Ten Incredible Reasons Why Hinduism is an Amazing Religion
In the present situation, Hindu religion needs to be protected through a well defined program and dedicated action. One cannot protect one's religion without knowing it and without living it. Therefore, Hindus have to discover the spirit behind their religious tradition by understanding very important concepts. - In loving memory of Shri Swami Dayananda Saraswati.
Strictly speaking, Hinduism cannot be considered a religion because it does not satisfy many criteria that apply to the dogmatic religions that are based upon a particular prophet or a particular scripture. Hinduism is a vast collection of complex, ritual and spiritual knowledge in which pursuit of self-knowledge is the highest goal, while rituals occupy an important, secondary place as part of one's worldly obligations.
Hinduism is rightly defined as a way of life because it makes the very process of living and every action that your perform as part of a continuous worship, and as an expression of surrender and devotion. A devout Hindu worships God continuously in his daily life through the very mundane actions he performs from the time he wakes up and until he goes to bed. Through his devotion, commitment, faith, and dutifulness, he transforms every action into an act of worship, and a step forward in the direction of his liberation. For him, the universe, the world, the house, and the body are but the abodes of God which he shares with him to be part of a greater good.
Therefore, he is never separate from God and his thoughts. He wakes up remembering God, brushes his teeth offering prayers to God, takes a bath offering prayers to God, wears clothes and marks upon his body offering prayers to God, worships the gods he keeps in his house muttering prayers, eats his food offering prayers, greets people remembering God, and the list goes on until he concludes his day and rests his mind in the thoughts of God.
He is never separate from God or the thoughts of him. He sees God in the water he drinks, in the fire he uses, in the air he breathes, in the space in which he lives, in the food he eats, and in the images he worships. God lives in him as he lives in the contemplation of God and executes his will as his very embodiment. In Hinduism God is never separate from your existence. You do not need any proof of his presence in you and around you unless you doubt your very divinity and your very existence.
Thus, for a true Hindu there is no distinction between prayer time and normal time, or between a sacred object such as a temple and his own house or between his body and that of God. For him life is a continuous opportunity to worship God, to manifest God, to serve God, to be like God, to express God, to communicate with God, and to be an active and conscious part of his vast creation. It is his sacred responsibility and obligatory duty to spiritualize his mind and body so that they become perfect abodes for the manifestation of God's will and consciousness, and serve him well in embodying his highest aims (Purusharthas) and eternal truths.
In Hindu cosmology, human beings are an important part of God's creation, who are entrusted with the sacred duty to nourish animals, humans, gods, ancestors, ascetics, and seers with offerings and ensure the continuation of life, and the order and regularity of the worlds. Hinduism is therefore an embodiment of God's Will and Supreme Knowledge which aims to manifest His light and wisdom in the frail bodies of the mortal beings to remind them of their sacred duties and their unbroken commitment to the highest goals of Dharma. Dharma (sacred duty) is the true name of Hinduism, and it verily embodies the Dharma of the highest Supreme Self.
The following are ten incredible reasons why Hinduism is an amazing, religious and spiritual tradition, and why you should be proud of being a Hindu and part of an amazing culture.
1. It is the most ancient living religion.
Hinduism is a very ancient tradition. Some of its beliefs and practices date backs to prehistoric times. Probably, the present day Hinduism contains some elements and aspects of the religious beliefs and practices of the Indus civilization. Hinduism is the only continuing tradition in the world with such diversity, complexity and wide following. The Vedic civilization is believed to be at least 4000 years old. While we do not know when the first Rigvedic hymns were composed, historians believe that some of the hymns may be as old as the Indus civilization, or even older. Shaivism, Vaishnavism, and many folk traditions, ascetic traditions and schools of philosophy that are today part of Hinduism may also be older than the Vedic religion.
2. You have the freedom to choose your path and methods of worship.
In Hinduism you are free to choose your beliefs and your path. You are not under any obligation to choose your methods of worship or forms of God. You have complete freedom to worship God according to your nature and disposition. You may choose the formless, highest God, or God with forms and aspects. You may worship your own Self as your personal deity. You may also worship numerous gods and goddesses, and make offerings to them through rituals and sacrificial ceremonies. You can pick any deity in the pantheon, and make him or her the highest, Supreme Self. You are also free to choose your methods of worship, whether you choose right hand methods or left hand methods, and whether you prefer physical worship, mental worship, or spiritual worship. In formal ritual worship you have to follow strictly the procedure suggested in the scriptures and may need the help of trained priests, but in informal, domestic worship you can choose your own prayers and methods of worship.
3. It is an earthly, humanistic tradition.
Hinduism has its roots in both heaven and the earth. It has many scriptures whose source is God. However, much of its knowledge, philosophy and practice are also derived from numerous teacher traditions, seers, saints, spiritual masters, ascetic movements, scholars, philosophers, and even ordinary housewives. Historically, it has been shaped by the exploration of enlightened masters into the secrets of the mind, body, and spirit. It has features that appeal to the most intelligent and highly educated as well as to the common masses who are not well versed in scriptural or intellectual knowledge. It is also an earthly tradition, which envisages divinity and the play of God in every aspect of the earthly life and does not discount the importance of mortal life and the material world in God's creation.
4. It is essentially an intellectual and spiritual religion.
In Hinduism knowledge of Self alone is considered true knowledge (vidya) and the rest ignorance. While rituals are important in worldly life, the true purpose of human life is to achieve liberation for which you have to purify your mind and body, sharpen your intellect and withdraw your mind into the contemplation of God or Self. The scriptures suggest that by performing dutiful actions without desires (karma sanyasa yoga) one becomes an adept in the yoga of knowledge. From the yoga of knowledge results the stability of the mind (buddhi yoga) and its absorption in the Self (atma samyama yoga). From that arises discernment and freedom from delusion and ignorance. Hinduism encourages search for truth with the help of reason as well as spiritual means. It encourages you to validate the truths of existence through direct knowledge (pratyaksha). Its scriptures and philosophical teachings are deeply shrouded in symbolism. To understand them you require spiritual purity, sharp intellect, knowledge and wisdom.
5. It is not a proselytizing religion.
According to our beliefs you will not be born as a Hindu or come to it unless you deserve it or qualify for it. No one would force you or tempt you to become a Hindu. You must earn the merit through your study, effort, and past karma to become a Hindu. The Bhagavadgita clearly affirms that your dharma, however inferior it may be, is better than the dharma of another person, even if it is superior. The reason is that your religion or dharma is an extension of your essential nature. It is what dharma means, your natural state or disposition. Hence, Hinduism is not proselytizing religion, and does not encourage active or aggressive conversion of people. Each individual, embodied soul (jiva) is in a certain state of spiritual transformation, which must be allowed to proceed without outside interference. One may teach spiritual knowledge or spread the wisdom of scriptures, but only as a service to God or to others who may need it, but not as a missionary activity.
6. It recognizes female goddesses and gender equality.
In Hinduism, there is no difference in the spirituality of men and women. Souls have no gender, and they may change their gender from birth to birth according to their desires and karma. There is a clear discrimination in Hinduism against women in religious duties and householder responsibilities, but no such discrimination exist in spiritual matters. Women are free to pursue religious or spiritual knowledge and seek their liberation. Further, in no other tradition the Supreme Being is perceived as a goddess, or creation and existence are viewed as the combination of male and female principles. The Indus people worshipped the Mother Goddess. Vedic people worshipped numerous goddesses, and the tradition continues. Every god in Hindu pantheon has one or more associated goddesses. The Supreme Self is described in the scriptures as passive witness consciousness, will and pure intelligence, while the Goddess as the active, transformative, energy principle. They are also known as Purusha and Prakriti. Purusha is the enjoyer, the owner of the field (kshetrajna) and Prakriti is the enjoyed, the field (kshetra). Their union results in the diversity of the worlds and beings.
7. You are free from institutional control.
In Hinduism you are not oppressed by dogma, or any institutional authority that upholds it. There is no moral police breathing down on your necks and telling you what you should or should not do, how you should dress, or which methods of worship you should follow. You may face criticism from the public or social disapproval from some if you deliberately hurt the religious sentiments of people or insult their faith. However, there is no formal authority to judge you or impose any penalties upon you.
8. You are not viewed as a sinner, but as God or an aspect of God.
In Hinduism you are not treated like a sinner, but as an aspect of God, and as an eternal, pure, and sacred being. There is no need for you to confess your sins to any outsider. Since you are your own witness, you need to be honest with yourself and show genuine remorse for any sinful actions you may have done. You earn the grace of God by manifesting his will through your actions as a mark of true surrender. As the eternal Self, you are the lord of your life and body. The world is an impure place, ruled by the all devouring lord of Death, but you are a sacred being drawn into it by the forces of Nature. You are deluded by circumstances and the play of Prakriti, but you are God in human form, and represent him here in every facet of life.
9. You are responsible for your life and liberation.
In Hinduism, you do not have to be afraid of God's wrath or punishment. God is a loving being who is not vengeful. He may help you if you pray to him, but does not punish you simply because you do not pray to him. You are judged by your own thoughts, desires, and actions, and you are squarely responsible for your life, actions, and inaction. You cannot transfer the blame to others. There is no devil as such, but the world is not free from evil. It may try to pierce your mind and senses and pollute your desires and intentions, but you can prevent it from happening by seeking the protection of God and the deities, and by working for your liberation through spiritual practice.
10. You have the opportunity to lead a holistic life and enjoy it.
Hinduism encourages you to be like God and live like God upon earth and enjoy your life pursuing the four chief aims, namely virtuous duty (dharma), wealth (artha), sexual pleasure (kama) and liberation (moksha). The four aims ensure that you lead a holistic life and satisfy your carnal, material and spiritual needs without having to abandon any of them. Your life is divided into four phases based upon your duties that are specific to each age. They ensure that you age gracefully and dutifully, and in the process fulfill your obligation towards yourself, others, and God. Whether you choose to be a householder, a renunciant, or a spiritual recluse, your purpose here is to overcome the suffering and the limitations of human life and experience the blissful existence of the Supreme Self in the human body.
Hinduism is a distinct tradition with a long history. It has features that are unique, and appealing for those who are drawn to spirituality. As a Hindu, you have a sacred responsibility and an obligatory duty to protect it, preserve it and practice it to manifest the divinity in you. Do not be under the false impression that all religions are the same, and you can practice Hinduism without abandoning your allegiance to other religions. You may use their methods, but your object of worship should be gods of Hinduism only, or the highest God, who is extolled in our scriptures.
Your God is not the same as the God of other religions. It is important to remember this distinction. In our tradition we value liberation. We do not seek heaven, which our scriptures declare is an inferior goal. You should stay away from those religions that hold you in contempt as a nonbeliever. For them your place is already reserved in the eternal hell. They do not appreciate that you practice a tolerant faith, or your faith has a long history and rich culture. They are here to convert everyone who is a Hindu and in that process they do not mind to use every available means to harm the image and reputation of this eternal tradition.
You may offer your prayers anywhere you like, in a church or a mosque, but why go to those places where you are not respected and where your faith is denigrated? As one saint commented, when you go to those places to pray, you become the prey, a hot target for friendly persuasion, subliminal influence, and eventual conversion. Conversion is not good for your soul. It is a kind of violence against yourself, your family, ancestors, gods, and Hindu culture, as you deny yourself the opportunity to achieve liberation. Be a proud Hindu and teach your children good values so that they will become the future guardians of this ancient tradition.
Suggestions for Further Reading
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