More than a religion, Hinduism is called a way of life. It is true that the word Hindu cannot be particularly defined. Since, the term is free from any religious interpretation, a person who claims to be a Hindu may or may not believe in temple or idol worship. Hinduism is more like a spiritual path that allows one to choose his own method of worship without even divulging what his personal choice is. Thus, Hinduism is a course that leads a person towards freedom from the cycle of birth and death with the simplest mindset and virtues.
Hinduism is the most unique faith in the world. If we relate it to any form of religion we are doing a major blunder as it is more like a dharma, a way of life. The term ‘dharma’ doesn’t associate it with any form of religion. When we call Hinduism a dharma we automatically call it a form of law that governs all our actions. Basically, ‘dharma’ also has different meanings including religion, faith, righteousness, beliefs, justice, morality, universal order, inner nature, duty, responsibility and the list is inclusive.
The Etymology – It is known that the term ‘Hindu’ or ‘Hinduism’ is not present in our Indian cultural lexicon. Our ancient scriptures do not reveal any such meaning of Hinduism. Its origins cannot be attributed to any one such person or a group of spiritual leaders. Hence, it is true that the followers of Hinduism don’t require following any one idea. Symbolically, the word Hinduism denotes the culture, and not caste or creed, practiced throughout different phases of Indian history.
Rising Above Spirituality – Hinduism is more like a civilization that got nurtured and flourished over the centuries and it is as old as human civilization itself. Hindu scriptures don’t include only books related to spirituality but books on studies of Medical Science, Engineering, Archaeology, Mathematics, Cosmology, Chemistry, Metallurgy, and many more. The scriptures which are a part of a rich Hindu heritage are mostly Vedic Shrutis (revealed texts) including Vedas, Upanishads, etc.
Aryan Hindu Origin, a Myth – The word Aryan is an honorific term used to describe the invaders who came down from the north to rule the Indian Subcontinent. It has nothing to do with the origin of Hinduism. The word Aryans, in a way has been exaggerated and overemphasized by the Europeans scholars and historians for their personal benefits.
Freedom with Responsibility
The way every freedom comes with a sense of responsibility, adopting Hinduism also calls for a certain level of accountability for one’s own action and choices one makes in his life. This is certainly equivalent to following one’s basic dharma in order to achieve salvation. Though Hinduism gives us the freedom to follow our inner calling and explore the inner world, it warns us of illusions and artificial pleasures in life.
But, if a person misuses the freedom and indulges in any wrongdoings he would have to face its consequences. Even the Puranas tell the story how asuras (demons) had to face divine retribution owing to their egoistical attitude and wrongdoings. There is no way one should take for granted this religious freedom and misapprehend it as religious permissiveness.
Method of God Worship
An individual should always be grateful towards God and propitiate Him to avail His divine blessings. It should never be forgotten that more than outside the divine energy of God should be felt from inside. One will be able to experience aditi (the light) and soma (divine bliss) with the help of this divine energy.
It should also be kept in mind that by supporting righteousness and punishing the offence, God is also performing His Eternal Dharma. A Hindu should realise the omnipresence of God and must see “Him in All and All in Him” as this would help him develop the right attitude towards every creation of God. It is said that to protect Eternal Dharma is the duty of the God and every time the dharma falls at risk Lord descends on earth to save it from extinction.
Performing Vedic yajna and pujas with Sanskrit mantras can also be done away with if one is not aware of the right practices and customs of practicing them. Inculcating the correct attitude and right awareness towards God and oneself is what is required for gaining love and blessings of God. Sincerity and devotion is what God is asking for, hence if a yajna or a puja is performed mentally with true intentions and understanding of its meaning, it also bears similar results.
Ancient Scriptures defining Hinduism
Understanding the basic scripture is the fundamental practice of any religion. Vedas and other Hindu scriptures emphasize recurrently that one should perform every ritual with an aim of achieving salvation and reaching his original state. Ancient scriptures specifically mention a set of disciplines defining how a person should lead his life by performing daily rituals, samskaras and four ashrams (stages of life). These rituals help one inculcate deep reverence towards God.
The method of living itself is a sacred ritual and by performing it one performs a sacrificial offering to a transcendental spark within him as this would help him reach the acme of self-realization. Scriptures also allow one to choose the ritual as per his own choice and the motive is to encourage him to achieve God realisation with his individual way of life.
Performance of Various Rituals
It is very unfortunate that the modern generation lacks the capacity to understand the importance of ritual. Performing rituals is also a part of Hindu dharma and the scope of dharma is also related to the samskaras (impressions of last birth).
There are no rigid rules and regulations mentioned in any of the Hindu texts. Dharma is more like a set of code of conduct and if one is not comfortable with these conducts adopted by people he is surrounded with, he has the right to choose his own conducts provided they don’t infringe any law of the land.