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Hinduism facts: interesting hindu facts

Dattatreya god  seven chakras  Aum Symbol 
  1. Word Hinduism is derived from the river Sindhu which was pronounced by Persians as Hindu, The region of the Indus valley is called Hindustan, and thus the religion of the Indus valley is called Hinduism.
  2. Goal of life: To attain self-realization
  3. All beings have a soul. advanced souls take bodies with higher abilities like that of humans. All souls evolve up the ladder
  4. God is called SatChidAnanda: Ever existing, Ever conscious, Ever new bliss
  5. There has been no known founder of Hinduism, Hinduism derives its practices form ancient sages to today's saints, there has been a tradition of sages and saints from thousands of years, at least for last 10,000 years [note]
  6. Hinduism is the oldest religion among the existing larger religions
  7. Hinduism believes in one god, then why are there so many gods? Hinduism believes in one god many forms. People chose the form through which they wanted to seek god, thus there are so many gods [note]
  8. Hindus worship many gods; Shiva, Krishna, Rama, Durga, Kali are among the most worshiped forms of god
  9. Hinduism is the world's 3rd largest religion with more than 900,000,000 followers [note]
  10. Hinduism originated in India
  11. There is no specific higher authority or governing body that is responsible for the religion
  12. Countries where most of the Hindu population is concentrated are India, Nepal, Bangladesh,Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan
  13. God is considered both male and female, or as the one who has no sex or both.
  14. Scriptures are divided into Shrutis (those which were heard by sages in deep meditation) and smritis (those which were recorded or memorized)
  15. Vedas are the known ancient Hindu scriptures. Other famous scriptures are Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Agamas, puranas.
  16. Ramayana and Mahabharata are considered as the documentation of the history of India during the times of Rama and Krishna respectively.
  17. Bhagavad Gita is considered by most as the holy book of Hindus. however it is not considered as the only book.
  18. Dharma, Karma and Reincarnation are the most discussed among hindu topics
  19. AUM is considered as the holy sound, because it is believed that consciousness manifested itself as form through the sound AUM
  20. There are three foremost deities: Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara, who are considered the parts of one and only god (parabrahman) responsible for the creation, preservation and destruction of the worlds. three letters of the word 'AUM' are considered to represent them.
  21. Temples are the places where hindus worship the deities, many people have altars/ rooms in their houses for worship.
  22. Rama and Krishna are the most celebrated historic persons who are well known for their adherence to dharma even at difficult times.
  23. Places that are considered holy by the hindus are Varanasi, Allahabad (prayag), Haridwar, Rishikesh, Ayodya, Dwaraka, badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, Nashik, Ujjaini, Puri, Rameshwaram
  24. Popular festivals are: Diwali, Maha Shivaratri, Holi, Ram Navami, Krishna Janmastami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Ugadi. Different groups give importance to different festivals
  25. There are three sects in Hinduism: Shaiva, Vaishnava and shakti. But they are not definite sects, person of one sect may follow the philosophy of the other sect. Though all sects worship all gods primary importance is mostly given to one's own sect.
  26. Yoga, Pranayama, Meditation, Vastu, Jyotish, Tantra, Astrology are the main contributions of Hindu system to the modern world
  27. word AUM is the main symbol of Hinduism
  28. Sanskrit is the mother language of all indian languages. Most of the scriptures of hinduism are in Sanskrit
  29. Rigveda is the one of the oldest literatures
  30. Knowledge is transferred from enlightened guru to disciple
  31. Varanasi is the oldest city of India and also considered as the most holy of the places
  32. After death people are either cremated or buried
  33. Wedding has been in practice from 1000s of years
  34. Monogamy is the most practiced way. polygamy and polyandry are also practiced though rarely. Vedas suggest that one may marry as many as one can satisfy (materially, providing all necessities) and equal to other spouses
  35. One can worship God through idols/images [note]
  36. Manu smriti is the first book written on Codes of good conduct. Some of the codes from this are followed even today (mostly because they are relevant even today and good codes are often relevant all the time)
  37. Mahabharatha the most revered book of India is 10 times larger than Iliad and Odyssey combined together
  38. Kumbhamela (spiritual gathering of both householders and renunciates) which occurs every 3 years is the largest gathering of humans on the earth
  39. Buddhism, Jainism, Sikkhism originated from Hinduism, all these religions share lots of common philosophies
  40. Cow, elephant, snake peacock are closely associated with the religion
  41. Fully blossomed Lotus flower is used a symbol of enlightenment, also as the symbol of open heart (full of love)
  42. All books that contain knowledge are considered sacred
  43. Number 12 is considered special, Poorna kumbha mela is celebrated every 12 years, it is believed that spiritual progress happens in practitioners in the cycle of 12 years. i.e it takes 12 years of disciplined practice to change a habit. Mantras, Japas and pranayama's are practiced in multiples of 12
  44. Touching water is accepted as spiritual, it is believed that the water has positive vibrations and also the ability to pass it on.

 

More Facts

Philosophical schools:

There are Six philosophical schools which consider Vedas as the authoritative text, they are:

  1. Samkhya
  2. Yoga
  3. Nyaya or logic
  4. Vaisheshika, an empiricist school of atomism
  5. Mimāṃsā, an anti-ascetic school
  6. Vedanta, the school where knowledge section of the vedas is given more importance.

There are also three other schools which do not necessarily include Vedas in their teachings, they are:

  1. Chārvāka
  2. Jainism
  3. Buddhism

Ways to attain self-realization/ ways of yoga:

  1. Bhakti Yoga: The path of devotion
  2. Jnana yoga: The path of wisdom, where logic and rationality are considered the means to attain realization
  3. Karma yoga: The path of right action, where dharmic actions are considered the means on self realization
  4. Rāja Yoga: As explained by its proponent Patanjali, attaining self realization is possible by directing mind and senses towards god through the practice of Yama, Niyama, Asana (right posture/ sitting position), Pranayama (control of life energy), Pratyahara (directing senses inward), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi

 Three important aspects of the supreme god:

  1. Brahma: the creator, the creating aspect
  2. Vishnu: the preserver, the preserving aspect
  3. Maheshwara: the destroyer, the destroying aspects

 

Three important schools of Vedanta:

  1. Advaita: Shankaracharya the proponent of Advaita explains there is non-duality between the individual  soul and the supreme soul [note].
  2. Dvaita: Madhvacharya the proponent of Dvaita explains that the soul and supreme soul are separate though the soul is from the supreme soul.
  3. Vishishtadvaita: Ramanujacharya the proponent of Vishishtadvaita explains soul to be the individual entity

Though there slight differences in these three views, these are agreed upon as three different views of the same truth rather than three different truths (they all agree upon soul, karma, reincarnation and supreme soul concepts. primary difference is in the relationship between soul and supreme soul and in their oneness)

Trigunas/ Three modes of nature:

  1. Sattva: Pure and good nature
  2. Rajas: passion and activating nature
  3. Tamas: Inertia, indifference and darkness

Every person has these three qualities to different degrees, 

Four objectives of life (purusharthas):

  1. Dharma: adherence to righteousness
  2. Artha: to gain prosperity (through righteous means)
  3. Kama: to quench passions (through righteous means)
  4. Moksha: To attain liberation from rebirth

Of all the four mentioned above Moksha is considered the highest and final goal. Every one (who is also into acquiring wealth and objects of passion) is suggested to follow Dharma, because Dharma is believed to be the highest way to freedom from bondage. 

Four Vernas/ Four classes:

people are classified into four classes according to their natural mental inclinations and abilities, in recent years it has been misunderstood and people are classified by their birth

  1. Brahmana: (predominantly Sattva) Those who are naturally inclined towards attaining self-realization and in helping others towards god. It comprises of saints, sages, yogis and all those who are strongly adherent to dharma
  2. Kshatriya: (predominantly Rajas) Those who are naturally into action and passions. It comprises of kings, soldiers (sports persons, athletes can be grouped into this.)
  3. Vaishyas: (predominantly both Rajas and tamas) Those whose primary inclination is towards attaining wealth. Comprises of farmers, merchants, and businessmen
  4. Shudras: (predominantly tamas) Those who undertake hard labor for living. Comprises of servants and laborers

It is hard to classify a person as entirely belonging to one class, but every person has a dominant tendency according to which he is classified into any one of the above.

 

Four Ashramas/ Four stages of life:

  1. Brahmacharya: Early stage of life which is spent in learning arts of life and spirituality. 
  2. Grihastha: Householder life, where earning for livelihood, taking care of children and parents are of primary importance.
  3. Vanaprastha: Retirement stage, where transfer of responsibilities and duties to younger generation is advised
  4. Sanyasa: renunciation stage, in this stage one renounces all worldly attachments and moves to a quiet place to practice spirituality very seriously until death

Four ages/ Four Yugas:

According to the distance of the planet from the Center of the creation (Vishnu Nabhi) time is divided into four ages. Inhabitants of the planet will have higher abilities and life span when the planet is closer to the center of creation.

  1. Satya Yuga/ Krita yuga (Golden age): People are predominantly righteous, world will be 100% righteous in this age. humans have very high life span
  2. Treta Yuga: World will be 75% righteous in this age. life span of humans is still high
  3. Dwapara Yuga: World will be 50% righteous, life span is considerably decreased but still high. 
  4. Kali Yuga: world is 25% righteous. Life span of humans in 120 years

It is said that in higher ages advanced souls prefer to incarnate, and vice versa.

 Reincarnation

Beings after they die enter astral world, they enter the physical body according to their past tendencies. Those souls which have burnt all tendencies do not have to take rebirth. Those who intentionally take birth to help other souls to advance spiritually are called 'avatars'. Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus can be considered avatars.

Karma

Karma is the accumulation of fruits of actions. Among different types of karma psychological Karma can be easily understood. Psychological Karma is essentially 'The way we train our mind to act is how it is going to act'. Karma has bigger effect on our decisions. 

 

Some practices:

  1. Elders are respected
  2. Families do not divide unless necessary. Father and son live together
  3. Daughters leave the house to live with their husbands
  4. One cleans his face and foot before entering temples
  5. One does not wear shoes or footwear inside the temple
  6. Men and women wear sacred ash (Vibhuti) or kumkum on forehead, to help them concentrate between the eyes, practicing which frees the mind gradually from tendencies
  7. women wear bangles, bindi or kumkum, Mangalya (as a sign after wedding), ear-rings, nose-jewel and toe ring (also after wedding)
  8. women decorate their hairs by adorning flowers
  9. There is no definite dress code, but there is usually a followed dress type from time to time
  10. Renunciates wear Ochre/ Saffron color dress to symbolize the renunciation
  11. Celibacy is advocated until the marriage

References

  1. ^ Scriptures (Mahabharata) describes that the time is divided into 24,000 year cycles, and the present age is accepted as Kaliyuga, there are references of the sages of the Satyayuga in Mahabharata. Swami Sriyukteswar Giri (guru of Paramahansa Yogananda) writes in his book that the current day age is actually Dwaparayuga (in his book Holy science). Thus we can assume that the hinduism has been in existence for about 4800+3600+2400+1200 years in this cycle. i.e around 12000 years in this cycle.
  2. ^ There is also the concept of demigods, demigods are worshiped by humans for the purpose of prosperity and boons. However they are not considered absolute. 
  3. ^ see wikipidia page on major religions
  4. ^ [Whatever a man may sacrifice to other gods, O son of Kunti, it is really meant for Me alone, but it is offered without true understanding: Bhagavad Gita Chapter 9, verse 25]
  5. ^  [I and the Father are one: Bible, John 10.30]


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