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Hinduism: Frequently Asked Questions
Hinduism: Frequently Asked Questions
Description
Preface

Chinmaya Mission I pleased to release Hinduism: Frequently Asked Questions as a part of The Hindu Culture Series. This book is based on Chinmaya Mission's earlier publication, our Heritage by R. S. Nathan (Swami Nityananda).

To help young students of Indian culture gain a better understanding of the glory of Sanatana Dharma, more commonly referred to today as Hinduism, in July 1967, Chinmaya Mission published a tri-monthly series of book lets entitled Our Heritage. Eventually, select topics and ten booklets, with most of the questions and answers authored by R. S. Nathan and a few compiled from various sources, were published as one volume.

His Holiness Swami Chinmayananda, the founder and head of Chinmaya Mission, impressed with the acclaimed publication, sent out 500 copies to Mission workers, devotees, and patrons in India and abroad. Though the series was mainly intended for Chinmaya Bala Vihar and Chinmaya Yuva Kendra (Chinmaya Mission's children's and youth wings, respectively), adults also found the information useful.

The information in this new reference text is vast, but by no means comprehensive. Suggested reading for further study has been included in some instances. Complementary works from Chinmaya Publications include Hindu Culture: An Introduction, The Holy Geeta, Meditation & Life, Self-Unfoldment, Tattva Bodha and In Indian Culture Why Do We.

We thank Rupali Gupta, Rudite Emir, Swami Advayananda, and the Chinmaya International Foundation for their time and effort in bringing out this new publication.

Back of the Book

Hindu culture is founded upon the sacred scriptures of the Vedas, which are revered even today, for they contain revelations of eternal Truth and embody the spiritual and cultural heritage of the Hindu people. The Vedas are the legacy of the rishis, or subjective scientists, who touched a deep cord within, far beyond the physical, mental, and intellectual layers, which allowed them to see all life as interconnected. They saw the One manifested throughout the universe, making everything sacred to them. When life is honored and belief in holiness of all life is fostered, one cannot help but acquire a deep sense of reverence for life. Hindu culture evolved out of this vision.

This book provides concise and precise answers to basic questions about Hinduism, unfolding the foundation upon which Hindu culture rests.

CONTENTS
Prefacexv
CHINMAYA MISSIONxvi
PART ONE: FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTS19
1What is the aim of the Hindu religion?
2What is Hindu concept of God
3Why is the Hindu religion called Sanatana Dharma and who founded it?
4Explain in detail the meaning of the word dharma
5What are some fundamental doctrines of Hinduism
6Why does Hinduism say that the human being is , in essence, divine (Atman)?
7What are the two doctrines of karma and reincarnation, and why do Hindus believe in them?
8What determines whether an act is a merit (punya) or a sin (papa)?
9What is Hindu concept of heaven and hell?
10What are the goals of human life according to Hindu ethics?
11What are the four ashramas, or stages, of an individual's life?
12What is meant by "caste" in Hinduism?
13What is the spiritual significance of joining one's palms in namaskara or namaste
14What is the spiritual significance of the marks on the forehead of bindi, Tilak, and tripundra
PART TWO: SCRIPTURES23
15Describe the two main categories of Hindu scriptures: shruti and smriti.
16What does veda mean?
17How many Vedas are there, what do they deal with, and what sections do they consist of?
18What are the Upa-Vedas, how many are there, and what do they deal with?
19What are the Vedangas?
20What are the schools of Hindu philosophy?
21What does Vedanta mean?
22Does Vedantic philosophy include different schools of thought? If so, what are they?
23How do we reconcile the different schools of philosophy and different approaches to the Truth?
24What are the three main scriptural sources for a Vedantin?
25What are the Upanishads?
26How many Upanishads are there?
27What are the great declarations, or Mahavakyas, and where are they found in the Vedas?
28What are Sutras?
29What are the Brahma Sutras
30What is Shrimad Bhagavad Gita
31What are the Puranas and how many are there?
32What are the two major historical epics in Hinduism?
33What is Shrimad Bhagavatam?
34What is Yoga Vasishtha?
35What are the Dharma Shastras, how many are there, and who wrote them?
36Who is Manu and what is a manvantara, or the Hindu calculation of time?
37Is there any special significance to the number 18 in the Hindu scriptures?
PART THREE: MANTRAS AND WORSHIP 51
38What does Om mean?
39What is a mantra?
40What is the Gayatri Mantra?
41Do Hindus worship idols or images?
42Can one worship God without the use of images?
43Do Hindus worship cows and the natural elements?
44Who make up the Hindu Trinity?
45What is meant by avatara, or "incarnation of God?"
46Are all avataras alike, or is there a difference between one avatara and another?
47What are the avataras of Lord Vishnu?
PART FOUR: THE MEANS AND THE GOAL59
48What are the three dispositions (gunas) of Nature?
49What are the five subtle elements, or tan-matras?
50What is panchi-karana, or the grossification process of the five elements?
51What is a human being's external and internal composition?
52Describe in detail the three bodies that make up a human being
53What is the antah-karana, or inner equipment?
54What is the mind and what are its different aspects?
55What are the waking, dream, and deep sleep states, and what is the state beyond time and space?
56What is the BMI Chart?
57Who is the jiva, who is Ishvara, and what is the relationship between the two
58What is maya?
59If the jiva is bound by maya, yet is responsible for the choices that determine his destiny, how much of his life is fate and how much of it is free will?
60If the jiva is the maker of his own destiny, is there any value in praying to Ishvara?
61What is Brahman?
62What additional terms, Other than Atman and Brahman, are used to indicate a human being's true nature?
63What is spiritual liberation?
64What causes an individual to consider himself bound?
65How can the knowledge of the Self be imparted if the Self is not an object?
66What is the difference between self-hypnotism and Self-Realization?
67What are three direct means of knowledge for Self-realization?
68What is meditation
69How many kinds of votaries are there among those who seek God?
70Who is a Yogi?
71What are the prescribed paths to reach the stage of a yogi?
72Who is a guru?
73Who is a disciple?
74What are the qualifications of a spiritual seeker?
PART FIVE: WHY RELIGION?79
75Why does religion seem to appeal only to the minority?
76What is meant by the statement "Hinduism is tolerant"?
77What is the relationship between science and religion?
78How do we discover why God created this world?
79How does Vedanta help a person achieve happiness?
PART SIX: QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WITH SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA 83
80Is the influence of religion on the masses declining? If not, how can we account for corruption and other such pointers to widespread deterioration in ethical and moral values?
81The traditional charge against Hinduism is that it is fatalistic and that it inhibits progress by making people slaves to the belief in the inevitability of whatever is to happen. How far is this true? What is the basis of such an accusation, which is being advanced even today by well-meaning and highly educated people?
82It is said that the greatest strength of Hinduism is its breadth of outlook and that this is also its greatest weakness, in that there are very few common prescribed religious observances obligatory for all, as in other religions. Is it necessary and possible to outline certain basic, minimum observance for all Hindus?
83Will the fundamental values of Hinduism be in any way affected by the eradication of casteism, toward which a concerted effort is being made now, on all levels? If Harijans, who constitute a sizable population among Hindus, are made to feel that their religion exposes them to ridicule, how are they to love that religion? In other words, how can all sections of Hindus be made to take ;equal interest in, and have the same sense of belonging to, their religion?
84Hinduism has always renewed or revitalized itself according to the needs of the times. In today's context, are any corrective measures called for? If so, who will bring them about, and how can they be brought about and made acceptable to the masses?
85Are fasting and such other dietary regulations necessary for leading a spiritual life? Is a guru essential for one to enter the spiritual path and attain the goal?
86Will mantras lose their sanctity if they are not in Sanskrit? There are various samskaras prescribed in Hinduism from birth to death. Many of these samskaras are not being observed today. Should they not be revived?
87What is the role of rituals in religion? Are they to be discouraged?
88What is your view regarding proselytization? If you were convinced that Hinduism has a great role to play in the world, would you consider adopting proselytization?
89Are changes visible in Hinduism's doctrines and in the modes of individual and collective worship as a result of contact with the West?
APPENDIX95
Vedas
Upa-Vedas
Darshanas: Schools of Philosophy
Shabda Shastras
Arts and Sciences
Pramanas: Means of Knowledge
108 Principle Upanishads
Sanskrit Pronunciation Guide

Hinduism: Frequently Asked Questions

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2011
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1880687380
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Preface

Chinmaya Mission I pleased to release Hinduism: Frequently Asked Questions as a part of The Hindu Culture Series. This book is based on Chinmaya Mission's earlier publication, our Heritage by R. S. Nathan (Swami Nityananda).

To help young students of Indian culture gain a better understanding of the glory of Sanatana Dharma, more commonly referred to today as Hinduism, in July 1967, Chinmaya Mission published a tri-monthly series of book lets entitled Our Heritage. Eventually, select topics and ten booklets, with most of the questions and answers authored by R. S. Nathan and a few compiled from various sources, were published as one volume.

His Holiness Swami Chinmayananda, the founder and head of Chinmaya Mission, impressed with the acclaimed publication, sent out 500 copies to Mission workers, devotees, and patrons in India and abroad. Though the series was mainly intended for Chinmaya Bala Vihar and Chinmaya Yuva Kendra (Chinmaya Mission's children's and youth wings, respectively), adults also found the information useful.

The information in this new reference text is vast, but by no means comprehensive. Suggested reading for further study has been included in some instances. Complementary works from Chinmaya Publications include Hindu Culture: An Introduction, The Holy Geeta, Meditation & Life, Self-Unfoldment, Tattva Bodha and In Indian Culture Why Do We.

We thank Rupali Gupta, Rudite Emir, Swami Advayananda, and the Chinmaya International Foundation for their time and effort in bringing out this new publication.

Back of the Book

Hindu culture is founded upon the sacred scriptures of the Vedas, which are revered even today, for they contain revelations of eternal Truth and embody the spiritual and cultural heritage of the Hindu people. The Vedas are the legacy of the rishis, or subjective scientists, who touched a deep cord within, far beyond the physical, mental, and intellectual layers, which allowed them to see all life as interconnected. They saw the One manifested throughout the universe, making everything sacred to them. When life is honored and belief in holiness of all life is fostered, one cannot help but acquire a deep sense of reverence for life. Hindu culture evolved out of this vision.

This book provides concise and precise answers to basic questions about Hinduism, unfolding the foundation upon which Hindu culture rests.

CONTENTS
Prefacexv
CHINMAYA MISSIONxvi
PART ONE: FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTS19
1What is the aim of the Hindu religion?
2What is Hindu concept of God
3Why is the Hindu religion called Sanatana Dharma and who founded it?
4Explain in detail the meaning of the word dharma
5What are some fundamental doctrines of Hinduism
6Why does Hinduism say that the human being is , in essence, divine (Atman)?
7What are the two doctrines of karma and reincarnation, and why do Hindus believe in them?
8What determines whether an act is a merit (punya) or a sin (papa)?
9What is Hindu concept of heaven and hell?
10What are the goals of human life according to Hindu ethics?
11What are the four ashramas, or stages, of an individual's life?
12What is meant by "caste" in Hinduism?
13What is the spiritual significance of joining one's palms in namaskara or namaste
14What is the spiritual significance of the marks on the forehead of bindi, Tilak, and tripundra
PART TWO: SCRIPTURES23
15Describe the two main categories of Hindu scriptures: shruti and smriti.
16What does veda mean?
17How many Vedas are there, what do they deal with, and what sections do they consist of?
18What are the Upa-Vedas, how many are there, and what do they deal with?
19What are the Vedangas?
20What are the schools of Hindu philosophy?
21What does Vedanta mean?
22Does Vedantic philosophy include different schools of thought? If so, what are they?
23How do we reconcile the different schools of philosophy and different approaches to the Truth?
24What are the three main scriptural sources for a Vedantin?
25What are the Upanishads?
26How many Upanishads are there?
27What are the great declarations, or Mahavakyas, and where are they found in the Vedas?
28What are Sutras?
29What are the Brahma Sutras
30What is Shrimad Bhagavad Gita
31What are the Puranas and how many are there?
32What are the two major historical epics in Hinduism?
33What is Shrimad Bhagavatam?
34What is Yoga Vasishtha?
35What are the Dharma Shastras, how many are there, and who wrote them?
36Who is Manu and what is a manvantara, or the Hindu calculation of time?
37Is there any special significance to the number 18 in the Hindu scriptures?
PART THREE: MANTRAS AND WORSHIP 51
38What does Om mean?
39What is a mantra?
40What is the Gayatri Mantra?
41Do Hindus worship idols or images?
42Can one worship God without the use of images?
43Do Hindus worship cows and the natural elements?
44Who make up the Hindu Trinity?
45What is meant by avatara, or "incarnation of God?"
46Are all avataras alike, or is there a difference between one avatara and another?
47What are the avataras of Lord Vishnu?
PART FOUR: THE MEANS AND THE GOAL59
48What are the three dispositions (gunas) of Nature?
49What are the five subtle elements, or tan-matras?
50What is panchi-karana, or the grossification process of the five elements?
51What is a human being's external and internal composition?
52Describe in detail the three bodies that make up a human being
53What is the antah-karana, or inner equipment?
54What is the mind and what are its different aspects?
55What are the waking, dream, and deep sleep states, and what is the state beyond time and space?
56What is the BMI Chart?
57Who is the jiva, who is Ishvara, and what is the relationship between the two
58What is maya?
59If the jiva is bound by maya, yet is responsible for the choices that determine his destiny, how much of his life is fate and how much of it is free will?
60If the jiva is the maker of his own destiny, is there any value in praying to Ishvara?
61What is Brahman?
62What additional terms, Other than Atman and Brahman, are used to indicate a human being's true nature?
63What is spiritual liberation?
64What causes an individual to consider himself bound?
65How can the knowledge of the Self be imparted if the Self is not an object?
66What is the difference between self-hypnotism and Self-Realization?
67What are three direct means of knowledge for Self-realization?
68What is meditation
69How many kinds of votaries are there among those who seek God?
70Who is a Yogi?
71What are the prescribed paths to reach the stage of a yogi?
72Who is a guru?
73Who is a disciple?
74What are the qualifications of a spiritual seeker?
PART FIVE: WHY RELIGION?79
75Why does religion seem to appeal only to the minority?
76What is meant by the statement "Hinduism is tolerant"?
77What is the relationship between science and religion?
78How do we discover why God created this world?
79How does Vedanta help a person achieve happiness?
PART SIX: QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WITH SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA 83
80Is the influence of religion on the masses declining? If not, how can we account for corruption and other such pointers to widespread deterioration in ethical and moral values?
81The traditional charge against Hinduism is that it is fatalistic and that it inhibits progress by making people slaves to the belief in the inevitability of whatever is to happen. How far is this true? What is the basis of such an accusation, which is being advanced even today by well-meaning and highly educated people?
82It is said that the greatest strength of Hinduism is its breadth of outlook and that this is also its greatest weakness, in that there are very few common prescribed religious observances obligatory for all, as in other religions. Is it necessary and possible to outline certain basic, minimum observance for all Hindus?
83Will the fundamental values of Hinduism be in any way affected by the eradication of casteism, toward which a concerted effort is being made now, on all levels? If Harijans, who constitute a sizable population among Hindus, are made to feel that their religion exposes them to ridicule, how are they to love that religion? In other words, how can all sections of Hindus be made to take ;equal interest in, and have the same sense of belonging to, their religion?
84Hinduism has always renewed or revitalized itself according to the needs of the times. In today's context, are any corrective measures called for? If so, who will bring them about, and how can they be brought about and made acceptable to the masses?
85Are fasting and such other dietary regulations necessary for leading a spiritual life? Is a guru essential for one to enter the spiritual path and attain the goal?
86Will mantras lose their sanctity if they are not in Sanskrit? There are various samskaras prescribed in Hinduism from birth to death. Many of these samskaras are not being observed today. Should they not be revived?
87What is the role of rituals in religion? Are they to be discouraged?
88What is your view regarding proselytization? If you were convinced that Hinduism has a great role to play in the world, would you consider adopting proselytization?
89Are changes visible in Hinduism's doctrines and in the modes of individual and collective worship as a result of contact with the West?
APPENDIX95
Vedas
Upa-Vedas
Darshanas: Schools of Philosophy
Shabda Shastras
Arts and Sciences
Pramanas: Means of Knowledge
108 Principle Upanishads
Sanskrit Pronunciation Guide
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