1) Myth -Hindu’s Worship many Gods
Fact - It is a misconception amongst non-Hindus that Hindus worship millions of Gods. The truth is that according to Hinduism nothing but that one and only one ‘God’ (called Brahm by Hindus) exists. There can be millions and billions of manifestations of that God and during ‘His’ cosmic dance that ‘one self’ observes ‘His’ infinite manifestations. In simple words Hindus consider everything ‘living’ and ‘non-living’ as manifestation of ‘God’ and are therefore free to worship ‘God’ in any form. A Hindu can thus worship God in any of ‘His’ infinite manifestations (Sakara Brahm) or can worship a formless God (Nirakar Brahm).
2) Myth – All Hindus are vegetarian
Fact -Hindus teach vegetarianism as a way to live with a minimum of hurt to other beings. But in today's world not all Hindus are vegetarians. The rationale behind a vegetarian diet is to promote a physically, mentally and spiritually healthy lifestyle. However, there are no rigid rules concerning vegetarianism.
Vegetarians are more numerous in the South of India than in the North. This is because of the North's cooler climactic conditions and past Islamic influence. Priests and religious leaders are definitely vegetarian, so as to maintain a high level of purity and spiritual consciousness to fulfill their responsibilities, and to awaken the refined areas of their nature
3) Myth – Hindus are Idol Worshippers
Fact -Hindus do not worship a stone or metal "idol" as God. We worship God through the image. We invoke the presence of God from the higher, unseen worlds, into the image so that we can commune with Him and receive His blessings.
The stone or metal deity images in Hindu temples and shrines are not mere symbols of the Gods. They are the form through which their love, power and blessings flood forth into this world.
We may liken this mystery to our ability to communicate with others through the telephone. We do not talk to the telephone; rather we use it as a means of communication with another person.
Without the telephone, we could not converse across long distances; and without the sanctified icon in the temple, we cannot easily commune with the Deity. Divinity can also be invoked and felt in a sacred fire, or in a tree, or in the enlightened person of a satguru. In our temples, God is invoked in the sanctum by highly trained priests. Through the practice of yoga, or meditation, we invoke God inside ourself. Yoga means to yoke oneself to God within. The image or icon of worship is a focus for our prayers and devotions.
4) Myth –Hindus Practice Caste System
Fact -The present day caste system is one of the evils that had crept into Hindu society. It is more of a social problem then a religious. Caste system has no place in Hindu philosophy because as mentioned before this philosophy believes that nothing but that Brahm (God) exists. Everything including human being is manifestation of Brahm (God). And God can never have a lower or higher caste.
But since caste system is a reality of Indian society let us just examine how it came into existence:
Rig Veda recognizes that every human being has different capability. Some people are better in academics, other are good warriors, some are better in commerce and economics and still others are good craftsmen or manual workers. Any modern day scientist will testify that every individual has a different genetic makeup. This does not prevent a person born to athletic parents from becoming a doctor or a scientist. So according to Rig Veda people should recognize their capabilities and chose a profession according to that. An academician (Brahmin) is in no way superior to an artesian or manual laborer (Sudra). They are just different in their working capability. Caste was meant to be a guideline for people to choose their profession and was not meant to be a stigma attached to a person due to his birth. The present day caste system came into practice much later.
Just two examples should be sufficient to show that caste was not an evil stigma in ancient Hindu society as it is today in modern India –
1) Lord Krishna who is considered an incarnation of God by Hindus, was born in Yadu Vansha (considered a ‘backward caste’ now days). During his life Krishna was revered by all including so called ‘superior Brahmins and Kshatriyas’. He is worshipped in modern day India by all the castes.
2) Ramayana considered to be amongst the holiest of all holy books in Hindu religion was written by – Sage Valmiki. Valmiki was born in what is now day known as schedule caste family (lower caste). Ramayana occupies a place of prime importance in every Hindu family and all Hindus revere Sage Valmiki.
Needless to say that modern day leaders of Independent India have increased the divisions in Hindu society for their own political gains.
5) Myth – To become a Hindu, you have to be born as a Hindu.
Fact -Hinduism is a way of life, there is no formal conversion process. Anyone can become a Hindu, because to be a Hindu one has to just follow the Hindu way of life.
6) Myth – Hindu Women are suppressed
Fact -The role of women in Hinduism is often misunderstood. In Vedic times women and men were equal as far as education and religion was concerned. In ancient India, women occupied a very important position, in fact in some ways, a superior position to men. It is a culture whose only words for strength and power are feminine -”Shakti” means “power” and “strength.” All male power comes from the feminine.
7) Myth –Hinduism has lot many Rituals and superstition
Fact -Hinduism runs on value education and some rituals. These rituals are added from time to time and changeable. But these rituals convey a lot of meaning when deeply thought and understood. They are not compulsory for Hinduism; some follow, some don’t.
Lastly to summarize, How Hinduism differs from other religions
• It is not based upon one particular founder.
• It is not based upon one particular book.
• It is not controlled by a central institution or authority such as a church or an association.
• It is not averse to examine and assimilate fundamentally diverse thoughts and beliefs into its system.
• It accepts other religions as various paths to salvation and does not favor organized attempts to convert people.
• It has been evolving continuously, through internal reforms and as a reaction to the threats and challenges.
• Hinduism is a way of life, more than a religion
• An attitude of understanding and tolerance is taught within the religion, where all religious teachings are not to be looked down upon and that no one way of worship should be considered better than another.
The last journey of a Hindu is known as the ‘Antyesti’ or Hindu Funeral rite, also known as ‘Antim Sansakar’. Antyeṣṭi rites are the final sacraments (saṃskāras) in a series that ideally begins at the moment of conception and is performed at each important stage of a man’s life. Upon death Hindu’s are not buried they are cremated as per the procedure detailed in scriptures.
The reason why Hindu’s cremate is based on the belief that Jiva’ or body is made up of five elements of nature, which needs to be returned to the source upon its death. Of them water, earth and fire belong to the body and come from this world, whereas the fifth element is the ether (fine matter) belongs to the domain of the subtle body and comes from the higher worlds. By cremating the body, the elements are rightfully returned to their respective spheres, while the subtle body along with the soul returns to the world beyond for the continuation of its afterlife. Hindus also belief that when the soul departs from the world there are some pollutants which remains in the body. Irrespective he is far or near all the family members are polluted by the very process of death and remain for sometime till the soul completes its journey to the other world and till the family members are purified through rituals.Hindu's also believe the house where the corpse is kept and others who visit the house also get polluted and they also needs to be purified with bath and Ganga Jal (water of river ganges).Members of the deceased do not celebrate functions ad festivals as mark of respect.
Cremation is however not the whole method of the disposal of the body,Childern below certain age are buried upon death. The body of the renouncer (sanyasi) is usually placed in the river, since its is customary for a sanyasi to undergo the symbolic act of cremation before taking up the life of renunciation. So a second cremation is not prescribed.
India is the home and abode of religions. It occupies the proud first place in religious devotion and godliness. It is famous for its Yogis and saints. The word Dharma comes from India, from Hindu philosophy. Hinduism describes Dharma as the natural universal laws whose observance enables humans to be contented and happy, and to save himself from degradation and suffering. Dharma is the moral law combined with spiritual discipline that guides one's life. The purpose of Dharma is not only to attain a union of the soul with the supreme reality, it also suggests a code of conduct that is intended to secure both worldly joys and supreme happiness. Regulation of daily life is supreme Dharma. It is the basis of Tapas or austerity. It leads to wealth, beauty, longevity and continuity of lineage. Evil conduct and immorality will lead to ill-fame, sorrow, disease and premature death. Dharma has its root in morality the controller of Dharma is God Himself.
In order to achieve good karma it is important to live life according to dharma, what is right. Mathematically we can say Good Dharma =Good Karma. For explanation on Karma please read my earlier post (The Law Of Karma –A Unique Contribution of India to the Worldhttp://meghanaunleashed.blogspot.com/2009/11/law-of-karma-unique-contribution-of.html) Through the practice of Dharma alone can you ever hope to achieve the crowning glory of all human endeavours, viz., Moksha (liberation) which is the best and the highest of all desirable things. For Hindus, correct performance of dharma has a favourable effect on their karma (fate), thus coming closer to the final goal of liberation from the cycle of reincarnation.
Dharma can be classified under two heads:
Samanya or the general, universal Dharma
Visesha or the specific, personal Dharma.
1.Contentment, 2.forgiveness, 3.self-restraint, 4.non-stealing, 5.purity, 6.control of senses, 7.discrimination between right and wrong, as also between the real and the unreal, 8. spiritual knowledge, 9.truthfulness and 10.absence of anger come under the general or universal Dharma.
The rules of the castes and orders of life are specific Dharmas. These are the tenfold characteristics of Dharma according to Manu (In Hindu traditions, Manu is a title accorded to the progenitor of mankind.)
Dharma assumes various kinds: Sanatana Dharma (Eternal Law), Samanya Dharma (general duty), Visesha Dharma (special duty), Varnashrama Dharma (duties of caste and Order), Svadharma (one’s own duty), Yuga Dharma (duty of the age or period in history), Kula Dharma ((duty of family), Manava Dharma (duty of man), Purusha Dharma (duty of male), Stri Dharma (duty of female), Raja Dharma (duty of king), Praja Dharma (duty of subjects), Pravritti Dharma (duty in worldly life) and Nivritti Dharma (duty in spiritual life).
If,you have read Mahabharata, the Pandavas represent Dharma in life and the Kauravas represent Adharma.The four Asharams of life also have prescribed Dharma in all stages,details please read my earlier post The Four Ashrams Of Life –A Rational and a Scientific Approach of Life(http://meghanaunleashed.blogspot.com/2009/09/fours-ashrams-of-life-rational-and.html)
Other religions, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, Islam all lay stress on the concept of Dharma in their own ways. Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Kant, Swedenborg and Spinoza are all striking examples in the interesting history of Western philosophy for the high pedestal on which they have placed morality, duty and righteousness, and adored them all as the only means to the attainment of the goal of life.
India is a society where the male is greatly revere. Women in Indian society are considered to be kitchen bee who is suppose to cook food do household chores. On the other hand the same Indian society women are believed to be the incarnation of Shakti.Historicial evidences illustrate that women power ruled the society and they even destroyed mighty rulers and powerful kingdoms.In Hindi language daughter is known as 'Beti' and daughter-in-law is known as 'Bahu'. Here in this post I would like show my gratitude to the most influential Bahu’s and Betis which hold offices in the domain of politics or government, others wield it the boardroom.
Sonia Gandhi (Bahu) – An influential lady of the Indian politics, named the third most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine in the year 2004 and was ranked 6th in 2007.
She was also named among the Time 100 most influential people in the world for the years 2007 and 2008.She is the daughter in law of former prime minister Indra Gandhi and widow of former Prime Minister, of India Rajiv Gandhi.She was born in small a village of Italy. Sonia Gandhi was not, however, fond of the public life politics brought with it. Sonia Gandhi had a close relationship with her mother- in –law and she was a kind of personal assistant to the prime minister and traveled with her as she conducted the country's business. After the death of Rajiv’s brother Sanjay Gandhi, Rajiv became the political successor of his mother Indra Gandhi.
Sonia Gandhi wholeheartedly adopted her husband's homeland. She learned to speak some Hindi and cook Indian food, becoming a naturalized citizen in 1983. Once her husband entered politics, Sonia Gandhi began wearing traditional saris and stepped up her role as a traditional Indian wife. In 1991 her husband was killed by suicide bomber in an election campaign Sonia always hated politics and never wanted her husband to enter politics. Within days of her husband's death, Sonia Gandhi was asked to take his place as leader of the Congress Party. She refused. But year later in 1997 Sonia announced her intentions of campaigning for Congress party and in a very short time she became the political star of the country. Opposition leaders continued to chide Sonia Gandhi for her foreign - born status. Sonia Gandhi was such an anomaly that people flocked to see the Italian woman wearing an Indian sari who spoke Hindi with a foreign accent. In 2004, Hundreds of millions of voters had chosen her, however, despite her birth status. She refused to Prime minster post in spite of congress victory. Though she turned down the post of prime minister, Sonia Gandhi remained president of the Congress Party. An Italian born Bahu (Daughter-in-law) of Indra Gandhi has definitely made a mark in Indian politics.
Ekta Kapoor (Beti) –Daughter Of famous actor Jeetandra and Shobha Kapoor is well know personality in Indian teleivison.Ekta is the creative director of Balaji telefilms.Her first TV show Hum Paanch was a hit on television but the turning point in her career was a TV show ‘Kyunki Saas Bhee Khabee Bahu thi ‘ and from then there has been no looking back in her career.She is also known as the Queen of Television industry. She has undoubtedly influenced the Indian television industry.
Indra Gandhi (Beti )- India ‘s first and to date only female prime minster ,daughter of Pandit Jawarharlal Nehru. The dynamic personality of Indra Gandhi has left imprints on the minds of every Indian. It was the Indra era in India when India saw 1971 War with Pakistan,nuclear weapon program was started,Green revolution and emergency was imposed in India in her era.
Indra Gandhi completed her education in University of Oxford and in this stay at Europe and UK Indra met a young parsi man Feroz Gandhi.After returning to India Feroz and Indra got married.In 1942 Indra Gandhi played an active role in Quit India movement.In 1965 she was appointed as the fifth Prime Minster of India.It was in 1977 when Indra Gandhi lost the election but again in 1980 she led congress to victory and once again became the prime minster of India.She continued to hold this position till her assassination in 1984.
This daughter of India will be remembered till centuries.
Sania Miraz (Beti)- This young, gorgeous, beautiful daughter of India has brought India pride in field of sports. This young tennis player born in 1986,and was awarded Padma Shri in 2006,India fourth highest honor, for her achievements in Tennis.
Sania is the daughter of sports journalist Imran Mirza and mother Nasima.
She has been brought up in religious Muslim Family.She made her debut in 2003 in India Fed Cup Team and from then there has been no looking back in her Tennis career.
Priyanka Vadra(Beti) – The graceful Priyanka is the daughter of Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi.She is the grand-daughter of Nehru- Gandhi family. Her ambiguous role in politics has been remarkable. She has been campaigning for Congress party but have been saying that she has little interest in politics. She is good organizer and is the chief political advisor of her mother Sonia Gandhi, who is the Congress President.
Priyanka is married to Robert Vadra whom she met at Ottavio Quattrocchi's house.Priyanka and Robert Vadra are blessed with two children.Priyanka’s appearance in political campaigns has brought a new era for Congress Party in India.She pulls the crowd with grace and with her highly organized attitude.
People of India love this beti of India very much.
Ashiwarya Rai (Beti) – Born in 1973,this beauty of India has brought fame and glory to India in the area of Beauty and brain.She won the Miss World tittle in 1994,later she moved to acting career.And her acting career has also reached to heights of glory in India as well as abroad. Ashiwarya has been a very popular famous face of Indian cinema globally.She is married to Abhishekh Bachchan the son of Superstar Amitabh Bachachan.She is balancing her family and career so well that in coming year she would become one of the most influential Bahu.
Sushimta Sen (Beti) – Sushmita the first Indian woman to be crowned Miss Universe in 1994.Born in Hindu Bengali family,she is the daughter of Shubeer Sen former Indian Air Force Wing Commander and
mother Subhra Sen.After winning the beauty crown of Miss Universe,Sushimta made her appearance in Bollywoood thorugh film Dastak.Apart from film and fashion industry Sushmita has been a Indian Ambassador in the world.She has devoted herself to many social causes.
The list of Influentail Bahu's and Betis of India is not so small,would write about some more my coming posts.