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.
All Pervasive Divine Power
Hindus believe in a one, all-pervasive Supreme Being who is both immanent and transcendent, both Creator and Unmanifest Reality.
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.
Hindus believe that the universe undergoes endless cycles of creation, preservation, and dissolution.
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.
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.
Belief in an 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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
Desire(meaning greed, lust, clinging), Anger and hatred, Ignorance & Fear and anxiety are the things which lead to evil in Buddhism.
killing, or harming any living thing, stealing – taking what is not yours to take, sexual irresponsibility, lying or any hurtful speech, alcohol and drugs which diminish clarity of consciousness are the morals in Buddhism.
Teachings of Buddhism: Practices & Ethics
Buddhism is a religion that follows a certain set of beliefs and values attributed by the teachings of The Buddha. Like every religion, Buddhism has also its own notions of what is evil and good. When we say the word evil, we derive many meanings from it. If someone or something is evil to one person, it might not be for another. According to Buddhism, people aren’t good/bad or morally correct/incorrect, they simply create certain traits in themselves which only they can undo. Buddha preached a concept known as “Dependent Origination” implying that everything and everyone is interconnected. If everything is interconnected, how can someone be above the other and how can one person be wrong and the other right? Such teachings of Buddha opened up many minds and raised the right kind of questions.
5 Morals Of Buddhism:
Avoid killing, or harming any living thing.
Avoid stealing – taking what is not yours to take.
Avoid sexual irresponsibility, which for monks and nuns means celibacy.
Avoid lying, or any hurtful speech.
Avoid alcohol and drugs which diminish clarity of consciousness.
3 Evils of Buddhism:
According to Buddhism, the greatest sin is Greed as it is encompassing sin which includes all sins that are related to desiring anything in excess is money, yearning, lust, food and inability to let go of things easily. Buddha suggests all sins that relate to wanting more like the capital sins of Christianity namely greed, gluttony and lust come under one single sin i.e. Greed.
Hatred is a powerful emotion which is said to be more powerful than love as it drives one to destructive acts of anger, fury and destruction, both physical and mental. Hatred is also self- destructive as if you give in to hatred you are practically bending the knee to your own enemy. Among the capital sins of Christianity, hatred is linked to the sins of wrath and envy.
Ignorance is a sin which can drive one to delude their surroundings and take them to states of pride, sloth and envy ( the Christian sins) . It is also one of the primary evils as it includes delusion.
3 Ways to Remove Evils in Buddhism:
Buddha suggests practicing self -control as it helps free yourself from the clutches of your vulnerability to the state of loss by your own choice. A person must practice self –control to attain a level of satisfaction which would prevent Greed.
Love, Acceptance & Forgiveness
Practicing the act of love, acceptance and forgiveness are important in order to move past the sin of hatred. One cannot achieve inner peace until when is comfortable with their own emotions.
As mentioned earlier, the concept of dependent origination is a way to attain salvation where one must not jump to conclusions and judge others when everyone is the same and interconnected. One should analyze the cause and effect of every situation to rid themselves of any preconceived notions.
Prepared by Tanya Kathuria of Newsgram; Twitter: @TanyaKathuria97
Foremost among the several gods and goddesses of Hinduism are the Trimurti; Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, the holy triad that signify supreme divinity in Hinduism – the creater, sustainer and destroyer of the world
New Delhi, October 9, 2017 : Devout Hindus have a god for every occasion and every day – over 33 million, according to popular beliefs. While people of other religions often interpret them as fictional characters, the multiple gods and goddesses of Hinduism are held with utmost devotion and sincerity by the believers.
Ours is a polytheistic religion – in other words, a myriad of gods and goddesses of Hinduism. Foremost among the several gods and goddesses of Hinduism are the Trimurti; Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, the holy triad that signify supreme divinity in Hinduism – the creator, sustainer and destroyer of the world. These divine forces are known to appear in different avatars, embodied by different gods and goddesses.
In Hinduism, Lord Brahma is the creator of the Universe and the first member of the holy trinity (Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh). However, he is not worshiped as Vishnu or Shiva with only one temple dedicated to him, the Pushkar temple of Rajasthan.
Here are some of the many gods and goddesses of Hinduism.
Vishnu is the second member of the holy Hindu triad, who sustains the entire world – Vishnu is believed to return to the earth during distressed times to restore the balance between good and evil.
Believed to have incarnated nine times, Vishnu symbolizes the principles of order, righteousness, and truth. His associate is Lakshmi, the goddess of family life and prosperity.
Vishnu is always depicted with a blue-colored human body with four hands, each of which carries four different objects – a conch, chakra, lotus flower and mace. The god is shown to ride the Garuda, an eagle.
So far, Vishnu has appeared on earth in various incarnations. These include fish, turtle, boar, Narsimha (half lion, half man), Vamana (dwarf sage with the ability to grow), Parsuram, Ram, Krishna and Buddha. Devotees believe he will re-incarnate in a last avatar, popularly known as ‘Kalki’, close to the end of this world.
Hindus who worship Vishnu are primarily known as Vaishnava and regard him as the greatest god.
One of the members of the holy Hindu trinity, Lord Shiva is as the god of destruction, so that the world may be recreated by Brahma. Thus, his destructive powers are perceived as regenerative: necessary to make renewal possible.
Known by different names like Mahadeva, Nataraja , Pashupati, Vishwanath and Bhole Nath, Shiva is known to have untamed enthusiasm, which drives him to extremes in conduct. It is his relationship with wife Parvati which established the balance. While other gods and goddesses are represented in glorious avatars, Shiva is dressed in plan animal skin and usually sits in a yogic aasana.
Shiva is often addressed as the Lord of Dance, with the rhythm of the dance believed to be symbolic of the balance in the universe, masterfully held by Shiva. His most significant dance form is the Tandav.
Hindus who worship Shiva as their primary god are known as Shaivites.
One of the most popular goddesses of Hindu mythology, Lakshmi gets hers name from the Sanskrit word ‘lakshya’, meaning ambition or purpose. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth, prosperity and purity and is the associate of Vishnu.
Lakshmi is believed to reside in places of hard work, and sincerity, However, the goddess leaves whenever an individual is overcome with greed or malice or when these qualities are not evident anymore. Hindus believe Sita is an incarnation of Lakshmi. Hence, they worship the goddess of prosperity primarily during Diwali, which commemorated the Hindu epic Ramayana.
Lakshmi is widely represented as an enchanting woman with four arms, settled or standing on a lotus flower.
Devout Hindus worship Lakshmi at temples and inside homes alike, and believe worshipping her with utmost sincerity blesses an individual with success and fortune.
The pot bellied, elephant-headed god Ganesha, also known as Ganpati, Vinayak and Binayak, is the son of Shiva and Parvati. one of the most popular gods and goddesses of Hinduism, Ganesha is revered as the remover of all obstacles, which is why his presence is first acknowledged before beginning any new work.
The lord of success and wealth, Ganesha is also the patron of knowledge and learning; devotees believe he wrote down parts of the Hindu epic Mahabharata with his broken tusk.
Ganesha is typically depicted as a pot-bellied, elephant-headed red colored god, with four arms and a broken tusk. This head is believed to characterize the atma or the soul and the body represents the maya or mankind’s earthly existence. The rats, which can gnaw their way through every hardship, are believed to symbolize Ganesha’s ability to destroy all obstacles.
Lord Ganesha is shown riding mouse, which can gnaw their way through every hardship, are believed to symbolize Ganesha’s ability to destroy all obstacles.
Believed to be the most popular and the most powerful avatar of Vishnu, Krishna is revered as the Supreme Being or the Purana Purushottam out of a list of several hundred gods and goddesses of Hinduism, by several devout Hindus. One of the most loved and mischievous gods, Krishna means ‘black’ and can be believed to denote mysteriousness.
In Hinduism, Krishna takes several different roles- that of a hero, leader, protector, philosopher, teacher and a friend and is believed to have lived on earth between 3200 – 3100 BC. His birth is widely celebrated on the midnight of Ashtami during the month of Shravan, and is called Janmashthami.
Stories of Krishna’s birth, childhood and youth and widely read and circulated, with every mother wanting to have a child like him. His raas with Radha is also remembered widely.
Krishna is held with utmost reverence for his role as the charioteer of Arjuna, as explained in the Mahabharata. It was in the middle of this war that Krishna delivered his famous advice about ‘Nishkam Karma’ which propagated action without attachment, which formed the basis of the Bhagwat Gita.
Krishna is extremely fond of white butter and there are several stories about how he stole butter from gopis throughout his childhood. He is depicted as a dark and extremely handsome, usually depicted with a flute which he used for its seductive powers.
Maryada Purushottam Ram is the ideal avatar of Vishnu. An epitome of chivalry, virtues and ethical demeanor, Ram is the seventh incarnation of Vishnu who is believed to have taken birth to eradicate all evils from the world.
Unlike all other gods and goddesses of Hinduism, Ram is believed to be a historical character, instead of an imaginary figure. The Hindu epic Ramayana is a retelling and celebration of Ram’s life – a tale of his fourteen years in exile with his wife and brother.
Ram’s birthday is celebrated as Ramnavmi, wherein devotees invoke him with religious chants to attain his blessings shield. The festival of lights, Diwali, which is one of the major festivals in Hinduism, is also observed to celebrate the return of Ram, Laksham and Sita back to Ayodhya after an exile of fourteen years.
Ram bears a dark complexion to show his resemblance to Vishnu and his other avatar Krishna, and is almost always depicted with a bow and arrow in his hands and a quiver on his back. Ram also wears a tilak on his forehead. Accompanying the statues of Ram are idols of his wife Sita, brother Lakshman and the celebrated monkey-god Hanuman, who together combine the Ram Darbar.
Daughter of Shiva and Durga, and the consort of Brahma, Saraswati is revered as the goddess of wisdom, learning, speech and music. She is the goddess of knowledge and arts. Devotees often worship the deity before commencing any educational work- books and stationary items are often revered as Saraswati is believed to reside in them.
Saraswati Vandana, religious chants dedicated to the goddess of music often begin and end all Vedic lessons. The goddess also plays songs of wisdom, affection and life on the veena, a string instrument.
Saraswati is visually represented in pure white attire and rides a peacock, with a lotus in one hand and sacred scriptures in the other. She also has four hands that signify the four aspects of learning- mind, intellect, alertness, and ego.
Out of all the 33 million gods and goddesses of Hinduism, devout Hindus believe only Saraswati can grant them moksha- the ultimate emancipation of the soul.