Hindu mythology believes in ONE and ONLY GOD, called the Brahman. The Brahman is existing without Name, Form or Qualities. This Brahman manifests itself as this phenomenal world of space, time and causation. This Brahman is impersonal – ruling the entire universe according to the rules of nature.
Certain aspects of this impersonal god – like Creation, Destruction and Sustenance, etc., are personified into Gods like Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. Praying to these personal Gods is expected to bring into your life the aspect represented by that particular personal God.
Seven seers (sages) act as advisors to the personal Gods as far as matters of the human plane is concerned. The Seven Seers for this time scale (manvantara) are Sage Atri, Sage Bhrigu, Sage Kutsa, Sage Vasishta, Sage Gowthama, Sage Kashyapa and Sage Angirasa.
The Hindu religion is built on the revelead texts – the Vedas and the Upanishads. Veda and Upanishads are called the Sruti. Later works on hindu law – what is appropriate and what is not; like Manu Dharma Sastra and Grihya Sutras consitute the Smritis. Works recording the history of the people during the vedic times are called Puranas. Hence, Sruti, Smriti and Puranas are the three corner stones of the Hindu religion.
The personal gods through the sages have revealed books of wisdom called the Vedas, which form the corner stone of the hindu religion. These vedas were codified and organised into four distinct collections – the Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharvana Veda by Sage Vyasa.
To make it simpler for people to understand and learn the underlying philosophy of the vedas, the upanishads were written by later sages.
The history of the Hindus and the people who lived during the Vedic times have been recorded by different sages in works called the Puranas.
The hindu religion prescribes four objects of human life - Dharma (Righteousness / Personal Norms), Artha (Politics / Societal Norms), Kaama (Fulfillment of Desires) and Moksha (Spiritual Liberation).
The Hindu religion is firmly rooted in the theory of Cause and Effect or theory of Karma. The vedantic view of Cause and Effect is not that of an unchanging destiny enforced from outside; but of the choices of the individual creating the destiny for themselves. This simple Cause and Effect principle over time gets to be a complex system of one Cause becoming the effect and the effect then becoming the cause for the another effect and so on moving into a vicious circle of Cause and Effect.
The hindu religion considers breaking this circle of Cause and Effect as Moksha. In achieveing Moksha – the hindu religion precribes that one has to be righteous with oneself (Dharma), with others (Artha) and fulfill one's desires (Kaama) to pave the way for Moksha.
There are four ways (Marga = Paths) prescribed by Hinduism to achieve Moksha / Liberation. Devotion to a personal God (Bhakti Marga), Inquiry and Reasoning (Gnaana Marga), Selfless Action (Karma Marga) and Developing Divine Consciousness (Raja Marga). Interestingly, these four ways can be related to the four communication styles as outlined by Carl Gustav Yung – Bhakti Marga for Feelers, Gnaana Marga for Thinkers, Karma Marga for Sensors and Raja Marga for Intuitors.
No matter which path a human being takes to achieve Liberation; one has to work for one's own liberation. Being born as a human being is considered a gift, since only human beings are endowed with free will and discrimination. Hence, it is only by being born as a human being that one can actually work towards one's own liberation.
This then is the gist of the beliefs of Hindu religion in a nut shell. In future articles we will continue to look at these aspects of the Hindu religion in much more detail.
Till then, good day!