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Hinduism

To millions of Hindus around the world, Hinduism is more than a religion – it is a way of life. Its wonderful synthesis of philosophy and practical application helps one to lead and live an enriched life.

Hinduism is also known as the Sanatan Dharma (‘Eternal Path’) and is the world’s oldest known religion. Hinduism has no origin and therefore has no end either. It is a very tolerant, resilient and peace-loving religion, whose roots lie in the Indus valley in the vast Indian sub-continent.

To some, Hinduism may appear to be a very complex religion. Its diversity of thoughts, beliefs and practices along with its concepts of God requires a deeper study and understanding to capture its essence and comprehend its intricacies. For those who practice it, Hinduism is more than a collection of religious ideas – the intertwining of mental, physical and spiritual aspects serve as a set of guidelines advising us on how to live our daily lives. The confluences of ethical, moral, academic and spiritual notions underpin the theories and teachings which allow the individual to use their reasoning, knowledge and faith to progress towards one’s ultimate goal.

A notable feature of Hinduism is that it does not originate from one prophet, teacher or founder. Hinduism is based upon eternal truths and ancient seers gaining the ultimate experience of God through penance, prayers and introspection. These collective experiences formed the foundation of the Vedic civilisation from which emerged the Hindu Dharma. The Hindu scriptures (Vedas, Upanishads, Ramayan, Mahabharata, Bhagvad Gita, Shrimad Bhaagvat) serve as steadfast road-maps and are key to guiding one along their journey in life.

A special attribute of Hinduism is that it respects all creation, since it believes the whole universe is filled with the presence of God. It is often stated that there are 330 million gods and goddesses in Hinduism. For Hindus, there is only one God – the Supreme, the Absolute, Brahman. Having revealed Himself to many through various forms at various times, He is thus known by His innumerable forms. Each form can be thought of as representing different qualities and aspects of the Supreme Being – just as water is known as ice, steam, vapour, ocean etc.

Hindus believe that the Aatma (soul) is the true and eternal "self" of every person. Although the body is subject to birth or death, the soul is never born nor perishes. The ultimate goal of life is to attain ‘Moksh’ or liberation. Depending on which school of thought an individual may follow, this can be understood in various ways – realisation of one’s true self, realising one’s identity with Brahman, attainment of the Truth and Supreme Knowledge, realising the eternal relationship with the Divine and experience of Ultimate and Everlasting peace and bliss. Achieving this state frees one from material bondage and ends the cycle of rebirth. To reach this goal, Hinduism presents several methods which one can adopt: Bhakti Yog (path of love and devotion), Karma Yog (path of action), Raaj Yog (path of meditation) and Gyaan Yog (path of wisdom).

Hinduism also believes in reincarnation and acknowledges that everyone has a right to evolve spiritually and realise the Truth in time. Thus it does not set man a limit of one life, but offers many lives. At the same time, Hindu Dharma makes man responsible for every action he performs through the law of Karma.

Hinduism pervades science, culture, education, music, art and family values. It is infused in all aspects of living. Most essentially though, it places concentration on the individual – to build the mind not just the muscles; to mould the spirit not just the surroundings; to increase the worth of a person by inner values and not by mere wealth or power….so that one is able to achieve their true and ultimate goal in life.