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Principles and Practice of Hindu Religion
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A Comprehensive Study of the
Ancient Tradition and the Perennial Philosophy
Introduction
 
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Hindu Religion and its Practices are guided by the teachings of the Vedas, Sastras and Agamas. It is given to us in various forms of informative writings by hundreds of great authors, saints, gurus, philosophers and teachers from ancient times to modern days. The cultural practice and interpretation of the faith varied from place to place, at different times and among families following different gurus, teachers and different schools of the faith. However, the essence of the faith and the basic teaching remained the same and common to every Hindu. The teachings of Hinduism have been questioned, analyzed and studied by many generations of the followers and the culture has been modified by several renaissance movements of their own and upon the onslaught of many reformers and alien faiths. Many "sectional" groups and followers of `Gurus' of different teachings and schools and few sub-religions were formed in the later periods. Somehow the faith and the culture have been well maintained from ancient times with adherence to the faith as it developed through the ages.

The core of the Hindu faith and culture has always been based on the 1. Acceptance of belief in One God in many forms as desired by the devotee, 2. Acceptance of Karma and rebirth of the Soul until the ultimate salvation, 3. Acceptance of Varna-Ashrama Dharma, which are the varying rules of life for people of various age groups and various vocations of life as it occurred according to one's inherent ability and ambition, [though this was grossly misinterpreted in the later ages as the caste system] and most importantly, 4. The traditions of the "Undivided Hindu Joint-family." Traditionally, the religious teachings and Hindu culture were learnt by the children from their grandparents and other elders in the Joint-family and passed on to the next generations. Even though each generation tries to label the younger generation as not following the faith properly, except for the reforms and new teachings that developed, the basic faith remained the same. Since ancient times, the youth in the Hindu community often remained defiant and reactionary to their parents, questioning their faith and customs. As they grew older to the late twenties, they started following the teachings. Some of them in their forties and fifties studied the faith very much, until they became fanatically very religious. So, the faith has remained strong in every generation for thousands of years.

As the community has moved from place to place in this century and as many of us are settled in the "foreign" lands of alien faiths, the joint family system has been broken. The youths in the new lands have been exposed to various other cultural and religious traditions. All these other traditions should be considered as various paths to the same goal, like different roads in a city to the same place. Some are shorter, some run along scenic routes, some well lit, some are fast lanes in freeways, some are dangerous and some are safer. They can not be compared as one superior to the other. Each one will have to take the road that is best suited for them. We are happy with what we have chosen. Family unity and traditions now become important. All of us in the Hindu community shall be the core of the "Extended Joint-family." It has become our solemn duty and responsibility to maintain and preserve this culture and faith by teaching our children as a group in our Temples. Thus the Hindu Temples in this country and all over the world will have to perform some unique role of educating the children on our faith.

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This publication is prepared as a service to our Hindu community around the world to keep them in touch with the great treasures of our Ancient Vedic Philosophy and the Religious Practice known to all of us as "Sanathana Dharma" or Hindu Religion. It will also serve as a simple book for our children growing up around alien faiths and in the materialistic surroundings in schools and also for our Non-Hindu friends to create an understanding about our faith and practice. There are several good books available now in English language on Hinduism. An attempt has been made to collect some of these ideas to create a common understanding of the faith for the benefit of our children, for our youth and also for adult readers. I have listed a set of good books in English which I have used as reference that has helped me in the preparation of these articles. Please try to obtain the books listed in the Bibiliography and reference pages for more information and for a more detailed study. Just as the history of Hinduism as told by one author is different from another school, the philosophy explained in one book with the words of one author may not be similar to the teachings by others, though they are all explaining the same Truth, based on Vedas.

Every effort is made to bring all the different views into one set of common understanding, accepting all their thoughts while fully complementing each other. If any opinion expressed is not according to your belief, please bear with us and consider this as a possible alternate thought expressed by another school. It is prepared as a set of articles given as 108 lessons from the notes taken from these books. These texts were prepared mainly for the benefit of our youth and the parents to understand the basic principles of the faith and the history from a religious point of view as well as from a non-theological and secular point. This will help even a person who has doubts and questions on the faith, to study, reason out and understand the teachings of our Vedic Hindu Religion. Every one is encouraged to read not more than one or two lessons in a day so as to get the full benefit of understanding the topics covered. If some of our youngsters and their parents are able to benefit by this study and get an interest in Hindu Religion, the purpose of this work is complete

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"Principles & Practice of Hindu Religion"
 

 

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