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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 - 27 :
Social Leaders, Gurus, Incarnations and Gods
Did these Leaders of the past become our 'gods'
Please see below
for Lesson - 28
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Ever since man started living in social groups from the early Paleolithic period there was always a leader for the group in each community. As some of these people showed qualities of strength and intelligence, they were considered Super Human and were respected and obeyed by the group. As the concept of God was understood and accepted, some of these leaders were worshipped as people with Divine qualities or as incarnation of God.

In the ancient Pre-Aryan India, as in other parts of the world, such leaders were worshipped as Divine manifestations even after their death. The places they were buried or cremated were marked with a stone or a building and all formal ceremonies were performed to the stone memorial or to the soul, such rituals and ceremonies, as it was done when the person was alive. Later, near by communities also accepted them as Divine leaders, especially in times of adversity and suffering.

As the people moved from place to place, they built marker stones or buildings and representative figures to pray for the benefit of the community. The worship of a `Deity' in a Temple like structure was a practice prevalent in what is called the `Dravidian' culture. Thus many incarnations of several village Deities existed in the period referred to as the `pre-Aryan' India, known in the Indus Valley civilization. Their beliefs and places of worship were said to have merged with the so called "Aryan" Hindu religious practice. They were identified with a Vedic Deity or a manifestation of "Brahman" for people to worship with Vedic rituals, accepting those Deities as Hindu gods.

Siva worship was popular at this time. According to the star positions mentioned in old records given by the astrologers in the court of King Vaivasvata Manu (said to be about 8576 BC), some people believe that, "Siva" actually lived about 27,000 years ago, among the people as a local leader. He was probably a King among them in the community, with superhuman qualities and powers. He was accepted later by the "Vedic Aryans" as a manifestation of Siva and as the Vedic God, "Rudra". May be true or just may not be true. May be Siva manifested there.

 
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Lesson - 28 :
Evolution of Hindu Deities - in Many Forms
Why does `God' incarnate in each era?
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At later periods, several other great community leaders also were recognized as "God Siva" in various areas. Similarly many other scholars have shown "proofs" that many of the manifestations worshipped as Deities actually represents superhuman personalities in different places and times. They were worshipped as manifestations of God, who came to protect the community. Rama was here about 5000 years ago and Krishna manifested about 4000 to 4500 years back.

All the ten great incarnations of Vishnu, several manifestations of Siva and various Deities described in the Hindu Puranas [Mythology] as God manifesting Himself, may be persons who actually lived in our land. There are many people who believe that "God Siva" manifested Himself as the great Hindu Saint Adi Sankara, and gave us the Advaita Philosophy.

Somehow ancient Hindu scholars, while writing detailed accounts of all their teachings, never gave any description of historical or chronological details of the time and date or the names of the Seers and Rishis who wrote these philosophical teachings.

When God, as established and described by the Religious teachings as Omnipotent and Omnipresent, are often not conceivable or comprehensible for ordinary people, many religions enforced the thoughts with a dogma and an unquestionable blind faith. Hinduism gave the faith with a philosophy and the formless God in a neuter gender. It also gave various forms to It, both as male and female, for daily practice of the faith.

Whereas the Vedas deal with the religious practice as recitations, rituals and philosophical study of the Divine Truth, Agamas that describe Temple worship, helps ordinary people to pray to "God" in the form they want and to serve their need. The Divine incarnations serve such a role to teach proper faith and belief to all men at every age. The greatness of Hindu religion lies in its ability to make ordinary people with different levels of understanding to comprehend the faith and practice it at different levels of devotion without departing away from the core of the faith and its principles.

 
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Hinduism accepts the reality that there are varying intellectual and
spiritual levels in understanding the faith among people and
all can not take the same path though the goal to reach is the same.
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Therefore, it offers different approaches to different individuals as it permits the greatest of freedom of worship. It allows doubts and questioning and accepts every one. 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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Chapter - 2 :- The Essentials of the Hindu Traditions - Lessons 27 & 28
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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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