Shanti, Shanti, Shanti, Aum
Beliefs of Hinduism (from Himalayan Academy)
Beliefs are the building blocks of the mind. Our
beliefs determine our thoughts and attitudes about life, which in
turn direct our actions. By our actions we create our destiny. Beliefs
about sacred matters—God, man and cosmos—are essential
to one’s approach to enlightenment. But beliefs are not mere
matters of agreement. They are what we value and hold as true. Hindus
believe many diverse things, but there are a few bedrock concepts
on which most Hindus concur. The following nine beliefs, though
not exhaustive, offer a simple summary of Hindu spirituality.
1) I believe in the divinity of the Vedas,
the world’s most ancient scripture, and venerate the Agamas
as equally revealed. These primordial hymns are God’s word
and the bedrock of Sanatana Dharma, the eternal religion which has
neither beginning nor end.
2) I believe in a one, all-pervasive Supreme
Being who is both immanent and transcendent, both Creator
and Unmanifest Reality.
3) I believe that the universe undergoes
endless cycles of creation, preservation and dissolution.
4) I believe in karma, the law
of cause and effect by which each individual creates his own destiny
by his thoughts, words and deeds.
5) I believe that the soul reincarnates,
evolving through many births until all karmas have been resolved,
and moksha, spiritual knowledge and liberation from the cycle of
rebirth, is attained. Not a single soul will be eternally deprived
of this destiny.
6) I believe that divine beings exist
in unseen worlds and that temple worship, rituals, sacraments
as well as personal devotionals create a communion with these devas
7) I believe that a spiritually awakened
master, or satguru, is essential to know the Transcendent
Absolute, as are personal discipline, good conduct, purification,
pilgrimage, self-inquiry and meditation.
8) I believe that all life is
sacred, to be loved and revered, and therefore practice
9) I believe that no particular religion
teaches the only way to salvation above all others, but
that all genuine religious paths are facets of God’s Pure
Love and Light, deserving tolerance and understanding.
Hinduism, the world’s oldest religion, has
no beginning—it precedes recorded history. It has no human
founder. It is a mystical religion, leading the devotee to personally
experience the Truth within, finally reaching the pinnacle of consciousness
where man and God are one. Hinduism has four main denominations—Saivism,
Shaktism, Vaishnavism and Smartism. The above nine beliefs form
a common ground for all Hindu sects.
Questions of Hinduism (from Himalayan
Back in the spring of 1990, a group of teenagers
from the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago, Lemont, sent a formal
request to me for “official answers” to nine questions
they had been commonly asked about their religious heritage by their
American peers. These same questions had perplexed the Hindu youth
themselves, and their parents, they confided, had no convincing
answers. We took up the challenge and provided the following answers
to the nine questions. We begin with advice on the attitudes to
hold when responding.
First, ask yourself, “Who is asking the
question?” Millions of Americans are sincerely interested
in Hinduism and the many Asian religions. Therefore, when asked
questions about Hinduism, do not take a defensive position, even
if the questioner seems confrontational. Instead assume that the
person really wants to learn. With this in mind, it is still important
never to answer a question about religion too boldly or too immediately.
This might lead to confrontation. Offer a prologue first and then
come to the question, guiding the inquirer toward understanding.
Your poise and deliberateness give the assurance that you know what
you are talking about. It also gives you a moment to think and draw
upon your intuitive knowing. Before going deeply into an answer,
always ask the questioner what his religion is. Knowing who is asking,
you can address his particular frame of mind and make your answer
most relevant. Another important key: have confidence in yourself
and your ability to give a meaningful and polite response. Even
to say, “I am sorry. I still have much to learn about my religion
and I don’t yet know the answer to that,” is a meaningful
answer. Honesty is always appreciated. Never be afraid to admit
what you don’t know, for this lends credibility to what you
Here are four prologues that can be used, according
to the situation, before you begin to actually answer a question.
1) “I am really pleased that you are interested in my religion.
You may not know that one out of every six people in the world is
2) “Many people have asked me about my spiritual tradition.
I don’t know everything, but I will try to answer your question.”
3) “First, you should know that in Hinduism it is not only
belief and intellectual understanding that is important. Hindus
place the greatest value on experiencing each of these truths personally.”
4) The fourth type of prologue is to repeat the question to see
if the person has actually stated what he wants to know.
So, repeat the question in your own words and ask if you have understand
his query correctly. If it’s a complicated question, you might
begin by saying, “Philosophers have spent lifetimes discussing
and pondering questions such as this, but I will do my best to explain
in a simple way.”
Have courage. Speak from your inner mind. Sanâtana
Dharma is an experiential path, not a dogma, so your experience
in answering questions will help your own spiritual unfoldment.
You will learn from your answers if you listen to your inner mind
speak. This can be a lot of fun. The attentive teacher always learns
more than the student.
After the prologue, address the question without
hesitation. If the person is sincere, you can say, “Do you
have any other questions?” If he wants to know more, then
elaborate as best you can. Use easy, everyday examples. Share what
enlightened souls and scriptures of Hinduism have said on the subject.
Remember, we must not assume that everyone who asks about Hinduism
is insincere or is challenging our faith. Many are just being friendly
or making conversation to get to know you. So don’t be on
the defensive or take it all too seriously. Smile when you give
your response. Be open. If the second or third question is on something
you know nothing about, you can say, “I don’t know.
But if you are really interested, I will find out or mail you some
literature or lend you one of my books.” Smile and have confidence
as you give these answers. Don’t be shy. There is no question
that can be put to you in your birth karmas that you cannot rise
up to with a fine answer to fully satisfy the seeker. You may make
lifelong friends in this way.
The nine answers below are organized with a one-line
response, followed by a longer answer, then a more detailed explanation.
You may be surprised to find how many people are content with the
most simple and short answer, so start with that first. You may
use the explanation as background information for yourself, or as
a contingency response in case you end up in a deeper philosophical
discussion. Memorize the answers and use them as needed. So now
we begin with the questions your classmates and friends may have
been asking you all the time.
The above information is courtesy of The
Peace be with you.
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