The best way to start knowing Hinduism is by reading the 2 ancient epics of India, the Ramayan and Mahabharat. Most people think that Hinduism is all about thousands of Gods and their temples and the rituals etc.etc. Unfortunately all of that is Hinduism as it appears to an outsider looking at it from a 30,000 feet view. The true meaning of Hinduism and a Hindu life can only be understood by reading epics like Ramayan and Mahabharat and many other scriptures written by ancient thinkers. The reading has to be associated with questioning of each and every event especially why the characters in these epics did what they did and what were their motives and what was the outcome. Internalize these readings and then move on to the scientific and philosophical teachings of the Vedas and the Upanishads. Then when all that is read and internalized, can one read the Bhagvad Gita and understand it. You may as well read the Bhagvad Gita and try to understand Hinduism, but it will take repeated reading, thinking and true life experiences to know the esoteric meanings of each verse and the depth of the underlying wisdom. Eventually you will realize that reading is not enough and that you must do and experiment with what you have learned. That is when true Hinduism will start to reveal itself to you.
Temple worship and the rest is an integral part of Hindus, but thats only the means to reach the ultimate goal of self-realization. So, dont get fooled by the pictures of Gods and Godesses that are used to depict Hinduism, but dive deeper into its real meaning and understand the way of life a Hindu lives by reading from the ancient epics instead.
If we agree to the fact that everything is Brahman and that God is omnipresent and omnipotent, then God is everything, within us and outside us. In that case would offering Gold to God really matter? You must have heard about Tirupati temple. This is where people offer Gold to God in the hope of getting more wealthy, fulfilling desires and even attaining spiritual success. There is nothing wrong in offering Gold, however Lord Krishna says in the Bhagvad Gita that whosoever offers me anything even a leaf or a fruit or a flower or themselves pleases me. So, why offer Gold? The rational behind offering Gold to God perhaps was to test a persons quality of “Aparigraha” non-greed. This would mean the person offering Gold would have to offer all of their available possessions with the thought that it is God only who gave me this Gold so I give it back and in return ask for spiritual enlightenment. However, people go to temples to fulfill more desires, more greed and end up with more pain and suffering and continue the cycle. This is how pathetic our beliefs have become. We all should question such beliefs and dive deep to understand them. This is the only way of truly attaining spiritual success.
Started with #GajananMaharaj stories. Next is Ramayan and of-course all the other articles on this site will go to twitter too. Keeping the posts to 140 characters forces brevity and clarity. It is a rewarding challenge. I’m excited to tweet about my passion, the search for true Hinduism and sharing my experiences with others.
The act of immersion of an idol of God is to symbolize the cycle of life coming to an end with the body becoming one with nature again. The idol of God is hence to be made of mud so that it dissolves in water. With the commercialization of religious festivals the intent and significance of rituals and worship of God have been lost. Huge idols of God are erected for fanfare and show. The material used to erect such huge structures is synthetic and the paints are toxic. When these idols are immersed at the sea or lakes, they hardly dissolve. Their substances pollute the water and in-turn impact the people living around these areas. Money is collected and spent in millions for such nonsense. The general pubic with their ignorance and weak philosophy are easily influenced by the people who want to make money out of religion. The weak philosophy is a result of negligence and lost discipline of reading and understanding Vedas and Shashtras and questioning the philosophy and teachings to get a deeper understanding of ones own religion. The fact is that these ancient books teach more than religion. They teach a way of life that is harmonious with nature and enables one to realize their true potential their Dharma. So, the next time someone asks you why are idols of God immersed you can tell them the true significance and advice them against participating and contributing to the commercialization of religion.
The man of Bharat Desh takes pride in their Sanskruti and believes that the Sanskruti is what makes Bharat different from all other countries in this world. They cannot be convinced otherwise. However if you look around you there is no trace of the Sanskruti in everyday dealings of the world. It has become a mere crutch for orthodox traditions meant to control people for selfish reasons and give them and excuse for procrastination, laziness, cowardliness and more such non progressive qualities. So, what can we do to revive our Sanskruti? For that first we must understand what Sanskruti means.
Sanskruti means Culture and the dictionary describes it as the arts and other manifestations of the human intellectual achievement regarded collectively. Bharat Desh has an amazing collection of arts and the human intellectual achievements of the people of this country date back to thousands of years. So, one may question if Sanskruti is all about intellectual reasoning, practicing the beauty of art that emanates from human thought and deed then why do we take refuge in this word to justify orthodox traditions that have no sound reasoning or meaning? One reason I have identified for this situation is the fact that we have allowed ourselves to become followers rather than leaders. Followers only take commands while leaders question them and only do something once they are convinced of its reasoning and impact. The hundreds of years of fragmented administrative control in Bharat because of independent rulers that never united for a cause and then the British rule that used psychological warfare to convince the people of Bharat that they are not innovators or intellectual thinkers but mere followers has had a major impact on how people think and act today.
I believe that it is our duty as the present generation to challenge all beliefs, ruthlessly eliminate nonsensical traditions, build a framework of strong philosophy that cannot be tarnished by outsiders and progress just like the other countries around the world have done. The teachings of Vedanta is a great way to get started on this journey. I’ll write more on this topic in my next post.
I find it hard to believe that the is no definitive site on the internet that gives advice on how to setup a small puja table or a place for worship in a small home. There is so much talk about Vastu that people are forgetting the very fact that worship is from the mind and the heart. It is absolutely Ok to ignore directions and placements and other earthly things.
The only guidance I can provide is to keep the place of worship clean, the idols and objects of worship neat and tidy following basic aesthetics. Keep the area in and around the place of worship uncluttered and only use that space – it maybe a corner of a room or a small shelf inside a cupboard – when saying prayers or remembering God. Light a small oil lamp or a candle to keep the area illuminated. Be careful of fire in closed space. Safety comes first. I recommend keeping the number of idols and photos of deities to a minimum. Devote yourself to just a few deities and during worship ask your prayers to be disseminated to all deities, illumined souls and your ancestors. Just the mere observance of a few basic things that are common sense and intuitive is enough to set up a puja table and a place of worship. Remember the most important thing is your devotion and your prayers. Let them come from your heart and you will find peace and harmony in everything you do.