What is Hindu Religion?
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)
Hindu Scriptures and Principles
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.
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,
One God Supreme in Many Forms.
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. -
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].
Hindu Rituals and Worship
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.
Hindu Religious Beliefs and Tenets
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.