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Brief On Hindu Dharma Hindu is the oldest living dharma.

The term Hindu is a Prakrit language word derived from Sapta Sindu, a name by which Rig-Vedic people used to know their country. Hindu religion, which originated in India, has now become a Global phenomenon. Hindu is a label for an ancient spiritual and philosophical tradition. Hindus believe in Vedas and Upanishads, (known as Shrutis ) , and treat them as divine revelations. They believe in the existence of only one God known as Iswar. Iswar is formless, invisible, beyond birth and death or beyond beginning and end. Therefore, Iswara, referred as Brahm in Vedas, is defined as sat, chit, anand ( satyam shivamsundaram) referring to the eternal principles of truth , consciousness and bliss. In the subsequent Smriti scriptures Shiva, Vishnu and Shakti worship acquired predominance. The concept of trinity originated in Puranic period is a synthesis of the then existing paths of worship . In trimurti , Iswara has three manifestations. For the creation of cosmos he takes a form of Brahmaa, for the maintenance as Vishnu and for transformation as Shiva. Only Lord Vishnu takes incarnation when there is any disruption in the maintenance of cosmos. Powers associated with Trimurti are mother powers known as Saraswati, Laxmi and Parvati respectively. There have been nine incarnation of Vishnu so far and the final one would be Kalki at the end of Dark Age (Kalyuga). Out of the nine, Shri Ram and Shri Krishna are the full-fledged incarnations of Vishnu. However, in a detailed study of scriptures, we find that different names of Iswara denote to one and the same supreme power. The different forms like Shiva and Vishnu are nothing but the different ways people look at the same reality. For example, Iswara viewed as upholder of order is worshipped as Shri Ram and as an abode of a sublime world he is viewed as Krishna. Similarly as annihilator of evils the Iswara is worshipped as mother Durga. Bhagwat Gita acquires an unique status in this regard because the knowledge of all the traditions ie; Karma path of Vedas, Gyan of Upanishada and subsequent bhakti traditions have got merged in one philosophy here. Gita is the most sacred book of Hindus. Two main paths followed by Sanatani Hindus are known as Shaiv and Veshnav dharma. Arya Samaj came up in 19th century with major focus on Vedic tradition. Sanatan, meaning eternal, is synonymous with Hindus in India. The main deities having large followings through different epochs are Shiva, Shri Ram, Shri Krishna and Goddess Durga (known variously as Durga, Bhavani, Sherawali, Amba, Chandika, Gauri, Parvati, Vaishno Devi). Shiva and Shri Ram are the most important word in the life of Hindus. Most of the famous temples in India belong to Shiva. For some people Shiva and Shri Ram are formless Iswara . Kabir , Nanak and Rahim espoused formless concept of Ram. For many others Ram is divine Lord of Ayodhya and he is maryada purushottam or Imame-e-Hind , as Allama Iqbal called him. For a large section of Hindus Iswara in the form of Ram played a role as human. Hindus believe that people with great virtue can only utter this name while alive or while dying and Mahatma Gandhi was the one who thought that way. Even during death and last journey, the name of Shri Ram is recited by Hindus as synonymous to Iswar. The greeting among Hindus is also made by uttering Ram- Ram. Yet following of Krishna is deeper across the world today. Hindus do not worship the mortals or believe in animism. Deification is also not allowed in Hinduism. No temples or Samadhi are allowed to be constructed for dead people and

their idols should not be placed in the temples next to a deity. Similarly, any worship through given objects should be directed to Iswara only. The concrete objects also serve visual aid to comprehend the facts and reality behind them. A Hindu would worship any one deity of his choice , as worship finally goes to the one and the only Iswara. In RigVeda the Devi says she is Brahma or Iswara. In Gita the Shri Krishna says whichever of the ways ( prescribed in this scripture), one worships Iswara, it reaches to him only . The Hindu concept of God believes that Iswara is one but he is capable of manifesting himself in different forms. One can directly start his prayer to abstract Iswar or go from form to formless that means Sagun to Nirgun. Iswar is neither male nor female, yet he divided himself into two parts (Dvidha bibhakti) i.e male and female. The female part of Iswar known as mother powers (matri saktis) or Prakriti is his force through which Iswar functions. Sanatanis (except vedantist , nirgunis and Yogis) worship Ishwara in the physical form as deity ( not idol worshippers) or symbol. Any idol becomes deity only after Pran Pratistha in it. Vishnu is worshipped as saliggram and Shiva as lingam vigraha (consciousness). The deities may be visualised as Digambara as the directions serve cloths to them. In Hinduism desertion of cloths is treated as renunciation. Deity worship is treated as a initial stage of spiritual experience needed for concentration of mind. The worship finally is of the one and only Iswara. Thus Sarva deva Namaskaram Keshavam Prati Gachhiti, ie whichever deity you worship it goes to the one and only Iswar . The deities in the temples of Tirupati, Pandharpur, Vasno Devi, Jyotirlingas , Sidhhi Vinayak and others, are powerful Jagrit Devatas. They grant boons to the devotees, cure their ailments, bestow happiness and give Darshan. Wonderful Lilas are associated with these Deities. There is no polytheism in Hinduism. Siva, Vishnu, Brahma, Sakti are different aspects of the one Lord. As per Hindu scriptures ekoham dwitiyo nasti or Ek omkar satnaam that is God is one.( Eakam Sad Vipra Bahunam Badanti). The philosophical foundation of Sanatan Dharma is not closed by walls . Debate and questioning is integral part of Sanatan Dharma as it is treated necessary for enlightenment. This is the reason that Sanatan Dharma is not against scientific enquiry. Sanatan Dharma believes that the philosophy is born out of churning and accumulation of knowledge from entirety. Single most important theme of Sanatan Dharma is freedom in exploration in spiritual realm so as to attain mental clarity, peace and bliss. Sanatan Dharma has many dimensions to it as a way of life, value system for mental, physical , and spirited well being. The relation of a Hindu towards his Iswara is that of a child to his merciful father or caring mother, a friend to his friend or siblings. There is no place for fear in this relationship as it is not master and subject relation. In Hinduism the salutation to one another is expressed by saying Namaskar or Namaste. The salutation is always directed to the presence of divinity in human being thus to Iswara and not the mortals. Similarly, the meaning of Guru worship is directed to the divinity of soul (na hanyate hanyamane Sarire). Guru is one who shows path of Moksha and he is revered for the divine presence in him. One should have the ability to choose a Guru. Gurus are revered not prayed. Hindu never claims to be only or the best religion because it believes that realm of Iswara is infinite and abstract. The moment you standardize the reality or limit the realm of reality, you lose the way ( Hari Anant Hari Katha Ananta). Hindu concept of God is free

from partisan attitude. For Hindus, the creation is part of creator therefore; the concept of incarnation rather than Messenger..
The spear of Supreme Lord consists of planets and millions of universes. The Supreme Personality of Godhead has a huge function, and He requires assistants. Devta is not Iswara but are elevated souls doing assigned work under the direction of the Supreme Lord. In the Bhagavad-Gita, worship of different demigods or rendering service to them is not approved. The sun-god, moon-god, Indra and Yama are examples of Demi-Gods.

The mention of 33 crore Devta only refers to the elevated creatures having divinity , thus they are not Iswara. Similarly, the mahavakya of Upanishad like Aham Brahmasmi tells that the Atma or soul is a nucleus part of Iswar and body is just like a house to the soul. This is also known as advaita philosophy. The goal of life is to redemption from pain of birth and death cycle by merging into Iswara (Moksha). Death is transformation of soul from one body to another which will end with accumulation of good deeds or Karma through various births .Worship in Hinduism is also supposed to bring prosperity, purity of intellect and thought process in addition to happiness and fulfilment in life. It clears sins, saves from sorrow, and provides peace. Every man is potentially divine. Thus there can be Awatara (incarnation) in one of the divine human being. The interaction between creator and creation is continuous. Hinduism talks not only of all humanity but also all living creatures including animals and plants. This is the reason that different kind of creatures and animals also find place in the Hindu realm of divinity. He is the one support of everything, the witness, the bestower of intelligence, beyond all dualities and free from the gunas. Adi Shankara established four Mahs to guide the Hindu religion. These are at Sringeri in Karnataka in the south, Dwaraka in Gujarat in the west, Puri in Orissa in the east, and Jyotirmath (Joshimath) in Uttarakhand in the north. They are authentic places for pilgrims. Thus Hindu is as much an organised religion as a value system and way of life. If you are born as Hindus you are chosen few with glorious past, blessed one to be inheritor of the oldest and greatest Dharma and philosophy of mankind. Liberty is greatest asset of humanity and no liberty is greater than liberty of choosing your Gods/Goddesses or none. Hindus are encouraged to follow necessary rituals and sacraments or sanskaras which are associated with different stages in the life of an individual. For example Hindu marriage is a sacrament and not a contract and the relations like husband and wife are eternal. Marriage of a daughter has special religious importance for a Hindu, therefore the groom must be virtuous Hindu. For the happiness in life a Hindus is expected to be regular in community puja and dhyan every morning. Sociologists tell that the biggest change in human history is gradual shift from community life to individualistic life which is reason for psychological disorders, increasing stress level and tensions. Though in recent years there is gradual rise in community life among Hindus, through different forms like Bhajan , Yoga and meditation camps but it needs to be institutionalised. Therefore, all out efforts should be made to bring people together through morning prayers, katha listening, and Bhajan in community halls or temple premises . For the Hindus ,physical well being is as important as spiritual realisation ( Sarira madhyam khalu dharma Saadhanam).The life of a Hindu is interwoven through various sacraments and rituals under a sublime philosophy of Dharma, Artha ,Kama and Moksha, therefore, rituals should not be interpreted in isolation. Every Hindus should aspire for community life in order to fulfil his spiritual and worldly goals. Every Hindu should celebrate all Hindu holy days. Hindus should also celebrate Mahabir Jayanti ( by visiting Jain temple), Buddha Purniman ( by visiting

Vihara or remembering enlightened soul of Lord Buddha)) and Guru Nanak Jayanti (by visiting Gurudwara) . Every Hindu should contribute to the Daanpatra to be used for community welfare .There is special importance of pilgrimage in Hindu religion and the temples are places of worship. Making small temples at home should be resorted only with due process of Pran pratista and Vastu , however, daily puja should be done at home even when there is no temple. Thus it is not temple at home rather devotion which is important. Parents should teach their children the Hindu philosophy, teach them Sanskrit language and values, Hinduism has an unique and rich corpus of collective wisdom of Rishika (females sages) and Rishi (male). The Hinduism is open for tremendous potentialities of human mind therefore enlightenment and self realization. Universal humanism, egalitarianism and believe in welfare of animate and inanimate is inbuilt in Hindu Philosophy. Believe in reincarnation thus soul does not die it takes rebirth in different bodies. Any willing person can accept Hindu religion without any ceremony and on his own by accepting values and cultural way of Hindus . As a social system Hindu dharma does not believe in discrimination between men and women and men and men. The caste system based on birth has no religious sanction . It also gives similar rights to all the living creatures treating the nature as mother therefore the exploitation of nature does not arise. Basic Beliefs of Hindu Dharma are summarised below : 1. Reverence for our Revealed Scriptures :-Hindus believe in the divinity of the Vedas, the worlds most ancient scripture, and venerate the Agamas as sacred scriptures. These primordial hymns are Iswaras (Gods) word and the bedrock of Sanatana Dharma, which is the eternal religion (which has neither beginning nor end). 2. All Pervasive Divinity:- Hindus believe in a one, all-pervasive Supreme Being who is both immanent and transcendent, both Creator and un-manifest Reality. 3. Three Worlds and Cycles of Creation:- Hindus believe there are three worlds of existence-physical, astral and causal-and that the universe undergoes endless cycles of creation, preservation and dissolution. 4. The Law of Karma and Dharma and Mokshya :-Hindus believe in Karma- the law of cause and effect by which each individual creates his own destiny by his thoughts, words and deeds-and in dharma, righteous living. Ultimate aim of life is attainment of Mokshya which is freedom from cycle of birth and death by merging in the creator. 5. Reincarnation and Liberation :-Hindus believe that the soul reincarnates, evolving through many births until all Karmas have been resolved, and moksha-spiritual knowledge and liberation from the cycle of rebirth-is attained not a single soul will be eternally deprived of this destiny. 6. Temples and the inner words :-Hindus believe that divine beings exist in unseen worlds and that temple worship, rituals, sacraments as well as personal devotional create a communion with these devas and Gods. They believe that an awakened master or Satguru can help in leading you to right direction. 7. Creation is not different from creator :-Hindus believe in the immortality of soul and soul as a part of Iswara. 8. Compassion and Non-injury:-Hindus believe that all life is sacred, to be loved andrevered, and therefore, practice ahimsa, no injury 9 Genuine Respect for Other Faiths:- Hindus believe that no particular religion teaches the only way to salvation above all others, but that all genuine religions paths are facets of Gods Pure Love and Light deserving tolerance and understanding.

What are the important holidays within Hinduism?

Among the most prevalent holidays observed are:

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

A period of 10 days called Nav Rathri-Vijay Dashmi Dashera. During this period Shakti or the feminine power (Goddess) is worshipped. Deepavali. This festival symbolizes the victory of Sri Ram (good over evil) Holi- festival of colors and Spring, celebrating the harvest season ( Shri Krishna is worshipped). Shivarathri - night of deep meditation in the name of Shiva. Sri Krishna Jayanti - birthday of Lord Krishna. Raksbandhan - renewing bonds between brothers and sisters. Ganesha-Chaturthi - when icons of the elephant God are immersed in the sea.

8.Rama Navami (Birthday of Lord Rama)

Moral Codes for Hindus :- There are also moral codes provided in the Shandilya and Varuha Upanishads and scriptures on Yogasutra of Patanjali etc. Twenty ethical guidelines called Yama and Niyama ( restraints and observances) are prescribed to control vitarka (cruel thoughts). The ten Yamas , the do notes, harness the instinctive nature ,with its governing impulses of fear, anger, jealousy, selfishness, greed and lust. Ten Niyamas, the dos ,that cultivate refined soul qualities for higher level of consciousness include compassion, selflessness, intelligence and bliss.

Hindu Sanskaras- Sanskar mean sacrament . Hindu rites of passage mark the important stages in life of an individual .The Upanishads mention samskaras as a means to grow and prosper in all four aspects of human pursuit Dharma (righteousness),Artha (wealth), Kama (work and pleasure), and Moksha (salvation). Sanskaras are religious occasions and provide legitimacy to social actions. Samskaras provide sound mental and physical health and the confidence to face life's challenges. These samskaras bind an individual to his inner soul and the community that nurture the feeling of brotherhood. A person whose actions are connected to the others around him would definitely think twice before committing a sin. Lack of samskaras give rise to indulgence in individual physical pleasures and fanning one's animal instincts. So, the samskaras also act as a moral code of conduct for the society. There are 16 samskaras that Rishi Veda Vyas propounded. They are Garbhadhana ,Punswana ,Seemantonnayana , Jatkarma ,Namkarana , Niskramana ,.Annaprasha, Chudakarma or Keshanta karma ,Karnavedha,,Upanayana ,Vedarambha ,Samavartana, Vivaha, Vivahagni , Tretagnisangraha, Antyeshti . Five Important Practices in Hinduism 1 Upasana, Worship: Upasana includes daily worship in the home or temple, performing pujas, sadhana, devotional singing, yoga asanas, dhyana and scriptural study. Devotion to God fills the heart with contentment, serenity, confidence and hope. It helps us

cope with the hardships of life and nurtures the spiritual purpose of life to seek Realization of Godenlightenment. 2 Utsava, Holy Days: Participating in Hindu festivals and holy days in the community gatherings and at home . Religious celebrations and festivals cultivate faith in God and our innate spirituality, making us dedicate time and effort for spiritual purpose through participation. Utsava also includes taking customary vows of penance specified in the observance of some holy days such as fasting, being vegetarian, taking kavadi, etc. Attending the temple on Tuesdays and Fridays, and celebration on Hindu festivals. 3 Dharma, Virtuous Living: In dharma we dedicate our self to live up to our responsibilities and word in all aspects of our life. We learn to be selfless by being respectful and considerate to others, especially to our elders, mentors and spiritual preceptor. We pledge to live a virtuous life, being generous in giving to causes close to our heart , uplift of poor in the community and dalits , helping the sick, spread of Dharma and living in harmony with community and nature. 4 Tirthayatra, Pilgrimage: Going on pilgrimages to faraway sacred sites and temples is an important practice enjoined on Hindus. It is advised that Hindus go on pilgrimage at least once every few years if not every year. Preparing and going for pilgrimage is a serious commitment for a Hindu and usually entails doing specified spiritual disciplines such as being vegetarian or other kinds of penance in preparation and during the pilgrimage. The pilgrimage is a period of time wholly dedicated to ones spiritual development and a time to nurture deeper relationship with God. 5 Samskara, Rites of Passage: Samskaras for Hindus are sacraments that mark and sanctify their passage through different stages of life. These rites of passage are religious occasions that foster the ties of individuals with their community and invoke the blessings of the Divine at important psychological junctures in ones journey from life to death.

Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, and other Indic religions are streams or offshoots of Sanatan Dharma. They share common value system having believe in theory of Karma, idea of Dharma, unity of cosmos, Omkar, Nirvana, Sansara, Jeevatva and theory of incarnation and all of them treat saffron as holy colour and a mark of renunciation .Yet they agree to disagree in number of believes. Lord Buddha, Lord Mahavira and Guru Nanak are revered by all Hindus. All Hindus worship the primordial Devadidev ( God of Gods) that is Shiva . Bhagvat Gita is sacred book for all Hindus . All Hindus treat the mother of Indo-European languages i.e; Sanskrit as a divine language . The most sacred word for Hindus is Om and most important important mantra is Gayatri Mantra.