Practising Hinduism the Hindu Way

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From The Editor's Desk

(Hinduwebsite Editorial - Exploring Truth Amidst Illusions and Distortions)

Centuries of oppression and the influx of many foreign ideas distorted our thinking and approach to Hinduism. Many educated Hindus believe that their faith is like any other faith and therefore they have the liberty to practise it in whatever way they choose. They think so because they do not have a proper knowledge of their own faith. Many Hindus do not know what Hinduism represents or stands for. It is true that some values of Hinduism agree with those of others. However, it does not mean that Hinduism has no distinction of its own, or a Hindu can practice any other faith and still qualify for salvation.

The truth is that Hinduism is not a religion of convenience. It is one of the most difficult religions to practise. It is an austere religion, in which you are your own witness and your own judge. No one will judge you in the afterlife. Your actions will determine your own physical, spiritual and material Wellbeing. As Hindus, we need to be aware of this fundamental principle of Hinduism.

Just because we have no centralized authority or organization to control and regulate our activities, we should not be under the impression that whatever we do in the name of religion or spirituality will pass as genuine. It is not the case. We have to accept certain fundamental beliefs and practices of our faith as inviolable and the basis of our conduct and behavior. We must accept those that have been enshrined in our scriptures and practised for centuries.

This is not to suggest that we should devolve our society or social norms to primitive ages or adapt the past inequalities and injustices, which led to the oppression of people. We should take those truths, which are found in the Upanishads, the Vedas and other scriptures which regard all life as sacred and which recognize the divinity of all life forms, empowering us to take responsibility for our lives and do our duties not only for our welfare but also for the order and regularity of the world.

Please do not be under the impression that Hinduism does not have an organized or systematic approach, or a clear dogma, as in case of organized religions, so that one can devise one’s own set of rules according to convenience. One can do it, but only in a limited way, accepting at the same time the fundamental beliefs, which uphold and protect life in all its forms, whether it is still in transmigration or has already taken birth. Morality is at the root of Hinduism.

One cannot be a righteous Hindu or true to the faith by breaking its fundamental values and beliefs, or disregarding its essential doctrine, which upholds the all-pervading nature of Brahman and treats all life as sacred and divine. Our conduct and ethical practice must be clean so that it will not betray any sign of insincerity and skepticism towards the fundamental convictions of our faith. It is obligatory for every Hindu to lead a virtuous and divine centered life, knowing that this life is a continuation of previous lives, and it is the foundation for the coming ones.

Virtue is central to the practice of Sanatana Dharma because in practising it, we have to step into the shoes of Brahman and perform his duties for the sake of the world, with a sense of sacrifice and as an offering. We are meant to protect the Dharma, the eternal laws of God. According to Hinduism, this is the primary purpose of human life, and everything else, including our liberation, is secondary to it. If we protect it and uphold it, we can safely expect that it will protect us too as part of our covenant with God.

If most Hindus decide to breach those laws of God, they cannot expect that society will be peaceful and there will be order and regularity. We know that actions will have consequences. Therefore, ignoring an important responsibility such as protecting the Dharma and abiding by it cannot be without serious consequences. It is not that we have to revive orthodoxy or turn back the clock. We do not uphold and protect the Dharma by just speaking about it or arguing about it or trying to defend it from those critics. We uphold and protect the Dharma when we truly practise it.

We have to keep the light of Hinduism alive, adapting it to the present conditions, without extinguishing the light of its soul and its central doctrine, which is to recognize our own divinity and become centered in it to exemplify God upon earth in human form. This is the lesson which we are expected to learn from every incarnation and from every great soul, who was born on earth to exemplify it.

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