Hinduism - Frequently asked questions
Why there are so many gods in Hinduism ?
Generally Hindus believe in one Supreme God. But there are many gods who are praised in the religion. These gods are actually the life supporting powers. For example Sun (Surya), Water (Varuna), and Air (Vayu) without which the life cannot exist. In Hinduism these elements which make the life possible are praised along with the Very Essential God. This gives the feeling that Hindus believe in many gods. At the end God is still but in differenr names as Vishnu, Ram or Krishna.
Why is Hinduism so confusing ?
There are multiple reasons for that. Trying to do an in and out analysis without getting on to taste its fruit by practicing would make one feel exhausted. Because it is not a religion of limited contours. It is really an ocean of knowledge.
Why Hindus worship idols ?
Though the Supreme God is beyond a definite form with specifiable attributes, the Attributeless could be enjoyed only at a matured yogic state. For the benefit of the creatures the God appears in various forms for the matured visions. These splendid forms are easy to comprehend even for a layman. It just acts as a carrier or catalyst.
Does Hinduism prohibit meat eating ?
There are actually very less things as prohibits, commands, mandates etc in Hinduism. So in this case too Hinduism does not prohibit, but it recommends that meat eating could be avoided for spiritual benefits and kindness towards fellow creatures. The basis why meat eating is discouraged is that Hindus beleive all living creatures has a soul and has a right to live thus following non-violence.
What is Hinduism's sacred text ?
Hinduism is not based on one single text book. The entire science of living is derived from the Vedas - which means knowledge. it is actually a large collection of many books, and can be divided into many disciplines like Upanishads, Puranas, Vedas, and epics like Ramayan and Mahabharat. (There are 4 vedas namely Rig, Sama, Yajur, Atharvana and 108 Puranas.). However, while it might not be feasible to read the entire set of Vedas in one's lifetime, the book Bhagwat Gita (spoken by God himself, hence considered - Sound representation of god) captures the basic essence of the entire vedas. Hence, it is the most popular book among the hindus and anyone follwoing the gita can be loosely classified as a hindu.
What are the marks on the forehead of Hindus ?
There are many virtual lotuses of power locus in the human body. The one at the place between the eye brows is highly powerful (which could be felt). This highly sensitive point is protected with the kumkum or sandalwood paste dots. It also signifies the presence of the Lord's feet on our forehead, a mark of respect to Him.
Why is Hinduism so complex to understand ?
Well, Hinduism was not born out of the thoughts of one particular philosopher or at one particular time. It is an accumulation of the knowledge and experience of seers from ancient time. Also as it does not impose the supremacy of one specific postulation hence many complementary at times totally different concepts exist because of this openness. This advantage makes it sophisticated.
So could it not be understood by simple minds ?
It could certainly be and it is. Apart from being sophisticated it is also having various step by step procedures that arose out of the sophisticated thesis, for the layman to follow.
Who can become a Hindu ? Can one be a Hindu only by birth ?
No, not at all. As the knowledge in Hinduism is not in a closed boundary, Hinduism does not limit itself to any closed boundary of land, language or race. Infact, since its a way of life, there might be lots among us who would be practicing Hinduism without actually realizing it.
Hinduism is the religion of one particular land called India, right ?
No, actually not. This new name called Hinduism given to this discipline is what makes it appear it as the religion of one land. The religion is said to belong to india because most of the development of this religion took place in India. Many of the incarnations of the Lord manifested themselves in places which form the current Indian cities of Mathura, Haridwar, Dwarka, Rameshwaram, etc. All these places are major sources of attraction for the devotees even today, and most of them house majestic temples in devotion to our eternal Lord. The spirit of Hinduism is so deeply ingrained in the Indian people's mindset, and the religion itself has come to be associated with the landscape of India.
Though it is currently practiced mainly in India there are references in scriptures like the 'Shiva Mahaa Puraanam' and 'Srimad Bhagwatam' that this worship was spread throughout the world. While the other parts have forgotten this history, it is still very much prevalent in India.
What is this caste system ?
Quite long ago the society was divided into four castes depending upon the nature of service they do so that they together make sure the smooth running of the social system. It was like the operational divisions of organizations. These four castes were the four functional pillars on which the society was standing. In the course of time the caste started to get determined by birth and later some of these sections started considering themselves superior to others. This finally led to the cruelty and inhuman behaviors of untouchability etc. There has been time and again cautions from Hindu scholars against these inhuman behaviors. Now this system is getting phased out and the Hindus should be soon out of the bad taste it left.
What is the status of women under Hinduism ?
There is absolutely no discrimination against women in Hinduism. This is reinforced by the fact that Feminity is worshipped in the form of knowledge (Saraswati), wealth (Lakshmi), chastity (Sita), warrior (Durga), Mother Earth, Rivers, etc. Females have the same rights as men when it comes to practising religion, like worshiping, fasting, etc.Feminity is worshipped in the forms of rivers, land, etc. Females have the right to perform worship as their male counterparts. There are many vedic sages, philosophers of later day, poets queens and so on from the womenfolk. The female commands the respect of the family. Quite naturally the wife is called saha dharmini or the companion in the dharma.
Who can be a Hindu ?
All the people, without restrictions of any sort. For, the God is common to the one living in Arctic, Antartic as well as in Sahara. It is the God of those things beyond this Earth. Hinduism welcomes the pure knowledge from all horizons as well as can provide the paths for the whole world, with no exceptions, to lead a life that is relishable and that takes to the ever lasting Eternal Bliss.
Here is a statement from the heart of the vedas
May the mind stabilize on the rudra, by which we, the two legged creatures, four legged ones, the whole world prosper !
The Grace of God does not limit to even just human beings. Its is for all the lives in this earth and beyond ! So Hinduism emphasises that not only can all the humans worship through its path, but also shatters away all barriers that differentiate even animals to be not eligible for God's grace.
Critics of Hinduism often criticize it for many of its prevalent ills like Sati, caste system, dowry, bride-burning, animal sacrifice etc. We would like to point out that while other religions have come up in the last 2-3000 years, Hinduism has taken shape hundreds of thousand of years ago. Not all activities of that age have been correctly captured by people of our age, and some things still remain difficult to understand. India has been under invasion for last thousands of years from Persian/ Islamics and till recently Colonial invasion, during this period most people were poor, uneducated and illiterate. Many myths set in, many rumours took hold in the minds of the people during that time, and the result was many misunderstood and ill-applied practises like the above. But such things have never been part of the religion, only a practice applied to wrong effect by some sections of the society. People are now realizing this fault, and correcting their mistakes, and the results of which are already visible. There can always be doubts and questions in people's minds, however, Hinduism has ample room for all points of view.