Shree Radhe
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Q1. What is Hinduism?
A1. Hinduism is a religion that originated on the Indian subcontinent. It is a conglomeration of religious, philosophical & cultural ideas and practices that originated in India; characterized by the belief in reincarnation, one Absolute Being of multiple manifestations, the law of cause and effect, following the path of righteousness, and the desire for liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

Q2. Who is the founder of Hinduism?
A2. Hindu Dharma did not originate with any single prophet or at a particular period of human history. Its uniqueness lies in its being based on the super conscious experiences and spiritual realizations of a galaxy of saints, sages and seers. Built on such a firm foundation of spiritual experiences, which are verifiable, the Hindu religious tradition has been flowing continuously like the river Ganga for several millennia. That is why Hindu Dharma has been designated as Sanatan (perpetual) Dharma.

Q3. What is the goal of life according to Hinduism?
There are 4 goals of life according to Hinduism; Moksh being the ultimate goal.
1) Dharma – conduct based on righteousness
2) Artha – pursuit of legitimate worldly success
3) Kaama – pursuit of legitimate pleasure
4) Moksh – liberation

Q4. What are the 10 disciplines of Hinduism?

1. Satya (Truth)
2. Ahimsa (Non-violence)
3. Brahmacharya (Celibacy, non-adultery)
4. Asteya (No desire to possess or steal)
5. Aparighara (Non accumulation of worldly possessions; non-corruption/no bribery)
6. Shaucha (Cleanliness)
7. Santosh (Contentment)
8. Swadhyaya (Reading of scriptures)
9. Tapas (Austerity, perseverance, penance)
10. Ishwarpranidhan (Regular prayers/Meditation)

Q5. Why do Hindus have so many gods and goddesses in different forms to worship?
Contrary to popular understanding, Hindus recognize one God, Brahman, the eternal origin who is the cause and foundation of all existence.

Hindus believe in only one formless and all-pervading, all-existing, and all-blissful God. That formless God, however, can best be realised by concentrating on various forms of ideal personalities as recorded in the scriptures. In other words, the Hindu religion is flexible and provides many ways to develop one's spiritual ideas in order to suit individual needs. "Unity in the diverse plan of nature" is recognised in the Hindu faith. Just as people tailor clothes to fit their needs, Hindus have different gods and goddesses for their religious needs. All these gods and goddesses resemble humans, animals or natural forces such as wind, water, fire, sun, and moon; each has different powers to bless the world. These godheads, when worshipped, fulfill people's desires in an easier way but with the same qualities of blessings as from one God. The gods of the Hindu faith represent different expressions of Brahman.

Q6. What is the meaning of OM?
"OM" is the most sacred syllable often spoken during the practice of any Hindu rites. It is a holy character of the Sanskrit language, the language of God. The character is a composite of three different letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. The English equivalents of those are "a", "u", and "m", and represents the Trinity. The Trinity is composed of the three supreme Hindu Gods: Brahma, the creator, Vishnu, the preserver, and Shiva, the destroyer. These three letters when pronounced properly in unison create an invigorating effect in the body. Because of its significance this sacred syllable is spoken before any chants to show God that we remember Him. This sign in Hinduism also represents the whole universe.

OM or Aum is of paramount importance in Hinduism. This symbol is a sacred syllable representing Brahman, the impersonal Absolute of Hinduism — omnipotent, omnipresent, and the source of all manifest existence. Brahman, in itself, is incomprehensible; so a symbol becomes mandatory to help us realise the Unknowable.

Q7. Why are Hindus vegetarians?
According to Hinduism, what we eat decides our physical well being as well as our mental makeup. Eating meat and intoxicating food may fuel animalistic traits within us.

The other reason is the belief that killing innocent and helpless animals for the purpose of filling one’s hunger is a bad karma with harmful consequences.

Hindu scriptures show us ways to obtain a sound body and mind in order to lead a proper way of life. Proper intake of food is necessary for this purpose. Hence the scriptures recommend only those foods which can be digested easily and such foods are said to be in the "mode of goodness" (saatvic). Vegetarian food by nature falls in this category. Medically it was known in Vedic times that meat-eating led to sluggishness, decreased the power of concentration and increased growth of the unhealthy bacteria in the colon.

Q8. Who can be a Hindu?
All mankind without restrictions of any sort. Hinduism is never imposed on anybody at any time. Hinduism is not a constructed main road; it is a self formed footpath trodden upon by those walking through their own will and choice. It allows anyone to realise the Almighty by his own will and actions.

Q9. Why do we find it so difficult to fixate our mind on God, even whilst sitting in satsang or meditation? It does not seem to require much effort to get attached to the world – why is this so?
There are a number of reasons as to why the mind is very easily attached to the worldly things but not to God. Firstly the mind, like the material world is composed of the 5 elements – fire, earth, air, wind and water. As like attracts like, the mind is very easily attracted to the materialistic world and objects since they are of the same composition. But God is divine and thus it is not as naturally easy for the mind to be attached to Him as it is to be attracted towards Sansaar.

Secondly, God is the Supreme Being; even the Vedas are not able to define Him since He is beyond the mind, senses and the intellect. So when we try to associate with Him and attach our mind to Him, it is difficult and requires much more effort since He cannot be grasped by the mind.

Thirdly, and most importantly is that our mind does not attach easily in the thought of God is because we do not feel a sense of belonging with Him. We falsely believe ourselves to be the body and thus we feel the ‘sansaric’ relations are all real i.e. our parents, spouses and children. Therefore under this illusion we are attached to them; we have a sense of belonging with them but we do not feel a sense of belonging with God. And it is God whom we have to realise, love and unite with. Thus we need to forge a relationship with God, surrender our heart and soul unto Him...then the mind itself will start to gradually become absorbed in Him without any effort having to be exerted.

Q10. What is the significance of prayer or chanting God’s Name?
Chanting has many benefits and serves many purposes. The rhythmic repetition of a divine Name or Mantra helps regulate the breathing which in turn leads to peace of mind and a feeling of calmness. Within this state, one is more receptive to connect with the inner self and experience the divine energy. The Name of God is also very powerful and bears the same power as God Himself. It is healing in nature and when uttered in good faith it eradicates our sins and faults. Chanting (also known as Naam-Jap) is said to be the best and easiest means prescribed of attaining God realisation in the Kali-Yug. It enables one to move closer to experiencing the Supreme by taking us into that mode where the breathing is controlled, the mind becomes cleansed, thoughts are focused and the heart is purified so that we can connect to the God.