Archive for June, 2009

Hinduism in general II

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

Hinduism – Part II

Hinduism is not contained in any single Indian or Hindu scripture or in any single Indian philosophy known as Darshan. It lies in the essence of all of the Hindu scriptures and all of the Hindu philosophies. The extract of all the Hindu scriptures and Hindu philosophies make up today’s Hinduism. Ahinsā”, also spelled as “Animsa” (non-violence) and “Sadāchār” (good moral character or behavior) are the two basic pillars of the Hinduism.Ākārvād” (belief in non-abstract form), “Avatārvād” (belief in incarnation), “Karmavād” (belief in deed), etc. are among other major characteristics of Hinduism. Vegetarianism and humanism (non-barbarianism) are the byproduct of Ahimsa. Hinduism and Vedas were the very first proponents of “animal rights” and “environment friendliness” or “nature friendliness.” The ideas of “Vasudhaiva kutumbakam” – “the whole universe is one family” and the “universal brotherhood” are first given by Hinduism. The idea of purity or physical and spiritual cleanliness of place, environment, things, body and bodily organs, mind and thoughts, and of soul was first given by Hinduism. Hindus believe that God, Ishwars, and Devatās (Devas or demigods) are not abstract entities. They have definite form that can be seen, feel, or observed. “Murti Pujā” (Idolatry or idol worship) is the byproduct of “Ākārvād” or “Sākārvād”. Murti Puja is thousands year old in Hinduism. Initially it started with respect towards nature and the idea of seeing God in every object, every river, sea, mountain, tree, animal, or natural resources or forces that has pious relation with God or Godly figures. Later on it developed into worshiping of “Shivling” (Shivaling or Shivalingam) and “Shāligrām”, that has no face or extremities, then it developed into worshiping of full fledge Human figure creating more likeability and intimacy with the devotee. One can see murtis of all devatas (devas), ishwars, and incarnations (avatars) all throughout India and other countries of the eastern part of the world where ancient Hinduism was practiced. Indra, Varun, Mitra, Agni, Surya, etc. all have divine as well as mundane or worldly forms. Some Hindus believe in “Nirākārvād” – a belief of not having any specific form, but they still worship Shivaling or Shaligram. For them, “Nirākār” means “not having the worldly form” but “having divine form” and “Niranjan” means “devoid of any impurities of Maya”. The impression of polytheism in pure monotheism is created by “Avatārvād”. “Avatārvād” is nothing but revelation in many forms of the same single divine Supreme entity. “Pāp” (Sin) and “Punya” (Virtues); “Swarg” (Heaven) and “Narka”, also called “Narak” (Hell); are the byproducts of “Karmavād”.

One who really wants to know about Hinduism has to study its original scriptures which are in Sanskrit. Although their authentic translations are available in English and other languages, these translations are mostly meaningful but not true to its meaning or exact word to word, in which some of the words or names are changed or translated according to personal preference and understanding of the translator. For example, “Purush” is a proper name but is translated to “man” or “supreme personality”. “Hari” is translated to “Krishna” or “Vishnu”. “Akshar” is a proper name but is translated as “infallible or imperishable.” In these translations one may find quite different unrelated words used to replace the original words totally changing its meaning creating big misunderstandings, for example, “Parā” and “Aparā” Prakrutis are translated as “Superior” and “Inferior” Nature. In Hinduism, there is nothing like superior and inferior Prakrutis. Parā Prakruti is “Chaitanya” or liveliness (para means beyond or not observable by human senses) and Aparā Prakruti is “Jad” or lifeless (apara means observable by human senses). Secondly, Prakruti is Prakruti it cannot be translated as “Nature” in all translations. It is context specific. Similarly, Brahmānd is Brahmānd. The equivalent to brahmand is universe. It cannot be translated as “the egg of Brahmā”. Hiranyamay purush is Hiranyamay purush. It cannot be translated as “Golden man in the Golden egg or Sun.” At some places English equivalent words, that are senseless or meaningless, are used for replacement whose definitions are ever changing along with changing the real meaning of the original text, for example, Jiv or Ātmā sometimes translated as “Consciousness” but as our understanding of mind improves the meaning and the definition of consciousness improves. Consciousness is part or state of mind which is part of body, whereas, soul (jiv) is quite distinct from body (sharir). Let’s forget about the true pronunciations when the true meanings of the original words themselves are missing. Although they are extremely important, they are extremely difficult to perfectly achieve globally. Still, spellings can be standardized. Now practically, even if one wants to try translating the scriptures again “truly to its real or contextual meaning” and “as it is”, one has to study Sanskrit first, and after that if one still wants to translate them, one has to have time left in one’s life to complete thousands and thousands of pages of scriptures, which is next to impossible single handedly. One needs an organized and unified approach on a larger scale with lots of qualified or certified manpower and large monetary resources. It is now time to create a national and universal standard reference dictionary and glossary with correct unified and standardized spellings, pronunciations, and meanings as well as translations of all the Hindu scriptures. Hindu scriptures are valuable global treasure (just as natural resources) and international historical and archeological assets not just only limited to Indians or Hindus but also for the whole world. Indians and especially Hindus need to know that the time has come to take the lead otherwise others will take that challenge and also the credit for preserving the Truth. Indians and Hindus can take pride only for their geographical and ancestral relations and nothing else, if they do not do any combined and sincere efforts to preserve their true ancient culture and religious as well as philosophical scriptures. If others would find interests in them and does this job, then Indians and Hindus would lose that chance forever. Let’s not forget, what happened to “Ayurved”? Indians, did not do any research and development at home; instead they just took the pride of having it as their ancient system of medicine and gratified their ego. The result, they lost that potential future medical science to the western modern medicine. Sincerity and unified approach is a must, not only for survival but also for the universal progress and for giving back something to the mankind and nature to which we owe. In this modern era of super-jets and World Wide Web, each and every natural resource and anything that is created by and related to human beings are the combined intellectual as well as physical assets for all of the mankind to share. Just as we are part of “Go Green”, we, all together, are equally responsible to preserve and cure our ancient scriptural treasures and our cultural heritages.

Hinduism in general I

Friday, June 12th, 2009

Hinduism – Part I

Hinduism is like an elephant, which a group of blind men touch, and each describes it according to the body his hands had touched; to one the elephant “appeared like a throne, to another like a fan or like a pillar.” But none was able to imagine what the whole animal was like. To understand Hinduism one has to take the essence of all the Indian and Hindu scriptures and Indian Darshans along with the traditions and the lifestyles of all Hindus from north to south and from east to west of ancient as well as present India.

Hinduism is thousands of years old religion and religious philosophy. Historically speaking it is way more than 10 to 15,000 years old philosophy that started with Vedas (which are apaurusheya, meaning, without human origin, nobody really knows when and who created Vedas) and the Upanishads. After that Purāns came, along with the two major Indian History Epics (Itihasas), known as, Rāmāyan and Mahābhārat almost around the same time. Vālmiki Rāmāyan is thought to have been composed around 500 – 300 BCE. Mahābhārat of Vyās was also composed around the same time. Until then they were told through generations by mouth (verbally) in the form of hymns. Purans and History Epics both contain the essence of the Vedas, with ancient Indian history, social and cultural life, cosmological beliefs, and stories of that time along with the spiritual knowledge of the Upanishads for the Human beings. Then evolved the six major philosophies (Darshans) of Hinduism known as “ShadDarshans”, namely, Sānkhya, Yoga, Nyāya, Vaisheshik, Purva Mimānsā, and Uttar Mimānsā or Vedānt.

Sānkhya-darshan is given by Maharshi Kapil, Yoga-darshan is given by Maharshi Pātanjali, Nyāya-darshan is given by Maharshi Gautam, Vaisheshik-darshan is given by Maharshi Kanād, Purva-mimānsā is given by Maharshi Jaimini, and Uttar-mimānsā, also known as Vedānta-darshan, in the form of Brahma Sutras is given by Maharshi Vyās. After that many scholars, also known as “Āchāryas”, wrote commentaries on “Prasthāntrayi” – a collective term known for thousands of year old scriptures, namely,: the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gitā and Brahma Sutras.

The Upanishads are a specific part of the Vedas. The deep philosophical principles of the Vedas have been concisely collected in them. They are at the ends parts of the Vedas so they are sometimes also known as Vedānt. According to Maharshi Parāshar (the father of Maharshi Vyāsa), ‘There is no creator of the Vedas, and hence of the Upanishads.” (“Na kashchid Vedakartā |”) Exact numbers of Upanishads are not known, but, today, more than 108 Upanishads are available in book form. Of them, ten Upanishads are universally authoritative. They are, namely, Aitareya Upanishad, Bruhadāranyaka Upanishad, Chhāndogya Upanishad, Ishāvāsya Upanishad, Katha Upanishad,, Kena Upanishad, Māndukya Upanishad, Mundaka Upanishad, Prashna Upanishad, and Taittiriya Upanishad.’ Of these ten Upanishads the Aitareya Upanishad is from the Rig Veda. The Bruhadāranyaka, Ishāvāsya, Katha, and Taittiriya Upanishads are from the Yajur Veda. The Chhāndogya and Kena Upanishads are from the Sāma Veda. The Māndukya, Mundaka, and Prashna Upanishads are from the Atharva Veda. The mantras of the Upanishads are known as ‘Shruti’.

The Bhagavad Gitā is a part of historical epic of India, known as Mahābhārata. It is written by Shri Badarayana Vyasa. Out of eighteen sections called Parvas of the Mahābhārata, Bhagavad Gitā is included in the Bhishma Parva. The twenty-fifth chapter (adhyāya) of the Bhishma Parva makes the first chapter of the Bhagavad Gitā. Bhagavad Gitā contains 18 chapters, consisting of 700 stanzas or verses called “shlokas” in total. Of them 574 shlokas are spoken by Shri Krishna – an incarnation of God. The meaning of Brahmvidyā (the science of Brahm and Parabrahm), is embedded indirectly in the Vedas and Upanishads which is further clarified directly in the Gitā by Shri Krishna.

The Brahma Sutras are written by Shri Badarayana Vyasa, who is also the author of eighteen Purāns. Brahmasutras describe about the Brahm and Parabrahm. Sutras are concise and precise prose, that contains the essence of the subject told in a few short sentences with just a small number of syllables. Brahmasutras are comprised of four chapters known as adhyāyas, each of which is composed of four sub-divisions called pāds. Each pād consists of sub-topics called adhikarans. Each adhikaran consists of one or more sutras. The principle of Upanishads is presented in Brahmasutras in a logical manner. Brahmasutras tell us, logically, about who is the creator, supporter, and controller of the creation and why he has created the world? It discusses about the salvation called the moksh, the path (divine highway) of salvation called the “Archi-mārg”, shows different spiritual endeavors (Sādhans) in attaining the moksh, such as the Upāsanā (a specific path of devotion to Parabrahm – the Supreme Being) and the highest state of spiritual enlightenment called “brahmrup” state and clarifies all the misunderstanding about the moksh or true salvation.

Hinduism and theism

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Is Hinduism – Monotheistic or Polytheistic in nature?

Monotheism simply means belief in the existence of one God. Monotheists view God as the sole creator of the world, who oversees and intervenes in human events. They view Him as a beneficent and holy being, the source of the highest good. Some may strictly believe in one, eternal, unbegotten, and unequaled God. This understanding may be called as strict monotheism. For them the concept of Monotheism or God’s oneness is unquestionable and there is no room for the plurality of God. It is logically true that there cannot be two Supremes. Also, it is said in various scriptures that there should have no other gods before me. Its true meaning is, there is no God higher than Him. The Supreme God is all transcendental to everything else. There was no creation before God or in other words the creation was not there before God. The existence of God is before the creation – before the existence of everything else. Meaning the creator is the Supreme God. This separates the Supreme God and other demigods or godly powers. Hinduism clearly believes in the Supreme God. Other gods or godly superpowers (superhuman powers) are collectively grouped under the category of ishwars or purushas and are allowed to be worshiped as deities.

Unfortunately, the monotheistic belief in the single object of worship goes so much so far (religious exclusivism) that it tends to create possessiveness and bossism which ultimately extends even to the rejection of the monotheistic god or polytheistic gods of other tribes and nations with or without denying their existence. Extending still further, the rejection sometimes takes the form of violence and attack on taking away of others rights or freedom of worshiping. The end result, the monotheistic universal Supreme God becomes the monopoly of a few groups. The politics enters into the religion and ultimately everybody – all the children of the same Supreme God suffers. Hinduism does not believe in religious exclusivism. Anybody can follow or practice Hinduism and any Hindu is allowed to believe in any faith of his or her choice. Unlike relative exclusivism, Hinduism does not believe in religious conversion (dharma parivartan), it believes in spiritual conversion (rhiday parivartan). Because of its non-belief in religious conversion, Hinduism sometimes is erroneously categorized under absolute exclusivism. Hinduism is an open religious system.

Some ostensibly monotheistic religions may still include concepts of a plurality of the divine. They may believe in more than one forms, reflections, or dimensions of one single Supreme entity creating more than one figure of worshiping, thus creating an impression of polytheism. Hinduism, in general, believes in timely and purposeful incarnations (Avatars) or personal manifestations of one single Supreme Being for reestablishing Sanatan, Bhagwat, or Ekantik Dharma and to root out the evil forces or powers, whenever there is decline in the religious vows or practices and increase in the activities of the evil powers. According to Hinduism, occasional and periodical manifestations of God occur to realign religion and its practices in accordance with the time. The incarnations of one Supreme Being create more than one form or figure for worshiping according to the individual preferences, but for the worshipers all incarnations are worshiped as different forms of one and the same Supreme Being maintaining its monotheistic nature. There is never a breach or break in the supremacy of God. The supremacy of the Supreme Being is well maintained in Hinduism. Some may allow belief in God of one group at the same time accepting the belief in God of other groups to establish religious harmony, which is called syncretism. Some may even allow the belief in a separate god for every people and country, called monolatry, meaning, the worship of a single god or deity (upāsya murti) but without claiming that it is the only god.

Within Hinduism, worshiping a single god while accepting the existence or possible existence of other deities, known as henotheism, and the recognition of the existence of many gods, but with the consistent worship of only one deity, known as monolatrism, both exists. But, the Hindu philosophy clearly differentiates, which almost all Hindus know, between the single, one and only, Supreme God, called Purushottam Narayan and other deities like ishwars and demigods.

Some Hindus believe in strict monolatry, who worship in a strictly one deity or a pair of deities called “yugal (jugal) upasana” or conjugal worshiping in which God is worshiped with His chicest devotee (Bhakta), whereas, some Hindus believe in relative monolatry, who worship one main deity along with other companion or side deities, such as Hanuman, Ganapati, etc. showing utmost respect to them for their best devotion to God and as being the role model for others. They are partly like henotheists, who worship one god without at the same time denying that others can, with equal truth, worship different gods and partly like polytheists who worship many Gods. The most important thing that would differentiate them from being polytheists is that they still maintain the belief in one Supreme God in the form of their main deity and other deities they worship are understood as subordinate deities, demigods, or devotees of God. Polytheism simply means the belief in existence and the worship of many gods. Hinduism does not believe in polytheism. What Hindus worship many gods are in fact not gods but god-like divine figures or demigods (devas). In Vedic period devas were given the same status as Nārāyan or God has, for example, Surya Narayan and Agni Narayan. Later on Vishnu Narayan, Virāt Narayan, or Shesh Narayan were considered as Narayan or God. Since its origin Hinduism used to see God in every single entity. When one concentrates on that essence of God the entity is not visualized, instead God is visualized. It is like when one watches a game and concentrates on a player, one only sees the player and the field becomes secondary. When Gopis worshiped Krishna with utmost love, even milk, yogurt, or butter looked like Krishna to them.

There are two aspects of the understanding of monotheism. First aspect is that, the universe and all things in it owe their existence to one God, the creator of it. The one Ultimate Being is a personal God who is close to each individual and is the Lord of History, that is, He is involved in the world that He created. Second aspect is that, since one God is the Creator of all mankind, all men and women in the world are ideally brothers and sisters in relation to one other.

Hinduism believes in both the aspects of monotheism. Hinduism believes that the universe and all things in it owe their existence to the one God, the creator. The creator of not only heaven and earth but also of many universes called brahmands. (Anant Koti Brahmands) Hinduism also believes that the one Ultimate Being is a personal God who is very close to each individual and who is involved in the world that He created. Hinduism believes that the same Supreme God enters in the form of Purush in every little things created by Him. Secondly, since the one single God is the Creator of all mankind, all men and women in the world are ideally brothers and sisters in relation to one other. Thus, the belief in monotheism establishes not only that there is one God but also that mankind as a single unit in a unified world. Hinduism is at the top in giving this message of universal brotherhood. Not only that, Hinduism goes one step further to include all-living beings, such as, animals, plants, birds, even insects and the whole nature in one family by giving message of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” meaning the whole world is one family. In other words Hinduism is since long, long time environmental friendly, nature friendly, and animal friendly. Hinduism considers God as the Creator of all creatures, plants and animals too. Hinduism considers God as the Creator of all living and non-living entities in the creation.

Hinduism clearly advocates the supremacy of one God (Bhagwan) known by the title or name Parabrahm, Purushottam, Narayan, Parameshwar, or Paramatma. In Hinduism these are the few common of thousands of self-descriptive Sanskrit names of One Supreme Being. Using different names does not constitute polytheism or pantheism. Sometimes some religious groups or subgroups, under the umbrella of monotheism, may promote the omnipotence or superiority of one particular god within the pantheon of many gods.

A question may arise here that if Hinduism is Monotheist, how come there are many gods in Hinduism?

The answer is inherent in its basic philosophy. Monotheism in Hinduism is since Vedas’ period. It is mentioned in the oldest Veda – the Rigved, Verse: 1.164.46, as a part of a hymn to the Vishvadevas (gods of the universe):

Indram, Mitram, Varunam, Agnim, āhur, atho divyaha sa suparno garudmān |

Ekam sadviprā bahudhā vadanti, Agnim Yamam Mātarishvānam āhuha ||

Meaning, “They call Him Indra, Mitra, Varun, Agni; and He is divinely seated on nobly-winged Garud (in His abode); there is only one truth (sat), the scholars (vipras) call it by many names; they call Him Agni, Yama, Matarishvan.”

Hinduism never condemns previous god, previous belief, or previous system. Because Vedas are considered the sacred words of God, no Hindu can deny that. Hinduism always accommodates previous belief in its present version of understanding. Hinduism, from very beginning, believes also in religious freedom. When Surya (Sun god) was, at the beginning, considered as Nārāyan, Hinduism did not condemn Agni (fire god) as being Narayan. When Virāt (Vairāt or Vairāj) was, later on, considered as Narayan, it never condemned Surya (Sun-god) as Narayan. When Shiva or the supreme entity of the universe was considered as Brahm, it never condemned Vishnu as Narayan, simply because, Brahmā, Vishnu, and Shiva are considered as the three functional forms of Lord Vishnu for the construction or birth, maintenance or sustenance, and destruction or dissolution of the universe. There is no room in Hinduism for condemnation or disapproval of the content of the scriptures. When Rāma was considered as God, He never condemned Shiva to be his supreme. Rama worshiped Shiva at Rameshwaram. When Krishna was considered as Purushottam Narayan, He never condemned Rama and other Avatārs as God. The understanding of Hinduism, not the Hinduism itself, was developed or improved over a long period of time keeping God’s words in the form of Vedas and Prasthantrayi as its center or base, rather than remaining stagnant forever.

Hinduism clearly differentiates between one Supreme God and other gods. Ishwars – the Incarnations or Avatars are also gods, having not equaled but the similar godly title and power, and are all subordinate to the original form of one Supreme god Purushottam Narayan. Demigods, Devatas, or Devas make a totally different group. Devas or demigods are categorized subordinate in power than ishwars like Virat-Purush, Pradhan-Purush, or Prakruti-Purush but superior in power than the topmost of devas. Indra, Varun, Vayu, etc. are considered Devas or Demigods. They are not gods but because of their super powers they are worshiped as gods in place of ishwars or the Supreme God Purushottam Narayan. Hindu tendency is not to displease any spiritual entities, may it be devas, ishwars, or any godly figure. It may be inner sense of respect for them or fear of curse. Since Vedic period Surya and Agni are worshiped as Narayan, for example Surya Narayan and Agni Narayan and currently also the same tradition is maintained keeping Hinduism alive. Surya is one of the five highly regarded and respected holy, divine, and sacred deities, called Panchdev, namely, Vishnu, Shiv, Ganapati, Pārvati, and Surya.

Hinduism believes in forever divine personified (sadā divya sākār) form of God in His abode. At the same time manifests on this earth and in different brahmands in many different forms for different purposes and all are worshipable considering and never forgetting the one in His abode as the original form. Some Hindus may not share this view. They reserves worshiping the divine form only, whereas most others consider no difference between worshipping the divine form of God and the human form of God. Most Hindus venerate the God-realized sadhus or Sants as human beings who had remarkable qualities, have lived their faith in God to the extreme and continue to assist in the process of salvation for others. They work as messengers of God. One has to find the best of them before considering as the preceptor or Guru. In Hinduism not all renunciants are same. There are different meanings of different kinds of renunciants such as Vairāgis, Bāwās, Sādhus, Sanyasis, Aghoris, etc.

Additionally, Hindus also believe in dual form of Devas or supernatural powers (worldly and divine personified), each possessing the full attributes of non-divine and divine nature. For example, fire and Agni Narayan, Surya and Surya Narayan, Wind and Vayu dev, Water and Varun dev, etc., respectively. Karna, one of the central characters of Mahābhārat, was the son of Surya (the Sun god) born to mother Kunti. When Kunti invoked the mantra and called Surya, he appeared before her personally in the human form and granted her a son.

No matter how the scholars and non-Hindus translate it in different languages using the same word “god” for every spiritual entity, no matter how Hindus themselves interpret in different ways, or preachers of many different faiths try to convince or picture Hinduism in different fashions or modes, Hinduism is purely specialized monotheistic religion of its own kind. It is for sure a universally acceptable religious philosophy.

In India, there were also materialistic and atheistic movements in around 484 BCE. An atheist movement of Goshal Mashkariputra (also known as Makkhali Goshal) was known as Ājivik movement. Ajiviks believed in fate or destiny (Niyati) instead of Karma or free will. Atheist simply believed in non-existence of God. Sometimes, in some partly atheistic belief ethical values surpass God or Godly figures. Chārvāk or Lokāyat system of Indian philosophy similar to Nāstik (heterodox) or atheist system also existed in India around 600-500 BCE. The “Barhaspatya or Brihaspatya Sutras” are thought to be composed in Mauryan times, predating 150 BC, based on a reference in the Mahābhāshya of Pātanjali.

Now let’s talk about Monism and Dualism in a few words.

Monism or Non-dualism (Advait) in Hinduism is totally different type of understanding than that of Western type. Monism or Non-dualism means unity, oneness or non-differentiation between the universal spiritual entity like Brahm or God and the individual spiritual entity such as soul, spirit or Atma.

It also means the unity, oneness, or non-differentiation between the physical entity like the world, universe, or cosmos (Brahmand) and the spiritual entity such as higher or universal spirit or God (Brahm). In both types of understanding there is acceptance of basically more than one (two or three) realities and union among them is discussed. In the second type of understanding, physical entity like Brahmand is mortal and decayable whereas spiritual entity like God or Brahm is immortal and non-destructible. So the second type of understanding, that is, unity between two dissimilar things doesn’t make sense. In Shankaracharya’s non-dualism world is not-real and Brahm is abstract, formless and impersonal (nirākār), whereas, in Vallabhacharya’s non-dualism world is real and God is personal or having a form (sākār). Monism has different kind of meaning, especially in western society. Monism means the existence of only one reality, denying the existence of God.

Similarly, in Dualism, eastern and western beliefs differ. In Hinduism, the dualism (Dvait) is between the two realities – the creation or cosmos and God, as in Madhvacharya’s philosophy. In western philosophy, the dualism is between the two entities – mind (consciousness) and body, two forces – good and evil, two functions – mind and matter, and two basic natures – the spiritual and physical.

In theology or the theory of God, one can find many different variations or varieties of theism just as mentioned above. No theologian or theologist can deny the existence of one eternal authority of the universe or the Supreme Being, called the Truth.

What is Hinduism?

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

What truly Hinduism is?

Hinduism is one of the major religions of the world, well respected and practiced by many non-Hindus. It is highly regarded in the hearts and minds of more than a billion of pious and spiritual people around the world.

For most of the people and especially for the non-Hindus the truth about Hinduism has always been far from reach, because of so many factors. First of all, in this modern world of materialism and scarcity of time who, in general, has time to know others perspective of God when we do not have time to remember even our God? We all have to rely on whatever is being told to us by Hindus and non-Hindus. Another reason is, who, when and why we remember God? When all the sources of help in the frustration and unhappiness run out and when the person becomes lonely, then the thought of God comes in our mind. For most of us God is a valuable possession. It is an entity to be remembered or discussed once in a weak, once in a while, or to be kept in the treasury for the future need in our old age. Most of the time, we have no place in our heart and mind to keep God and His remembrance for every breath of our life, because we have so many so-called important things to do and achieve in our life. We haven’t made God – any God, not just this particular God or that particular God, as a part of our life. An important hindrance in knowing others perspective of God is our own predetermined faith or prefixed belief in God. We are almost always disinterested in knowing others perspectives probably because of the fear of losing our perspective or the fear of hurting our own ego. Some of the factors may be competitive in nature, bias oriented, or selfishness driven which are not advisable to be discussed and are better to be left on God’s discretion.

One of the important factors not to know much and truly about Hinduism is its thousands of year old voluminous treasure of scriptures, and that also, in Sanskrit. Sanskrit is one of the oldest languages, if not the oldest language, of the world, whose scholars are very few. Second factor is the vastness of its literature. Thousands and thousands of shloks (texts in verse) and short phrases (prose) in Sanskrit are there to be read and retranslated individually in its true sense without changing its meaning. Just to read them only may require even few years individually. Not all universities and colleges offer courses and research opportunities on Hinduism, various Hindu philosophies (darshans), Sanskrit language. Sanskrit literatures, and many other related subjects. Moreover, truly knowledgeable teachers or gurus of all the scriptures who also have achieved spiritually highest status are also not many and easily recognizable.

Hinduism is based on Vedas. Vedas are considered to be God’s words directly revealed to ancient rishis which were passed from generations to generations by learned people initially verbally and later on in book forms when writing was developed. Many of the books were lost, but the main texts are still available in their original authentic forms. Old translations and interpretations, both in Sanskrit and English, by non-Hindus and Hindus alike, are still lacking its true meaning. The real or intended meaning of them is found altered or somewhat distorted in translating to other languages. Although true translations are difficult to achieve keeping their original meanings and words intact, they really need to be revised by young, impartial, and knowledgeable scholars of modern time to understand true Hinduism.

Hinduism has two major parts or aspects to study: Religious (Theological) and Philosophical. For understanding its philosophical aspect one must study Prasthantrya or Prasthantryi – a trio of authentic scriptures, namely, Upanishads, Bhagwad Gita, and Brahm Sutra. Also one must study some of the authentic scriptures called Darshan Shastras on six major philosophies of Hinduism, namely, Samkhya, Yoga, Vaisheshika, Nyaya, Mimamsa, and Vedanta. Though, the English translations are available, one should bear in mind that not a single one can replace the original Sanskrit texts and thorough knowledge of Prasthantrayi.

One of the good things about Hinduism is its universality or global application for the betterment of life, society, and world. It is open for the whole human race. Its environment friendly, nature friendly, animal rights friendly, human rights friendly, freedom friendly, and peace loving nature would appeal to the whole human race. Anyone can study and follow major universe friendly principles of Hinduism and its message of universal brotherhood keeping one’s own faith, freedom, and religious practices. Irrespective of one’s race, creed, religious belief, faith, gender, nationality, social, economical, educational, or political status, and level of understanding one can enjoy Hinduism and its effect on one’s inner-self – the peace and stability of mind and eternal bliss of God in this very life under any circumstances. Hinduism teaches how to live a good life within one’s abilities and one’s own resources anywhere in the world. Hinduism provides guideline of perfection and, at the same time, freedom of worshiping.

Let’s try to understand and explore Hinduism by this tiny attempt of blogging.