'Under the name of Hinduism there still exists in India today a system of religion which embraces all the religious thought of the world. It stands like a huge Banyan tree, spreading its far reaching branches over hundreds of sects, creeds and denominations, and covering with its innumerable leaves, all forms of worship…"
- Swami Abhedananda
For Hindus the attainment of spiritual perfection and freedom is the aim of life and the purpose of human birth. There are basic human values that are regarded as preliminary in this quest. The Hindu scriptures give several lists of virtues, which stem from the five cardinal virtues of:
- Purity – implies both internal and external cleanliness, straightforwardness, frankness, innocence and freedom from envy, pride and malice.
- Self-control-implies both the control of the flesh and the control of the mind. It means moderation and self-mastery, not self-torture.
- Detachment - from the enticement of perishable objects and attachment to the imperishable spirit.
- Truth - means not mere truth speaking but the supreme Truth viz. God who is the source and sustenance of all existence and the spring of all values. The surest way to realize this principle is to be truthful in thought, word and deed.
- Non-violence-is the expression of Truth.If Truth is the all, then nothing should be injured. It means refraining from giving pain to any creature in any way and it also means perfect love towards all.
With these virtues as a foundation the Hindu pursues his search for God along the path that suits his nature. Hinduism sees man as being a combination of body (action), emotions (feelings), will (thoughts) and intellect (discrimination). Each of these facets of an individual’s personality can be made perfectly attuned to the Divine – this is called Yoga or union of the individual soul with the universal Soul.
The ways to this union are also called Yogas. There are four Yogas, which correspond to each of the facets mentioned above. According to one’s nature, one Yoga will be predominant. They are all practical methods involving various disciplines that take one to the goal of 'Moksha’ or God-realization. This is brought out in the famous aphorism of Swami Vivekananda:
"Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work (Karma Yoga or yoga of action) or worship (Bhakti Yoga or yoga of devotion - feelings) or psychic control (Raja-Yoga or yoga of meditation - will) or philosophy (Jnana-Yoga or yoga of knowledge- discrimination) – by one or more or all of these – and be free. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines or dogmas or rituals or books or temples or forms are but secondary details."
Nine basic beliefs of Hinduism
(Compiled by 'Hinduism Today')
"Copyright Hinduism Today. 107 Kaholalele Road, Kapaa, HI, 96746 USA
used with permission."
1.Hindus believe in the divinity of the Vedas
The Vedas are the world’s most ancient scriptures and venerate the Agamas as equally revealed. These primordial hymns are God’s word and the bedrock of Sanatana Dharma, the eternal religion which has neither beginning nor end.
2.Hindus believe in one, all pervading God
One all pervasive God who is both immanent and transcendent, both Creator and Unmanifest Reality.
3.Hindus believe in endless cycles of creation
Hindus believe that the universe undergoes endless cycles of creation, preservation and dissolution.
4.Hindus believe in Karma
Hindus believe in Karma, the law of cause and effect by which each individual creates his own destiny by his thoughts, words and deeds.
5.Hindus believe that the soul reincarnates
Evolving through many births until all Karmas have been resolved, and Moksha, spiritual knowledge and liberation from the cycle of rebirth , is attained. Not a single soul will be eternally deprived of this destiny.
6.Hindus believe that divine beings exist
Hindus believe that divine beings exist in unseen worlds and that temple worship, rituals, sacraments as well as personal devotionals create a communion with these Devas and Gods.
7.Hindus believe that Guru is essential
Hindus believe that a spiritually awakened master or satguru, is essential to know the Transcendental Absolute, as are personal discipline, good conduct, purification, pilgrimage, self-inquiry and meditation.
8.Hindus believe that all life is sacred
All life is to be loved and revered, and therefore practise Ahimsa or non-injury.
9.Hindus believe in respect for all religions
Hindus believe that no particular religion teaches the only way to salvation above all others, but that all genuine religious paths are facets of God’s Pure Love and Light, deserving tolerance and understanding.
Published with the kind permission of www.hinduism.co.za.
Their ‘Understanding Hinduism’ website is an award winning site featuring a whole host of various articles promoting Hinduism. It truly is a wonderful, thoughtful and thought provoking work and a true beacon for the promotion of Hinduism and Vedic culture in the world today.
Please visit their enlightening website at www.hinduism.co.za.
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