1.1.1 : THE TEN FACETS OF HINDUISM -- Page 1
Proper understanding of the essential positives of religion, even though at an academic level, is necessary for the maintenance of an attitude of an unbroken tolerance, which is the most essential need of the hour in the modern world, amidst all the strife, hatred and suspicion that haunt us. We shall here highlight the most essential features of Sanatana Dharma, popularly called Hinduism. We shall condense them into ten directive principles that encompass the entire mainstream of its content, without touching upon the microdetails of scriptural authority and elucidation of philosophical concepts.
1. That the ultimate expression of religion can only be through service to mankind will not be contested by any one.. Great servants of humanity of the previous century like, for instance, Mahatma Gandhi or Mother Theresa drew their inspiration for this missionary zeal service only through their deep-rooted religious convictions. In spite of the fact that there is a multiplicity of scriptures in Hinduismwhich vary from the very sophisticated to the very elementary ones, one towering concept that emerges from every one of them is Divinity is everywhere. It is an ever-present entity. Whatever one sees, hears, smells, tastes or touches is nothing but a spark of the Divinity, though camouflaged by our ignorance. That one Divinity is the common substratum for everything that exists. To realise this omnipresent Divinity by an intuitive internal illumination is the major purpose of life's journey .
2. That everything is divine implies that each being, and in particular, each human being, is divine. But when the being dies, what dies is only the body and the external manifestations. The Jiva (=loosely translated as the 'soul') does not die. It carries along with it the traces of the imprints of all actions, thoughts and expressions which occupied the mind in its association with that body. These traces and imprints are called VAsanAs and these determine one's natural tendencies, good or bad, (collectively called svabhAva ) at the next birth. In each life man has to conquer the undesirable VAsanAs and perfect the desirable ones by the power of his own freewill. Stand aloof from the mind, say the scriptures, fight the undesirable nature in you and purify it. Purification of the mind is the purpose of all religious discipline.
3. To be concordant with the above purpose of life's journey is what is known as Dharma. Any action of man which reverberates with this concordance is called PuNya or religious merit. Being of use to the rest of the Universe is the most exalting form of PuNya. Any action or thought, on the other hand, which goes against this concordance, and hence implies a discordance with man's evolutionary path to the Realisation of his innate divinity, is termed sinful. Extreme cases of either action take one to Heaven or Hell, as the case may be, for a specified period of time, after death. But the vast majority of mankind belong to neither of these extremes and so are born again on this Earth to pursue the progress of their own evolution. Even the ones who had to go to Heaven or Hell have to come back to be born in this
Earth after their assigned period of experience in the other side of the world is over. This is the principle of transmigration of soul from body to body, death after death. This is a deeply embedded conviction in the Hindu cultural milieu and forms the structural basis of Hindu religious ethos. The dharma of the Divinity inherent in each one of us is to strive to go back to the Supreme, from where it emanated. Every action of ours must be concordant with this natural order of things. The question about what is right and what is wrong has to be resolved only by testing it on this touchstone of the soul's 'svadharma'!
Every thing in the entire Sanatana Dharma , its theories, practices, rituals and philosophies is erected on the foundation of the above three principles:
1. Omnipresence and omniscience of Divinity;
2. Cultivated tendencies from birth to birth; and
3. The svadharma of the soul of Man to evolve towards Perfection.
These three are the foundational faith of Hinduism. The remaining seven are, in a sense, consequences of these three and this part of the logic is the business and prerogative of the different schools of philosophy of Hinduism.
For the remaining seven principles or directives, go to 1.1.2: The Ten Facets -- page 2