Hinduism is among the oldest living religion in the world. Hindus believe that this religion is without beginning or end and is a continuous process even the preceding the existence of the earth and the many other worlds beyond. Hinduism is unique in that it was not founded by any single historical personality . Many prophets, saints ,mystics and philosophers have contributed to its growth and development . Likewise , the teachings of Hinduism are not based on one book. The ancient texts known as Vedas are considered by many to be the foundation scriptures. However, the Upanishads , the Puranas, and the epic tales of the Ramayana and Mahabharata, all contains prescriptions for worship, ritual practices , code of law, and moral teachings. Hindus believe in the authority of the Vedas, the oldest Hindu scriptures and the oldest sacred writings of any major religion.
There are millions of Hindus living around the world . Hinduism is referred to as “ Sanatan Dharam”the eternal faith. Hinduism is not strictly a religion. It is based on the practice of Dharma the code of life. While religion mean to bind, Dharma means to hold. What man holds on to, is his inner law, which lead from ignorance to truth.
Although the Hindu Dharma has sects, traditions and beliefs, there are five fundamental at the core of it.
Hindus believe in one all-powerful God.
- Great emphasis in place of prayer and other religious rites.
- According to Hinduism the soul is immortal and therefore doesn’t come to an end with this life only. It undergoes constant evolution determined by our actions with the eventual goal of oneness with God- the ultimate purpose of life.
- Hindus recognise that the prayer alone is not enough but deeds are essential, hence the maxim “A man doeth so shall he reap”. Reincarnation is also related to our Karma, and basically man is the master of his own fate.
- The soul does not reside only in human but in all creatures and Hindus therefore look at all creatures with equal eye. From this stems the doctrine of non-violence , therefore unity of the spirit should transcend humanity and embrace all living creatures.
Status of Women in Hinduism
All moral and spiritual qualities like purity of mind, self-control , devotion to God and austerity that are prescribed for men, apply to women also. Thus women always enjoy equal freedom with men.
The Six Schools of Philosophy
Many schools of Hindus thought have developed in India. The six most prominent schools are (1) nyaya (2) vaisheshika(3) samkhya (4) yoga (5)purva-mimamsa(6) Vedanta.
Nyaya deals with logic. Vaisheshika concerns the nature of the world. Samkhya examines the origin and evolution of the universe. Yoga is a set of mental and physical exercises designed to free the body so that the soul can unite with Brahman. Both purva-mimamsa and Vedanta interpret the Vedas.