Hinduism an Indian religion (dharma) and is the way of life of Hindu Community. It is the world’s third-largest religion, with over 1.2 billion followers, or 15–16% of the global population, known as Hindus. Although the name Hinduism is relatively new, having been coined by British writers in the first decades of the 19th century, it refers to a rich Cumulative tradition of texts and practices, some of which date to the 2nd millennium BCE or possibly earlier before Indus Valley Civilization. The term ‘Hindu’ in these ancient records is an ethno-geographical term and did not refer to a religion.
Many hindus refer to their religion as Sanātana Dharma ( ”the Eternal Dharma”), to the idea that its origins lie beyond human history, as revealed in the Hindu texts. Another calls it a Vaidika dharma, the ‘dharma related to the Vedas.’Sanatana Dharma(Veda Dharama) in Hinduism , term used to denote for the absolute set of duties or religiously ordained practices incumbent upon all Hindus, regardless of class, Caste, or sect. Sanatana Dharma consists of virtues such as honesty, refraining from injuring living beings, purity, goodwill, mercy, patience, forbearance, self-restraint, generosity, and asceticism. Sanatam dharm is prehistoric and absolute in nature where as the Hindu is a term given by Persians only a few centuries ago, to mean the people living beside the river Sindhu (changed version of Sindhu )based on the geographical concept.
Hindu Beliefs and Practices
(1) Believe in Truth (2) Brahmans are God messengers. For all the rituals Hindus has to depend on Brahmins. (3) The Vedas are the ultimate authority. (4) Everyone should strive to achieve dharma. (5) Individual souls are immortal. (6) The goal of the individual soul is moksha.
Purushartha is a key concept in Hinduism, derived from two Sanskrit roots; purusha, meaning “human being,” and artha, meaning “purpose” or “objective As such, purushartha can be translated as the “object of human pursuit” or “purpose of human beings.” , It refers to the four ultimate goals of human life. Dharma, Kama, Artha and Moksha,(1) Dharma- literally means an object of human pursuit- A key concept of Hinduism righteousness, moral values (2) Kama- pleasure, love, psychological values (3) Artha prosperity and economic Values (4) Moksha. liberation, spiritual value.
Hindu practices aslo include rituals such as puja (worship) and recitations, japa, meditation (dhyāna), family-oriented rites of passage, annual festivals, and occasional pilgrimages. Along with the practice of various yogas, some Hindus leave their social world and material possessions and engage in lifelong Sannyasa (monasticism) in order to achieve moksha.Hindu also believe in Svadharma which is in contrast with Sanatana Dharma, that means one’s “own duty” or the particular duties enjoined upon an individual according to his or her class or caste and stage of life.
Divisions of Hindu Community
Hindu history divides the community in four classes, (1) Brahmans or Brahmins – the upper class intellectuals and the priests , who perform religious rituals, (2) Kshatriya (nobles or warriors) – mostly fighters, who traditionally had power (3) Vaishyas (commoners or merchants) – ordinary people who produce, farm, trade and earn a living (4) Shudras (low class workers or schedule caste people) – who traditionally served the higher classes, including labourers, servants, Sweepers with all low -class work for the rest of people . Means that they are born to serve the three upper Classes of the community.
Stages of life as per Hindu Religion
(1) Brahmacarya – ‘celibate student’ stage in which males learned the Veda, (2). Grihastha – ‘householder’ in which the twice born male can experience the human purposes (purushartha) of responsibility, wealth, and sexual pleasure, (3). Vanaprastha – ‘hermit’ or ‘wilderness dweller’ in which the twice born male retires from life in the world to take up pilgrimage and religious observances along with his wife, (4). Samnyasa – ‘renunciation’ in which the twice born gives up the world, takes on a saffron robe or, in some sects, goes naked, with a bowl and a staff to seek moksha (liberation) or develop devotion
Karma and Samsara
Karma is a Sanskrit word whose literal meaning is ‘action’. It refers to the law that every action has an equal reaction either immediately or at some point in the future. Good or virtuous actions, actions in harmony with dharma, will have good reactions or responses and bad actions, actions against dharma, will have the opposite effect. Hindus believe that human beings can create good or bad reactions for their actions and might reap the rewards of action in this life or after rebirth. The process of reincarnation(rebirth) is called samsara, a continuous cycle in which the soul is reborn over and over again in according to the law of action and reaction. The goal of liberation (moksha) is to make us free from this cycle of action and reaction, and from rebirth.
Hindus are often classified into the three most popular Hindu denominations, called paramparas in Sanskrit. These paramparas are defined by their attraction to a particular form of God (called ishta or devata):(1) Vaishnavas focus on Vishnu and his incarnations (avatara) (2) Shaivas focus on Shiva – Shiva performs five acts of creation, maintenance, destruction, concealing himself, revealing himself through grace. (3) Shaktas focus on the Goddess Lakshmi.
Texts Related to Hinduism
The Vedas are a large body of religious texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. There are four Vedas: the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda and the Atharvaveda. 20,379 mantras, Puranas, Bhagavad Geeta, Manu Smritis, Shruti and Agama are some of the main texts of Hindu Dharam.