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OM, AUM

Hinduism
Many Paths to One God

Introduction to Hinduism

Hinduism is over 3000 years old, although elements of the faith are much older. It has no founder, no single teacher, nor prophets.
Hinduism is not a Single Religion. Hinduism is not a term which identifies a single set of beliefs or ways of worship. Hinduism is the practices of a variety of different religious groups which come out of India. 

The word "Hindu" was coined by the Muslims to refer to those persons who lived on the other side of the Sindu river. The actual word is the "Vedic Religion", the religion based on the Vedas. The Vedas are the ancient scriptures of India. The Vedic religion exists eternally in the spiritual world. It was revealed to the first created being in this universe, Lord Brahma, at the very beginning of this universe some 311 trillion years ago. Through an unbroken line of saintly teachers it has continued to exist in its original pure form up to the present day.

In the Hindu faith followers worship one God, but they have many manifestations of God. Many people perceive, however, that Hindus practice idolatry.

God has thousands of heads, thousands of eyes, and thou- sands of feet. He surrounds the world on every side. He is the world. He is all that has happened in the past, and all that will happen in the future. Yet he never changes.

His hands and feet are everywhere; his heads and mouths are everywhere. He sees everything, and hears everything; he pervades everything. Every eye and every ear of every living being is his; he sees through every eye, and hears through every ear.

He moves through the world assuming countless different forms; he takes the form of every kind of living being, and every kind of inanimate object. And he moves through the world without form -running without feet, holding without hands, seeing without eyes, and hearing without ears.

He is hidden in the heart of every living being. He is smaller than the smallest object, and bigger than the world it- self. Through his grace we can shed all selfish desires, and dispel all sorrow -and be united with him.

Svetasvatara Upanishad 3.14-20

God is supreme and eternal. The soul is God's spirit which dwells in every living being. God's power brings all living beings into existence, and sustains them. The bodies of all living beings are made of matter, which in time passes away; but the soul is eternal.

Gita 8.3-4

Hindus believe in the existence of Brahman, one God, or a supreme universal spirit from which the manifestations of various deities developed including the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma represents the Hindu principle of origin or creation. Vishnu is the principle of preservation or nurturing and Shiva represents the principle of dissolution or destruction. (See Also: Supreme Being)

Hindu’s believe that all man’s feelings, worries, joys, calamities, and successes come from the God. To attain peace, it is necessary to surrender everything to God.

Hindus also believe that existence is a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, governed by Karma.

Paths to Salvation

There are many paths to attain salvation. One of those paths is the path of knowledge (jnana marga).

Even if thou art the most sinful of all sinners, yet by the raft of knowledge alone, thou shalt go across all wickedness. Just as a fire, come to full blaze, reduces the fuel to ashes, so does the fire of knowledge reduce all kinds of karma to ashes. For there exists here nothing so purifying as knowledge. When in good time, one attains perfection in yoga, one discovers that knowledge oneself, in one’s Self.

Having specified what it takes to attain union with the God, Bhagavad Gita, specifies the means of attaining it.

The yogi should retire into a solitary place

The place where he sits should be firm, neither too high nor too low, and situated in a clean spot

His posture will be motionless, with the body, head and neck held erect, and the vision indrawn

Let a man be moderate in his eating and his recreation, moderately active, moderate in sleep and in wakefulness. He will find that yoga will take away all his unhappiness.

When can a man be said to have achieved union with Brahman? When his mind is under perfect control and freed from all desires, so that he becomes absorbed in the Atman, and nothing else.

The "classic" system of Yoga can be found in the writings of Patanjali, who brought together and classified a series of traditional practices and contemplative formulas. The essence of Yoga meditation is concentration on a single point-for example, a physical object or a thought. By dwelling upon an object one may cancel out all distractions that are associated with one's everyday life and thus achieve a passive attitude. This concentration, eka-grata, dams the mental stream of the mind. Eka-grata, or concentration, may be reached through numerous techniques such as decreased muscle tone and rhythmic breathing. By means of these techniques one may attain eka-grata and ultimately the highest concentration, samadhi, in which one passes beyond the human condition to total freedom.

Hinduism believes that to be in union with God, one has to work for the God alone, makes God his only goal and is devoted to the God, free from attachment, and without hatred toward any creature.

Hinduism also says that you can reach god through selfless action (Karma) and devotion to god (bhakti)

The principle belief behind Hinduism is 'Sanatana Dharma', which can be translated as "Universal Religion." "Truth is one, sages call it by various names," and "The whole universe is one family," are some of the core beliefs of Hinduism. Hindus believe only in one reality, which manifests itself in many forms, but not the physical form itself.

There are no time limits. God was there before the entire universe is created and remain after the universe is destroyed.

In the broadest sense, anyone can be a Hindu. There is no requirement to read any particular text or book. No need to do puja. The only requirement is that you should be committed to search for the truth. Then you are a Hindu.

Vedas

The vedas are the most ancient religious texts which define truth for Hindus. Hindus believe that the texts were received by scholars direct from God and passed on to the next generations by word of mouth.

Vedic texts are sometimes called shruti, which means hearing and for hundreds, maybe even thousands of years, the texts were passed on orally.

Upanishads, one of the vedas, is described as a talk between the guru and disciples. It is over 5000 years old. In terms of understanding human mind, no one comes close to what is written in Upanishads.

Hindu Concept of Faith

Hindus does not believe in blind faith. To them, truth cannot be given to you or borrowed. It must come from your own personal experience.

To a Hindu, truth is a matter of knowing. It is not a question of belief. You know it. It is not an intellectual faith. It only happens when you go beyond your mind; it transcends your self.

It is like when you fall in love. You cannot explain it. But you know when you experience it. Another example is the concept of beauty. We know what beauty is when we see a flower. We cannot exactly say what makes the beauty in the flower. You cannot cut the flower apart and discover its beauty. You have to experience it yourself.

Hinduism says that truth is something that you can experience. One of the central beliefs of Hinduism is that there are many ways to seek the truth and God.

You can choose the paths to your discovery of truth. Different persons may choose different paths. But they all lead to the same destination in the aim. Some may get you there quickly; some may be slower. But in the long run, all will lead you there.

So choose your path. Know the truth when you experience it.

Ignorance of the reality is the root cause of all the sufferings of humanity

There is a great tidal wave of spiritual bliss that is now inundating this parched desert-like material world. This entire world is jam-packed with people who are ignorant of the actual spiritual nature of the self. Hence, they consider their material bodies and this material nature to be the all in all. Such gross ignorance of the reality that lies far beyond the thin veneer of this material existence is the root cause of all the sufferings of humanity. Now, more than ever, there is a great need for a massive spiritual revolution to awaken every man, woman, and children to their actual identities beyond their temporary bodies.

Sankarshan Das Adhikari

See Also:

Sanathana Dharma Principles

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