Author: Shivashankar Rao (Bangalore, India)
There appears to be a lot of confusion among some members of the group on the various aspects of Sanatana Dharma with some of the conservatives asserting on the
several outdated and irrelevant rules which are neither followed by anyone nor is it possible to follow them and some others questioning the very basis of the sacred dharma.
The following are some of the fundamentals of Sanatana Dharma and is given for the benefit of those who are interested to know.- certainly not for those who have a closed mind.
Hinduism (Sanatanadharma) is like a noble mother who cares for all her children including those that deny her. Heretics like atheist, agnostic, even a blasphemer are not punished, but IGNORED. In course of time, if they repent, they have a chance of redeeming themselves.
Hinduism is a comprehensive system incorporating in itself all aspects of human life- philosophy, religion, ethics, all facets of culture (arts, science and literature). Saamanya dharmas like ahimsa, satya, asteya, daya, titiksha, vinaya, indriya nigraha, self control, shanti, shoucha, Tapas and bhakti are the ones which train a person to tune his life to be in harmony with the society.
But the samskaras which purify and refine the psychic personality prepare him to refine his own life. Hinduism accepts the existence of God and posits him as the final goal of our life.
It places many paths before us to suit persons of different temperaments, but all of them lead to the same experience of that God. It provides us emotional satisfaction through rituals and festivals.
Recognizing the shortcomings of the human intellect, Hinduism recognizes finality of the Vedas. Hinduism which is considered as a way of life that helps to elevate oneself is better than a religion that makes an individual dogmatic and anti every body else!!!
Remove confusions in understanding Hinduism:-
Hinduism is not idolatry.(idols however act as stepping stones to higher mystical experience.).
Hinduism is not fatalism.(it however preaches that one reaps what one sows).
Caste system is based on division of labor and is a social arrangement.
Hinduism does not preach untouchability (although it had been practiced firstly due to reasons of health, later because of prejudices).
Hinduism is not stagnant although it did stagnate occasionally because of non adherence to fundamental principles).
Based on vedas and upanishads, six systems have been evolved based on intuition and vision.
These are called darshanas and they deal with topics like God, creation, ethics and morality, goal of life, path to perfection etc.
Vedanta is the crowing glory of Hindu philosophy.
According to this, the supreme power projects the universe, sustains it and withdraws it to itself and that power is called brahman.
Upanishads, brahmasutras and the bhagavadgita are considered as the three important foundations of vedanta.(called prasthanatraya).
Different interpretations of upanishads and brahmasutras have brought out three main branches of vedanta philosophy.
Advaitha, Vishishtadvaita & Dvaita.
All these agree on karma and rebirth.(as you sow, so you reap).
All the three agree on transmigration of souls and rebirth.
1. God is one but can manifest through various names and forms.
2. The final goal of life is God realization.
This can be achieved by:
1. Path of knowledge (jnana marga).
2. Path of devotion (bhaktimarga).
3. Path of duties (karma marga).
The deities- trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, Devi, Ganapati etc., are all manifestations of the same supreme power – Brahman.
(These can be compared to the sugar dolls with various forms and shapes giving the same taste).
These forms and their mantras have been given to us by a galaxy of saints and seers.
The idols are aids to our internal meditation.
Saints like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa have scaled great spiritual heights by
In the journey towards the final goal of life, one has to go step by step and not jump steps.
As I pointed out earlier, “PRATHAMA PRATIMA POOJA, JAPA STOTRAANI MADHYAMA, UTTAM MAANASEE POOJA, SOAHAM POOJOTTAMOTTAM”.
Without understanding the overall picture of the mountainous forest, if some one says that there is confusion in it, what does it show ?
Let people not get misled.