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Truth is One Paths are Many
 
A Comparative Study of various Traditions
& Philosophy of Several World Religions
Will Some One Tell Me What the Great Religions Believe?
A Primer of World Religions - What they are & What they believe
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1. Hinduism
Founded: Hinduism, the world's oldest religion, - has no beginning -- it predates recorded history.
Founder: Hinduism has no human founder.
Major Scriptures: The Vedas, Aagamas, and more.
Adherents: Nearly one billion, mostly in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Malaysia,
----- Also in Indonesia, Indian Ocean islands, Africa, Europe and North and South America.
Sects: There are four main denominations: Saivism, Saktism, Vaishnavism and Smarthism.
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Synopsis:

Hinduism is a vast and profound religion. It worships One Supreme Reality [called by many names] and teaches that all souls ultimately realize Truth. There is no eternal hell, no damnation.

It accepts all genuine spiritual paths -- from pure Monism ["God alone exists"] to theistic dualism [:when shall I know His Grace?"].

Each soul is free to find his own way, whether by devotion, austeruty, meditation [Yoga] or selfless service.

Stress is placed on temple worship, scriptures and the guru-disciple tradition. Festivals, pilgrimages, chanting of holy hymns and home worship are dynamic practices.

Love, nonviolence, good conduct and the law of dharma defines the Hindu path. Hinduism explains that the soul reincarnates until all Karmas are resolved and God realization is attained.

The magnificient holy temples, the peaceful piety of the home, the subtle metaphysics and the science of Yoga all play their part.

Hinduism is a mystical religion, leading the devotee to personally experience the Truth within, finally reaching the pinnacle of consciousness where man and God are one.

Hindu Beliefs:

1. I believe in a one, all-pervasive Supreme Being who is both immanent and transcedent, both Creator and Unmanifest reality.

2. I believe that the universe undergoes endless cycles of creation, preservation and dissolution.

3. I believe that all souls are evolving towards union with God and will ultimately find moksha: spiritual knowledge and liberation from cycle of rebirth. Not a single soul will be eternally deprived of this destiny.

4. I believe in karma, the law of cause and effect by which each individual creates his own destiny by thoughts, words and deeds.

5. I believe that the soul reincarnates, evolving through many births until all karmas have been resolved.

6. I believe that divine beings exist in unseen worlds and that temple worship, rituals, sacraments as well as personal devotionals create a communion with these devas and God.

7. I believe that spiritually awakened master or satguru is essential to know the transcedent Absolute, as are personal discipline, good conduct, purification, self-inquiry and meditation.

8. I believe that all life is sacred, to be loved and revered, and therefore practice ahimsa or nonviolence.

9. I believe that no particular religion teaches the only way to salvation above all others, but that all genuine religious paths are facets of God's pure love and light, deserving tolerance and understanding.

 
"Idham Mithram Agnim Aahu Atho; Dhivya Sah Suparnah Garuthman |
E'kam Sath Viprah Bahudha Vadanthi, Agnim ! Yama Matharisvanam Aahuh ||"
--- (Rig Veda - - I -164 - 46).---
" They call It (Him) Indra, Varuna, Agni; and He is the heavenly Nobly-winged Garuthman !
Truth is One, Sages give It many a title; Agni,Yama, Matharisvan, they call It (Him) !!"
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Goals and Paths of Attainment
of the Four Major Hindu Sects
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SAIVITE HINDUISM

Goals of Saivism:

The primary goal of Saivism is realizing one's identity with God Siva, in perfect union and nondifferentiation. This is called Nirvikalpa Samaadhi, Self Realization, and may be attained in this life, granting Moksha, permanent liberation from the cycles of birth and death. A secondary goal is Savikalpa Samaadhi, the realization of Sat-chid-aananda, a unitive experience within super- consciousness in which perfect Truth, knowledge and bliss are known. The soul's final destiny is Visagraasa, total merger in God Siva.

Paths of Attainment:

The path for Saivites is divided into four progressive stages of belief and practice called Charya, Kriya, Yoga and Jnana. The soul evolves through Karma and reincarnation from the instinctive - intellectual sphere into virtuous and moram living, then into temple worship and devotion, followed by internalized worship or yoga and its meditative disciplines. Union with God Siva comes through the grace of the Satguru and culminates in the soul's maturity in the state of jnana, or wisdom. Saivism values both bhakthi and yoga, devotional and contemplative sadhanas.

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SAKTHA HINDUISM

Goals of Sakthism:

The primary Goal of Sakthism is Moksha, defined as complete identification with God Siva. A secondary goal for Sakthas is to perform good works selflessly so that one may go, on death, to the heaven worlds and thereafter enjoy a good birth on earth, for heaven, too, is a transitory state. For Sakthas, God is both the formless Absolute [Siva] and the manifest Divine [Sakthi], worshipped as Parvathi, Durga, Kaali, Amman, Rajarajeswari, and other names. Emphasis is given to the feminine manifest by which the masculine Unmanifest is ultimately reached.

Paths of Attainment:

The spiritual practices in Sakthism are similar to those in Saivism, though there is more emphasis in Sakthism on God's power as opposed to Being, on Manthras and Yanthras, and on embracing apparent opposites: male-female, absolute-relative, pleasure-pain, cause-effect, mind-body. Certain sects within Sakthism undertake "left-hand" tantric rites, consciously using the world of form to transmute and eventually transcend the world. The "left hand" approach is somewhat occult in nature; it is considered a path for the few. and not many. The "right Hand" path is more conservative in nature.

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VAISHNAVITE HINDUISM

Goals of Vaishnavism:

The primary goal of Vaishnavites is Videha Mukthi, liberation - attainable only after death - when the small self realizes union with God Vishnu's body as a part of Him, yet maintains its pure individual personality. Lord Vishnu - all pervasive consciousness - is the soulof the universe, distinct from the world and from the jivas, "embodied souls," which constitute His body. His transcedent Being is a celestial form residing in the city of Vaikuntha, the home of all eternal values and perfection, where the souls join Him upon Mukthi, liberation. A secondary goal - the experience of God's grace - can be reached while yet embodied through taking refuge in Vishnu's unbounded love. By loving and serving Vishnu and meditating upon Him and His incarnations, our spiritual hunger grows and we experience His Grace flooding our whole being.

Paths of Attainment:

Most Vaishnavites believe that religion is the performance of Bhakthi Saadhanas, and that man can communicate with and receive the grace of Lord Vishnu who manifests through the Temple Deity, oy Idol. The path of Karma yoga and Jnana yoga leads to Bhakthi yoga. Among the practices of all Vaishnavites is chanting the holy names of Avatharas, Vishnu's incarnations, such as Rama and Krishna. Through total self surrender, called prapatti,to Lord Vishnu, liberation from samsara is attained.

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SMARTHA - [LIBERAL] - HINDUISM

Goals of Smarthism:

The ultimate goal of Smarthas is Moksha, to realize oneself as Brahman -the Absolute and only Reality - and become free from samsaara, the cycle of birth and death. For this one must conquer the state of Avidhya, or ignorance, which causes the world to appear as real. All illusion has vanished for the realized being, Jivanmuktha, even as he lives out his life in the physical body. At death, his inner and outer bodies are extinguished. Brahman alone exists.

Paths of Attainment:

Most Smartha - liberal Hindus believe that moksha is achieved through Jnana yoga alone - defined as an intellectual and meditative but non-kundalini-yoga path. Jnana yoga's progressive stages are scriptural study [sravana], reflection [manana] and sustained meditation [dhyana]. Guided by a realized guru and avowed to the unreality of the world, the initiate meditates on himself as Brahman to break through the illusion of Maya. Devotees may also choose from three other non-successive paths to cultivate devotion. accrue good karma and purify the mind. These are Bhakthi yoga, Karma yoga and Raja yoga, which certain Smathas teach, can also bring enlightenment.

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Truth is One :: Paths are Many
A study comparing the essential beliefs of World Religions
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