FAQ: Hindu Concepts
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Is Hinduism polytheistic?
According to Hindu Culture by Swami Tejoymayanada ji:
Hinduism, in one sense, can be classified as polytheistic, due to the vast number of gods and goddesses that we can worship. However, it is not truly polytheistic because ultimately Hindus do not believe that there are many gods. The belief is that there is One Supreme, and that all the deities are manifestations of that One. The reason why there are many paths and deities to choose from is because Hinduism does not restrict us to believe in just one way. Depending on our nature, our traditions, our culture, and our background, we worship a particular deity and follow a certain path. All the deities represent something special. For instance, Ganesha, the elephant God, is the remover of obstacles. Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge. These are just a couple examples of all the different possibilities to choose. And Shiva, the Destroyer, has many different personalities. One personality of his is Dakshinamurthy, the eternal and peaceful Guru. He can also be a terrifying warrior form called Kalabhairava. Hinduism is not polytheistic, but it offers a wide variety of choices. It is up to us to choose what we most believe in.
Does Hinduism have an originator?
The Vedic Civilization is commonly associated with HIndu people. It is the earliest civilization in the history of India. During the period of its existence, the Ramayana and Mahabharata were two epic works produced.
Aside from geographical roots, the religion itself does not have one specific founder. In fact it can be referred to as a “culture” because it is extremely focused on values and beliefs rather than following any specific teachings. This is quite different from theories relating to the Bible and Koran, for example.
Sources:- https://knowindia.gov.in/culture-and-heritage/ancient-history.php- https://chinmayala.org/hinduism/
Why does Hinduism encourage vegetarianism?
According to Hindu Culture by Swami Tejoymayanada ji:
There are a number of reasons. The first is from a spiritual point of view-that the One Supreme (referred to as Brahman or the Self) that is in all beings means that every living being wants to live happily, and we should not take that away from them. Eating meat would also not be good for spiritual seekers because it would have agitating effects on the mind and is also not energy-generating.
Another reason is that human beings, by destroying other beings for meat, are cutting away the glory of human life (the ability to sacrifice their own lives for the sake of others).
Some people may ask this: vegetarians are killing plants anyway, so why should we not kill animals too? By that reasoning cannibalism could be justified, but that would be a horrifying thought for even the most voracious meat-eaters. Moreover, there are degrees of evolution and intelligence in all life. Plant-life has not developed as much feeling and understanding of mental and physical pain the way that animals do, so by being vegetarian, the least amount of pain and disturbance would be caused to nature. There are so many examples of animals like cows and pigs that truly feel incredible pain the way humans do when horrible things happen to them. And today, the environment changing for the worse and global warming can be attributed to more and more meat.
Kshatriyas like Lord Ram did eat meat, but they did so precisely because they were kshatriyas, which meant they had to fight for dharma. Their type of work required animal protein. However, they renounced that life when it was their time and hence did not need to eat meat.
In general, vegetarianism is good for the environment and for the mind. The scriptures do not outright forbid eating meat. They only allow it depending on the circumstances and person.
How does meditation connect to Hinduism?
Meditation is a practice which dates back to ancient teachings and can be found in many forms in many parts and religions of the world. Within Hinduism, meditation is a way to help focus and calm the mind, facilitating contemplation and introspection. Eventually the goal is to tune in to the Self through meditation.
Source: 'Self Unfoldment' by Swami Chinmayananda
What is the ultimate goal for Hindus?
The ultimate goal for Hindus is achieving moksha or liberation from samsara. Samsara is the cycle of birth, death, rebirth that all humans are bound to where they are influenced to act upon their desires and thereby develop attachments for those desires and certain results. Liberation is being freed from this cycle, not being bound by desire. It is ultimately understanding that nothing in the external world is permanent, the only thing that is permanent is the Divine consciousness within us all. One who reaches the state of moksha attains absolute peace, freedom, and oneness with that Divine during their lifetime.
Why are Hindu Gods polygamous if polygamy is not encouraged?
God is that Infinite Consciousness that is formless, and therefore cannot really be married. The Hindu forms of God that are worshipped are married only as a story for devotees to understand. Each God’s consort provides a “shakti”or power to the God allowing them to act. Brahma’s consort is Saraswati; a creator needs knowledge to be able to create. Together, they are able to create. Just as we can have many talents or abilities, so too some forms of God have many shaktis for different purposes.
Is there a heaven/hell in Hinduism?
According to the Hindu Puranas, there are seven upper worlds and seven lower worlds. The seven upper worlds are Bhuh, Bhavah, Swah, Mahah, Janah. Tapah, and Satyam; and the seven nether worlds are Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Rasatala, Talatala, Mahatala, and Patala. The region known as Bhuh is the Earth where we live. The 3 highest worlds are part of Brahmaloka where individuals live with the Gods before attaining liberation. Based on karma or past action, one is reborn as a human on Earth or might be reborn in one of the lower worlds. Only as a human can one use their intellect to make conscious decisions of their actions to reach liberation. Attaining this liberation is not something one attains in heaven but can attain here on Earth itself.