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Hindu Heritage Study Program
 
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Principles and Practice of Hindu Dharma
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-HR 201.02
Some of the Basic Aspects of Hindu Religious Beliefs and Practice
A Short Note on the Evolution of the Faith, its Spirit and the Culture
-~ Level - 2 ~
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Lesson - 21 :
Holy Sermons, Teachings and Philosophy
Dogmas, Divine Words and Blind Faith!
Please see below
for Lesson - 22
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Many world religions are based on teachings of one leader or sermons of "Revealed words of God" to be followed by all men in their group. Some, like the Ancient Egyptians, prayed to their King as the incarnation of God, whose words are taken as law "That is the way it is written and that is the way it shall be done". Questioning them was irreverent and was considered a blasphemy. Many of them were punished with death for questioning the king's words.

Others, like the Ancient Greek, had only mythology and some rituals, without any philosophy and that may be one of the reasons it did not survive the modern revolution of thinking and reasoning. Semitic religions that originated in the Middle East like Judaism, Christianity and Islam are guided by the Sermons, teachings and commandments of the Messengers of God, their Messiah, Prophet and Incarnation or Son of God. These teachings are accepted and believed to be revealed Scriptures as the Divine words of God given to their Prophets. They, certainly, are not to be ever questioned by their disciples.

While most of the ancient religious teachings told about the miracles of "God" and frightened people of the punishment for not following His commands, Hinduism teaches a sound philosophy and a positive way of pious living. It guides the individual and the family with certain ethics and proper living standards through their teachings. This is well exemplified through examples in the stories about incarnation as in the Ithihasas and Puranas. It teaches the right way of living and performing ones duty without looking for the fruits of the action. It allows doubts and questioning and accepts every one.

Hinduism accepts the reality that there are varying intellectual and spiritual levels in understanding the faith among people and all cannot take the same path though the goal to reach is the same. Therefore, it offers different approaches to different individuals as it permits the greatest of freedom of worship. Each person is being guided by his own reasoning and spiritual experience and not by any dictatorial religious guidance by a dogma.

 
     
 
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Lesson - 22 :
A Faith as old as Creation and as Modern as Tomorrow
Questioning for a Spiritual Experience
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Hinduism is guided by the teachings of the Vedas, also believed to be the Revealed words by the Divine Powers. The Vedas are said to be older than the creation of the Universe and were given to the Ancient Sages by God as their intuition during their meditation. The Great Seers and Rishis of ancient times recited these Vedas, obtained by their meditative powers, as the teachings of God. These teaching are very ancient and were memorized and recited by generations of Sages, Teachers and their disciples until they were written down as texts and codified as the Four Vedas by Sage Vyasa.

It is further explained by subsequent texts written by Seers and religious leaders based on these Vedas. Hinduism is also guided by these Upa-Vedas, Vedangas, Upanishads, Ithihasas and Puranas, which contain the prayers, Philosophy, rituals and mythology, all in one, to suit everyone's cultural and mental development. While the learned person reads about the qualities of the all-powerful Brahman, the illiterate one is taught the same principle by mythological stories and simple forms of prayers to His manifestations.

The philosophy of Hinduism, as Divine revelations, is for all times, as old as creation and as modern as tomorrow. The Vedas have given us the rituals in various forms as a ladder to raise our faith and understanding. The Agamas and Puranas give us the incarnations and manifestations of 'God' in popular forms to condition our thoughts to the faith.

It allows and accepts varying forms of worship with a tremendous tolerance of other religious faiths and beliefs. Though one may not agree that the other paths are better or perfect, every one is allowed to follow his own path. Often a devotee is urged to study all the paths and variations to fully understand his own faith.

Swami Nikhilananda says: "In the course of Hinduism's development, whenever religion erred by emphasizing on rituals or dogma as the only means to the highest goal, a sound rational philosophy put it on the right path. Whenever intellect claimed the role of the sole path finder, Religion showed the futility of mere discursive reasoning and stressed the importance of worship as a discipline for communion with the Ultimate Reality."

 
 

 
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When we perform our actions, we should perform them as an offering to the Divine and keep our expectations to that of an offering of Divine gift and accept them as it is. We have to live with the nature and keep our desires and attachment within the proper Dharma of the Universe.

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The expectations, desire, lust, attachment and greed with longing for material prosperity and bodily pleasures which are Artha and Kama without the proper Dharma leads to pain and suffering. The path of Dharma with proper karma and bhakthi will lead to a life of happiness and eternal bliss. So, we should perform our work only as a service with devotion and offering to God. Expectations beyond this reality is the source of all Calamities.

 
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Chapter - 2 :- The Essentials of the Hindu Traditions - Lessons 21 & 22
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Go to Lessons: - :~: 17 & 18 :~: 19 & 20 :~: 21 & 22 :~: 23 & 24 :~: 25 & 26 :~: 27 & 28 :~: 29 & 30 :~: 31 & 32 :
 
 
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