for a change, a kid who hasn't been brought up to hate her religion. we need more like them, which is why we have to support CAPEEM and oppose the witzels and farmers and other nazi monsters.
anyway, the fact is that hinduism is a far superior religion to these semitic death cults. by calling it 'a way of life' we obscure the fact that hinduism is in direct competition with the death cults, which are like nothing when compared to the subtleties of hinduism.
it's like we were discussing ghatotkacha's death as compared to the great limey epic beowulf. one single episode from the mahabharata is equal to or greater than the great limey epic.
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IntroductionHinduism or Sanatana Dharma is the oldest of the world's living faiths. Though its origin is dated between 10,000 - 7,000 BCE by most historians, its traditions extend back before recorded history. Despite its antiquity, Hinduism is interestingly still a living and growing religion and has global acceptance. There is no founder to give credit to its discovery and establishment. Rather, Hinduism is a dharma or way of life evolved by the great sages of ancient India. In this article, you will find interesting facts about Hinduism that I have learned from attending Cupertino, CA Shakha, run by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh.Hindu Philosophy, Rituals and MythsIn every religion there are three main parts: philosophy, rituals and myths. It is important to completely understand these aspects since many people have misconceptions about Hinduism.Philosophy is the essence of religion. It sets forth its basic principles or fundamental tenets, the goal and the means of attaining it. Myths explain and illustrate philosophy by means of legendary lives of great men or of supernatural beings. Ritual gives an even more concrete form to philosophy so that everyone may understand it. Ritual consists of forms, ceremonies, etc.All religions have their own mythology. Although the word mythology is sometimes deliberately used by the media about Hinduism, Hinduism is more about "Truth" at different levels of understandings. It is difficult to make a clear distinction between history and mythology. If a Christian stands up and says, "My prophet did such and such a marvelous thing," others will say, "This is only a myth. Our prophets did still more marvelous things which are really historical." It is not easy to differentiate the two into watertight compartments.Hindus hold the belief of the four Vedas high in their minds. This is considered the most ancient scripture in the world. The Puranas describe the teachings of the Vedas through myths, legends and examples of great people. The cosmogonic myths of the Puranas are very interesting. A certain portion of Hindu mythology is even now presented to the public in the form of dramas during days of Hindu festivals. Thus the minds of the people are saturated with sublime ideas and ideals and lifted to great spiritual heights.Basic tenets of HinduismHinduism is a conglomeration of diverse beliefs and traditions and hence cannot be confined to any one system of belief and ideas. Nevertheless, the prominent themes include:• Dharma (ethics and duties)• Samsara (rebirth)• Karma (right action)• Moksha (liberation from the cycle of Samsara)Hinduism also encourages truth, honesty, non-violence, celibacy, cleanliness, contentment, prayers, austerity, perseverance, penance, and pious company.The essence of the Hindu vision of reality lies in the relation between dharma (social duty or righteousness) and moksha (release from the material world, final liberation from the endless cycles of rebirth). Both these perspectives, the world-supporting and the world-denying, are necessary to fulfill human destiny.Hinduism is a way of life, a Dharma, that is, the law that governs all action. It has its own beliefs, traditions, advanced system of ethics, meaningful rituals, philosophy and theology. The religious tradition of Hinduism is responsible for the creation of such concepts and practices as Yoga, Ayurveda, Vastu, Jyotish, Yajna, Puja, Tantra, Vedanta, Karma, etc.Hundreds of millions of people continue to believe in the multitudes of gods which inhabit the Hindu pantheon. This tapestry of religion is the result of millennia of integration. The Indian sub-continent has been a crossroad for several cultures, and the Indian people have incorporated numerous ideas from different faiths.Though there are some core beliefs common to virtually all Hindus, there really is no "Hindu orthodoxy"- no hard and fast dogma that all Hindus must believe. It's actually a family of gradually developing beliefs and practices.Ten important Hindu Realities vs. MythsHinduism is like an ocean of the combined knowledge of various rishis, sages, and saints. It was they who gave the religion the depth and complexity for which it is known today. Because of them Hinduism became more or less like an ocean that would absorb every thing that flowed into it from all directions.There are wide misconceptions about the Hindu religion.According to my understanding, the following facts are realities in an effort to clarify such misconceptions.1. Who is Hindu? Anybody who practices a little of and believes in the above listed tenets of Hinduism is a Hindu. There is no baptism, no fixed gods, and going to the temple is not compulsory.2. Idol Worship: Hinduism does not promote idol worship. To the contrary, Hinduism urges to transcend all physical aids to worship, in our spiritual progress. Realizing that it is impossible for the mortal human to visualize the Infinite and instead of sustaining false hopes of such achievements, the religion urges us to slowly and steadily continue our progress in pursuit of the Truth. For such steady progress, it asks to start with physical aids such as temples and idols, and through practice and devotion, ultimately succeed in visualizing God without the aid of temples and idols.3. Habits: There are no specifically laid out rules constricting a person's eating/drinking habits, or clothing style or anything like that. In fact, Hinduism deals with concepts on a much higher platform, where such things are insignificant. It deals with the spiritual aspects of trying to understand God and to approach Him through many varied means (principal of which is love). As natural fallout, it also shows how to lead a meaningful life full of bliss, peace and love.4. Conversion: Since Hinduism is a way of life, there is no formal conversion process. In fact, there is no fixed name for Hinduism; some call it Sanatana Dharma, some call it just Dharma, some call it Bhagawat Dharma, etc. There was no name "Hindu" in old scriptures but later invaders of India named people here as Hindu because they used to live on the banks of the river Sindhu.5. Unity: This feature of Hindu religion has been unique. Some call the religion broadminded because Hindus believe in 'Vasudhev Kutumbakam,' meaning that all the world's people are one family.6. Rituals or superstitions: Hinduism runs on value education and some rituals. These rituals are added from time to time and changeable. But these rituals convey a lot of meaning when deeply thought and understood. They are not compulsory for Hinduism; some follow, some don't.7. Criticism: Another feature of Hinduism is there is no blasphemy clause; you may criticize openly some features you don't like and may not follow or change them still you will be a good Hindu. I think it's democracy like.8. Food: Though many Hindus are vegetarian, still many Hindus are not. The rationale behind a vegetarian diet is to promote a physically, mentally and spiritually healthy lifestyle. However, there are no rigid rules concerning vegetarianism.9. Caste System: The caste system, originally described in the Vedas, but much abused and maligned over the years, is nothing but a representation of an efficient human society. The four castes described in the scriptures are - the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas, the Vaishyas, and the Shudras. According to the Vedas, an efficient human society is based on the strength of its educational/knowledge-pursuit system (Brahmin), its military and defense system (Kshatriya), its economical and business system (Vaishya), and a strong, happy, productive workforce (Shudras).This noble representation was misinterpreted, exploited, and abused by a few in the Indian society, leading to the indiscriminate creation of thousands of castes and sub-castes, including the so-called "upper" castes. It can be seen as a means of maintaining the status quo to the benefit of those in power. However, in ancient times, castes were not rigid (one could move from one caste to another). They were based on one's karma (actions), not birth.
Fortunately, the distorted caste system has been more or less abolished since Indian independence and the distinctions are beginning to disappear.10. Hindu Women: The role of women in Hinduism is often misunderstood. In Vedic times women and men were equal as far as education and religion was concerned. In ancient India, women occupied a very important position, in fact in some ways, a superior position to men. It is a culture whose only words for strength and power are feminine -"Shakti" means "power" and "strength." All male power comes from the feminine.There are many stories and media attention about Child Marriage, Dowry, Bride-Burning, and Property matters for equality, mass Wife-Burning (Jauhar), Widow-Burning (Sati). Due to Islamic conquest, political instability, poor economic conditions and foreign invasion further made women's freedom impossible. Hence, society became more protective about the women community, education, power, name and fame; also they linked these issues with caste status. Such situations ceased women rights. But after India's freedom, the law again restored and protected women's rights.How Hinduism differs from other organized religions:In summary, Hinduism differs from other organized religions in the following aspects:• It is not based upon one particular founder.• It is not based upon one particular book.• It is not controlled by a central institution or authority such as a church or an association.• It is not averse to examine and assimilate fundamentally diverse thoughts and beliefs into its system.• It accepts other religions as various paths to salvation and does not favor organized attempts to convert people.• It has been evolving continuously, through internal reforms and as a reaction to the threats and challenges.• Hinduism is a way of life, more than a religion• An attitude of understanding and tolerance is taught within the religion, where all religious teachings are not to be looked down upon and that no one way of worship should be considered better than another.
Interesting Facts about HinduismHinduism teaches the following simple and interesting aspects that are very important to our daily life:Healthy lifestyle: Unlike others, Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life. Hinduism grants you a healthy lifestyle. The Hindu practices like bath in the morning, do Yoga, stay away from meat etc. promote health and hygiene.Promotes peace universally: Hinduism does not say that only Hindus go to heaven, nor proclaims that only Hindu gods are the true one. Hinduism is the only religion, which says that all paths lead to that ultimate one. An important Hindu prayer is "Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu" which means let the whole world be happy!Respect living beings: Hindus believe that there is divinity in every one. The Hindu salutation 'Namaskar' or 'Namaste' means that I bow to that divinity in you.No hard and fast dogma: Hinduism is flexible and there are really no hard and fast rules you need to follow. It is entirely dependant on you to choose what you want to do. For instance, we are free to worship God in whichever form we choose, wherever we choose, and whenever we choose.No conversion, no pressure: You do not need to undergo a formal conversion ceremony to lead a Hindu way of life.Care for the environment: You will see that the temples have gardens and promote growing of trees and vegetation. Even snakes, cows are given a place and fed in some places. Animals are given protection and shelter. The Hindu way of life is based on living in harmony with the environment and not exploiting nature.Promotes art and art forms: The Hindu temples themselves are masterpieces of art and sculpture. Dance and music forms an integral part of the religion and the classical dance and music are closely tied to Hinduism and a must for many Hindu festivals and occasions.Hindu festivals: There are lots of fun activities associated with Hindu festivals. For Deepavali or Diwali, playing with fireworks or crackers. For Holi, playing with colors and the list is endless. For Hindus, life is a celebration.ConclusionThe foundation of Hinduism has been laid on the bedrock of spiritual truths. The entire structure of Hindu life is built on eternal truths, the findings of the Hindu Rishis or seers. That is the reason why this structure has lasted through scores of centuries.The glory of Hinduism lies in the fact that it has all the features of a universal religion. Its Dharma is universal. Its doctrines are sublime. Its philosophy is grand. Its ethics are soul-elevating. Its scriptures are wonderful. Its Sadhanas or Yoga-Vedanta practices are unique. It has a message to give to a world to get rid of hatred, dissension and war—the message of cosmic love, truth and non-violence, the gospel of unity of Self or Upanishadic oneness.ReferencesBoudhik Sessions of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh; taken from several speech, discussion sessionsHinduism Article <http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/mar/14spec.htm>Knappert, Jan. Encyclopedia of Indian Mythology. 1995Wikipedia <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_Hinduism>Soumya Murag firstname.lastname@example.org
Age 15, Sophomore, Monta Vista High School, Cupertino, CA 95014
I have put together some of the thoughts shared in many boudhik sessions of Cupertino Shakha in the form of this article. I have also presented this material to the 'Hindu Awareness Club' of my high school in an effort to clarify misconceptions and spread awareness about Hinduism.
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