Tuesday November 21, 2017

Hinduism and Judaism: A Tale of Two Religions Fastening Humanity Over The Centuries

A subtle understanding of the principles of Hinduism and Judaism

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Hinduism and Judaism are confluence of faith
Representation of religions in the world. Pixabay
  • Hinduism and Judaism are a confluence of two deep-seated faiths
  • The article will talk about contrast and comparison of Hindus and Jews
  • Duty, karma and adherence over belief are the teachings of both the religions

JULY 5, 2017: Hinduism and Judaism are the two foundational religions in the East and the West. Referred by scholars as Sanatana Dharma, Hinduism shares its underlying concepts such as karma and liberation from samsara with Buddhism and Jainism. A thorough compare and contrast provide better apprehension.

Professor B.Holdrege elucidates that Hinduism and Judaism represent a definite form of religion, keen to “practice, observance and law.” The religions are regarded by scholars to be ethnic religions sharing common elements in regard to purity codes, dietary restrictions among others. Hinduism and Judaism, each “defines itself in relation to a particular sacred language and to a particular corpus of sacred texts.”

Classical Judaism holds that there is only one God in cosmos, a creator of all that exists. God made a relationship, a covenant, with the people of Israel taking two forms. The first being an eternal relationship with the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, King David and his descendants as the leaders of the congregation. The second is a reciprocal relationship that applies to the followers to fulfil God’s commandments.

The commandments encompass social, ethical components such as prayer, the observance of Sabbath, marriage and family practices. The commandments are articulated in the written Torah- the Five Books of Moses. It serves the purpose of making Israel a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation”. The Oral Torah compliments and explains the Written Torah. With the guidance of Torah, the practitioners of Judaism come to understand God’s will and the sacred tenets.

Also Read: Bob Dylan: Spiritual Side of the Legend explored in Upcoming Book

Hinduism maintains that the cosmos is sacred. Like Judaism, Hindu Dharma concerns itself with attitude and practice and emphasises these features over dogmatic belief. Dharma is committed to the deep abiding laws of nature, and to society. Like Judaism, Hinduism girdle around ethical, social and ritual components. The Hindu Dharma functions like commandments to its followers. The Dharma recognises the unique, intellectual and spiritual outlooks. Dharma sources, written and customary, are mainly composed in Sanskrit. The distinction of Dharma from the Western sense of religion is crucial to the understanding of Hindu religious identity. The word Sanatana, meaning immemorial and eternal emphasises the unbroken continuity of Hindu tradition.

By Puja Sinha of NewsGram. twitter: @Pujas1994

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Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America: The first annual Hindu Heritage Day celebrated in New Jersey

The HHD was successful in providing a platform for the Hindu-American population to reconnect with their land and culture

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Image Source : Facebook
  • The first annual “Hindu Heritage Day” by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America-Ney Jersey, was celebrated on July 9
  • The main highlight of the event was the cultural program in which over 250 students performed in events like classical music and dance
  • A Sanskrit play – “Utthishthata, Jagrata” was also performed on stage

The first annual “Hindu Heritage Day” by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America-New Jersey, was celebrated on July 9 at North Brunswick High School, 98 Raider Road, North Brunswick. It was a grand success with more than 900 attendees, including children of all races and religions.

The VHPA is an independent, non-profit and volunteer-based charitable (socio-cultural- spiritual) organization serving the needs of Hindu community in US with an aim to create a dynamic, vibrant Hindu society inspired by the eternal values of Sanatana Dharma, and the lofty ideals of Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam, meaning “the entire creation is one family.”

With an aim to promote, support and celebrate Santana Dharma and the values and traditions of the rich Hindu heritage, several events were held simultaneously over eight hours for people of all ages. About 11 non-profit organisations and many local food and clothing vendors also participated.

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The main highlight of the event was the cultural program in which over 250 students performed in events like classical music, dance, poem recitation and chanting the traditional hymns. A Sanskrit play – “Utthishthata, Jagrata” was also performed on stage. A discourse on stress relief was given by Swami Adhyatamananda. Messages or quotes were cited from Hindu literature to broaden the understanding on several universal topics.

Several activities like face painting kite flying, field games like kho-kho, rangoli and henna competitions were held for the kids and ladies while the elderly enjoyed the Kavi Sammelan and the thought-provoking plays. The Hindu Heritage Day (HHD) thus exhibited the vibrant, artistic and spiritual heritage of India.

A play in simple Sanskrit! - "Utthishthata, Jagrata". Image Source : Facebook
A play in simple Sanskrit! – “Utthishthata, Jagrata”. Image Source : Facebook

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“VHPA wants to engage second-generation youth and their families to connect with their heritage, and also give them a platform to exhibit their talent and skills,” said Brahm Sharma, president of the N.J. Chapter, reports newsindiatimes.com.

Arun Joshi, one of the main organizers of the event, said that by making HHD an annual event, an effort is being made to help the public understand Hindu values and different aspects of the Indian tradition.

The HHD was successful in providing a platform for the Hindu-American population to reconnect with their land and culture and cultivate an interest in the Hindu heritage and values among the children.

The organizers are planning to include a diverse crowd like those who are unfamiliar with Hinduism or who want to learn about it to the event from next year.

– prepared by Ajay Krishna of NewsGram. Twitter: @ajkrish14

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India is the Home of Eternity and Peace: Swami Jayramdas

India is a World Guru, says the France-born Swami

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INDIA is the home of eternity and Peace

Indore: “India is a place where eternity resides”,says the Indian saint of French origin Swami Jayramdas. The saint is also a science scholar and was born Christian. He says that Religion has no subject of consideration, it is the depth of knowledge that provokes an individual to adopt a certain religion and gain the higher consideration. He recently expressed his views while talking to a correspondent of a leading news portal in Mumbai. Swami added  that the Western world has nothing to offer, there is no knowledge to gain. He said that India is abode to Sanatana Dharma, and has the infinite energy for the betterment of lives. He emphasizes that India is a world guru.

INDIA is the home of eternity and Peace
INDIA is the home of eternity and Peace

Swami further added to India’s appreciation by saying: “All spiritual heritages in India are about teachings of self-realization and to discover the inner self.”

Swami Jayramdas was born in France and reached India in 1974 after wandering various countries in search of a guru. s himself a French migrant in India, who explained that he took shelter in India after leaving his country in 1974, searching for a guru. He finally reached Rishikesh, accepted Hinduism and went on to becoming a student of Mahayogi Madhusudandasji who himself was a great Kundalini Yoga master. Swami follows Shrividya and terms it a scientific way of worship of Goddess Durga.

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Swami Jayramdasji is also an author of four books which explain in detail about morality, eternity, spirituality and lot about Sadhus, Sanyasis, and Guru. He is also a poet who has composed rhymes on river Narmada and is also a lover of art and paintings. Though a French-born, he speaks fluent English, Hindi, Gujarati and holds a good command over the holy language – Sanskrit. He lives in Gujarat.

Prepared by Yogesh Raikar from Mumbai.

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Dr. David Frawley: To respect Hinduism is to respect our ancient spiritual roots

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By David Frawley

Saying “I am a Hindu” is bound to meet with denigration in the West and even in India – more so if someone born in the West states to have formally become a Hindu.

Yet for someone in the West to say that they have become a Buddhist or a Muslim does not meet with the same negative response. Nor does it occur for someone in India, even from a Hindu background, to say that they have become a Christian or a Muslim.

Like a number of Westerners starting in the 1960s, I became immersed in Hindu based practices of yoga and vedanta, extending to the worship of Hindu deities like Shiva and Devi.

When people asked me what religion I followed, I realized that I was clearly a Hindu in my way of life from puja and pilgrimage, to mantra and meditation. I decided to formally become a Hindu to affirm this, particularly when I saw Hindus in India remaining under extensive conversion assaults.

Here is a link to books written by Dr. David Frawley.

Students of yoga and vedanta

However, most in the West who take up yogic teachings do not formally call themselves Hindus, even if they adopt Sanskrit names relating to Hindu deities. This is owing to deep-seated propaganda against Hinduism as characterized by backward social customs, not enlightened spiritual teachings.

Many yoga students claim to be followers of their particular guru or sect. Others claim to be part of a universal tradition of yoga that includes all religions, of which Hinduism is only one. Yet all follow ideas and practices rooted in the Vedas, Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Sutras – primarily Hindu sources – overlooking the fact that they are benefitting enormously from Hindu teachings.

Some say practicing yoga will make a Christian into a better Christian. I had given up my Catholic background because I could not accept the theology, rituals, or conversion efforts behind it. The law of karma, rebirth and the pursuit of liberation in Hinduism made much more sense to me, not the heaven, hell, sin and salvation of Christianity.

If practicing yoga and meditation, with statues of Shiva and Devi in my shrine, made me into a better Christian, it was not something any mainstream Christian group would acknowledge or recommend.

There are those in the West who want to become Hindus, but find little support. The most helpful group I discovered was the Hinduism Today magazine and some thoughtful, articulate Western Hindu swamis associated with it. In India, most helpful was the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and authors Ram Swarup and Sitaram Goel, who wrote extensively on modern challenges to Hindu dharma.

The situation for Hindus today

To tell Christians or Muslims today that one has become a Hindu is to invite ridicule and charges of idolatry and superstition. Academicians disparage Hinduism as a strange, sensational set of cults, ignoring its profound meditation-based philosophies – a negative approach they would not take relative to any of the other great religions of the world.

The success of the Hindu community in the US and UK has muted these criticisms, but not removed them. Hindu-Americans still have to face both religious and racial prejudices for the images of their deities and the color of their skin.

You will not find a single department of Hindu Studies at any major India universities, even BHU (Banaras Hindu University). You can find a lone Hindu department at Oxford in UK, run largely by non-Hindus, but none elsewhere at any major universities in the West. This is though Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world and has the oldest and most diverse literature of any religion.

Clearly there has been a long history of maligning and suppressing Hindu dharma that continues worldwide today. There has been a deliberate strategy, both to discourage people from becoming Hindus and to discourage Hindus from asserting their own identity. The influence of vested interests from missionary, colonial and Marxist groups is easy to discern behind these concerted efforts, often with extensive political and media support.

Today in India when Hindus question this long-standing and well-funded anti-Hindu bias that they continue to face, they find themselves demeaned as “intolerant”.

Fortunately, there is a slow awakening to the value of Hindu dharma and its rishi traditions. To respect Hinduism is to respect our ancient spiritual roots and our potential for higher consciousness. (The article was originally published in DailyO)

Here is a link to books written by Dr. David Frawley.