Monday December 11, 2017
Home India Future of Hin...

Future of Hinduism in US: An Analysis

0
2861

By Nithin Sridhar

Hinduism in US: Present and Future (Concluding part)

In May 2015, the PEW Research Center released the results of its survey for assessing “America’s Changing Religious Landscape” wherein it concluded that “The Christian share of the US population is declining, while the number of US adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing.”

The survey showed that the US Christian population declined from 78.4% to 70.6% between 2007 and 2014. During the same period, the survey revealed, the share of those who do not identify with any religion – atheists, agnostics, or those to whom religion does not matter, increased from 16.1% to 22.8%. The Hindu population in the US also flourished with an increase in their population share from 0.4% in 2007 to 0.7% in 2014.

Therefore, on the one hand, adherents of Christianity declined by 7.8 percentage points and on the other hand, the share of non-religious people increased by 6.7 percentage points. The Hindu population also increased by 0.3 percentage points.

NewsGram decided to assess the impact of this changing American religious demography on the Hindu American community and the future of Hinduism in the US. As part of this assessment, NewsGram, over the passage of a month, spoke to various important people associated with the Hindu American community and published their views as interviews in this “Hinduism in US: Present and Future” series.

Now, in this last installment of the series, we present a summary of the observations formed on the basis of those interviews.

Photo: asaramjibapu.org
Photo: asaramjibapu.org

Is the Hindu population in the US more than what is estimated?

According to the PEW survey, the US Hindu population in absolute numbers stood at 2.23 million in 2014. But, an estimate done by Hinduism Today magazine stated that at least 2.3 million Hindus were present in the US in 2008 itself.

If we accept the Hinduism Today figures as being more reflective of the ground situation, then there is a clear undercounting of US Hindus in the PEW survey. Another aspect that points towards the undercounting is that most of the American surveys take into account only the Indian-origin Hindus when they make the survey.

Hence, Dr. David Frawley (renowned American author on Hinduism and a Vedacharya) concludes: “PEW figures only address immigrant or Indian-origin Hindus but has no real way of counting those Americans who have converted to or actually follow Sanatana Dharma in their life-style in terms of various yoga gurus and spiritual movements. The figure then would actually be much higher, perhaps more than double.”

What is the role of Hinduism in the lives of Hindu Americans?

Hinduism plays a vital role in the lives of Hindu Americans, but the extent of its influence is highly depends on various factors like generation, age, family upbringing, etc.

Dr. Jyotsna Kalavar says: “From what I have seen, most Hindu children in the United States, take immense pride in their heritage, go through some period of soul searching and questioning, and pursue their personal definition of what it means to be a Hindu. Some take up the study of Sanskrit, literature, art, Vedic chanting, Vedanta, dance, music, Yoga – whatever aspect of Hinduism that appeals to them.”

Dr. Jyotsna Kalavar is a Professor of Human Development & Family Studies at Pennsylvania State University, USA and is an instructor at Samskrita Bharati, USA.

She adds that many Hindu American children are more Hindu than children in India, but at the same time, some children are totally disconnected with their cultural roots. There is a continuous tug of war between the “culture of parental origin and the culture of the land of their birth.”

Elaborating on this tug of war, Dr. Frawley opines that Hindu children brought up in America find themselves in a non-Hindu culture while growing up and in the education system. In many cases, they encounter scenarios that are completely hostile to Hindu culture. As it is a general behavioral pattern among children to revolt against parents and parental views, some may revolt against Hinduism as well, so that they could be different or be more like other American youth.

Acharya Arumuganatha Swami, the Managing Editor at Hinduism Today magazine, opined that every Hindu American does not identify himself strongly with Hinduism. Some hold strongly to Hindu principles, whereas some keep only an ethnic identity as Indians without much thought about religion.

When asked about the tenets of Hinduism, to which the practicing Hindu Americans adhere to, Acharya Arumuganatha Swami listed these tenets: “Existence of God everywhere and in all things, a belief in the law of karma (actions) and the principles of dharma (duty and righteousness), and a respectful attitude toward all religions.”

Hence, Hinduism definitely plays a vital role in the life of Hindu Americans, though the extent of this role may vary from family to family, location to location, and from generation to generation.

Does the increasing irreligiousness in American society affect Hindu American community as well?

The increase of people rejecting religion especially Christianity was one of the main highlights of the PEW survey. So, naturally the question arises about how this irreligiousness affects Hinduism and US Hindu community.

When asked if this rising irreligiousness be interpreted as a rejection of organized religions like Christianity or as a rejection of religion and spirituality as whole, Dr. Richard Benkin, who is an American Jewish human rights activist closely associated with Hindu American community, opined that the phenomenon represents neither.

He said: “The phenomena PEW identified tends to be cyclical and often secondary to other social trends… Cheaper mass transportation and communication, information technologies and social media, the breakdown of inter-faith barriers, and consequent inter-faith relationships are among the social trends that challenge traditional religious identification.”

He further pointed out that the new religions in the US form only four percent of the total American population and it is not likely to change especially considering the fact that there is a large scale influx of Latin American into US who are mostly Christians.

He also added that: “The US remains essentially a religious country with Christianity as its dominant faith, and its history has seen periods of lower religious identification and those of religious revivals.”

Therefore, according to Dr. Benkin, the rise of irreligiousness is not a rejection of Christianity and instead it has more to do with various social trends.

On the other hand, Dr. Frawley believes that: “Those who identify themselves as non-religious are often rejecting only the biblical traditions, particularly Christianity, with its emphasis on blind belief and dogma. They may be willing to recognize a higher consciousness behind the universe, such as many modern physicists are proposing. Many of these so-called non-religious people are interested in meditation, spirituality, and natural healing, and are not necessarily averse to Yoga, Hinduism and Vedanta, which they may not know much about.”

He adds that Hindu Americans should consider this as a great opportunity to explain and share the tenets of Dharma. They should prepare themselves to explain to people how Hinduism is different from Christianity and how it is not a dogma, but a spiritual path rooted in Dharma.

When asked, whether this irreligious trend will affect Hindu Americans or not, Dr. Frawley said: “It is true that some of the Hindu youth may become non-religious as well. The best way to deal with them is to acquaint them with the philosophical and scientific aspects of Hinduism such as Yoga and Vedanta.”

What challenges do the Hindu Americans face in US?

One of the biggest challenges that Hindu Americans face in the US is that very few Americans know anything about Hinduism. Dr. Benkin says: “It is embarrassing to admit that a small number of Americans know anything of substance about Hinduism.”

He further says that, when Hindu children interact with non-Hindu American children, there is a mutual exchange of culture and identities. Hence, “the challenge is to figure out as a community what is essential to Hinduism that is compatible with a more general US culture.” He cautions that insisting on a way of life that is in conflict with what youngsters know may further alienate them from Hinduism. Hence, the only way out is to find a symbiosis between the two.

Expressing a similar opinion, Dr. Frawley says: “The youth should be allowed to question, but there should be answers for their questions from a level of deeper insight.”

Speaking about the negative portrayal of Hinduism in certain sections of US academics and media, Dr. Benkin said: “The essential reason is ignorance, not mal-intent. Where there is ignorance, people without knowledge (and even those with a political agenda) can fill in the blanks.” But, he adds that: “Americans who have contact with Hindus and Hinduism tend to be very positive about it, and most of the others have no opinion.”

When asked about how to counter these negative portrayals, Dr. Benkin gave a four-point strategy that Hindu Americans should implement in their interactions with the rest of the Americans. The four points are: General Outreach, Interfaith Outreach, Political Activism, and Strong Public Outrage.

He further said: “For US Hindus, re-constructing the attitude and the role of the Mandir will be critical. I have seen how Hindu temples are centers of community activity that inculcate pride in being Hindu.” He gave examples from his own Jewish community and how they use Synagogues to connect with each other and pass on their culture and values to the younger generation.

Regarding the role of temples and other spiritual organizations, Acharya Arumuganatha Swami said that: “the temples serve for the ritual worship, for cultural events such as music and dance, for celebrating festivals, and for the sense of community. Spiritual organizations and the larger temples provide teaching centers for the youth.” He further added that for imparting dharmic values, “Most important is that parents themselves start living a dharmic life and thus start modeling the Hindu lifestyle and values for their children to follow. Further, a better systematic presentation of Hindu practices and beliefs should be adopted.”

Therefore, through a temple and community centered movement, personal practice, proper presentation of Hindu tenets, and through outreach to other communities, the Hindu Americans can tackle various challenges that are being faced by them.

What is the future of Hinduism in US?

Dr. Frawley says: “Hinduism as a whole now has strong roots in the American culture, both owing to the immigrant community and over a hundred years of influence of Hindu ideas and gurus. Hinduism will continue as a force of higher knowledge, healing, and consciousness in many forms. It is important that more bridges are made between those following Hindu-based teachings in the West and the world Hindu community, which is primarily in India.”

He further adds: “The Hindu American community has become the role model for Hindus in India and what they wish to achieve in years to come. This is owing to their affluence and high education in the Western world. The Hindu-American community shows how by following a Hindu way of life, Hindus can be successful in the modern world, without having to give up their religion or culture. In fact, Hindu values can be used to promote achievement in the modern world.”

When asked about the popularity of Yoga in the US, Dr. Frawley said: “While the physical aspect of Yoga is popular, all Yoga groups promote something of a spiritual aura. Even kirtans (singing devotional songs) are becoming popular in America…. most Yoga practitioners will eventually bring in some aspects of Hindu spirituality, such as a picture of guru or deity, use of Om, some mantra or meditation, kirtans, rituals or travel to India. Some even will do pujas (worship) and havans (fire worship), use some Ayurveda, Jyotishya (astrology) or Vastu.”

He further adds that, many such Yoga practitioners are willing to formally adopt Hinduism, but Hinduism does not have easily accessible means for those who want to convert.

Acharya Arumuganatha Swami says that his organization allows non-Hindus to formally adopt Hinduism and many people who have adopted Hinduism have come through Yoga and meditation.

When asked what role will Sanskrit likely to play in the future growth of Hinduism, she said: “Sanskrit is inextricably linked to Hinduism but not limited to Hinduism alone. Sanskrit texts are found in Jainism and Buddhism also. Sanskrit provides the key to our culture and heritage. It is the basis of Vedic thought, and also provides a treasure trove of information on various secular subjects such as astronomy, mathematics, engineering, medicine, etc. The language need not be cast in a religious mold alone. Knowing Sanskrit is empowering as it enables us to understand Hinduism without relying on translations.”

At a social level, Hindu American community will undergo a lot of changes as its integration with the mainstream American community grows. Dr. Benkin says: “Hindu Americans will witness a lot of social changes and adaptation as they become part of the US landscape, and non-Hindus will come to know more about them as they change that landscape.”

He adds that: “It is not an exaggeration to say that we are witnessing the birth of new forms of Hinduism, different from what we have known, yet born of social adaptations not changes to the essence of the faith and the core values of its adherents.”

Therefore, Hindu American community is likely to flourish further in the USA. The Yoga, Vedanta, Sanskrit etc. will further influence the culture of America.

Though, the influence of Yoga is huge in popular culture, there is ignorance about Hinduism as a religion. With more interaction of Hindu community and Hindu thought-leaders with the rest of the society, these ignorance and negative portrayals would slowly pave a way for positive understanding of Hinduism as a Dharmic religion and tradition.

Most Hindu American children face a tug of war between their ancestral identity and an American identity. Many may choose to alienate themselves from Indian roots and many may choose to discard the American way. But, this tug of war may slowly pave a way for the evolving of newer forms of Hinduism which would be Hindu at its core, but would be American in its external adaptation. Such, American Hinduism would still be very much connected to the Indian roots, but would be American in everyday interactions. And Sanskrit is likely to play a very significant role in this.

The increased interactions between Hindu Americans and the rest of the society will also have positive influence on American society, which may undergo transformations that would make it more open to Hindu principles and may adopt more principles of Hinduism into mainstream American culture.

More in this segment:

Hinduism in US: Present and Future: Part 1

Hinduism in US: Present and Future: Part 2

Hinduism in US: Present and Future: Part 3

Hinduism in US: Present and Future: Part 4

Next Story

7 spectacular Hindu Temples to visit in Incredible India

Have you ever considered visiting a temple while you are struggling in life? A temple visit is enough to give you strength, calm you down and help you to reconnect with divine. Go for a temple walk. Here is a list of 7 spectacular Hindu temples in Incredible India

0
116
Hindu Temples
Akshardham Temple, Delhi (www.akshardham.com)
  • Hindus have more sacred sites, festivals and pilgrimages, more yogis, monks and sadhus, an older and vaster literature than any religion – Dr. David Frawley

Temples in Hinduism holds a very important place. Hindu temples are popularly known as mandiram, devaalayam or devastanam, meaning the shrine, abode or place of Ishwar. Hindu temples are at once a collective work of art, the adobe of Ishwar, a symbol of the cosmos and a path leading the worshipper into contact with the God, from the temporal to the eternal. Hindu temples are valued and respected both as a means of enabling worship in the presence of God and as a way to uphold Indian culture and dharma. Here is a list of 7 spectacular Hindu Temples in Incredible India you will love visiting as many times as possible in your lifetime.

1. Somnath Temple, Gujarat

Hinduism
Somnath, Gujarat (Image Credit : Shaurya Ritwik)

The Somnath is believed to be the first among the twelve jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. Somnath Temple has been looted, destroyed and resurrected 17 times. In AD 1026, Mahmud of Ghazni first looted the temple, and then came Afzal Khan, the commander of Ala-ud-din Khilji and later Aurangzeb. While the barbaric looters are sleeping in their grave, Somnath still stands as a pillar of Hinduism, as a sign of resistance. Somnath is the place where you can connect with history and your source. Best time to visit Somnath : Well, any time of the year.

2. Meenakshi Temple, Madurai, Tamil Nadu

Hindu Temples
Meenakshi Temple, Madurai (Image Source: Wikipedia)

Meenakshi Temple is known for its beautiful architecture. It is dedicated to Meenakshi, a form of Parvati, and her consort, Sundareswar, a form of Shiva. The temple was almost completely destroyed in the year 1310 following the invasion of the Islamic conqueror Malik kafur. Most of the Islamic rulers were noted for their intolerance towards Hindu temples, the invaders destroyed most of the ancient sculptures of the temple. The temple was rebuilt by the Hindu Nayaka dynasty ruler Vishwanatha Nayakar in the 16th and 17th century. According to the Tiruvilaiyatal Puranam, of the list of 68 pilgrimage places in Shaivism, four are most important: Kashi (Varanasi), Chidambaram, Tirukkalatti and Madurai. The sacrality of Madurai is from this temple.

3. Jagannath Temple, Puri, Orissa

Hindu Temples
Jagannath Temple, Orissa (AKL)

Jagannath temple was built in the 12 th century by Raja Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva. It is one of the Char Dhams of Hinduism in Incredible India and is situated on the Nilgiri Hill. The temple is known for its annual Ratha Yatra, which attracts millions of Hindu devotees every year. It is said that the divine mahaprasad of the temple is prepared under the scrutiny of goddess Lakshmi. During Rath Yatra, idol of Jagannath along with Subhadra and Balabhadra are placed in huge chariots and brought out to the street. Thousands of people pull the sacred chariot. The main chariot is around 45 feet high. These rathas are constructed new every year. It has wood-carved horses and charioteers. Rath Yatra is held every year during the month of Asadha as per Hindu calendar.

4. Kailashnath Temple, Ellora, Maharashtra

Hindu Temples
Kailashnath Temple, Ellora (Image Credits: AKL)

The Kailasha Temple or Kailashnath Temple is one of the largest rock cut ancient Hindu temples. A megalith carved out of one single rock, it is considered one of the most remarkable cave temples in India because of its size, architecture and sculptural treatment. It is a prime example of extraordinary ancient Hindu architecture. Visiting this temple will definitely give you a ride to our glorious ancient past.

5. Konark Sun Temple, Orissa

Hindu temples
Konark sun Temple, Orissa (Image Source : Wikimedia Commans)

Konark houses a colossal temple dedicated to the Sun God in Orissa attributed to king Narsimhadeva about 1250 CE. Even in its ruined state it is a magnificient temple reflecting the genius of the architects that envisioned and built it. The ruins of this temple were excavated in late 19th century. The Konark temple is famously known for its architectural grandeur and for the intricacy and profusion of sculptural work. The entire temple has been conceived as a chariot of the sun god with 24 wheels, each about 10 feet in diameter, with a set of spokes and elaborate carvings. Seven horses drag the temple. Two lions guard the entrance, crushing elephants. A flight of steps lead to the main entrance. If you are in Orissa you can not miss one of the most spell binding temple in Incredible India, Konark sun Temple.

Follow NewsGram on Facebook: NewsGram.Com

6. Kedarnath Temple, Uttarakhand

Hindu Temples
Kedarnath Temple, Uttarakhand (Image Credit: Shaurya Ritwik)
Hindu Temples
Prime Minister Modi at Kedarnath (Twitter)

Kedarnath is among one of the holiest Hindu temples of Incredible India with Lord Shiva as its residing deity. The temple was built by Pandavas and revived by Adi Shankaracharya himself in the early 8th century. The temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of India and the main temple of Panch Kedar. Due to extreme weather conditions, the temple is open only between the end of April (Akshaya Tritriya) to Kartik Purnima (the autumn full moon, usually November). During the winters, the vigrahas (deities) from Kedarnath temple are brought to Ukhimath and worshipped there for six months. You must visit Kedarnath, one of the most important pilgrimage in hinduism to feel the beauty of nature and divinity.

7. Chennakeshava Temple, Belur, Karnataka

Hindu Temples
Chennakeshava Temple, Karnataka (Image Credit : Wikimedia)

The Chennakeshava Temple, also referred to as Keshava, Kesava or Vijayanarayana Temple of Belur, the erstwhile capital of Hoysala kingdom is a 12th-century Hindu temple in the Hassan district of Karnataka state, Incredible India. This Hindu temple is another testament to the amazing artistry of ancient Incredible India. This place will give you sense of pride regarding what our ancestors left for us.

So, are you ready for a “Walk to Temple”? The wonderful Hindu temples Incredible India has can not be comprehended in a list, there are lakhs of them, visit them to connect with your roots, to get acquainted with Dharma which is eternal.

 

– by SHAURYA RITWIK, Shaurya is Sub-Editor at NewsGram and writes on Geo-politcs, Culture, Indology and Business. Twitter Handle – @shauryaritwik

Next Story

On Gita Jayanti let us look into the timeless wisdom of Bhagavad Gita, holy book of Hindus which inspired millions

Bhagavad Gita is the timeless wisdom of Sanatan Dharma for mankind. One of the most widely read book which inspired millions of people all across the globe. Read how you can shape your destiny through timeless wisdom of Bhagavad Gita

0
251
Bhagavad Gita Jayanti
Bhagwan Krishna revealing Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna in Mahabharata

“Fear not, what is not real, never was and never will be, what is real, always was, and can never be destroyed” – Bhagawad Gita, doctrine of universal truth.

 
Today on occasion of Bhagwad Gita Jayanti I would like to  share my personal and social experiences with the eternal source of knowledge, Bhagawad Gita, book which inspired millions of readers for thousands of years. It’s no surprise that the wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita has inspired countless people throughout history; being India’s best gift to mankind. Bhagawad Gita is undoubtedly the most clear and comprehensive summaries of perennial philosophy ever revealed. 
 
The purpose behind revealing Bhagwad Gita to Arjuna by Shri Krishna was to remove his confusions at the battlefield in Kurukshetra. Similarly, all of us are so much confused in life, but we never turn to the source which can remove these confusions. Not only Arjuna, but every one of us is full of anxieties because of this material existence and scheme of things we are into. The purpose of Bhagavad Gita is to deliver mankind from the nescience of material existence. 
 
I fortunately at very young age was introduced to Bhagawad Gita by my Nana ji, who also happens to be the reason behind my deeply rooted interest in indic studies, indian philosophy, bhakti and spirituality. What Bhagawad Gita gave me in life can not be comprehended in words, it has always been the guiding force in my life, it acted as a beacon of light when life seemed all dark. After being a constant companion of Bhagwad Gita, my life changed drastically, I am sure this holds true for everyone who has been grasping the eternal flowing nectar of Bhagawad Gita. To say that I can explain Bhagawad Gita will be foolish on my part, its an ocean and I might have been blessed to grasp few drops of it. But it certainly gave me new perspective of life beyond this material world, I became more truthful to my duties and most importantly I learnt the act of letting go. The scripture of Bhagavad Gita contains precious pearls of wisdom which ought to be read by all, irrespective of one’s age, caste, color or religion.  The most important benefit envisaged by Bajgwad Gita is the “inspiration for the man to lead a ‘Dharmic life,” a fact often forgotten by the modern man who is too much troubled in making: name, fame, accomplishments, financial achievements, power and ability to control the resources. 
Bhagavad Gita Jayanti
Shri krishna in Mahabharata as “Parth Sarthi”
 
A person can acquire proper meaning in life, a deeper realization of his true identity, and attain a level of self-confidence and peace only by inward reflection and realisation which can never be reached through ordinary, materialistic studies or endeavors. Furthermore, teachings of Bhagavad Gita bring us to our higher potential in everything we do, materially or spiritually. This is the power and the importance of the Bhagavad Gita and the instructions of Shri Krishna found within it.

Gita Saar is the essence of Gita, reading this will inspire you to know Bhagwad Gita further, trust me, its the best gift you can give to yourself or anyone : 

“Whatever happened, it happened for good.
Whatever is happening, is also happening for good.
Whatever will happen, that too will be for good.
What have you lost for which you weep?
What did you bring with you, which you have lost?
What did you produce, which has perished?
You did not bring anything when you were born.
Whatever you have taken, it is taken from Here.
Whatever you have given, it is given Here.
You came empty handed and you will go the same way.
Whatever is yours today, will be somebody else’s tomorrow
And it will be some others’ later.
This change is the law of the universe
And the theme behind my creation.”

– Shri Krishna

Follow NewsGram on Facebook : NewsGram.Com

Bhagavad Gita Jayanti
Narendra Modi gifting Bhagavad Gita
Recently, It was so heartening to see Indian Prime Minister Modi gifting Bhagwad Gita to different nation heads. “I have nothing more valuable to give and the world has nothing more valuable to get,” the Prime Minister rightly said. Bhagawad Gita is the identity of India, it is the essence of Sanatan Dharma, the foundation rock of spirituality and guiding force for thousands of years to come.
 
It is impossible to truncate the teachings and glory of Bhagavad Gita into one page and I know that it would be sheer stupidity on my part to even think so. But I hope many of you will  get a copy of Bhagwad Gita on this auspicious occasion of Gita Jayanti, read it, distribute it, cherish it and experience the magic in your life. Gita teaches many things and as Mahatma Gandhi had said “No matter how many times Gita is read it teaches something new every time we read it”

 

–  by SHAURYA RITWIK, Shaurya is Sub-Editor at NewsGram and writes on Geo-politcs, Culture, Indology and Business. Twitter Handle – @shauryaritwik

Next Story

Sins in Hinduism: Facts, Meaning,Philosophy,Types & Atonement

0
108
Sins in hinduism
The sins in Hinduism can be washed away with devotional means. Pixabay.
  • Sin is regarded as an impurity arising in one’s body as a consequence to his own evil deeds. It is an effect that can be neutralised through various practices to lead your life into Moksha or liberation.
  • A liberated being or Jivanmukta is purified of all his sins who does not have to go through any further sins and rebirth. In order to make your soul pure and sinless, practice every deed with God’s grace.
  • The Sins in Hinduism, sinful conduct and their remedies have been referred to in Hindu Scriptures such as in Upanishads, Bhagavadgita, Yoga Sutras, Manu Smriti and Garuda Purana. 

As stated about sins in Hinduism, sin may form up with disobedience to God’s divine laws of Dharma. It may however be difficult to follow, but is considered obligatory for humans. The sins in Hinduism can be forgiven if Dharma is upholded as a service to God through self-effort and pure devotion to God.

Sins in Hinduism
Meditation is considered as the easiest from of removing sins in Hinduism. Pixabay.

What is the meaning of Sins in Hinduism?

The word Pāpam (paap) is often used to describe sins in Hinduism as mentioned in the Vedas and Hindu scriptures. Punyam (punya) is the opposite (antonym) of sin. It does not acquire an equivalent word in English since the concept of sins in Hinduism is different in western culture and Christianity.

Separating the word, ‘Pa‘ means to drink, inhale or absorb. ‘Apa‘ means water, combinedly meaning consuming or drinking impure water or poison. Pāpam also denotes evil, wicked, mischievous, destructive, inferior, corrupt and guilt.

It is believed that the sins of Hinduism manifests in the body with the impurities of worldliness (vishaya-asakti). The human body becomes subject to various poisons (visham) such as egoism, greed, ignorance, selfishness, desires and so on, which emerge with our attachments with worldly things (vishayas). These poisons of sins make the humans to take rebirths and deaths until they are removed completely. In the Hindu culture, Lord Shiva is regarded as the destroyer and the healer who gets invoked by devotees prayers and can remove or destroy such poison or sins to grant them liberation.

Sins in Hinduism
The sins in hinduism have been depicted in the scriptures. Pixabay.

What is the Philosophy of Sins in Hinduism?

The sins appear from physical, mental or oral actions, due to the impurities or poisons pertaining to Dharma and Hinduism. The poison of sin is stimulated if one harms intentionally to others or oneself by way of pain and suffering continuing the cycle of rebirth and death.

The repurcussions of sinful acts or karma are fault or mistake (aparadha), worry or anxiety (cintha), impurities or imperfections (doshas), evil intentions (dudhi), evil qualities (dhurta lakshana), immorality (adharma), demonic nature (asura sampatti), chaos or disorderliness (anrta), mental afflictions (klesha), destruction (nirtti), karmic debt (rna), sorrow (shoka), darkness or grossness (tamas) and suffering (pida). Others include: inferior birth, birth through demonic wombs, downfall into hells, increased suffering to ancestors, adversity, loss of reputation.

Sins in Hinduism
Visit Pilgrimage shrines to erase your sins in Hindusim. Pixabay.

What are the types of Sins in Hinduism?

The Dharmashastras of the Hindu scriptures denote sin as Pātaka which represents the causes of one’s downfall or destruction (patanam).The following are the three types of sins in Hinduism: Mortal Sins (Mahapatakas), Secondary Sins (Upa Patakas) and Minor Sins (Prakirna or prasangika Patakas)

The Mahapatakas

These are the gravest and darkest sins in Hinduism leading to the worst downfall of the mortals into the darkest of hells. They can neither be neutralized or washed away without suffering. Some Puranas and Vedas indicate to devote oneself purely to God to remove such sins. The Dharmashastras have stated such five gravest sins termed as the Pancha Mahapatakas. In Hinduism,the company of sinners is also not advisable as associating with sinners will lead you to the same consequences.

The Upa Patakas

These secondary sins may emerge out of minor offenses that include incompetency to perform sacrifices regularly, displeasing the Guru, selling harmful and intoxicating drinks, disbelief in God, giving false witness, making false acclaims, and performing a sacrifice for an unworthy person or unworthy cause and engaging in illicit sex.

The Prakirna Patakas

These type of sins in Hinduism form the minor offenses committed intentionally or unintentionally out of ignorance or carelessness which can be removed or washed away by performing sacrifices (prayaschitta) or by punishments and requesting forgiveness. The law books regard more than fifty minor sins in Hinduism such as selling the wife, making salt, studying forbidden Shastras, killing a woman, marrying the younger son before marrying the elder one, killing insects and other creatures, ignorance to parents, accepting gifts without performing sacrifices,adultery etc.

What are the solutions to overcome Sins?

Fines and punishments

The Dharmashastras render both corporeal and monetary punishments for various offenses or sins in Hinduism, apart from the sufferings in hell or rebirth. According to Hindu scriptures, the ancient era saw immense difference in the application of punishments from caste to caste.

Confession

The best path to deal with sins of Hinduism is to surrender yourself infront of God and seek forgiveness with your own confession of the sin committed. The king was regarded as a similar figure to God who demanded a public confession (abhishasta) from the sinner.

Austerities and Atonement

By performing Vedic traditional rituals, the sins in Hinduism are removed by fasting, virtuous conduct, self-control, practice of nonviolence, truthfulness, austere living, practice of silence, concentration and meditation.

Sins in Hinduism
Your sins in Hinduism can be removed by Devoting yourself to the grace of God. Pixabay.

Rituals and sacrifices

The Vedas have recommended various rituals or sacrifices to wash away the the impurities (dhosas) arising from one’s birth, karma, relationships, place or direction related issues, vastu defects, dangerous diseases and evil conduct.

Prayers and Mantras

Vishnu Purana of the Hindu scriptures pronounce the effective importance of the continuous chanting of names of God (japam) in the Kaliyug. Some mantras and hymns are considered more significant than meditation and sacrifices to clean the impurities of the body.

Recitation of the Vedas and other Sacred Books

Knowledge (jnana) has the eternal power to remove the sins in Hinduism. It can be derived with regular reading up and learning from the scriptures of sacred importance.

Visiting pilgrimages

To grant your devotion and gratitude, Hinduism seeks to commit to Dharma by visiting holy pilgrimage place. It is a divine form of self-cleansing and experiencing peace and happiness.

Bathing in the sacred rivers

The sacred pilgrimages are mostly located near the banks of the rivers that are also treated as purifiers. Hence, bathing in those rivers lead your life into devotional worship as a purification rituals to overcome sins in Hinduism.

Yoga and Meditation

Pranayama and meditation are the suggested methods to practise peace and overcome past sins. They also form a major part of the austerities to cleanse the internal mind and body.

The blessings of saints and gurus

Saints, sadhus and mahatmas have been given a special status in Hinduism because of their respectful purity and virtue. They acquire divine knowledge and supreme powers, with which they cleanse those who approach them for blessings.

Sins in Hinduism
Worshipping the saints remove the sins in hinduism. Pixabay.

Virtuous conduct

Sinful karma can be countered with huge efforts into virtuous karma. The sins in Hinduism are washed away with kind and healthy conduct to everyone equally.

Charity

Dana (gift giving) or charity is very significant in Hindu Dharma. By conducting sacrifices and spiritual practices one must conduct charity as well. As a part of Vedas, the higher castes are under obligation to perform five daily sacrifices including offer food to gods, ancestors, sages, humans and creatures.

-Prepared by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram. Twitter @tweet_bhavana