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Hindu Heritage Study Program
 
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Principles and Practice of Hindu Dharma
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-HR 201.01
A Comprehensive Study of the Ancient Tradition and the Perennial Philosophy
The Principles of Hindu Faith - an Overview of Chapters II to VII
-~ Level - 2 ~
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Lesson - 13 :
The Ithihãsãs, Purãnãs and Bhakthi Paths of Prayers
One Supreme God in His (Its) Many Forms and Attributes
Please see below
for Lesson - 14
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The Nirguna Brahmam is without forms or attributes and is Impersonal. It is hard to visualize and comprehend for ordinary people due to their ignorance and limitations. Therefore, to make this Universal Spirit easily understandable, we have Saguna Brahmam, God with many forms and attributes who is known as the One Great God or Ishwara.

Thus the average man or woman is able to offer their prayers to the Divine in any one of the several forms He has manifested to protect the universe and the humanity from great calamity, whenever the rule of righteousness declines and injustice triumphs. Every Hindu knows that, when they pray to any one of the several forms, God will accepts their prayers in that form and He will manifest again and again to protect the pious ones and destroy the evils and evil doers and establish the "Dharma."

Ithihasas, (meaning "It happened thus") are historical narrations of ancient times explaining such incarnations of Maha Vishnu as Sri Rama in Ramayana and Sri Krishna in Mahabharatha. We also have various manifestations of Siva, Vishnu, Sakthi and several others explained in the Puranas. Agamas explain the rules of building temples for God in various manifestations and the rules of rituals to be performed for these Deities.

Jnana and Karma path deal with the Formless Brahmam. Bhakthi pathway supports the love, devotion and ultimate surrender to God in one of His many forms. Historically, the evolution of the system of Bhakthi and prayers to various Deities is very ancient and is as old as the Vedas. It was popular in the various primitive communities, as prayer to Siva, Vishnu, Kali and Muruga even before the teachings of Vedas spread all over the ancient land.

 
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Lesson - 14 :
Manifestations of the Supreme to Elevate the Mankind
Devotion, Sacrifice and Surrender in Many Ways and Paths
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Bhakthi is a simple form of the Hindu faith and practice, very easy to follow for the ordinary individual with limited understanding. It is also considered as the superior and the ultimate goal as a total surrender to the Divine creator for all protection and liberation. In the Bhakthi schools, there are separate groups who worship Siva, others worship Sakthi only or both, while others worship Vishnu in His many forms. Vaishnavites consider that God in not formless but only beyond attributes and comprehension.

They explain this form of Narayana as "Savisesha Brahmam". Understanding this form by total surrender and devotion leads to ultimate release of individual soul to reach and reside in the Gods abode, Swarga. Smarthas, who follow the Smrithis, Adhvaitha and rituals to Vedic Deities, also worship all these Deities as manifestations of Supreme God as one of His many forms, known as "Paramatma" [the Supreme Soul] as in Vedas.

The first stage of devotional path is the lower form, "Apara Bhakthi". The devotee prays for some worldly request, prosperity and help, for consolation in sorrow or for comfort in adversity, as a personalized worship. Then the devotee is fully consumed in his devotion and love to his personal God, Ishta-Devata. He sees Him everywhere and totally surrenders to Him and dances with joy with the ecstasy of his divine love. He asks for nothing in return as a favor.

There are many forms in this Bhakthi. The devotee may see God as his father, as his mother, as a personal friend, as a master, as a beloved, as a husband, as a king or as a Guru. Each devotee can worship in his own way. They see God in every thing and every thing in God. The highest stage is the "Para Bhakthi". Various areas of India and various communities had their own preferences. Some amount of group fighting occurred in the medieval times along these lines due to ignorance.

 
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Sarva Mangala Maangalye' Sive' Sarvãrdha Sãdhike,
Saranye' Tryambake' Gauri Nãrayani Namosthuthe'. - ||11 - 10 ||
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Salutations be toYou, O Naraayani, O You who are the good of all good,
O auspicious Devi, who accomplishes everything, the giver of refuge, O three-eyed Gowri.
 
 
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Chapter - 1 : An Introduction and Overview of Hinduism - Lessons 13 & 14
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Go to Lessons: - :~: 01 & 02 :~: 03 & 04 :~: 05 & 06 :~: 07 & 08 :~: 09 & 10 :~: 11 & 12 :~: 13 & 14 :~: 15 & 16 .
 
 
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