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Rituals in Hinduism : The Touchstone of Tradition in the Religion

The significance of rituals in Hinduism starts with the ideology that rituals bring in social order to the society

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Yajna, a Hindu ritual, Wikimedia

– by Christina Elizabeth Emmanuel 

Feb 23, 2017: Rather than residing under the umbrella term of Religion, Hinduism stands out for being a held high amalgamation of social values and philosophies. It’s a tradition and a part of Indian History.

Traces of Hinduism dates back to 5500 BCE, say Indian archaeologists. Clinging hard to the concepts of Doctrine, Practice, Society, Story and Devotion, Hinduism emerges as a platform of customs, rituals, and norms and created a Social Structure.

Rituals being the ‘formalized behaviour’ in which a collection of people engage religiously, in a certain way of expressions and motions. Hinduism gives much importance to these special gestures or behaviours that paved the change of a Philosophy to start known as the Religion existing from prehistoric times.

The significance of rituals in Hinduism starts with the ideology that rituals bring in social order to the society. Performing rituals around what is considered as the ‘sacred’ brings in the consciousness of ‘Profane’ that distinguishes the high posited thoughts on ‘Holy’.

Moreover, rituals bring in a collective identity to them even when it breaks into several clans or groups. The shared experiences thus evolve from the performance of rituals binds the people together towards a moral movement and transcendence.

Complete abiding to the common rituals within the communal premises promise a social mechanism that might bring social solidarity and social mobility in an existing social structure. As Stark suggested rituals leads to the continuation of the voluntary strengthening of collective conscience.

Hinduism is one of the wide spreading Philosophy or religion, comprises of a huge collection of rituals that has to be performed every day right from dawn till dusk. Apart from the endless social significance it holds, there are numerous spiritual significance it presents to its people.

  • ‘Yajnas’, where chanting mantras to performing pujas and offering to deities around the sacred fire ‘Agni Deva’ who purifies entirely without getting impure is the most prevailed ritual that has been known and performed by a large number of people till the date. The ritual never failed in bringing a sense of fulfilment and gratitude in the performer as it is directly associated with the psychological cognitive orientations of faith, hope and care. Every festival starts with yajnas and every beginning starts with this ritual.
  • ‘Japa’, the recitations on God’s which give the performer, the sense of closeness to God, a direct speech with God also is a powerful ritual in Hinduism that provides spiritual enlightenment to its people within a short span of time. Research says that ‘Japa’ increases the concentration level of the performer leaving great relief from the mundane problems.
  • ‘Aum’ or ‘Ohm’, the first vibes or voice that was voiced out in Mother Earth, evokes the sense of divinity around in the performer. It’s not used by everyone as it’s considered as one of the most sacred word in Hinduism.
  • Right from taking ‘Prasada’ after ‘archana’ to knowing deeply about ‘Brahma’ and ‘Atman’ constitutes the rituals in Hinduism, which develops as the touchstone of tradition and culture- the way of life.

Next Story

Westerners Adopt Indian Practices, Deny Giving Due Credits

There is an argument by some Hindu liberals thinking “what the problem in it”? They think our knowledge is globalized by West in the same way we consume inventions of the West. But it’s a very naïve argument.

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Its time Indians in general and Hindus in particular should be vigilant and should have an academic mind set to respond to such misadventures to protect our own heritage and Dharma. Hindu Council Of Australia

By Shashi Holla (WA) and Surinder Jain

Colonial or a white supremacy mind set may be clever enough to adopt Hindu practices but denies giving credit where it is due. Stealing Hindu Intellectual Property, they do not hesitate to rename and repackage so that they can sell it back to India for immense profits. Off course, they will leave no chance to tell Indians to stop their superstitious ways and to adopt the new scientific knowledge which “they” have “invented”.

Following has been already digested or appropriated by West. Some of the Western academics don’t believe that they belong to India.

Yoga Nidra   AS  Lucid Dreaming

Nadi Shodhana AS Alternate Nostrils Breathing

Vipassana  AS Mindfulness.

The latest addition to this list is

Pranamyam AS Cardiac Coherence Breathing

Several researchers have reported that pranayama techniques are beneficial in treating a range of stress-related disorders.[29] But the latest attempt has taken the appropriation too far. An American magazine “Scientific American” in its article titled “Proper Breathing Brings Better health” termed “Pranayama” as cardiac coherence breathing. (15 January 2019). The article gives us an idea about how West is so sophisticated in stealing knowledge from ancient cultures particularly Hinduism.

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Man doing Yoga. Wikimedia Commons

Prāṇāyāma is mentioned in verse 4.29 of the Bhagavad Gītā.[11] According to Bhagavad-Gītā As It Is, prāṇāyāma is translated to “trance induced by stopping all breathing”, also being made from the two separate Sanskrit words, prāṇa and āyām.[12] Pranayama is the fourth “limb” of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga mentioned in verse 2.29 in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.[14][15] Patanjali, a Hindu Rishi, discusses his specific approach to pranayama in verses 2.49 through 2.51, and devotes verses 2.52 and 2.53 to explaining the benefits of the practice.[16] Many yoga teachers advise that pranayama should be part of an overall practice that includes the other limbs of Patanjali’s Raja Yoga teachings, especially Yama, Niyama, and Asana.[18]

“Pranayama” a department of Yogic science practiced and documented 5000 years back ( even 15,000 years back) by Rishis is not even acknowledged by the author of the article. If one read the article they vaguely suggest that breathing exercises also existed in China, Hindu and in Greek culture.  This is how appropriation of ancient techniques takes place by West.  As Sankrat Sanu an entrepreneur, researcher and writer put it in his tweet “after erasing the origin they claim it as their own invention, attack original traditions as Superstition”.

As famous Indian American Author Rajiv Malhotra summarizes: “The article standardizes cardiac coherence breathing as Chinese, Hindu, Greek and various traditions as equal origins, and then modern West turns it into science”. Its time Indians in general and Hindus in particular should be vigilant and should have an academic mind set to respond to such misadventures to  protect our own heritage and Dharma.

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The article standardizes cardiac coherence breathing as Chinese, Hindu, Greek and various traditions as equal origins, and then modern West turns it into science”.  Pixabay

There is an argument by some Hindu liberals thinking “what the problem in it”? They think our knowledge is globalized by West in the same way we consume inventions of the West. But it’s a very naïve argument. West has created an eco system and mechanism in which their knowledge system is Well protected and patented by international norms. Unless West does not give a new name and fits into their framework native wisdom is not recognized in academia and media. Whereas Hindus were generous in sharing their health techniques freely from millennium never thought they will struggle in proving things which belong to them. In fact in a westernized framework of Yoga and other techniques Indian scholars, insiders and practitioners are blatantly ignored. So our own knowledge will be repackaged and exported back to us at an extra price and conditions.

Also Read: Climate Change Will Melt Vast Parts of Himalayas: Study

Many of our practices are being called to be Biofeedback systems. According to WikipediaBiofeedback systems have been known in India and some other countries for millennia. Ancient Hindu practices like yoga and Pranayama (breathing techniques) are essentially biofeedback methods. Many yogis and sadhus have been known to exercise control over their physiological processes. In addition to recent research on Yoga, Paul Brunton, the British writer who travelled extensively in India, has written about many cases he has witnessed. (Hindu Council Of Australia)