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Can someone explain what the Hindu religion is about?

 
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Happy Diwali to All
The festival of lights and sound.
May it bring prosperity and happiness in everyone's life.
 
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Originally posted by erich brant:
Can someone explain what the Hindu religion is about?
Thanks
www.firewallfortress.com


Erich, although I was born a Euromutt-American (a blend of european heritages, back to the time of the revolutionary war) and in a scientific-agnostic family, I consider myself aligned with Hinduism more than any other religion/worldview.
This is because of the influence of ISKCON, the Hare Krishnas, a group wrongly interpreted as a cult (New Religious Movement is the PC term - characterized by a charismatic leader with a claim of direct and original revelations - not the case with ISKCON, an old old student-teacher succession). I know this situation may sound odd but hopefully I will help you understand what I see as the stunningly diverse nature of this tradition. By no means do I think I am an authority simply because of my unusual and unlikely conversion. I have, however, become acquainted with some parts of this culture.
Just by reading this post you can see it is illustrated by different arguments, and the promotion of different teachers or examples.
i.e

Originally posted by <xxx yyy>:
Sri Ganapathy Sachidanabda Swamiji of DATTAPEETHAM is worshipped as living avatar of Lord DATTA.


or

Originally posted by Shubhrajit Chatterjee:
BTW if you really want to learn about classical hinduism, read the techings of Vivekananda ...


Originally posted by Ravish Kumar:

visit http://www.gitapress.org/
the best publisher for religious books on hindu. Best cause they give you raw material, they dont change text.


You are just scratching the surface.
It has, what I see as, a very old culture of interpretation. In fact there were periods when, in order to be able to answer that question, "What is Hinduism all about?", Hindu scholars would study sanskrit grammar, the Vedas, and various related commentaries, for their entire lives. The Vedas, and if you include in that the Upanishad, the Puranas, and the other classifications of literature that I am forgetting about, consist in all of hundreds of thousands of verses all in sanskrit a language in which each word may often have many interpretations. The Mahabaharata in its original form, of which the Bhagavad Gita is a chapter, is more than 100,000 verses alone, or so I am told. The pundits were then like lawyers, well versed from years of study so they could interpret and argue the meaning of Vedas and Hindu traditions. Debates would ensue and the famous defeats that resulted in conversion of powerful scholars to different schools of interpretation would become part of the legends of the various authorities of Hinduism. So you see, in all your question is a doozy.
I've found it fascinating to explore, but why seems to be just as difficult as question for me to answer. Some literature seems to be dry and some intensely fascinating. I have found the ISKCON translations and commentary to be very satisying to read. I particularly like the Shrimad-Bhagavatam which is a multi-volume set.
Here are some of the historical authorities on this question...
The Vedas and Upanishads
Buddha - he commented on the Vedas by rejecting them and yet is counted as Dasavatar - one of ten Vishnu incarnation in the life of the planet.
Mahavira - founder of the Jain sect
Patanjali - ancient meditation proponent
Shankara - powerful impersonalist
Ramanuja - opposed to Shankaracharya
Madhva - another school arguing personalism
(against impersonalism - ISKCON claims to be
derived from this school via teacher/student lineage)
Nanak - founder of the Sikh sect
Jiva Goswami - describes 500 years ago what is the current Hare Krishna view.
There are so many! There are athiests, and atomists, and animists! It is a juggernaut of a subject!
I don't understand why I don't hear more people talk about it. I find it be such an amazing thing.
I hope that the born Hindus here agree with that explanation.

Originally posted by Amitabh Sharma:

* There are 4 of stages of life. I forget one of them:
- Bramhcharya = birth to adulthood = period of life to learn and study, no sex
- Grihastha = to be worldly, marry, have kids, work
- Sanyaas = Last stage of life. Give up all worldly things and go to Forest to lead a life of Sadhu (retirement)


I know the answer to that 4th (its actually the 3rd stage or ashram in life) - Vanaprastha = children are grown up, leave home for good and travel with wife to visit holy places.
[ November 02, 2002: Message edited by: Meadowlark Bradsher ]
 
Meadowlark Bradsher
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Happy Diwali by the way...
 
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Hi Meadowlark,
I have always wondered about the Hare Krishna movement. I have heard a lot of allegations about this movement.Is it true that most of its members are Westerners?
I have read the Bhagavad Gita long time back.. when my parents used to force me to read it .LOL.
But I remember that some of the concepts are really powerful.. like the concept of Saguna Brahman and the Nirguna Brahman.
 
Meadowlark Bradsher
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Hi Slacker,
There were definitely some people who came with lowly habits and views. The madness culminated shortly after guru Bhaktivedanta had passed. Externally some people were appropriately turned over to the law and eventually banned from having authority, others were victims of their own attempts hijack a valid school. There were child abusers, and even ex-gangsters trying to validate their twisted ways but they had all finally gone, along with the majority of innocent people now disillusioned, by the time I had arrived. I presume that those are the allegations that you are referring to.
This group still exists and grows slowly. I was fortunate that I never had to try and sort out my own understanding in the midst of that mess in the early 80's.
Statistically I don't know what the mixture of westerners and non-westerners is. I presume in this case westerners may include Japanese, Korean, African, Russian or anybody not born Hindu. There are quite a few nationalities. You have to understand that it was the plan of 3 previous generations of teachers that this Vaisnava school could and would internationalize. Whenever I go to a temple, which hasn't been in more than 2 years now, I had always found there to be more born Hindus of the married folks that would come to services, but more western brahmacharis and swamis. During weekend festivals and special celebrations, the born Hindus always far outnumbered us westerners. Janmastami was always wall to wall with born Hindus. I expect it still is. This is probably because the born Hindu householder has relocated to seek a living or was raised by a famliy who has, and isn't interested in of the ascetic ashrams. However there are many large ISKCON temples in India and many of the pre-existing Gaudiya-Vaisnava Hindus recognize it and become brahmacharis and swamis there. Sometimes they will come to the US.
Why then would there be bad people? Analogously I would ask why does the Ganges or the Yamuna seems so polluted, if they are spiritually pure rivers? You deal with bad people in a way to protect the innocent, just as the Catholic church should, but in some unknown and inconcievable way these lowly people must have been influenced by who they were attempting, or claiming to become. Some spiritual component exists hidden underneath the guilty and filth ridden exterior. Unless you are some great mahatma that can persistently see that hidden part, you should just react to their crimes with no special leniency of justice. Leave that to extraordinary people. Thats my take.
Its been awhile since I have studied anything to do with this.
Do you remember what the concept of Saguna Brahman and Nirguna brahman was? What the point of making the distinction was? I know that saguna means soemthing like "with qualities" and nirguna means something like "without any qualities", and brahman is spiritual energy, or even material energy. Guna means quality, as in the three gunas, Sattva Guna "goodness" overseen by Vishnu, Raja Guna "passion" overseen by Brahma, and Tama Guna "ignorance" overseen by Siva.
Its been years and years, I had to look up "tama guna" because I had forgotten even that.
If I were a sharp enough pencil with money to burn perhaps I'd explore how these ideas could inform and apply to scientific problems. For instance, I had just read that Einstein was influenced by Ernst Mach, an antimetaphysicist who attacked Kant (no..philsophically not physically!). Godel had been influenced by Kant and Liebniz. Who wasn't influenced by Liebniz? Philosphers going back to Aristotle had been influencing "scientists" ever since they started philosophizing. I just wonder, with the tremendous number of Hindu philosphers and their range, it seems odd none have seemed to influenced many modern itellectuals. Perhaps the Greeks were sometimes influenced, or the Islamic philosphers of ancient Bagdad who read every kind of literature. After that not a peep that I know of.
Perhaps we will never find influences coming from Hindu thinkers entering the western dialectic because there aren't any, or as I believe they are not well known enough.
I suppose that remains to be seen.
Wir mussen wissen
Wir werden wissen

[ November 03, 2002: Message edited by: Meadowlark Bradsher ]
 
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I have seen a couple of ISKCON temples in India and they are really beautiful.Frankly I dont know much about the Hare Krishna movement, except for what I read in the papers. So that explanation was really helpful.
My understanding of the Vedas, Gita etc are superficial at best.From what I understood, Saguna Brahman was the formless God and the Nirguna Brahman was the God with form. Ultimately they merge but you have to be on a different plane to realize the formless, infinite God.
Again, I have read the Gita( commentary by Chinmayananda) a long time back, and the above characterization might be wrong.
About the Hindu Philosophers, I dont know. Maybe because India had an oral tradition, and nothing was recorded they did not get the credit. Indian history has been mainly recorded by Greek, Chinese, Arabic philosophers who travelled to India at that time. Huen Tsang comes to mind.It is said that Algebra and the Arabic numerals actually travelled from India to Arabia. Aryabhatta, Shusruta etc are considered the pioneers of astronomy and surgery.
Also Hindus never ventured out of India, since India was considered holy land and you were not supposed to cross the seas.
By the way , are you German?
 
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Originally posted by <slacker>:

About the Hindu Philosophers, I dont know. Maybe because India had an oral tradition, and nothing was recorded they did not get the credit. Indian history has been mainly recorded by Greek, Chinese, Arabic philosophers who travelled to India at that time. Huen Tsang comes to mind.It is said that Algebra and the Arabic numerals actually travelled from India to Arabia. Aryabhatta, Shusruta etc are considered the pioneers of astronomy and surgery.
Also Hindus never ventured out of India, since India was considered holy land and you were not supposed to cross the seas.


The oral tradition, which requires years of practice, could easily exclude outsiders. That seems like a good point. So much was lost since then.
Now, however with a burgeoning collections of translations perhaps Hindu memes will continue to infiltrate the western meme pool. Incomplete concepts of reincarnation and karma are already floating around, here.
Similarly perhaps Hinduism could become more modernized. IMHO all religions should arise to adapt in interpretation, not seclude themselves from the dialogue. Hinduism has the greatest chance of adapting and surviving the changing world view IMHO, because it has such a tremendous interpretating culture.
One idea that I think fits naturally in a Hindu concept is to apply relativity to the idea of Karma. In relativity, two object may exist in space with one in motion, but determining which object is in motion would be depend on the perspective! Similarly karma can be defined as two human actions one of which is the cause of karma and one of which is the result of karma. But which is which again may depend on the perspective. Say a man gives a rained on pedestrian an umbrella. Is it the undoing of good karma for the person who gets the umbrella, or the creation of good karma for the giver? Maybe this can't be compared to magnetic and electrical fields, the subjects of relativity. But maybe it can, or partially. I just don't know. I'm just asking questions.

I'm not German, though I have some German genes. I am English, Irish, French, German and Swedish.
That phrase is from David Hilbert, a mathematician in a book I am reading. It means "We must know. We shall know.". I thought it might lead to some interesting quest for you if you searched out its meaning.
I'm not very well educated. I don't have a degree. Take my speculations with a handful of salt. I have to be careful because my self-consciousness sometimes causes me to seek validation instead of something real.
Either way its always closer to the truth to return to modest admissions.
[ November 04, 2002: Message edited by: Meadowlark Bradsher ]
 
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What kind of love ?

Originally posted by Ravish Kumar:

I love you too Amitabh

 
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Originally posted by erich brant:
Can someone explain what the Hindu religion is about?


Oops, difficult question.
Ask me about the relation between space time and anti-matter, I will give it a try. But Hinduism, now that's not easy!
 
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Basically, it is just another religion with its own set of beliefs and way of life. However, it is also (one of) the oldest religion and therefore it has had the opportunity to evolve for a much longer time that any other religions. And in this process of evolution, tons of philosophers have contributed to Hinduism. This obviously increases the complexity. While there is only one text of interest in Islam, there are many in Hinduism.
Again, centuries of evolution has created sects, laws, bylaws, gods and godesses. Every body has his own interpretation. That's the beauty of it. Everybody has his own interpretation and which is acceptable too to the society. No body bothers what god you pray or even if you don't pray
I think this mechanism of evolution makes it a truely amazing religion.
 
R K Singh
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I dont know the authenticity of this mail but still .....
PS: its not like Nebula
====================================
NASA SHUTTLE IMAGES OF A MYSTERIOUS ANCIENT BRIDGE BETWEEN INDIA AND
SRILANKA
Courtesy : NASA Digital Image Collection

The recently discovered bridge currently named as Adam's Bridge made of
chain
of shoals, c.18 mi (30 km) long, in the Palk Strait between India and
Sri
Lanka, reveals a mystery behind it. The bridge's unique curvature and
composition by age reveals that it is man made. The legends as well as
Archeological studies reveal that the first signs of human inhabitants
in
Sri
Lanka date back to the a primitive age, about 17,50,000 years ago and
the
bridge's age is also almost equivalent. This information is a crucial
aspect
for an insight into the mysterious legend called Ramayana, which was
supposed
to have taken place in tredha yuga (more than 17,00,000 years ago). In
this
epic, there is a mentioning about a bridge, which was built between
Rameshwaram
(India) and Srilankan coast under the supervision of a dynamic and
invincible
figure called Rama who is supposed to be the incarnation of the supreme.
This
information may not be of much importance to the archeologist s who are
interested in exploring the origins of man, but it is sure to open the
spiritual gates of the people of the world to have come to know an
ancient
history linked to the Indian mythology.

http://images.jsc.nasa.gov/iams/images/earth/STS033/lowres/20003372.jpg
http://images.jsc.nasa.gov/iams/images/earth/STS033/lowres/20003772.jpg
http://images.jsc.nasa.gov/iams/images/earth/STS044/lowres/20019417.jpg
http://images.jsc.nasa.gov/iams/images/earth/STS51B/lowres/20031678.jpg
http://images.jsc.nasa.gov/iams/images/earth/STS51B/lowres/20031679.jpg
http://images.jsc.nasa.gov/iams/images/earth/STS059/lowres/20143034.jpg
http://images.jsc.nasa.gov/iams/images/earth/STS059/lowres/20143035.jpg
http://images.jsc.nasa.gov/iams/images/earth/STS059/lowres/20143035.jpg
http://images.jsc.nasa.gov/iams/images/earth/STS059/lowres/20143278.jpg
http://images.jsc.nasa.gov/iams/images/earth/STS059/lowres/20143279.jpg
<http://images.jsc.nasa.gov/iams/images/earth/STS051/lowres/20106421.jpg>;
====================================
 
Ashok Mash
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Originally posted by Ravish Kumar:
I dont know the authenticity of this mail but still .....


Its not a prank, its real.
They have also found remnants of an ancient town off Bombay cost, which easily matches the flooded city of Dwaraka. Remember, Kingdom of Krishna, which was swept away in floods at the end of Thethrayuga? (not sure again)! These under-water ruins of a city could be the very same Dwaraka. Ruins recovered carbon dated back to 8000 BC or so (not sure), and that area should have been land before. An ideal place for civilization to grow since that might be where all Indus valley rivers met Arabian Sea.
 
Anonymous
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The Hindu religion that I know does not preach any of the nonsense mentioned at the above site whose creator(s) is unknown (how convenient, shameful and cowardly - just like you <answer>).
 
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Originally posted by Ravish Kumar:
This information is a crucial aspect for an insight into the mysterious legend called Ramayana, which was supposed to have taken place in tredha yuga (more than 17,00,000 years ago).


What's so surprising about it ? People who live around that area have known about that bridge since ages. I have also heard stories that if you know where to walk you can still wade across when the tide is low. And where did you get that figure from? It's more like 3000BC, Ravish.
[ February 08, 2003: Message edited by: Mohandas Karamchand ]
 
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HINDUSM IS WAY OF LIFE IT IS NOT A RELIGON
 
Anonymous
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Originally posted by shishir mishra:
HINDUSM IS WAY OF LIFE IT IS NOT A RELIGON


Great, I am forwarding this suggestion to Parliament and other Govt bodies so that next time anybody fills his personal info for Govt. employment, instead of 'Sepcify your religion' written , it will be 'Specify your way of Life' .
 
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If i were asked to define the hindu creed, i should simply say : search after truth through nonviolent means.A man may not belive in god and still call himself a hindu. Hinduism is the religion of truth. Truth is god,denial of god we have known denial of truth we have not .
- Mahatma Gandhi.
(extract from Discovery of india by Jawaharlal Nehru)

 
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