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Hinduism - A Way of Life




The whole basis of Hinduism, with respect to living forms, is based on the concept of Immortality of the soul. It is claimed that the soul is in the process of continuous evolution and it evolves from lower forms of life to higher forms. This obviously is also based on the basis of life-death cycle where re-birth is a certainty, and life forms even more evolved than humans also are presumably possible.

Coming to humans, it is said that:

"vasamsi jirnani yatha vihaya navani grhnati naro'parani
tatha sarirani vihaya jirnanyanyani samyati navani dehi" Bhagwad Gita 2:22

"just like a person discards old and tattered clothes to wear new ones, so does this soul discard old and tattered bodies to take a new body".

Next basis is that of "sufferings, and how to get rid of the sufferings (MOKSHA)". It is said that as long as the soul takes any bodily form (say.. human body), it will be bound by the limitations of the sense organs and hence go through sufferings. It is the ultimate goal of all souls to evolve beyond sufferings.

Beyond? To where? Where does the soul ultimately go to?


The answer is to "merge with the universal consciousness, which are named differently, nature, energy, or God... the proper Hindu term being BRAMHAN."

"Having realized Atman, which is soundless, intangible, formless, undecaying and likewise tasteless, eternal and odorless; having realized That which is without beginning and end, beyond the Great and unchanging-one is freed from the jaws of death." - Katha Upanishad Part 1, chap 3, verse 15

But how does it evolve to that state? This question leads to the typical Hindu theory of "cause-effect relationship". It is said that "what we sow is what we reap". It is our own deeds (called KARMA) whose results determine which way the soul evolves. As long as the soul has "desires and feelings" which remain "unfulfilled" there will be re-births taken to fulfill them (technically, this is called SAMSKARA). Thus, for example, an unfulfilled "love desire with someone, if strong enough in both persons" will lead to both souls taking another birth in which they will try to meet and fulfill these desires. Same with all desires, money, power, sex, food, etc.

An example is cited in a story where a highly evolved soul in the body of a human once decided to leave his body because he had evolved enough not to take human form any more. As he was just about to die, he saw a wonderful fruit and suddenly had a desire to taste it. But unfortunately, his soul left the body before he could. It is said that he had to take the form of a worm, and eat the fruit before he could get MOKSHA (a typical mythical story to explain the principles).


So what to do? What is the right way to evolve? This is really the point which has drawn the attention of majority of Hindu philosophers. Volumes have been written. The essence being: "try to behave selflessly, and work without expectations of results. That will cutoff your desires and therefore the cause-effect cycle is broken (they say live like a drop of water on lotus leaf..the drop retains it's shape and does not wet the leaf)".

Easier said than done. So they tell you of practices... physical and mental practices which will help one to control and restrict one's desires and feelings. The ideal state of being (or living) is described as "staying in the same mental state in both pleasure and pain" (SHUKHE DUKHKHE SAMAWASTHA).

It is claimed that it will take a soul many hundreds of years of continuous practice before it can master this process of evolution and be free from sufferings. Also. one needs an efficient guide (GURU) who will help the person in this process.

The entire Hindu social structure and "classically defined social laws and behavior patterns" are based on this theory, and so they claim that "Hinduism is a way of life".


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