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Beliefs, deities, and priestly clothing of Hindus

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Hinduism started about 7,000 years ago, during a time when no other religion existed in India. B.N. Roy, the spokesman for the Hindu Temple Society of Augusta, said it started with the creation of the Vedas, which were “not human-created. They are the revelations from God to the saints.”

The Vedas were followed by the Upanishads, another sacred text that discusses the philosophy and nature of God.

“There are different types of Hindus, but as long as you believe in the Vedas and the Upanishads, you are under the big umbrella of Hinduism,” Roy said.

The scriptures were followed by the Epics, or Mahabharata, which make up the Hindu mythology. Within it is one chapter called the Bhagavad Gita, or more popularly, the Gita.

“That is the substance in a nutshell of what the Upanishads talk about. As long as you’ve read the Gita, you’ve really got the substance of Hinduism,” Roy said.

Shaji Kamalasanan, also a member of the temple, explained that Hindus believe there is one supreme God, Brahman, which has no form, and that the supreme goal of all people is to join with him.

Beneath Brahman are three deities that make up the Hindu Trinity: Brahma, the Creator; Vishnu, the Preserver; and Shiva, the Destroyer.

“All of these three gods feel that each one is important. It is a balanced state,” he said.

When things become out of balance, Vishnu comes to Earth as one of many avatars to restore balance.

Kamalasanan said the deities are the messengers, or assistants, of Brahman. Most Hindus follow one deity. The one they choose is a matter of tradition and personal preference, but ultimately all deities lead a person to Brahman.

Spirituality falls into one of four paths, usually based a person’s natural inclination: the path of knowledge and study, the path of action and doing things for the Lord, the path of devotion and the path of controlling the mind (usually associated with yoga).

“The central theme of Hinduism is it’s inclusive. It’s not exclusive,” said T.R. Reddy, a member of the temple. “You see, one of the avatars is Buddha. Some of us, we believe Jesus is also one of God’s avatars, or incarnations. Same way (with) Mohammed. Different people want to believe different ways, but eventually you want to reach the same one. It’s very broad.”

The priest’s role in Hinduism is very ritualistic. He doesn’t teach or preach a sermon. He leads worship, which includes ritual bathing of the deities’ statues and offering sacrifices of grain or milk.

The priest’s clothing is typically a reflection of the area of India from which they hail. In southern India, priests typically wear a 6- or 9-yard cloth, called the lungi, which is either wrapped around the waist or wound between the legs to resemble free-flowing pants. It is either white or yellow with a red or green border.

In very traditional ceremonies, priests are bare-chested with a sacred thread draping from left shoulder to hip, or they might wear a shawl.

On their forehead, they wear either three white horizontal lines to represent followers of Shiva or a red vertical line to represent Vishnu.

In northern India, a kurta, almost like a tunic, is also worn, and red dot is placed on the forehead.

In special ceremonies, the priest might also wear a turban.

(This article originally appeared in The August Chronicle )

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  • raxxx

    nobody believes muhammed the child rapist is a avatar of brahma.

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Puja for The Spiritualism, Not for Vulgar Entertainment

The westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our "scriptures" and are becoming more spiritual while we just locked up those "holy books" only in the drawers of the altar. Thus we only love to shake our “butts to the boom-boom of Bollywood”.. right in front of the Gods' idols !!!

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Hinduism
he westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our "scriptures"

By Salil Gewali

Any auspicious days in Hinduism are expected to be observed with a complete purity of action and thought. The same holds true for other religions too. As per the Hindu scriptures, the believers are required to stay away from any kind of sense gratifications, particularly when the specific days are dedicated to Gods and Goddess such as Navratri, Laxmi Puja, Krishna Janmashtami, Shivaratri, to name a few. The pathway to devotion and spiritualism should not be “desecrated” by the blot of the brazen entertainment. The scriptures logically explain why it is antithetical, and its adverse consequences.

Hindusim
Incidentally, the Bhagavad Gita describes such situation as the rise of “tamasic vibes”.

 But, what a huge irony, rather a blasphemy that many people these days have started to choose the auspicious days of Gods to satisfy their base senses. Without a wee bit of regret, a certain class of people holds almost every auspicious day as the most “unmissable” occasion to booze with the friends, and what not, and stagger back home, lol! Such bizarre practices are fast catching now than ever.  Sadly, hardly any conscious people and spiritual organizations stand up and take the right measures to check such godless deviations.

What is quite unpleasant is that such a kind of unholy practices are often being facilitated by certain “Hindu intuitions” as well. On this past Laxmi Puja, the “propitious time” to perform the ritual had fallen between 6 PM to 7:53 PM. Yours truly decided to use that span of time for meditation. But hell broke loose. Apart from fireworks around, the Bollywood songs in high decibel burst forth from a certain Hindu institution quite frustrated the mission.

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Sadhu Sanga Retreat, 2016

 One senior citizen laments – “Nothing could be irreligious than the fact that a favorable time for “puja” is also being used for the wrongful purposes. We rather expect the “Hindu institutions” to teach our children Bhajan, Kirtan, and other spiritual activities, not the loud and feverish parties and disturb others.”

Another college student adds “Having been much disturbed by the noise pollution, I have persuaded my parents to shift our place of residence to elsewhere, not at least near holy places with an unholy mission. I have started to see such institutions with the eyes of suspicion these says.” Is it that our institutions are unable to use their “discretion”, and as a result, they fail to differentiate between right and wrong?  One is deeply apprehensive that Bollywood songs and vulgar dances might as well be included as a part of the “puja ritual” as we have long accepted the fun of fireworks bursting as an integral part of Laxmi Puja which in fact is just an entrenched “misconception”.

Hinduism
Hinduism is expected to be observed with a complete purity of action

Needless to say, our roar for consumerism has almost drowned the whisper of inherent spiritualism. We are only just sending out the wrong messages. I’m afraid, the whole culture itself might be looked down with derision by other faiths. It might just become a subject of ridicule! It is no exaggeration, such negative notions against the “wrong practices” are all what we often read these days in several newspapers and social media. Do we want others to demean our profound spiritual heritage thus?  I believe it calls for a serious soul-searching.

Incidentally, the Bhagavad Gita describes such situation as the rise of “tamasic vibes”.  It warns in the strongest terms that mankind should absolutely be careful not to fall under the influence of any short-lived sense gratifications. Or else, our endeavor to “practice and preserve” the sanctity of a religion/spiritualism will be a futile exercise.

However, on the other hand, the westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our “scriptures” and are becoming more spiritual while we just locked up those “holy books” only in a drawer of the altar. Thus we only love to shake our “butts to the boom-boom of Bollywood”.. right in front of the Gods’ idols !!!

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’.

Twitter:@SGewali.