The world's oldest and third largest religion, Hinduism, has endless followers from all over the world. Hinduism is characterized by a million deities. Buddhism and Sikhism stem from similar philosophy as Hinduism. 'Ramayana' and 'Mahabharata' are the two of the most-read Hindu epics, by people across continents. The 'Bhagavad Geeta' is the holy text of the Hindus, which is believed to have all the answers to the questions posed by the universe.
More than being a religion, Hinduism gives its followers, a culture and a way of life. Yoga, is a discipline preached by Hinduism to attain the perfect balance between the mental and the physical being. 'Brahma', 'Vishnu' and 'Shiva' are the most venerated gods of this culture. 'Brahma' symbolizing creation, 'Vishnu' sustaining this creation and 'Shiva' the destroyer of the evil.
The Hindus believe that a cobra was asleep in the ocean which had drowned the world. The serpent was guarding Vishnu under its coiled body, who lay asleep undisturbed by the silence. While the Lord was resting, he heard the resonance of 'Om', which woke him up. A purple lotus bloomed from Vishnu's navel which became Brahma's seat. A school of thought also believes that it was 'Dattatreya' who created the divine trinity of Lord Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
'Narad' praised the loyalty of 'Anusuya' towards her husband 'Atri' in front of the wives of the Brahma Vishnu and Shiva. Jealous, the wives asked the gods to challenge her loyalty. So the worshiped trio asked her to dress down and serve food. She agreed and won the challenge. The gods then transformed themselves into babies to be born and raised by the faithful Anusuya.
The world was formed as the divine trinity transcended into 'Avatars' or forms of being. Among the famous avatars known to the Hindu mythology, Vishnu is believed to have ten forms in 'Garuda Purana' and another ten forms in 'Bhagavata Purana'. 'Garuda Purana' is an epilogue of Vishnu's instructions, which he delivered to his carrier 'Garuda',who was the king of birds.
The world came into being through gradual stages, says the Hindu philosophy of 'Yugas' or eras. There are four stages that the cosmos will go through. The first 'Yug' was the 'Satya Yug', wherein the whole world was governed by the Gods, in absolute truth. The world was then an ideal manifestation of mankind. The Satya Yug lasted for 100, 000 years. This era saw the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu. The first form of Vishnu was 'Matsya', the fish, then 'Kruma', the tortoise, then 'Varaha' the boar and the last in this era was the 'Narasimha' who was half man and half lion. A bull named 'Dharma'- which literally means 'the righteous duty' one is born for- stood on four legs in Satya Yug. The next era was the 'Treta Yug' which symbolized perfect morality. This epoch making event in Hindu mythology saw the Vishnu's avatars in 'Vamana', the dwarf, 'Parashurama', Rama with an ax and 'Rama', the King of Ayodhya. The greatest epic of Ramayana was etched in the 'Treta Yug'. The bull, Dharma is shown to be standing on three legs in this era. The third cycle of the universe was the 'Dwapara Yug'. This age was symbolized by the bull standing on its two feet. It is believed that this Yug saw its end when Lord Krishna returned to his eternal home at 'Vaikuntha'. Bhagvan Vishnu took the avatars of 'Balarama' along with his brother 'Krishna'. The fourth 'Yug' known as 'Kali Yug' which translates to the age of vice. According to Hindus the world is presently in the 'Kali Yug'. The death of Krishna marked the beginning of this age. Followers of Hinduism believe that this stage of evolution will degenerate the world spiritually as people are moving away from the God in their mental make up. Thus the bull of morality, Dharma now stands on one leg.
Hindus believe in 'rebirth' or 'punarjanma' as there is an 'atman' or an eternal soul which transcends to another form, in the next life. As per the Hindus only the body dies and decays. The soul lives on forever, in some form or the other. Apparently, the idea of heaven or 'Swarga' and hell 'Narka' originated in the Hindu culture as a result of Western influence.
The Hindu philosophy believes that the universe was born out of 'Hiranyagarbha', the golden womb. The 'Upanishads', vedic scriptures, maintain that 'Hiranyagarbha' floated in an anti-matter before breaking into two-halves 'Prithvi', the Earth and 'Swarga', the Heaven. Hinduism acknowledged fourteen worlds of which seven were the higher worlds (heaven) and the remaining seven lower worlds (hells).
The Hindu mythology has been written in Sanskrit in the form of 'Puranas' and 'Vedas'. The Vedas, which are hymns of Rigveda contain the Hindu mythology. The epics of 'Ramayana' and 'Mahabharata' have been scripted in Sanskrit too. The dialog between 'Lord Krishna' and 'Arjun' on the battlefield of 'Kurukshetra' has been compiled into the most revered document of Hindus known as 'Shrimad Bhagwad Gita'.
The caste system, a peculiarity of Hinduism is thought to have emerged after the deities sent the 'Deluge', which is a relentless flood in many cultures. 'Manu', a progenitor of mankind, was informed about it by 'Matsya' the 'avatar' of Lord Vishnu. 'Manu' then wrote a treatise of why the flood occurred. He believed that, as the civilizations had become depraved, they needed to be segregated into castes. Thus, the much debated caste system amongst the Hindus came into existence.
It can be seen how the present Hindu culture and the world in totality, has its roots in Hinduism. The age of Kali Yug, is very much a reality than a myth. The world has become a degenerated place as the Kali Yug explained it to be. The cosmos is reeling under the pressures of war of mankind, moral disarmament, unethical values and social corruption. Then there are dangers like global warming. It wouldn't be a surprise if the mythological 'Deluge' came true for us!
If the Hindu texts - the so-called 'mythology' has predicted our future and the dire consequences of our unruliness, so accurately, then why should it be called 'mythology'? To conclude the long story, there is 'G' for generation, which needs 'O' for organization and if this is not done then 'D' exists for destruction. Now, whether to call it GOD or 'Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva' it's a choice left to us. But tampering with GOD's formula would surely send apocalypse our way!