Hindu Council’s FAQ on Hinduism

FAQs : Answers to frequently asked questions

 

3. Do the different religious scriptures say anything about the ways in which God can be with people, and the solution for their separation? And is there time when God can be with people?

Bhagwat Gita says that God is always with people, it is residing in our self and it is HIS energy that animates us as beings. However, due to delusion (maya), we forget that I am a part of the supreme being. We forget that I am not this body, I am not the life force (prana), I am not this mind (chitta) , I am not this intellect (Buddhi). We forget that I am the soul (self) residing and acting through this equipment of body, mind, intellect. Instead we give rise to Jiva or Ego.

This delusion state describes us as Living Being (Jiva) in which we forget who we are, we forget we are divine. We start believing that we are separate from God and act as if we are separate from HIM.

An example is given of a king of a city who has key to the gate of the city in his pocket. But the king got drunk and has forgotten that he is the King and he has the key to the gate. Instead he is pleading with the guards to let him in the city.

When our delusion is broken, when we becoke somber again, we do not need to plead with anyone and reclaim our lost Kingdom of God.

Hindu scriptures gave many paths for a being (jiva) to become soul (self, divine). Each of these paths is a valid path and leads to the same Goal of becoming divine and one with God. That is why Hindus do not claim of one path, one way to divinity but ccept many paths, including those professed by other religions as valid paths to God. Not every path suits everyone. It is horses for courses. Depending on one’s state of development (the three gunas) one can find one path easier than others.

Some of the paths mentioned in Hindus scriptures are :

  1. Path of Knowledge (Gnana Yoga, suits intellectuals)
  2. Path of Action (Karma Yoga, suits peoplle of action)
  3. Path of Renunciation (suits people with a string Will power)
  4. Path of Meditation (suits those who can concentrate)
  5. Path of Pyschic conrol
  6. Path of Devotion
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2. If the Creator is here on earth, then why are there still wars, anxiety, suffering and so on in this world? If the Creator is not here with us on this earth, why isn’t He here when He created it in the first place?

(Bhawat Gita Ch 8)

Brahman, the Eternal Self alone is Real. HIS essential nature is Self-knowledge. Brahman pervades the universe IT has created. The creator is therefore on earth. The world is Himself as HIS lower nature or HIS perishable nature. The creative force causes both matter and beings to spring forth into manifestation.

The universe was created by Brahman when he had a Desire (vasana). The world is run by these Vasanas (desires) expressed through Karma of action and through karma of results. HE the Brahman has created the laws of Karma and the world continues to manifest and unfold itself as per the laws of Karma.

However, due to delusion created by Desires (vasanas), self (souls) forget their true divine nature and start identifying themselves with ego. Ego is a sum of self-awareness forgetting being a self but instead identifying being this body, mind and intellect complex.

HE created the material and he lives in every living being as soul or self. Every living being is an expression of him and is HIM in a limited form. The goal of souls (self aware beings) is to become aware of their divinity and become one with Brahman.

Until a soul rises above its ego, drops the belief that I am the ego and identifies with the divinity or self and therefore with the Eternal Reality of Brahman, laws of Karma bind the soul and cause it to live, suffer, die and reborn. This cycle of birth and death continues until self raises to become divine.

The suffering of the world are not random or delibrate acts. They are reactions to our actions. Every action that a being performs produces a result. Action or work is called Karma of action. The result of action is called fruit of Karma. The intent a being has, intent of getting a specific fruit/result (and not the action itself) creates Karma bindings. Karmaic bindings produce desires, intent and then compel further action which produces more Karmic bindings in a perpetual cycle. Dropping desires /intents and still perform action liberates one from the Karmic cycle and from the sufferings of the world (sansara).

Brahman has manifested this world and stands aloof watching its infoldment very much like a witness watches a play.

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1. Did all forms of life occur naturally? Or was there some entity that created them?

(Bhagwat Gita Ch 8)

Hindus believe that there is one ultimate reality and call it Brahman (with an N, different from Brahma). The word Brahman is variously translated as Ultimate Reality, God, Absolute Truth etc as some of HIS attributes. Eternal Reality (Brahman is real) and the delusory realm of names and forms is HIS lower nature (prakriti). The world of names and forms that we experience through our five senses, eyes, smell, touch, hearing etc is an illusion which is only sustained by HIM. Like an ocean sustains waves, so does Brahman sustains the phyisical world. As waves have no existance independant of the ocean, as waves or nothing but a delusion playing on top of the ocean and as waves are the ocean as seen by us, so is this world a part and yet a lower nature of Brahman. As waves are perishable and ever changing while ocean seems to be permanent, so the physical world is constantly changing while its creator is permanent and never changing.

(Bhagwat Gita Ch 9.)

The Eternal Reality projects its desire and the world is born. All this world is pervaded by the Eternal Reality. The world is ever changing, it has matter and it has Self (or soul). The Eternal Self shines thorugh living beings and we understand it as Self. Life or forms of life as we call them consist of a form (matter) and a Self. While matter or form changes constantly, the self remains the same. The world (called Sansara) is created by Brahman and then at the end of time, it gets absorbed back in Brahman and Brahman goes back to sleep.

However, a desire arises and Brahman wakes up and projects the desire and the world is created again. Thus cycle of creation, sustainence and then destruction of the world is a constant cycle that has been happening endlesslely and will continue endlessely as Brahman is eternal.

(Purana)

Brahman plays three roles and these roles have been given three names of God, Brahma the creator, Vishnu the sustainer and Shiva the destroyer.

Brahma starts the creation cycle and creates both matter and Self (souls).

Shiva comes in when the world is to be wound back into Brahman to be recreated again later.

Vishnu sustains and runs the universe while it is ine existence.

Vishnu

Vishnu has ten avatars or reincarnations (Dashavataras – Dasha meaning ten). A reincarnation is when the God comes on earth and lives like any other being showing them though HIS example of how to lead life.

Hindus have no problem with the current scientific theiories of a Big Bang creating the world and Evolution contantly evolving life on earth. (ref : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dashavatara)

The ten Avataras are :

  1. Fish (Matsaya)
  2. Giant tortoise (Kurma)
  3. Boar (Varaha)
  4. Half man, half lion (Narsimha)
  5. The Dwarf (Vamana)
  6. Warriar with an Axe (Parshurama)
  7. Ideal Man (Rama )
  8. Warriar cum prince with a mace (Balarama, incarnatio of Shesha, the snake representing Time)
  9. Krishna/Buddha (Highest developed Intellect)
  10. On a White Horse with a sword to destroy choas and evil (kalaki)

The order of the ancient concept of Dashavataras has been interpreted to be reflective of modern Darwinian evolution.

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What is Hindu stance on animal abuse?

Ahimsa – non-violence or non-killing is one of the basic tenets of Hinduism. Hindus believe in the Unity of all existence – “Sarvam Khalu Idam Brahma” proclaim the Vedas – all this universe is pervaded by Brahman, the Supreme Consciousness. Hindus revere life in all forms. A majority of Hindus are vegetarians to avoid cruelty to animals, especially a number of industrialized farming practices are very cruel, e.g. de-beaking of chickens, killing of male
calves for veal meat etc. It is not at all ethical to abuse animals for human use.

Hindus treat all animals with respect and care and do not kill them for
meat. In majority that is the case. Hindus even worship some animals e.g. cows are treated as mothers as they give us their milk. There are Goshalas (homes for cows), where cows, especially older cows who have stopped giving milk are taken care of in India.

In Australia, Hindu Council of Australia, with the support of ARRCC (Australian Religious Response to Climate Change) was first in Australia to launch “Meat Free Day” campaign on 2 nd October, 2008. Since then the campaign was taken to ARRCC and renamed as “Eat Less Meat” to appeal to meat eaters to reduce their consumption of meat. It is good for the  environment, good for our own health and good for the animals. Since then a number of similar organisations have come up, e.g. Meat-Free Mondays, Meatless Mondays, Meatless Fridays, Meat-free Week, No Meat May, Less Meat=Less Heat etc. The emphasis of these organisations has been more from the Climate Change point of view but there are a number of organisations like Animals Australia, RSPCA, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and Voiceless etc. who have been campaigning for the ethical treatment of animals.

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Has Hinduism’s values and ethics on Euthanasia shaped contemporary society into become a better place?

Hindu ethics on euthanasia encourages us to live an ethical and moral life. There are times when we have to undergo hardships and if we are not morally strong in our beliefs we tend to breakdown and seek easy way out and commit suicide, which is not allowed in Hinduism. The practice of Prayopavesa provides a proper way out for the person who has fulfilled his responsibilities and may be suffering from a terminal disease and may not be in a position to perform the normal bodily purification function.

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What is the Hindu beliefs on euthanasia?

Euthanasia is the practice of intentionally ending a life to relieve pain and suffering by administering lethal dose to the person on his/her own request, who is suffering from an incurable and painful disease or is in an irreversible coma. It is only allowed in a very few countries. Australia does not allow it legally.

Hinduism does not support active euthanasia or “assisted killing”. Hindus believe in the Karma principle and rebirth. Hindus believe that we are not the body. We are the Atman, which never dies. It takes many births according to its Karmas. The ultimate aim of life is Moksha, freedom from samsara, the cycle of death and rebirth. If the life is intentionally ended one takes those Karmas to his/her next life. Thus prolonging that cycle.

However, there is a practice in Hinduism called Prayopavesa (in Sanskrit), which allows a person to end his/her own life by fasting to death. Such a person has no desires or ambitions left and has no responsibilities remaining in life. The decision to undertake this practice has to be declared by the person well in advance. There are examples of such practice undertaken in recent times. In 1982, Acharya  Vinoba Bhave  (spiritual successor of Mahatma Gandhi) died by prayopavesa. In November 2001, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami of Himalayan Hindu Academy, Hawaii USA subjected himself to prayopavesa. He was diagnosed to be suffering from terminal intestinal cancer. He later died on the 32nd day of his fast.

The mention of such a practice is found in the Hindu Scripture of Bhagavat Puran. It is mentioned that when the king Parikshit was observing  prayopavesa, sage Suka, son of sage Vyasa narrated Bhagvat Puran to him. When one is fasting one should do prayers and listen to holy scriptures.

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Hindu View on Capital Punishment

As an individual a Hindu’s conduct is to always forgive even the worst enemy or not to judge another human being and leave the judgement to the Lord. 
 
As a government the Hindu view is that at times there is no option but to end a life to protect the society from within or from without. This is based on a higher principle that death and rebirth are necessary for the soul to grow and know its own Divinity.
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What do Hindus believe about judgement and what is the process of salvation?

What do Hindus believe about Jesus and his role in Hindu faith?

We believe in Jesus as Divine. We Hindus believe that Jesus added to the capacity of the human flesh to experience love. This is based on the Hindu concept that every incarnation enhances the ability for the matter that makes up humans to evolve higher. 

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How do you think Christians perceive God and his relationship to humanity?

What is the nature of God and HIS relationship to humanity

The nature of God cannot be described in words completely but we are all manifestations of God in different forms. God is present in all of us but we also worship God in a form external to us and in that form God is our protector and God loves us much more than we can love God.

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Hindu perspective on euthanasia

Hinduism does permit Prayopavesa or renouncing of food and water which is actually euthanasia.
Prayopavesa literally resolving to die through fasting is a practice in Hinduism that denotes the suicide by fasting of a person, who has no desire or ambition left, and no responsibilities remaining in life.  It is also allowed in cases of terminal disease or great disability. A similar practice exists in Jainism.

Committing Prayopavesa is bound by very strict regulations. Only a person who has no desire or ambition left, and no responsibilities remaining in life is entitled to perform it. The decision to do so must be publicly declared well in advance.  Ancient times law makers stipulated the conditions that allow Prayopavesa. They are one’s inability to perform normal bodily purification, death appears imminent or the condition is so bad that life’s pleasures are nil and the action is done under community regulation.   eg King Parikshit in ancient time had observed prayopavesa and in current time, in 1982 Acharya Vinoba Bhave ( spiritual successor of Mahatma Gandhi) died by prayopavesa. In Nov 2001 Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami subjected himself to prayopavesa. Subramuniyaswami was diagnosed to be suffering from terminal intestinal cancer. He later died on the 32nd day of his fast.

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