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Religions of India: Hinduism and Jainism

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Religions of India: Hinduism and Jainism

Hinduism is characterized by not only one Supreme God but also by many gods and goddesses, such as Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Lakshmi, Parvathi, Saraswathi and so on. In Hinduism they are regarded as the manifestation of Iswara, the Universal Creative Consciousness, or the Saguna Brahman.

Brahman is the central theme of Hinduisms. Brahman is the indescribable, inexhaustible, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, rudimentary, eternal and absolute principle who is without a beginning and without an end. He is incomprehensible even to almost all the gods. Brahman is not adulated in the temples and other places of worship but in one's heart and mind as the in dweller of the material body. This is why there aren't any temples or forms of ritualistic worship existing for Brahman either at present time or in the past. Brahman of the Upanishads is more appealing to the seekers of Truth and Knowledge than seekers of material gains

In addition to gods and goddesses, Hinduism also come across the worship of many objects such as trees, plants, rivers, lakes, snakes, hills, the various planets, some stars, constellations, the sun, the moon and so on are objects of their veneration.

The Hindus worship the gods and goddesses variously adding further complexity to the manner of worship in Hinduism. They may worship them all or only some of them at a time, or venerate each of them separately as the Supreme God himself. There are traditions according to which each Hindu god is to be worshipped on a particular day in a week, month or year and many follow these traditions. There are certain specific rules and regulations to be observed by the devout Hindus while worshipping them, which involve performance of specific rites, rituals and chanting.

Moksha is the emancipation of reincarnation. The realm of Moksha is described as a divine place of providence, where there is harmony and utter joy.

There are many paths to achieve this celestial haven. The path of devotion is often referred to as Bhakti, it is the most common path of focus for present Hindus. The object of adulation is commonly Krishna. The method of adoration that is conducted by today's Hindus is by singing and praising the deity's name repeatedly. Another road to salvation is the path of good deeds. It acquires the devotee to be kind and loving towards his fellow man. To never lie, steel or harm anyone else. Affection towards animals is also considered important since the majority of the Hindus are vegetarians.

The course of knowledge and perception is an intellectual and demanding method of achievement. To reach Moksha the individual must study Holy Scriptures and through them reach thoughts that will lead to the final stage of. The spiritual guide is called a guru. The scriptures are very clear as to the attitude one should have towards the religious texts. An individual must revere and respect the Vedas, which are revealed texts coming directly from the supreme deity for the general welfare and guidance of mankind. The attitude that is expected of a devout Hindu should include respect towards the sacred books, proper study and understanding of them and proper observation of the truths and laws prescribed there in.

An individual must learn to see the omnipresence of God in every thing and everywhere. That devotee must also lead life in strict accordance with the laws laid down in the scriptures. He must perform daily rituals, various samsaras and live the four ashramas or stages of his life in accordance with the rules prescribed in the scriptures.

The choice of privation is when an individual consciously chooses to endure a life of poverty and oppression. Many elderly men choose this path of redemption in their final years of living. They are called Sadhus.

Another way to achieve the final stage of Moksha is through Yoga. It is an ancient technique of exercising the body and senses to achieve fulfillment in concentration and deep spiritual transcendences.

The word "dharma" has a very comprehensive meaning in Hinduism. Dharma means the Eternal Law, the Law of God. It is also all those factors that arise out of it or lead towards it. It means religion, beliefs, faith, justice, righteousness, performing morally acceptable actions, being on the positive side of life. It also means the individuals duty and responsibility towards himself and towards others. This is of considerable importance to reach Moksha.

According to the concept of maya, the very existence of an individual as a separate entity is unreal. As long as the individual thinks that he is different from the rest of creation and strives to work for his own ends, protecting, furthering nurturing and defending his own ego or individuality, he suffers from illusion and his ego continues its journey into an unknown future shaped by his endless actions and desires. The purpose of human life is to realize this truth and work for unity with the Divine.

Some have viewed Hinduism as a monotheistic religion, because it recognizes only one supreme God: "the pantheistic principle of Brahman, that all reality is a unity. The entire universe is seen as one divine entity, Brahman. Brahman is simultaneously at one with the universe and Brahman transcends it as well." ( Breaking Brahman down is essential, let's look at the previous quote. First of all, pantheistic means that: there is a belief in and worship of all gods, which means that Brahman is not a singular concept. The quote then goes on to say that Brahman is throughout the entire universe. This means that Brahman can be found in infinite objects. This is why people may view Hinduism as polytheistic because of their belief in many objects and ideas. The last line says that Brahman not only at one with the universe but also Brahman transcends it. This means that Brahman may be found in on Earth, but he also greater than the concept of Earth. Brahman is on a bigger playing field than that of Earth.

Vishnu, known as the Preserver, preserves new creations and comes down to Earth during critical times in the "cosmic cycles." Vishnu is one of the main Hindu gods, worshiped as the protector and preserver of worlds. Vishnu is considered one of the main gods along with Brahman and Shiva.

Shiva, known as the Destroyer, is at times compassionate, erotic and destructive. One of the principal Hindu deities, Shiva is worshiped as the destroyer and restorer of worlds and in many other forms. Whenever dharma is threatened, Vishnu travels from heaven to earth in one of ten incarnations. Shiva is considered a member of the triad also including Brahma and Vishnu.

Dharma is the law of the Hindus.



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