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Buddha Purnima: Remembering Gautam Buddha

Buddha Purnima falls on 21st May this year. Buddha is considered to be the 8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu and 9th incarnation of Lord Krishna in North India.

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Statue of Gautam Buddha in Nepal Source: Wikimedia Commons

By Shubhi Mangla

Buddha Purnima is an important festival for the Buddhists in several countries across the world. The festival marks the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautam Buddha and is also called ‘Vesak’ or ‘Buddha Jayanti’. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm among Buddhists living in India, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and various other countries.

Gautam Buddha was born around 563 BCE in Lumbini, Nepal. He was a spiritual teacher all through his life. He was born to King Suddhodana as Siddhartha Gautama. At the age of 29 he gave up royal life after learning through four encounters called ‘four sights’ in Buddhist literature which were- ordinary people, an old man, a sick person and a holy man, content with the world. His teachings led to the foundation of Buddhism. Buddha wandered to many places and took shelter under a Banyan tree in India called Bodhi Gaya. He swore to meditate till he achieved enlightenment which he did after 49 days. Buddha is considered to be the 8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu and 9th incarnation of Lord Krishna in North India.

Buddhist pilgrims at Mahabodhi temple, Bodh Gaya, Bihar Source: Wikimedia Commons
Buddhist pilgrims at Mahabodhi temple, Bodh Gaya, Bihar
Source: Wikimedia Commons

  • The festival falls usually celebrated in May, on the full moon day (In Buddha Purinama, ‘Purinma’ means full moon). The festival can be celebrated on different days by different Buddhist communities. This is because of the difference between the interpretations of Lunar calendar. All government and private organizations are closed or their opening hours are reduced on this day.
  • On this day, Buddhists visit temples to listen to speeches given by monks who also recite ancient verses. Some temples display small sculptures of Baby Buddha placed in a basin filled with clean water and embellished with flowers. People who come to the temple pour water on the statue which symbolizes a new beginning especially in Taiwan.

Devotees bathing baby Buddha statue Source: Wikimedia Commons
Devotees bathing baby Buddha statue
Source: Wikimedia Commons

  • Bodh Gaya, a small town in Bihar is a famous pilgrimage related to Lord Buddha where the main celebrations take place. The Mahabodhi Tree where Buddha was known to attain enlightenment is worshiped and offerings are made.

Mahabodhi Tree Source: Wikimedia Commons
Mahabodhi Tree
Source: Wikimedia Commons

  • Some Buddhists dedicate this day to Lord Buddha. They wear white clothes and eat pure vegetarian food. Some people help the poor, elderly people and the sick. Caged animals are often bought and set free to display affection for animals as preached by Lord Buddha. In India, a sweet porridge in remembrance of a maid who offered Buddha a bowl of milk porridge.
  • During Vesak, Dharma chakra or Dharma wheel can be often seen. The wheel is known to symbolize the path of Buddha’s teaching towards enlightenment. The wheel has eight strokes which symbolize eightfold path of Buddhism which are right belief, right intention, right thinking, right living, right efforts, right conduct, right words and right meditation.
  • Buddha’s four noble truths are the foundation of Buddhism. They are− all human conditions lead to suffering, suffering has a cause, the cause is desire or craving and there is a path for ceasing desires.
  • Buddha’s 5 percepts help a person to follow the right path in life. They are− not killing, not stealing, not misusing sex, not lying and not consuming alcohol.
  • In Cambodia, Vesak is a public holiday. People are seen carrying flags, incense and candle sticks and lotus flowers to celebrate the day. People also offer money or goods to the monks.

Jokhang Monastery - Dharma Wheel, the eight spokes represent the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism Source: Wikimedia Commons
Jokhang Monastery – Dharma Wheel, the eight spokes represent the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism
Source: Wikimedia Commons

  • In Korea, temples are decorated with lotus flowers. Free meals and tea are served to temple visitors.
  • In Sri Lanka, people decorate their houses with lanterns. People practice ‘Dansalas’ which refers to the practice of offering food and drinks to people. Stories from Buddha’s life are depicted through electric display.

People giving alms to Buddhist monks Source: www.thaibuddhist.com
People giving alms to Buddhist monks
Source: www.thaibuddhist.com

  • Buddha’s teachings mainly centered on the sufferings of people in this world. Simple living and care towards fellow human beings and animals were his greatest lessons. His teachings bring peace to the mind and content to our soul.

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Shubhi Mangla is an intern at Newsgram and  a student of Journalism in New Delhi. Twitter @shubhi_mangla

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Asia Cup : India Emerge Champions for third time, Beat Malaysia in Asia Cup Hockey Championship

India emerged victorious for the third time

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(representational Image) India vs Malaysia Hockey Match wikimedia

Dhaka, October 22, 2017 : India overcame Malaysia 2-1 in the final on Sunday to win the Asia Cup hockey championship for the third time.

Ramandeep Singh (3rd minute) and Lalit Upadhyay (29th) scored for India. Shahril Saabah (50th minute) scored the reducer for Malaysia. (IANS)

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Hinduism is Not an Official or Preferred Religion in Any Country of The World, Says a New Report

Though Hinduism is the third largest religion of the world, it is not the official state religion of any country according to a Pew Research Center Report

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Hinduism is not an official religion of any country in the world. Instagram.
  • No country has declared Hinduism as its official state religion – despite India being an influential Hindu political party
  • Hinduism is not an official or preferred religion in any country of the world, according to a Pew Research Center report.
  • 53% of 199 nations considered in the study don’t have an official religion
  • 80 countries are assigned either an “official religion” or “preferred religion”

Nevada, USA, October 16: Hinduism is the primeval and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion followers of moksh (liberation) being its utmost desire of life. India is among the category of nations where the government do not have an official or preferred religion.

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank headquartered in Washington DC that aims to inform the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

The report states that a country’s official religion is regarded as a legacy of its past and present privileges granted by the state. And a few other countries fall on the other side of the gamut, and propagate their religion as the ‘official religion’, making it a compulsion for all citizens.

It adds up on the context of allocation that more than eight-in-ten countries (86%) provide financial support or resources for religious education programs and religious schools that tend to benefit the official religion.

Hinduism
Islam is the most practiced official religion of the world. Instagram.

Commenting on Hinduism, the report states:

In 2015, Nepal came close to enshrining Hinduism, but got rejected of a constitutional amendment due to a conflict between pro-Hindu protesters and state police.

Although India has no official or preferred religion as mentioned in the Constitution,it was found by PEW that in India the intensity of government constraints and social antagonism involving religion was at a peak. “Nigeria, India, Russia, Pakistan and Egypt had the highest levels of social hostilities involving religion among the 25 most populous countries in 2015. All fell into the “very high” hostilities category,” the report added.

As per the 2011 census, it was found that 79.8% of the Indian population idealizes Hinduism and 14.2% practices to Islam, while the rest 6% pursuit other religions.

While Hinduism stands up with the majority, Article 25 of the Constitution of India contributes secularism allowing for religious freedom and allows every Indian to practice his/her religion, without any intervention by the community or the government.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, applauded the Hindu community for their benefaction to the society and advised Hindus to concentrate on inner purity, attract spirituality towards youth and children, stay far from the greed, and always keep God in the life.

According to Pew, these are “places where government officials seek to control worship practices, public expressions of religion and political activity by religious groups”.

-by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram.  She can be reached @tweet_bhavana

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Hinduism: The Nine Basic Beliefs that you need to know

Hinduism- the oldest religion in the world is based on certain established beliefs. Read more to find out what these beliefs are.

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justice and Injustice factor of Hinduism
Hinduism of Hindus when compared between justice and injustice

Hinduism being the world’s oldest religion does not have any proper beginning story like the other monotheistic religions like Christianity and Islam do. It has no human founder. Therefore it leads us to the question that if there was no human who started Hinduism then how did its teaching come to being. Well, there is no definitive way to answer this question. What we can answer though are the nine beliefs of Hinduism. Hinduism is a religion which believes that if a person realizes the Truth within himself then only he can reach a point where the consciousness of man and god are one.

Our beliefs determine our thought process and attitude toward life which lead us to our actions. It is said that we create our destiny from our actions. Beliefs regarding matters such as God, soul, and cosmos often shape our perceptions towards life. Hindus believe in a variety of concepts but there are few critical ones which shape the basic belief of Hinduism. The following are the nine beliefs which not exactly very comprehensive but they form the base of the spirituality of Hinduism.

Are you familiar with the various gods and goddesses of Hinduism? Pixabay

All Pervasive Divine Power

  • Hindus believe in a one, all-pervasive Supreme Being who is both immanent and transcendent, both Creator and Unmanifest Reality.

Rig Veda – Wikipedia Commons

Divinity of the Sacred Scriptures

  • Hindus believe in the divinity of the four Vedas, the world’s most ancient scripture, and venerate the Agamas as equally revealed. These primordial hymns are God’s word and the bedrock of Sanatana Dharma, the eternal religion.

Hinduism – Pixabay

Creation Cycle

  • Hindus believe that the universe undergoes endless cycles of creation, preservation, and dissolution.

Hindu Lord Vishnu and Lakshmi, Wikimedia

Belief in Karma

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

Reincarnation and Liberation

  • Hindus believe that the soul reincarnates, evolving through many births until all karmas have been resolved, and moksha, liberation from the cycle of rebirth, is attained. Not a single soul will be deprived of this destiny.

penance
Belur, Chennakeshava Temple, Gajasurasamhara, Shiva slaying the demon Gajasura. Wikimedia

Worship in Temples

  • Hindus believe that divine beings exist in unseen worlds and that temple worship, rituals, sacraments and personal devotionals create a communion with these devas and Gods.

Hindu dharma
Hindu Sadhguru –  Pixabay

Belief in a Enlightened Satguru

  • Hindus believe that an enlightened master, or satguru, is essential to know the Transcendent Absolute, as are personal discipline, good conduct, purification, pilgrimage, self-inquiry, meditation, and surrender in God.

Hinduism, Hindu temple, Krishna idol
Krishna idol. Pixabay

Propagation of Non-Violence and Compassion towards living things

  • Hindus believe that all life is sacred, to be loved and revered and therefore practice ahimsa, non-injury, in thought, word and deed.

The symbol has been adopted by various religions and cultures across the world.
The swastika is a Hindu symbol of spiritual principles and values. Wikimedia Commons.

Respect and Tolerance for other faiths

  • Hindus believe that no religion teaches the only way to salvation above all others, but that all genuine paths are facets of God’s Light, deserving tolerance, and understanding.

Prepared by Saloni Hindocha (@siatipton)

One response to “Hinduism: The Nine Basic Beliefs that you need to know”

  1. Please use proper words for our culture. There are no ‘beliefs’ in Hinduism. There are only ‘hypotheses’ of Hinduism. Belief is something a person is required to adhere to, even in the face of disproving evidence. It demands a suspension of rational thought which goes against the basic nature of Hinduism. Please do not explain Hinduism using the same terminology used by Abrahamic religions. Or more appropriately, call Hinduism and other non-Abrahamic religions as ‘dharma’ to distinguish their inherent nature. Even religious Shinto-Buddhist Japanese say they have no religion when asked. Also, I do not know how you came up with these nine basic so-called ‘beliefs’. I am a Hindu and have never heard of some of them. Please call them ‘some’ of the hypotheses of Hinduism that ‘some’ Hindus agree with. Disagree with ‘tolerance for other faiths’, respect for other dharma – yes, tolerance – not applicable. This word ‘tolerance’ is required by Abrahamic religions which are intrinsically supremacist. Hence they need tolerance to be able to live in a diverse civil society without the tendency to occasionally commit violence for their religion. A dharma like Hinduism has nothing to ‘tolerate’. A Hindu/Jain/Buddhist/Shinto/Taoist/etc. does not care about the religious ‘labels’ and will easily exchange gods/practices/hypotheses with each other if they make sense or are harmless but satisfy some need. Of course, things that are bad deserve criticism and no tolerance (except for basic human respect). How can anyone attempt to define a culture that has always been and will always be in flux as human knowledge increases? It’s time we restored our so-called ‘religion’ to what it always has been i.e. ancient science.

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