What is Hinduism?
Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma is diverse; no single doctrine (or set of beliefs) can represent its numerous traditions. However, the various schools share several basic concepts, which help us to understand how most followers of Hindu philosophy see and respond to the world.
Awareness course on Hinduism is an initiative by Vedicology Center for encouraging the practice of Sanatana Dharma. Vedicology team members Mr Praveen Saanker and Mr Eswaran Namboothiri facilitate a study on understanding the core philosophy and key concepts of Hinduism.
The concepts of Hinduism we discuss here are primarily based on Vedantic doctrines, and accepted by most diverse modern traditions (but not all!). Hindu studies or research on Hinduism begins simply by differentiating between matter and spirit. Spirit is understood within two main categories, namely the individual self, or soul (the atman) the Supreme Self, or God (the Brahman).
Vedicology division for Hindu studies and Research on Hinduism have divided the core of Hindu or Sanatana Dharma philosophy into 12 concepts, and these interwoven concepts form the basis for theological discussions in this program.
Key Concepts in Understanding Hinduism Program and the different questions that are addressed through these concepts
Concept 1. The Atman (the Soul)
Questions – Who am I? Who are we? What is our real self? What is Atman?
Concept 2. Reincarnation and Samsara
Questions – What is reincarnation? What happens before birth? What happens after death?
Concept 3. The Law of Karma
Questions – What is Karma? Why is there suffering? Is Karma real?
Concept 4. Prakriti (Matter) and Guna
Questions – How does the world work?, What is the difference between Purusha and Prakriti?
Concept 5. Maya (Illusion)
Questions – What is Maya ?, Why do we get into difficulty in this world? What is the meaning of Maya?
Concept 6. Moksha (Liberation)
Questions – What is the purpose of life? What is Moksha? How to attain Moksha?
Concept 7. God (Brahman/Ishvara)
Questions – What is the concept of God in Hinduism? Is there a God? If so, what is He/She like?
Is Hinduism monotheistic? Is Hinduism monotheistic or polytheistic
is Hinduism polytheistic? Who is God in Hinduism?
Concept 8. Dharma (Religious Duties)
Questions – What is Dharma? Which is the right way to act? How to follow Dharma? What does Dharma mean?
Concept 9. One Goal, Different Paths
Questions – How can we explain Hindu Diversity? Why does Hinduism have so many gods? What are the different paths to liberation?
Concept 10. Scripture and Guru (Authority)
Questions – What are the Hindu Scriptures? How are the teachings preserved?
Concept 11. Time
Question – When did it all start and when will it finish?
Concept 12. Creation
Question – How and why was this world made?
Two Different Schools of Vedanta
Vedanta originates from Upanishads and within Vedanta, there are various doctrines. The nature of the Supreme and the definition of the relationship between God and Soul is the main contention.
The Advaita Vedanta (monist) schools entirely equate the soul with God.
The Dvaita Vedanta (monotheistic) schools tend to emphasise the distinction.
Different theologies synthesise these two elements. However, Mr.Praveen Saanker presents the opinions of both these schools in a manner that is easy to understand.
An Overview of Hindu Theology by Vedicology
Vedicology team facilitate the study of this course on Hinduism by introducing an overview of Hindu Theology. Almost all Hindus think that the actual self (atman) differs from the temporary body made from matter (prakriti).
The eternal spirit identifies with matter and can be entrapped by Maya (illusion). Impelled by lust, greed, anger, etc. ), he experiences samsara (the cycle of repeated births and deaths).
Each soul creates its unique destiny according to regulations of Karma (the universal law of action and response ). Under the sway of eternal time and the three Gunas (material attributes ) he moves through the creation, sometimes going to higher planets, occasionally moving in human culture, and at other times entering the lower species.
The goal of most Hindus is moksha, liberation from the Perpetual cycle, through re-identification together with the eternal brahman (Supreme). Hinduism accepts different avenues towards this common goal (union with God). Nevertheless, It suggests strict adherence to principles through the custom of one’s dharma (ordained duty) as guided through sacred books and generally received through the guru (spiritual mentor).
Courses on Hindu philosophies are offered in plenty by organisations across the world but this training program on Hinduism is unique. We respectfully analyse the views of various schools and present all the views to the participant in a simple to understand manner and let the participant decide on his/her path forward.