What is Hinduism ?

Authors: Shivashankar Rao & Rami Sivan

What is Hinduism?

Author: Rami Sivan (Hindu priest and teacher of Indian Philosophy)
Jan 15th, 2020

Hinduism is correctly known as SANĀTANA DHARMA – the perennial path.
Here are three definitions of what sanātana dharma is:–

ahiṃsa satyam akrodho dānam etac caturvidham |
ajātaśatro sevasva eṣa dharma sanātanaḥ ||

Sanātana Dharma consists of four moral virtues; non-injury to any sentient being, truth, acceptance (absence of anger) and generosity — these should you practice.

adrohaḥ sarvabhūteṣu karmaṇā manasā girā |
anugrahaśca dānaṃ ca stāṃ dharma sanātanaḥ ||

The Eternal Duty (Sanātana Dharma) towards all creatures is the absence of malevolence towards them in thought, deed or word, and to practice compassion and charity towards them. (MB Vana Parva 297;35)

satyam damas tapaḥ śaucaṁ santoṣaśca kṣamārjavam |
jñānaṁ śamo dayā dānaṁ eṣā dharmaḥ sanātana ||

Sanātana Dharma consists of truth, discipline, purity, contentment, forgiveness and honesty, knowledge, peacefulness, compassion and generosity. (Garuda Purana 1:213:24)

The Basics of Hinduism

Oct 30th, 2019

Hinduism is an umbrella organisation with many different sects and religions but all of them have five things in common known as Pañca-Śraddhā

  1. BRAHMAN — the belief in an Absolute qualified by sat-chit-ānanda – space-time-consciousness. This non-conceptual, ineffable Brahman is viewed in different ways by the different sects – some call it Sat, Tat, Ka, Iśvara, Paramātma, Bhagavan, Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti, Ganesha etc.
  2. JĪVĀTMA – the individual Self – a spark, or mode, or ray of BRAHMAN which takes the form of creatures, animals, humans, gods, anti-gods. The Jīvātma is characterised by consciousness which is contracted in the various species, is limited in time and space and the ability to enjoy but it is of the same essential nature as Brahman.
  3. SAMSĀRA — the cycle of birth-death-rebirth – the ocean of conditioned existence in which we all have our being and in which we are reborn again and again.
  4. KARMA — the law of cause and effect, action and reaction – it is Karma that turns the wheel of Samsāra.
  5. MOKṢA/NIRVĀNA — the possibility of attaining release from the cycle of rebirth and reuniting with the Godhead Brahman – the details of this union vary among the sects.

All Hindu sects accept all these five key doctrines but different in their view of them and how they intersect with each other. Hence philosophy in Sanskrit is called darśana which means “view”. The different schools of thought pass the time by having lively and respectful debates with each other about these points of difference.

Obviously each of these topics can be dilated upon to the size of dozens of volumes this is why the spiritual library of Hinduism is the largest in the world.

The underlying unity in Hinduism is based on the concept of unity in plurality – we all respectfully acknowledge that there are different views and that is fine and we generally all get along together.

Hinduism is an open and organic system which is constantly changing, improving, adjusting, adapting and integrating new pieces of code and information.

I daresay that Hinduism is the only religious system which is completely compatible with science – as the facts change, so do our belief systems – for the most part – obviously there is some retardation In some minor groups and sects but very little if any regression.

What is Hinduism ?

Author: Shivashankar Rao
Date: 7/29/2019
Bangalore, India

Note: We urge the readers to read the comprehensive article on Sanatana Dharam / Hinduism on this portal along with this article.

Hindu Dharma is like a priceless jewel with numberless faces of brilliance of knowledge. It embraces many beliefs and practices, from the highest to the lowest often opposed to or contradicting each other. It can be compared to a papal tree (Aswattha). The roots of the tree are compared to the Imperishable God (unmanifest). The branches and the leaves are compared to the ever changing universe (moola prakrithi). Before creation, the latter remains in seed form and expands itself from the beginning of creation till the final devolution of creation. Then again, it returns to its seed form.

The real name is Sanatana Dharma or eternal law. All beings- born or to be born- belong to it. The tenets of our religion are applicable to the whole of humanity, whether anybody accepts the religion or not.

Dharma resolves itself into two parts- Saamanya dharma and vishesha dharma.

Distinguishing characteristics:-

Santana dharma was not founded by any one. Vedas and the Vedanta philosophy are its source. It is a way of life unlike other religions of the world.

The ultimate reality is one.- God. He is beyond forms and attributes. He can be worshiped in any form. It is individualistic and there is no intermediary between the person and God. Scriptures therefore put more emphasis on personal contact than on external forms.

Every one has to be responsible for his own actions and must face the consequences. This is the doctrine of Karma. There are many paths to reach God and all views are respected.

Conversion of religions is not sanctioned. Throughout history, imposition of views by force or coercion is not attempted.. Non violence is one of the tenets.

There is no clash with science. The results of modern science are converging towards the views of Vedanta philosophy propounded thousands of years ago.

Universal-ism:-

The roots of Sanatana Dharma goes to the Vedas. The teachings of Vedanta are universal. They transcend race, color and creed as also space and time. It extols harmony and peace in every aspect of life. Every Upanishad starts and ends with hymns of peace invocation.

In the Vedas, the whole universe is referred to as a family- vasudhaiva kutumbakam. In the present day world where most religions create division and strife, Hinduism preaches peace and harmony. It sees unity in diversity.