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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 - 23 :
Faiths, Beliefs and Doubts Among Hindus
Doubts, Reasoning, Analysis and Questions!
Please see below
for Lesson - 24
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In a religious practice following a faith and texts that are revealed rather than rational thinking, questioning can not take place, as inquiry is taboo and doubts are irreverent, unacceptable and they will be considered blasphemous. The spirit of inquiry, doubts and questioning are the very foundation of science, technology, literature and any historical investigation. In a true perspective, questioning indicates modesty and ignorance, whereas total acceptance of what is said indicates that you are sure of what you are learning, or may be just a blind faith of a dogma. The faith never says "So it is Written; so it shall be Done."

Hinduism, from ancient days, permits its devotees to study the teachings, accept different meanings and interpretations, question, reason and analyze what is being taught as Truth. This has given a greater understanding and improvement of the religious practice and made the faith and the teachings stronger. It accepted adjustments to accommodate these new ideas and made Hinduism much stronger faith among its followers.

Any theory proposed by the Hindu leaders that was not accepting "God" as supreme was rejected. Strong objections and alternate thoughts and beliefs, at times, created splinter groups and new religious branches. Often the conflicts occurred between the various paths of approach to Vedic teachings and interpretations. Often when rituals became popular to lead to a blind following, philosophy and principles had to be established. As early as in the period of Srimad Bhagvat Gita, Sri Krishna objected to pure ritualistic practice and put the philosophy in the forefront.

Later Gautama Buddha revealed the same and opposed to rituals. He also opposed the concept of God and teachings of Vedas and this lead to the start of Buddhism. As his teaching were becoming popular, some Hindus started accepting Him for His good teachings of ahimsa. He became one of the ten important Incarnations of Mahavishnu. About the same time, Sri Mahavira established a faith as Jainism. Both these religions accepted a Master and his teachings without accepting or describing the form of a Supreme Divine force as God or prescribing any "Vedic rituals" to Him.

 
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Lesson - 24 :
Reason, Question, Analyze and Accept the Teachings
Faith, Devotion, Surrender and Worship of the Divine in any form
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There are several forms of Religious practice of Hinduism as followed by different groups of people. Each family may have a slightly different way of following the scriptures, though all of them have a common link and many similarities. The most common form of the faith is the Brahmanism (Prayers to Brahman or Vedic Hinduism) where practice is very ritualistic following the Vedas and Smritis as in the Smartha Sampradaya.

Followers of Poorva Mimaamsa School of Sage Jaimini stressed on rituals and karma as more important for our life and liberation, even ignoring any prayers to God. Rituals, Karma, devotion and prayers to God were put together in Utthra Mimaamsa (Vedantha) School of Sage Vyasa.

Some people shunned away from rituals and studied the Vedic scriptures and its philosophy and followed Vedantha. The Agamic Hinduism, is seen in Saiva, Saktha and Vaishnava forms of Hinduism, which follow the Agamas. They pray in Temples, to Deities as manifestations, with Para Bhakthi and Apara Bhakthi, the devotional forms of worship.

Many Hindus join with other groups following different types of worship in a common religious practice and all of them follow the same philosophy. The Vedas are concerned not only with man's longing for the supreme goal of oneness with God and escape from the cycle of reincarnation, but also with his more immediate impulse towards simple pleasures of living on earth and happiness in Heaven. These can be achieved with the help of rituals and prayers to God, several forms of gods, Gurus and Super- Human beings and by service to the society and discharge of social obligations.

Vedas describe prayers to various forms of gods and many rituals for daily practice in addition to the Philosophy. While most Hindus accepted the same principles of Vedas, the interpretations often changed. Then, there was the atheistic "Chaarvaaka" who did not believe in any form of a God or in Karma or reincarnations, but only in Artha and Kama. His writings are not available now, but some sketchy references are available in other works.

 
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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.
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The religion 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 Proper Path for his/her ultimate spiritual destiny.

 
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Chapter - 2 :- The Essentials of the Hindu Traditions - Lessons 23 & 24
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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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