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Essence of Hinduism

Background  

It is third largest world religion after Christianity (33%), Islam (21%) and Hinduism (19%). It is oldest of all living religions originating in India. It is over 8500 years old and is practiced by over a billion people in India and other parts of Southeast Asia. It is also known as Sanatana Dharma and Vedic Dharma. The term Sanatana Dharma means ‘eternal religion’.  Vedic Dharma is the religion of the Vedas.

Buddhism and Jainism came about much later after making slight modifications in Hinduism by their founders, Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavir.

Scriptures

The oldest Hindu books are the Vedas written over four thousand years ago. There are four Vedas – the Rig Veda the Yajur Veda, the Sam Veda and the Athurva Veda. The Vedas are also called Srutis because they were told by the God Himself and heard and remembered by the ancient Sages and Rishis before passing on to next generation.. Sruti means what is heard.

Each Veda is divided into four groups – the Mantra Samhita, the Brahmanaa, the Aranyaka and the Upanishad. The Rig Veda Samhita is greatest book of Hindus, it is oldest and the best. The Upanishads are concluding parts of the Vedas and are often described as cream of the Vedas. It is said that Lord Krishna, figuratively speaking, milked the Upanishads to create the Bhagvad Gita and gave it to the mankind. The Bhagvad Gita is a Smriti – written based on ‘memory’.
There are many other scriptures. The Smritis are eighteen in number. There are four Itihasas that explain truths contained in the Vedas – such two Itihasa are the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. There are eighteen Puranas, for example, the Brahma Purana, the Vishnu Purana and the Shiva Purana. Then there are the ‘Thiruvasagam’ and ‘Thevaram’ both highly regarded by Tamils. And finally there are three Agamas and six Darshanas.   

Essential Elements

INCARNATION

Whenever righteousness declines and unrighteousness rises, God incarnates himself on earth to restore righteousness.

AHINSHA

Non-violence, non-injury and non-killing

HARMONY OF RELIGION

All true religions lead to the same goal. Hindus do not seek to convert.   

DOCTRINE OF KARMA

It means action or deeds.Every action produces a justified effect based on its moral worthiness

DHRAMA

Dharma means righteousness and good moral and ethical practices in accordance with the scriptures; includes all duties -- individual, social and religious.

SUPREME REALITY-BRAHM

Brahm is the supreme reality and becomes manifest in various aspects and forms, and is known by various names.

ATMAN

Essence of all living things and beings is Atman, infinite and eternal, unchanging and indivisible. True nature of the individual is the Atman, which is one with  the underlying reality of the Universe.

MOKSHA

Freedom from cycle of birth and death. To make an individual a better person, so that he/she can live harmoniously in this world and seek union with God.

Deities

Often believed that Hindus worship many gods. In reality it is One eternal god (Brahm). The other gods  are  different aspects  of the Brahm.

Hindu Trinity:

  • Brahma: creator
  • Vishnu: preserver
  • Shiva: destroyer

Rituals

LIGHTING OF LAMP

Light represent Knowledge and darkness the ignorance. The Lord is ‘knowledge Principle” (chaitanya), source of all knowledge.

NAMASTE

It is a form of greeting with the two hands folded and held against the chest one bows head forward. The spiritual significance is ‘I bow to you’, the same indweller in us.

BINDI

A bindi is an auspicious mark worn by young girls and women. It signifies female energy and is believed to protect women and their husbands.

AARTI

It is performed as mark of worship and to seek blessings of the Lord.

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