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INTRODUCTION TO HINDUISM


Hinduism is commonly perceived as a polytheistic religion. Indeed, most Hindus would attest to this, by professing belief in multiple Gods. While some Hindus believe in the existence of three gods, some believe in thousands of gods, and some others in thirty three crore i.e. 330 million Gods. However, learned Hindus, who are well versed in their scriptures, insist that a Hindu should believe in and worship only one God.

The major difference between the Hindu and the Muslim perception of God is the common Hindus’ belief in the philosophy of Pantheism. Pantheism considers everything, living and non-living, to be Divine and Sacred. The common Hindu, therefore, considers everything as God. He considers the trees as God, the sun as God, the moon as God, the monkey as God, the snake as God and even human beings as manifestations of God!

Islam, on the contrary, exhorts man to consider himself and his surroundings as examples of Divine Creation rather than as divinity itself. Muslims therefore believe that everything is God’s In other words the Muslims believe that everything belongs to God. The trees belong to God, the sun belongs to God, the moon belongs to God, the monkey belongs to God, the snake belongs to God, the human beings belong to God and everything in this universe belongs to God. [1]

 

Table of Contents

 

The term HINDU and HINDUISM

The word Hindu has geographical significance and was used originally for those people who lived beyond the river Sindhu or the region watered by the river Indus. Some historians say that it was first used by the Persians who came to India through the north western passes of the Himalayas. The word Hindu is no where mentioned in Indian literature or scriptures before the advent of Muslims to India, according to the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. According to Jawaharlal Nehru in the book Discovery of India on page 74-75, he writes that the earliest reference to the word Hindu can be traced to a tantrik of the 8th Century CE, where it means a people and not a follower of a particular religion. The use of the word Hindu in connection with a particular religion is of late occurrence.
In short Hindu is a geographical definition used for the people living beyond the river Indus or those living in India.

 

Hinduism has been derived from the word Hindu. Hinduism was a name given in English language in the Nineteenth Century by the English people to the multiplicity of the beliefs and faith of the people of the Indus land. According to New Encyclopedia Britannica 20:581. The British writers in 1830 gave the word Hinduism to be used as the common name for all the beliefs of the people of India excluding the Muslims and converted Christians. According to Swami Vivekananda (great reformer of Hinduism) in his book ESSENTIALS OF HINDUISM ON PAGE 6 AND 7 writes that the word HINDU is a misnomer and we shall referred as Vedantist meaning people following the vedas. [2]

 

Religious scriptures

The main Hindu scriptures are:

Vedas, a collection of hymns praising the Vedic gods. Veda means 'knowledge'

There are basically four (4) Vedas - They are-

* Rig-Veda Knowledge of Hymns of Praise
* Atharva-Veda Knowledge of Magic Formulas
* Sama-Veda Knowledge of Melodies
* Yajur-Veda Knowledge of Sacrificial Formulas

 

Upanishads- There are about 108 Upanishads. It is Commentary on Vedas.

 

Aranyaakas- There are about 10 Aranyakas. Aranyaka, ( Sanskrit: “Forest Book”) a later development of the Brahmanas, or expositions of the Vedas, which were composed in India in about 700 BC.

 

Brahmanas- There are about 10 Brahmanas. Any of several ancient Hindu religious prose texts that explain the relationship of the Vedas to the sacrificial ceremonies.

 

Ramayana-long epic poems about Rama and Sita

 

Mahabharata- long epic which includes the Bhagavad Gita

 

Bhagavad Gita- The Bhagavad Gita occurs in the Bhishma Parva of the Mahabharataand comprises 18 chapters from the 25th through 42nd and consists of 700 verses.

 

Manusmuriti– The Law book of Hindusim. [3]

 

Festivals

  • Diwali
  • Dusshera
  • Hanuman Jayanti
  • Krishna Janmashtami (Krishna Jayanti)
  • Navaratri (Navratri)
  • Rama Navami
  • Ganesh Chaturthi
  • Holi
  • Mahashivratri
  • Makar Sankranti
  • Raksha Bandhan  [4]

 

See also

Prophecy of Prophet Muhammad  in Hinduism; Scriptures of Hinduism; Concept of God in Hinduism; Festivals in Hinduism; Islamic principles;

 

References

[1] http://irf.net/Hinduism_concept_of_god.html

[2] http://books.google.co.in/books?

[3] http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/texts/texts.shtml

[4] http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/

 

 

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