FAQ’s – About Hinduism

What is Hinduism?
Hinduism is a combination of Religion, Culture, Philosophy, Way of LIfe, Heritage, Tradition, and Festivals.

Who started the Hinduism?
No one man can claim as the creator of Hinduism. It was developed over thousands of years by Saints, Intellectuals, even common men and women with extreme devotion.

What is the other name for Hinduism?
Hinduism is also known as “Sanatana Dharma”. Sanatana means Eternal, Dharma means Righteousness or Virtue.

What are the characteristics of a Religion?
Any organized religion has three main characteristics:
1) God
2) A Prophet
3) A holy book

However, Hinduism has only;
1) one Supreme God (Paramatma), but different names and forms
2) No prophet, but many philosophers
3) No one holy book, but many scriptures.

What are the Classifications of Religions?
a) Religions of Semitic (Jewish) Origin – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
b) Religions of Indian Origin – Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism
c) Religions of China and Japan Origin – Confucianism, Taoism, and Shinto
d) Other Religions – Bahai, Scientology, and Zoroastrianism
e) Non-Religions – Atheist, Agnostic, and Secular

What are the main differences between Hinduism and other religions?
a) Hinduism is God Centered, whereas other organized religions are Prophet Centered.
b) Hinduism teaches many paths to achieve Salvation (Moksha), whereas other religions teach only one path suggested by the Prophet.
c) Your relationship with God is personal, whereas other religions teach that your relation with God is only through Prophet.
d) Hinduism provides a greater freedom of Worship method, whereas other religions specify the method suggested by the Prophet.

What are the characteristics of Hinduism?
a) One God, but different names – The Truth (God) is one, but wise people call by different names.
b)One God, but different forms – Brahman (God), the formless, is assigned forms only for the convenience of the aspirants. Whatever form any devotee with faith, wishes to worship, God manifest in that form.
c) One God, but different paths – Just as rain water irrespective of the place where it falls, ultimately reaches ocean, the worship rendered to all deities of whatever description (name or form), ultimately reaches the Supreme Reality (God).

What are the greatness’s of Hinduism?
a) Freedom of Worship God – You can worship any form of the God, by any name of the God.
b) Freedom of Worship Place – You can worship at Temples, at Home, by the Bank of a river, or any place you like.
c) Freedom of Worship Time – You can worship any day of the week, any time of the day.
d) Freedom of Worship Path – You can select any spiritual path (Yoga) or Chant any Mantra you like.

What is the greatest quality of Hinduism?
Tolerance to other religions – Hinduism respects other religions as another path to reach God, who is called by a different name or having a different form. Hinduism does not claim that it is the only path to reach God.

What are the Basic Principles of Hinduism?
a) Satyam Vada – Speak Truth
b) Dharmam Chara – Live by Dharma
c) Maatru Devo Bhava – Regard Mother as God
d) Pitru Devo Bhava – Regard Father as God
e) Acharya Devo Bhava – Regard Guru as God
f) Athiti Devo Bhava – Regard Guest as God
g) Saadyayanma Pramadah – Do not Procrastinate
h) Shraddaya Deyama – Give with Faith

What are the Festivals of Hinduism?
a) Rama Navami – Birth day of Lord Rama (March/April)
b) Krishna Janmastami – Birth day of Lord Krishna (Aug/Sept)
c) Ganesha Chaturthi – Birth day of Lord Ganesha (Aug/Sept)
d) Navaratri (Nine Nights)/Dussehra (Ten Days) – Worship of Three Goddesses- Durga (Power), Lakshmi (Wealth), and Saraswati (Knowledge. (Sept/Oct)
e) Diwali (Festival of Lights, 5 Days) – Victory over Evil (Victory of Lord Krishna over Narakasura, Coronation of Lord Rama) (Oct/Nov)

What are the scriptures of Hinduism?
a) our Vedas (Knowledge) – Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, and Atharva Veda
b) Two Itihasas (History) – Ramayana and Maha Bharata
c) One Bhagavad Geeta (Songs of God) – Teachings of Duty (Karma) and Spiritual paths (Yogas)
d) One hundred and eight Upanishads, referred as Srutis (Word of God to be heard)
e) Eighteen Puranas (Mythology), referred as Smritis (What is remembered)

What are the Doctrines of Hinduism?
a) Theory of Karma (Law of Cause and Effect) – Every person is responsible for his/her actions, Each individual creates his/her destiny
b) Theory of Reincarnation – Soul (Atma) goes through a cycle of birth and death until final liberation (merge with Paramathma)

What are the Spiritual Paths (Yogas) of Hinduism?
Yoga means union with God.

a) Jnana Yoga (Path of Knowledge) – Intellectual, Meditation, Self Realization
b) Bhakti Yoga (Path of Devotion) – Devotional
c) Karma Yoga Path of righteous action)– Duty
d) Raja Yoga ( Path of Mental and Physical Discipline) – Meditation and Physical Discipline

What are the Stages of Life (Ashrama) defined in Hinduism?
a) Balya – Childhood Life
b) Brahmacharya – Student (Educational) life
c) Grahasta – Life of Household (Family Life)
d) Vanaprasta – Life of Contemplation
e) Sanyasa – Renunciation of worldly ties in pursuit of God

What are the Goals of Human Life (Purushartha) defined in Hinduism?
a) Dharma – Live by the Discipline
b) Artha – Attain economical independence
c) Kaama – Enjoy the life
d) Moksha – Attain Salvation

Does Hinduism believe in Idol Worship?
Idol worship is based on the premise that God exists in Every Place, in all Forms, in all Living/Non-living Objects, and at all Times. (Creation is Manifestation of Creator).

Three modes of Expression or Manifestation:

a) Murti – Three Dimensional Form which can be sculptured (Ganesha, Krishna, etc)
b) Yantra – Two Dimensional or Geometric Patterns that can be drawn (Swastika, Srichakra, etc)
c) Mantra – Sound or Thought Form that can be uttered in contemplation (Gayatri Mantra, Taraka Mantra, etc)

In most Hindu Pujas (Worships) in Temple or at Home, all three modes of expressions are used.

Does Hinduism believe in Caste (Varna) System?
Four classes of the society (Caste or Varna) – These classifications are based on the Gunas (Characteristics or Tendencies) and Karma (Action) of the individuals.

a) Brahmanas – Intellectual Class whose duty is to lead rest of the people on the right path on spiritual matters.
b) Kshatriyas – Martial Class whose duty is to protect Dharma and the person, honor and property of others.
c) Vaisyas – Trading Class who provide society with its necessities.
d) Sudras – Working Class who contribute the labor for the welfare of the society.

The Caste System of today has been the result of generations of people trying to preserve their knowledge and trade within a limited circle by limiting their alliances only with families or persons following the same pursuits. This is a social problem.

There is no country on earth where the four orders of human beings do not exist.

1. Teachers (at schools, colleges and universities) and spiritual leaders (priests, Imams, Rabbi, Pundit) (Brahmins).
2. Government, judiciary, law-enforcement agencies and the defense force.
Ministers, civil servants, military, soldiers, police (Kshatriyas)
3. Food producers & Wealth producers. Farmers, industrialists, merchants, business people, professionals (doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers, etc)
(Vaisyas).
4. Laborers (Sudras)

“The four orders of human beings” refers to the whole of mankind and is not confined to any one country, or any one race group. We usually associate ‘the four orders of human beings’ with India (where it is generally known as the caste system, often misunderstood, misused or abused).

Consider the following extracts from the Bhagavad Gita:

“The fourfold caste has been created by Me according to the differentiation of Guna and Karma;”

Gita Ch.18, verse.41:
“Of Brahmanas, Kshtriyas and Vaishyas, as also the Sudras, O Arjuna, the duties are distributed according to the qualities born of their own nature.”

What is the interpretation of God in Hinduism?
Brahman is the name given by Hinduism to the One Absolute or Supreme Reality or God that is All-Powerful, All-pervading, beyond Forms and Attributes (Nirgun). Three primary aspects of Brahman commonly worshipped by the Hindus with form and attributes (Sagun) in relation to the Universe are called

a) Brahma (Creator), his consort Saraswati (Goddess of Knowledge)
b) Vishnu (Preserver), his consort Lakshmi (Goddess of Prosperity)
c) Shiva (Destroyer), his concert Parvati (Goddess of Shakti, who also takes the forms of Durga and Kali)

What is the symbol OM means in Hinduism?
All that exists, has ever existed in the past, and will ever exist in the future, in the Universe is manifestation of and abode of God, and the syllable OM symbolically designates Existence in its entirety as well as God. God is All and All is God.

What are the denominations of Hinduism?
Vaishnavas (Vishnu-worshippers)
b) Shaivas (Shiva-worshippers)
c) Shaktas (Shakti-worshippers, Shkati is the vital Female force manifesting itself as Durga or Kali)

How Hinduism treats women?
The Hindu tradition has held a high regard for qualities of women, and are recognized as Goddesses of divine qualities and power. The divine forms include Lakshmi (the goddess of fortune and the consort of Lord Vishnu), Saraswati (the goddess of learning and consort of Lord Brahma), and Parvati (the goddess of strength and power and consort of Lord Shiva)

There is a Vedic saying,” Where women are worshiped, there the Gods dwell”, or where women are happy, there will be prosperity. In Vedic tradition, it is common to see the pairing of the Vedic male gods with female counterparts as you see in Radha-Krishna, Sita-Rama, Lakshmi-Narayana, Parvati-Shiva, etc. In the basic principles of Hinduism, the Mother is regarded as God saying “Maatru Devo Bhava”.

Due to this tradition, India’s history includes many women who have risen to great heights in spirituality, government, writing, education, science or even as warriors in the battlefield.

What is the basic tenet of Hinduism?
A philosophy of treating other religions with respect and tolerance and compassion of peaceful coexistence is a basic tenet of Hinduism.

What are the Samskaras (Sacraments) in Hinduism?
There are sixteen main Sacraments (Samskaras).
These range from conception to funeral ceremonies.

a) Garbhadhan (Sacrament of Impregnation)
b) Punsavanam (Second or third month of pregnancy)
c) Simantonnayana (Between the fifth and eighth month of pregnancy)
d) Jatakarma (At the time when the child is being born)
e) Namakarana (Naming the child)
f) Niskramana (Child is brought out of house.3rd and 4th month)
g) Annaprashana (The first feeding of cereal at six months)
h) Chudakarma (First time cutting of hair, 1st year or 3rd year)
i) Karnavedha (Piercing the ears in the third or fifth year)
j) Upanayana (Investiture of Sacred Thread) From 8th year
k) Samavartana (When studies are completed)
l) Vivaha Samskara (Marriage ceremony)
m) Grihasthashrama (Sacraments relating to house-holders.)
n) Vanprasthashrama (Renouncing the house-holder’s life)
o) Sanyasashrama. (Leading the life of a monk)
p) Antyeshti (Funeral: last rites of the dead)