The entire creation is a manifestation of the Supreme Being. This is one of the basic beliefs of Hindus. Hence, everyone and everything in this creation is sacred for Hindus. This explains why Hindus revere a river like the Ganga as their Mother and consider the Moon as their Uncle. When any land is selected for construction or development, prior to the commencement of the work, Hindus conduct a ritual called “Bhoomi Pooja” seeking forgiveness for the destruction of any life forms that exist on that land. Hindus salute the Sun (the giver of life) and touches the earth seeking forgiveness for walking on it when they wake up in the morning. These practices show our reverence towards the natural environment and our friendly and respectful attitude towards all.
The whole world is a family. The Saints and Sages of Hindus called for developing this attitude towards all beings. If all of creation is a manifestation of the Divine, then it follows that the whole world is a family. The word “world” from a Hindu Perspective includes the entire Brahmand (consisting of all the galaxies, known and unknown to humans).
AIM OF HUMAN LIFE
The ultimate aim of human life is Moksha (liberation/self realization). Hindus believe that there is more to the world than meets the eye. Our sensory perceptions are not perfect. Hence, we live under the illusion that we are only the body. In reality, a human is a complex being having a physical body, an intellect, a mind and a soul. By pursuing the ultimate truth through rigorous meditation and purification of mind, the Hindu Saints and Sages discovered some basic universal truths. One such truth states that at a certain level of human consciousness, anyone can experience the unity of creation, the falsehood and limitations of our physical identity and permanent bliss. Therefore all Hindu religious traditions facilitate for the purification of the human mind through a variety of rituals and practices so that the sincere aspirant may realize the ultimate truth and experience true bliss.
Every human being has the potential to realize his/her divinity. The Vedas proclaimed that realization is not a privilege for the few but a possibility for all. Swami Vivekananda articulated this view in his classic statement – “Every human being is potentially Devine. The purpose of life is to experience that divinity.” This statement clearly illustrates the equality of opportunity available to all spiritual aspirants.
PATHS TO TRUTH
There are multiple paths to Truth or God. Bhagwan Shri Krishna (an incarnation of Vishnu) stated in the Epic Poem, Bhagawad Gita, that “whatever be the path, ultimately all shall reach Me.” The Vedas state clearly that “Truth is One, although Sages may call it by various names”. Vivekananda further clarified this statement by saying “Let there be a hundred thousand religions, each leading to the one and the same.” It is recorded that at the time of Gautama Buddha (500 B.C.), there were 400 distinct schools of thought on what constitutes the soul. This liberal outlook restrains Hindus from engaging in religious conversions, crusades and jihads. It also cultivates a healthy attitude towards adherents of numerous religious paths.
Freedom is the basis for all enquiry and knowledge. Any human should possess freedom to pursue realization of the Supreme Truth or God. Swami Vivekananda even stopped a lecture on Vedanta to an audience in Austin by saying a crowd hypnotized by the oratory skills of a speaker does not possess the freedom to think critically and hence there is no use for continuing the lecture. This is the reason why Hindu Scriptures never sanctioned slavery, persecution or human oppression of any form. Any instance of Hindu behavior contrary to the Scriptures can only be construed as a deviation or a form of degradation.
LAW OF HUMAN BEHAVIOUR
Every being is the architect of his/her own destiny. Hindus believe that actions, whether good or bad, have real consequences for us. Hence, it is better to think whether an action conforms to the laws of Dharma before it is performed. Just as there is a phenomenon in the physical universe which implies that there is an equal and opposite reaction for every action, there are certain phenomena in the world of spirit. Each soul is accountable to his/her actions. Good actions will result in positive consequences. Bad actions will result in negative consequences. Our suffering in this life is essentially a consequence of our misdeeds in the past lives and our privileges of this life are a consequence of pious deeds of the past. This motivates the human being to be the architect of his/her own destiny. Our future is in our own hands. Others can help but cannot ensure our fortune or our liberation from cycles of births and deaths.
MODES OF WORSHIP
All modes of worship are valid when practiced with sincerity. The followers of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have specific ways of worship that are limited. For a Hindu, there are numerous ways of worshipping and innumerable options on the objects of worship. We are free to choose what we want to worship, when we want to worship and how we want to worship. Hindus are allowed to worship any one of the 330 million forms of the Supreme God or add a new one of your own. All worship is aimed to facilitate purification and concentration of mind which will lead to a spiritual experience. This unique approach in pursuit of truth and happiness also prevents the birth of any organized religion among Hindus. Hindus believe that society should be organized and religion should never be organized.