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 201.07
A Study of the Various Customs and Rules of Daily Prayer Worship
Teachings in Hindu Scriptures for the Rituals at Home and at the Temples
-~ Level - 2 ~
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Lesson - 97 :
Prayers and Rituals Through the Ages
The Practice of the Philosophy through Prayers
Please see below
for Lesson - 02
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Hinduism, in a true democratic way, has given us the opportunity to choose any one of several paths for our practice that is acceptable to us instead of a single dogmatic path. This way, different people in varying levels of understanding and involvement and various stages of life can practice and follow the same teachings, though with slightly different set of rules. Even in the earliest verses of Rigveda, the oldest literary text ever known, the fact about "One God" worshipped by different name was established. The Vedas do preach the Impersonal reality, `Brahmam', as the ultimate Truth and not the personal God in any form. However, they make adequate room for such a personal God in any of the thousands of divine forms in various shapes and names as desired by each one of the devotee in their prayers.

This truth was seen in the Vedas several millennia earlier, before all other organized Religions of the world preached in their teachings. Many world societies, who were praying to multiple figurines as several "Gods" and Celestial forces without a philosophy, started following this path of "One God" much later.

Every one is allowed to pray to God in any form one wants as personal Deity or "Ishta Devatha". One may pray to natural forces or to a formless Deity through rituals, prayers or meditation. The daily practice of the religious faith and the philosophy is well described in the various portions of the Vedas. Many saints have written explanatory treatises on this, but there were slight difference in each one's explanation which has given rise to a subtle fragmentation of otherwise monolithic society.

Sometimes strong support given to one view started some forms of group rivalry among various sections of the community. The diversities in rituals and practice in language and culture were not able to destroy the deeper spiritual unity in their thought and practice. The leaders of our faith have always repudiated the claims from time to time, that the faith as practiced by any one school to be the exclusive means of obtaining a realization of the ultimate truth and liberation of the Soul or reaching the heavens.

 

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Lesson - 98 :
The Tradition of Rituals and Devotion
A Practical way to understand and follow the Philosophy
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The same Truth is preached by all saints and philosophers both in the philosophical and devotional paths. Sage Jaimini's Mimamsa essentially stressed on the rituals to natural forces as the ultimate path to attain desired benefits of life and liberation. Later Prabhakara and Kumarila modified these teachings to add some aspects of a role for God in the prayer rituals.

This has been the mainstay of the later day ritualistic practice of a large segment of the Hindu society, under the system of Smartha Sampradaya. They were also influenced by the teachings in Bhagavat Gita, Vedhantha or Utthara Mimamsa by Sage Vyasa, Advaitha teachings of Sri Adhi Sankara and Saiva Siddhantha teachings. All these contributed to their thinking and modified the Smartha way of practice. Though it was mostly a practice of Karma yoga as Upasana and Vedic rituals and Jñana yoga as the path of knowledge, by the priestly class, they also had some influence of the later day Bhakthi pathway of practice.

The Bhakthi pathway of devotional prayers and recitations has been practiced from ancient times by a group known as the Bhagavathas. Later it is being practiced by followers of many Vaishnavite and Saivaite Acharyas along with Agamic rituals and musical programs. They accepted a form of qualified monism and a life of devotion or Bhakthi to God in His various manifestations as the ultimate pathway. They all believed that the path of Karma or duties and path of Jñana or knowledge ultimately leads to a state of understanding the Divine to attain the ultimate path of Bhakthi or devotion as a way to reach Svargaloka or the abode of God.

This became very popular among the masses as it was much easier to practice. They had no great need to read and memorize pages of Vedic rituals which were kept in the exclusive possessions of the priestly class. Common people without a clear understanding of the philosophy or the rituals and scriptures found it easier to take the devotional pathway with blind faith that became very popular.

 
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How do we see the Supreme or Realize Its Nature

Everyone sees his or her own rainbow which is the sunlight reflected through water droplets. It is not an illusion but a vision of Nature where reality is covered by the limitations of our perception.

 

Similarly, every one sees God through their own vision where the Supreme Truth appears Himself for us in the Transcendant form through the covering of Maya in many manifestations, each one according to one's own desire, need and limitations of knowledge.

 
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Chapter - 7: Rituals, Prayers, Practices and Problems - Lessons 97 & 98
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Lessons: ~: 097 & 098 :-: 099 & 100 :-: 101 & 102 :-: 103 & 104 :-: 105 & 106 :-: 107 & 108 :~:
 
 
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