Hindu Heritage Study Program
 
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Hindu Heritage Study Program
 
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Principles and Practice of Hindu Dharma
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-HR 201.01
A Comprehensive Study of the Ancient Tradition and the Perennial Philosophy
The Principles of Hindu Faith - an Overview of Chapters II to VII
-~ Level - 2 ~
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Lesson - 07 :
Beliefs, Prayers and Rituals for One God in many forms
How the Gods in many forms evolved in Ancient times?
Please see below
for Lesson - 08
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In the ancient Neolithic age, when the human civilization started settling as groups in small villages, as farmers, hunters and traders, people started recognizing the social need for prayers to a supreme being and various forms of theology and philosophy evolved. Each of the communities had their own form and system for worship and religious practice. Most groups prayed for various forms of natural forces. Many social leaders and kings were elevated to the levels of a God and people worshipped their images. While nomadic communities mingled together through travel and war, many different forms of worship coexisted.

Many primitive people and later civilizations like the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Persians had multiple forms of worship of God. They had many gods, one for each form of force or activity. Reformed religious movements in the ancient times like the Judeo-Christian and Zoroastrian religions denied and opposed the practice of polytheism. Their Messiah had a spiritual experience and true revelation of the Divine. They opposed and eliminated all old beliefs and established their own faith of "One God."

Vedic forms of Hindu religion, where every one was allowed to have the spiritual experience and true revelation of the Divine, came across the nomadic and farming communities in villages who were worshipping the different forms of "Gods." They accepted all those variations in faith and worship rituals. They showed tolerance and believed that there are many paths to One Supreme Reality. The Agamas explained the several forms like Siva, Vishnu, Vasudeva, Muruga and Kali as manifestations of the Supreme Formless God.

Vedas also explained the Vedic Deities of natural forces like Varuna and Agni as many subordinate forces working under the Divine command of the Supreme Brahmam. Thus Hindus accept in one supreme God who is without form and has no attributes. He takes the various forms so that the people can comprehend His Glory.

 
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Lesson - 08 :
The Realization and belief in the Supreme Reality
One God in many Forms and one Truth in many Faiths
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Vedas, as in Advaitha philosophy, describe the Supreme formless God as Nirguna Brahmam. He manifests with His veil of Maya as Saguna Brahmam, in the hundreds of forms that are worshipped in our Temples and houses, so that the common man can understand. Each individual is allowed to pray to any of the manifestations explained in our Agamas, Ithihasas and Puranas.

Every Hindu who worships these forms knows very well this truth that all these forms lead to the One Divine Force and the various Images used in the worship are only for the sake of concentration to a figure for rituals. "Ekam Sat Vipra Bahudhah Vadhanthi" -- Truth (The Supreme Reality) is One but the Sages call It (Him) by many names. They all know that God in His true form or nature is far beyond comprehension. The Vaishnavites refer to "Him" as Savisesha Brahmam, as the supreme God who is not without form but without attributes and beyond our understanding.

Each one is allowed to pray to any form after accepting that form as their personal Deity, Ishta Devatha. They develop all the devotion and love to God in that form. They get the rights to perform the rituals after getting trained in the rules by "Adhikaras". Each one gets these training from a guru, teacher, a parent or an elder member in the family. When Hindus pray to their Deities at home or in Temples, they pray to images, statues or pictures. They are often criticized by the ignorant outsiders as senseless "Idol worshippers."

However, for the Hindu, it makes all the sense as they worship the formless Divine as Vigrahas. It may be a human figurine, a lamp, fire, water, Sun, a stone or clay shaped like a cone or Linga or just the formless space. It is no different from National Flag for a soldier in war, Cross for a Christian, Kaba for a Muslim or the Holy book for any religion. They are all just various forms of representation of a faith, to respect and worship.

 
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When we help another person in need, we should not wait and expect any favor in return and wait for it; it will come just like the tall coconut tree which takes the plain water poured at its feet [root] returns it back to us as sweet water at its head.
-- [ A Tamil Poem by Poet Saint Avvaiyaar ] --
The effects of all our actions as Karma will be returned back to us properly. But, any action performed with greed, and attachment looking for a return of benefit will lead to pain and grief only. When we help a person ineed, such action will be rewarded at appropriate time in a better form when we are in need of such services.
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Chapter - 1 : An Introduction and Overview of Hinduism - Lessons 7 & 8
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Go to Lessons: - :~: 01 & 02 :~: 03 & 04 :~: 05 & 06 :~: 07 & 08 :~: 09 & 10 :~: 11 & 12 :~: 13 & 14 :~: 15 & 16 .
 
 
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