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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

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12 Interesting Facts About Somnath Temple Probably You Didn’t Know

The Somnath Temple is popular due to various legends connected to it. The place is an important pilgrimage and tourist spot.

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Somnath Temple is located in Veraval on the western coast of Gujarat, India. Wikimedia Commons
Somnath Temple is located in Veraval on the western coast of Gujarat, India. Wikimedia Commons
  • Somnath Temple is believed to be the place where Lord Krishna ended his Lila and thereafter left for heavenly abode
  • The first Siva temple at Somanath is believed to have been built at some unknown time in the past
  • Gujarat was raided by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1024, plundering the Somnath temple and breaking its sacred jyotirlinga

Somnath Temple is a specimen of fine architecture of one of the 12 Jyotirlingas Shrines of Shiva. This place is believed to be the place where Lord Krishna ended his Lila and thereafter left for heavenly abode, therefore it is dubbed as Eternal Shrine. This legendary temple has been vandalized numerous times in the history but with the help of some Hindu Kings, the temple was reshaped each time.

Somnath Temple is located in Veraval on the western coast of Gujarat, India. The temple is popular due to various legends connected to it. The place is an important pilgrimage and tourist spot. Lord Shiva has a strong connection here and also known as shrine eternal.

Somnath Temple History

According to popular tradition, the first Siva temple at Somanath is believed to have been built at some unknown time in the past. The second temple has been built at the same site by the “Yadava kings” of Vallabhi around 649 CE. In 725 CE, Al-Junayd, the Arab governor of Sindh destroyed the second temple as part of his invasions of Gujarat and Rajasthan. In 815 CE, the Gurjara-Pratihara king Nagabhata II constructed the third temple, a huge structure of red sandstone.

Also Read: Top 10 Famous Hindu Temples of Tamil Nadu

The Chaulukya (Solanki) king Mularaja possibly built the first temple at the site sometime before 997 CE, even though some historians believe that he may have renovated a smaller earlier temple.

Somnath Temple Attacks

Gujarat was raided by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1024, plundering the Somnath temple and breaking its sacred jyotirlinga. Ghazni took away the wealth of almost 20 million dinars. As per historical records, the damage to the temple by was quite negligible because there are records of pilgrimages to the temple in 1038, which has no much mention of any damage to the temple.

In14th century, Gujarati Muslim pilgrims were noted by Amir Khusrow to stop at that temple to pay their respects before departing for the Hajj pilgrimage. Wikimedia Commons
In14th century, Gujarati Muslim pilgrims were noted by Amir Khusrow to stop at that temple to pay their respects before departing for the Hajj pilgrimage. Wikimedia Commons

But claims are there that Mahmud had killed 50,000 devotees who tried to defend the temple. The temple at the time of Ghazni’s attack appears to have been a wooden structure, which is said to have decayed in time.

According to an inscription of 1169, Kumarapala rebuilt it in “excellent stone and studded it with jewels,”

Also Read: Angkor Wat: History behind Cambodian Hindu temple

Then in 1299, the Somnath Temple was invaded by Alauddin Khalji’s army, led by Ulugh Khan. They defeated the Vaghela king Karna and sacked the Somnath temple. Legends state that the Jalore ruler Kanhadadeva later recovered the Somnath idol and freed the Hindu prisoners, after an attack on the Delhi army near Jalore. However, some other sources state that the idol was taken to Delhi, where it was thrown to be trampled under the feet of Muslims.

The Somnath Temple was rebuilt by Mahipala I, the Chudasama king of Saurashtra in 1308 and the lingam was installed by his son Khengara sometime between 1331 and 1351.

In14th century, Gujarati Muslim pilgrims were noted by Amir Khusrow to stop at that temple to pay their respects before departing for the Hajj pilgrimage.

In 1395, the temple was again destroyed for the third time by Zafar Khan, the last governor of Gujarat under the Delhi Sultanate and later founder of Gujarat Sultanate.

In 1546, the Portuguese who were based in Goa attacked ports and towns in Gujarat including Somnath Temple and destroyed several of its structures.

Somnath temple to Dwarka

Dwarka is an ancient city in the Indian state of Gujarat. It is very near to Somnath temple and due to its relevance to Hindu pilgrimage; people do tend to visit this place also.

Also Read: The Temple of Death: The Abode of Yamraj

The magnificent Temple of Dwarka has an elaborately tiered main shrine, a carved entrance and a black-marble idol of Lord Krishna.

Somnath Temple said to have been safely hiding the famous Syamantak Mani within the hollowness of Shivalinga. Wikimedia Commons
Somnath Temple said to have been safely hiding the famous Syamantak Mani within the hollowness of Shivalinga. Wikimedia Commons

The road distance between Dwarka and Somnath is 231 km and the aerial distance from Dwarka to Somnath is 210 km. One can also cover the distance through train which is almost 398km distant.

Here are some facts that are attached to this sacred and architecturally marvellous temple.

  1. The present-day Somnath Temple was built in five years, from 1947 to 1951 and was inaugurated by then President of India Dr Rajendra Prasad.
  2. Somnath Temple said to have been safely hiding the famous Syamantak Mani within the hollowness of Shivalinga, the Philosopher’s stone, which is associated with Lord Krishna. The stone is said to be magical, which was capable of producing gold. It is also believed that stone had alchemic and radioactive properties and thus it remains floating above the ground.
  3. The temple finds its reference in the sacred texts of Hindus like Shreemad Bhagavat, Skandpuran, Shivpuran and Rig-Veda. This signifies the importance of this temple as one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in India.
  4. According to records, the site of Somnath has been a pilgrimage site from ancient times as it was said to be the junction of three rivers, Kapila, Hiran and the mythical Saraswati. The meeting point was called as Triveni Sangam and is believed to be the place where Soma, the Moon-god bathed and regained his lustre.
  5. According to Swami Gajanand Saraswati (a Hindu scholar), the first temple was built 7, 99, 25,105 years ago as derived from the traditions of Prabhas Khand of Skanda Puran.
  6. The temple is said to be located at such a place that there is no straight-line land between Somnath seashore till Antarctica continent. In a Sanskrit inscription, found on the Arrow-Pillar called Baan-Stambh is stated that the temple stands at a point on the Indian piece of land, which happens to be the first point on land in the north to the south-pole on that particular longitude.

    The saga of Somnath temple is related to moon god and curse of his father in law Daksha Prajapati. Wikimedia Commons
    The saga of Somnath temple is related to moon god and curse of his father in law Daksha Prajapati. Wikimedia Commons
  7. According to the text of Skanda Purana, the name of Somnath Temple will change every time the world is reconstructed. It is believed when Lord Brahma will create a new world after ending the one we are living, Somnath will acquire a new name of Pran Nath Temple.
  8. On the walls of Somnath Temple, the sculptures of Lord Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu can be seen.
  9. According to another reference in the Skanda Purana, there are about 6 Brahmas. This is the era of 7thBrahma who is called Shatanand.
  10. The flag mast on the peak of Somnath Temple is 37 feet long and it changes 3 times a day.
  11. The saga of Somnath temple is related to moon god and curse of his father in law Daksha Prajapati.
  12. Non-Hindus doesn’t require any special permission to visit Somnath Temple. The decision was taken in view of security issues.Now, pack your bags and begin your journey to one of the most the sacred places of India.