***contents under pressure***
*written by a very brain-dead human who duly apologizes for the late post*
Well, hello there. Let’s get started, huh?
I wanted you guys to comment below any questions you have about Hinduism. From meditation and yoga to rituals and beliefs to food and holidays- I’m answering everything you wanted to know! First, I’d like to start off with an overview:
Hinduism is a lifestyle. It started as Sanathana Dharma, a way to live, and a way to carry yourself through the day with something to believe in and keep you on a morally clear path throughout your life. When the British took over (omg Ellll 😂) they named Sanathana Dharma ‘Hinduism’, since India is also called Hindustan. That’s where the name came from.
Hindusim believes in one God, an energy that keeps us grounded and lives in each and every one of us. We also call it the Universe, or paramatma. That’s what we mean when we say that God is in all of us. You may have thought that we worship hundreds of gods- and that’s partly true. Most of these gods (Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, Devi, Karthikeya, Ganesha, etc.) are other just ways to worship God and be able to relate to God more, in a personal way, through the stories and mythology. For example, Ganesha is the god of removing obstacles and Hindus pray to Him when we want success and luck.
We understand that God is an omnipresent energy that lives in us and everywhere around us, and the best way to live our lives is to follow the path of dharma (truth), do our duty, give back to the Universe, and live with a balanced karma. When we die and leave the body (our vessel through this life only), our soul/spirit/athma chooses another body for reincarnation. Our next life is based upon the type of life we lead now.
Other gods, like Krishna and Rama, were real people who lived on Earth with the rest of us. They are incarations of God, blessing us in our direst times. They are both incarnations of Vishnu, god of transformation and preservation.
I know lots of you don’t know anything about Hinduism at all, so I hope this overview helps you understand what’s going on in this post! (btw we’re at 700 words already just with the questions and this omg)
What are some Hindu holidays?
Yay, starting on a happy note! We celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights, also the day that Krishna slayed a demon, Narakasura, and liberated the whole town there. THERE’S FIREWORKS YAYAYAY!
There’s also Navarathri, a festival that lasts nine days and is directed towards Devi (female version that we worship of God) so many goddesses like Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Parvati, etc. There’s many more as well! It should be noted that celebrations are different in different parts of India.
Are there differences regarding the way Hindus celebrate in India vs America?
Yes, there are! For starters, my family doesn’t necessarily go to the temples for all the holidays (tomorrow is Ganesh Chathurthi and we won’t be going to the temple) but we celebrate at home. Also, the sweets that my mom makes is def not the same as the ones in India 😂 kinda irrelevant? oh wellll
Is there a rite of passage, like baptism?
Not really, but when I was one year old when my brother was one, we went to India for our ayishomam, also when I got my ears pierced. That’s not a rite of passage, though.
What is the Hindu story for why our religion is “right”?
I don’t think there’s any story like that. Unlike the religions of the book, Hinduism is very lenient and doesn’t have strict rules for everything. Hinduism is accepting towards other religions, and I believe that there is no right or wrong way to live as long as you are kind to everyone and don’t harm anyone. Hinduism is just the way I believe will help me lead the best type of life possible.
Why do Hindus believe in God?
Like many other religious people, I believe in God firstly so I can have a sort of guiding presence in my life, and also because all the miracles and magical occurrences in our world have no other explanation, but I can’t speak for other Hindus. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s a very lenient religion that gives a lot of freedom.
What made the first Hindu create/start the religion?
See, there’s no ‘first Hindu’. Sanathana Dharma is freaking ancient. Tens of thousands of years ago, before any of the religions that are commonly worshiped today existed, Sanathana Dharma was one of the first lifestyles led on this planet. How do you think this religion survived all these thousands of years? And like I said, it was a lifestyle, not originally a religion.
What does Hinduism mean to you?
Well, I was raised as a Hindu, and I believe in God as well as science. The way I got in touch with divinity is definitely through music. Devotional bhajans as well as classical music composed hundreds of years ago. Hinduism is just a label that is my lifestyle, and the lifestyles of millions of others.
What have you been raised to see it as, and according to you, what is it to be Hindu?
To be a Hindu is to be a follower of dharma and a true Hindu cares about everyone and everything around them, is compassionate, and hardworking.
Any books that have good Hindu representation?
See, this is why we are frickin corrupted. I can’t think of one. freaking. book. I’ve. read. that has good Hindu representation 😞. However, A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman, although I haven’t read it, is about a Bharatanatyam dancer (that’s a form of classical dance that I also do).
What is the role of the caste system in Hinduism today?
The caste system isn’t as prominent today at all, but it definitely has affected many lives. For one, Brahmins used to be “on the top” of the social hierarchy (Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, Shudras, Untouchables), but now, the same can’t be said. A hundred or so years ago, they used to be the only ones getting into good colleges, since Brahmins are descendants of scholars and pundits, but that’s not true anymore. In fact, Brahmins have been given limited spots in colleges… and I don’t think that’s a good thing. Of course, what happened before was grossly unfair, but you shouldn’t punish the future generations for their parents’ mistakes. My parents’ had to deal with that even though their parents had nothing to do with it. Sigh.
Sadly, some of the ‘untouchables’ are still discriminated against in some parts of India which is freaking unfair and horrible, but there are always bad eggs, you know? It sucks, but you can’t loop together a whole religion because of the acts of some.
Do Hindus have a certain day to worship, similar to how Christians worship on Sunday?
Nope! There’s nothing like that- do whatever you want!
Thoughts on God?
God is an omnipresent energy that is everywhere. God is in us and everyone we talk to, God is not a person or a creature, but an energy that powers us and can also be given a name: soul, or spirit, or athma.
What do Hindus do on a day to day basis that others don’t?
Well, I don’t do anything super out of the ordinary or anything, but a lot of my life is devoted towards music, like Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam dance. Most people aren’t that involved in their culture, though.
Do you find a lot of differences between yourself and others?
Um, no. I love books, music, writing, and food, and so do a lot of others!
Do you have a ‘book’?
Well, we have the Bhagavat Gita, a conversation spoken between Krishna and Arjuna, a mortal who was an archer. It’s about duty and our role in our life and it’s honestly beautiful. Also, it’s poetic, so that’s a plus! There’s the Vedas and Puranas, the scriptures that hold the most nuggets of knowledge and are largely spiritual. There’s also the Upanishads.
But no, there’s no set book, and it’s def not like a Bible or Quran or anything.
Are there major differences between the beliefs of different generations of Hinduism?
Oh, yeahhhh 😉 Of course, older Hindus are more traditional, and I’m like that kid who strays of the path and all. It’s not like being queer is a big no-no and it doesn’t say that anywhere, but of course it’s not the most common thing ever, so elders are def a bit skeptical. I’m a huge ally and also gay love stories are the best thing on earth after food, so… 😂
Are there many Hindus who aren’t Indian?
Not really- I guess there are some in Nepal and Sri Lanka and all, but not many.
Are there different sects of Hinduism the same way there are denominations in Christianity? (Protestant, Catholic, etc.)
Yup! There are, all over India!
What are some of the stereotypes about Hinduism, and are there any stereotypes that Hindus have about each other?
What are just the day-to-day things you have to do in Hinduism, like prayers or something like that? Are those things absolutely required, or is it more just ‘you should probably try to get around to this if you can’?
Well, if there are… I don’t do them 😂 because there aren’t really any major things. For guys, after they get their poonal or sacred thread when they’re around 11 or so they are supposed to say some shlokas (prayers) everyday, but… doesn’t really happen for everyone lol.
So my question is if you had to explain Hinduism to a 5 year old (moi) what 5 key things would you say? (1 for every year 😂)
Ok, sis. Let’s do thisss:
- Hinduism is a lifestyle and it’s a choice. We believe in an energy that is also God and also the Universe (does your 5yr old self get it??) and um that’s it.
- No, we don’t believe in a gazillion gods, we worship God in the forms of other deities.
- Hinduism preaches non-violence and surrender to the Universe whilst giving your 100% in everything.
- Karma is NOT the same as fate (mah god, today’s westerners). Karma is the concept that whatever actions you perform, there is always a consequence, good or bad, or neither. You have a huge role in karma, whereas fate suggests that you have no hand at all in your life. Karma holds you accountable and travels through your lifetimes, and the ultimate goal is to have a balanced karma that will grant you liberation from the cycle of reincarnation.
- Hinduism acknowledges that truth and knowledge isn’t only limited to this religion; nuggets can be found wherever you look, in whatever religion you choose.
What is the difference between Hinduism and Buddhism? I’m so sorry I think both of them have meditation?
Girllll 😂 but I can’t blame you; schools teach barely anything about Hinduism sadly. Hinduism and Buddhism are both pretty similar in that they believe in karma, moksha, dharma, and some other key points, but Buddhism has different ways of implementing these beliefs. Also, Buddhists don’t necessarily believe in the gods Hindus worship, but instead worship the Almighty as… the Almighty. 😂
I mean, I have kurtis (article of clothing) with Buddhas on ’em, so as you can see we don’t really place super strict limits- the lines can blur.
When you sage your face around a fire for protection, are you worshiping the fire? Is God the one who gives protection or does the fire act as an intercessor?
Well, out of the four elements (bear with me, ‘kay? I know there aren’t four elements but your science-y brain needs to calm for a moment) (earth, air, water, fire) fire is the only one that can’t be polluted. Also, fire sustains us and gives us our life (the Sun). So yeah, we are basically worshiping the fire (demi)god, Agni. I don’t think it’s specifically about protection?? Fire is worshiped for loads of things, you know? Here’s a great post that is super useful.
Who created the universe and humans?
Humans evolved from amoeba. It’s the theory of Evolution, and it is also recognized in Hinduism thousands of years before Darwin, okay? The Dashavataram, or the ten avatars of Vishnu, start of from matsya (fish) and go to an amphibian/reptile, mammal, dwarf-like human, and then to a kingly man, one who acknowledges material pleasures, and Buddha is sometimes considered an avatar, so one who attains the highest level of spirituality.
See, Indians are cool stuff. We figured so many freaking things out that we aren’t given any freaking credit for- but that’s also a topic for another day.
What is Hinduism’s take on homosexuality?
Ok, Hinduism is so accepting that in the Mahabharata (the longestttt hugestttt epic-esttt poem ever) there was a transgender person named Sikhandin. Also, in one of the Sutras, it mentions ‘a third gender’ and while that may not be the same thing, the third gender isn’t frowned upon or anything. In another Sutra, homosexuality is casually mentioned and it’s fine. So yeahhh, pretty accepting.
But. When the British took over (elllll), they also imported some strong anti-gay viewpoints that have taken hold, and like I mentioned: some people will always fear what they have never encountered.
Of course, there is still horrible discrimination going on everywhere, including India, and my heart goes out to all that face it.
Did Hinduism have any messengers? I think Buddhism believed in Noah at some point but I have no idea how Hinduism was delivered. Did God communicate with humans directly through scriptures like the Quran? Who taught the scriptures?
Hinduism is the only religion on this planet atm that doesn’t have a known messenger or such. We don’t have a set Book, like I mentioned, but rishis (sages) were revealed the truths that are now in the Vedas and all.
Do Hindus wear a specific clothing article?
Um, not really. In India there are kurtas, saris, and lots of other pieces of clothing, but they’re cultural, not religious. However, there are dhotis or veshtis that men wear that is, I believe, a Hindu practice.
What are Hinduism’s take on women’s right?
As always, there are debates on women’s rights in all religions, but Hinduism is pretty lenient. Sadly, some families would prefer a boy child rather than a girl, but that’s how it is today, and it’s thankfully changing. Women are allowed all rights men have (except for some reason my mom doesn’t want me to wear shorts to music class- but that doesn’t even matter lol I won’t anyway) and there are even female goddesses! No other religion worships a female entity.
In traditional texts, abortion is heavily frowned upon because Hinduism preaches non-violence and an unborn fetus still has a soul and a body, but in reality, abortion is common in India for several reasons. I don’t really want to get into my personal beliefs, but I’m somewhere in the middle of pro-life and pro-choice, taking into account consent and the health of the mother.
Yeah, Hindus are allowed to get a divorce, although it’s not super common. I’m pretty sure there are some regulations, but they aren’t enforced and there isn’t any way to enforce them.
You might think that all Hindus are vegetarian- in reality, only 30% are. I am, actually, and I strongly believe that it’s the most ethical option. Also, did you know that if America reduces its meat consumption by 10%, 100000 people could be fed?? The land is takes to grow animals for slaughter is not only disgusting, but wasteful.
Yes, another strong opinion from your girl.
Sex before marriage?
Because I’m a teen (ahem, figure out the rest please I’d rather not say it) and I’m young (ok ok did you get it) I don’t know very much about it. I know that fundamentalists will say no to it and it may be frowned upon… but today it’s so hard to enforce anything.
What is prohibited in Hinduism?
I mean, you aren’t supposed to eat beef (cows) but some people still do.
Where do Hindus worship?
We worship at home and in temples.
Do Gods have birthdays? Is there a God who is eternal and has no beginning?
God is eternal, but we worship different mortal aspects of God that do have birthdays and all. Today’s Ganesh Chaturthi, Lord Ganesha’s birthday!
Do you also believe in God (this person was talking about Jesus Christ)?
I believe that Jesus Christ was a saintly man that touched several lives and spoke the truth.
Why do Hindus adore cows?
Hindus respect cows because they give us food, milk, butter, cheese, and so much, without asking for anything in return!
Does learning/reading Ramayana or Mahabharata hold importance to you?
I love learning about mythology, so I prioritize my culture’s stories and mythology as well. It’s just so much fun 😂
What are your opinions about Jainism being subsumed under Hinduism?
I don’t want to undermine anyone’s beliefs by saying that they’re part of my religion, but I think that these two religions as well as Buddhism and Sikhism are very smilar, although they have key differences. They are all rooted in Sanathana Dharma.
What is the importance of river Ganges and the mythical Saraswati?
They are both holy rivers, and the Saraswati river dried out a while ago- it isn’t mythical. The Ganga (the sanskrit way of saying it) is said to be a purifying source.
Do you also have a Tulsi plant at home which so many Hindus have? Why do they have it?
It’s mainly because it’s a common cooking ingredient 😂, but yes, we do.
What was Sati?
Sati was a practice where a widow threw herself on a funeral pyre with her husband. It’s not practiced anymore, so I don’t know too much about it.
I once heard that you believe in 7 lives(actually during wedding scenes in Bollywood movies where they are bonded for 7 lives😂). Do you believe in it? What happens after the 7 lives?
Um… no??? 😂 There are tens of thousands of lives that we go through, trying to attain moksha or pass away in the holiest way (samadhi).
Oh my GOSH guys, we’re done!!!! Thank you so much if you read this whole thing, and comment below if you have any questions!