11 Core Beliefs of Hindus | What Defines a Hindu?
What defines a Hindu? One who is born in Bharat (India) is a geographical definition of a Hindu. One who is born to Hindu parents is a familial statement. And one who is born into the fourfold caste system is a genetic inheritance description. Here are the 11 core beliefs of Hindus.
All these are partial definitions, because a Hindu born abroad is also a Hindu, so is a foreigner who accepts Sanatana Dharma or Hinduism and also one born outside the fourfold caste system. The traditional defining principles of most Hindus are the belief and faith in one Supreme Divine Reality or Paramatma and the acceptance of the authority and infallibility of the Vedas.
Singularity in Pluralism
While Hinduism is famously diverse, it also has common threads, or core beliefs, that are generally accepted by many of its practitioners. Exploring such prominent beliefs can help us get a clearer picture of the basic elements of Hinduism.
Now lets go on the descriptions of these core beliefs of Hindus.
1. One Supreme Divine Reality:
#Hinduism has often been misinterpreted as a religion of innumerable Gods. Many Hindus believe in one Supreme Paramatma or Bhagwan (God) who manifests in many forms. The Rig Veda clearly states "एकमसतविप्राबहुधावदन्ति" "Truth is one, but the wise describe it in many ways." Bhagwan is "सत-चित्त-आनंद" (Eternal, Consciousness and bliss). He is supreme, all powerful, the all-doer and the all-pervading. Bhagwan is the giver of the fruits of karmas to all souls(कर्म फल प्रदाता). "Truth belief in one supreme God is called "#Ekeshwaravad".
2. The Authority of the Vedas:
The Vedas are the ancient Shastras revealed by Paramatma or Bhagwan to the enlightened rishis of India. They include the four Vedas (Samhitas) and their respective appendices, namely, Brahmana, Aranyaka and Upanishad texts.
The scholar Bryan K. Smith in Reflections on Remembrance, Rituals, and Religions (1989), writes,
"Hindus are those who use the Veda as a reference point for creation, maintenance and transformation of their traditions."
For many Hindus the Veda is a divine revelation, and as such, its principles have not originated at a particular time in history but are eternal and of divine origin.
3. Incarnations : - Avataravada
The principle that Bhagwan or God himself takes birth on earth in human and other forms. Avatar means "Descent of God", i.e., he manifests on earth. He comes to liberate his devotees, establish dharma and destroy evil.
4. Eternal Soul : - Atman
It is unborn, eternal and indestructible inner self that is the essence of life in all animate things. The atman is sat (eternal), chitta (consciousness) and ananda (bliss). The nearest English word for atman is soul or self. The Supreme Bhagwan is believed to reside in all atmans as antaryāmin, inner-controller and guide. 5. Actions : - Karma
The universal law of cause and effect according to which a person is responsible for his or her actions and their effects. God gives the appropriate fruits of a person's good or bad actions. The whole world is now accepting this but in Hinduism it is one of the core beliefs of Hindus.
6. Rebirth : - Punarjanma
The principle of reincarnation or rebirth (punarjanma) in which the atman (soul) passes through many births to attain spiritual enlightenment or moksha. Punarjanma is linked to the karma principle.
7. Idol Worship : - Murti-puja:
A belief that God manifests in a murti (image) through which he can be worshipped and adored through acts of devotion. This tradition believes that God has a form, and the worship of God's murti is essential for spiritual elevation of the self.
8. Guru-shishya Parampara:
The tradition is very significant for the majority of Hindus. Through the God realized living guru the disciple realizes the highest spiritual wisdom and attains moksh. A sampradaya is defined as guru-shishya tradition "Sampradāyaha Guru Kramaha." This means, "Succession of gurus is called a Sampradaya."
9. Four Efforts : - Purusharthas:
Hindu sacred texts state that there are four purushartha or endeavours or goals of life, namely, dharma (staying faithful to one's moral duties), Artha (acquiring wealth), Kaama (fulfilling one's desires) and Moksha (acquiring final liberation). The ultimate goal of life is Moksha - freedom from the cycle of births and deaths through self-realization and God realization. Out of the four Purusharthas, Artha and Kaama are relevant for householder devotees and dharma and Moksha are relevant for both householders and ascetics.
10. Non Violence ; - Ahinsa:
Hindus believe that God pervades all living and non-living things. This means that God pervades humans, animals, plants, mountains and the whole of creation. Hence, the Hindus love and respect all life forms and generally practice #Ahinsa or #nonviolence.
11. VARNASHRAMA DHARMA: Varna System
This is also one of the most misinterpreted beliefs of Hindus. It was not like what it becomes now. Hindu society had an organized social structure for the harmonious progress and development of individuals and society. It was called the Varnashrama system, which classified people into four Classes (Varnas) and Stages (Ashramas).
The four Varnas in Hinduism
Varna included the #Brahmins, #Kshatriyas, #Vaishyas and #Shudras; and Ashrama meant the four stages of life, namely, Brahmacharya (student wedded to celibacy). Grihastha (householder), Vanaprastha (retired life) and Sannyas (ascetic life). The system, not practiced now, was originally based upon the personal qualities (gunas) and aptitudes for types of work (karmas) of individuals. It was not birth-based, i.e, caste system, as it later deviated to become. The observance of varnashrama dharma credited the individual with "Punya" and thus the attainment of “Swarga”. So, we have mentioned it in a summarized way although a whole article or mini book can be written on these all beliefs of Hindus individually. In future we will be come with elaborated article on each beliefs. Soon we will write an article on "VARNASHRAMA DHARMA".
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