Can I be a Hindu and still an atheist?

Since no one can actually define Hinduism, the simple answer is: yes. Politicians and supremacists who try to define, and homogenise, Hinduism, may disagree and insist Hinduism is theist. The problem is with how we define God.

When people around the world use words like religion, they refer mostly to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. When they use the word God (singular, capitalised, masculine), they are in all probability referring to the God of Abraham, that informs Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This is God who is outside humanity, and outside creation, who creates the world and humanity, loves humanity, and gives instructions through prophets on how humans should live. This God has cast down humanity to the world because they broke his rule in the perfect Eden. He gives humans one chance to live, to prove their love for him. In Judaic mythology, he punishes those who do not listen to him. In Christian mythology, he sacrifices his own son Jesus for the sins of humanity. In Islamic mythology, he appoints Prophet Muhammad as the last of his prophets. The most important aspect of these dominant religions is the idea of “covenant” or contract with God, expressed through the rite of baptism in Christianity, and circumcision in Judaism and Islam. These Abrahamic mythologies are strongly influenced by Zoroastrian mythology of ancient Persia, from where came ideas such as Devil, Heaven and Hell, and Archangels. In Abrahamic mythology, there is one God. So the concept of many gods is false.

It is important to clarify that when Hindus use the word God, it is not the God of Abraham. God in Hinduism can be masculine or feminine, singular or plural, and limitless or limited by space and time. Limitless divine is spelt with capitalisation; limited divine is spelt without capitalisation. Thus we can have Gods, Goddesses, gods and goddesses. All are manifestations of the divine. There is no concept of Devil. Most important,…

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