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INTRODUCTION

 

INTRODUCTION

This Hinduism Simplified is intended for youths who are being brought up in a western environment away from the mainstream of the Hindu culture. The need to present the concept of Hinduism in this easy-to-understand form developed from the author's experience of teaching the basics of Hinduism to such youths. An attempt has been made to present an overall picture of Hinduism by answering some frequently asked questions by such youths. Since the basic philosophies of Hinduism were founded by curious people seeking the truth of Nature for human welfare from those who were knowledgeable, a medium of questions and answers is chosen for the presentation. A mother-child dialogue is selected because of its uniqueness, and eighteen questions and answers have been selected because of the importance of this number in the Hindu scriptures. It is hoped that this booklet will serve the purpose of those for whom it is intended.

The information in this booklet is intended to provide only the basics of Hinduism. For more information, the readers are advised to consult other authoritative sources on Hinduism which are readily available.

The incentive to interact with children for the purpose of teaching them the basics of Hinduism came from the experiences with my own children Chandan, Anjana, and Sanjeev to whom this booklet is dedicated.

Gangadhar Choudhary.

9604 Linfield Drive Cincinati, Ohio 45242 U.S.A.

October 24, 1987

Bhaiya Dooj Day

Any suggestions or comments about this booklet will be appreciated.

 


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PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION

This expanded version of Hinduism Simplified is presented in response to the suggestions from the readers, both youths and adults. Besides some minor changes more details on the questions of the scriptures, the gods and goddesses, the Hindu calendar, and the fasts and festivals have been given. In spite of the changes the simplicity and brevity of the booklet have been maintained.

I hope this new Hinduism Simplified will serve the needs of the readers.

Gangadhar Choudhary

Question 1

Child : Mom, can you tell me about the Hindu religion and how it differs from the other religions of the world

Mother : Yes, dear, that's a very good question. First of all, let me start with some basics. Hinduism is not a religion in the strict sense of the word. It is recommendation for living a disciplined, pure and blissful life needed for God realization. The word religion comes from the Latin "religio" which means binding the soul back to God. Other religions have strict laws and back to God. Other religions have strict laws and beliefs to attain this God realization. Hindus, however, do not believe in such strict laws. The desire to free one's self from worldly bondage and to obtain a better present and next life through proper karma (actions) in the present life is the basis of the Hindu way of life. Your karma (good or bad actions) returns to you with results and act as your teacher to guide you in the right directions in the life. The guidelines for better living to achieve such a liberation (moksha) was revealed directly by God to our ancient sages who used to meditate constantly for the welfare of all human beings. These revelations are the contents of the Vedas, our fundamental scripture. It is also called sanatana dharma, an eternal discipline of life or Vedic dharma, the proper way of living based on Vedas. Hindus believe that every human being is divine by nature and the purpose of life is to expose that divinity to the fullest possible extent. Based on the Vedic recommendations, Hindus believe in one formless and all pervading God called Brahma who is the creator of the universe and represents the supreme truth.

For all practical purposes, in the modern times the Hindu way of life is called Hinduism. It is the oldest living religion on earth. Because of its basic philosophies the Hindu religion can be considered a universal religion.

The main difference between Hinduism and other religions is that Hinduism did not evolve out of the teachings of any one saint, prophet or messiah. Instead, the vedic thoughts were obtained by various sages over the centuries. A very big difference is that Hinduism teaches reincarnation, or rebirth of soul. Moreover, Hinduism is a very accommodating and compassionate religion. Coexistence with other religions with respect and humbleness is the core of the Hindu way of life. Hindus not only love their neighbors but they also love and pray for everyone. A Hindu life is meant for humanity and is achieved through uplifting of one's morality. Unlike people of other religious faiths Hindus regard the mother, the father, the teacher and all their guests as God.

Question : 2
Child : Mom can you please tell me more about the Vedas and dharma which you just talked about?

Mother : The Vedas are the original scriptures of Hinduism on which entire Hindu way of life is based. The ethical way of living as suggested in the Vedas is called dharma. Dharma is God's divine law for discipline and proper development of human beings. By Vedas no particular book is meant. The revelations that the ancient seekers of truth received through meditations were transferred from generation to generation through oral teachings. Many of those spoken concepts have been compiled and are available in volumes that we now call the Vedas. The Vedas are a collection of hymns, prayers, rituals, benedictions, sacrificial formulas and chants There are four distinct Vedas : Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sam Veda and Atharva Veda. Rig Veda the oldest among the Vedas mainly consists of hymns and chants praising God; Yajur Veda contains divine verses in musical form; and Atharva Veda contains guidelines for the proper way of living. The four Vedas were revealed to the sages Agni, Vayu, Aditya and Angira respectively. Later the Vedas were systemized for human benefit by sage Vyas.

Each of the Vedas contains similar essential detains on how to lead a life with a sound body, mind, and intellect and also how to attain a better next life. Each Veda consists of a ritual part and a philosophical part. The philosophical part of Vedas is called Upanishad. There are 108 Upanishads in all.

Question 3
Child : Could you tell me some more about reincarnation in Hinduism?

Mother : Yes my child. The word reincarnation literally means coming again into physical body. According to our scriptures, a soul passes into a body at birth and migrates into another body at death. The change of the bodies is just like putting a new garment and discarding it when it is worn out. The kind of body the soul enters into at death determined by one's actions (karma) in present life. A person's karma determines in what form he will reappear. He may come back in a higher (human) or lower (animal) life form. Good karma in the present life leads to a better next life and bad karma in the present life leads to a worst next life. This cycle of rebirth continues until one achieves liberation from worldly bondage (moksha). At the liberated stage a soul becomes godly and reincarnation stops.

Question 4 Child: Mom, what does the "Om" sound and sign mean? I often see and hear it at every Hindu rite or service.

Mother: "Om" is the most sacred syllable often spoken during the practice of any Hindu rites. It is a holy character of the Sanskrit language, the language of God. The character is a composite of three different letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. The English equivalent of those are "a", "u", and "m", and represent the Trinity. The Trinity is composed of the three supreme Hindu Gods: Brahma, the creator, Vishnu, the preserver, and Shiva, the destroyer. These three letters when pronounced properly in unison create an invigorating effect in the body. Because of its significance this sacred syllable is spoken before any chants to show God we remember him. This sign in Hinduism also represents the whole universe. It looks like this:

Another very important sign is the Swastika which is regarded divine by Hindus. The word swastika means auspicious in the Sanskrit language and hence is used to symbolize the welcoming of auspiciousness and driving away evils. The symbol also represents the changing of the universe around the unchanging nature of God. The symbol looks like this: Unfortunately the sign has been abused by groupsuch as the Nazis during World War II

Question 5 Child : I know Amen is used a lot in other religions. Is it similar to Om?

Mother: No, they both have different meanings. Amen is spoken to assert faith at the end of a religious proclamation, and Om is spoken to invoke the presence of God before any religious recitation.

Question 6 Child: Why do Hindus have so many gods and goddesses in different forms to worship?

Mother: Actually, Hindus believe in only one formless and all-pervading, all-existing, and all-blissful God. That formless God, however, can best be realized by concentrating on various forms of ideal personalities as recorded in the scriptures. In other words, the Hindu religion is flexible and provides many ways to develop one's spiritual ideas in order to suit individual needs. "Unity in the diverse plan of nature" is recognized in the Hindu faith. Just as people tailor clothes to fit their needs, Hindus have different gods and goddesses for their religious needs. All these gods and goddesses resemble humans, animals or natural forces such as wind, water, fire, sun, and moon; each has different powers to bless the world. These godheads, when worshipped, fulfill people's desires in an easier way but with the same qualities of blessings as from one God.

Question 7 Child: Who are some of these gods and goddesses?

Mother: Most of the gods and goddesses that are worshipped are either incarnations of Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the universe, and his wife Goddess Lakshmi or other deities. Some commonly worshipped gods and goddesses include: Vishnu (worshipped in various forms and names such as Venkateshwara, Jagannatha, Tirupati, Bithala or Balaji), Shiva who is also known as Mahadeva or Mahesha, (Shiva-linga, a symbol of Lord Shiva which is commonly worshipped instead of his image), Rama, Krishna, Hanumana or Mahaveera, Ganesha, the older son of Lord Shiva and who is also known as Ganapati or Vighneswara, and Subramanyam or Kartikeya, the younger son of Lord Shiva. Shiva's wife Parvati (who is also known as Gauri, Uma or Meenakshi and also exists in her incarnated form of Durga or Kali is worshipped as a Divine Mother. Lord Brahma is not usually worshipped but his wife Saraswati is worshipped as the Goddess of learning. Goddess Saraswati is the favorite deity of students in schools and colleges. Lakshmi is worshipped as the Goddess of wealth and prosperity and is favorite deity of business people. Sita, Lord Rama's wife, and Radha, Lord Krishna's companion, are other feminine deities who are adored. Commonly Lord Rama is worshipped as part pf a family, along with his dear brother Lakshamana his wife Sita and his devout hero of the epic Ramayana, Hanumana. Also, Lord Krishna is usually worshipped along with Radha, a staunch lover and devotee of the Lord. Gayatri, the most powerful feminine force and the prescribed deity of the Vedas, is worshipped universally in Hinduism by reciting the Gayatri Mantra. This mantra is a powerful chant worshipping the light of the universe. Lord Satyanarayana is another incarnation of Lord Vishnu and is commonly worshipped in Hindu homes together with family and friends.

Each Hindu God and Goddess has a form of appearance which carries a special symbolic meaning. Some of them have multiple arms or heads which represents their greater capabilities to provide protection for people. Multiple arms express their domination over all directions of space, and multiple heads indicate their broad vision. Many Gods and Goddess ride on animal-vehicle (Vahan) to accomplish their mission. of protecting people. A crown on a deity's head represents the supremacy of the divine power over common people. The images or pictures of Gods and Goddesses are used for the purpose of instilling devotion in us during worship. Later, I will tell you about the forms and features of some common Gods and Goddesses.

Question 8 Child: Mom, can you tell me about the scriptures in Hindusim?

Mother: Unlike other religions Hinduism is not based on any one sacred writing. Instead it has many sacred books which support the basic thoughts of the Vedas. Several of these writings have been translated into foreign languages and have been much appreciated world-wide. Two such writings which happen to be folklore of the Hindu scriptures and are the most commonly used by the Hindus are the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Both of these are in epic form, the former being the oldest and the latter the largest of the epics. Both glorify the principles of the Vedas in a simple way. The celebrated Bhagavad-Gita is a part of the great epic, Mahabharata.

Question 9 Child:Mom, would you please tell me about the sacred books which you have just mentioned? I have often heard about them, but I don't have a clear understanding of their contents.

Mother:The Ramayana relates the life story of Ramchandra, the ideal man who is also considered a famous God by Hindus. He was the oldest of the four sons of king Dasharath of Ayodhya -Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna. In his early life Rama was trained as a great archer. He showed his valor by killing many unbeatable demons who used to harass saints while they worship. Later, at the time of his coronation, he was exiled to the forest by his jealous step mother Kaikeyi for 14 years. Rama's wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana accompanied him in exile. During the exile Sita was abducted by the demon Ravana. In order to rescue Sita Rama later killed Ravana with the help of the great monkey armies of Sugreeva and Hanumana. Rama returned to Ayodhya and became its king after finishing his exile.

The Ramayana has seven Cantos. This epic was originally written by the sage Valmiki a long time ago and then by others in many regional Indian languages. More recently, Tulsidas, a famous poet of the seventeenth century, rewrote the story of the Ramayana in Hindi folk language to make it more popular. The book is known as Ramcharit Manas. The main teaching of the Ramayana is to show the human race the proper way of living, devotion to God, obedience to elders, and a path of moral duties.

The Mahabharata, on the other hand, is the story of a family feud. The cousins Pandavas and Kauravas who were the descendants of the great Hindu king, Bharata, were involved in a fight in the battle of Kurukshetra. Krishna who possessed a godly power and who was a relative of the family took the side of Pandavas. During the battle he preached the great gospel of the Bhagvad-Gita to Arjuna for whom he was working as a charioteer in the battle. The Mahabharata is an encyclopedia of Hindu dharma and is sometimes referred to as the fifth Veda.

The glorious and famous Bhagavad-Gita is the essence of the Mahabharata and Upanishads. It contains the essentials of Hindu dharma in the form of a dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna who represents the average person. Bearing the essence of the Upanishads, the teachings of the Gita focus on performing one's proper duty while keeping the body and mind sound and poised. The Gita is highly respected among the sacred writings of the world and has been translated into numerous languages. As a matter of fact, the Bhagavad-Gita is the most precious jewel in the Hindu scriptures.

Question 10 Child:Mom, can you tell me about divine incarnations in Hinduism?

Mother: Yes, dear. We believe that whenever there is decline in religious activity on earth Lord Vishnu appears in order to save the human race from an unrighteous way of life, to destroy evils, and to show people a path of dharma (the right duty). The process of such appearances of God is referred to as divine incarnations (avatars). There are ten famous incarnation forms of God. They are the Fish (matsya), the Tortoise (kurma or kachhapa), the Boar (varah), the Human-lion (nara-sinha), the Dwarf (vamana), Parashu-Rama (the God with an axe), Rama of the (Ramchandra, the hero of the epic Ramayana and destroyer of demon Ravana), Krishna (the teacher famous Bhagavad-Gita), Buddha (the ascetic prince) and Kalki, (the yet to appear deity, riding on a white horse).

Divine incarnations are an integral part of the Hindu beliefs. Each incarnation is related to fulfilling a particular objective. The objective of the Fish form was to save the sage Manu from his destruction by flood. The Tortoise form helped the human race to recover from the ocean the essentials of life which were lost in the deluge. Rescue of the earth from the grip of the demon, Hiranyaksha, was achieved by the Boar form. The Human-lion form helped the human race from the oppressions of the demon, Hiranyakasipu. The Dwarf form was helpful in restoring the power of gods from the grips of the demon king Bali. The furious God Parashurama destroyed the Kshatriya rulers who were oppressing the people. Lord Rama and Lord Krishna were incarnated to destroy the demons Ravana and the Kansa respectively. The objective of Lord Buddha was to stop animal sacrifice and to teach piety. The objective of the Kalki form is supposed to be the destruction of evils of the present age (Kaliyuga, the age of strife) and the protection of virtues.

Question 11 Child: How is the caste system related to Hinduism?

Mother: My child, this is one of the most commonly asked questions about Hinduism. The caste system was an important part of the Hindu way of life. During the Vedic age a social classification system called Varnashrama was devised so that the human race could have a smooth and ordered life in society. The system created the castes of Brahmins, the intellectual class, Kshatriyas, the warrior class, Vaishyas, the trader class and Shudras, the service people. Don't you see that every society has a need for teachers and/or preachers, defense, trade and commerce, and service even today? Our forefathers realized this need for order in society even then. Of course, the original concept of social order has been abused over the ages into its present mutilated form. The original caste system also supported the moving of individuals from one caste to another based on one's actions and performance in society. Isn't this concept of Hinduism true in modern living? Of course, it is.

Question 12 Child: Mom, please tell me about the Hindu calendar. How is it different from the Gregorian calendar?

Mother: Most fasts and festivals in Hinduism are based on the lunar calendar year. According to this, one lunar year is divided into 12 months of 30 days each. Each month is divided into two halves of 15 days, dark and bright. The names of the Hindu months in relation to the western calendar are:

  1. Chaitra/March-April
  2. Vaishakha/April-May
  3. Jyestha/May-June
  4. Ashadha/June-July
  5. Shravana/July-August
  6. Bhadrapada/August-September
  7. Ashwina/September-October
  8. Kartika/October-November
  9. Margsheersha/November-December
  10. Pausha/December-January
  11. Magha/ January-February
  12. Phalguna/February-March.

The 11th day of each half(Ekadashi) and the full moon day of each month (Purnima) are considered very auspicious for fasts and worship and for obtaining blessings from the Almighty Lord.

 

Question 13 Child: Mom, can you tell me something about the Hindu festivals and fasts?

Mother: My child, there are many designated days to fast throughout the Hindu year. Fasts are considered to be an important part of many Hindu festivals and worship. All Hindu festivals and fasts have great religious significance as well as social love and hygienic elements embedded in them. These fasts and festivals are meant to relieve people from worldly day to day routine, and make them relaxed, cheerful and happy. I will briefly tell you about some of the important festivals and fasts which are commonly observed by Hindus. They are:

  • Holi, the festival of colors, is celebrated in the spring on the full moon (purnima) day of the month of Phalguna. It signifies the destruction of the demoness Holika, the sister of the demon, Hiranyakashipu, and the preservation of the child-devotee and very righteous person Prahlad. Lighting of bonfires, symbolizing burning of the demoness, the mutual splashing of brighly colored waters (usually the color of blood, red) and socializing with family and friends are the celebration aspects of Holi.
  • Deepawali or Diwali, the festival of light occurs in the autumn on the fifteenth day of the dark side of the month (amavashya) of Kartika. It signifies Lord Rama's homecoming after 14 years of exile. It is the gayest of all Hindu festivals. Every city, town and village is cleaned and decorated with numerous flickering lamps or electric lights. It is a great social festival which is dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi. It is also a celebration of the new year (based on Vikram Calendar) by buisiness people.
  • Navaratri or Dashahara, the festival of nine nights, is celebrated in autumn, between the first (Mahalaya day) and the tenth day of the bright half of the month of Ashwina (Vijaya Dashami day when Lord Rama Killed Ravana). It is dedicated to Goddess Durga or Kali (goddess of valor). The festival signifies the victory of Lord Rama over demon Ravana indicating supremacy of goodness over evils. Frequently, during the festival people burn the effigies of Ravana and worship mother Durga.
  • Makara Sankranti is a festival to celebrate the start of the Hindu new year according to the solar Hindu calendar and takes place on January 14 every year in the month of Magha. It is celebrated with social get-togethers, feasts, group songs and dances. Makara Sankranti festival is also known as Lohri or Pongal.
  • Shivaratri, the wedding celebration of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, takes place on the 14th day of the dark half of the month of Phalguna and is dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva. Fasting until the worship is considered very desirable for blessings by the Lord.
  • Vasanta Panchami is celebrated at the coming of spring on the fifth day of the bright half of the month of Magha to adore the Goddess of learning, Saraswati. The color yellow, a symbol of auspiciousness, spirituality and the spring season, becomes common during the festivities.
  • Rama Navami, the birthday of Lord Rama, is on the ninth day of the bright half of the month of Chaitra and is dedicated to the worship of Lord Rama. Recitation of the Ramayana and stage-playing the life story of Lord Rama called Ramaleela are some of the important parts of the celebration.
  • Janmashtami, the birthday of Lord Krishna, is on the eight day of the dark half of the month of Bhadrapada and is dedicated to the worship of Lord Krishna. The worship usually takes place during the midnight hour after which devotees break their fasts kept for the occasion for obtaining blessings.
  • Ugadi, Vishu and Gudi Parva are the Hindu new year celebrations that fall on the first day of the month of Chaitra according to the lunar calendar. The festival signals the end of the winter harvesting season and the start of the upcoming one. Thanksgiving to God is celebrated by rejoicing through dancing and singing on the occasion.
  • Onam, a social festival in the month of Bhadrapada is dedicated to Lord Vishnu in the Dwarf incarnation form. Decorating the houses with flowers and boat racing are some of the form of rejoicing the occasion.
  • Hanumana or Mahaveera Jayanti is celebrated on the birthday of the god of strength, Hanumana, by adoring him. The day falls on the full moon (Purnima) day of the month of Chaitra.
  • Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated on the fourth day of the brightside of Bhadrapada by worshiping the elephant headed God of wisdom and obstacles. An image of the Lord is freshly made and decorated for the worship.
  • Raksha Bandhana or Bhaiya Dooj is celebrated as a token of a sister's love for her brother. Sisters tie a Rakhi, a colorful combination of threads around the wrist of their brothers symbolizing the love and well wishes. Brothers give presents to their sisters in return. Raksha Bandhan falls on the full moon day of Shravana and Bhaiya Dooj falls on the second day of the bright side of Kartika.
  • Teej or Karva Chauth is celebrated as a wife's benediction for her husband. Married women keep a fast for the well being of their husbands for that day. Teej falls on the third day of the dark side of Bhadrapada and Karva Chauth falls on the fourth day of the bright side of Kartika.
  • Guru purnima is the day when the Guru, the spiritual teacher for an individual, is honored and worshiped. It falls on the full moon day of the month of Ashadha. As a matter of fact the Almighty Lord is adored indirectly in the form of the Guru who has imparted the knowledge and wisdom to his disciple.

 

Question 14 Child: Can you please tell me something about the stages of life in Hinduism?

Mother: Yes, Hindus believe that spiritual development in one's life can be achieved by passing through four equal stages during a life span of 108 years. Each stage is called ashrama, and spans 27 years. In the first or child stage, the development of moral values are emphasized by studying with teachers. In the second stage, the pleasures of marriage and family life are enjoyed along with other aspirations and achievements while good citizenship is emphasized. In the third stage, less emphasis is put on worldly affairs and more attention is given to the spiritual aspects. This is to prepare for the fourth and final stage when a Hindu is supposed to experience the true spirituality of nature and be close to the final objective of liberation from worldly bondage (moksha).

Question 15 Child: Mom, can you please tell me something about Yoga? People often talk about Yoga exercises, and they say that these originally came from Hindus.

Mother: Yes, they are correct. Hindus seek enlightenment through Yoga. Yoga is a vast system of seeking spirituality in life by controlling body and mind. The word itself means "union with God." There are several paths for achieving this union and there are several Yogas mentioned in our scriptures. One of many Yogas is Hatha Yoga and deals with physical exercises for good health. Asanas and breath control system is called pranayama. These asanas and pranayamas are based on activating the seven coiled energy centers in the human body called chakras. It is logical that good health will induce a sound mind, hence better concentration on God can be realized. It is this particular Yoga, which is only a small part of the Hindu Yoga system that you often hear about in the western world

Question 16 Child: Mom, sometimes you talk about sacred rites and ceremonies. Are those related to our religion?

Mother: Very much so. A Hindu way of living is wrapped around various holy rites called Sanskar for obtaining spiritual nourishment, peace of mind and the ultimate goal of liberation, moksha. These sanskars consist of rituals and sacrifices that are performed during a Hindu life for receiving spirituality and high sanctity. They give a spiritual touch to the important events at different stages of a Hindu life-- from pre-birth to post-death. There are 16 important sanskars prescribed in our scriptures that purify a Hindu life. A ceremonial hair cutting for the first time after birth or a ceremony for the purpose of initiation is a good example of a rite. There are some rites which are performed even before birth. Some important sanskars include the naming of a child (Namakaran), the formal initiation to Hinduism (Upanayan), marriage (Vivah), and the rites after death (Shradha).

Question 17 Child: Mom, I often hear about vegetarian and non vegetarian foods in Hindu homes. Could you please tell me something about this?

Mother: As I mentioned earlier, our scriptures show us ways to obtain a sound body and mind in order to lead a proper way of life. Proper intake of food is necessary for this purpose. Hence the scriptures recommend only those foods which are tasty and can be digested easily and such foods are said to be in the "mode of goodness" (satwik). Vegetarian food by nature falls in this category. Although our scriptures do not say specifically not to eat non-vegetarian food, but they do emphasize the mode of goodness considerations in selecting the foods we eat. The selection between the two types of foods is up to the individual.

Question 18 Child: Mom, you have given me a broad description of Hinduism. Can you please tell me briefly who is a Hindu and what a Hindu does?

Mother: Yes. I have told you various aspects of the Hindu way of life. Now I'll repeat the major points and add a few more important facts. First of all, I emphasize that Hinduism is a religion of freedom. In the recommendations for Hindu way of living, there is absolute freedom for understanding the nature of God, forms of god and worship and the goal of life. Those who accept the teachings of the Vedas as the basis of dharma, follow the rule of conduct as instructed therein, believe in one Supreme God Brahma, consider life to be sacred, practice non-violence (Ahimsa), and believe in the rebirth of a soul (reincarnation), are Hindus.

Also, those who see godliness in mother, father,teacher, and all guests and believe in the holiness of the river Ganges which is considered to be Lord Brahma's blessing to the world, are Hindus. Those who believe in the holiness of cows which are considered as Lord Krishna's loving companions and the providers of mother-like nourishing milk for infants, are Hindus. And those who believe in the Bhagavad-Gita, and the Gayatri Mantra, the supreme and powerfully divine chant, are Hindus.

Besides visiting deities in temples, a Hindu maintains a shrine in the home for regular worship. Home worship is common on a social basis and also when family and friends worship together. Hindus also respect all elders and believe in giving to charities. Above all, Hindus love all religions of the world. Living as a member of the "world family" and praying for the welfare of the entire human race are the ways of Hindu life.

OM -- SHANTIH (PEACE)! SHANTIH (PEACE)! SHANTIH (PEACE)! -- OM

Hinduism Simplified : Summary

[Author's Note : A one page of summary of Hindu beliefs and disciplines as Hinduism Simplified is attached at the end of the booklet for a quick reference. The ten disciplines (Yams and Niyams) of sage Patanjali have been likened to the ten commandments in the religious teachings of the West. This comparison has been used only to provide catchword for youth. As a matter of fact, Hinduism recommends, it does not command.]

5 Principles

  1. God exists; One absolute, Om. One trinity: Brahma, Vishnu Mahesh. Several divine forms.
  2. Divine nature of human beings
  3. Oneness of existence through love
  4. Harmony of all religions
  5. Knowledge of 3 Gs : Ganga (sacred river), Gita (sacred script), Gayatri (sacred enchant)

10 Disciplines (10 Commandments)

  1. Satya (Truth)
  2. Ahimsa (Non violence)
  3. Brahmacharya (Celibacy, non adultery)
  4. Asteya (Non stealing or desire to possess)
  5. Aparigraha (Do not bribe or get corrupted by accepting gifts)
  6. Shauch (Cleanliness)
  7. Santosh (Contentment)
  8. Swadhyaya (Reading of scriptures)
  9. Tapas (Austerity, penance-practice)
  10. Ishwarpranidhan (Regular prayers)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Hinduism Simplified

For youths growing up in the western environment

By Gangadhar Choudhary

485, Rams Way, NW
Tucker, GA 30084-2058 Tel : 770-925 8294 Email : gangadharc@yahoo.com

 

VIVEKANAND VEDANTA SOCIETY

5423 South Hyde Park Boulevard Chicago, IL 60615

FOREWORD

With great pleasure I have gone through the booklet entitled Hinduism Simplified prepared by Sri Gangadhar Choudhary. This booklet is intended to convey the basics of Hinduism to the children of Hindu parents in this country. Unlike their parent s who grew up in India and received the advantages of our rich socio-cultural heritage, the children of Hindu parents in this country are growing up in a totally different environment. It is very important that they receive and assimilate at least the ru diments of Hinduism and thus equip themselves to face the challenges inevitable while growing up in a western technological society. The present booklet seeks to fill this important need. The question-and-answer format chosen by the author is particular ly appropriate for this purpose. I believe that this booklet will be very useful to Hindu parents residing in this country in giving their children the essential background about the sublime truths of Vedanta and the noble values of Sanatana Dharma.

December 14, 1987 Swami Bhashyananda

Head, Vivekananda Vedata Society

 

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