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Hinduism is the religion of the Hindus, and supposedly the oldest of all living religions. Hinduism is not a man-made religion. It was not founded by any single person. It is not based on a set of doctrines preached by a particular set of teachers. It was not started as a system, like Islam or Christianity. It is the product of the clairvoyants and psycics of the Vedas. It was developed from age to age by the teachings of Avataras, Rishis, Vedas, the Upanishads, the Gita and the Itihasas. It will exist as long as the world lasts. There is a peculiar, mysterious spiritual force that is ingrained in the heart of every Hindu.
Hinduism is also known by the names Sanatana Dharma and Vaidika Dharma. Sanatana Dharma means eternal religion, the Ancient Law. Vaidika Dharma means the religion of the Vedas. The Vedas are the foundational scriptures of Hinduism.
A Religion of Freedom??
Hinduism allows absolute freedom to the rational mind of man. Hinduism never demands any undue restraint upon the freedom of human reason, the freedom of thought, feeling and will of man. It allows the widest freedom in matters of faith and worship. It allows absolute freedom to the human reason and heart with regard to questions such as the nature of God, soul, creation, form of worship, and goal of life. It does not force anybody to accept particular doctrines or rituals of worship. It allows everyone to reflect, investigate, enquire and meditate on their own. Because of this, all kinds of religious faiths, various forms of worship or Sadhana, diverse kinds of rituals and customs, have found their honourable place side by side within Hinduism, and are cultured and developed in harmonious relationship with one another.
The religious hospitality of Hinduism is proverbial. Hinduism is all-embracing and liberal, which is a basic feature of Hinduism. Hinduism pays respects to ALL religions. It does not revile any other religions. It accepts and honours truth, wherever it may come from and whatever garb it may put on.
Hinduism is composed of three parts: philosophy, mythology and ritual. Philosophy is the essence of religion. It sets forth its basic principles or fundamental doctrines or tenets, the goal, and the means of attaining it. Mythology explains and illustrates philosophy by means of legendary lives of great men or of supernatural beings. Ritual gives a concrete form of philosophy so that everyone may understand it. Ritual consists of forms and ceremonies.
Law of Karma
The Law of Karma is one of the fundamental doctrines of not only Hinduism, but also of Buddhism and Jainism. As a man sows, so shall he reap. This is the law of Karma. Desire produces Karma. You work and exert to acquire the objects of your desire. Karma produces its fruits as pain and pleasure. Hinduism believes it takes birth after birth to reap the fruits of your Karmas. This is the law of Karma.
The doctrine of reincarnation or transmigration is a fundamental tenet of Hinduism. You do not cease to exist after death. Before this birth you have passed through countless lives. The word 'reincarnation' literally means coming again into a physical body. The individual soul takes again a mortal vehicle. The individual soul takes again a mortal vehicle. The word 'transmigration' means passing from one plane to another-passing into a new body. The Bible does NOT teach reincarnation. It does teach transmigration ONLY in the respect that one day we all shall be resurrected and have a new body (1 Thes.4:14; 1 Cor.15:35-50; 1 Co.5:6,8).
The doctrine of rebirth is an effect to the law of Karma. The differences of disposition that are found between one individual and another must be due to one's respective past actions. Past action implies past birth. All your Karmas cannot certainly bear fruit in this birth alone. Therefore, there must be another birth for enjoying the remaining actions. Each soul has a series of births and deaths. Births and deaths will continue till you attain knowledge of the Self. The Bible teaches NOTHING like this.
Hinduism believes that you do not come into the world in total forgetfulness and in utter darkness. You are born with certain memories and habits obtained in previous births. Desires take their origin from previous experiences. None is born without desire. Every being is born with some desires, which are associated with the things enjoyed by him in the past life. The desire proves the existence of his soul in the previous lives. The Bible teaches NOTHING like this.
Hinduism has various cults and creeds. It is more a league of religions than a single religion with a definite creed. It is a fellowship of faiths. It is a federation of philosophies. It accommodates all types of people. It prescribes spiritual food for everybody, according to his/her qualification and growth. There is no conflict among the various cults and creeds.
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