Hinduism A Perspective
Hinduism does not promise just something only in the after death life alone. Nor does it stop within the boundaries of “only what is seen is true” life. It supports the follower in leading a life that is rich in terms of value, as well as provides a mechanism to extend that smoothly to the great state beyond birth-death ultimately.
Hinduism takes a pragmatic view on the followers. It does not ask the follower to undergo lots of hardship to get the ultimate gift (of course you have that choice) nor does it forces to blindly jump into the well. What it provides for is the analyzed set of paths one could tread. The followers have option on even the fasting and observances.
Along with the need for being disciplined and just, it also recognizes the need for the individual to pursue wealth and joy in life. This is the core concept of thepurushArtha which means “meaning of life” or essence of life. There are four purushArthas or the things to seek for in one’s life. They are dharma, artha, kama, moksha. That is virtue, wealth, joy and liberation. You do not need to keep worrying all your lifetime about the discipline and keep fearing about life after death. There is more to it in life and Hinduism fully supports you to pursue them along with virtue and God. You do not lose out either here or there.
How about the lifestyles ? In accordance with ones own inclination one can either lead a household life or can lead an ascetic life. If you ask the ascetics they would say the ascetic way is the best way and the household would claim the glory of leading the family life. Both are definitely glorious when the essence of life is kept intact. To support this the life is categorized as four blocks called. They are brahmacharya, gR^ihasta, vAnapratha, sanyAsa. That is knowledge seeking (bachelorhood), household, simplified life and practitioner of austerity. Depending upon the block of life Hinduism suggests the courses of action.
In essence Hinduism suggests one to lead a successful life that is just, at the same time cater to the needs and resulting in a joyful journey that ultimately culminates in the great Eternal Bliss.
Sing the Lord of pukalUr. You would get to live happily in this world, meeting the needs of food and clothing. Your heart will be free of sadness. There is no doubt about ruling the shivaloka in the after life. – sundharar.
Hindu Rituals / sacraments – Shodasa Samskaras\16 SAMSKARAS
Why are these HIndu Rituals / Samskaras?
Hindu Scriptures, places human species as a part of animal kingdom in lines with the modern evolutionary biologists and shows the way to divine and make human life sublime. All the activities of animals are directed towards i) food, ii) sleep, iii) procreation and iv) security. If human beings continue to do the same forgetting the Divine they are no better than animals. The samskaras reinforces the thought of Divine during every stage of human life. If practiced diligently, it ensures that the Summum bonum (achieve Divine consciousness) of human life is accomplished in this very life. Hindu philosophy classifies impacting factors as Adhyathmika (Self), Adhibaudhika (Terrestrial) and Adhidaivika (Extra-Terrestrial). These factors should be in harmony to fulfill any task. The imbalances should be harmonized before we can achieve the desired results. The Vedic rituals whether personal, social or religious aims at balancing these contributing factors.
Human accomplishments are consecrated by these rituals. Shastras extol that by birth a human being attains the status of the living creature and gains the status of twice-born after these sacraments. The second birth is born of the sense of Divine consciousness. The rituals, mantras and the blessings of Divine, priest and well wishers sanctifies the accomplishment. It helps the person to ascertain his/her role in the fulfillment at every stage of life and relate it to the stakeholders and the cosmos. Divine guidance, presence and grace is invoked and felt during all these ceremonies. There are sixteen rituals (Shodasa samskaras) prescribed by scriptures and adhered across the land of Bharath for ages.
What are the 16 Hindu Sacraments?
- Garba Aadhana – Pre consummation rites which purify the parents
- Pumsavana – Rites for the carrying mother
- Simantonnayana – Prenatal rite for the protection of carrying mother and her womb
- Jatakarma – Natal rite purifying the new born
- Namakarana – Naming Ceremony
- Nishkramana – Exposing the infant to outside world
- Annaprashana – First Feeding of solid food
- Chaulam – Tonsure
- Karnavedhana – Piercing the ears
- Aksharaabhyasa or Vidyaramba – Beginning of Education
- Upanayana – Opening the eye of wisdom. Lit. bringing near the Guru, scripture and God. Investiture of Sacred Thread.
- Vedaarambha – Initiation into the Vedic Education
- Keshanta or Ritusuddhi – Whole body Shave for boys or Nuptial rites for girls
- Samaavartana – Convocation or Completion of Education
- Vivaha – Marriage
- Anthyeshti – Funeral Rites
The samskaras vary slightly based on the conventions of the community.
Liberation (moksha) – The Ultimate State
(Hinduism A Perspective)
moksha that translates into liberation, is the fourth and final goal of the lives in the purushArtha sequence. What it is and why is this so important a concept ?
Hinduism puts forward the idea that the cycle of birth-death-rebirth again keeps going on, making the soul accumulate and at the same time undergo the fruits of such previously accumulated karma. It is both heaven and hell that come on the way giving the good and bad fruits. They are not permanent. They are only transient spots and the journey of the soul continues beyond.
Along with the karma there are two culprits – ego and illusion – that make the soul do more deeds and accumulate more and more karma. Put together these impurities are referred as pAsha or bondage, as they bind the soul in this never ending vicious circle.
Liberation is when the soul is no longer bound to these impurities and comes out of the cycle and the result is Eternal Bliss. Supreme or parabrahman is the One which stays beyond these cycles and that Supreme is invoked by the soul to come out of the cycle and stay in the Bliss without reincarnating. This is the ultimate state all the bonded souls need to get to !
While the concept of liberation and the soul freed from bondage and staying in Eternal Bliss is the core Hinduism concept shared by all philosophies of it, the philosophies describe the finer details differently like the relation between the soul and the God at the state of liberation etc. Those interested in the analysis of the philosophy and enjoy the wisdom they bring to the seeker can go through in detail about the philosophies like advaita, siddhantha, dvaita etc.
Without getting to the hells, heavens and the worlds, Oh God, you blessed the devotee to get to the Supreme State ! – thiruvAsakam.
Karma and reincarnation in Hinduism
(Hinduism A Perspective)
As per Hinduism, the life on earth is not a discrete one time event. It is just one episode in the play. There would be multiple appearances (births) before the soul finally takes leave from the cycle. The birth is not just limited to being born as human, it includes the births as the animals, plants, even as the divines who rule the parts of nature ! After-all, all these things have a life. The appearance of the soul in any of such forms is called reincarnation. After so many births when the soul is freed of any more reincarnation, it is in the state of mukti or liberation. This is the ultimate state.
As the soul moves from one body to another, it carries forward something along with it, which is nothing but what it has accumulated performing various deeds. This can be thought of as a global account that each soul is associated with, irrespective of the place it is in currently. This account would have both the logs of good and bad deeds it performed similar to the credit and liabilities. This account is what is called karma.
This karma is further categorized. In the example let us assume the person on moving to the new place gets a new local account into which initially some of the credits and liabilities from the global account get transferred to start with. Subsequently till the person is in that location the day to day transactions occur onto that local account. Similarly from the global account of karma, which is known as prArabdham, some portion is transferred to the new local account when the soul reincarnates into a new body and this portion of karma is called sanchitham. In the day to day affairs the soul enjoys the fruits of the good deeds from the karma bank and suffers the fruits of bad deeds. In the process due to the deeds it performs the soul accumulates new good and bad karma to add to its account. This newly earned karma is called AkAmiyam. When the soul leaves that body the balance gets transferred back into the global account. The journey goes on.
Why is it so ?
In the life we see in this world, we work to get the results. The work is the action and the result is fruit of it. This is exactly what is karma. The fruit may come in a minute in a day, in a week, in a year or much much later that the delay may even make one forget the action that triggered the fruit got ! If there is no correlation between the action and the fruit, won’t the world be in a mess ?! This theory would also explain why unexpected things happen – either good or bad. (As the situation undergoing due to the function of various past deeds.)
The reincarnation (in conjunction with karma) explains why some people never gets to see the fruits of their action in their life time and why some children die when they have committed no sin. When the karma exist one would have to undergo the fruits of it for which one may have to go through multiple births in multiple forms – plants, animals… The bank doesn’t let you go unless the account is settled !
More Questions ?
The discussion above may give raise to lots more questions – How did it all began ?, How would it end ? What is the relevance of God if everything as per karma ? …. Those who want to pursue these kind of questions can seek the answer from the Hindu philosophical paths of shaiva siddhantha(1), pratyAbinya (kashmira shaiva) (2), shankara advaita (3)…
When like the seed that is boiled out does not give raise to the plant, when the two types of karma (good & bad) nullify each other, You were there showing Your Measureless Form of bliss. – thiruvAsakam.The well being of the people of ill-motive and the apathy of the good people are thought about. – thirukkuRaL(Meaning it is the old karma that influences their state.)
In this section, Hinduism A Perspective, you have read some of the basic concepts of Hinduism. There would have been lots of unanswered questions. In fact after reading this section there may be much more. It is definitely a sign of good quest for knowledge and hence should be welcome. This section may not be the ultimate information. However this could have served as a starting point. The treasure of Hinduism, the religion that existed from time undefined to today, is huge. You would definitely want to seek out those information and enrich your knowledge. This is definitely fine and also encouragable as the Hinduism calls for wisdom from all horizons.
However take a pragmatic approach as Hinduism suggests for the life of the followers (purushArtha). When you want to reach that goal, you would also need to enjoy the journey with the fruits of what you already know. All the food cannot be gulped in one go. Digest and relish the food you can consume before getting on to more delicacies of Hinduism. Put the knowledge to practice. With the new strength that is not just the book knowledge but that is the solid experience, you would be able to receive more information and in more depth. In case of Hinduism, it is quite a bit experience supported. Rather than getting into analysis paralysis that leads to nowhere, take one step at time consolidate it by experience and move forward.
Hinduism has both the flexibility to accommodate and the rigidity to channelize the followers. The life would be meaningful towards the Bliss as well as enjoyable through the way ! For practicing the Hindu concepts the following sections may be helpful.
May the Supreme beyond form, name, attributes guide your way to Its Eternal Bliss !
When there is time, now itself seek and get to the betterment. The God, Difficult One to even divines, is showering now from Its treasury ! Oh Devotees, come, hurry up ! – thiruvAsakam.
REFER MORE ON SHAIVISM
- shiva sUtras
- mR^igendra (refer shaiva Agamas)
- rudra yAmala (refer shaiva Agamas)
- spanda kArikas
- pratyAbhiGYA vivR^itti vimarshini
- Saints and Philosophers
- TAMIL SAIVASIDDHANTA BOOKS
- Thirumurai (Some Parts)
- thirumuRai – Medicine to Sufferings
- Periya puranam
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