TOP          ========UNDERSTANDING HINDUISM=========

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Swami Vivekananda wrote about:

Conversion The Hindus, like the Jews, do not convert others   

Toleration? Toleration means that,  I think that you are wrong
and I am just allowing you to live. Is it not a blasphemy to think
that you and I are allowing others to live?

Dharma - From Virtue Arises Happiness
By Swami Nikhilananda
Sri Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Centre, New York.

Hinduism is the religion and philosophy of Vedanta. Vedanta is established on eternal and universal principles which never become obsolete. These principles have an appeal to the human mind and are applicable to human life under all conditions. The original Vedic texts collected and classified under four distinct headings constitute the four Vedas, from which the religio-philosophical system known as hinduism is derived. The four Vedas are Rigveda,Samveda, Yajurveda and Atharvaveda.

The Vedic texts are divided by subject matter into two distinct parts: the work section and the knowledge section (karma kanda and gnana kanda).

The work section of the Vedas is devoted to man`s active life, to his search for temporal values, and dwells on the development of life in different stages. In the secular approach to life, one cannot get beyond the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Anything that is done for temporal purposes in this world comes under the work section, which is preparatory to the knowledge section.

The purpose of the knowledge section is to take man out of this temporary order and establish him in eternal life, absolute peace and blessedness; to take him away from the cycle of birth and death.

There is a unity of purpose between the two sections, for both intend to lead man from the search for the transitory to the search for the eternal. In the Vedantic view, there is no inherent contradiction, no unbridgeable gulf, between the secular life devoted to temporal values, and the spiritual  life devoted to eternal truths. Being rightly directed, the one leads to the other. According to Vedanta, wordly desires well regulated by ethical principles invariably lead to spiritual awakening.

As laid down in the Vedic social codes, the one universal duty of all human beings, irrespective of religious views, social rank, cultural standing, or political status, is the observance of virtue, or Dharma. The word Dharma means "that which upholds." It denotes particularly the "Law or Principle that upholds the world."

Dharma is that which leads to the attainment of happiness and prosperity in this world. It is through Dharma that man can have progress in the true sense, development in the true sense, and achievement and well-being in all fields.
You may enjoy the world in every way, you may seek
whatever you like; the one condition Vedanta imposes is that under no circumstances should one deviate from the path of virtue.

The following quotations are from the Mahabharata: (The Mahabharata is perhaps the world`s longest epic poem with over 90 000 couplets.)

"Virtue protects him who protects her. From virtue arises happiness.Virtue is the only friend that accompanies man beyond death."

Virtue is the stable basis of every aspect of individual and collective life. A man`s physical, intellectual, aesthetic, as well as spiritual well-being rests on the observance of virtue.

Moral conduct sustains man`s inner nature. Unless you observe moral principles - truthfulness, sincerity, charity, modesty etc.- you cannot maintain soundness of mind.
Your judgment will not be right. Vedanta firmly emphasizes that the one secret of mental health is adherence to moral principles. If you want to maintain soundness of mind and live the right kind of life, you must observe morality.This is fundamental.

You may gain anything you desire, any transitory pleasure in this world, but you will never be satisfied completely. One cannot have youth only and not old age, light only and no darkness, good only and no evil. We cannot get out of this world of dual experience. In this world there will always be
birth and death, growth and decay, construction and
destruction; that is the nature of the world. The basic condition of the world does not change. Eventually a person becomes convinced that there is no assurance of security in the temporal order, no prospect of unalloyed joy in this relative universe characterised by a playground of dualities.

Eventually one becomes convinced that the Supreme Being alone is eternal, all-free, all-perfect; while all else is short lived, bound and imperfect. Vedanta says there is one Supreme Being who alone is beyond all sorrows, beyond all sufferings, who alone is ever pure, free, immortal - the very perfection of existence.

And that Supreme being is not far away from us. He is the all pervading Self of the universe, and dwells within us as the inmost Self of all. To recognise and achieve one`s essential unity with the Supreme Being is the ultimate goal of life.

As Swami Vivekananda says,"Religion is the constitutional necessity of mankind. Dharma is that which ultimately leads man to his real nature and the Supreme Goal.

Vedanta says the basic truth of all religion is to hold firmly to virtue, to moral life. Then regardless of what path you choose, it will inevitably lead you to spiritual life and the Supreme Goal.

The Twofold Vedic Religion
By Sri Shankaracharya

The Lord created the universe, and wishing to secure order therein, He first created the Prajapatis (Lords of creatures) such as Marichi and caused them to adopt the Pravritti Dharma, the Religion of Works. He then created others such as Sanaka and Sanandana, and caused them to adopt Nivritti Dharma, the Religion of Renunciation, characterised by knowledge and indifference to worldly objects. It is the twofold Vedic Religion of Works and Renunciation that maintains order in the universe. This Religion which directly leads to liberation and worldly prosperity has long been practised by all castes and religious orders (varna ashramas) - from the Brahmins downwards- who sought welfare.

How Karma-Yoga is a means to the Supreme Bliss

Though the Religion of Works, which, as a means of attaining worldly prosperity, is enjoined on the several castes and religious orders, leads the devotee to the religion of the Devas and the like, when practised in a spirit of complete devotion to the Lord and without regard to the (immediate) results, it conduces to the purity of the mind (sattva-suddhi). The man whose mind is pure is competent to tread the path of knowledge, and to him comes knowledge; and thus (indirectly) the religion of Works forms also a means to the Supreme Bliss. Accordingly, with this very idea in mind, the Lord says:

"He who does actions, placing them in Brahman" (the Supreme Reality)

……… "Yogis perform actions, without attachment, for the purification of the self."
     - Gita, ch. 5, verses 10 & 11

From Viveka-chudamani of Sri Shankaracharya
verse 11

Work leads to purification of the mind, not to perception
of the Reality. The realisation of Truth is brought about by discrimination and not in the least by ten millions of acts.

Hinduism is God centred
Other religions are prophet centred


Swami Vivekananda wrote about:
The first disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa
Compiled by Sri G.M.Jagtiani

By the Vedas no books are meant. They mean the accumulated treasury of spiritual laws discovered by different persons in different times.

The Hindus have received their religion through revelation, the Vedas. They hold that the Vedas are without beginning and without end. It may sound ludicrous to this audience, how a book can be without beginning or end. But by the Vedas no books are meant. They mean the accumulated treasury of spiritual laws discovered by different persons into different times. Just as the law of gravitation existed before its discovery, and exist if all humanity forgot it, so is it with the laws that govern the spiritual world. The moral, ethical, and spiritual relations between soul and soul and between individual spirits and the father of all spirits, were there before their discovery, and would remain even if we forgot them.

The discoverers of these laws are called Rishis, and we honour them as perfected beings. I am glad to tell this audience that some of the very greatest of them were women. Here it may be

The Hindus, like the Jews, do not convert others; still gradually, other races are coming within Hinduism and adopting the manners and customs of the Hindus and falling into line with them.

Our watchword, then, will be acceptance, and not exclusion. Not only toleration, for so called toleration is often blasphemy, and I do not believe in it. I believe in acceptance. Why should I tolerate? Toleration means that,  I think that you are wrong and I am just allowing you to live. Is it not a blasphemy to think that you and I are allowing others to live? I accept all religions that were in the past, and worship with them; I worship God with every one of them, in whatever form they worship Him.

Defining the Idea of God
With the Hindus you will find one national idea- spirituality. In no other religion, in no other sacred books of the world, will you find so much energy spent in defining the idea of God.

Pythagoras and Kapila
There is no philosophy in the world that is not indebted to Kapila. Pythagoras came to India and studied this philosophy, and that was the beginning of the philosophy of the Greeks. Later, it formed the Alexandrian school and still later the Gnostics. It became divided into two; one part went to Europe and Alexandria, and the other remained in India; and out of this, the system of Vyasa was developed.
Related articles
Ramayana (Sri Rama- an embodiment of Dharma)
Hinduism- Brief Sketch (By Swami Vivekananda)

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