A bitesize chunk of the Hindu faith ...

by El blanko 10 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • El blanko
    El blanko

    I wrote this for a friend a few days ago and thought it may have some use here. I realize that this is only scratching the surface of the faith and hope I have not offended anybody.

    The Hindu faith has affected millions of people for hundreds of years and re-emerged as a guiding light in contemporary times.

    Colourful and often charismatic gurus helped create the vision of a cycle of life that we term as reincarnation.

    The traditional and orthodox teachings of the Hindu were written probably between 800 and 600 BCE. There are said to be 10?000 original writings which are divided into different areas and are known as ?Vedas? (scriptures if you like).

    Between the polytheistic world view (the belief that there are many Gods) to the lake of infinity that each of us is said to belong to (Brahman), there can be no doubt that these concepts have helped forge the spiritual vision of millions, and in the current so called ?new age? climate, the belief in reincarnation has gained immense popularity.

    Without even knowing its origin, many have mentally acknowledged this theory as an essential and deeper truth.

    Prime time television shows are seen to feature the generic hypnotherapist, helping to regress a subject to a previous life. Often the subject will recall a profound vision through the eyes of their former self, which then seems to colour their present day personality.

    The 1960s stands out as the decade which created a boom in alternate versions of worship; blending Eastern mysticism with Western Christian dogma. Through that decade the age of the guru gained popular standing once more.

    Then by the 1970s artists like The Beatles, Hawkwind and The Moody Blues each added their nod of approval to philosophies that would help shape the mind of future generations. Singing songs about past lives, cycles of life, and about rejection of the material world; these anthems helped educate and enthrall the mind.

    Psychedelic drugs twisted perception of this reality into something that appeared to literally go beyond and touch the supernatural. With this heady cocktail of chemicals and the underpinning Eastern doctrines resonating through pop culture, the gurus spell was cast anew.

    So then, what are the basic teachings of the Hindu?

    ? We each hold a spark of life called ?Atman? (think soul if you will). In fact, we are Atman to the Hindu.

    ? Atman is part of the universal wholeness known as Brahman. Brahman is everything and is classed as the universal spirit.

    ? Brahman represents the universe outside of the body and Atman represents the universe inside of the body and both are equally as important as each other.

    ? There is not a singular God (monotheism).

    ? There are many Gods; each representing aspects of our life and all creating a complete universal picture.

    ? To the Hindu there are 3 important deities to understand: Brahma ? The creator / Vishnu ? The sustainer / Shiva ? The destroyer.

    ? The actual aim of the Hindu is to attain divine status. This is achieved through the cycle of rebirth and in a sense to be reborn is to remain imperfect.

    ? Karma is an important factor to consider. Karma is seen as the energy that drives a man. If a man commits a selfish act he is said to have bad Karma. Bad Karma is to be avoided, this inhibits spiritual progress. Presumably, the greater amount of bad Karma one has in the bank at death, the less chance there is to link with the highest divine state.

    ? An inward focus is encouraged through meditation. A casting off of the material world around us and a centring of the mind is to be sought by an acolyte of the Hindu faith.

    ? The Hindu faith is fragmented into different philosophical schools, yet each retain the basic pillars of the faith. The variance being manifest through interpretation of those pillars.

    ? and there you have it. A bite size chunk of Hinduism for the beginner

  • poppers

    Hinduism is certainly colorful and exotic to western minds, and yet it is still a belief system and as such has no more or no less value in terms of revealing Reality than all other belief systems. The ego will latch onto anything in order to find meaning, the mind will endlessly ponder and seek more profound truths, ego-based arguments will escalate when positions are challenged and defended and more sharply defined separation will occur, and underneath it all shines Reality in its pristine clarity watching it all, remaining hidden in plain sight.

    Thanks for your clearly written short primer on this fascinating religion.

  • Mulan

    I used to have a very good friend who was a Hindu. I haven't seen or spoken to him in years, since he lives in Malaysia, but in discussing religion, I was surprised to hear him talk about God as though it were one god. I asked about it and he said there is one supreme god. True the Hindus have many gods, but the way he explained it made me realize it is just another way of saying there is god, and lesser gods. Religions are all so similar.

    He was concerned for me and my loss of faith and tried to get me to rely on god again. That was what started the discussion. His wife would refer to god as though it were just one, and she explained it the same way. I thought at the time that it was like the way Catholics talk about god and the saints.

  • gitasatsangha

    Great Note el blanko!

    Mulan: some hindus do believe in a "Supreme God". Its a pretty wide tapestry.

    Hinduism is a convenient word, but there are so probably thousands of different faiths incorpoarated under the umbrellat of that world. The main unifying ties of hinduism seem to be the Vedas, the Caste System, and ethnicity.

    Vaishnaivs believe that Vishnu is a supreme deity, somewhat akin to the Judeao-Christian "God", and that the rest are basically demigods or else other avatars of Vishnu himself. The ISKCON sect (Hare Krishnas) take this to the extreme. Vaishnaivs are pretty much monotheistics.

    Saivites believe that Shiva is the dominant deity. They aren't particualrly monotheistic though.

    Smartas typically reject the concept of a God-and-people on various levels. They believe in a monist universe where everything is part and parcel god of "Braham", not to be confused with Brahma or Brahmin. They may worship the gods, anyway, but only as exalted persons on a higher level of realization. The Unpanishads are very important to these practioners. The Vedanta Society is probably the largest group of Smartas in America, and unlike many Hinduism sects, it does have Western converts.

    Shaktas tend to have more devotion to the femine aspects of Brahman. Their main deities are therefore Godesses like Durga and Kali. Shakta has never really made it over from Bharat so its little known abroad, but has many many adherants.

    There are other sects. You can't really consider Jainism or Buddhism to be sects of Hinduism as both reject the Vedas and the Caste System, but they sprang from hinduism, the same way Islam and Christianity both came from the Jewish faith.

  • L_A_Big_Dawg

    Hinduism? No racist religious systems for me.

    I'm too dark to be even considered worthy of the great braman's teachings. After all the darker the skin the worse the karma.

    I read a quote of a Hindu braman once. He said, "We leave Africa to the Christians."


  • El blanko
    El blanko

    Yep, the caste system is an oddity amidst a religion that appears on the surface to preach tolerance.

    I read that the caste system is necessary to create structure and should be seen as the small supporting the tall and the tall supporting the small - this was probably devised by a light-skinned guru in good social standing to help maintain his palace of riches

    I think you will find that the contemporary and Westernized version of the Hindu faith has done away with the idea of rank through skin colour, but the origin of that belief system is clearly there and active in other parts of the world..!

  • gitasatsangha

    Caste is alive and well in India. THat's why so many dalits (untouchables) convert to buddhism,bahai, islam, and xtianity in India. It frees them from the caste system.

  • Carmel

    Reincarnation and polytheism in Hindi are realtively recent (within the last six centuries) permutations just as the trinity and personification of the devil were in Christianity. Chrisna's promise to "return" when humanity became burdened with corruption of all kinds, led to the idea of a literal reincarnation and became a "school" within Hinduism. The dividing of God by His attributes followed a similar history. Hinduism has had longer to "evolve" than Christianity, yet has fewer "schools of thought".


  • El blanko
    El blanko

    Hmmm... strange Carmel, according to the book I read the history of the belief system stems right back before Christ and there are possibe links with ancient Grecian philosophy and reincarnation has always been a key feature ..?

  • talesin

    Fascinating, Captain!

    My old landlord is a 'swami'. What a delightful man he is. He would drop by my place on Sundays, and bring me a plate of Indian food. Every week, after temple, they had a potluck, and he would make up a plate for me. He knew I was sick, and alone, and always made that effort to encourage me and treat me to an Indian feast.

    He also told me about the Hindu version of hell and heaven.

    A feast is laid out, and everyone around the table. The problem is, that you can't bend your elbows. So you can't raise the food to your own mouth.

    Those who are in heaven, are feeding each other, and enjoying the feast.

    Those in hell, can't figure it out, and remain hungry. Interesting, huh?

    Oh, and let's not forget that the Hindus are the ones who gave us the Kama Sutra. Many thank yous!

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