalit leader Dr. B. R. Ambedkar's wishes, reservation system with percentage quotas for admissions in universities and jobs has been in place for many lower castes since independence of India to bring them to the upper echelons of society[citation needed]. Although a caste system among South Asian Muslims in India exists[9] it is largely of Hindu origin.[10]

Caste System[edit]

Main article: Caste system in India

The caste system is a Hindu hierarchical system that assigns people different classes in society, similar to the 'middle class, upper class' system used in many western societies. The relatively unique part of the caste system is that one's caste is inherited from one's parents and acts as a representation of one's ancestry. The system has occasionally been criticized for restricting one's professional capabilities as well as for acting as a reason for discrimination. A controversial effect of the Caste system is the religious belief that people can't 'marry out of their castes'. The caste doctrine is observed most actively by the more rural populations in India and by the older generations.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Axel Michaels, Hinduism: Past and Present 188-97 (Princeton 2004) ISBN 0-691-08953-1
  2. ^ Nitin Mehta (2006-12-08). "Caste prejudice has nothing to do with the Hindu scriptures". The Guardian. Retrieved 2006-12-08. 
  3. ^ M V Nadkarni (2003-11-08). "Is Caste System Intrinsic to Hinduism? Demolishing a Myth". Economic and Political Weekly. Archived from the original on 2007-03-12. Retrieved 2006-12-08. 
  4. ^ "suttee." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2004 Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.
  5. ^ Euthanasia and Hinduism - ReligionFacts
  6. ^ David Haslam (2006-11-18). "Face to faith". The Guardian. Retrieved 2006-12-08. 
  7. ^ Salmond, Noel Anthony (2004). "3. Dayananda Saraswati". Hindu iconoclasts: Rammohun Roy, Dayananda Sarasvati and nineteenth-century polemics against idolatry. Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press. p. 65. ISBN 0-88920-419-5. 
  8. ^ The Untouchable by Andrea Hampton
  9. ^ Ganguly, Rajat; Phadnis, Urmila (2001). Ethnicity and nation-building in South Asia. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. p. 88. ISBN 0-7619-9439-4. 
  10. ^ Singh Sikand, Yoginder. "Caste in Indian Muslim Society". Hamdard University. Retrieved 2006-10-18. 
  11. ^ The Untouchables by Andrea Hampton


Burns, John. "Once Widowed in India, Twice Scorned". NY Times articles. 1998 The New York Times Company. Retrieved 10/12/2012. 

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