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Free Essay on Hinduism

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Hinduism is a religion that began in India thousands of years ago. It is the oldest, most complex and mysterious, yet it is also unusual compared to the world’s major religions in the major western belief system. Hinduism is a spiritual and universal teaching that many people regard as an ethnic religion. This misapprehension is the cause of its deceptive name, Hindu. The term Hindu derived from the Sanskrit name for the Indus River, Sindhu. It simply meant that those who lived on one part of the Indus River. The Persians and all the people who lived on the other side of the Indus River couldn’t pronounce the “S” in Sindhu. Thus, it was changed to Hindu. (Vivekananda, 5-6) Hinduism was developed in the Himalayas Mountains. The Himalayas brings forth many great teachings not only to the land and people that surround it, but to other parts of the world as well. It can be said that the Himalayas Mountains are the head center of Earth. Because of its knowledge and teachings, it became knows as the Himalayan Tradition. The Himalayan tradition has been understood as a whole because of its depth, richness and diversity. (Frawley, 16-17)

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Dharma means “Eternal Truth”. It can also be translated as “Perennial Wisdom”. The expression dharma is also relative to Buddhism. The correct identity of Buddhism is “Buddha Dharma” which means, “Truth of Enlightment”. Many Hindus resent the name Hinduism because Hindu Dharma is not and “ism”, or ideology, rather it’s a way of life. (18)
Dr. David Frawley, who changed his name to Vamdeva Shastri, adds:
Sanatana Dharma is a tradition conceived as inherent in the cosmic mind, arising with creation itself. Sanatana Dharma is a set of teachings, which comprehend Universal Life and Consciousness, including religion, yoga and mysticism, philosophy, science, art and culture as part of a single reality. Yet as the term Sanatana Dharma is unfamiliar and rather complex, it has seldom been emphasized in teachings given in the West. (18)

One of its main practices is Yoga, which assists us to finding our own spiritual realizations. Yoga originally is the science of union with the Divine. However, in the Western mind, it is an aspect of physical nature because of the asanas, yogic postures. Yoga appropriately refers to the practicing and following of the Sanatana Dharma through meditation. Hatha Yoga uses the physical and personal efforts to familiarize the body in the hunt of elevated states of awareness. The main purpose of Hatha Yoga was Self-realization and not only health and/or flexibility.  (18-19)

Another practice of Hindus, which they get criticized for constantly, is vegetarianism. Hindus don’t eat meat primarily because it can cause many diseases. Modern studies have proven that vegetarians have better longevity than meat eaters. All religions respect life, but they eat only to survive.

However, they attempt to reduce meat eating, but not stop. For example, Islam and Judaism forbid eating of certain meats, such as pork and shellfish. Catholic Christianity forbids eating meat on Fridays. Hindu Dharma forbids eating of meat, but does allow warriors to eat only during wartime, because meat and blood causes a violent temper that is needed in war. However, under no circumstances, does Hinduism allow slaughtering and eating of cows. This is simply because the cow is like mother to humans. Mothers give milk to their newborn child, the same way the cow gives other creatures, such as humans, milk. Dr. Frawley writes, “Respect for the cow is meant to instill the virtues of gentleness and receptivity into the human mind.” (148,211)

The Hindu belief of god is very confusing. Hindu Dharma believes that there is an Ultimate and Supreme Being. The Hindu Dharma is in no way polytheistic. The misunderstanding is caused by the different images. Each Hindu believes that the Supreme Being is invested in himself and the symbol and image. Because of this, there are so many deities in various shapes and forms. Some believe in people, plants, and animals. Others worship rocks and lifeless items. Hindu Dharma does not object as long as the Supreme is being worshiped. (Vivekananda, 42-47)

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