Beliefs in Hinduism

The Hindus believe in a lot of things, however, the basis of Hinduism dwells on some solid principles. Know all about the beliefs and practices of this religion from the following article.
SpiritualRay Staff
"Truth is one; sages call it by different names." ― Hindu saying

One may worship God by different names, but ultimately it all meets The Supreme One. Hinduism is the third largest and the oldest religion in the world. Beliefs in this religion are an aggregate of cultural ideas, religious beliefs, and philosophical thoughts. There are many practices that point towards reincarnations and liberation from the cycle of life and death. This religion is Dharma, the way of life, where all action is governed by laws. There are set ethics, traditions, and practices that form the basis of the faith.

According to facts, Hinduism is an ancient religion, believed to be practiced even before 10,000 BCE. The term 'Hindu' was not found in any of the texts or scriptures related to the religion. It is believed that the word was coined by foreigners, who used it to describe people living across the river Indus in North India.

Basic Tenets of Beliefs
The basic theme of Hinduism is based on attaining the following goals:
  • Dharma: This includes following the code of ethics and individual duties.
  • Samsara: This relates to beliefs the cycle of action, reaction, birth, death and rebirth.
  • Karma: The literal translation of Karma is action, deed, or work. It is the moral law of cause and effect.
  • Moksha: The ultimate goal of life is attaining Moksha. This concept pertains to self-realization and the union with the divine through detachment from worldly desires. It also indicates freedom from Samsara.
The Three Gods
Hinduism is a polytheistic religion. There are many gods and goddesses worshiped by the believers. However, a few people also recognize this religion as monotheistic as it ultimately recognizes One Supreme Being or God. This belief is based on the pantheistic principle of Brahman. This means the entire universe is one divine entity. The faith is also viewed as a trinitarian as Brahman is made up of three different entities, coming together to form a whole. These are:
  • Brahma, the Creator,
  • Vishnu, the Sustainer, and
  • Shiva, the Destroyer.
The Caste System
One of the oldest beliefs revolves around the caste (varna) system. According to history, it forms the very basis of the Hindu society. Four basic castes have been recognized by the religion. An individual caste is governed by its own set of rules and obligations. It is believed that one's Karma (action or deed) in the present life, will determine one's caste in the next life. The caste also determines one's occupation. These are:
  • Brahmins: They were the teachers and the priests, who made up the élite caste.
  • Kshatriyas: They were the warriors, the nobles and the kings.
  • Vaisyas: These included farmers, businessmen, and merchants.
  • Shudras: They were the servants and laborers, who did menial jobs, and were regarded as social outcasts or untouchables.
This system was officially abolished in India in the 1940s. However, the it still remains a part of the Indian society. It is said one does not get to choose their religion, but is born in it. However, there is evidence in the Upanishads, that one becomes a Brahman by attaining a deep knowledge, and not just on the basis of his/her birth.

The Branches
There is no one single authority in the faith. Hinduism is categorized into four major classifications/branches according to many academics.
  • Vaishnavaites: The followers of Lord Vishnu
  • Shivaites: The followers of Lord Shiva
  • Shaktas: The followers of Shakti (power), represented by the Mother Goddess
  • Smartas: The followers of the Panchadeva or the essential oneness of five
Marriage is a sacred institution according to the Hindu principles. It is called Vivāha in Sanskrit, and is viewed as one of the saṁskāras (sacraments). Marriage is not considered as a contract according to this religion, rather, it is taken to be a sacred union between a man and a woman. They are committed to each other, so that they can pursue their Dharma (religious duties), Artha (possessions) and Karma (cranial needs) with each other. It considered to be a way to enjoy earthly pleasures, prosperity, and joy. There are eight types of Hindu marriages, of which the last four are condemned, and not religiously defined. These include, Brahma, Daiva, Prajapatya, Arsha, Gardharva, Asura, Rakshasa, and Paishacha marriages.

The Hindu women wear Sindoor (vermilion), Mangalsutra (sacred thread of love and goodwill), and bangles. These are considered to be signs of a married woman. Women in South India wear a necklace with a distinct pendant, and toe rings. Marriage, thus, is considered to be a union not only in the present life, but also in the next seven lives.

Reincarnation is a major part of Hindu beliefs. It involves the transmigration of the soul, meaning that one's soul is transferred to another body, after death. Thus, the cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth continues. The way one will live in the next life is determined by the Karma (action and deeds) of this life. Those who live a righteous life, and carry out pure acts of kindness and devotion, will be reborn at a higher level, or have a better life. The ultimate goal of life is to escape the Samsara and achieve Moksha (salvation). If one carries out many bad deeds in his/her life, he will be reborn as a Shudra or an animal. The sufferings and the well-being of one's life are associated with the karma of the past life.

Hinduism, therefore, is a very vast religion, thriving in rich culture and traditions. Family values are of utmost importance. One needs to respect his/her parents, elders, and teachers. A Guru or teacher is believed to be next to God, as he/she teaches the way of life and imparts the ultimate treasure of knowledge.
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