Hinduism is a religion that is dominant in India, and is also the oldest religion that precedes records. It is described as a mystical religion. It is divided into four denominations; these are Saivism Vaishnavism, Shaktism and Smartism.
The religion is based on attitudes and thought about life, it directs life for all its followers. Beliefs on matters that are sacred have one essential thing that is God, the cosmos and soul. They also believe in diverse issues with beliefs like they believe in a supreme being who is transcendent and immanent. They also believe four Vedas divinities.
They believe in creation cycles that replenish and preserve creation. They believe in cause and effect which literally refers to Karma. Karma is then resolved by life being reincarnated through many different births. This stops when Moksha is attained (Jefferis, 481). Communing with the spirits in the unseen worlds, Hinduism believes in Satguru, which is attaining absolute transcendent, personal discipline, purification, good conduct meditation and surrender to God. They believe in life`s sacredness, they also believe that no religion teaches the way to salvation.
The religion, however, opposes roles that women play and even offer no respect for them. Today things have changed as the parallel is being sought out for women in the society of every religion. Hindu women were under the male clan, and had no authority whatsoever (Haynes, 78).
Respect for them was always under stake as they faced atrocities in the hands of men. The lifestyle of women in the pre-dominant religious culture was always seeking social status. Hindu opposes the rights of women. The Vedas is hostile to its women; according to it women are considered inhuman. However, this changed with the current fight for equality.
Women have been looked down on by men in this religion, especially in political affairs. The political parties have been dominated by men. The kind of exclusion offers women no feminine power in the contemporary society.
Although the Hindu goddess is popular and considered a figure of power in the society, this is not shown in the political representation of women politically. Ethics is an important element of the Hindu religion as it champions in ethical decision making (Gould, 142). The political situation in the Hindu demand that the leader to be ethical. The leaders are required to be ethical and religious and the primary role of all the leaders was to be tied to religion and what was championed for in the rules of the Hindu religion.
Consideration of other religions such as Christianity and Muslim religion is important for all leaders to observe, especially when it comes to traditions that are tied to the faith. Calling people, pagans or infidels demonizes the religious practices. Hindu religion offers the contrast of what the world term as nonviolent religious practices as it responded to acts like pacifism and other factors that initiate a war between the religions in India.
They do not believe in the leaders moving into the political system, which is considered to pose harm to the religion. It means that the religion does not stray from its traditions, which basically balance the behavior of the faith followers with the beliefs of Hindu religion
It is an important aspect of this religion, even though it still does not give liberties for its female members and the roles they play within it.
The caste system is part of the Hindu religion it is based on the facts that when a person is born, he or she is assigned to a group in the social order. It forms the frameworks for the religion according to Verna; it stipulates the moral duties that are based on individual characteristics. It is divided into four groups with the fifth known as the untouchables which are outside the caste system.
The first group is the reflective ones who are the leaders, teachers or philosophers (Brahmin). The second group is that of the people termed as the protectors of the society; these are mainly the politicians, military personnel and police officers (Kshatriyas).
The third group is made up of skillful individuals that have knowledge of farming, business and any other productive business (Vaisyas). The last group is made up of hard laborers (Shudras). The system provides the religion with the necessary people capable of different roles, although this system does not favor the women as when a woman from a higher caste is married to a man from a lower caste that is considered shameful.
The caste system applies to the politics in the area where the religion is dominant this determines the born leaders in based on the caste and these can lead the nation.
Cultural transition has changed the ways of the Hindu religion. It has played a major role in secularizing the religious ideas this is brought by factors like modernization which in turn renews religious. It affects matters that still stand like the way a woman is treated in the society. Symbols in the Hindu religion are seen in the gender of the gods who are gods and goddesses. The goddesses are a symbol of feminine power which is shown by the goddess Devi. Even though women are not to be trusted, according to Ramayana, they still play an important role in the political world now that they are fighting for equality in social roles like leadership. According to Manu women were considered to be the property of their father`s when young, property of their husband`s when married and properties of the son`s when widowed this aspect restricted women not to be independent and this, therefore, affected the political role that women played. Color was an important aspect of the culture and religion; it symbolized qualities in their deities (Gould, 142). Red indicated purity and sensuality. It was auspicious for marriage, birth and other aspects like burials especially for women. Yellow represented learning and knowledge. Single ladies wear yellow dresses to attract the male members. It is an important color as most of the goddesses wore it the likes of Ganesha and Krishna. Symbology in the Hindu religion is an important aspect as they portray beauty and advisory roles to their husbands. In the Vedas 21 women were members and the Vedas championed for the truth in every aspect of life. Political leaders should be truthful; this can be enforced by their wives who should be their advisors on these matters.
They believe that the Vedas is the ultimate revelation of authority that the sages received, this means that even womanhood is an aspect of the cycle of life (Hibbard, 320). Roles of women in the life`s discourse in politics is still being resolved because there is still oppression in the dominant Hindu practicing people this is seen as women are still being oppressed in these different courses of life where they are still minorities.
One of these areas is politics; women are still being pushed around by their fellow counterparts who do not want them to be leaders. The number of women in the political arena compared to the western parts of the world has a major difference.
Women are an important part on the contributions in the development of ethics this is not the case for men as they rule with the least compassion.
Women are bridging this gap through their motherly attributes which are based on social responsibilities that help maintain peace and be mindful of others just as mothers are. Modernization fails women as agendas forged by economies restrict women these fundamentalist theories fueled by patriarchal gains will wear off the efforts to enforce equality if Hinduism advocates for patriarchy and male leadership. The hypocrisy portrayed by Hinduism with their deities being women, but the fact that they do not allow women to be independent in their families and in leadership positions is astounding. Women now stand to gain, especially those who regard traditions to be obsolete and take charge through responsibility and leadership.
It can be supported by the education systems working in perfect sync with women's organizations to empower women and provide for their fight against marginalization and the fight on sexism and concentrating on the needs of women with teachings and support for the female leaders who are the stepping stone to obtaining independence and equality (Haynes, 248). The new systems provide opportunities that deal with problems that occur socially disadvantaging them like job opportunities. These systems attract the Hindu women providing supportive structures for further education and more opportune chances like child care for the working women.
For those that have educated husbands who support them, the new systems encourage them to overcome their challenges reforming them on a personal level; the focus on those who are poor or cannot afford the funds to educate themselves or their children helping them to improve their socioeconomic situations. Now most women have crises in their homes can be encouraged to open up by other facilities like entertainment where they meet up and have fun with friends and worship. It is only meant to help socially bring out those in fear of their spouses. Most of the Hindu men do not support their women taking other responsibilities other than domestic chores. It is also not supported by other extended family members. The support is then not there for such women and the only place they can turn to is a social support derived from their fellow women with whom they share common problems. The biggest problem is challenging the dominant male in the family is estimated that at least a woman dies in every three days and some of the causes of death are their husbands who do not want their wives to do this or that and end up killing them instead of solving the case amicably (Adeney and Lawrence, 40). Men that are dominant, especially in the Hindu religion always make the decision for the rest of the family members. It influences even the careers that the family members want to take especially if the careers involve the politics and if the person is a woman. It is a major reason for suicide if the person is not counseled properly.
The culture of women's subordination is deeply rooted in the Hindu culture and the myths that involve the Hindu religion where epic stories stipulated that male gods were superior to the female gods. It was then passed on to the women in the previous era believing that they were inferior to their men and that men were the leaders, especially in family and political context.
These stories were then passed on to these generations that the men are superior and should make all the decisions that involve issues in the family or rather those that involve leadership. These have been consistent through the history, therefore, to break the culture that is holding them down. It is meant to liberate them from these cultures, bringing into consciousness. It has been evaded by the Hindu religion as the theologians claim and they focus on dignity and role, this does not support humanity. The cultural elements are male centered this calls for changes in the cultures and customs that are not applicable to this generation rather than the traditions of the Hindu religion being obsolete. Women status awareness is an element that is important to a woman, according to the Hindu religion that shows that women are harassed especially in the dowry payment. The dowry demands can be very high and because it is a requirement for the bride`s to pay dowry. The family should defend the honor of the bride as well as that of the family. It will assist in the development of the women empowering their policy making and existence. It will promote respect, equality and dignity. Drawing the line between political speech and religious speech this is to ensure that the line is clearly defined and the roles to be played on religious beliefs on policy making with regards to politics. The issue is that when it comes to voting Hindu people should vote for their Hindu leaders and those of other religion should do the same. It is to ensure that the office is one dedicated to being a defector office. The arguments that are on this topic are meant to ensure that the people who vote only vote for the person who will follow their faith (Hibbard, 36). The moral dimensions that are considered for public policy that are based on religious doctrines alone that are at an acceptable level of policy making, this is an issue that affects the budget. And the moral issues are to be considered when preparing the budget for approval. Public offices have the right to express their beliefs on religion, but they do not have any right to make people who follow other faiths to follow their faiths just because they follow the faith and they hold the public office. Government officials and their institutions should not show disapproval or approval of any religion (Jefferis, 89). It is to ensure fairness to all and every religious person this is to make sure that they are not biased to any religion. Institutions that are religiously based other that the dominant religion can work with the government for the common good of all citizens.
The government can ask any religious institution to comply with any requirements and policies that will help the government implement its policies and make sure that they are followed without supervision. People that hold public offices need to do their duties without any excuses whatsoever this is to make sure that the services being dispensed by public offices are not obstructed by religious beliefs. Discourses based on politics should respect pluralism observed by religious institutions and the people that follow the religions. Politicians should not treat religious institutions to be monolithic this applies to the media as well. It has the meaning that the media or the politicians should not make any claims based on public policies and issue related to the government. The authenticity and orthodoxy should not be equated by the media or politicians in any instance, this is important to make sure that religious institutions are not to be subjected to authenticity probes. It is a step to avoid the scrutiny on the faiths and beliefs of any religion. Religion persecutions are to be subjected to any individual as long as they are fair and just to the people sanctioned for mistakes they did or were found guilty. It is to be subjected to anyone who implicates any one on wrongs he/she did not do. Religion should not be used as a transit vehicle for politicians or for campaigning. It is a step to stop any politician from using religion inappropriately and using the time allocated for service for campaign this is important to draw the line for defining the neutrality of the religious organization in political matters (Cush, 102).
Adeney, Katharine, and Lawrence Saez. Coalition politics and Hindu nationalism. London: Routledge, 2005.
Cush, Denise. Encyclopedia of Hinduism. London: Routledge, 2008.
Gould, William. Hindu natinalism and the language politics in late colonial India. New-Delhi: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
Haynes, Jeffrey. The politics of religion: a survey. London: Routledge, 2006.
Hibbard, Scott W. Religious politics and secular states: Egypt, India and the United States. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010.
Jefferis, Jennifer L. Religion and political violence: sacred protest in the modern world. New York: Routledge, 2010.