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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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Shankaracharya: A remarkable genius that Hinduism produced (Book Review)

The irony is that most leading scientists, particularly outside India but also within, have little knowledge of the structure of Shankara's philosophy and the transparent interface it has with scientific discoveries today.

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He was greatly influenced by three basic texts of Hindu philosophy: Upanishads, the Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita
He was greatly influenced by three basic texts of Hindu philosophy: Upanishads, the Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita.

Title: Adi Shankaracharya: Hinduism’s Greatest Thinker; Author: Pavan K. Varma; Publisher: Tranquebar Press; Pages: 364; Price: Rs 699

This must be one of the greatest tributes ever paid to Shankaracharya, the quintessential “paramarthachintakh”, who wished to search for the ultimate truths behind the mysteries of the universe. His genius lay in building a complete and original philosophical edifice upon the foundational wisdom of the Upanishads.

A gifted writer, Pavan Varma, diplomat-turned-politician and author of several books including one on Lord Krishna, takes us through Shankara’s short but eventful span of life during which, from having been born in what is present-day Kerala, he made unparalleled contributions to Hindu religion that encompassed the entire country. Hinduism has not seen a thinker of his calibre and one with such indefatigable energy, before or since.

Shankara’s real contribution was to cull out a rigorous system of philosophy that was based on the essential thrust of Upanishadic thought but without being constrained by its unstructured presentation and contradictory meanderings.

He was greatly influenced by three basic texts of Hindu philosophy: Upanishads, the Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita. He wrote extensive and definitive commentaries on each of them. Of course, the importance he gave to the Mother Goddess, in the form of Shakti or Devi, can be traced to his own attachment to his mother whom he left when he set off, at a young age, in search of a guru and higher learning.

The irony is that most leading scientists, particularly outside India but also within, have little knowledge of the structure of Shankara's philosophy and the transparent interface it has with scientific discoveries today.
Shankara wrote hymns in praise of many deities but his personal preference was the worship of the Mother Goddess.

Against all odds, Shankara created institutions for the preservation and propagation of Vedantic philosophy. He established “mathas” with the specific aim of creating institutions that would develop and project the Advaita doctrine. He spoke against both caste discriminations and social inequality, at a time when large sections of conservative Hindu opinion thought otherwise.

Shankara was both the absolutist Vedantin, uncompromising in his belief in the non-dual Brahman, and a great synthesiser, willing to assimilate within his theoretical canvas several key elements of other schools of philosophy. He revived and restored Hinduism both as a philosophy and a religion that appealed to its followers.

Also Read: Hinduism: The Nine Basic Beliefs that you need to know

Varma rightly says that it must have required great courage of conviction as well as deep spiritual and philosophical insight for Shankaracharya to build on the insights of the Upanishads a structure of thought, over a millennium ago, that saw the universe and our own lives within it with a clairvoyance that is being so amazingly endorsed by science today. The irony is that most leading scientists, particularly outside India but also within, have little knowledge of the structure of Shankara’s philosophy and the transparent interface it has with scientific discoveries today.

Shankara wrote hymns in praise of many deities but his personal preference was the worship of the Mother Goddess. The added value of the book is that it has, in English, a great deal of Shankara’s writings. Unfortunately, most Hindus today are often largely uninformed about the remarkable philosophical foundations of their religion. They are, the author points out, deliberately choosing the shell for the great treasure that lies within. This is indeed a rich book. (IANS)