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.
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.