I have received a message from a youngman about what one should follow in Hinduism. I have provided relevant portion of his message in this article.True, it is difficult to understand Hinduism, if one does not simply follow what is being practiced by one’s parents and ancestors.
This does not mean that one should not question the concepts of Hinduism or Gods and Practices. Sanatan Dharma, wrongly called Hinduism, encourages one to ask questions.( I use the term Hinduism to enable people to understand the concepts of Sanatan Dharma. I had written a detailed article on the difference between Sanatana Dharma and Hinduism). The responsibility of answering questions lie with family elders, especially of my generation. In the generation that preceded me, people accepted what was being told at home without question.They were told to follow , that’s all. Reason is that they did not read our scriptures nor did they make an attempt to .They went by what was conveyed to them, especially by Purohits.And there was misinformation that only Brahmins are allowed to read Scriptures and others have no business to read them. And that Brahmins are the only people qualified to read Scriptures.
What is said in Sastras is that one who wants to learn Vedas must undergo strict procedures to learn them and they should have the Disposition for the same. You call it Aptitude today.So anyone, who has the Aptitude, character and discipline can learn Vedas.The term Brahmin indicates a People who have realized Brahman,follow six essential duties.I have written what these Attributes or Duties are.Anyone with these qualifications is a Brahmin. Take Sage Vishwamitra, he was a Kshatriya by birth, became a Brahmarishi after Realisation and gave the Gayatri Mantra to the world.
So People did not know this , did not follow the procedures to learn Vedas but walked away saying it is only Brahmins who can learn Vedas!And the Brahmins by birth also did not clarify the air. Those who know to recite Vedas are Purohits.Most of them follow Vedas only as Sabda Pramana and never understood the meanings.This compounded the problem. On the other hand are those who want to follow Hinduism but do not know except what is being practiced at home and they never questioned because they thought it was blasphemy.It is not.
When the present generation which is informed and wants to follow Hinduism , they are confused naturally. This is because Sanatana Dharma is a way of life, not an instituionalised Religion, you have freedom to follow/ do what suits you in line with your dispositions. Sanatan Dharma is based on Experience.Vedas are collection of Experiences of Sages who Realized Brahman,Self and they had transmitted by word of mouth the process they have followed. And these experiences included Mantras ,grasped intuitively from Ether.As there as many seekers/dispositions, so are the ways to Self Realisation.Hence one will find processes which seem condradictory. They are not.They appear to be contradictory because it was by a different individual whose disposition was different from yours.
Yet, there are certain common features in Vedic Thought.
- Reality,Brahman is a principle.
- It is beyond Thought,Space,Time.
- Self realisation is possible for everyone.
- Though Reality is a Principle, it can be attained through Personal God.
- The process of worshipping the Brahman beyond Attributes, is Nirguna Aradhana.
- That of worshipping personal God of Attributes is Saguna Aradhana.
- There are four major methods to Realisation.
- Gnana Yoga,Path of Knowledge
- Karma yoga,Path of Action.
- Bhakti yoga, Path of Devotion.
- Raja Yoga,Process of Disciplining the Mind to achieve Union between Universal Soul ,Brahman and Individual Soul,Jiva, though from Advaitic point of view the difference is illusory and will melt away.
- One chooses any of these which suits most his dispositions.
- To instill faith in a specific Deity, that Deity is praised more than the others, so that the practioners would have their faith reinforced.This is called Henotheism.
- Result is that you have more Deities .
- Once you start the process of Realisation or worshipping A Deity, in most cases, you shall become a Realized Soul.
- In the above process, you shall pass the stage where you will experience that the numerous Deities become Three and then One,Vishnu,Siva, Devi,Ganesa, Subrahmanya…
- And you also come to Experience it is Only a Principle not A specific Deity.
- You might pass over it or follow it.
- But you would also Experience that, though the Deities are only projections en route to Realisation of Brahman, these Deities answer your prayers.
- This is the result of your Karma, expended through the Deity, on your path to Self Realisation.
- Karma can not be wished away.
- Nor can it be washed away.
- It has to be expended by Experiencing it,Pleasant or otherwise.
- Though Karma implies Determinism, an Individual has Free Will, though limited.
- It expresses itself in the choices one is presented with and what one chooses
- Even Deities,can not escape from Karma phalas ( results of actions)
- Everyone is responsible for his actions.
- Nobody can wash away your sin or take away what is due to you.
- World is transitory.
- Brahman is Permanent.
- Knowledge of Brahman is True knowledge,Para Vidya.
- Everything is Relative.
- Only Brahman is Absolute.
To sum up in order to reply the query,
- You choose your Path.
- Follow Vedas, especially your Saka.
- Follow the Deity which your mind tells you. This will be your Ishta Devatha.
- Respect and honour your Family Deity,Kula Devatha.
- Follow procedures from the scriptures, Both Sruthi( Vedas) and Smriti ( Sastra).
- Vedas do not sanction worship of godmen or self styled gurus.
- If your desire to learn and passion for self realisation is strong enough, Guru will reach out to you.
- Such a Guru will not demand monetary compensation.
- If you don’t get a Guru immediately, keep Sri. Subrahmanya as your Guru.
- Visit temple if you feel like it and get fulfillment out of visiting .
- Don’t ask God for anything.
- Pray for Gnana, True knowledge and Equanimity.
- While following all this,always remember to help humanity,Mother,Father,Guru and Guests.
- Speak Truth that does not hurt.
- Speak in a pleasant manner.
- Don’t covet anything.
- Learn to treat pleasure and pain with equanimity.
- Birth, Youth,Old Age,Disease and Death are natural.
- Don’t do anything that might hurt others.
- Logic does solve all problems.
- Faith does.
- Wish for the welfare of All.
Anyways, first of all let me again compliment you for the wonderful work you are doing. It is awesome.
Secondly I have two queries of mine. Kindly enlighten me with your experience n knowledge.
I am 37 years of age blessed with Son who is yet to complete one year. It’s been a while, I have started my sprititual journey. I am novicebin this field so listening n reading everyone from Jiddu Krishnamurthy, Osho, Sandeep Maheshwari, Swami Om, Sadguru, Sri Sri Ravishankar, Ramkrishna Mission, ISKCON and many more like YSS etc..
The more I come across, more i get puzzled. Coming from a family where all Gods are worshipped now it is very difficult to comprehend the fact that there is one God though heard it from childhood that ‘bhgwaan ek hai’ but never took it jn real sense. I never thought that VEDAS do not allow u to worship idols.. Then why do Puranas hv variations…
What do I teach my child…
Shaivism says Lord Shiva is supreme, Shakt says Goddess Durga is supreme whereas Vaishnav says lord Vishnu is the Supreme authority. Whereas ISKCON says only Krishna is the god rest are demi gods… Sadhguru says lord shiva, swami ramdev says do ur duty along with yoga, swami om says have only one Almighty he can be anybody.. Now what to do?
Should i learn bhagwad geeta by heart or daily recite vishnu sahastranama, or lalitha sahastranama or should i recite durga saptshati.. Should i chant gayatri or only OM or should i chant om namah shivaay..
Or as Neem Karoli Baba said to recite RAM RAM…Or should i do daily agnihotra..or only recite hanuman chalisa 7 times daily n read Shri Ram Stuti? So i m totally confused ..
#As to Puranas, they are ancient history, however improbable it might sound.
Ithihasas are relatively recent history.