Hinduism - Religion in India

Lord Ganesha--Hinduism

Hinduism:  One of the oldest religions in the world is Hinduism. It is the third largest religions that are followed by people worldwide. Hinduism is widely practised in India and in some Asian countries. The word Hindu is derived from the Sanskrit word Sindhu (which is the name of the river).  The followers of Hinduism are known as Hindus. At one point of time it was believed that Hinduism was brought to India by the Aryans who invaded Indus valley civilisation, however this idea is still being debated.  Referred to as Sanathana Dharma, Hinduism explains the sufferings of people in a simple way. Sanathana Dharma means ‘eternal duty’. According to this every living creature has a duty to perform and a role to play on this earth.  It say that if a person is helping other person then it is the service offered to God.

Hinduism doesn’t have any single founder. It contains scriptures about the preaching’s.  It says that whatever people suffer in this life is because of the Karmas (actions/ deeds) done in his/her previous life. If good deeds are done then the person will reap good fortune in his next life otherwise he bears the brunt in the next life. Hinduism has many scared books like Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagvadgita, the purnas, the smritis etc. 

Hinduism strongly believes in reincarnation and attaining moksha (union with God) for the good deeds done in our life span.  According to Hinduism it recognises the main objectives for human life are Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha, Karma and Samsara. According to Hinduism to attain moksha one has to work hard and follow the spirituality path along with doing good for others.

It can be said that Hinduism did not start as any religion. People who started following the preaching's called it as Hinduism. The followers are known as Hindus. It believes it 3 main gods, Brahma—the creator, Vishnu—the preacher and Shiva—the destroyer. Hinduism has different viewpoints on the evolvement and origin of human life on our planet earth. Hinduism strongly believes that the universe was created by God and we all are his creators. In my opinion it can be said that Hinduism is not a rigid collection of texts or beliefs but a collection of intellectual and philosophical views which are followed by people for many decades. It does not have any one single God for people to follow; there are many God and Goddess where people are free to follow.

Swastik importance in Hinduism

Preachings of Hinduism

It is interesting to note that at least one animal is attributed to each of the Indian Gods.  Like Lord Vishnu is linked to Garuda (eagle), Lord Shiva (cobra and bull), Lord Ganesha is linked to elephant and rat, Lord Muruga is lined to peakcock, Loard Parvati is linked to lion, Lord Saraswati is linked to white swan, Loard Ayyapa is linked to tiger, Lord Hanuman is lined to monkey etc.  The idea seems to be that we the human beings have to live in harmony with the ecosystem including flora and fauna for sustainable living.

The preaching’s of Hinduism says that there is God present in every life be it plants, humans or animals. Hence it preaches no  harm to them. It says that one who works selflessly and who does not harm others will attain moksha (meaning eternal peace). As per a shloka from Mahabharata which says ‘Dharmo rakishita rakshanthan’ which means dharma (righteous behaviour expected from each and everyone)  protects the people who follow the path of dharma . Dharma is nothing but following the path of truth and not doing and physical or mental harm to others. 

Division in Hinduism

Hinduism is further divided into Vaishanavism, Shaivism, Shaktism,  Smartism. Among these subdivisions each believes in one different god.  However every Hindu believes the presence of atma, reincarnation and karma. Vaishanavism being the largest division in Hinduism is considered as supreme among other sects. The followers of Vaishnavism believe that lord Vishnu is the ultimate protector of the Universe. Other than lord Vishnu, Vaishnavists also follow Lord Krishna and Lord Rama. It is believed that loard Rama or Krishna is incarnation of lord Vishu on earth at different times in the past to ward of the evil. Vaishavites are very orthodox,  devoted  and god fearing people.  It is often a debate whether the people should be god fearing or god loving?  The sub sects in Vaishnavism are: 

  1. Lakshmi sampradaya
  2. Brahma sampradaya
  3. Rudra sampradaya
  4. Kumara sampradaya
  5. Ramanadi sampradaya.

Followers of Shavism consider Lord Shiva as the ultimate protector of universe. The sub sects of the Shavism are:

  1. Pashupata Shaivism
  2. Shaiva Siddhanta
  3. Kashmir Shaivism
  4. Siddha Siddhanta
  5. Lingayat
  6. Shiva Advaita

Shaktism followers believe in Goddess in different forms like Kalki, Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, and Parvati as the ultimate control of the universe. Shakti tradition is mainly found in West Bengal, Assam and in some other parts of India. Animal sacrifice is mainly followed by these followers.

Smartism followers believe in all deities and consider Lord Shiva, Vishnu, and Goddess as same. They preach people to follow all Gods as he is the ultimate creator of the world.