Welcome to the Hindu Students Association at Stanford
"The basic skill for surviving in a multicultural world, .. is understanding first one's own cultural values (and that is why one needs a cultural identity of one's own), and next the cultural values of the others with whom one has to cooperate." -- from Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind - Intercultural Cooperation and its Importance for Survival by Geert Hofstede (Pg.238)
We hope to begin understanding the cultures around us by first understanding our own culture, and in so doing, make this world a better place. To achieve this vision, we will undertake several missions.
We are now recruiting for next year's board! Please contact our co-presidents for more information.
To foster an environment that brings together Hindus from all parts of the world who believe in the fundamental principles of love and respect of humanity and all that lives.
To lay claim to the ancient legacy of the sages that is open to all mankind, and study it with an open, scientific mind as the ancients have recommended.
To understand Hinduism in the modern context through the works and vision of Swami Vivekananda.
If you are from India, then you will probably have some preconceived notions about Hindu organizations. You will be sorely disappointed if you expect any fundamentalism or fanaticism and are advised to revise your perceptions. The Council is not affiliated to any political or religious body. Any student who comes from India satisfies the external definition of Hindu (those on the other side of the river Sindhu), and is by default considered a part of the Hindu Students Council family.
The HSC was originally formed by undergraduate students who had a desire to learn more about Hinduism, and hoped that graduate students coming from India will be able to spare some time to share stories and experiences of this rich legacy. If you are a graduate student from India, your gentle presence, encouragement and contribution at any HSC meeting will not go unappreciated.
Can you describe the basic tenets of Hinduism?
This question often elicits responses like, "Hinduism is too diverse to have tenets," "One must figure out for oneself what Hinduism is," or "It is not possible to define Hinduism." While all of these express important sentiments, it is worth remembering the Curse Of Knowledge - too much familiarity with a subject can sometimes make it hard for us to communicate to those who are not as immersed. Hinduism can and should be communicated clearly. If you're asked this question, you might find the following handy.
Four Foundational Tenets
A Hindu would need to believe in the following:
Unity of all existence
Beyond the physical and the mental, there is a spiritual essence
One can realize this spiritual essence through one of four yogas - Raja Yoga (Unity through Mind Control), Karma Yoga (Unity through Action), Bhakti Yoga (Unity through Devotion) or Gyana Yoga (Unity through Self-Inquiry)
Any Hindu belief would have to be derivable from the Upanishads
The fourth tenet is necessary insofar as it provides a distinction between Buddhism and Hinduism. If Buddhists are to be considered Hindus, then the fourth distinction may not be needed. These tenets can help guide further questions on Hinduism
Origin of the word "Hindu"
Hinduism is a way of life, not a religion. The term comes from a series of mispronunciations, connected to the river Sindhu that marks the western extremity of India. The Persians in referring to the Indians, called them the Hindus, or the people on the other side of the river Sindhu. The Greeks mispronounced this further, calling the "Hindu" river - "Indus". Megasthenes, the Greek ambassador to the court of Chandragupta Maurya, wrote a treatise titled "Indica," which was further distorted to "India."
Following this official evolution of the word Hindu, anyone who lives on the other side of the river Sindhu is a Hindu. This is recognized by the western neighbors of India who call the country, "Hindustan," or the land of the Hindus, regardless of the actual religion of its people.
Hinduism is a collection of myriad religions, each with its own customs and beliefs, all appreciated and respected provided they follow the first principle of non-exclusivity - i.e. you are not damned if you do not follow the religion. This has been a significant mark of acceptance in Hindu society for centuries, and different religions founded by different masters have all been incorporated and accepted. There are many parts of India where Hindus can be found seeking the blessings of realized Muslim fakirs, and vice-versa. Such integration is rare in most parts of the world.
The roots of many religions in India come from the ancient "Sanaatan Dharma," which means - the Eternal Principles. (Dharma, contrary to most western translations, does not mean religion - it means duty). The principles of Sanaatan Dharma stress on the immortality of the soul above all else, and that there is a greater truth behind our consciousness. That truth unites all of mankind and nature.
If you are advanced enough to consider yourself a citizen of the world, and lay claim to all its wisdom and knowledge, then Hinduism is honored to extend its legacy to you. This is the belief of every Hindu.
When you have satisfied your material hunger, and yearn for some spiritual food, you are most welcome to learn with us about Hindu philosophy and what it has to offer to modern man.
The Council has members with varying interests, some of which include:
Experiencing beautiful pujas (divine offering) with love in our hearts