Hinduism: What You Need to Know?

It is not possible to discuss on every aspect of Hinduism unless you are planning to read a tome! Innumerable books and documents have been written on this subject with varied learning and wisdom. Some have successfully brought out a meaningful understanding of the most ancient and heterogeneous religion of the world. The origins of Hinduism can hardly be traced back accurately. It existed before history began to be recorded in the annals. As a result of this, several historical theories are popular among believers and the skeptics. The origin is also mired in myth and folklore. Instead of going by dates, let us assume that Hinduism came into being before time itself began to be recorded.

The religion of Hinduism has built up as a way of life for the people who believed in it. Several sources have contributed to strengthen the core values of Hinduism. These values have a direct relationship with the kind of life that people should ideally lead. The spiritual awakening and aspirations of the society have also contributed into making Hinduism as we know it today. It is because of this intermingling of local ideas, philosophy and thinking that Hinduism is such a humongous body of doctrines, principles and moral codes. You will also find different sects and cults forging themselves with the main religion in a way that they cannot be isolated anymore.

The concept of idol or deity worship is a major part of Hinduism. These deities are mentioned in the Vedas. The deities are injected with human attributes and their characteristics and powers are clearly written about in the texts. The descriptions are so vivid that paintings were drawn up later on and have come down to us. It is usually the case that a deity is the God or Goddess of a particular domain. For example, Lord Indra is known as the God of thunder and lightning, Lord Shiva is the creator and also the destroyer while Lord Brahma is the preserver of the universe. It is through this division of domain that Hindus have an astounding number of deities to worship. You will find numerable stories about these deities, their likes and dislikes and anecdotes in the ancient texts, making these divine figures seem approachable and familiar. It helps the common unlettered man to feel a spiritual bonding with the deities.

It was also a practice in ancient Hinduism that society is divided into four classes with Brahmins at the top, followed by the Kshatriyas, the Vaishyas and the Shudras. Offering worship to the deities was the sole prerogative of the Brahmins. This rigid structure has stood the test of centuries and you will find this evident even today. The epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata have also added divine figures to the Hindu galaxy. Lord Ram and Lord Krishna, both reincarnations of Lord Vishnu, are prime examples. Saints and seers have also become one with these deities over time. A discussion on Hinduism is incomplete without a mention of the concept of karma. Hindus believe that your future is shaped by your deeds. The concept of afterlife and reincarnations of the human soul are also notable principles of Hinduism.

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The Concept of Dharma in Hinduism

It is because of interpretations over centuries that the concept of dharma as outlined by Hinduism has become clouded. People all over the world who are practicing Hinduism or are interested in this religion are curious about what dharma is. The concept of dharma in Hinduism is very simple actually. It is because of this simplicity that this concept has stood the test of time. Hinduism says that dharma is the set of laws that are applicable across the universe. These laws help a human being to lead a fruitful and meaningful life. It saves humans from pain and decadence. It is on this set of laws, or dharma, that a human being’s life can be enriched.

The ideas of Dharma are propounded in the ancient texts of the Hindus like the Vedas and the Upanishads. The epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata also contain the Hindu tenets of dharma. The Bhagwad Gita is another source of information regarding the laws that the Hindus believe to be dharma. In the famous book Ramcharitmanas, Tulsidas has written that another name for dharma is compassion. Lord Buddha has also elaborated on this very idea in Dhammapada. It is stated in the fourth Veda, the Atharva Veda, that dharma is what keeps the world upheld. The sacred books of the Hindus are packed with characters that represent the ideals of dharma as opposed to those of adharma.

It is worth mentioning here that according to the Hindus, dharma has a direct connection with the human being’s actions and deeds, referred to as karma. Karma is what you do and think. Hinduism believes in the concept of reincarnation of the soul. Your actions will determine your future and everyone has to pay for their sins, just as they would be rewarded for their good deeds. A human being can attain good karma by sticking to the laws of dharma as impounded in Hindu religious texts. Similarly, walking away from the path of dharma will lead to a miserable life. That is why it is imperative that human beings always do what is right.

At this point in the discussion you might ask yourself what you have to do in order to remain on the side of dharma. Hinduism has a simple answer to this question. In the Bhagwad Purana, it is written that these four qualities keep a person the path of dharma: purity, compassion, austerity and truth. You have to ensure that your life is embodied by the virtues of these qualities. On the other hand, the qualities of pride, intoxication and bad company will take you wayward. To be focused on the path of dharma you need strength of character and mind. You will have to take the right choice at all times.

Dharma is not a set of rules that restrict your way of life. Hinduism teaches that people who remain on the path of dharma lead successful, happy lives. It is the secret to divine joy on earth. The greatest gurus of Hinduism have taught that dharma is not for afterlife. It is very much a path that you can follow today for a prosperous and happy tomorrow.  

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