Caste teaches that all society is interdependent. Therefore all people are to be treated with respect equally.
Mohandas Gandhi is an example of a Hindu who fought against racism, firstly in South Africa where he campaigned for equal treatment for all ethnic groups and then during the campaign for India’s independence he said that all the Indian peoples should live together as equals regardless of caste, race or religion.
"Every soul is potentially divine. Devotion to God should be by identifying the self with Brahman. In this way race and caste are transcended." (His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj)
"Religions are different roads converging to the same point. What does it matter that we take different roads as long as we reach the same goal? In reality there are as many religions as there are individuals." (Mohandas Gandhi)
- Hinduism is so diverse that it sees religious tolerance as normal.
- Hindus believe that other religions can lead you to Brahman just as much as Hinduism can.
- Gandhi said he had no problem believing Jesus was God’s son – only in believing that he was God’s only son.
- Images of figures from other religions e.g. Abraham, The Buddha and Jesus can be found in Hindu Mandirs.
Hindu attitudes to Women
"The father protects the woman in childhood, the husband protects her in youth, the children protect her in old age, a woman should never be independent." (Laws of Manu)
Traditionally, women are seen as mothers and homemakers.
The ideals of how men and women should treat each other come from deities such as Rama and Sita and Krishna and Radha.
Modern attitudes are changing as movements such as ISKCON and The Swaminarayan Hindu Mission treat both genders equally in religious and secular life.
Good treatment of women is seen as a blessing in the Laws of Manu even though only men can perform funeral rites, receive the sacred thread or be priests.
Wealth and Poverty
Wealth is seen as something which is good and to be enjoyed if it has been lawfully gained by someone following the dharma of their ashrama.
The Artha-shastra is a book written by Kautilya c.300BCE which talks about gaining wealth morally and religiously.
All Mandirs collect charitable donations which are used to help the poor.
Lord Swaminarayan taught that people should
- Not gamble, steal or receive bribes.
- Not indulge in extravagance.
- Pay fair wages and take care of workers.
- Show kindness and charity to the needy.
The Laws of Manu teach the importance of generosity which brings good karma.