Here is a basic introduction of Hinduism that will help you better understand this timeless religion. We plan to develop this section of the site a lot more in the coming months and years with the goal of adding more content and courses on Hinduism.
• in one, loving, all-pervasive Supreme Being
• that divine beings, devas (angels) and mahadevas (great angels), exist in inner worlds — these devas and mahadevas are often referred to as gods creating confusion that Hinduism has more than one God
• the Vedas and Agamas are the core scriptures of Hinduism
• in karma, the law of cause and effect — each individual creates his own destiny by his thoughts, words and deeds
• in reincarnation, the cycle of birth and death — Hindus believe that a soul lives in a physical body and when the physical body dies the soul moves on to the astral world where it continues to learn and grow until it is time to reincarnate again on the physical plane. This process continues until moksha, liberation from rebirth, is attained and the soul no longer returns to the physical plane. The soul then continues to evolve in the inner worlds till it finally merges with God.
• in ahimsa, non-violence in thought, word and deed — all life is sacred and this belief encourages Hindus to be vegetarians
The four Vedas (Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva), the world’s most ancient scriptures, are the source of philosophy and systems of worship.
The 28 Agamas are the primary source and authority for ritual, yoga and temple construction.
The Puranas (ancient lore) are Hindu folk narratives that make up most of the stories and beliefs that people are familiar with about Hinduism. Unfortunately, many of these stories and beliefs do not align with the core Hindu beliefs from the Vedas and Agamas.
Hinduism consists of four primary sects. These are Saiva, Shakta, Vaishnava and Smarta. All sects subscribe to the major beliefs of Hinduism. Though they share many common core beliefs, they differ in many ways — most notably what happens to the soul at the end of its evolution.
In the Saivite sect, the supreme God is referred to as Siva or Shiva. In the Shakta sect, the supreme God is in the form of a Goddess called Shakti. Other names that refer to this supreme being are Durga, Raja Rajeswari, Meenakshi, etc. In the Vaishnavite sect, the supreme God is Vishnu, often referred to as Krishna. In the Smarta sect, it is left to the devotee to choose his deity.
You can often identify which sect a Hindu belongs to by the markings on the forehead.
Hinduism clearly defines two paths:
Monastic – Celibate man or woman wholly dedicated to religious life as a cenobitic (residing with others in a monastery) or anchoritic (living alone as a hermit or mendicant) referred to as a sadhu in Sanskrit.
Householder – Family man or woman, pertaining to family life. Four goals of a householder’s life are artha (wealth), kama (pleasure, love, enjoyment), dharma (righteous living) and moksha (liberation).
Ganesha is the beloved, elephant-faced deity honored by Hindus of every sect. He is the Lord of Obstacles, revered for his great wisdom and invoked first before any undertaking, for he knows all intricacies of each soul’s karma and the perfect path of dharma (the mode of conduct most conducive to spiritual advancement) that makes action successful. He is the god of good timing, sits on the muladhara chakra (first chakra) and is easy to get to know as he lives very close to the Earth plane. Ganesha is a mahadeva (great angel).