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Hinduism is often described as a religion of fasts, feasts and festivals -- come and see for yourself.

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Hinduism


hindu temple ErrorIn Hinduism, the river Ganges is considered sacred and is personified as a goddess known as Ganga. It is worshipped by Hindus who believe that bathing in the river causes the remission of sins and facilitates Moksha (liberation from the cycle of life and death). Pilgrims travel long distances to immerse the ashes of their kin in the precious water of the Ganges, bringing their spirits closer to moksha. It is auspicious to drink from the Ganga in the hour before death, and many Hindus ask to be cremated along the Ganga and to have their ashes immersed in the river. It is mentioned in the Vedas, the Purans, the Ramayan and the Mahabharata. Ganga is the daughter of the mountain god Himavan or Himalaya.

What is Hinduism?

Hinduism is the world's third largest extant religion (900 million members), after Christianity (2.5 billion members) and then after Islam (1.1 billion members), followed by Buddhism (550 million members).

Hinduism has been called the 'oldest religion' in the world, and some practitioners refer to it as Sanatana Dharma

Hinduism has close links with other religions, such as: Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism, and many individuals have contributed their ideas and teachings to Hinduism over thousands of years.

In order to reflect this fact, people sometimes refer to Hinduism as a family or group of linked religions or a way of life, rather than one distinct faith.


It is characterised by the following attributes:

  • Reincarnation

  • One God with many manifestations

  • Cause and Effect

  • Following a path of Righteousness

  • Becoming with One thereby liberating from the cycle of births and deaths

Observing other schools, Hinduism can also be atheistic, deistic, or even nihilistic. So one may wonder what makes these 'Hindu' in the first place. The acid test is whether or not a belief system recognizes the Vedas as sacred. If it does, then it is Hindu. If not, then it is not Hindu.

Hinduism is a conglomeration of religious, philosophical, and cultural ideas and practices that originated in India.

Hinduism views mankind as divine because Brahma (the Almighty One) is everything, and asserts that everyone is divine, and Atman (self) is one with Brahman. All of reality outside of Brahman is considered mere illusion.

The spiritual goal of a Hindu is to become one with Brahma, thus ceasing to exist in its illusory form of 'individual self'. This freedom is referred to as 'moksha'. Until moksha is achieved, a Hindu believes that he or she will be repeatedly reincarnated in order that he or she may work towards self-realization of the truth (the truth being that only Brahman exists, nothing else). How a person is reincarnated is determined by karma, which is a principle of cause and effect governed by nature's balance. What we do in the present life corresponds with what happens in our future life.

It can be readily seen that Hinduism is in opposition to biblical Christianity on almost every count of its belief system. Christianity has one God who is both personal and knowable; has one set of Scriptures; teaches that God created the Earth and all who live on it; believes that man is created in God's image and lives only once; and teaches that salvation is through Jesus Christ alone. Hinduism as a religious system fails because it fails to recognize Jesus as the uniquely incarnated God-Man and Saviour, the one solely sufficient source of salvation for humanity.

The greatest difference between Hinduism (for that matter any other religion) and Christianity is that Christianity is a very forgiving religion. Whilst Jesus went through abnormal torture and ridicule to uphold the value of forgiveness, Krishna encouraged the deaths of many innocent millions to restore issues via unpeaceful means. Bhagavad Gita is the testimony of his this doctrine.


How and when did Hinduism originate?

Unlike Christianity, Islam or Buddhism, Hinduism, having its origins in a remote past, cannot be traced to an individual, institution or even a group. They is a belief that Hinduism was in circulation 10,000 B.C, and the earliest Hindu scriptures - The Rig Veda - was composed well before 6500 B.C.

Ironically, the word 'Hinduism' is not found anywhere in the scriptures, and the term 'Hindu' was introduced by foreigners who referred to people living across the River Indus or Sindhu, in the north of India, around which the Vedic religion is believed to have originated. Hinduism exists primarily in India and Nepal.


How is Hinduism unique from other religions?

Hinduism cannot be neatly slotted into any particular belief system. Unlike other religions, expect for Buddhism, Hinduism is a way of life, a Dharma, that is, the law that governs all action. It has its own beliefs, traditions, advanced system of ethics, meaningful rituals, philosophy and theology. The religious tradition of Hinduism is solely responsible for the creation of such original concepts and practices as Yoga, Ayurveda, Vastu, Jyotish, Yajna, Puja, Tantra, Vedanta, Karma, etc.

Though Hinduism is understood as being polytheistic, supposedly recognizing as many as 330 million gods, it also has one 'god' that is supreme = Brahma. Brahma is an entity believed to inhabit every portion of reality and existence throughout the entire universe. Brahma is both impersonal and unknowable and is often believed to exist in three separate forms: Brahma - Creator; Vishnu - Preserver; and Shiva / Mahesh - Destroyer. These 'facets' of Brahma are also known through the many other incarnations of each. The famous avatars of Vishnu are Rama, Krishna, and Buddha.


What are the basic tenets of Hinduism?

As Hinduism is a conglomerate of diverse beliefs and traditions, it breaths on the following main themes:

  • Samsara (rebirth)

  • Dharma (ethics and duties)

  • Karma (right action)

  • Moksha ( liberation from the cycle of Samsara)

  • and periphery ones:

  • Believe in Truth and Honesty

  • Non-violence

  • Celibacy

  • Cleanliness

  • Contentment

  • Prayers

  • Austerity

  • Perseverance

  • Penance

  • Pious Company


What are the key Hindu scriptures?

The basic scriptures of Hinduism, collectively referred to as 'Shastras', are essentially a collection of spiritual laws discovered by different saints and sages at different points in its long history.

Two types of sacred writings comprise the Hindu scriptures: 'Shruti' (heard) and 'Smriti' (memorized). They were passed on from generation to generation orally for centuries before they were written down mostly in the Sanskrit language.

The main texts of Hinduism are the Vedas (considered most important). The major and most popular of these are the Holy Book: Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, and the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata ( the wrapper for Bhagavad Gita).

These writings contain hymns, incantations, philosophies, rituals, poems, and stories from which Hindus base their beliefs.

Other texts used in Hinduism include the Brahmanas, the Sutras, and the Aranyakas.

The Vedas are more than theology books. They contain a rich and colourful 'theo-mythology', that is, a religious mythology which deliberately interweaves myth, theology, and history to achieve a story-form religious root. This 'theo-mythology' is so deeply rooted in India's history and culture that to reject the Vedas is viewed as opposing India. If the system accepts Indian culture and its theo-mythical history, then it can be embraced as 'Hindu' even if its theology is theistic, nihilistic, or atheistic. This openness to contradiction can be a headache for Westerners who seek logical consistency and rational defensibility in their religious views. But, to be fair, Christians are no more logical when they claim belief in Yahweh yet live life as practical atheists, denying Christ with their lives. For the Hindu the conflict is genuine logical contradiction. For the Christian, the conflict is more likely simple hypocrisy.


What are the major Hindu deities?

Hinduism believes that there is only one supreme Absolute called 'Brahman'. However, it does not advocate the worship of any one particular deity. The gods and goddesses of Hinduism amount millions, all representing the many aspects of Brahman. Therefore, Hinduism is characterized by the multiplicity of deities. The most fundamental of Hindu deities is the Trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva/Mahesh - creator, preserver and destroyer respectively. Hindus also worship spirits, trees, animals and even planets.


Who is a Hindu and how to become one?

A Hindu is an individual who accepts and lives by the religious guidance of the Vedic scriptures. While the teachings of the Hindu tradition do not require that you have a religious affiliation to Hinduism in order to receive its inner teachings, it can be very helpful to formally become a Hindu because it provides one a formal connection to the world's oldest enlightenment tradition.

To become a Hindu one has to observe and adhere to the following attributes of the Hindu culture:

  • Dharma (Righteousness): Live a virtuous life in accordance with the teachings of the scriptures. Cultivate virtues of purity, self-control, detachment, thinking of others first, truth and ahimsa. Be respectful of parents, teachers, and elders.

  • Tirthayatra (Pilgrimage): Regularly visit temples, and sacred pilgrimage sites.

  • Uthsava (Holy Days): Participate in festivals and holy days both in the home and in the temple. Observe fasts on holy days. Hindu sages tell us that occasional fasting prevents bodily diseases, restores the body's healing power, and heals the mind by removing lust, anger, hatred, pride, and jealousy.

  • Samskaras (Sacraments): Perform various Samskaras in accor-dance with the scriptures. Samskaras are the religious ceremonies which mark and sanctify an individual's passage through life. They purify the mind by inculcating truthfulness in the mind, and purity and generosity in the heart.

  • Sarva Brahma (God is in all): God lives in the hearts of all beings. Practice this truth, realize it and be free.

  • Learn the deities of Hinduism. Deities are the forms of God. While it is commonly stated that there are 330 million Hinduism deities, the most recognizable deities in Hinduism are:

    • Ganesha(elephant god) - He is considered as the god of success and son of Shiva.

    • Brahma - the creator of all reality.

    • Vishnu - the preserver of order.

    • Shiva - the destroyer.

    • Lakshmi- Goddess of all wealth.

  • Read The Bhagavad Gita. It is one of the most popular and well-known sacred scriptures This will give a lot more knowledge about Hinduism and will help greatly in your quest to become a Hindu. It is highly recommended.

Why not come in for a guided tour to look around the Temple and learn about many Hindu Gods/Deities? The Panditji (our priest) will be glad to show you around during the opening hours. Students are very welcome. The temple is open for school visits on weekdays between by prior appointment.