It is the true culture of Indians in India. Many call it A WAY OF LIFE. It is not an organized religion like Christianity or Islam. It has no founder. It has no Pope. It has no hierarchy. Just a lot of scriptures.
In Hindu scriptures, you are actually studying about the HISTORY AND CULTURE OF INDIA.
As far as I know, HINDUISM is mothers of all modern religions in the world. SIKHISM, BUDDHISM, ZOROASTRIANISM and to some extent JAINISM originated from Hinduism.
WHO IS ITS FOUNDER?
No body in particular. It is the research output of countless learned men called RISHIES who were like masters.
WHEN DID HINDUISM TAKE BIRTH?
Nobody knows. If you go by Hindu mythological stories, Hinduism is trillions of years old. If you go by Max Muller, the German philosopher, it is at least 8000 to 9000 years old. Hinduism might have started as Dravidian civilization and later merged with Aryan civilization. Studying the relics of Mohenjadaro and Harappa excavations that what I conclude.
Hinduism has the strange capability to ABSORB AND GROW FROM ALL QUARTERS and grow. That is the reason why in it you can see relics of all other civilizations like Egyptian, Celtic, Mayan, Greek, Roman etc. To me it does not matter the exact date it was born, since nobody can prove or disprove the exact date. I am more concerned about the contributions of Hinduism to the world, than when it took birth or where it took birth.
WHAT WAS THE ORIGINAL NAME OF HINDUISM?
SANATHANA DHARMA or RIGHTEOUSNESS FOREVER was the original name of Hinduism. It was Persians who invaded India during 6th century B.C. who gave the name HINDUISM meaning the RELIGION OF PEOPLE LIVING NEAR RIVER INDUS. In Persian the letter H and S are pronounced almost the same so Persians mistook the word SIND [ Sanskrit name for Indus] to H and then started calling the people and culture with words such as HINDUS and HINDUISM.
WHAT IS THE LANGUAGE IN WHICH THE HINDU SCRIPTURES WERE WRITTEN?
SANSKRIT. It is older than Hebrew and Latin. The first words in English language came from Sanskrit. The word MOTHER came from the SANSKRIT word MATA and FATHER came from the SANSKRIT word PITA as per the PBS video THE STORY OF ENGLISH.
WHO IS A HINDU?
Hindu scriptures state that anyone who search after truth is a Hindu. According to Hindu scriptures, there is ONE AND ONLY GOD and ONE TRUTH. The very first book of Hindus RIGVEDA proclaim, " EKAM SAT, VIPRAH BAHUDHA VADANTI" (There is only one truth, only men describe it in different ways). So a Jew or a Christian or a Moslem who is in search after truth is automatically a Hindu.
WHAT ATTRACTS ONE TO HINDUISM?
The concept of ““UTMOST FREEDOM OF THOUGHTS And ACTIONS.”” That what attracts many to Hinduism. Not even one person was banished or killed in Hinduism, because he or she wrote a wrong scripture or propagated a wrong doctrine. Believe it or not, orthodox Hindu Vedas coexisted with erotic Tantras. Hinduism never ever had Salaman Rushdie. Hinduism will never ever have a Salaman Rushdie. You can proudly say that you are an atheist and still introduce yourself as a Hindu!!!!!!!
WHAT IS THE HINDU CONCEPT OF GOD?
Hindus believe in ONE GOD THAT IS GOD BRAHMAN which expresses itself in millions of forms. Hindus do not believe God has human form or any other form. God is nameless and timeless. But there is nothing wrong to worship a God with name and form [nama-roopa], since man cannot conceive anything without any name and form. If you study the Holy Bible, Jehovah did not give proper description of himself either. Instead Jehovah said I AM, WHAT I AM to Moses, when he asked Jehovah, ““Who are you?””
IF THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD, WHY HINDUS WORSHIP MANY GODS?
To begin with Hinduism is a very ancient culture-a belief system and it never had a house cleaning in its entire history. Everything you see in the Hindu scriptures, ware written in scriptures since their origin, unlike in other religions where they have thrown out many ““beliefs & concepts”” calling Religious meetings [Councils] time and time again.
As per Hindu scriptures, BY WORSHIPING GOD BY ANY NAME, YOU ARE ACTUALLY WORSHIPING ONE AND ONLY GOD BRAHMAN and that is the reason why they have no problem even worshiping Jesus Christ as God. So a Hindu believes that by worshiping God with any form or name, you are actually worshiping the SAME GOD BRAHMAN.
The Bhagavad Gita said: CALL HIM BY WHATEVER NAME YOU LIKE, WORSHIP HIM IN ANY FORM YOU LIKE, IT ALL GOES TO THAT ONE ULTIMATE, INFINITE, SUPREME REALITY.
WHY HINDUS WORSHIP IDOLS?
Show me any person, who does not believe in an idol, image, or symbol and I will show you the greatest liar on earth. All religions have some concept of God with name and form, but Hindus alone have the courage to admit that fact. The Cross in the Christian church, the picture of Jesus Christ, the statue of Mary, statues of patron saints are all idols. If anyone bow in front of any of them, they are breaking laws of Old Testament [LED . 26:1, and EX 20:2-5.] Idol worship is every where and I never ever met a man who does not worship something or someone. In fact, the first sculpture of Christ was in the form of a small boy holding on to a sheep. Now, every where in the world, people have pictures of Christ according their culture. A loving young white man in USA, a tough man looking like a judge in Russia, a nice black man in Africa and a man looking like a typical man from China with a sheepish beard in China. I RESPECT ALL THOSE PICTURES. Believe it or not, ALL OF THEM ARE IDOL WORSHIPS. Believe it or not, there is a black stone in the KABBA, [ Mecca-Saudi Arabia] where Moslems
worships. Moslems theologians do not see the worship in the Mecca as IDOL worship, but as far as I can see it is IDOL worship. Of course, like Hindus, Moslems also do not state Idol is God, but a means to concentrate on God.
Once again, God is spirit...NO WORD OR IMAGE CAN DESCRIBE OR DEPICT GOD OR CAN ENCOMPASS THE GREATNESS OF GOD. God is neither the father nor the mother. God is neither a man or a woman. At the same time, since man cannot conceive anything without NAME AND FORM, man has the right to worship God with a form.
HOW WAS HINDUISM STARTED?
According to Hindu scriptures it started as SRUTI---THAT WHICH IS HEARD. The great seers of ancient times called RISHIES who had perfected themselves have heard in their hearts, eternal truths and they taught those truths to disciples by telepathy and later they wrote them in books. VEDAS and UPANISHADS are known as SRUTI literature rest is called SMRITI [ THAT WHAT IS REMEMBERED ] literature
WHAT ARE THE SACRED BOOKS OF HINDUISM?
The very first sacred books of Hinduism is called VEDAS. VEDAS means KNOWLEDGE. There are four VEDAS and they claim to teach men the highest aspects of truths which can lead them to God.
RIG VEDA----------KNOWLEDGE OF HYMNS
YAJUR VEDA--------KNOWLEDGE OF LITURGY
SAMA VEDA---------KNOWLEDGE OF MUSIC
ATHARVA VEDA--- KNOWLEDGE GIVEN BY SAGE ATHARVA
NEXT important Hindu scriptures are called 18 PURANAS AND UPANISHADS..There are 108 Upanishads but 13 are
HOW MANY SCRIPTURES HINDUS HAVE?
Thousands....Nobody can give you an exact number. Please look at my EDUCATIONAL FLOW charts to get an idea of what I am talking about. TOTAL 108 UPANISHADS. Principle ones 13.
Some of the Upanishads are named after the sages who answered all questions. Some as per the first word in the Upanishad.
1. -- ISA UPANISHAD
2. -- KENA UPANISHAD
3. -- KATHA UPANISHAD
4. -- PRASNA UPANISHAD
5. -- MUNDAKA UPANISHAD
6. -- MANDUKYA UPANISHAD
7. -- AITAREYA UPANISHAD
8. -- TAITTIRYA UPANISHAD
9. -- CHANDOGYA UPANISHAD
10. - BRIHAD-ARANYAKA UPANISHAD
11 -- KAUSHITAKI UPANISHAD
12. - SHVETASHVATARA UPANISHAD
13 -- MAITRI UPANISHAD
SMRITI LITERATURE CONSISTS OF LARGE NUMBER OF BOOKS.
A. VEDANGAS: scriptures attached to Vedas.
1.-- DHARMA SUTRAS: [Codes of Manu, Yatnyavalkya etc]
2.-- JYOTHISHA [ astrology and astronomy ]
3.-- KALPA [rituals and legal matters]
4. -- SIKSHA [phonetics ]
5.-- CHHANDAS [measurements]
6. -- NIRUKTA [Etymology]
7.-- VYAKARANA [ grammar ]
B. DARSANAS [HINDU JNANA YOGA - PATH OF KNOWLEDGE]
6 of them
1.-- NYASA: by sage Gautama wrote Nyaya sutras
2.-- VAISHESHIKA: by sage Kanada wrote Vaisheshika sutra
3.-- SAMKHYA: by sage Kapila- Gita starts with this philosophy
4.-- YOGA: by Pathanjali who wrote PATHANJALI YOGASUTRA
5.-- MIMAMSA: by sage Jaimini who wrote MIMAMSA SUTRA
6.-- VEDANTA: by sage Veda Vyasa
VEDANTA [AT THE END OF VEDAS meaning it started at the end of Vedic age] has two parts.
1.-- ADVAITA PHILOSOPHY- ONE ONLY -great exponent ADI SANKARACHARYA
2.--DWITA PHILOSOPHY - TWO - almost all Vaishnava saints were exponents of this philosophy
C.-- ITHIHASAS: MYTHOLOGICAL SCRIPTURES
1.---RAMAYANA - story of Rama, written by Valmiki
2.---MAHABHARATA - story of Pandvas & Kauravas 220,000 verses, 18 chapters
BHAGAVAD GITA is part of this scripture
3.---PURANAS - 18 are most important MAHABHAGAVATAM - is the most read important scripture of ISKCON
4.---TANTRAS - started during Vedic age. consists of many things such as cosmology, erotic exercises etc Tantra is very important and very vast.
5.---SKANDAM- biggest MYTHOLOGICAL SCRIPTURES in Hinduism more then 80,000 Shlokas.
There are still a lot more scriptures in Hinduism. I should say that there are more than 1000 scriptures in Hinduism.
IS AYURVEDA [ HINDU MEDICINE] A SCRIPTURE?
Yes it is a very ancient scripture and it is a part of ATHARVA VEDA.
WHAT ARE THE HINDU MORAL CODES?
Hindu moral codes are written a collection of books called DHARMA SUTRAS. Hindu moral Codes are the integral part of Hinduism and they come under the big umbrella called DHARMA.---it is very difficult to translate the word DHARMA--- Some of the codes are AHIMSA [NON-KILLING], SATHYA [TRUTH], DHARMA[DUTY], KARUNA [COMPASSION], VIRYA[FORTITUDE] , DAMA[SELF-RESTRAINT], SAUCHA[PURITY]
WHAT IS THE NAME OF HINDU HOLY BIBLE?
Hindus actually do not have a Holy Bible like Christians.---Hindus have many scriptures and all of them are equally important.
WHAT IS AN AVATAR?
An AVATAR is an incarnation of God. Whenever God come down to earth in any form then Hindus call that an AVATAR. According to that definition, Jesus Christ can be considered as an AVATAR, even though there is no mention about Jesus Christ in any of the Hindu scriptures.
WHAT IS THE LAW OF KARMA?
Hindus believe in LIFE AFTER DEATH. They also believe in the Biblical concept WHATEVER A MAN SOWETH, THAT SHALL HE REAP. That is the basis of karmic law. Every action and every thought has a result. Hindus believe that every thought and every action is weighed on the scale of eternal justice.
The law of karma is one of CAUSE AND EFFECT. Nobody can escape from the KARMIC DEBT. I believe Christ took care of the KARMIC DEBT of all the apostles so that he can make them FISHERMEN OF MEN.
WHAT HAPPENS TO US WHEN WE DIE?
According to Hinduism, the body alone dies. the soul within the body never dies, But the path the soul takes is decided upon the past actions which are known as ““karmas.”” So the actions of former body does not die with the body. past actions are attached to the body and they decide WHAT KIND OF BODY THE SOUL TAKES IN THE NEXT LIFE.
WHAT IS SALVATION IN HINDUISM?
HINDU SALVATION is very different from Christian salvation. In Hinduism, SALVATION is known as SELF-REALIZATION. Hindu scriptures state that because of karmas, man is deluded to believe that he is the perishable body instead of realizing that he is the imperishable individual soul [ATMAN] within the body.
The moment man attains that subtle, spiritual truth, or realizes that ““I AM ATMAN, THE INDIVIDUAL SOUL, THE MIRROR IMAGE OF PARAMATHMAN-GOD, MAN WILL ATTAIN SALVATION. ””
So, Hindu scriptures state that when an individual soul exhausts all its karmas and merges with GOD then Hindus say that soul has attained salvation.
DOES THAT MEAN ONE HAS TO TAKE MILLIONS OF LIVES TO ACHIEVE SALVATION??
NO, absolutely not. That question is the question many ask. Hindu scriptures, especially the Bhagavad Gita very clearly states that one can attain salvation in one life, provided one surrender his/hers will to the will of God.
Lord Krishna said: EVEN IF YOU ARE THE GREATEST SINNER IN THE WORLD, YOU CAN CROSS THE OCEAN OF SIN, BY THE BARK OF WISDOM"
Lord Krishna said: THOSE WHO SURRENDER ALL ACTIONS TO ME AND REGARD ME AS THE SUPREME GOAL AND WORSHIP ME WITH INTENSE DEVOTION WILL BE SAVED BY ME FROM REPEATED BIRTHS AND DEATHS."
In another verse, Lord Krishna said: GIVE UP ALL YOUR RIGHTEOUS AND NON-RIGHTEOUS ACTIONS AND COME TO ME; TAKE REFUGE IN ME. THEN I SHALL FREE YOU FROM ALL SINS; GRIEVE NOT.
That ME who is mentioned is not the Lord Krishna but the ABSOLUTE SOUL or GOD. Krishna is one of the representations of that God. That GOD can appear in another form like Christ or without any form or name at all.
HOW CAN ONE ACHIEVE SALVATION or SELF-REALIZATION?
In Hinduism SALVATION is known as SELF REALIZATION and that is why HINDU SALVATION is different from Christian salvation. Hindu scriptures state that "Man's problem is that he is believing that he is the PERISHABLE BODY and not realizing that he is the IMPERISHABLE SOUL or ATMAN WITHIN THE BODY. The moment he realises that fact, he is a realised man--Then he had SALAVATION.
HOW YOU REALIZE THAT? How to achieve SELF REALIZATION?
Through one or all the four paths
1 JNANA YOGA-----PATH OF KNOWLEDGE
2 KARMA YOGA-----PATH OF SELFLESS ACTIONS
3 BHAKTI YOGA----PATH OF DEVOTION
4 RAJA YOGA------PATH OF BREATH CONTROL AND PRANAYAMA
Most of all religious devotees of all religions are BHAKTI YOGIES whether they believe in Hinduism or not. Very good Christians go to church everyday and surrender themselves to the deity of Christ are BHAKTI YOGIS. So too Moslems who surrender their personal will to the will of Allah. Hinduism is the only religion explains the FOUR PATHS very well.
WHAT IS AUM [OM]?
It is the HINDU WORD representing the ALMIGHTY GOD. It is a syllable that stands for ABSOLUTE. It is uttered in the beginning as well as at the end of all Hindu prayers. To some extent it is the LOGOS of the Holy Bible. Holy Bible explains Jesus Christ to be the WORD OF GOD.
DO YOU BELIEVE THAT JOHN 1:1 CAME FROM HINDU SCRIPTURES?
YES, I think so. Long before JOHN 1:1 [70 AD] was written, Hindu Vedas [ at least 5000 BC] wrote the same thing.
"prajapathi vai agre asset"
IN THE BEGINNING WAS PRAJAPTHI, THE BRAHMAN-THE GOD,
"Tasya Vag dvitiya Aseet"
WITH WHOM WAS THE WORD;
"Vag vai parama Brahman"
AND THE WORD WAS VERILY THE SUPREME BRAHMAN- THE GOD
John 1:1 states:
IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD,
AND THE WORD WAS WITH GOD
AND THE WORD WAS GOD
WHY DO WOMEN WEAR A DOT ON THEIR FOREHEAD?
That dot is supposed to be the meeting point of eye brows. That important point is called ANJANA CHAKRA or spiritual eye. Everyone is supposed to protect that. In fact all saints protect that point with sandalwood paste..But later women & Priest started protecting that area.
WHAT IS "NAMASKAR" (NAMASTHE)?
It is the popular Hindu greeting performed by pressing two hands together and holding them near the heart. the whole act communicate to the world ' YOU AND I ARE ONE...I SALUTE AND WORSHIP THE GOD WITHIN YOU, WHICH IS A MIRROR IMAGE OF MYSELF'
DO HINDUS PRACTICE MONOGAMY?
Hindus practice monogamy and Hindus have stopped "child marriages in India by SARADA ACT  under the British. It is the Moslems in India who are allowed to marry four wives and Moslem Sariyath law allows child marriages for Moslems in India.
DO HINDU SCRIPTURES FORBID ABORTION?
Yes they do. Hindu scriptures forbid abortion. From time immemorial, Hindus consider children as gifts from God. In the code of Manu, Manu forbids abortion. One of the worst acts described in the scriptures is BHRUNA HATYA (SISU-HATYA) meaning destruction of the unborn fetus. There are prayers in the Rig Veda to guard a growing embryo. Only time abortion is allowed is when the fetus is known to be defective as per SUSRUTA SAMHITA, the Hindu Aurvedic book.
WHY HINDUS PRACTICE SUTTEE [ SATI]?
None of the Hindu scriptures mention about Sati. Suttee is the most horrendous way of widows jumping into the funeral pyre of their fallen husbands. It is an ancient ritual practiced by a warrior race of India called Rajputs. Nobody else in India, practiced Suttee. Once again, Suttee is never mentioned in any Hindu religious scripture. There is not even ONE episode of Suttee in the vast Hindu mythology.
MANY STATE HINDUISM IS VERY COMPLEX AND CONTRADICTORY!All religions are the result of the works of thousands of thinkers. Hinduism and Judaism are CULTURES and they are the mothers of all religions. New organized religions like Christianity and Islam took the best aspects of Judaism and made part of them. So too Buddhism and Jainism took the best aspects of Hinduism and made part of them. In Christianity, there were several housecleaning in its 2000 years of history. Hinduism on its part, NEVER had any HOUSE CLEANING in its history. Since Hinduism never tossed anything away, in it you will see in it primitive religion as well as very advanced thoughts.