Hinduism as a Religion
by V.A.Ponmelil (Feedback)
Hinduism is a religion with various gods and goddesses. It differs from other organized religions in many aspects. It is neither based on a particular founder nor on a book and is not controlled by a central institution or authority. It allows and assimilates fundamentally diverse thoughts and beliefs into its system apart from accepting other religions as various paths to salvation.
According to Hinduism, three gods rule the world. They are the Brahma or the Creator, the Vishnu or the Preserver and Shiva or the Destroyer. Even though many idols are worshipped, Hindus believe in one god.
The Hindu religion also believes in reincarnation with a person’s fate being dependent on his own deeds or the Karma.
The good souls will have Moksha without the circle of rebirths.
There are many holy places for Hindus. To name a few are Badrinath, Puri, Dwarkha, Rameshwaram, Varanasi, Rishikesh, Nasik, Pushkar, Ujjain etc.
There are seven holy rivers such as the Ganges, the Yamuna, the Godavari, the Narmada, the Saraswati, the Sindhu, and the Cauvery according to Hindu religion.
Even animals and birds like cow, peacock, cobra, and ape are worshipped.
Some trees, plants and bushes are also worshipped. Tulsi is the most popular and respected plant.
Ritual bathing is an important custom among the Hindus which is undertaken at every important occasion like festivals, pujas, thread ceremony, marriages, rites and religious ceremonies. Hence, it is common custom to have all important religious places along the side of rivers. Even the Hindu temples have ponds near them.
There are four castes in Hindu religion arranged in a hierarchy. The highest caste being the Brahmin consists of priests. This is followed by the Kshatria, who are all the kings and the rulers. The Vaishya are the business people and the Sudras are the peasants. Apart from these there are certain communities called untouchables who were deprived of many facilities in the society. There are many sub-castes.
The Hindu religion has four stages of life called the ashramas. The Brahmacharya ashrama involves the stages of childhood to celibate youth, the Grithastashrama involves the householder, the Vanaprastha ashrama involves the householder devoted to spiritual pursuits and the Sanyasa ashrama involves the life of a sage. The Sanyasa ashrama has been extolled as the culmination of an ideal life.
The Hindu religion has nurtured the tradition of the Guru who has the role of tutor and mentor.
The education system in Hindu religion was imparted through Gurukulas.
The student or the Shishya must spend his early years of learning at Gurukula where he was thought of all disciplines of knowledge.
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