Overview

General facts relating to Hinduism and the core religious beliefs

*Disclaimer: By providing this information, we are guiding our visitors to external sources for further knowledge related to Hinduism. The creators of this website are not responsible for the credibility and accuracy of other sources, nor do we explicitly support their views or beliefs. We also do not claim to have any authorship or ownership of these sources and their information.*

What is Hinduism?

  • Hinduism is more than a religion. It defines the way of life and thinking.

  • 'Hinduism' is not the actual word for the religion itself. The true name is Sanatana Dharma. Sanatana means Eternal, and Dharma, which does not have a true translation in English, can be expressed as way of life. Therefore, 'Sanatana Dharma' means the Eternal Way.

  • Since Sanatana Dharma has no beginning or end, it does not have a founder.

  • The term 'Hindu' was originally used to define those living in the Indian subcontinent around or beyond the Indus River (also known as Sindhu in Sanskrit). Today, Hindus are essentially those who believe in Sanatana Dharma.

  • Hinduism has no single prophet and not just one governing holy book in the way that other religions do.

  • According to their personality, those who follow Sanatana Dharma can choose from multiple paths to attain Self-Realization. However some themes are common across all paths, like the ideas of Karma (every action has a reaction) and Samsara (the cycle of life and death), and practices such as Ahimsa (non-violence), vegetarianism, Satya (honesty), and Brahmacharya (self-restraint).

  • Hinduism focuses on four goals in human life: Dharma (responsibilities), Artha (wealth), Kaama (passions and pleasures of the five senses), and Moksha (liberation).

Different types/sects of Hinduism

There are several sects within Hinduism. Some major sects include Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and Shaktiism:

Vaishnavism

For followers of Vaishnavism, Vishnu is the manifestation of Brahman. Avatars (forms) of Vishnu include Krishna and Rama.

Shaivism

Shaivism focuses on Shiva as the ultimate deity who represents enlightenment. The focus of this sect is to let go of worldly bonds in order to attain Shivatva (nature of Shiva).

Shaktiism

Shaktiism focuses on the Supreme as Shakti. Shakti is the personification of energy that is creative, sustaining, and destructive, referred to as the Divine Mother or Devi. Forms of Shakti include Lakshmi (goddess of wealth), Saraswati (goddess of knowledge), and Parvati (goddess of power).

While these sects may focus on different deities, they all have the ultimate goal of moksha, or liberation from worldly suffering.

Hinduism also has different schools of philosophy. The 6 major schools of philosophy are the following:


  • Sankhya: The School of Complete Knowledge

  • Yoga: The School of Contemplation

  • Nyaya: The School of Logic

  • Vaisesika: The School of Particularity

  • Mimamsa: The School of Vedic Rituals

  • Vedanta: The School of Brahmavidya

All schools of philosophy focus on the atman (the Eternal Self) as the omnipotent presence of God.

To learn more about the six schools of Hindu philosophy, please check out this resource titled 'Six Streams of Hindu Philosophy' by Hinduism Today (2016) which illustrates and explains each school of thought in great detail: https://www.hinduismtoday.com/modules/smartsection/item.php?itemid=5724

'Advaita' and its meaning

The creators of this site are students of the Vedantic philosophy (i.e. within the Vedanta school of thought) called 'Advaita'. Advaita is a non-dualistic philosophy, emphasizing that the "Creator" and the "Creation" are not two separate entities, but rather one and the same. Conceived by Sri Adi Shankaracharya, this philosophy has been passed down through his lineage for many years and is studied to this day.

'Advaita' is roughly translated as 'not two' or 'non-secondness.' So it is believed that we are one with our "Creator" and the rest of the "Creation."

You, your neighbors, friends, family, all animals, objects, plants, and everything else in this world, plus the creator of it all, although seemingly different, are essentially one single eternal consciousness. Although we are all expressed or manifested in different shapes and forms, we are of the same essence.

To better understand this concept, consider these examples:

  • A lightbulb and a fan are two different objects, but to function they both channel the same essential source: electricity.

  • Similarly, gold can be molded into different jewelry, but whether a ring or a necklace, the object is still essentially gold.

  • Wood can be carved into different furniture, but whether a desk or a chair, the object is still essentially wood.

So, the essence of everything is the same. This is the philosophy of Advaita or non-duality.

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“You are not a drop in the ocean, you are the ocean in a drop."

- Rumi