What do Hindus Beilive? Thanks and God bless.
This is a little complicated. However here goes- On the absolute basic level Hindus believe that their purpose in this life is to attain “Moksha” their version of Salvation. This means escaping from the cycle of rebirth. How do they do this? by leading a good life, praying, offering “puja” ie sacrifies to their Gods, detaching themselves from the material world-that is 'being of the world but not of it." This is what an orthodx hindu will believe. However the majority of Hindus are of the kindergarden level of spirtuality, they wander in a maze of numerous Gods, asking for material benefits, going from temple to temple to pray “powerful” deities to this end. Live a material life, attach themself to various"swamies" who lead them up the garden path…get lost in a jungle of confusion…
I don’t want to be rude, but that is a terrible assesment of the Hindu religion and is clearly biased.
Hinduism is a very rich, five thousand year old religion comrprimsing many different traditions. It is diverse by its very nature and thus, has multiple paths and interpretations. Therefore, what I write can not neccessarily be applied to every Hindu.
Hinduism holds a cyclical world view, it sees the universe in terms of a circular process. Every person is engaged in the cycle of samsara, that is continuous death and rebirth. One’s actions, thoughts, and words emanates a kind of energy, or karma, that propels them through this cycle. Through the eventual dissipation of karma, which keeps us bound in samsara, it is possible to achieve moksha, that is, liberation from the cycle of life. However, it is not appropriate to think that Hindus spend their time constantly concerned with achieving this.
Hinduism is popularly labelled as a polytheistic religion, however, this label truly arises out of a Western misunderstanding. Divinity occurs in a plurality of expressions, and thus, is encountered in various deities. However, it is important to be aware of Brahman. Brahman is the unknowable, infinite, boundless and indescribable ground of all being. It is very difficult to convery what Brahman is…he is the pulse of life, the source of existence, simply “that which is”. All the deities of the Hindu religion are manifestations, or personifications of Brahman, bringing the divine a face through which human beings can relate. This is not to say that the deities are not real.
The next important thing to understand is the concept of Atman. People often equate Atman to the Western idea of the soul, but this paralell must be used loosely. Atman is the Self, the centre of one’s being, it is unborn, eternal and one’s existence stems from it. It is the Atman that is tangeled in the constrains of karma, perpetually circulating in samsara. This brings us to a vital equation, Atman=Brahman. Atman, that is the Self, the centre of our being, is of the same substance or essence as Brahman, the Ultimate Reality. Thus, our own delusions, being attached to the fruits of our actions, excessively selfish attitudes, all contribute to the clouding of this reality. When we free ourselves from karma and achieve liberation, the Atman merges with Brahman and all separations vanish. The popular imagery used is a raindrop (Atman) slipping into the ocean (Brahman). The drop is of the same essence as the ocean, when it enter it is still there, but no longer distinct.
There are various notions of how to achieve this. Some schools say one must withdraw from life, others say it is found through philosophic endeavours. The most enlightening, I find, is as found in the very popular Bhavagad Gita, where liberation is found in a pure engagment of life.
Bhakti, or devotion, is popular among Hindus. Here, a Hindu will devote him or herself to a deity, often in an intense emotional relationship. This should not be regarded as “kindergarden spirituality” as was suggested, it is very similar to Christian devotion to the figure of Christ. The devotee loves the deity, the deity loves the devotee. They create an altar, offer songs of praise and attempt to live according to ethical ideals. As Krishna declares “To any who offers me a cup of water, a flower, so long as his heart is pure, I will accept it” As well, there are many puranas, or epic tales about the different deities from which the reader can derive guidance. Bhakti, or devotion, is a path of liberation, for one will act with virtues out of love for their deity.
If you have any more questions, I can attempt to answer.
I don’t think the poster was being biased, or in anyway demeaning of Hindus. However lofty catholicism is, there are many catholics who practise the religion at the most basic level.You have explained Hinduism at its ideal level, however living in India where 80% of the population consists of Hindus gives you a very clear look at the religion.Unfortunately majority of Hindus do not believe in one God, or that the many different Gods are but aspects of that God. They believe that Ganesha, Hanuman, etc (33000) in all, actually exist. True there is the bhakthi cult, but in its purest form its practised by very very few, Hindus love their Gods no doubt but their method of loving them is to appease them, and ask them for various favours, including money, good husbands, sons, it is the very rare Hindu who begs his God for knowledge of the God.
Hindus are steeped in their mythology, live by it, their daily language is peppered with it, their metaphores are of their mythology. Nothing wrong in this-but it is not very spiritually uplifting to delight in how ganesha received his elephant head or how Vishnu transformed into a Lion.
There is much much more to Hinduism, The holy men like Ramanna Maherishi is an example of this, very very rare, almost unique I would say.
I went towards Hinduism for many years,as I was attracted by its teachings of detachment and “self realisation”.
I’m sorry, but ultimately it is not the true path.
[quote=radhika]Unfortunately majority of Hindus do not believe in one God, or that the many different Gods are but aspects of that God. They believe that Ganesha, Hanuman, etc (33000) in all, actually exist.
Do you have any statistics on how many Hindus believe in “one God”?
On another question: would belief in the reality of Ganesha, or Skanda, necessarily negate the belief in “one God”?
P.S. I personally think that using the word “God”, in a Hindu context, is misleading, since “God” has a host of Western (Judeo-Christo-Islamic) connotations, while Hinduism has its own set of terms that explain quite well what Hindus believe (Brahman; Deva; Devi; Ishta Deva/i; Sat; Kaivalya; to name a few).
[quote=undeserving]However the majority of Hindus are of the kindergarden level of spirtuality
Let’s hear it for the kindergarten level, no matter what the religion. “Unless you become as a little child,” and all that, you know.
not very spiritually uplifting to delight in how ganesha received his elephant head or how Vishnu transformed into a Lion.
Actually, I find these stories very interesting. Ganesha recived his head when he was guarding the bathing consort of Shiva (Parvati, I believe). There was tension between Shiva and Parvati and she wanted to bathe in peace, but he insisted that he intrude upon her. So she took the residue from the oils on her skin and formed Ganesha to be her guard. When Shiva tried to get to her, there was this new person in the way who would not let him pass. Shiva was infuriated and beheaded Ganesha. When Parvarti emerged she broke into an intense rage, and though Shiva was powerful, he drew back and was induced with guilt. He promised her he would make amends and so he went out and placed an elephant head on Ganesha’s shoulders.
This story poses an interplay between the feminine and masculine aspects of the divine. Often, it is assumed, that Hinduism sees women as weak and less than men, however, stories such as this challenge that. Here we have Parvati challenging her husband to what he assumed was his right, the right to see her bathe. As well, the immensely powerful and “masculine” Shiva subjects himself to his wife’s will and is induced with guilt for his lustful actions, and so he does the best he can to make amends.
The story of Vishnu’s incarnation as a lion-man is also an important story. There was a certain sanyasi who was generating so much power that Lord Brahma appears to him to grant him a boon. The sanyasi asks for eternal life, but Brahma answers that this is not possible, so he instead asks “that he not die neither day nor night, not indoors nor outside, killed not by man nor animal, not by disease nor weapon” . Thus, he thought he was insured eternal life. However, Vishnu looked down upon this and incarnated himself as a man-lion. He killed the sanyasi at dawn, in a doorway, with his claws. So he died neither day nor night, not inside our outside, not by man not nor animal, nor weapon or disease.
Vishnu preserves dharma, the natural order of the world, to use a weak definition. This sanyasi used his wit to try and defy dharma, and thus, threaten the very workings of the universe. It was the duty of Vishnu therefore, to kill him and restore order.
This story serves as a reminder of the importance of dharma and the practioners own duty.
There’s another story, where Ganesh and his brother Skanda compete. Their parents, Shiva and Parvati, ask which of them can travel around the universe the fastest. So Skanda (the militant one; connected with the planet Mars) jumps up, ready to go, and heads off into outer space, hoping to get a head start on his rather chubby brother. But Ganesh (the wiser one; connected with the planet Jupiter, the planet of spiritual wisdom), simply bows to his parents, walks around them, and says, “There! I’ve traveled around the universe!” Of course, the moral of the story is that one’s parents are to be honored from the depths of one’s heart; but not just parents, but the family as a whole. You know, “Honor thy parents” and all that.
[quote=Ahimsa]There’s another story, where Ganesh and his brother Skanda compete. Their parents, Shiva and Parvati, ask which of them can travel around the universe the fastest. So Skanda (the militant one; connected with the planet Mars) jumps up, ready to go, and heads off into outer space, hoping to get a head start on his rather chubby brother. But Ganesh (the wiser one; connected with the planet Jupiter, the planet of spiritual wisdom), simply bows to his parents, walks around them, and says, “There! I’ve traveled around the universe!” Of course, the moral of the story is that one’s parents are to be honored from the depths of one’s heart; but not just parents, but the family as a whole. You know, “Honor thy parents” and all that.
Actually the moral of this story is that Ganesha had the wisdom to understand that the whole universe is encompsed in the persons of his parents who were Gods. The aim of the hindu is to go beyond outward symbols, the numerous gods are but stepping stones to the ultimate truth.
[quote=radhika]Actually the moral of this story is that Ganesha had the wisdom to understand that the whole universe is encompsed in the persons of his parents who were Gods. The aim of the hindu is to go beyond outward symbols, the numerous gods are but stepping stones to the ultimate truth.
Yes, there are multiple levels to the story.