Hinduism | Origin | Gods | Belief | Books | Sanatan Dharma

Updated On: 1-May-2022

Hinduism is the oldest religion of the world which has evolved gradually over 7000 years. Hindu civilization originated in the Gangetic and Indus valleys and from there spread out over the entire region of Southeast Asia.

"HINDUISM" is a term that was coined by foreign invaders of India to designate the traditional socio‐religious systems of the people of ‘Hind’ or India.
Hindus refer to their religion as Sanatana Dharma, which loosely translated means “The Eternal Path”.

The Process of Spiritual Inquiry

  1. Who am I ?
  2. Why am I here ?
  3. What is this world ?
  4. How came death and birth ?
  5. What is freedom and liberation ?

All the above questions need to be inquired within ourselves.
(Annapurna Upanishad 1.40)


1. Who am I ?

This inquiry consists of investigating the true nature of the Self (jivatman).

2. What am I doing here ?

Once we have intellectually accepted that we are not what we think we are, we then turn our attention to the nature of the universe and our place in it. We investigate the nature of mundane reality, the origin of the universe and of living beings, and the interdependent relationship between various categories of animate and inanimate beings.

We can then investigate the universal problem of unhappiness and the meaning of life, and principally the subject of our duty (Dharma) towards other beings and the environment in which we live.

3. What do I do next?

Once we have gained knowledge about these topics, we then have to seriously consider what we are going to do with that knowledge, that is, how to apply it in our daily lives. What do we do about our own personal suffering and that of others? A theory of “everything” which does not lead to some form of self‐transformation and practical, universal application is simply cognitive reverie

4. What is the nature of birth and death?

The fundamental premise of Hinduism is that birth and death are the two alternating phases in the seemingly endless cycle of transmigration. This cycle has been set in motion by ourselves in the distant past, and the ultimate goal of all spiritual practice is to end this cycle. The cessation of this cycle of transmigration is known as “liberation” (Moksha or the “End of becoming” — nirvana)

  • Pillars of Sanatana Dharma ?

    Sanatana Dharma insists that the mind can know the Truth through a process of Inner Realization. By the realization of the Truth, one is liberated from suffering and achieves perfect happiness.

    Smartas

    The majority of orthodox Hindus fall into a loose category known as Smartas. They worship the Godhead in all its manifestations ,but usually choose one particular form as the subject of their personal devotion (ishtha deva). Their philosophy/theology is generally the Non‐dualism of Shankaracharya

    Vaishnavas

    People who worship lord vishnu are Vaishnavas. Lord vishnu stands for preservation. People who worship lord vishnu are mostly householders/married/family members. There are a lot of restrictions for vaishnavas. Most of the brahamin comes under this category.

    Saivas

    Devotees of Lord Shiva are called Saivas. Shivaism is most popular among Hindus since there is no restrictions as imposed in Vaishnavism. People who worship shiva are categorised into this group.
    Shiva is also worshiped in different parts of country under different names. Shiva is the lord of destruction. Lord shiva devotees are mostly for renunciate - sadhu, sanyasi, aghori group etc.

    Shaktism

    Worship of Devine mother shakthi or Devi is called shakthism. Shaktas use mantras, tantras, poojas etc. There are many forms of devi such as uma, ambika, durga, lakshmi etc. It is associated with female godess. Sakred text which include about shaktism are pooranas, devimahatmayam.

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    Quote Of The Day
    "The essence of Hinduism is the same essence of all true religions: Bhakti or pure love for God and genuine compassion for all beings."
    - Radhanath Swami

    Who is a Hindu ?

    The Mahabharata (Vana Parva 297;35) defines Sanatana Dharma as follows:— “The Eternal Duty (Sanatana Dharma) towards all creatures is the absence of malevolence (prejudice) towards them in thought, deed or word, and to practice compassion and generosity towards them”.

    Thus, according to this definition any who practices the above three things is a “Hindu” regardless of their theological or philosophical convictions.

    India’s Supreme Court, in a legal judgment handed down in 1966 has defined Hindus as:— “those that accept the Vedas with reverence, recognize that the means of salvation are diverse, and realize that God can be worshiped numerous forms.”

    Temples

    Temple is considered the abode of god. The main use of temple is to bring humans and gods together. Hindu temples are found all over the world. You might have heard about the world's largest temple Angkor vat which is located in Cambodia. This temple is not fully functional.

    Sri ranganathaswamy temple of Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu, India is worlds Largest fully functional temple. The temple occupies an area of 155 acres.

    Some other Major famous temples in India you may like to know about:


    Satsanga

    This Sanskrit term means “the gathering of the followers of truth”. It consists of a group of people getting together in either a house or a hall at regular times and singing the name of God together for an hour or so. The chanting is usually accompanied by a harmonium, drums and cymbals. This is the regular form of Religious service, which takes place in the lay Hindu community.

    Monasteries/ Ashram

    The monastics are all those men and women who have renounced the world and all formal religious expression. This means that they no longer perform rituals on behalf of themselves or others and restrict their practices to meditation and study of the Upanishads which deal with theological and philosophical matters, and the teaching of Dharma.

    When one becomes disenchanted with material life, and decides to renounce everything, one goes off and take up residence in a monastery (ashram).

    The life of a monk/nun is one of dedication to the spiritual path and the pursuit of enlightenment. All their actions are dedicated to the welfare of all beings.

    How many Hindu Countries in the world

    Top 5 countries with highest Hindu population as per year 2022 are as follows:
    1. 1) India
    2. 2) Nepal
    3. 3) Bangladesh
    4. 4) Indonesia
    5. 5) Pakistan