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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 201.02
Some of the Basic Aspects of Hindu Religious Beliefs and Practice
A Short Note on the Evolution of the Faith, its Spirit and the Culture
-~ Level - 2 ~
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Lesson - 17 :
An analysis of the Origin of the Faith and Tradition
When did this Faith Start and Where?
Please see below
for Lesson - 18
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HINDUISM is the oldest religious faith in the world that is practiced today with a Philosophy and rituals just as it was done in the ancient times. It is followed and practiced in one form or other by about one-fifth of the population of the world, over 900 million people. It is often said that the name "Hindu" was originally given about 500 years back, by the Persian rulers who invaded the Northwestern India, to the people and civilization of "Sindhu" river valley.

Later the Western researchers and historians used the same name to the civilization of the "Aryan" people, settled in the Indus Valley about 6000 years back. Some modern Hindu scholars have quoted ancient works to show that the name was mentioned several thousands of years back for the land and people living between "Hi-malaya" and "Bi-ndu Sarovar" [Indian Ocean]. Perhaps "Sindhu river" and "Indus valley" were derived from this name and used by the Persians who came into the Indus Valley areas much later.

Western researchers had often mentioned that the faith originated from the "Aryan" tribes who came from Central Europe. However, most modern Hindus do not accept this theory. There were never any "Aryan" or "Dravidian" race that came to India from outside and brought the faith to the Indus Valley. These people and their religion existed here even when there was no civilization in Central Europe.

There were many groups of nomadic tribes and many civilizations to the West of Indus river up to the areas of Persia as well as to the East of Indus Valley, all over the Indian Peninsula. All of them followed similar faith and rituals though they were fighting among themselves. It was called the "Hindu Dharma". However, many Scholars referred to it as the "Brahmanical Faith", for, to seek, reach and join the "Brahman" or Almighty, is its ultimate aim.

Most Hindu Philosophers prefer to call it as "Sanathana Dharma" or Perennial Philosophy. The Vedic scholars refer to this as "Vaidheeha (Vedic) Dharma" because of the ritualistic practice of the faith as given by the Vedas. From Ancient times Philosophy has saved the Hindu Devotee from religious bigotry and religious rituals have saved him from ivory tower attitude of mere cold intellectualism.

 
     
     
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Lesson - 18 :
When did this faith start and how was it practiced?
How is the Religion Practiced over the Time?
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Most Hindus believe that their religion and its teachings are without beginning or end and it precedes even creation. The Vedas are like the very breath of Almighty God. Most philosophers do not like to describe the faith as a mere religion as it does not describe the practice adequately, since even an atheist and agnostic are accepted into the religion. Free thinking of the individual, questioning of the faith and reasoning of its teaching are freely allowed without a dogma.

The religion permeates totally into the life of every one born in the faith from the moment of birth all through his life and beyond, whether he is a believer or not, a scholar of the religion or illiterate. The different views and aspects of the religious practice are not contradictory but just complimentary. Every Hindu understands this fact that the religion accepts varying forms of worship and every one of the way the devotee prays, as the prayers for every form of God is for the same Almighty who comes to protect them. This is not a form of Poli-Theism but truly it is Mono-Theism or even Monism.

Hinduism, since the beginning of history, has profoundly influenced the lives and thoughts of countless millions of the people. It has left an impression on the entire culture of India and other Eastern countries even among those following other faiths; on their philosophy, art, architecture, literature, politics, sociology and everything in their daily living. People with Western education also are able to follow the practice.

Even people, converted to other faiths, though very marginal and limited, continued to adhere to some of the basic teachings of the Hindu faith as their culture. The main aspiration of a Hindu is to live a life of purity and simplicity with a sense of justice, follow the proper Dharma, believe in one's Karma and the goal is to attain Moksha or the ultimate liberation from the cycle of rebirths.

The religious Traditions and the Faith gives to a Hindu a certain peace and tranquillity of mind both in prosperity and in adversity, courage to face the problems in his life and a definite vision of his ultimate spiritual destiny. For this reason, it is often said that Hinduism is not just a religion but a whole way of life and a social practice.

 
     
     
 
 
Chathurbhuje' Chandrakalãvadamse' Kuchonnadhe' Kumkumarãghaso'ne' |
Pundre'kshu Pãsankusa Pushpabanahasthe' Namasthe' Jadhekamaathah: ||
-- from Syamala Dhandakam - by Kavi Kalidasa
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Oh, You with four arms, wearing the digits of the moon, with raised chest,
the complexion of red kumkum, holding the bow of sugar cane, the pãsa rope,
the ankusa and five flower arrows -- You are the One Mother of the Universe.
 
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Chapter - 2 :- The Essentials of the Hindu Traditions - Lessons 17 & 18
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Go to Lessons: - :~: 17 & 18 :~: 19 & 20 :~: 21 & 22 :~: 23 & 24 :~: 25 & 26 :~: 27 & 28 :~: 29 & 30 :~: 31 & 32 :
 
 
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