Who is a Hindu?
- If you want to be a Hindu, you can be one.
- If you feel, you are a Hindu, then you are a Hindu
- To be a Hindu, you just have to respect Hindu way of life and follow whatever possible. Hinduism beleives in freedom and states what is good and bad. You have the choice to do what you feel is right. There is no force to do a certain thing. God-loving religion and not a God-fearing one. There is no single central authority. You just have to be true to yourself.
Hindu 123 (3 basic principles)
- ஒன்றே குலமும் ஒருவனே தேவனும்|
நன்றே நினைமின் நமனில்லை நாணாமே
சென்மே பகுங்கதி யில்லைநுஞ் சித்தத்து |
நின்றே நிலைபெற நீர்நினைந் துய்மினே. - திருமந்திரம் By Thirumoolar
Above text means: Only One race/community and one God. Think good, not only for you but also for every one. This is the only way for salvation and to eliminate fear of death. Let your mind be filled with good thoughts only. These verses unite the divided humanity instead of dividing the united Supreme Being!
- ஓம்பூர்ணமத: பூர்ணமிதம் பூர்ணாத் பூர்ண முதச்யதே
பூர்ணஸ்ய பூர்ண மாதாய பூர்ணமேவா வஸிஷ்யதே
ஓம் ஸாந்தி : ஸாந்தி : ஸாந்தி : [Brihadaranyaka Upanishad]
Above text means: Poornam means ever full, whole, complete or infinite or Perfect. God or ultimate reality is Poornam or ever Fullness. From Fullness comes infinite beings, which is also Fullness or made up of same divine essence. Taking Fullness from Fullness, Fullness Indeed Remains and infinite reality remains the same unaffected and unchanged. (poornam also mean both full and void or zero)
Let there be peace be in all three realms: surroundings, body and mind OR self, you and everyone
- அன்பும் சிவமும் இரண்டென்பர் அறிவிலார் |
அன்பேசிவமாவது யாரும் அறிகிலார்
அன்பேசிவமாவது யாரும் அறிந்தபின் |
அன்பேசிவமாய் அமர்ந்திருந்தாரே - திருமந்திரம் By Thirumoolar
Above text means: Only the ignorant will think that love or compassion and God (Sivam) are two different things; only few really understand that Sivam is nothing but love; once everyone understands that Sivam is nothing but love, everyone will become saintly or become Siva (God).
Tara the Tibetan and Hindu Goddess of compassion, originated as a Great Goddess and the Mother Creator. Her compassion for living beings, her desire to save them from suffering, is said to be even stronger than a mother's love for her children.
Some facts on Hinduism:
- Hinduism is the major religion in India. About eighty percent of the population is Hindu (over 700 million people). Hinduism is the most popular religion in Asia. Large numbers of people also practice it in Nepal, Fiji, and the island of Bali in Indonesia. Hinduism has over 1 billion adherents worldwide (15% of world's population)
- The word "Hindu" was first used by the Persians and other foreigners to refer to the people who lived on the southern side of the Sindus River (now known as the Indus River). The name "Hindu" came to refer to both the people and their religion.
- Hinduism is a fusion or synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions (Vedic religion, Indus and Saraswathi valley cultures, asvika or siddha or renouncer or sramana traditions, Aryan-Dravidian traditions, and the many local and immigrant traditions and animist-nature-tribal religions). Difficult to say exactly how it deveoped and so there can be many possible theories.
- Hinduism is Sanatana-dharma (Sanatana means eternal and dharma follow or obey God). Hinduism is a way of live and a philosophy, Neither a Dogma, nor a Belief. It is not only the doctrine of religious and moral rights, but also the set of duties, social order, right conduct and virtuous things and deeds.
- Hinduism is not a single religion but embraces many traditions. Hinduism is supposed to be 'apauruseya', i.e., of impersonal origin. Hinduism's history is closely linked with the rise and fall of different kingdoms and empires. The early history of Hinduism is difficult to date followers should be more concerned with the substance or text rather than its date.
- Hinduism is a library covering many subjects like science, cosmology, medicine, literature. One can choose whatever one wants. Like any library, user discretion is advised. Right for one, may be wrong for the other.
- Hindus recognize that the Ultimate Reality also known as Brahman, is Infinity, Eternal and Unchangeable. Brahman is an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God (all-powerful, all-knowing, and all- or everywhere-present). God cannot be limited by any name or concept.
- All Gods creations are equal and individually unique with strengths and weaknesses. One need not consider learned, musicians, magicians, good administrators and spiritual business men as Gods/Godman. All are human beings. As buddha told, ‘I am a human being who is awake or woken up to reality’.
- People have defined Hinduism as a "religion" set of religious beliefs and practices religious tradition
Vedic origin and scriptures
- The word ‘Veda’ originates from the Sanskrit root Vid. The Sanskrit verb ‘Vid’ means ‘to know’. The word ‘Veda’ literally means knowledge. It is just a collection of many scriptures of thousands of faiths and sects in Indian subcontinent.
- Each ethnic group had its own scriptures like vedic (deva worshippers); ashuraism(later persia, zoroastrians); shaivaism; vishnu worshippers; early forms of aswika, jainism or yogic religion (as in some siddhas/yogis/recluse sadhus); and many tribal beliefs like animism etc. Over the time these beliefs/cultures intermingled and became hinduism and ideas/beliefs of immigrants were also added to this common system.
- Though there are many scriptures, hindus respect divinity of the four Vedas (rik, yajur, sama and atharvana), one of the world's most ancient scriptures.
- All the scriptures lead to God, who is their ultimate author and their wisdom.
Dravidian or Early Tamil belief system
There are seven thinai classifications in Puram, and Akam. Each tiṇai was closely associated with a particular landscape, and imagery associated with that landscape - its flowers, trees, wildlife, people, climate and geography - was woven into the poem in such a way as to convey a mood, associated with one aspect of a romantic relationship. Akam means inside and Puram meansoutside. There are mythical creature like asunam, mighty animal Āli, which kills elephants and lizard and crow omens.
Later reduced to two gods: Seyyon and Mayyon, forming saiavm and vaishnavam. Sangam Tamil people understood two distinct characteristics of Godhood. God who is beyond all (கடவுள்) and the God who sets things in motion (இயவுள்). The King was 'the representative of God on earth' and lived in a koyil, which means the "residence of God".
- kuṟunji - Mountains - Seyyon or Murugan and valli
- Mullai - Forest- Thirumaal or Mayyon or Mayavan and Nappinai
- Marudam - pasture Agricultural areas - Indran, Vendan, Great King
- Neydhal plain or valley Seashore - Kadalon or varunan
- Palai - parched wasteland, Desert - Kotravai( or Kali)
- Kaikilai refers to paradesi (person who has no fixed place) or diaspora or overseas or new world or continents
- Perunthinai refers to akash (infinite or invisible or ether)
Tamil Words meaning King and God are: (கோ "King"); (இறை "Emperor") and (ஆண்டவன் "Conqueror") now primarily refer to Gods. During the Bhakti movement, poets often compared gods to kings. Systems that does not use God concept are not treated as atheistic. Like Tirukkural, there are lot of philosophical texts independent of any group, which are universal.
Puranas or histories or stories
The word Puranas means "ancient, old", and it is a large number of tales based on historical facts. They typically contain a complete narrative of the history of the Universe from creation to destruction, genealogies of the kings, heroes and super human beings and animals. They also deal with Hindu cosmology and geography, as folk tales. There are 18 canonical Puranas, and many stories also called as puranas in many local dialects.
Based on historical facts, Epics or Kavya like Mahabharata and Ramayana, have been developed over a period of time. They are made up of many large or small incidences in the form of stories with the main central theme. Both of them teaches no matter what, dharma or righteousness always wins. The stories involve family feuds, Dangers of gambling, craving for others wealth, Sex and violence and good against evil.
Story telling is a part of Indian or Hindu literature about a wide range of topics to convey ideas. Like all religions, fiction, exaggeration, mysticism and super natural phenomena make stories interesting (like today movies based on history and scientific facts). Historical facts are like many dots. It is not a complete picture. People can join and create as many figures they want. Many times, many individual stories are combined and connected to make a big story.
For example, moon revolves around 27 or 28 constellations and Rohini will the closest constellation in the moon's orbit. Moon is personified as male married to 27 or 28 maidens and Rohini is his favourite wife. Daksha, Chaldean astronomer identified 28 constellations, and he is supposed to be the father of all 28 daughters. Based on this theme, many stories have been developed.
THE FOUR PATHS OF YOGA
There are four main paths of Yoga, suited to a different temperament and taste or approach to life. Most of the hindus may follow few paths.
- Jnana yoga is the Path of Knowledge or intellectual way or contemplation. One uses mind to understand self, nature, dharma (order) and relationship with supreme being.
- Karma Yoga is the Yoga of Action. It purifies the heart by teaching you to act selflessly. Do good and Work is worship.
- Bhakti Yogi is surrendering to almighty God, who is the embodiment of love. Through prayer, worship and ritual one can realize God. God, our creator will take care of every thing.
- Raja Yoga is the science of physical and mental control. It also includes all methods which helps one to control body, senses and mind.
Caste and other divisions
Indians are more than thousands of tribes, with so many invading and immigrant tribes. Aryans and dravidian theory is over simplistic and is not very useful to group thousands of tribes in to 2 categories. Every tribe is both aryan and dravidian.
Castes or jatis meaning birth, are are complex social groups to fit in to any model. Varna, a theoretical model may be translated as "class," and refers to four social classes, namely Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. Like Aryan and Dravidian theorey, these are very over simplification of reality. The four varnas can not represent complex systems of thousands of castes. The term Castes, means different things to different Indians. All are part aryan and dravidian. You can not map castes to varnas, as one caste may have people in more than one varna. Varna system had not been rigid, even during Ramayana and Mahabharatha period.
These divisions are more to do with Indian society rather than any religion. So Indian converts to other religion still live with the caste system. Divisions like clans, race exist in all societies in the world, irrespective of religion they follow.
Hinduism in day to day life
- Ahimsa: all life is sacred, to be loved and revered, and therefore practice ahimsa, noninjury, in thought, word and deed. Ahimsã means non-violence (in thought, word and deed), non-injury, or non-killing of all forms of life. It means,LIVE AND LET LIVE, in daily life at every step of the way.
- Ahimsa, may also include SATYA (Truth), ASTEYA (Non-Stealing), BRAHMACHARYA (Celibacy, Restraint), and APARIGRAHA (Non-possession, Detachment)
- Importance of duty forevery one - We are here to fulfill our duty in God's larger plan. The meaning of Karma is in the intention. The intention behind action is what matters. Those who are motivated only by desire for the fruits of action are miserable, for they are constantly anxious about the results of what they do.
- Perform work in this world, without selfish attachments, and alike in success and defeat.
- Look upon every person or soul as a part and parcel of the mighty Whole. Those who possess this wisdom have equal regard for all. They see the same Self in every life form. This doctrine encourages universal brotherhood, reverence for all forms of life, and respect for our environment - the divine aspect into everything an individual does in life.
- Whatever you do, treat it as an offering to God – the food you eat, the sacrifices you make, the help you give, even your suffering. The process of offering is Brahman; that which is offered is Brahman. All actions can be done with God in mind and see God in every action.
- See that there is action in the midst of inaction and inaction in the midst of action.
- The offering of wisdom is better than any material offering.
- The choice of deities and way of worship is flexible. There are no hard and fast rules.
- The word Dharma has no literal translation in other languages - because Dharma defines many aspects - love and devotion to the almighty, respect for parents, teachers and wise men and elders, compassion for those who do not have or are in pain and suffering, kindness and gratitude to all animals especially to those that help us survive and work for us. Dharma also includes being dutiful in whatever role we are playing - children to their parents, students to their teachers, wife to husband, husband to wife, employee to employers, businessmen to customers, and so on.
- Mother Nature worship is part of Hindu religion.
- Life objectives is "Oneness is a point of realisation. It cannot be taught; It cannot be learnt; It can only be found. There is no singular Truth or fact”
- God is one, unborn, changeless, boundless all-pervasive Supreme Being or divinity.
- Absolute Reality, God is unmanifest, unchanging and transcendent, timeless, formless and space less. But human mind cannot conceptualize such God.
- God manifest in a finite form to devotees. God manifests as pure love and light flowing through all form, existing everywhere in time and space as infinite intelligence and power.
- God is our personal Lord, source of all three worlds, our Father-Mother God who protects, nurtures and guides us.
- Each denomination also venerates its own pantheon of Divinities, all in turn representing the Supreme Lord. Divine beings exist in unseen worlds and that temple worship, rituals, sacraments and personal devotionals create a communion with these divine beings.
- God is the beginning, middle, and end of creation. 9 the beginning, the staying, and the end of creation;)
- God is the best and foremost in all categories. The entire cosmos is only a fragment of God.
- We can see the Lord everywhere and in every creature. The Lord dwells in the hearts of all creatures. Those who worship other gods with faith and devotion also worship Supreme Being. Break away from the egocage of “I,” “me,” and “mine” to be united with the Lord.
- God is ever present to those who have realized God in every creature.
- The birth and dissolution of the cosmos itself take place in God.
- God is the essence of everything like the life in every creature
- God knows everything about the past, the present, and the future, but there is no one who knows God completely.
- The Lord is the supreme poet, the first cause, the sovereign ruler, subtler than the tiniest particle, the support of all, inconceivable, bright as the sun, beyond darkness.
- God is the ritual and the sacrifice; offering and the fire which consumes it, and the one to whom it is offered.
- God is the goal of life, support of all, and the final abode of all. God is the only refuge, the one true friend.
Personal deities and Major Sects
- Smartas, who worship five major deities: Vishnu, Siva, Shakti, Ganesh, Karttikeya and Surya, the sun-god.
- Vaishnava philosophy accepts that there is only one God. They worship Lord Vishnu takes many names and forms in different religions.
- Shaivites, who worship Lord Siva.
- Shaktas may worship the many forms of Durga, such as Parvati or Kali.
- There are few hundred sects worshipping other deities like Sun, Ganesha, Kumara, Rama and Krishna as main deity.
Unification of faiths
Diverse belief system has been unified by many great personalities.
Shanmata is the system of worship, founded by Adi Shankara, to group many deities under six main deities of Hinduism, viz, Shiva, Vishnu, Shakti, Ganesha, Surya and Skanda. Sankara stressed the essential oneness of all deities, explaining that all deities as various manifestations of the one divine power, Brahman.
The author of Bhagavadgita integrated various Indian traditions and religions. The Bhagavadgita combines many different elements or subjects such as, Karma yoga, jnana yoga, Sankhya yoga, Buddhi yoga and Bhakti yoga. The document focuses on the immortal nature of the soul, importance of knowledge, duty, order and devotion. The Bhagavadgita is applicable to dharma-based householder life, enlightenment-based renunciate, and devotion-based theist and is not sectarian or addressed to any particular school of thought.
Bhagavadgita is universal in its approach for everyone. All paths lead to God, which is the beginning, middle, and end of creation. The entire cosmos is only a fragment of God. There are many similar texts such as Shiva Gita and Isvara Gita
Prayer is talking with God, who resides in you. There is no need for any middle person. One can pray any where, any time and in any way convenient to him.
Hindus worship the God though forms and symbols. Infinitely merciful God, acts through agents or representatives.
1) Avatars or Manifestations of God in human or other forms are representatives.
2) Many deities represent different aspects of the one God, Brahman. The images are not needed once you can visualize the Absolute Reality. The creator has five functions to do Create lives, support them during life time, destroy live after the expiry time. But two more functions are Hiding (Maya or illusion) and Revelations.
Hindus pray to or worship:
- Devas (natural forces and objects like earth, mountains and rivers; abstract things such as compassion, youthfulness, anger and death; mystical phenomena; and super beings);
- Rishis (teachers, heroes, great personalities and prophets) ; and
- Pithrus (ancestors)
The need for ritual is a basic human instinct, like our need for food, shelter and love. The absence of significant ceremony in our lives will leave us feeling disconnected, insulated and isolated in society or community. Rituals are part of culture rather than religion.
Rituals are like spices added to our food. Ceremonial observance adds lucid layers - depth, dimension, drama and distinction -to our lives, making the ordinary seem special. One need not follow strictly a set of hand-me-down observances, pre-prescribed formulas, or procedures. Nor do we need ordained priest/esses or gurus to design, direct or officiate our important events and passages.
No one practice religion or rituals precisely the way ancestors did 50,000 years ago. We all make it up as we go along. Many of the practices of olden days are irrelevant today.
Ritual can be defined as a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order. Many felt that the burden they have to carry because of these rituals, make rituals a necessary evil.
One may feel organization, rituals and practices are evil, but one still do it, because evil is necessary.
To become ritualistic may be wrong, but a little affordable ritual with in your means is just fine.
Evolved religion over time
- Like all religions, Hinduism evolved over time.
- Included deities and rituals of many local tribes, invaders and immigrant tribes. Even Greek, Arab and Roman deities are added to the list. Absorbed, whatever is good or beneficial from other religious groups.
- Hindus exported their deities and practices to other parts of the world. They built many temples in other asian countries.
- Over time, leaders observed that some violence is inevitable for survival of Life. This violence can be reduced infinitely through Restraint.
- Dogmas/Scriptures (Shastras and Sutras) are written by People in the NAME of GODS, perfectly purified Souls, whose lives are the basis of their Philosophy.
- Many new sects were created based on saints and new practices. These build new communities benefiting a particular group. Unfortunately, it created division among Hindus.
- Many religious organizations created new hierarchies and Vested Interests to sustain them. So, we see numerous sects and sub-sects in all of them. Power, Position, and Authority are their Hidden Motives.
Karma and Rebirth
- Hinduism, Buddhism and many faiths share common principles such as the idea of karma, or debt created by action. Rebirth is effect of karma.
- SOUL has no distinction of sex, status or form. Only the BODY that every soul takes is different. Soul has to be constantly reborn in the cycle of birth and death (called samsara) in order to ultimately dissolve all karma and be freed from earthly life which is moksha, or liberation.
- KARMA: The law of cause and effect by which each individual creates his own destiny by his thoughts, words and deeds. `As you sew, so you reap.’ Every one is pure and divine. According as one acts, there is difference among us. One becomes virtuous by good actions and evil by bad actions.
- UNIVERSE has no begining or end. It transforms and perpetuates. `MATTER IS INDESTRUCTIBLE.
- Universe undergoes endless cycles of creation, preservation and dissolution.
- Something cannot come out of nothing. This universe comes forth from the Divine, yet the universe takes nothing from the Divine and adds nothing to It. Divine remains ever the same. Since the universe has come forth from the Divine, all things and beings are sacred.
- God created the universe, and endowed it with order, with the laws to govern creation. Universe is balancing between order and chaos (adharma). Dharma is the law that maintains the cosmic order (physical and social order).
- Whenever dharma (order) declines, God manifests on earth (may be through representatives) to re-establish dharma.
- Hindus in general believe that time is cyclical, much like the four seasons, and eternal rather than linear and bounded. Texts refer to successive ages (yuga), designated respectively as golden, silver, copper and iron.
- All heavenly bodies are assumed at different distance, based on the appearance. So the order of mandalam is surya, chandra, nakshadra, pudan, sukra. Varahamira/Baskara corrected this. But some of our texts have not been updated.
- Water is the key element in earth. Some texts are interpreted to mean that all heavenly bodies starting with soma/chandra came from water.
Languages and Understanding the scriptures
- Many languages have become extinct. So, we miss lot of original scriptures. Meanings of words change over time. So, it will be difficult to understand what author wants to say.
- Scriptures evolved over time, with many additions, deletions and modifications.
- Bulk of the scriptures are a sealed book to us.
- Ancient tribes include Gandharvas, Devas, Yakshas, Kinnaras, Kimpurushas, Rakshasas, Nagas, Suparnas, Vanaras, Vidyadharas, Valakilyas, Pisachas, Rudras, Adityas, Danavas, Maruts, Nivatakavachas, Daityas, Kalakeyas and Vasus. Sanskirit, called deva basha may be the language of deva tribes. Sanskrit also means "adorned, cultivated, purified" or "refined speech" and Vedic Sanskrit used around 1500 B.C. edic Sanskrit comprises three categories: Vedas, poetic works that became sacred literature; Brahmanas, (prose religious writings).
- Classical Sanskrit was codified in a grammar, by Panini and initially used Grantha, Sharda and Siddham scripts for writing. From the 19th century, the language has primarily been written with the Devanagari alphabet, but it also can be written with Thai and Tibetan alphabets. It is used in mantras and religious services for the Eastern religions of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Actual meanings of these mantras and texts may not be known to us.
- All religious texts are not originally written in Sanskirit. There are many languages like Pali; Prakrit; Devanagarika; Tamil; Kannada; Telugu; Sauraseni; Magadhi; Maharashtri; Kucheo; Brajbhasa, Bundeli; Awadhi; Marwari; Maithili; Bhojpuri; and Magahi. There are many ancient scripts and originals are in different scripts such as: Brahmiscript; The Kharoṣṭhior Gandhariscript; Siddhaṃ script; Gupta script; Bhujimol script; Kalinga script. Kashmiri had an appropriate and precise script of its own in Sharda used by sankara.
- Patala means beyond seas - not below seas. Krishna crossed the ocean and rescued teacher's son from East africa or arabia. This applies to story of Mahabali also, who was exiled to a far off island in southern hemisphere.
- Devaloka means north of Bharatha, Himalayas and beyond. Not above.
- Swarka means "swa - raka, same type or category like us". Naraka means opposite "na - raka, , not our type or category". They are not physical locations. One is happy when he is in company of like minded people. Similarly, heaven means sky or other planets/solar systems, home of alien myths. People thought devas/gods came from heaven (sky). Alien myths, that super beingscame from sky or other planets and developed our civilization are widely believed in all cultures . Later people created stories on them. When an airplane that had accidentally landed in a remote Indian coastal village, villagers rushed to garland the plane and pilot as gods came from heaven.
Biology and Botony
- People believed that life/gene comes from male lineage. Role of female is to nourish and embryo development including gender determination around 4th month. So, gothram, Pithru karma and rituals are based on male lineage.
Later, may be Kapila or some sage would have understood genetic theorey and corrected it and started introdusing mathru gaya and stressed importance of STHIRI VARGAM (MATHA MAHA VARGAM. Because of lack of understanding, texts are still biased.
- We give milk to snakes as part of worship. Poor snakes can not digest milk and they will die. Pouring milk in to snake pits, attracts rodents and snake catch rodents
Soma is mentioned as existing in all plants and many different types of Soma are indicated, some requiring elaborate preparations. Water itself, particularly that of the Himalayan rivers, is a kind of Soma. In Vedic thought, for every form of Agni or Fire, there is also a form of Soma. In this regard, there are Somas throughout the universe. Agni and Soma are the Vedic equivalents of yin and yang in Chinese thought. Soma is a transformative substance that can be found in many plants. The five great plants, of referred in earlier texts appear to be Soma, darbha, bhanga or marijuana, yava or barley and sahas.
Essence of Scriptures
The core beliefs of Hinduism are actually quite simple to understand. For example, Hindus believe there is only one Supreme Being, Brahman. Life objective is pursue knowledge of Truth and Reality and to strive for moral order and right action. Four facts karma, reincarnation, all-pervasive divinity and dharma are the essence of the Vedas and Agamas and the fabric of every Hindu's life.
- Karma literally means "deed" or "act" and more broadly names the universal principle of cause and effect, action and reaction which governs all life. Karma is a natural law
- Reincarnation, punarjanma, is the natural process of birth, death and rebirth.
- Hinduism believes in monism and the various deities represent different attributes of the one and same God. Gods are nothing but forces within us but can live virtually outside us.
- When God created the universe, He endowed it with order, with the laws to govern creation. Dharma is God's divine law prevailing on every level of existence, from the sustaining cosmic order to religious and moral laws which bind us in harmony with that order. Adharma is opposition to divine law.
Consultant by profession, Engineer by qualification; Interested in great personalities, philosophers, and Hinuism from early age; Love traveling and exploring Hinduism related places and exploring different cultures. Like to research on Science/Technology/history hidden in ancient mythologies of India and the World.
Would like to contribute for changing superstitious and ritualistic social mindset and inculcate spiritual and scientific temper. This is my personal research and views are mine.
God created all human beings. However, a human being can create a god to suit just him.