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"India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, grandmother of legend, and great grand mother of tradition. Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only."

- Mark Twain(American Author 1835-1910)

What is Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma) ?

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Please find below the description of hinduism. The tree of hinduism is very vast and has millions of branches. I have tried to describe hinduism in as concise way as possible. Please forgive me if I have missed any thing, I am sure I must have.

This is just the starting point or outline. Hopefully you will have time to understand all the facets of this eternal way of life (hinduism) which is full of philosophy, divine knowledge, material and physical knowledge, principles and love.

Dharma (Nishkama Karma), Gyana (Darshan) and Bhakti (devotion) are three facets of Hinduism.

Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma is not a religion is is the basis of religion. It's not a river its the ocean. It is not a branch it is a tree which gives shelter to all human noble thoughts. Hindu Dharma or Sanatana Dharma or Bhartiya Dharma is always challenging. Every action we do have to be judged whether it is right or wrong from the welfare of humanity. Not just for the welfare of humans but for all living beings and for all non-living beings.

We have to be logical to be a hindu, we should also have a kind heart. You should be kind to humans, animals and all living and non-living manifestations of GOD. India always had a tradition of "Shastrarth" that is the discussion to understand the meaning of scriptures. , But scriptures are no binding to Dharma, Dharma is dynamic: it is not static.

At some place the following is said. The one who protetcs Dharma (noble action), Dharma protects him/her. The one who does not follow Dharma (noble action), get destroyed. Dharma means the one who holds or supports the society. Dharma is the action for right consciousness.

Dharma is dynamic. What is best today for the welfare could be the worst tomorrow. The place, time and opportunity are some of its parameteres. We have to change to follow Dharma. We can not stick to fix rules. For an example, if some body asks me have you done theft, if I have done and I say yes then I followed the common Dharma of telling truth, however if people are chasing some noble man to kill and they ask me where the person is hiding. Now should I follow the common Dharma and tell truth ? no in this case telling truth will not be a Dharma it will be Adharma.

There are two types of knowledge, shruti and smirti. Shruti are eternal and Smirti keep changing with time.


Upnishad is a philosophy taught by the Vedas, the most ancient scriptures of India. Its basic teaching is that our real nature is divine. God is our innermost Self, an underlying reality that exists in every being. Religion is therefore a search for Self, a search for God within. We don't need to be "saved." At worst, we are unaware of our true nature.

All ethics are merely a means to the end of finding God within ourselves. "Right" action is action which brings us nearer to the knowledge of God. "Wrong" action leads us away from that knowledge. Our ideas of "good" and "evil" are therefore only relative values and must not be used as an absolute standard by which we judge others. Each of us has our own problems and our own path of development. But the goal is the same for all.

Hindus don't hate the sinner they go beyond that they see the ONE inside the sinner. The goal is to go beyond the good and bad karma, the goal is to realize the truth. If the bad karma is an iron chain then good karma is a gold chain. Both are chains. We have to liberate ourselves in this life itself. We have to go beyond material pleasure, we have to unite the one behind the material pleasure. We are like salt-made we have to go to the sea (GOD) and merge in that. Lord Krishna says "no action is devoid of imperfection, the way fire is always with smoke". We should know the truth, and be happy in this life itself. We don't have to nourish the lust of heaven. We have to go beyond that. Sanatan Dharma teaches to see with same eye the Pundit (knowledgeable), dog and Shudra. That is the knower sees the ONE inside everything.

Lord Ram when he injured Ravan, he went to him with his brother, to take his blessings and knowledge. They did their dharma but they did not hate Ravan.

We have to go beyond Maya(illusion). We have to be fearless. Fearless from death, fearless from Dukha (bad times). We have to know our true nature. We have to bring out the lion inside us. We all are immortals, every living being is immortal, every object is immortal. Scientists have realized the last part though (the priciple of non-destruction of matter).

The one who thinks THIS kills and the one who thinks THIS gets killed, both don't know. As this neither kills nor gets killed. This is indestuctible.

GOD can be won only by Bhakti (love). If we love him/her, he/she has made himself/herself bound to love us. GOD is beyond gender, that is beyond our perception. We have to do yogah with that. We can love absolute GOD in male form or in female form like Durga Ma.

An idol of Durga Ma

Four goals of a hindu life

1) Dharma - which means all noble karma good for all living beings. 2) Artha - To earn money in rightful way to meet day today needs. 3) Kaam - Nourish family and other legetimate desires. 4) Moksha - The salvation. In Gita amd Upnishad it is said - One who sees oneself in others and others in onself, is free indeed. He is not bound by the fruits (reaction) of karma.

To meet these goals the human life was divided in four aashramas namely- Braham-charya Aashrama(learning with celebacy till 25 years), Grihasth Aashrama (To have a married and family life from 25 years to age of 50 years), Vaanprastha Aashrama (Between 50 years of age and 75 years of age live a family life without sex and with control. This is a transition period) and fianally the Sanyas Aashrama (Leve the attachement to world and meditate (yoga) to Braham.

Two ways two attain Moksha

1) Karma marg with love to GOD. In this one lives in four Aashramas as the time passes and all time meditates upon the GOD and gradually wins over all ones desire. Ones heart, and mind is in one's control. He/She does not leave the duties of the society.

2) Gyan (or Knowledge) marg with love to GOD. In this the person all the time meditated upon GOD with no role in society.

And finally the great truth

Hinduism belives that just as all rivers go to the sea in the same way all paths lead to the same absolute GOD.

And last but not the least

The Brahm (GOD) has para (which can be seen by eyes) and apara (which can not be seen by eyes) prakriti (characterstics). The world consists para prakiti and apara prakiti. Even though the Jeev (fraction of same GOD) is same as GOD but because of Maya (illusion) it does not appear so. The Maya causes the apparent duality between Brahm and Jeev (The core of living being).

"Yato Krishna stato tato Dhramah, Yato dharma stato tato Krishnah"

Recommended Reading

1) The Complete Idiot's Guide(R) to Hinduism by Linda Johnsen, Jody P. Schaeffer (Illustrator), David Frawley


Reviewer: James N. Frey (see more about me) from Berkeley, CA United States This is not a puff piece on Hinduism, even though it is written by a sincere and passionate believer. The silly title may lead you to believe it is superficial treatment of the subject, it is not. This is a thoughtful, well written, clear, insightful and provocative look at an extremely complex subject. Linda Johnsen covers Hinduism's history, practices, and beliefs in depth, showing us where Hinduism shines and where it has warts. It's a wonderful book.

Reviewer: A reader from Reno, NV This book is a must-read for those who are new to the study of Indian thought, as it clearly explains many tenets of Hindu spirituality in understandable terms, without going into unnecessary detail. It covers the main systems of Indian thought, with an eye towards basic understanding of the systems' primary emphases, from the Vedic revelation to Tantra (which, by most accounts, is far more recent in genesis than other extant systems. The generally accepted range for the advent of Tantra is India's medieval period.) All in all, a great introduction into the ancient, influential, and still flourishing panoply of philosophies and practices that fall under the auspices of Sanatana Dharma, or Eternal Wisdom.

Reviewer: A reader from CA USA I was impressed with the depth, breath and the easy reading format of this book. The book both introduces the basics of Hindu Philosophy and then goes into detail about various aspects of Hinduism. Its simply written so even someone with no familiarity with hinduism can learn. At the same time covers enough material and concepts in sufficient depth to be usefull to practicing Hindus who want to broaden their own understanding of hindu philosophy or keep as a reference.