Hinduism is a combination of Religion, Culture, Philosophy, Way of LIfe, Heritage, Tradition, and Festivals.
No one man can claim as the creator of Hinduism. It was developed over thousands of years by Saints, Intellectuals, even common men and women with extreme devotion.
Hinduism is also known as “Sanatana Dharma”. Sanatana means Eternal, Dharma means Righteousness or Virtue.
Any organized religion has three main characteristics:
2) A Prophet
3) A holy book
However, Hinduism has only;
1) one Supreme God (Paramatma), but different names and forms
2) No prophet, but many philosophers
3) No one holy book, but many scriptures.
Religions of Indian Origin – Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism
a) One God, but different names – The Truth (God) is one, but wise people call by different names.
b)One God, but different forms – Brahman (God), the formless, is assigned forms only for the convenience of the aspirants. Whatever form any devotee with faith, wishes to worship, God manifest in that form.
c) One God, but different paths – Just as rain water irrespective of the place where it falls, ultimately reaches ocean, the worship rendered to all deities of whatever description (name or form), ultimately reaches the Supreme Reality (God).
a) Freedom of Worship God – You can worship any form of the God, by any name of the God.
b) Freedom of Worship Place – You can worship at Temples, at Home, by the Bank of a river, or any place you like.
c) Freedom of Worship Time – You can worship any day of the week, any time of the day.
d) Freedom of Worship Path – You can select any spiritual path (Yoga) or Chant any Mantra you like.
Tolerance to other religions – Hinduism respects other religions as another path to reach God, who is called by a different name or having a different form. Hinduism does not claim that it is the only path to reach God.
a) Satyam Vada – Speak Truth
b) Dharmam Chara – Live by Dharma
c) Maatru Devo Bhava – Regard Mother as God
d) Pitru Devo Bhava – Regard Father as God
e) Acharya Devo Bhava – Regard Guru as God
f) Athiti Devo Bhava – Regard Guest as God
g) Saadyayanma Pramadah – Do not Procrastinate
h) Shraddaya Deyama – Give with Faith
a) Rama Navami – Birth day of Lord Rama (March/April)
b) Krishna Janmastami – Birth day of Lord Krishna (Aug/Sept)
c) Ganesha Chaturthi – Birth day of Lord Ganesha (Aug/Sept)
d) Navaratri (Nine Nights)/Dussehra (Ten Days) – Worship of Three Goddesses- Durga (Power), Lakshmi (Wealth), and Saraswati (Knowledge. (Sept/Oct)
e) Diwali (Festival of Lights, 5 Days) – Victory over Evil (Victory of Lord Krishna over Narakasura, Coronation of Lord Rama) (Oct/Nov)
a) Our Vedas (Knowledge) – Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, and Atharva Veda
b) Two Itihasas (History) – Ramayana and Maha Bharata
c) One Bhagavad Geeta (Songs of God) – Teachings of Duty (Karma) and Spiritual paths (Yogas)
d) One hundred and eight Upanishads, referred as Srutis (Word of God to be heard)
e) Eighteen Puranas (Mythology), referred as Smritis (What is remembered)
a) Theory of Karma (Law of Cause and Effect) – Every person is responsible for his/her actions, Each individual creates his/her destiny
b) Theory of Reincarnation – Soul (Atma) goes through a cycle of birth and death until final liberation (merge with Paramathma)
a) Dharma – Live by the Discipline
b) Artha – Attain economical independence
c) Kaama – Enjoy the life
d) Moksha – Attain Salvation
Idol worship is based on the premise that God exists in Every Place, in all Forms, in all Living/Non-living Objects, and at all Times. (Creation is Manifestation of Creator).
Three modes of Expression or Manifestation:
a) Murti – Three Dimensional Form which can be sculptured (Ganesha, Krishna, etc)
b) Yantra – Two Dimensional or Geometric Patterns that can be drawn (Swastika, Srichakra, etc)
c) Mantra – Sound or Thought Form that can be uttered in contemplation (Gayatri Mantra, Taraka Mantra, etc)
In most Hindu Pujas (Worships) in Temple or at Home, all three modes of expressions are used.
b) Shaivas (Shiva-worshippers)
c) Shaktas (Shakti-worshippers, Shkati is the vital Female force manifesting itself as Durga or Kali)
The Hindu tradition has held a high regard for qualities of women, and are recognized as Goddesses of divine qualities and power. The divine forms include Lakshmi (the goddess of fortune and the consort of Lord Vishnu), Saraswati (the goddess of learning and consort of Lord Brahma), and Parvati (the goddess of strength and power and consort of Lord Shiva)
There is a Vedic saying,” Where women are worshiped, there the Gods dwell”, or where women are happy, there will be prosperity. In Vedic tradition, it is common to see the pairing of the Vedic male gods with female counterparts as you see in Radha-Krishna, Sita-Rama, Lakshmi-Narayana, Parvati-Shiva, etc. In the basic principles of Hinduism, the Mother is regarded as God saying “Maatru Devo Bhava”.
Due to this tradition, India’s history includes many women who have risen to great heights in spirituality, government, writing, education, science or even as warriors in the battlefield.
A philosophy of treating other religions with respect and tolerance and compassion of peaceful coexistence is a basic tenet of Hinduism.
There are sixteen main Sacraments (Samskaras).
These range from conception to funeral ceremonies.
a) Garbhadhan (Sacrament of Impregnation)
b) Punsavanam (Second or third month of pregnancy)
c) Simantonnayana (Between the fifth and eighth month of pregnancy)
d) Jatakarma (At the time when the child is being born)
e) Namakarana (Naming the child)
f) Niskramana (Child is brought out of house.3rd and 4th month)
g) Annaprashana (The first feeding of cereal at six months)
h) Chudakarma (First time cutting of hair, 1st year or 3rd year)
i) Karnavedha (Piercing the ears in the third or fifth year)
j) Upanayana (Investiture of Sacred Thread) From 8th year
k) Samavartana (When studies are completed)
l) Vivaha Samskara (Marriage ceremony)
m) Grihasthashrama (Sacraments relating to house-holders.)
n) Vanprasthashrama (Renouncing the house-holder’s life)
o) Sanyasashrama. (Leading the life of a monk)
p) Antyeshti (Funeral: last rites of the dead)
Hindus teach vegetarianism as a way to live with a minimum of hurt to other beings.
It is true that God is often depicted with a spouse in our traditional stories. However, on adeeper philosophical level, the Supreme Being and the Gods are neither male nor female and are therefore not married.