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AMS Distribution 1/18 WHAT EVERY HINDU OUGHT TO KNOW by A Hindu Monk 1. The Eternal Religion world. It goes even a step further and says that it is a continuous revelation. Hence, The correct name of Hinduism is Sanatana according to it, a single revelation or the Dharma, The Eternal Religion. Being based revelations of a single individual do not on the Vedas and practised by the ancient exhaust the whole of the Truth. That is why it Aryan race, it is also called the Vaidika contemplates the advent of new Avatars, the Dharma. The Vedic Religion and the Arya introduction of new codes of law (Dharma- Dharma, The Religion of the Aryans. As shastras) and the production of new editions regards the origin and evolution of the word of scriptures. The greatest strength of Hindu, Swami Vivekananda says: Hinduism lies in the fact of its being based "This word Hindu was the name that the upon certain eternal truths, rather than on a ancient Persians used to apply to the river personality however exalted he may be. Sindhu. Whenever in Sanskrit there is an S, These truths are such that they can be in ancient Persian it changes into H, so that verified by anybody at any time. Sindhu became Hindu, and you are all aware how the Greeks found it hard to pronounce H 3. The Basic Scriptures of Hinduism and dropped it altogether, so that we Hinduism is based primarily on the Vedas. became known as Indians." Veda literally means knowledge or wisdom. Some modern scholars, however, are of the It is also called Shruti which means what is opinion that this word also originated in our heard or revealed. All other scriptures go own country and is very ancient. under the omnibus term of Smriti (what is remembered). Shruti being divinely 2. The Propagators of Hinduism revealed to the great Rishis of yore in the Unlike most world religions, Hinduism has depths of their mystical experience, its no founder. It is not based on the spiritual authority is supreme. Smritis are the experiences of a single individual, but on the secondary scriptures which derive their intuitions and experience of a large number authority from the Shruti. Their business is to of seers, saints and mystics called Rishis. explain, elaborate and illustrate the These ancient Rishis were only propagating fundamental teachings of the Shruti. this Eternal Religion and were not the However, according to the Hindu view, founders in the sense that is normally revelations are not limited to any individual, understood and applied to other religions. time or place. Just as there have been Their experiences have been systematised revelations in the past, they can occur at and handed down as a great tradition. present or in future also. The seer is only a Religious men of countless generations have medium to transmit to posterity the insight borne testimony to the truth and validity of which he receives. Hence he is no more the the teachings contained in them. Even today inventor of the Veda than Newton is the these spiritual truths can be experimented generator of the law of gravity. on and verified in the laboratories of our The Vedas are four in number - the Rig souls, just as the statement about natural Veda, the Yajur Veda, the Sama Veda and laws found in text-books of science can be the Atharva Veda. The Rig Veda is the most tested and verified in the laboratory of ancient scripture of the world. Lokamanya science. None the less, Hinduism is as much Tilak, on the strength of astronomical a revelation as any other religion of the What every Hindu ought to know AMS Distribution 2/18 evidences, concludes that it is at least 8,000 warrior prince. The battlefield was the place years old. of its origination; and serious problems concerning life and death, duty and The Rig Veda consists of hymns which are devotion, knowledge and meditation were mostly prayers. The Yajur Veda deals mainly discussed, and sensible solutions offered with sacrificial rites. The Sama Veda contains which hold good even to this day. Manliness a portion of the Rig Vedic hymns set to and selfless devotion to duty are the music. These have to be sung at appropriate keynotes of this great little scripture. stages during a sacrifice. The Atharva Veda, which is a later composition, consists mostly Any list of the Hindu scriptures is incomplete of morals and ethical codes as also a few without the two great epics, the Ramayana worldly sciences. and the Mahabharata. Though these two great books deal primarily with the story of Each Veda is usually divided into four parts. Sri Rama and that of the Kuru race the Samhitas, the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas respectively, they can more rightly be called and the Upanishads. The Samhitas contain the encyclopedia of Hindu religion and prayers and mantras used in sacrifices. culture. These two popular works have Whereas the Brahmanas give the know-how influenced and inspired the Hindu nation for of sacrificial rites, Aranyakas teach the art of thousands of years. They are technically certain types of meditation, based mostly on called Itihasa (history) since they contain the well-known sacrifices. The Upanishads history of the two most important dynasties contain the highest philosophical flights of that ruled and shaped the destinies of our the Vedic sages, which can be the pride of motherland. the whole human race for all time. Schopenhauer, the famous German savant, The Smritis of Manu, Yajnavalkya and has declared: "in the whole world there is no Parashara of the Puranas including the study, except that of the originals, so famous Bhagavata, the Agamas and the beneficial and so elevating as that of the treatises on the Darshanas are the other Upanishads. It has been the solace of my life, scriptures forming the magnificent edifice of it will be the solace of my death". Hinduism built upon the foundation of the Vedas. The Smritis are mostly codes of law Then comes the Bhagavad Gita, the most intended to regulate Hindu society from time popular of all the Hindu scriptures. The Gita, to time, according to the principles of the as it is shortly called, is so well-known all Veda. The Puranas are imaginative works over the world that it has been the second woven round some historical matters. They most translated work. Though the Bible aim at teaching religious truths through ranks first in this regard it should be concrete examples. The Agamas are remembered that its translations were sectarian scriptures dealing with the worship sponsored by the mighty machinery of the of a particular aspect of God and prescribing Church with the enormous material detailed courses of discipline for the resources at its command. As for the Gita, its worshipper. The Darshanas are schools of beauty, sublimity and universality prompted philosophy. The orthodox schools among its admirers to translate it into different them try to develop, systematise and languages of the world. correlate the various parts of the Veda, each There is a verse in Sanskrit which compares in its own way. the Upanishads to a milch-cow and the Gita to its milk. In other words, the Gita gives the 4. The Philosophical Systems of Hinduism essence of the Upanishadic philosophy in a Ever since the beginning of civilisation, the simple and practicable form. It is an integral innate curiosity of man has been urging him part of the Mahabharata and is in the form of to delve into the mysteries of the universe. a dialogue between Sri Krishna, the great Who created this universe? Who am I? incarnation of God, and Arjuna, the great What every Hindu ought to know AMS Distribution 3/18 Where did I come from? Where do I go after devoted to this Brahman. A liberated soul death? These were the fundamental will never again return to mundane questions posed by him. The relentless existence. These are its teachings in a search for an answer to these basic questions nutshell. has led to the origin and evolution of philosophy. 5. Ethical and Moral Principles in Hinduism If the west sought in the external world for a To love thy neighbour as thyself is supposed solution, the Hindu sages turned their gaze to be the golden rule. But to the Hindu who inwards and discovered their own answers believes in the oneness of creation, there is through meditation and mysticism. The nothing extraordinary in this. I love my Shaddarshanas (six systems of Hindu neighbour because in the ultimate analysis, philosophy) were the result. Darshana my neighbour is also myself -that is his line means vision of truth. Unlike the west, where of argument. In fact the sole mission of his philosophy based on pure intellectualism life is to realise this oneness. To him, and religion based on a few dogmas of the spiritual life is impossible without a moral church are at loggerheads, philosophy in and ethical life. Therefore very great stress Hinduism has been a philosophy of religion is laid on the latter. and religion is based on the findings of The wonderful Hindu mind has condensed philosophy. the whole gamut of ethical and moral The six Darshanas are: principles in two simple words: Yama and 1. Nyaya of Gautama; Niyama. Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, 2. Vaisheshika of Kanada; Brahmacharya and Aparigraha - these constitute Yama. Niyama consists of Shaucha, 3. Sankhya of Kapila; Santosha, Tapas, Svadhyaya and 4. Yoga of Patanjali; Ishvarapranidhana. 5. Mimamsa of Jaimini; and • Not to harm others whether in thought, 6. Vedanta of Badarayana or Vyasa. word or deed is Ahimsa. But it is a virtue The Nyaya and Vaisheshika advance the to be practised by the strong and the atomic theory of creation. Sankhya brave, and not by the weak and the propounds the theory of the animate souls cowardly. and inanimate matter as the basic factors in • Consonance of thoughts, words and creation Yoga deals mainly with the control deeds is Satya or truth. It goes without of the mind. Mimamsa is more interested in saying that these must be right and upholding Vedic ritualism. good. • Asteya is non-stealing, non- Last but not the least is the Vedanta, the covetousness included. pinnacle of all these systems. It can easily be • Chastity in thought, word and deed is called The Philosophy of Hinduism. Vedanta the core of Brahmacharya. means culmination of the Vedas. It is based • Not to accept anything from others, on the Upanishads, the Gita and the Brahma more than what is absolutely necessary Sutras of Vyasa, and gives the most rational for sustenance is Aparigraha. solution to the fundamental problems posed • Shaucha is purity and cleanliness. by philosophy. • Contentment, absence of greed and Vedanta calls that Supreme Power cheerfulness constitute Santhosha. which projects this universe, sustains it and • Austerity in the form of service, control withdraws it into itself as Brahman. It holds of speech and mind-these are the individual soul (Atman) to be birthless designated as Tapas. and deathless, eternal and immortal. • Study of sacred literature as also Attainment of liberation is possible through repetition of sacred mantras and the knowledge of Brahman, by being prayers are termed Svadhyaya. What every Hindu ought to know AMS Distribution 4/18 • Surrender of the fruits of one's actions, distinguished by its total renunciation of nay, the surrender of one's very self, is worldly desires and a complete dedication Ishvarapranidhana. to the attainment of Moksha. These are the ten cardinal principles of Every rule has an exception. The ascent from Hinduism. Brahmacharya to Sannyasa need not always be gradual. So the scriptures allowed double 6. Individual and the Society in Hinduism or even treble promotion to qualified aspirants. They could embrace Sannyasa According to Hinduism, spiritual freedom or from any stage. Moksha is the ultimate goal of life. But desires and passions which obstruct this do Just as the individual's life has been divided exist in man, ever struggling to find an into four stages to facilitate spiritual outlet. It is not very easy to get rid of them evolution, the society also has been divided overnight. Realising this, the great Hindu into four groups (Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, sages have provided us with right avenues Vaishyas and Shudras) to facilitate smooth for directing and guiding them. Looked at working. from this angle the conception of the four The Brahmanas were the custodians of Purusharthas (ends to be striven for, by man) spiritual knowledge. Simple living and high viz, Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha is a thinking as also acquisition and propagation unique contribution made by Hinduism. of spiritual knowledge these were their Acquisition and enjoyment of material primary duties. The Kshatriyas protected the wealth (Artha) and satisfaction of desires society with the strength of their arms and (Kama) should always be within the limits were responsible for the maintenance of law allowed by Dharma or righteousness. This and order as also justice. It was given to the helps their attenuation and man will become Vaishyas to produce wealth and distribute it fit for Moksha or liberation in due course. without being greedy. Those who lived by With this Moksha in view, Hinduism requires manual labour and service to others were every man to pass through the four stages of categorised as Shudras. life, technically called the Ashramas, viz, There has been a good lot of criticism Brahmacharya (student-hood), Grahasthya against this Varna system, as this four-fold (the stage of the householder), Vanaprastha division is often called. It is to be (retired life in forest) and Sannyasa (life of remembered that this grouping was based complete renunciation). upon the mental make up and aptitudes of Study of sciences (spiritual and temporal) the individuals and as a recognition of the and a life of strict discipline characterised by division of labour that already existed in the self-control are the essential features of the society and not upon birth. However, it is first stage. Acquisition, enjoyment and impossible to examine each individual distribution of the good things of life within determine what his aptitudes are and then fix the framework of Dharma, mark the second his calling. And so heredity is made to serve stage. The five daily sacrifices known as as a sort of working principle. Normally, the Pancha Yajnas viz, Devayajna or sacrifice to son inherits the trade of his father as he gods, Pitriyajna or obsequial oblation to the shares some of his traits. But, this principle departed manes, Brahmayajna or study of was never intended to be applied with an the Vedas, Nriyajna or serving fellow beings iron hand. It was flexible and violable. There and Bhutayajna or feeding the dumb is a lot of evidence in the scriptures to show creatures, are obligatory on the householder that man's Varna depends upon his mental during this stage. The third stage where in make up and the calling he chooses. There introspection is very important is only a have been several cases where people born stepping stone to the final stage of Sannyasa. in lower castes have risen higher by their This last stage which is the acme of life is virtues and those born in he higher ones What every Hindu ought to know AMS Distribution 5/18 have been degraded due to their vices. Upanayana sacrament, study the Vedas, Hence it is obvious that the present day caste become teachers or even ascetics if they system, with its watertight compartments wished. But during the middle ages there and mutual animosity is nothing but a gross was a criminal neglect of their welfare. degeneration of the once sublime idea that With the advent of modern education, the formed the basis of this division. impact of science and western civilisation, things have changed no doubt, but the 7. Women in Hindu Society remedy seems to be worse than the disease! No bird can ever fly on only one of its wings. Now woman seems to want to out-man man Women, being the other-wing of the society, himself! Getting discontented with her role it is but proper that their role be discussed of child-bearing and home making she here. wishes to devote herself to some other higher activity! Consequently, homes are Ideals constitute the very heart and soul of a slowly being replaced by hotels! In the name nation. Hence a real understanding of the of economic independence, life is tending to Hindu nation and its womanhood would become more and more hectic, irregular essentially depend on that of its ideals. An and even vagrant! By engaging herself in already stated, Hinduism considers Moksha activities, which prejudice the work of or spiritual freedom as the summum bonum preservation, the modern Hindu woman is of life, whether for man or for woman. coming into conflict with her own inner Consequently the disciplines described and nature. By blindly imitating man, she cannot the paths prescribed for the attainment of be the giver of joy, the inspirer of activity this Moksha are almost identical. Purity, self- and the consoler in distress that she has all control, devotion and austerity are as much along been. This is what the world famous necessary for woman as for man. However, scientist Dr. Alexis Carrel says: "The Hinduism does not shut its eyes to the differences existing between man and differences that do exist between man and woman are of a fundamental nature. woman, biological as well as temperamental. Ignorance of these fundamental facts has led That is why it has defined their areas of promoters of feminism to believe that both activity depending upon their Svadharma or sexes should have the same education, the special characteristics and prescribed same powers and the same responsibilities. slightly different modes of life and In reality woman differs profoundly from discipline. man. Every one of the cells of her body The strength and the soundness of a society bears the mark of her sex. Physiological laws are sustained by those of the family, and are as inexorable as those of the sidereal woman is the central figure in a family. Just world. They cannot be replaced by human imagine the tremendous responsibility that wishes." is placed on her! A Griha or home is no What then is the solution? "But now female home but for the Grihini (the mistress of the education is to be spread with religion as its family). Hence, the ideal placed before the centre. All other training should be Hindu woman is that of the ideal Grihini, who secondary to religion," says Swami again is an ideal wife, an ideal friend and an Vivekananda. Mahatma Gandhi exhorts our ideal mother all rolled into one. It is Sita, women not to ape the West but apply Savitri, Damayanti and Gandhari the songs of methods suitable to the Indian genius and the Hindu soil that have inspired the lives of Indian environment. Says he: "Theirs must millions of Hindu women for aeons. be the strong controlling, purifying, Women had plenty of freedom in the Vedic steadying hand, conserving what is best in and Epic age. They had equal opportunities our culture and unhesitatingly rejecting what and scope, especially in the religious and is bad and degrading. This is the work of spiritual fields. They could undergo the What every Hindu ought to know AMS Distribution 6/18 Sitas, Draupadis, Savitris, and Damayantis, of the senses from their objects), Dharana not of amazons and proudes." (fixing the attention on the ideal), Dhyana (steady flow of the mind stuff towards the Will our mothers and sisters heed this ideal) and Samadhi (perfect concentration advice? on the ideal) these are the subsequent steps in that order. 8. Hindu Sadhanas Discriminate between the real (the Self) and Spiritual disciplines are called Sadhanas. the unreal (the world appearance). Give up They are paths to perfection, roads to the unreal mercilessly. Cling to the Self, the realisation of the truth. Since there are eternal and immortal reality. Hear about It, temperamental differences among the brood over It and mediate over It. Become individual seekers of truth, Hinduism one with it. This is the sum and substance of recognises the need for a variety of spiritual Jnana Yoga. disciplines or Sadhanas. These Sadhanas can be brought under four broad categories 9. Place of Rituals, Temples and called Yogas: the Karma Yoga, the Bhakti Festivals in Hinduism Yoga, the Raja Yoga and the Jnana Yoga. Karma Yoga is the path of disinterested Philosophy without religion becomes action suited to the active type. Bhakti Yoga, meaningless. Religion without rituals the path of love of God, is most suitable to becomes insipid. The rituals of a religion, the emotional type, Raja Yoga, the path of like the husk of a seed, preserve its life and psychic control, is meant for the make it germinate. It is only when the rituals introspectives. Jnana Yoga, the path of are separated from the faith and assume an discrimination and knowledge is ideal for independent existence that they become those endowed with a sharp intellect and a mechanical and lifeless. keen power of discrimination. However, the Human beings have not yet reached those four qualities of activity, emotion, heights where they can dispense with all introspection and intellect are found in sorts of symbols and rituals and devote everyone though in varying degrees. Hence, themselves to purely abstract principles. A a balanced combination of all the Yogas, flag hoisting, an oath taking or a convocation with more of one and less of others is as much a ritual as worship or sacrifice. To depending upon one's temperament, is give a concrete shape to the abstract desirable for quick results. spiritual ideals and to add colour and zest to Do your work, the duties that fall to your lot, life, Hinduism recommends the performance nicely and efficiently. But be alert, never get of several rituals. Out of these, a few are attached, either to the work or to the fruits obligatory and the rest are optional. thereof. This is the essence of Karma Yoga. Practice of meditation at sunrise, noon and Love God with all your heart and soul. sunset with the repetition of the famous Cultivate an intimate loving relationship with Gayatri Mantra, worship of God through Him. Surrender yourself completely to Him. symbols and images, offering oblation into Desire for Him alone and for nothing else. specially consecrated sacrificial fires these This is the core of Bhakti Yoga. were some of the rituals obligatory on almost all the Hindus during the ancient days. Even Raja Yoga prescribes an eight fold discipline to this day, these have been kept up though leading to the perfect control of the mind in a modified form, and with lesser intensity. and culminating in the vision of the Truth. A wisely planned and solemnly conducted Yama and Niyama, the moral and ethical ritual prepares the ground, creates the disciplines already described, are the first atmosphere, suggests the mood and two steps. Asana (steady and comfortable predisposes the mind so that the spiritual posture), Pranayama (rhythmic breathing aspirant may easily detach himself from the and breath control), Pratyahara (withdrawal What every Hindu ought to know AMS Distribution 7/18 world and feel the mysterious presence of or places of pilgrimage, have been another the Supreme Power called God. potent factor in the religious life of our society. Though the rules and regulations of Hinduism considers religion and spirituality a festival introduce an amount of austerity in to be purely a personal affair. It concerns personal life, they also tighten this burden with the eternal relationship between the and elevate the mind when performed Eternal Soul and the Eternal God. Hence, the properly. A rathotsava (temple-car festival) Hindu is obliged neither to build a temple or a mela (religious fair) has its own story to nor pay a visit to it on any particular day. To tell and lessons to teach. The former seems him his own body is the temple, the abode of to signify that if you are too busy to go to the the Lord. However, for the sake of the Lord, He Himself will come to you! The latter ordinary people who are incapable of provides an opportunity for like-minded comprehending this truth, who always need devotees to congregate in a place and an external support for the practice of their strengthen one another spiritual vibrations. religion, temples are recommended. Even That is why they have become part and the temple is only an external symbol of this parcel of our life, for centuries. body. In fact, many of the technical names of the various parts of a temple are identical 10. A Few Rituals and Sacraments of with the names of the various parts of the Hinduism body. Actually the temple represents the Lord and His creation (the universe) in all its It will not be out of place here to dilate a little aspects. upon a few of the more important rituals and sacraments that have embellished Hinduism Usually the gateway to a temple will be a since ages. massive and magnificent construction. When we stand in front of it we are made to feel so Sandhya, Puja and Homa are the most insignificant before the Lord of the universe! important rituals still in vogue. Jatakarma & As we proceed inwards leaving behind the Namakarana, Annaprashana, Upanayana, grand carvings and decorations of the Vivaha and Antyeshti including Shradha are outside, we notice that the sanctum the more common Samskaras or sacraments sanctorum itself is small and dark. We can prevalent even today. Sandhya is the ritual have the darshan of the Lord only when a practised at dawn, noon and dusk. light is lit up and waved before Him. This Ceremonial sipping of water (Achamana), indicates that we have to leave the grand rhythmic breathing (Pranayama), expiation external world outside, direct our minds of sin (Aghamarshana), offering water to inward, light up the lamp of knowledge Sun-god (Arghyapradana), repetition of the there and behold the Lord within the Gayatri Mantra coupled with meditation on sanctum sanctorum of our hearts. Sun-god and obeisance to Sun-god (Upasthana) these comprise the ritual. Ours has been a land of temples. There is no town or village without a temple, be that of The mode of Puja or worship is a replica of Shiva or Vishnu, Devi or Hanuman, Ganesha the services that are usually rendered to a or Subrahmanya. They are standing beloved guest or an honoured king. Only, monuments to the continuing spiritual the King of kings is the recipient here! After traditions of our country. And they have invoking the presence of the Diety played a very significant part in the (Avahana), a seat is offered (Asana); the feet community life of our country, helping to are washed (Padya); a respectful offering of preserve and enrich our religion and water mixed with sandalwood paste and rice culture, arts and crafts through jatras, is made (Arghya); sandalwood paste is rathotsavas and festivals. smeared (Chandana); flowers are offered (Pushpa); incense is burned (Dhupa); lighted Festivals connected with certain sacred days lamp is waved (Dipa) and food offering is and associated with certain temples or rivers What every Hindu ought to know AMS Distribution 8/18 made (Naivedya) along with drinking water ritual. The first symbolises the beginning of a (Paniya). Finally the Deity is given a farewell life of self-control. The Yajnopavita suggests (Visarjana). that from now on, his life is a continuous sacrifice. The Gayatri is particularly apt for a Homa is actually Vedic sacrifice adopted to celibate student seeking intellectual Agamic requirements. It is nothing but Puja development in the right direction. It marks offered to the Deity invoked into the the beginning of a life-long spiritual sacrificial fire. Except in some details it is struggle. Going round for aims reminds him almost identical with Puja. of his dependence on society whose debts Samskara literally means a purificatory rite. he has to discharge throughout his life. It is socio-religious in character. By Of all the Hindu sacraments, Vivaha or performing it, the life of the Hindu is marriage is considered to be the most sanctified. central one. Hinduism rightly emphasises Though the Samskaras are sixteen in the importance of the life of the householder. number, only the principal ones mentioned The sacrament of marriage impresses upon a above, will be dealt with here. person that earthly life is not to be despised; Jatakarma is the rite performed immediately rather it should be consciously accepted and after the birth of the child. Repetition of a elevated to the level of spiritual experience. mantra for the generation of talent Marriage is not a license for indulgence, but (Medhajanana) and wishing the baby a human institution aiming at moderation in longevity and strength are the main items conjugal life leading ultimately to the involved. conquest of self. It is essentially a fellowship between a man and a woman who seek to Namakarana or name giving ceremony is live creatively in a partnership for the performed usually on the tenth or the twelfth pursuit of the four Purusharthas. Besides the day. The choice of the name for the child is two parties to a marriage the bride and the generally associated with religious ideas. bridegroom there is the third party, Dharma, Anna-prashana in the first feeding of the (their joint religious duty) through which child with solid food which has been only they have been united. Consequently, a previously consecrated by offering it to Hindu marriage is considered to be too various deities. sacred to be dissolved. Upanayana or the sacrament of initiation into The most important steps of this sacrament higher life stands for taking the child to a are: Kanyadana (gift of the bride to the teacher for education. >From the cultural bridegroom by the legitimate guardian), point of view this is the most important Vivaha homa (marriage offerings in sacred sacrament. The most striking feature of the fire), Panigrahana (clasping the hand of the Upanayana lies in the belief that by its bride by the bridegroom), Saptapadi performance the initiate is given a cultural (walking seven steps), Ashmarohana and spiritual rebirth. It is a great advance (mounting the stone), Suryalokana (looking over the primitive types of initiation like the at the sun) and Dhruvadarshana (gazing at endurance test, temporary seclusion or the Pole star). mutilation of the body still current among Panigrahana symbolises that the bridegroom many religious communities. has taken over her responsibility here Receiving the loin-cloth (Kaupina) and the afterwards. Saptapadi is symbolic of girdle (Mekhala), investiture with the sacred prosperity and felicity. At the end of this thread (Yajnopavitadharana), initiation with ceremony the bride passes into the family of the Savitri Mantra (better known as the the bridegroom. Marriage is regarded as Gayatri) and going round for aims these complete with it. Suryalokana indicates that constitute the most essential aspects of the the sun is a witness to the sacrament. What every Hindu ought to know AMS Distribution 9/18 Ashmarohana and Dhruva Arundhati darshan was developed in course of time into a represent stability and constancy. highly complicated labyrinth of sacrifices, there arose the dynamic sages of the The last sacrament in the life of the Hindu is Upanishads condemning it in no uncertain Antyeshti. Since a Hindu consecrates his terms and preaching the direct method of entire life through the performance of realising the truth through contemplation various sacraments at suitable stages, at his and knowledge. This was the first reform death, his survivors consecrate the event by movement. death rites for his future good and spiritual felicity. Though performed after a man's This was further supplemented by the next death, this sacrament is no less important, movement started by the Gitacharya Sri because for a Hindu, the value of the next Krishna who reconciled the warring groups world is higher than that of the present. of his times, who were advocating either action or knowledge or contemplation or It is customary to drop Ganga-water and devotion. He provided a place in his system Tulasi leaves into the mouth of the dying for every one of these in such a way that one person. The body is carried on a bier by the need not be in conflict with the others. nearest relatives and friends of the deceased. It is then either cremated or Then came Gauthama Buddha, the buried according to the custom of the compassionate, who was more interested in community. If cremated, the ashes and the the greatest good of the largest number than bones are later on collected and immersed in the philosophies of the privileged few. in the sacred waters of the nearest river. If Teaching simple moral and spiritual buried, a mound is raised over the remains principles bearing more directly on the life as a mark of remembrance Shraddha or here than on the life hereafter, he captured offering to the dead also forms an important the hearts of millions and set a dynamic item of the last rites. It is performed on the spiritual revolution into motion. eleventh or the thirteenth day after death Buddha's apparent condemnation of the and consists of Homa, Pindapradhana Vedic religion and his discreet silence on (obsequial offering of rice balls) and feeding the life hereafter were thoroughly misunder- the Brahmanas. stood and even misrepresented by his later followers. It was given to Shankara, the first 11. Reform Movements in Hinduism missionary Hindu monk, to make a whirlwind Hinduism is like the centre-of-gravity doll tour of the country, expose their fallacies and which regains its equilibrium howsoever it re-establish the pristine glory of Hinduism. be disturbed. Wave after wave of alien By admitting Buddha into the galaxy of invasions have come and gone upon this incarnations the Post-Buddhistic Hinduism sacred land but none of them really sealed the fate of Buddhism in India once for succeeded in uprooting it. That is because all. the basis of Hinduism is strong and sound. Then followed an era of invasion and Standing firmly on this, it has always shown a conquest by foreigners and it looked, as remarkable dynamism, a unique capacity for though the Eternal Religion would just change and adjustment whenever collapse. However, the task of keeping it circumstances have demanded it. very much alive was admirably fulfilled by Whenever the essential core was forgotten the various Bhakti movements started by and too much fuss was made over the non- Ramanuja, Madhva, Basaveshwara, essential crust, there has always been a Chaitanya, Ramananda, Kabir, Nanak, reaction and a rebellion from its own ranks Mirabai, Tulasidas, Tukaram, Purandara Das to put things in their proper perspective and and a host of others. Special mention must be show a better way in conformity with the made of the Sikhism of Nanak, which times. When the simple Rig Vedic religion effectively prevented large number of What every Hindu ought to know AMS Distribution 10/18 people from being forcibly converted into completely. Similarly since it is not possible Islam. No less important was the movement to experience the result of all the actions that started by Ramanuja to broaden the outlook we do in one short life, it is reasonable to of Brahmin orthodoxy. admit of our future lives. The wide variety and differences among human beings, which The British conquest as also the impact of have no logical connection with the present western civilisation with its science, life, force us to hypothesise about their technology and Christianity gave another causes existing in past lives and resulting in shaking to the native religion and culture. the present ones. Since Hinduism posits the Bang came the reply in the form of several soul as eternal and immortal, the theory of reform movements each trying in its own Karma and Rebirth fits in admirably with it. way to set things right. If the Brahma Samaj This is the best hypothesis that the human and its offshoot, the Prarthana Samaj tried to mind can conceive of, to solve the problem give a Christian look, to Hinduism, the Arya of good and evil, to explain the variety and Samaj tried to bring back the pure Vedic diversity in the universe. religion. The Theosophical Society too tried to do its bit with its mystical and esoteric The doctrine of Adhikara Bheda is the doctrines. However it was Sri Ramakrishna recognition of the simple fact that the same and Swami Vivekananda who struck a cap cannot fit everybody. In any field perfect balance between the past and the especially in the spiritual field, capacity and present, the East and the West by showing necessity should be the deciding factors and the people how to combine the best of both. not merely the desire or ambition. A blind This regeneration is still continuing through man is certainly unfit to become a pilot and the work of the Ramakrishna Math and the tame should never attempt Mountain- Mission and other organisations drawing climbing, however intense their desires may inspiration from them. be! That is why like a loving mother catering to her children with a variety of dishes A very recent attempt at uniting the Hindu depending upon their digestive capacities, society, protecting and spreading its Hinduism has opened up manifold spiritual religion and culture, is the formation of the paths to suit a variety of tastes and Vishva Hindu Parishad which is steadily temperaments. If the intellectual is gaining ground. recommended Jnana Yoga, the active person finds an outlet for his energies in Karma 12. Special Contribution of Hinduism to Yoga. If the emotional type finds a solace in World Thought Bhakti Yoga, the introspective one finds his Hinduism has made a very significant peace in Raja Yoga. Thus no one need be contribution to world thought in disappointed. propounding the three doctrines of Karma The Avatara Vada,-the doctrine of descent of and Rebirth, Adhikara Bheda and Avatara God on earth, declares that the Supreme Vada. Power descends on this earth wherever and The doctrine of Karma is nothing but the whenever necessary to restore the spiritual extension of the well-known principle, As balance and to help genuine religious you sow, so you reap, to the moral and aspirants in their struggle for perfection. spiritual field. We have to reap the This is truly a marvellous doctrine filling the consequences of our actions sooner or later. hearts of millions of aspirants with The present is the result of the past and the tremendous hope. An unbiased study of the future will be the result of the present. spiritual history of mankind proves this The doctrine of rebirth is a logical corollary beyond all doubt. It is foolish to limit the of this theory of Karma. We may burn our powers and capacities of the Almighty God finger in fire for only a few seconds but it by arguing that He descended only once in a takes a couple of weeks to cure it particular chosen land and that He will never What every Hindu ought to know AMS Distribution 11/18 come again. Regimentation in religion and 14. Ubiquitous Hindu Culture proselytisation with political motives which It is this very universality of Hinduism that are doing immense harm to humanity have carried it far and wide into the world beyond their origin in such bigotry. the borders of Bharat. Along with its civilisation and culture, philosophies, arts 13. Hinduism: The Religion Universal and sciences, mythology and rituals, Any religion to be universally acceptable, Hinduism has practically inundated all the must appeal both to the head and to the major cultural regions of the world. It is a heart of the maximum number of people. well-known historical fact that the countries And Hinduism does it. The dizzy heights of of South East Asia, Sri Lanka, West Asia, part its Advaita philosophy can easily slake the of the African continent, Europe and America thirst of the brainiest of philosophers. Its are full of the impress of Hindu culture and conception of the Personal God can more civilisation. The Sanskrit language, the two than satisfy the refined theologians. The great Epics, temples dedicated to Shiva, modes of Bhakti enunciated as well as the Vishnu and Ganapati, and a few of the rituals rituals recommended soothe the hearts of and sacraments are to be found even today the emotional types. The advocates of in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, activism are easily accommodated by the Cambodia and Philippines. There is doctrine of selfless action. And the mystics overwhelming evidence to show that the can always count upon Yoga. great sage Agastya journeyed to those lands, spreading the unfailing message of the Hinduism considers that man is potentially Eternal Religion. Shustery says in his divine and not a sinner. Hence, even the Outlines of Islamic Culture that the Haj worst of sinners finds a place in its bosom. pilgrim while approaching the great Mosque He has not committed any sin but only at Mecca had to wear the dhoti and the mistakes, says Hinduism, because he had uttareeya (upper cloth)! As regards the forgotten his essentially divine nature! What teaching of the Christian missionaries like a wonderful doctrine! What a marvellous Plotinus, Clement, Gregory, Augustine and psychology! others Dean Inge was obliged to declare: "it By declaring that the whole universe is but is the ancient religion of the Brahmins (that the projection of the Cosmic Mind, and that a is) masquerading in the clothes borrowed fundamental thread of unity passes through from the Jewish, Gnostic, Manichaean and the innumerable and diverse manifestations Neoplatonic allegories." Diwan Chamanlal in it, Hinduism carries conviction to the has accumulated unassailable mass of modern scientists also. evidence in his Hindu America to show that Even the agnostics and the atheists find a the Hindus migrated to the American place in it because Hinduism preaches that continent long before Columbus. The effect to be good and to do good is the whole of of Hindu culture is evident even to this day, religion, all other things being secondary. especially in Mexico. Should we not be proud of this? Gross materialists, instead of being condemned, are advised to be a little less 15. Hindus outside India selfish while enjoying the good things of life! This takes us to the next topic, that of the If this is not the Religion Universal which Hindus living outside their Motherland, In other one can be? In fact Hinduism being proportion to the spiritual and cultural debt more a way of life than a dogmatic creed, the that is cast upon the world by Hinduism, the whole of humanity ever struggling from number of Hindus who live outside India is lower truths to higher truths come under its rather small. Though this is a glorious tribute protective wings whether they accept it or to its non-aggressiveness and cultural not. refinement Hinduism certainly did not try to What every Hindu ought to know AMS Distribution 12/18 spread by force or fraud - it is also a sad graduate student and a higher secondary commentary on the strength, wisdom and student are not supposed to exchange their foresight of the Hindus living here. text-books and books and thereby get bewildered! It is here that a correct The fourteen million Hindus living outside understanding and appreciation of the and scattered over several countries are doctrine of Adhikara Bheda comes to our today badly in need of our help. They want aid. religious institutions to bring them together and inspire them. They want preachers to SECOND OBJECTION: Hinduism preaches educate them in our Dharma. They are eager rank idolatry and encourages superstition. to learn the more tangible rituals and Idolatry means worship of idols considering sacraments to purify and sustain themselves. that they themselves are God. No Hindu ever Any further delay and neglect on our part worships a stone or a metal image with this will hasten their decay. And, the grave sin attitude. He always worships God through will be squarely ours! Should we not hurry them. If an objection is raised even against up to offer them what they are hankering for? this, then there is no reason why the Christians who worship the image of Jesus 16. Criticisms Galore and the Bible or the Mohammedans who kiss the Kaaba stone or the patriots who salute In spite of its most sublime theories, the national flag, should not be dubbed as universal doctrines and an unlimited idolators! capacity for tolerance and adjustment, no religion on earth has perhaps been so much Even Hinduism considers image-worship as misunderstood, deliberately distorted and only the primary step - like using an abacus mercilessly criticised as this Mother of all to teach arithmetic to children - and exhorts religions. Brushing aside all unjust criticism its votaries to rise gradually to the highest based more on spite than on solid truths, it is level wherein they will have the direct still worthwhile considering some of the experience of the all-pervading Supreme more common, apparently reasonable and Power. sometimes genuine, criticisms in the spirit of As for superstition, the less we talk, the an honest enquiry after truth. better. The merciless witch-hunting carried FIRST OBJECTION: There are innumerable on in Europe during the middle ages or the gods and goddesses in Hinduism as also considering of number thirteen as unlucky countless religious works leading its even during this twentieth century by the adherents to utter confusion and Western society, are just two concrete bewilderment. examples which reveal who is really more superstitious. Actually most of the Hindu Well, this may appear so to one who has not practices dubbed as superstitions have understood the spirit of Hinduism. But to one deeper philosophical and psychological who has understood that it is one and the truths behind them than meets the eye. Even same God that has manifested Himself granting that superstitions do exit, they are through all these forms, there is no problem, all harmless. Lastly, the blind belief of the no confusion, much less any bewilderment. modern man in science and technology, as if One who has known the nature of water will they are omnipotent, forgetting that they never be confused or bewildered if he have miserably failed to give him peace of encounters ice, bubble or steam. Rig Veda mind (which alone is the aim of life) is the itself has unequivocally declared that the greatest superstition of all! Truth is one and the sages call it by various names. As regards the countless religious works, they are meant for different types of people who are in various stages of intellectual and spiritual evolution. A post- What every Hindu ought to know AMS Distribution 13/18 THIRD OBJECTION: The caste system has the gradation and variety in the universe but divided the Hindu society into numberless also in leading a good life. groups engaged in mutual hatred and As regards the objection as such, we say that fighting. A religion which shelters such a quite the opposite effect will be produced if system is no good. the doctrine is properly understood and The caste system is a logical extension of the applied. If my present state is the result of Varna system whose underlying philosophy my previous actions, that gives me a has already been explained. There is no tremendous hope and opportunity for country, no race or society in this world shaping my future by my present action. This which is free from caste system in some form is the Hindu attitude. Consequently, a Hindu or the other. Even in the so-called socialistic who has understood the spirit of the Karma countries, where all are supposed to be theory is a dynamic believer in himself. Of equal, it is an open secret that some are course, fatalism and lethargy have often more equal than others! A society based on crept in to the detriment of the Hindus. But the division of labour is far superior to a this is solely due to the misunderstanding of society divided on the basis of wealth or the Karma theory. Ignorant and half-baked colour of the skin. What is to be condemned people who misunderstand, and misapply is not the caste system as such, but the claim even sublime theories are not confined to to privileges by certain castes or the hatred the Hindu society alone but will be found all and ill-will towards the other groups. The over the world. division of an office into several departments FIFTH OBJECTION: In the name of the is only a matter of administrative doctrine of Adhikara Bheda, Hinduism has convenience. That does not mean that these meted out very unequal treatment to its departments should fight one another. If it is adherents and has done great injustice to remembered that there is no bar on practice them. of true religion by any member of any caste, all this fuss becomes meaning-less. Hence a Whenever understood properly and religion that has invented such a wonderful practised sincerely this doctrine has always social institution is not only good but has also helped, and not hindered, the material and rendered signal service to mankind by spiritual progress of the Hindus. To say that showing the right path. all men are born equal or made equal, is a blatant denial of facts and experience. But It is interesting to note that both Swami this does not mean that people should not be Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi who given equal opportunity and scope for self- themselves did not belong to the highest development. In fact Hinduism has been caste, have upheld and admired the caste more liberal and generous towards the system in its true form. weaker sections of the society. As in every FOURTH OBJECTION: The doctrine of other society, there have of course been a Karma has introduced fatalism and lethargy, small minority of black sheep who have and has killed the initiative among the exploited and wronged the masses. Hindus. However, taking the Hindu religion and society as a whole and comparing it with The alternatives to the doctrine of Karma and others, this doctrine has worked more as a Rebirth are the positing of a partial and blessing than as a curse. unjust God or to accept the theory that the origin of this universe lies in an accident or SIXTH OBJECTION: A religion which chaos. These alternatives satisfy neither the confers the status of the highest incarnation theologian nor the logician and much less a of God on a mythical and immoral person scientist. As already pointed out, this theory like Sri Krishna is paving the way for the of Karma is the most sensible and reasonable whole society to become likewise. hypothesis which helps not only explaining What every Hindu ought to know AMS Distribution 14/18 Bitter criticism and ridicule of Hinduism as innumerable miracles performed by him. also malicious propaganda against it, very Why don't then, these wise critics, accept often centres round the life, personality and these miracles also as true? If these are doings of Lord Sri Krishna. A dispassionate accepted, it will be established that Sri study and analysis will however reveal the Krishna was God Himself, since no ordinary hollowness of these arguments. being can ever perform them. And God's actions are above all human logic and At the very outset, let it be known that Sri comprehension! Krishna's historicity has been established beyond doubt by several scholars including The critics often jeer at Sri Krishna because Sri Aurobindo. The mighty river of Hinduism he had sixteen thousand wives. Perhaps, it is will continue to flow on irrespective of the more due to jealousy than any moral sense historicity of Ramas and Krishnas (who are because he could manage sixteen thousand just ripples in this river) because it is based wives whereas they can hardly manage one! on eternal principles and not on Since these poor girls had been deserted by personalities. their own people just because they had been in the captivity of the demon Narakasura, The earliest reference to Sri Krishna and an Krishna the rescuer, had no option but to unfoldment of his true personality occurs in legally accept them as his wives so that he the great epic and history of the Hindus viz, could shelter them. This is one explanation. the Mahabharata. Curiously enough, this epic has always treated him as a Kshatriya Then there is the other, the real explanation, King. Not even his bitterest enemies like which describes the esoteric significance of Shishupala, who figure in this great book, this. Sixteen thousand really represents ever allude to his so-called immorality. In sixteen. The mind, the five senses of fact, Duryodhana, another critic of his, has all cognition, the five organs of action and the admiration for his wonderful personality and five fundamental elements (like the earth even admits of his divinity! It passes one's etc.) - these are the sixteen. The zeros understanding how a genius like Sri Krishna signify the number- less products, variations who bequeathed a most wonderful bunch of and manifestations of these sixteen. Sri universal spiritual teachings could ever have Krishna is the Purusha or the self who been a moral wreck. liberates them from hellish ignorance (Naraka) and redirects them unto Himself. The secondary scriptures like the Bhagavatam which deal with Sri Krishna's Contrary to the objectors' contention, Lord story in greater detail, were actually written Krishna has been the unseen dynamic power several centuries later and hence need not guiding the Hindu religion and society in the be taken as literally true. Even according to right direction through his Gita ever ringing these scriptures, Sri Krishna was a small boy its message for thousands of years. He is the at the time of the Brindavan Leela. Again, the greatest national hero and guides, and it is a tradition of considering oneself as the hand- pity that the sons of our own soil often maid of God and love Him as one's husband disown Him (whereby the baser instincts are sublimated) is not peculiar to Hinduism alone. It exists 17. The Menace of Materialism among the Christians and the Sufis also. The At this juncture it is necessary to pinpoint the reference to brides of God in the Bible or the menace of materialism also. Hinduism has Christian nuns considering themselves as never forbidden the acquisition and brides of God does not certainly warrant us enjoyment of material wealth, comforts and to brand either God or Christ as polygamous pleasures. It has only introduced the safety- or immoral! valve of Dharma, that is all. If Artha and Moreover, the very same scriptures that Kama become the sole aims of life and describe his Rasakrida also describe the Dharma is totally neglected, then it becomes What every Hindu ought to know AMS Distribution 15/18 gross materialism, which is another name for of iron and nerves of steel. Upanishads the law of the jungle. Now-a-days the declare that there is no salvation for the tendency towards such materialism is weak! There is a lot of truth in that saying of increasing to the detriment of our nation. Darwin, survival of the fittest. Hence comes the necessity to recognise and Two Hindus cannot join together and work. check this menace. Obedience and cooperation are allergic to A glance at the so-called advanced and our constitution! Jealously seems to be in our civilised countries of the world will reveal blood! We seem to forget that this has been what havoc has been brought about by the greatest single factor for our downfall materialism. Incidence of the most heinous over the centuries. Unless we learn to put crimes and awful mental illnesses is away our petty jealousies, subjugate our ego increasing at an alarming rate. According to and organise ourselves unitedly, there is no a report put up by the police department of hope for us. the U.S.A., the average rate of crimes per Neglect of intellectual life seems to be hour is as follows. one murder, theft of forty another disease ailing us. The great Rishis, cars and ten robberies! That is why many of our forefathers, astonished the world with the Western savants and scientists are fast their wonderful discoveries in several fields turning towards religion for solace and of knowledge through hard work and deep succour. thinking. In our generation, even a small boy Atheism, the counterpart of materialism, is must have a ready-made notes to pass his another evil that is trying to sway the minds examination! There is no short-cut to of men. Even a little of serious thinking will knowledge. Let there be no illusion about it! convince us how hollow the arguments of Unless we, especially the younger atheism are. That the universe was formed generation, wake up and cultivate a real by a fortuitous course of atoms, can no more thirst for knowledge, develop the capacity to be believed than that the accidental think deeply and intensely, we just cannot jumbling of the letters of a word making set compete with the other nations of the world! would fall into a most wonderful treatise of Lethargy is yet another disease which is philosophy! Actually the sciences are maps eating into our vitals. A Hindu thinks but of universal laws; the universal laws are rarely acts - thus remarked an English officer channels of universal power; and the once. universal power is but the outgoing of a Supreme Universal Mind. The last but not least of our weaknesses is our ignorance of our own religion. An Every nation has its special characteristic average Christian or an average Muslim is trait. In our country it is religion. If it goes better informed about his religion than an "India will die in spite of politics, in spite of average Hindu. Whereas they have a reforms, in spite of Kubera's wealth poured positive and dynamic faith in their religion, upon the head of everyone of her children." most of us not only lack such faith but even go to the extent of deriding our own Dharma! 18. The Internal Dangers It seems to have become a fashion to do so, Now let us turn our attention inwards and especially among our students going find out what exactly ails our society from abroad! within. A Hindu child learns very little about our The most serious defect of an average Hindu Dharma and culture either at home or at is his physical weakness and consequent school. Parents and teachers, most of whom cowardice, often clothed in high-sounding are themselves ignorant in this respect, words like Ahimsa! Swami Vivekananda cannot guide the youngsters. Or, if they try called weakness as sin and death. He to guide, it is like the blind leading the blind! exhorted our young men to develop muscles No wonder that these youngsters are fast What every Hindu ought to know AMS Distribution 16/18 failing an easy prey to alien influences! It is deserve! It is a wonder how they have the foremost duty of the parents and elders continued to remain as part of the Hindu to learn a little more about our glorious society in spite of the crimes and atrocities Dharma and culture, and to impart it committed against them! If the Hindu society effectively to their children and wards. On does not wake up to their problems and try the negative side, let them take all the for their upliftment through education and necessary steps in counteracting the improvement of economy, they will all be mischievous and malicious propaganda of absorbed one day into the folds of alien the enemies of our Dharma. faiths! Let us remember that whoever goes out of the Hindu Dharma is not only lost to us, 19. Some Problems and Possible Solutions but also we have in him one more enemy! Every nation, every society, has its own The second problem we have to face is that problems. We too have ours. Let us consider of conversion. The overt and convert a few of the more important ones and discuss methods of the Christian missionaries in the possible solutions. perverting the faith of our people are well- known. How to stop this? Let us try our best The first problem that often agitates the to Hinduise the Hindus first by a proper minds of the enlightened Hindus is that of dissemination of our Dharma. At the same caste. The rigidity of the caste system, the time let us keep an eternal vigil over the consequent social inequalities, the hatred nefarious designs of others to convert our and animosity it has bred, are threatening people. our society with disintegration and destruction. Let us remember that the doctrine that a Hindu is born and not made, is absolutely Well, this problem has been made false. For hundreds of years our Dharma has sufficiently complex that, there cannot be an quietly absorbed people of alien faiths immediate ready made solution. Economic without fuss. As regards the question of upliftment of the masses, a proper type of reabsorption, Swami Vivekananda's education enlightening them in the observations are interesting and instructive: fundamental principles underlying our "Returning converts will gain their own Dharma and culture these will help to a great castes of course. And new people will make extent in levelling and cementing out theirs." The advanced sections of our society society. In addition, a sincere spirit of give can render signal service to the new and take must be infused among the various converts by voluntarily coming forward to caste groups. The more educated and absorb them into their own fold. cultured groups of our society (from any caste), especially the Brahmins, must It is here that the orthodox traditional recharge their own lives with the high monasteries can play a major part. In the spiritual ideals that once guided them and earlier years they have done a wonderful job take up their spiritual mission through of keeping aloft the burning torch of our Simple living and high thinking. Swami Dharma. However with the accumulation of Vivekananda who was not a Brahmin himself wealth their men decayed. Pelf, prestige and by birth, makes an impassioned appeal for power became their primary concern. Even the restoration of the original four Varna today if they wake up to realities, give up system by merging all the sub-castes in the their fossilised ways of thinking and acting respective major caste. and move with the changing society, all the while sticking to the eternal values in our In this connection, the treatment meted out Dharma, they can achieve still greater to the Harijans by the so-called caste Hindus, wonders what with their learning, wealth and deserves special mention. For centuries prestige. They should make vigorous efforts together these poor people have been given for the propagation of the core of our a treatment which even the brutes do not What every Hindu ought to know AMS Distribution 17/18 Dharma, simplify the rituals, draw up a code wonderful achievements in various fields are of conduct practicable for all the Hindus, our proud heritage. Let us be worthy of make the four sacraments of Jatakarma, them, nay, let us try to excel them! It is here Upanayana, Vivaha and Antyeshti simple that a devout study of our scriptures helps us and obligatory on all the Hindus and issue greatly. Every Hindu must at least be familiar injunctions to their respective followers to with the Bhagavad Gita and the great reabsorb and rehabilitate the reconverts. characters of the two Epics. This will go a long way in making the Hindu Cultivation of the ten virtues listed under society more homogeneous and united. Yama and Niyama is a must. And now a word about our temples and The importance of silent meditation which priests: Though the temples should be the calms the mind and soothes the nerves, holiest of the holy places, they are usually cannot be over emphasised. Meditation is to kept awfully dirty with the pilgrims and be practised at least twice a day after visitors adding their share! The noise and learning about it from a proper preceptor. disorder in temples far exceed our devotion! The nuisance and harassment that the poor The family is the fundamental unit of society. pilgrims have to put up with at the hands of Again, the strength of the society and that of the greedy and ignorant priests is the family depends upon the character of the disgusting. What is the solution? Apart from individuals who constitute them. Hence a renovating old temples and building new very great responsibility is cast upon the ones, we have also to take the trouble of head of the family. It is his duty to pay keeping them clean. Our public has to be special attention to bring up the people vigorously educated in this. under his care, especially on the moral and spiritual side. This can be achieved by his As regards the priests, colleges for training leading group meditations and chanting as them should be established and only such also the observance of sacred festivals (with qualified priests should be employed in the greater stress on the side of austerities) in temples with decent salaries. his household. Occasional or regular visits to temples and pilgrimages to important 20. What Every Hindu Ought to Do Kshetras should also be undertaken. After thus touching upon the glories, the Contact and cooperation with Mathas, maladies and the remedies of our religion Ashramas and other religious institutions is and society let us now dilate a little upon another essential thing. It is obvious that we what every Hindu ought to do, with himself, can do better service if we work through an his family and the society. organisation. For the last thousand years or The first and foremost thing that every Hindu more, Dharma has been understood and ought to do is to cultivate tremendous faith in practised only in its personal aspect to the himself. Development of brawn and brain exclusion of the social aspect. This has along with the conviction that we are resulted in tragic developments such as (i) essentially divine this is the way to achieve good and pious religious men joining hands it. with foreign aggressors without their religious conscience being in the least Equally important is the nurturing of even troubled; (ii) the performance of rites only greater faith in that Supreme power whose with a view to acquiring personal religious sparks we are. A reverent study of the lives merit without caring for its social effects; (iii) and teachings of men of God is a great aid in the wrong interpretation of the Shastras. this direction. Hence, every Hindu must remember this Next, we must have abundant abhimana, a social aspect of our Dharma constantly and sense of dignified pride that we are the emphasise it as the supreme need of the descendants of the great Rishis of yore. Their hour. What every Hindu ought to know AMS Distribution 18/18 Finally every Hindu has to cultivate equal of tolerance but even positive respect, respect for all other religions too, because towards other faiths. What has gone on for Hinduism preaches that these also lead to thousands of years can go on for thousands the same goal. However, it goes without of years more. saying that his relationship with his own However, when others attack his religion he religion should be considered as very has no option but to fight back, at least in special. self-defence. Some of the observations made in this booklet are to be understood only in 21. Conclusion this light. It is only to prove that none is Though religions are many, the Religion is perfect. only one. It is the Religion of Man. Man is It is the duty of all religious groups to find essentially divine and not a sinner. The goat out the areas of agreement and cooperate in of all religions is to help him realise his inner them. Where we differ let us agree to differ divinity. honestly; let us live and let others also live Hence the Hindu has no quarrel with peacefully. In fact, if all understand and anybody. He concedes that there can be as practise the essence and the spirit of their many paths as there are persons. Ultimately, own religions properly, peace will certainly every man has his own religion. What suits reign on this earth! one may not and need not suit another. That Let us humbly pray for it! is why he shows a remarkable spirit, not only For other publications contact: R.Ravindra@uts.edu.au or visit the websites http://members.ozemail.com.au/~srasiah/ams/ams.html http://www.eng.uts.edu.au/~ravir/ under Personal What every Hindu ought to know
"WHAT EVERY HINDU OUGHT TO KNOW"