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Introduction of Hindu Dharma

Hindu dharma is world’s oldest living dharma (religious philosophy and way of life).

Hindu dharma is over 8500 years old.

It is tolerant, resilient and peace-loving.

The root of Hindu dharma lie in the Indian subcontinent, in the Indus (Sindhu) valley which had 300 advanced settlements as early as 5000 BCE.

Hindu dharma is also called Sanatana Dharma or Eternal Dharma.

Hindu dharma has no founder, the word Sanatana implies that it always existed.

Acceptance of different modes of worship.

SUMMARY OF ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS

Harmony of religions : All true religions lead to the same goal. Revere all great teachers and prophets of all religions, respect their teachings as the same eternal truths adopted to the needs of different peoples at different times. Hindus do not seek to convert.

Incarnation : Whenever righteousness declines and unrighteousness rises, God incarnates himself on earth to restore righteousness.

Non Violence : Non-violence, non-injury and non-killing (Ahimsa).

Doctrine of Karma : Belief in the doctrine of Karma and rebirth. Ignorance viewed as cause of bondage.

Unity of Existence : All things and beings are the manifestation of one Supreme Being. When the mind is transcendent through spiritual experience, the Universal spirit is seen as the sole essence of the universe.

Dharma : Righteousness and good moral and ethical practices in accordance with the scriptures. Includes all duties -- individual, social and religious.

Humanism : Equality of all human beings, regardless of caste, color and creed. Respect and reverence for womanhood.

Atman : Essence of all living things and beings is Atman, infinite and eternal, unchanging and indivisible. True nature of the individual is the Atman, which is one with the underlying reality of the Universe. There is but one being, one reality "Thou art That".

Reality : The Supreme Reality (Brahman) is both formless and with form, impersonal and personal, transcendent and imminent. The supreme reality becomes manifest in various aspects and forms, and is known by various names. There are various ways by which individuals, in accordance with his/her temperament can realize God.

Moksha : Freedom from cycle of birth and death. To make an individual a better person, so that he/she can live harmoniously in this world and seek union with God.

Authority : Non-reliance on a single book. Has many sacred writings Vedas, Upanishads, Brahma sutra, Sutras, Bhagwad Gita etc.

 

CONCEPT OF GOD

The truth (Ultimate Reality) is one, Sages call it by different names - there is one God, (Supreme Reality) perceived differently.

Supreme Reality - Brahman has two aspects, transcendent (impersonal) and immanent (personal).

In the impersonal aspect Brahman is without attributes (nirguna Brahman).

 

In personal aspect (saguna Brahman) the God is creator, preserver and controller of the universe.

Saguna Brahman is worshipped in male and female form.

Hindu Deities represent various perceptions of a one God.

Hindus believe in monotheistic polytheism, rather than polytheism.

 

HINDU TRINITY

Represents Three manifestations of the Supreme Reality.
These are :

Lord Brahma : Creation

Lord Vishnu   : Preservation

Lord Shiva     : Destruction

 

Hindu Trinity (Trimurti)

·         Three Faces of Divine

·         Three Cosmic Functions of the Supreme Lord

·         Creation + Preservation+ Dissolution

Generator + Operator + Destroyer = GOD

 

FOUR ENDS OF HINDU LIFE

Based on the principle of progressive evolution of soul. Doctrine of four ends forms the basis of individual and social life of a Hindu. The four Ends are :

 

Dharma

  • Righteousness and good moral and ethical practices in accordance with the scriptures. Includes all duties -- individual, social and religious

 

Artha (Wealth):

  • Not an end in itself but basic necessity, one must earn enough wealth in order to raise a family and maintain a household

  • Wealth must not be for hoarding but for sharing with those who are poor, handicapped or less fortunate

  • Dharma and Artha must be coordinated in order to earn decent living while recognizing that artha is not an ultimate end of Hindu religious life

 

Kama

  • Denotes the wants and desires of body and mind in the form of desires, passions, emotions and drives

  • Satisfaction of genuine human desires such as art, music, savory food, sports, conjugal love, filial affections, clothes, jewelry etc. are not suppressed but must be satisfied in a controlled fashion

  • Through controlled satisfaction of genuine desires and passions, an individual becomes free from kama.

  • Freedom from sensual desires and passion is necessary for attaining moksha and is made possible by the proper coordination of dharma, artha, and kama

Moksha

  • Freedom from cycle of birth and death. To make an individual a better person, so that he/she can live harmoniously in this world and seek union with God.

THREE DEBTS DURING LIFE

·    First Debt to God that can be repaid by dedicating one’s life to the service of God - this is done by :

o        Service to all mankind

o        Reverence for elders, teacher

o        Practice of non-violence, truthfulness, respectfulness

o        Obeying scriptural injunction

o        Protection of the Earth

o        Vegetarianism or Purity in Diet

o        Moderation/Simplicity

o        Non-interference

o        Universality

o        Peace

·         Second Debt to sages and saints that can be repaid by

o        Reverence and and service to saints, sages and gurus

o        Transmission of the scriptural teaching and cultural heritage

o        serving the society and poor, without expectation of returns

·         Third Debt to one’s ancestors

o        Can be repaid by raising one’s family in accordance with the moral and ethical principals of dharma

TO FOLLOW TEN GREAT OBSERVANCES

·         Patience, firmness and stability (Dhruti)

·         Forgiveness (Kshama)

·         Self-control and contentment (Dama)

·         Not to steal or conceal, or be selfish (Asteya)

·         Cleanliness, purity and honesty (Saucham)

·         Control over senses and sexual energy (Indriya Nigraha)

·         Right knowledge of the scripture (Dhee)

·         Material and spiritual knowledge or study (Vidya)

·         Truth (Satya)

·         Absence of anger (Akrodha)


 

FOUR STAGES OF HINDU LIFE

Brahmacharya Ashrama

This stage begins when a child enters school at an early age and continues until he or she has finished all schooling . The goal is to acquire knowedge, build character and learn to shoulder resonsibilities.

 

Grhastha Ashrama

This stage begins at marriage. In this ashrama an individual pays three debts (service of God, serving sages and saints and to ancestors), and enjoys good and noble things in life in accordace with Artha-Kama-Moksha.

 

Vanaprastha Ashrama

After the responsibilities of Grahastha ashrama are complete (when one’s children have reached adulthood) one enters this ashrama. This is known as ascetic or hermit stage of life. In this stage one gradually withdraws from active life and begins devoting more time to study of scriptures, contemplation and meditation.

 

Sannyasa Ashrama

This ashrama is the final stage of life in which an individual mentally renounces all worldly ties, spends all of his or her time in meditation and contemplation and ponders over the mystries of life. In ancient times one would part company with one’s family and become a mendicant

 

SACRED SYMBOL – AUM

The most sacred symbol in Hindu dharma. Aum (OM) is the sound of the infinite.

Aum is said to be the essence of all mantras, the highest of all matras or divine word (shabda), brahman (ultimate reality) itself. Aum is said to be the essence of the Vedas.

By sound and form, AUM symbolizes the infinite Brahman (ultimate reality) and the entire universe.

A stands for Creation.

U stands for Preservation.

M stands for Destruction or dissolution.

This is representative of the Trinity of God in Hindu dharma (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva).

The three portions of AUM relate to the states of waking, dream and deep sleep and the three gunas (rajas, satva, tamas).

The three letters also indicates three planes of existence, heaven (swarga), earth (martya) and netherworld (patala).

All the words produced by the human vocal organ can be represented by AUM. A is produced by the throat, U & M by the lips.

In the Vedas, AUM is the sound of the Sun, the sound of Light. It is the sound of assent (affirmation) and ascent (it has an upwards movement and uplifts the soul, as the sound of the divine eagle or falcon.

 

       

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