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BASICS of HINDUISM (Sanatana Dharma)

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1) How was Hinduism Founded?
Hinduism is the name used for "Sanatana Dharma" meaning eternal(Sanatana principles & actions that hold all things and beings together (Dharma).It is founded on the experiences and works of innumerable Rishis (Seers) in spirtual & intellectual fields. It is not founded either by one person or a group of people.

2) What are the Holy scriptures of Hinduism?
The core of Hinduism is Vedas which is infinitely large body of mantras heard by rishis in their deep meditative states. There is also an infinitely large literature based on Vedas that deal with medicine,science,arts,economics,linguistics,philosophy etc,etc. The Ramayana & Mahabharatha (includes Bhagavad Gita) are well known Epics that illustrate the vedic principles.Thus the infinitely large collection of sacred scriptures in Hinduism deals with all aspects of life.

3. What is the purpose of Human life according to Hinduism?
The natural instinct of humans is to seek Happiness both Materialistic & Spritual.Anyone that lives righteous (Dharma) life in this world with rightfully earned wealth(Artha) and enjoys rightful desires(Kama) will eventually reach one's ultimate destination of spiritual freedom & everlasting Bliss (Moksha)

4) Why do Hindus Worship Idols?
The word idols should be replaced with Deities.Deities represent yogic vision of Rishis of the divine energies in many forms.In order to help easier focusing of mind a material medium is used to represent Deities.Deity Worship(Pooja) helps subjective connection with GOD through mind & five senses.

5) How many Gods are in Hinduism?
The infinitely large literature of Hinduism declares that there is One God(Bramhan) that exists without form and also manifests in various forms.The various manifestations of One Reality (Bramhan) or Supreme Being are due to the diverse types & level of Seekers.

6)What is Yoga?
Yoga is the Hindu way for anyone to reach the Bramhan that provides everlasting spritual freedom & Bliss.The 8 steps of Yoga includes the first two steps to achieve Human qualities such as Non-Violence,truthfulness etc. The next 2 steps deal with holding firm postures & Vital force(Breath) regulation. The next two steps deal with the control of senses & focusing of mind on Bramhan. The last 2 steps deals with uninterrupted dwelling of Mind (Meditation) & spiritual
absorption into the Bramhan experiencing Spiritual Bliss & freedom. In addition to the above 8 step process, the methods of Devotion,Knowledge,Selfless Action need to be followed for the spiritual, intellectual & Physical Development.

7) What is KARMA?
Karma is the Law of causality that governs all thoughts,speech & actions. It provides rewards & punishments accordingly.It governs the rebirth & transmigration process of an individual soul till its merger with BRAMHAN.

-----Reproduced from an article by By Dr.M.G.Prasad
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"sanaatana" means only everlasting. It has no connotation like "hold all things and beings together", if that is the intention. the antonym of Sanaatana is nootana (new).
This is the second segment of the multi segmented series of articles on Sanatana Dharma. This article is a continuation of the basic concepts introduced in the previous discussion and will expand on some of the salient doctrines of this Dharma.
Sanatana Dharma(which can be roughly translated to mean the eternal rules or principles) also known as Vaidika Dharmaa (which literally means the laws of the Vedas) or even Arya Dharma (the noble principles), and Manava Dharmaa (the principles of mankind) is the accurate name for the term Hinduism.
Dharma which stems from the Sanskrit root word "Dhri" can literally be translated to ethical values or beliefs that tenaciously grips things together in a coherent manner. In that sense, the term can be extended to depict the process of sustaining or gripping or binding to the power of the higher doctrines. The word Dharma can thus be loosely described as a group of principles and moral laws that righteously governs and sustains life. Sanatana can be directly translated to mean everlasting. Therefore the two terms when combined together means the perennial way of life- in other words it is a philosophy with no beginning, middle, or an end.
Sanatana Dharma is the oldest faith known to mankind. Western scholarships have traced the origination of this Dharma to sometime around 8000 B.C ("The Words "Hindu" and "Hinduism"" Yoga Meditation. Web. 17 Aug. 2010. The words "Hindu" and "Hinduism") which is yet to be substantiated. In reality it is dateless as it is impossible to date the origination of this Dharma. The date has been obtained by carbon dating the Vedas. The doctrines documented in the Vedas form the basic building blocks of Indian Philosophy from which the beliefs of Sanatana Dharma have matured. Various other dates have also been ascribed to the Vedas, however the accuracy of these predictions are still debatable and cannot be completely verified and to complicate matters further, traditionally the Vedas were not documented in a written form but were directly communicated from the Guru to the Shishya (disciple) in the form of 'shruthi' or sound. It was much later that the sages began to document the tenets of this dharma in a written format so carbon dating the Vedas cannot and will not provide any important clues. Adherents of this dharma thus hold the view that this spiritual tradition is an eternal and an ever-present way of life which lead Aldous Huxley, the British writer, to label this dharma as the "Perennial Philosophy".
The word 'Hindu' itself is a post 518 B.C construct derived from Farsi (Persian) and was the designation conferred upon a group of people who initially migrated from central Asia to the region around the banks of the trans-Himalayan river 'Sindhu' from where the term Hindu was later coined. River Sindhu which is now hailed as the river Indus is currently located in Pakistan. This river has 20 major tributaries. Originating in the Tibetan plateau near Lake Mansarovar (which is considered as the holiest of the lakes by the Hindus), the river originates at the confluence of the Sengge and Gar rivers and runs a course through Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, Northern areas of India to merge into the Arabian Sea near the port city Karachi (Pakistan). Along with the rivers Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, Jhelum, Beas, and the extinct Saraswati, the Indus forms the Sapta Sindhu (a Sanskrit term that literally means the Seven Rivers") delta in the Sindh (Pakistan). River Indus is one of the few rivers in this world that exhibit a tidal bore and is one of the world's longest river traversing a total length of 1,800 miles.
The usage of the term Hindu in lieu of the word Sindhu was first recorded in an inscription found at Persepolis (capital of Iran or Persia) after Darius I of the Achaemenid Empire entered the eastern frontier of India. In Sanskrit the term Sindhu means 'a large body of water'. 'Sindhu' was transmuted to 'Hindu' by the Persians. The 'S' in Sanskrit becomes 'H' in Farsi as the syllable 'S' does not exist in this language. The word 'Hindu' was later adopted into Greek vocabulary as Indos/ Indikos (the letter 'H' was dropped by the Greeks from the original word) from which the name India was derived by the British.
Today a person who adheres to the tenets of Sanatana Dharma is called a Hindu, the faith being termed as Hinduism. 'Hinduism' therefore does not indicate any particular religion, but it denotes a nation, namely the people who are now called Indians. There is no term equivalent to the word 'religion' in Sanskrit which is the language of the Vedas. Please note that Hinduism is not the only belief system in the country today. So the term Indians is designated to the people who live in India.
In a nutshell, the term 'Dharma' generally connotes ‘the right way of living' or 'proper conduct,' especially in a devotional sense. In essence, it typically denotes the rules and regulations to be followed in order to reach higher standards of living. As stated earlier, “Sanatana” literally means eternal. Combined together the term therefore means the eternal/ everlasting rules or principles. In general it denotes the rules and regulations to be followed in order to lead a harmonious life, living in balance with nature and natural laws. With respect to spirituality, dharma might be considered as the path that leads towards higher truths. So a “Dharmic way of living” refers to the right way of living, a path that ultimate leads one to salvation. It accentuates the need to be self contented, courageous, and optimistic as opposed to being a coward or pessimision
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