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Hinduism: Learn about the Four Goals of the World’s Third Largest Religion!

Hinduism, or Sanatan Dharma, has 95% of its total followers living in India itself. Hinduism is more a culture than religion and works on a system of beliefs

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Hindu God Shiva. Image source: Pixabay
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Aug 27, 2016: Hinduism is widely regarded as the world’s oldest religion, standing third on the list of mass religion. Hinduism, or Sanatan Dharma, has 95% of its total followers living in India itself. Hinduism is more a culture than religion and works on a system of beliefs. The ultimate aim of this system of beliefs is to attain the four goals in life, that are:

Kama

In Hinduism, Kama stands as a synonym for desire. It is suggestive of man’s desire to please his aesthetics and sensibility, like one’s sexual desires, ambitions and passion. Getting ambitious of one’s desires is essential to bring one to the path of righteousness.

 Arth

Arth (meaning of life) is the attainment that deals with the riches of the world and wealth. One of the beginning steps is to reach a peaceful stage of economic stability and prosperity. More than monetary stability, the attitude one has toward others and how he talks to the ones below him, makes the difference.

The 'dharmachakra' of Wheel of Dharma— a common way to nirvana in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Source: Pixabay
The ‘dharmachakra’ or Wheel of Dharma— a common way to nirvana in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.
Source: Pixabay
Dharma

Dharma is believed to lead one to heaven. It is an individual’s responsibility to do good deeds and indulge in meditation, selfless work, dedication to God and other sorts of ‘purushartha’ or hard work. This purushartha makes one closer to the almighty and nirvana.

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Moksha

Moksha is the achievement of nirvana through undeterred meditation and devotion, which is the highest form of purushartha. Moksha disconnects one from worldly materialism and releases the soul from sadness, pain and grief.

Here are some basic yet rare facts that are sure to clear one’s questions about Hinduism:

I. Hinduism believes in 4 eras in the circle of life— Satya yug (Often called Satyug, the age of Utopia), Tretha Yug, Dwapar Yug and Kali Yug. Kali Yug is the ugliest phase of all, a state of massive destruction and loss of innocence. It is after the Kali Yug that the cycle restarts.

An illustration of Draupadi's 'vastraharan' or disrobing. Source: Wikimedia Commons
An illustration of Draupadi’s ‘vastraharan’ or disrobing, as depicted in Mahabharata. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

II. Mahabharata— the famous Hindu epic, is considered as the longest epic in literature, and is 10 times more than the total word length of Odyssey or Illiad. Mahabharata is said to be 1.8 million words long.

III. Indeed selflessness is a virtue, but Hinduism has no stance against one’s wish to earn wealth. The gods and goddesses of wealth and prosperity, such as Lakshmi, Vishnu and Kubera are religiously followed and worshipped. It is on the major festival of Diwali when Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped for bringing health, wealth, and propensity to her devotees.

IV. Do you know why the Rudraksha mala used for chanting and praying has 108 beads? The number 108 holds immense significance in Sanatan Dharma, because the ratio distance between the Sun and the earth, and even the moon’s diameter is 108. Thus, 108 holds an important place in this faith.

V. All Hindu Gods are pictured riding or flying on certain animals and birds. But the holiest animals in Hinduism are- cow (symbolic for Lord Krishna and Nandi— that of Lord Shiva), Elephant (for the head of Lord Ganesha), snake (wrapped around Lord Shiva; significant of calm acceptance), and peacock— the wagon of some Hindu gods.

God Krishna with Flute and cows around him. Image source: www.hindugodwallpaper.com
God Krishna with Flute and cows around him. Image source: www.hindugodwallpaper.com

VI. Rig Veda, the fundamental holy scripture of the Hindu faith was composed 3,800 years ago. It has been orally passed over since ages, and the present form of the Rig Veda has been composed out of ‘dant kathaas’ or oral folk tradition.

VII. Karma is the basic fundamental deciding factor of one’s life after death or rebirth. How good your next life would be will be decided by the good deeds you perform in this birth.

Holy river Ganges, in Varanasi. Source: Pixabay
Holy river Ganges, in Varanasi. Image Source: Pixabay

VIII. River Ganga is considered as one of the purest rivers to have ever fallen on earth. It works as a redemptive way for a man to take a dip in the holy water and wash away his sins.

IX. The Kumbh Mela is the world’s biggest and grandest religious gathering which has nearly 100 million devotees from all over the world. The Mela takes place when the planet Jupiter enters Aquarius and Sun enters Aries.


– by Chetna Karnani, at NewsGram. Twitter: @karnani_chetna

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  • Enakshi Roy Chowdhury

    hinduism has alot of aspects to look into

Next Story

Right of Nature: Are Rivers Living Beings?

Should rivers be considered Living Entities?

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Right of Nature
Many cultures across the globe believe that rivers are living beings or Gods/Goddesses and they just take the form of water bodies.

By Dr. Bharti Raizada, Chicago

Science says that water bodies are not living entities, as water does not need food, does not grow, and reproduce. Water is required for life, but in itself it is nonliving.

However, many cultures across the globe believe that rivers are living beings or Gods/Goddesses and they just take the form of water bodies.

The Maori tribe in New Zealand considers the Whanganui River as their ancestor and the Maori people fought to get it a legal status as a living being. In 2017, a court in New Zealand gave this river the status of living being and same rights as humans, to protect it from pollution. Thus, now if someone pollutes in it then it is considered equivalent to harming a human.

ALSO READ: Worshiping mother nature part of our tradition: Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Right of Nature
Rivers are sacred in many religions, including Hinduism. Image courtesy: Dr. Bharti Raizada

Rivers are sacred in Hinduism also. Hindus believe that the Ganga descended from heaven and call her Ganga Maa. A few days after New Zealand’s court decision, Uttarakhand high court in India gave the Ganga and Yamuna rivers and their tributaries the status of living human entities. The Court-appointed three officials as legal custodians. However, the court did not clarify many aspects related to this decision.

After this verdict some of the questions, which naturally came to mind, were:

Can Hindus still do rituals of flowing ashes, leaves, flowers, diyas in river or no? Can a dam be built on the river after this judgment? If some damage, to a person, animal, plants, or property, occurs because of river e.g. overflow, hurricanes, flooding etc., how the river will pay the liabilities? What if all rivers, oceans, ponds etc. are given the status of living beings? Will drinking water from river become a crime? What about taking water and using it for routine needs,  agriculture or building structures? Will it be illegal? If a child throws a stone in water, will it be a criminal act? Will fishing be considered stealing? What about boating? If someone is using heat near water and water evaporates, is it equal to taking the body part of a human being? What about taking a bath in the river?

Right of Nature
If the river gets a living status, as human, then we cannot use it for anything without its permission, so everyone has to stop touching the water. Image courtesy: Dr. Bharti Raizada

ALSO READ: Decoding supernatural: What is the nature of entities and gods who influence human behavior

Other queries, which arise, are:

Will animals and plants get the same status? What if you kill an ant or a chicken etc. or cut a tree? Will all animals and plants get a legal custodian?

Where is all the waste supposed to go? It has to go somewhere back in nature, right?

Uttrakhand state government challenged the judgement in Supreme Court and the latter reversed the judgment.

Right of Nature
So where do we stand? In my opinion, granting living status to nature is a different thing than giving protected status or preserving nature. Image by Dr. Bharti Raizada

ALSO READ: How nature destroys the negative tendencies in a positive manner

Ecuador’s constitution recognized the Right of Nature to exist, specifically Vilcabamba river, in 2008.

Then Bolivia passed the law of the right of mother earth and granted Nature equal rights as humans.

Many communities in the U.S.A. passed the Right of Nature law.

These laws are creating a dilemma or quandary also, as people need to use these resources. We cannot live without using natural resources. However, there is a difference between using natural resources and afflicting or destroying these. So, please use natural resources very diligently. Try not to vitiate nature.

On World Water Day (March 22), please start taking care of rivers, so that there is no need for future celebrations. It should not be a one-day celebration anyway, we should scrupulously look out for nature all the time.

Dr. Raizada is a practicing anesthesiologist.