(About a 2 minute read)
Years ago, there was a very thick book that — at the time — was thought to be the best general overview of Hinduism available. It was a bit too scholarly to be called a “popular” book, or even an “introduction” to Hinduism, but it was rated a great overview.
A GREAT BIG THICK overview that, as it happened, was required reading along with A HALF DOZEN OTHER TEXTS for the same university course!
Naturally my obscenely demanding professor of Hinduism demanded that we read that accused book, and in doing so utterly destroyed whatever chances I had up until then of joyously coasting through life without struggle or effort. Not that I’m whining. I haven’t even properly begun to whine about HIM! The very same sorry-butt also…yadda yadda yadda…and I have come to suspect that he was Teresum’s true father…yadda yadda yadda…conceived in a act so unholy the elder gods awoke from their graves to condemn it…
The author of that book began with an anecdote. A young member of the British Parliament was scheduled to debate the greatest orator of the age on the topic of coal mining. In panic, he asked his friend to help him study the topic, about which he knew nothing.
His friend said, “Don’t worry. You absolutely do not need to know a thing! Just remember this: Whenever he says something, rise from your seat and shout, ‘But NOT in the South of England!’ You see, he knows so much about coal mining that he knows there are exceptions to everything he says is true, and he will be forced by his honor to concede your points.”
The young man did exactly what he was advised to do, and by all accounts, won the debate.
More to the point, the author of the vast work on Hinduism used that anecdote to illustrate just how hard it is to say much of anything about Hinduism that all Hindus would agree with.
So, is there anything universal to all Hinduism? If so, what is it?