The Hindus believe in a lot of things, however, the basis of Hinduism dwells on some solid principles. Know all about the beliefs and practices of this religion.
"Truth is one; sages call it by different names." ― Hindu saying
One may worship God by different names, but ultimately it all meets The Supreme One. Hinduism is the third largest and the oldest religion in the world. Beliefs in this religion are an aggregate of cultural ideas, religious beliefs, and philosophical thoughts.
There are many practices that point towards reincarnations and liberation from the cycle of life and death. This religion is Dharma, the way of life, where all action is governed by laws. There are set ethics, traditions, and practices that form the basis of the faith.
According to facts, Hinduism is an ancient religion, believed to be practiced even before 10,000 BCE. The term 'Hindu' was not found in any texts or scriptures related to the religion. It is believed that the word was coined by foreigners, to describe people living across river Indus in North India.
Basic Tenets of Beliefs
The basic theme of Hinduism is based on attaining the following goals:
Dharma: This includes following the code of ethics and individual duties.
Samsara: This relates to beliefs the cycle of action, reaction, birth, death and rebirth.
Karma: The literal translation of Karma is action, deed, or work. It is the moral law of cause and effect.
Moksha: The ultimate goal of life is Moksha. This pertains to self-realization and the union with the divine through detachment from worldly desires. It indicates freedom from Samsara.
The Three Gods
Hinduism is a polytheistic religion. There are many gods and goddesses worshiped by the believers.
However, a few people also recognize this religion as monotheistic as it ultimately recognizes One Supreme Being or God. This belief is based on the pantheistic principle of Brahman. This means the entire universe is one divine entity.
The faith is also viewed as a trinitarian as Brahman is made up of three different entities, coming together to form a whole.
Brahma, the Creator,
Vishnu, the Sustainer, and
Shiva, the Destroyer.
The Caste System
One of the oldest beliefs revolves around the caste (varna) system. According to history, it forms the very basis of the Hindu society. Four basic castes have been recognized by the religion. An individual caste is governed by its own set of rules and obligations.
It is believed that Karma in present life determines the caste in next life. Caste also decides one's occupation, as: Brahmins: Teachers and priests of high caste. Kshatriyas: Warriors, nobles and kings.
Vaisyas: These included farmers, businessmen, and merchants.
Shudras: They were the servants and laborers, who did menial jobs, and were regarded as social outcasts or untouchables.
This system was officially abolished in India in the 1940s. However, the it still remains a part of the Indian society. It is said one does not get to choose their religion, but is born in it. However, there is evidence in the Upanishads, that one becomes a Brahman by attaining a deep knowledge, and not just on the basis of his/her birth.
There is no single authority in the faith. Hinduism is grouped into four major branches according to many academics.
Vaishnavaites: The followers of Lord Vishnu Shivaites: The followers of Lord Shiva Shaktas: The followers of Shakti (power), represented by the Mother Goddess Smartas: The followers of the Panchadeva or the essential oneness of five
Marriage is a sacred institution in Hindu principles. It is called Vivāha in Sanskrit, and is one of the saṁskāras.
Marriage is not a contract in Hinduism. It is a sacred union between a man and a woman. They are committed to each other, to pursue Dharma (religious duties), Artha (possessions) and Karma (cranial needs) with each other. It is a way to enjoy pleasures, prosperity, joy.
There are eight types of Hindu marriages, of which the last four are condemned, and not religiously defined. These include, Brahma, Daiva, Prajapatya, Arsha, Gardharva, Asura, Rakshasa, and Paishacha marriages.
The Hindu women wear Sindoor (vermilion), Mangalsutra (sacred thread of love and goodwill), and bangles. These are considered to be signs of a married woman.
Women in South India wear a necklace with a distinct pendant, and toe rings. Marriage, thus, is considered to be a union not only in the present life, but also in the next seven lives.
Reincarnation is a major part of Hindu belief. It involves the belief that the soul is transferred to a different body after death. Thus, cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth goes on. How one will live in next life is based on Karma of this life.
Those who live a life of kindness and devotion, will be reborn at a higher level, or have a better life. The ultimate goal of life is to escape Samsara and achieve Moksha (salvation). If one does bad deeds in life, he will be reborn as a Shudra or an animal. The sufferings and the well-being of one's life are associated with the karma of the past life.
Hinduism, therefore, is a very vast religion, thriving in rich culture and traditions. Family values are of utmost importance. One needs to respect his/her parents, elders, and teachers. A Guru or teacher is believed to be next to God, as he/she teaches the way of life and imparts the ultimate treasure of knowledge.