Often it happens that the Hindus get lots of questions on Hindu culture, religion and rituals. One could see the enthusiasm of people to know about Hinduism in these questions. In spite of Hinduism being open to analysis and introducing new philosophies even in its core, in the recent past not much of analysis efforts were encouraged and hence even the Hindus do not know much about their religion. Hence often these questions stimulate introspection. But in the absence of enough material one is likely to decide that what he had been doing was superstitious ! Here are some common questions. Some people may have a different answer to these questions, but this is a perspective.
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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.
But don't we find quite contradicting statements in Hindu scriptures ? What explains that contradiction ?
Science tells us that water becomes ice when its temperature falls to zero degree centigrade or below. The same science also tells that water can exist even in temperatures below zero degree in certain conditions and the water is called super-cooled water. Which one to believe ? The fact remains that both the statements are true however contradicting they are. Hinduism - an open religion - supports the view that there could be multiple facets of the same truth! And hence the things that have a value in them would find their place in Hinduism. Some scriptures would say knowledge is the way to the Supreme and some would say devotion is the way! There is no need to be confused. Choose the way that is appropriate in your situation, but do remember just because one is approprite for you, the others do not cease to be true !!
Why there are so many gods in Hinduism ?
Generally Hindus believe in one Supreme God. But there are many devas who are praised in the religion. These devas are actually the life supporting powers. For example Sun, Moon, and Air without which the life cannot exist. God is called devadeva because It is the Thing on which even all these celestial powers survive on. 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.
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. Apart from these Hindus worship the holy symbols like shiva li.ngam those making ease in meditation and worship at the same time referring to God's formlessness. A carrier to move to the destination with ease.
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.
What is Hinduism's sacred text ?
Hinduism is not based on one single text book. Though it could be said that vedas are the base, in essence veda is nothing but knowledge. It is the science of the self and Supreme. The science can not be limited to one book so is Hinduism.
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 chandan dots. Shaivites adorn their forehead with the Holy Ash the one with medicinal power and spiritual meaning and the vaishnavas with the shri chUrNam and so on each indicative of something.
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. In fact people embracing Hinduism have been there for ages.
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. Though it is currently practiced mainly in India there are references in scriptures like Shiva mahaa puraaNam that this worship was spread throughout the world. While the other parts have forgotten this history it is still in practice now in other parts.
The Aryans invaded the Dravidans and ...
No, No. The words aryan and dravidan seem to be misinterpreted. The word arya has been used as a title of dignity while dravida refers to the land Deccan and not a race. The wars that are said to have happened between these two appears to be a tint of imagination added to the purANic, epical events.
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 ?
Hinduism that views God as both masculine and feminine (and neuter too), suggests the role of women hand in hand with her male counterpart. 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 (1). If the male has the authority over the operations, the female commands the respect of the family. They do not compete but complement to form a better society. Quite naturally the wife is called saha dharmini or the companion in the dharma. In the course of time and especially in the last millenium there has been an major deterioration of this status due to whatever circumstances. It is time to shun away all those dirt accumulated on the way and rediscover the glory of the ancient equality.
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.
1. Some of the Great women of Hinduism