Basic Lessons on Hindu Dharma
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  Basic Lessons on Hindu Dharma ~ Level - 1  
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Chapter 1:
A Basic Study of Hindu Dharma
 
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HR101.01 - 01
Principles of Hindu Religion for the Youth & the New Seekers
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Lesson: 1-01
A Primer on Hindu Religion
Basic Information in a Nutshell for the New Seekers
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Basic Information about Hindu Dharma to understand the Principles
 
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i. What is Hindu Dharma? [or Is it Hinduism?]
ii. Hindu Scriptures and Principles.
iii. One God in Many Forms and Many Names.
iv. Common Hindu Rituals and Worship.
v. Common Hindu Beliefs and Tenets.

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I.: What is Hindu Religion?

Hindu Religion is the world's oldest faith. It was followed by the ancient civilization of the Indus valley, Ganges valley, Deccan and Cauveri delta, as well as other parts of India all over the Indian peninsula and surrounding areas of Asia. There are over 900 million to one Billion Hindus living throughout the world, mainly in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia from ancient times and also the Hindus settled all over the world now. Hindu Religion is as much a "way of life" as it is a religion and affects every aspect of life for Hindus from birth throughout their life. It has been referred to by different names like Dharma, Hinduism, Vaidheeha Dharma, Hindu Dharma and also Sanatana Dharma. (Please see addendum below)

II.: Hindu Scriptures and Principles

Hinduism, unlike most religions, has no founder and no one scripture. Hindus do not have one "Holy Book" like many other religions, but many texts including the four Vedas along with their Upanishads, called the "Sruti" and several Dharma Sasthras or Smrutis and Ithihasas and purans including the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. The Bhagavad Gita, or "Song of God", comes as part of Mahabaratha, is an essence of the message of the Upanishads and Hindu Philosophy and is considered to be a guide on how we should live as told by Lord Krishna to Arjuna.

Hindus believe that as all streams and rivers lead to the same ocean, all genuine religious (spiritual) paths lead to the same goal, worship of every form of "GOD" and celestial forces leads to the same good. So we do not try to convert others to our religion. (Another example-path to top of mountain may differ but the view from the top of the mountain will be the same.) Hindus believe in one God, beyond form, space and time and beyond human comprehension. He is referred to as "Paramaatma" by most people, particularly the Smaarta sects, also called, as Para Brahman and as Truth. The Saivites call Him as Paramasiva or as Ishwara, and Vaishnavaites call Him as Maha Vishnu or as Narayana where as Sakthi worshippers call Her as Aadi Paraasakthi, Parameshwari, Durga, Maha Kaali, Ishwari, and Amba.

III. One God Supreme in Many Forms.

Most Hindus, needing a form on which to concentrate, worship that one God in different forms, worshiping one aspect of that One Divine Supreme Truth. -- Hindus see God in masculine as well as in feminine forms and like a family. Please understand that many of the sects of Hindus following the various forms of philosophy and worship and visualise this same Paramathma - Supreme God - as Narayana [Vishnu], or as Paramasiva [Siva] and Paraasakthi [Sakthi or Durga]. These are the major forms of Hindu "Gods" worshipped, which takes the form as created by the supreme God Paramathma for the benefit of the Human creations to easily comprehend Him as He is. So, this Immanent form of God is said to take the manifestations of various Deities through the veil of "Maya". We see that one God as Brahma - the creator, Vishnu - the maintainer, and Shiva - the destroyer and re-creator as Siva - or Nataraja. -

We see that one God also take the female forms as Sakthi or Durga, - provider of energy and power, as Lakshmi, - provider of prosperity and wealth and as Saraswathi, - provider of knowledge and intelligence. Here please note that unlike the other major world religions, we also see the Supreme as Mother, including as Sri Meenakshi, as Visalakshi, as Kamakshi and as many other names of Sakthi. He is also seen as Father as in various forms of Siva and Vishnu and their manifestations or Avathaaraas, in various forms in several Hindu Temples. -- The Temple is not just a congregation hall but a palace of the Supreme [the Queen or King].

IV.: Hindu Rituals and Worship

Hindu worship takes into account the capacities and inclinations of different individuals. --Types of worship include Ritualistic worship (temple or home), offering (directly or through the priest) flowers, coconut, fruits, incense, flames of oil lamps and camphor, chanting of prayers in Sanskrit (or mother tongue), etc. Also: Worship through service of one's fellow man (charity) and by one's activity; -- Worship through studying of sacred texts and devotion to the Supreme; --Worship through meditation with physical and mental discipline and through understanding first the inner self then the divine that is everywhere. -- Worship and prayers are the duties of the human soul to attain Divine protection from the effects of bad karmas and to get guided in the proper path.

V.: Hindu Religious Beliefs and Tenets

Hindus believe in ahimsa, or non-violence, which is the basis for the vegetarian diet of many Hindus. We believe non-injury includes thought, word, and deed. Hindus believe in Karma, the law of Cause and Effect. Similar to Western belief "As ye sow, so shall ye reap" or "What goes around, comes around." (No such thing as a free lunch.) -- Doing one's own duty without expectation of any rewards is key. It is one's own good and bad action that leads to enjoyment and suffering. Hindus believe in reincarnation, or "life after life." (Results may occur in a following life.) Every individual soul returns to earth several times by rebirth to perform proper Karma to purify itself. Once purified by good karma, the soul reaches liberation with no-rebirth. Attachment, greed and lust leads to bad karma leading to grief and further suffering and rebirths to wash off those effects. A goal of Hindus is to achieve moksha, to be freed from the cycle of birth and death (when the "good" and the "bad" karmas balance.) or reach Swarga, the abode of the Divine Soul or Paramatma [God] to serve at His feet.

 

 

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What Is in a Name?
A Rose is a Rose in any Name. Lotus has different names in different Languages - but they all mean the same.
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In the following articles the terms like Hinduism, Hindu Dharma and Hindu Religion are used to refer to this Faith and Culture. The more Orthodox among us often prefer and use terms like "Vaidheeha Dharma" (Vedic Faith] or "Sanathana Dharma" (Perennial Philosophy). Please consider all these are just to make the reader understand that it referred to this same ancient faith that originated in the civilization that exists in the South of the Himalayas in the Indian Peninsula for several millenia. I have preferencially used the term "Hindu Dharma" as a compromise term to mean all thoughts.
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Lessons: - :-: 1- 01 : - : 1- 02 : - : 1- 03 : - : 1- 04 : - :
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