What is Sanathana or Sanathan Dhrama or Hinduism?

What is Sanathana or Sanathan Dhrama or Hinduism?

By Ed Viswanathan,  author of “Am I A Hindu?” Amazing Secrets of the Bhagavad Gita & Amazing Secrets of Hinduism.

 What is Sanathana Dharma or Hindu culture? 


Hinduism is "a way of life." It is a culture.  It is not an organized religion It has no founder. It has no hierarchy. Just a lot of scriptures.  To large extend Hinduism is like science like Chemistry, Physics or Mathematics. 


Who is the founder of Hinduism? 


Nobody in particular. It is the research output of countless learned men called Rishis who were the scientists of the ancient age, through centuries. 


What was the original name of Hinduism? 


Sanatana or Sanathan Dharma was the original name of Hinduism.  Sanathana in Sanskrit means “that which is without beginning or end” or “everlasting.” It was Persians who came to India during 6th century BCE. who gave the name Hinduism meaning the religion of people living near the Indu River.

In Persian the letter H and S are pronounced almost the same so they mistook the word Sindhu (Sanskrit name for Indus) to H and then started calling Hindus and Hinduism.  There are no words “Hindu” or “Hinduism” in Hindu scriptures. 


If so, why are we not calling Sanathana Dharma instead of Hinduism?


Words like Hindu and Hinduism stuck after the first British governor General Warren Hasting (1773 to 1785 CE) enforced  “Anglo-Hindu law” to rule Hindus in India. Anglo-Hindu Law is the code of laws used  to govern  Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs in British India


What Attracts people to Hinduism? 


The concepts of “utmost freedom of thoughts and actions. “That's what attracts many to Hinduism. Hinduism never forbids any one to question its fundamentals.

Even an atheist has the right to condemn Hinduism in the public and still proudly proclaim he or she is a Hindu.

In fact, the Charvaka philosophy or Nastika philosophy, (existed during the Vedic period) founded by Charvaka rejected the existence of God and considered religion as an aberration.

Voltaire in Essay on Tolerance wrote: "I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death, your right to say it." Hinduism is the symbol of what Voltaire wrote. 


Who are Aryans?


Who are Aryans? Sounds like a million-dollar question.

Why of all the nations in the world, India alone is historically known as “Aryavarta”, the land of the Aryans? If the Aryans really came from Europe or elsewhere, those countries too should have been known as the same name “Aryavarta.”

Aryan invasion theory as proposed by the British and other European scholars. Authors like Max Muller reinforced the idea of Aryans as foreigners coming to India. Once again, no other country, land, or region was historically known by the name of “Aryavarta” than India.

India was and is the birthplace of Aryans, the ancient men of nobility, the original Vedic Kshatriyas who worshipped Brahma Prajapati, inhabited the Indus-Rajputana belt, and who were frequently mentioned in the Upanishads.

The word "Arya" is probably one of most misused, misunderstood and misinterpreted words in recent times. No one is sure how the word came into existence but after Hitler adapted the word to denote pure German race, the word became synonymous with racism.

The truth is the world was used in ancient India to denote people of certain social background rather than a particular race. It is used in Sanskrit both as a noun and as an adjective to denote a person, quality, character and social status rather than a race.


When did Hinduism take Birth? 


Nobody knows. If you go by the Hindu mythological stories, Hinduism is trillions of years old. If you go by Max Muller, the German philosopher, it is at least 8000 to 9000 years old.

Studying the relics of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa excavations, I conclude, relics of the Indus civilization shows merging of many cultures and concepts. The Indus Valley was home to the largest of the four ancient urban civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India and China. Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro were cities in the Indus Valley civilization that flourished around 3,500 BCE in the western part of South Asia. The roots of Hinduism can be traced to this civilization.


What is the language in which the Hindu scriptures were written? 


Sanskrit, which is older than Hebrew and Latin. The first words in English language came from Sanskrit. The word “mother” came from Sanskrit word “mata” and “father” came from Sanskrit word “pita” as per the PBS (The Public Broadcasting Service of USA) video "The Story of English". 

Believe it or not the word geometry came from a Sanskrit word named “Gyaamiti” meaning 'measuring the earth'. The word trigonometry came from the word “Trikonamiti” meaning 'measuring triangular forms'. 

Sanskrit, which literally means "cultured or refined" was the classical language of India and is the oldest and the most systematic language in the world. Forbes Magazine, (July, 1987) wrote: "Sanskrit is the mother of all the European languages and is the most suitable language for the computer software." 


How did Hinduism Start? 


According to Hindu scriptures it started as “Shruti - that which is heard.”  The great seers of ancient times called Rishis who had perfected themselves have heard in their hearts, eternal truths and they taught those truths to disciples by telepathy and later they wrote them in books. Vedas and Upanishads are known as Shruti literature rest is called “Smriti - that which is remembered -literature.” 

All Hindu scriptures were considered as revealed truths of God. In fact, Hindu scriptures say that all Hindu Scriptures were written by God.  


Who are Rishis?  


Rishis were not preachers.  They were the scientists of the ancient past whose only GOAL was to find out the truth.
* They discussed and debated like scientists about every aspect of life.
* They even discussed about human sexuality.
* They explored theuniverse.                                                                                                                 * They even allowed atheistic philosophies to prevail in Hinduism.
* They never beat up or killed people who put down Vedas or Hindu gods.


Who are Rishikas? 


Women Rishis in Vedas are called Rishikas and they participated in debates and writing scriptures.

Some of the great Rishikas during Vedic age are Gargi, Maitreyi (one of two wives of the Vedic Rishi Yajnavalkya). Ghosha, Lopamudra, Sulabhah. Gargi, composed several hymns that questioned the origin of all existence.

Among many hymns in Rig Veda, at least 10 are accredited to Maitreyi. Gargi, composed several hymns that questioned the origin of all existence. 

Rig Veda mentions more than 30 women Rishikas. Gargi even debated Rishi Yatnyavalkya, in the royal court of King Janaka, father of Sita Devi.


How were women treated in ancient India?


During Rig Vedic period women occupied the same position as man in intellectual and spiritual life. Women Rishis in Vedas are called Rishikas.  Some of the great women thinkers and writers during Vedic age are Gargi, Maitreyi (one of two wives of the Rishi  Yajnavalkya). Ghosha, Lopamudra, Sulabhah.  Gargi, composed several hymns that questioned the origin of all existence.

Believe it or not, there are hymns in Rig Veda indicating very high status to women during Vedic age. Women were allowed to marry men of their choice through Swayamvara as well as enter in a living in relationship like Gandharva Vivaha.  Many great women like Sati, Sita, Kunti, Panchali, Damayanti chose their husbands through Swayamvara. Girls were married only after attaining the age of maturity.  During Rig Vedic times, women were treated with respect by men. 


Is Hinduism is based on nature?


Modern science says: “We are all Stardust.” According to Hinduism, we are part of nature. From tiny Ameboma to mighty Dinosaurs are part of nature. Everything is made of “Pancha Bhutas” – The five elements (Space, air, fire, water and earth.)

Hindus firmly believe in Bhumi Devi (Earth mother Goddess). All Hindu rituals are based on nature.  Hindu scriptures contain numerous references to the worship of the divine in nature in its Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, Sutras and its other sacred texts.


Is Hinduism a belief system or science?



Everything in Hinduism is based on science, like Physics, Chemistry & Mathematics not based on beliefs.  Absolute Freedom of Thoughts actions is the most important aspect   of Hinduism. 

Even an atheist has the right to condemn Hinduism in the public and still proudly proclaim he or she is a Hindu.

That openness in society resulted in people doing in-depth research like modern scientists in Geography, Astronomy, Trigonometry, Decimal system, art, architecture, Medicine, Surgery, etc. 

Hindu  EMPERORS & KINGS, right from KING JANAKA invited people from everywhere to have open discussions about everything in their palaces. GUPTA’S period was the GOLDEN AGE of India. (319 to 467 CE)


FEW OF THE India’s contributions to the world are 


1——-India gave the world its first university - Takshashila University. (700 B. C.E)
2——-India gave the world the numeral, Zero. 
3——-Bhaskaracharya rightly calculated the time taken by the earth to orbit the Sun 
4—— The very first SURGERY happened in India. 
5——When rest of the world was saying earth is flat, SURYA SIDDHANTA, the ancient book about Astronomy 
6—— SURYA SIDDHANTA stated earth is spherical in shape and that book has many calculations such as “Diameters of moon and Sun” as well as the actual distance from earth to Moon and Sun.

India gave to the world

A------The Decimal System                                                                                                                B---—Indo Arabic Numerals                                                                                                                  C------Fibonacci Numbers
D—---Binary Numbers
E------Chakravakam method of Algorithms
F------The Heliocentric Theory
G------Cataract Surgery
I-------Bhaskaracharya rightly calculated the time taken by the earth to orbit the Sun
J– ----India discovered Trigonometry                                                                                                    K--- ---Plastic Surgery

Rishis, the true scientists of the ancient era, discussed, debated, contemplated, meditated, and brought forth all the knowledge (Jnana), which they wrote in scriptures. Unlike in other parts of the world, they never tortured or killed anybody for disagreeing with them.


What are the Sacred Books of Hinduism? 


The very first sacred books of Hinduism are called Vedas. Vedas means knowledge.

There are four Vedas and they claim to teach men the highest aspects of truths which can lead them to God. Vedas and Upanishads are Shruti scriptures. The word Veda came from the root word "vid" meaning "to know".

Vedas are the very first scriptures of Hinduism. Vedas as per scriptures was written by God. Vedas state "Self-Realization" is one and only goal of human life. Vedas also discuss in detail rituals and ceremonies to attain self-realization. There are 4 Vedas. They are: 

Rig Veda – 10589 verses                                                         

Yajur Veda - 3988 verses                                                                                                                     

Sama Veda – 1549 verses                                                                                                                    

Atharva Veda - 6000 Verses 

Each Veda is divided into 4 parts.

Samhitas - basic texts for hymns to deities, formulas and chants. The Sanskrit word Samhita means "put together". 

Brahmanas - description as well as directions for performance of rituals. The word originated from the word Brahmins. Brahmins are the original Hindu priests and they follow Brahmanas to conduct rituals. 

Aranyakas - contain Mantras and interpretations of rituals. This book is also known as "the forest books" since this book is used by saints who meditate in the forests. 

Upanishads - texts revealing ultimate truths by different saints. Upanishads teach men that there is One and Only thing and that is Brahman. You and I are just reflections of Brahman. Or we are indeed God... Upanishads teach us "Tat Tvam Asi" - That Thou Art.

Yajur Veda - Knowledge of Liturgy - 3988 verses

Yajur Veda deals with knowledge of rites. This Veda is based on Rig Veda. It contains rules and regulations explaining how to conduct rituals. It consists of prose as well verse. This Veda is indeed a priestly handbook, even describing the details of how to make an altar. Sacrifice is one of the most important aspect of this Veda. 

Sama Veda - Knowledge of Music - 1549 verses

Sama Veda deals with the knowledge of chants. Sama means "melody". The classical Indian music originated from this Veda. This Veda is also based on Rig Veda. Verses from this Veda is sung when "Soma Sacrifice" is performed. Sama Veda is similar to Psalms in Christianity. To some extent much of this Veda is a repetition of the Rig Veda sung in melodious format. Invocations of this Veda is addressed to Soma (moon or the narcotic drink Soma); Agni (fire); Indra (god of heaven). One of the Upanishads that came out of this Veda is Chandogya Upanishad. 

Atharva Veda - Knowledge given by Sage Atharvan - 6000 Verses

Atharva Veda contains the knowledge given by sage Atharvan. Some state that sage Atharvan did not formulate this Veda but was the chief priest in the ceremonies associated with it.

Atharvan who is mentioned in the Rig Veda was considered as the eldest son of Lord Brahma (God of creation). Atharva Veda is also known as Brahma Veda, because it is still used as a manual by Hindu priests and Brahmins. Ayurveda is a part of Atharva Veda. 

A large number of Upanishads came from Atharva Veda. Belief it or not, much of Hindu exorcism of devils came from this Veda. At the same time, the oldest records on Veda do not talk about this Veda.

There is absolutely no reference about this Veda in the Chandogya Upanishad or in the Brahmana texts or in the Jatakas or in the Bhagavad Gita. That very clearly shows Atharva Veda was non-existent when other 3 Vedas were composed. 

Ayurveda     Ayurveda - The Hindu Medicine Scripture - consists of more than 100,000 verses initially. Still it is considered as a upa Veda of Atharva Veda. 

Upanishads The word Upanishad can be broken down as upa (near) ni (down)shad (sit) meaning that teachings of Upanishads were conveyed from masters to students when students sat very next to masters and nobody overheard those teachings. 

There are a total of 108 Upanishads. Principle ones 13. Some of the Upanishads are named after the sages who answered all questions. Some as per the first word in the Upanishad are as follows:

1. Isa Upanishad,

2. Kena Upanishad,

3. Katha Upanishad,

4. Prasna Upanishad,

5. Mundaka Upanishad,

6. Mandukya Upanishad,

7. Aitareya Upanishad,

8. Taittiriya Upanishad,

9. Chandogya Upanishad,

10. Brihad-Aranyaka Upanishad,

11. Kaushitaki Upanishad,

12. Shvetashvatara Upanishad,

13. Maitri Upanishad. 

Smriti Literature consists of large number of books

Vedangas - scriptures attached to Vedas.

1. Dharma Sutras - Codes of Manu, Yajnavalkya etc.

2. Jyothisha - Astrology and Astronomy 

3. Kalpa - rituals and legal matters

4. Siksha - phonetics

5. Chhandas - measurements

6. Nirukta - Etymology 

7. Vyakarana - Sanskrit grammar 

Upa Vedas

1. Ayurveda - Hindu science of health and longevity 

2. Dhanur Veda - Hindu science of archery and war 

3. Gandharva Veda - Hindu science of Music 

4. Artha Shastra - Hindu science of governing by Kings 

Darsanas - Hindu Jnana Yoga - Path of Knowledge

1. Nyasa - Sage Gautama wrote Nyaya sutras

2. Vaisheshika - Sage Kanada wrote Vaisheshika sutra 

3. Samkhya - Sage Kapila - Gita starts with this philosophy 

4. Yoga - Sage Patanjali wrote Patanjali Yoga sutra 

5. Mimamsa - Sage Jaimini wrote Mimamsa Sutra  

6. Vedanta - Sage Veda Vyasa 

Vedanta (At the End of the Vedas) meaning it started at the end of Vedic age, has two parts:

1. Advaita Philosophy - One Only - great exponent Adi Sankara and

2. Dvaita Philosophy - Two - almost all Vaishnava Saints.  

Ithihasas or Epics: Mythological Scriptures 

Ramayana -   story of Rama, written by Valmiki. Ramayana is the story of Rama and princess Sita. Valmiki wrote the whole Ramayana as the narration of a crying dove (who just lost her lover to a hunter's wicked arrow) to him. This beautiful poem consists of 24,000 couplets. Lord Rama is one of the avatars of Lord Vishnu and Ramayana is a story which projects Hindu ideals of life. There are many versions of Ramayana. The Hindi version was written by sage Tulasi Das. The Malayalam version (Kerala state) was written by Thuncheth Ezuthachan. The original text was written in very stylish Sanskrit language 

Mahabharata - story of Pandvas and Kauravas 220,000 verses, 18 chapters Bhagavad Gita is part of this scripture. It is lengthier than Homer's ODYSSEY. It consists of episodes, dialogues, stories, discourses and sermons. It contains 110,000 couplets or 220,000 lines in 18 Parvas or sections or chapters. 

Apart from 18 parvas there is a section of poems in the form of an appendix with 16,375 verses which is known as Harivamsa Parva. So in total there are 19 Parvas, even though many saints do not consider the last Parva as an important parva. The Bhagavad Gita is part and parcel of Mahabharata.   


Is Bhagavad Gita, the most important scripture in Hinduism? 


Most consider Bhagavad Gita as the most important scripture of the world.   Bhagavad Gita is a part of the epic Mahabharata, appearing in the middle of the great epic. Bhagavad Gita consists of 18 chapters and 700 verses

Because of the variety of subjects discussed in the Bhagavad Gita is “universal” in nature, it is the scripture for all human beings whether they are Hindus or not. 

Albert Einstein said: “When I read the Bhagavad-Gita and reflect about how God created this universe everything else seems so superfluous.” 

• Bhagavad Gita gives everyone of us absolute freedom to do whatever we want. 

• In Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna never judged or ordered; 

He only explained to Arjuna the pros and cons of every issue and was left to Arjuna whether to follow his teachings or not. 

• Lord Krishna did not even influence the free will of Arjuna. Arjuna had the right to ACCEPT everything Lord Krishna taught or REJECT everything Lord Krishna taught. 

• In fact, at the end of Mahabharata, Rishi Veda Vyasa has to teach a very disheartened Arjuna, the whole of Bhagavad Gita again. 

“If the entire Upanishads can be considered as cows, then the Bhagavad Gita can be considered as milk.” It is the essence of the Vedas. 

Bhagavad Gita has an answer to every problem a man or woman may face in his/her life. It never commands anyone what to do; Instead it discusses pros and cons of every action and thought.

Versions of Gita   

The very first English translation of Gita was done by Charles Wilkins in 1785, with an introduction by Warren Hastings, the British Governor General of India.

One of the most popular translation was done by Sir Edwin Arnold, under the title The Song Celestial. Almost all saints in India have published their versions of the Bhagavad Gita.


Amazing Secrets of the Bhagavad Gita


Since Lord Krishna has discussed more than 50 subjects in the Bhagavad Gita, we have to study Bhagavad Gita subject wise.  That is the reason why during 2015, I published a book “Amazing Secrets of the Bhagavad Gita, which is “subject wise” with 63 chapters in “question & answer” style between a 18 year old American born Grandson “Shyam” and his grandfather


Father of Atom Bomb and Bhagavad Gita


Robert Oppenheimer, the very first Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission and father of Atom bomb was a great admirer of the Bhagavad Gita. He learnt Sanskrit during Manhattan Project to understand the true meaning of Gita. He really shocked the world, when he quoted a couplet from Gita (Chapter 11:12) after witnessing the first Atomic Explosion in the state of New Mexico. Later when he addressed congress regarding Atom Bomb he said Atom Bomb remind him of Lord Krishna who said in the Bhagavad Gita, "I am death, devourer of all". 

Puranas - 18 are most important

S'rîmad Bhâgavatam is one of the most important Puranas and widely read by the devotees of ISKCON (Hare Krishnas).

Puranas are religious stories which expound truths. Just like the parables told by Jesus Christ, these stories are told to common folk to make them understand the higher truths of life. According to Jesus Christ "Mysteries of the universe are revealed to those who are spiritually awake, but to others those mysteries have to be explained in parables". Puranas are called the Vedas of the Common folk, for they present the mysteries through myth and legend.

Six Puranas addressed to Lord Vishnu are 1-Vishnu Purana 2-Narada Purana 3-Srimad Bhavata Purana 4-Garuda Purana 5-Padma Purana 6-Varaha Purana.

Six Puranas --addressed to Lord Siva are 1-Matsya Purana 2-Kurma Purana 3-Linga Purana 4-Vayu Purana 5-Skanda Purana 6-Agni Purana.

Six Puranas addressed to Lord Brahma are 1-Brahma Purana 2-Brahanda Purana 3-Brahma-Vaivasvata Purana or Brahma-Vaivarta Purana 4-Markandeya Purana 5-Bhavishya Purana 6-Vamana Purana. Apart from that we have 22 minor Puranas 

Agamas - Sectarian Scriptures  

They are a group of scriptures worshiping God in particular form and they describe detailed courses of disciple for the devotee. Like Upanishads there are many Agamas. They can be broadly divided into three sets of Agamas. 

Vaishnava Agamas - worship God as Lord Vishnu 

Saiva Agamas - worship God as Lord Siva 

Sakti Agamas - worship God as Mother Goddess. 

Believe it or not there is no Agamas for Lord Brahma (God of creation). Saivates have 28 Agamas and 108 Upa Agamas (minor agamas). Saktiates recognizes 77 agamas. I am not sure about the actual number of the Vaishnava Agamas. Vaishanavites consider Pancha Ratra Agamas as one of the most important agamas. Each Agama consists of Philosophy, mental discipline, Rules for constructing temples and Religious practices. 


Started during Vedic age, Tantras consists of cosmology, erotic exercises etc. Tantra is very important and very vast. Sanskrit word Tantras means to expand. Tantrism researched into Astronomy, Astrology, Palmistry, Cosmology. Chakras and Kundalini power etc are the contributions of Tantras to the world. Of course Tantras also states salvation through sex. In any other religion scriptures like Tantra literature will not be tolerated. In Christianity, the first person William Tyndall who translated Holy Bible into English was mercilessly burnt at stake, and copies of his Bible burnt, since church did not like his version of the Holy Bible! That is why I take my hats off to Hinduism. 


Does Hinduism have atheistic philosophy?  


Yes.   Charvaka atheistic philosophy. Its founder was Charvaka. The most important book was Brihaspati Sutra. I am stating things in past tense since I am not aware if copies of this book are available in India.

According to Charvaka, "Material world alone exists and our knowledge comes from sense perception".

This philosophy openly propagated that there is no God, the Law of Karma has no basis and that the Vedas were written by clowns.

It adds " Enjoy life while you can, for once cremated, you will never return to earth." There are still a lot more scriptures in Hinduism. I should say that there are more than 1000 scriptures in Hinduism.......We will now start discussing about each individual scripture....


What is the Hindu Concept of God? 


Hindus believe in one and only God Brahman which expresses itself in trillions of forms and trillions of names.

1----God is NOT a man 

2----God is NOT a woman 

3------In fact, nobody knows what God is.

4------That is the reason why God is described as “it” in the Hindu scriptures.

5-----God or Brahman is described as “it” and is the infinite, eternal, indescribable, omniscient, pervasive, genderless, eternal truth, and bliss which does not change, yet is the cause of all changes.

6-------Brahman is without any beginning nor any end. 

7-------Upanishads describe Brahman as One and indivisible, eternal universal self, who is present in all.

8------Brahman is described in two ways in Hindu scriptures.  

9------ Saguna Brahman ---- God with attributes like Viswaroopa

10----- Nirguna Brahman --- God without attributes 

11-----Bhagavad Gita like all other scriptures describe Brahman the one and only God in Hinduism by vivid details and by showing Viswaroopa (formless form) Lord Krishna proved to the whole world that he is indeed the personification of God the Brahman. 

12-----In Vivekachudamani, Adi Sankara wrote

“Brahman Satyam, Jagat Mithya, Jivo Brahmaiva naparah.”“Brahman or God alone is Truth, the world is unreal, and ultimately there NO difference between Brahman and individual self (Atman)."

13-----'God is everything, everything is God’

This is the basis of Advaida Philosophy.


If there is only One God, why do Hindus worship many Gods? 


A-----Hindus are not worshiping many gods.  Hindus are worshiping One God, Brahman with many names and many forms.

B----Rig Veda states “all gods are different manifestations of one Brahman, the nameless formless God."

C----God or Brahman can be worshiped by any name or in any form. 

D----So, Rishis wrote Ithihasas (epics) and Puranas (mythological stories) filled with many gods, with the concept that when you worship any God form, you are actually worshiping one and only God Brahman. 

E----Hindu scriptures reiterated that point by stating,

"Call me by whatever name you like; Worship me in any form you like; All that goes to One and Only Supreme Reality."

F----So a Hindu when worshiping any God form is actually worshiping One and Only God Brahman. In Christianity One God expresses himself in three forms, Father, Son and the Holy Ghost. 

G----In Hinduism One God Expresses itself in trillions of forms. That is the reason why Hindus have no problem in calling Jesus and Buddha avatars (incarnations) of God, even though Buddha did not recognize the authority of Vedas or belief in the Brahman. 

H----Believe it or not there is no word Trinity in the entire Holy Bible and it originated only after emperor Constantine became a Christian. He did that to fuse pagan Rome to Christianity. Only mention of Trinity concept of God in the Bible, is in the St. Matthew's account of Christ's last command to the apostles, "Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the son and of the Holy Spirit" (Mathew 28:19.)

I---According to Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia the Trinity doctrine was not established until 363 A.D. It says that Trinity is the result of three or four centuries of theological development. The New Catholic Encyclopedia also states that devotion to Trinity had begun in monasteries at Aniane and Tours, during 8th century. 


Why do Hindus Worship Idols? 


Show me any person [except may be Jews], who does not believe in an idol, image, or symbol and I will show you the greatest liar on earth. All religions have some concept of God with name and form, but Hindus alone have the courage to admit that fact. 

Idol worship is everywhere and I never ever met a man who does not worship something or someone.  I respect all those pictures. Believe it or not, all of them are idol worships. Once again, God is spirit...

No word or image can describe or depict God or can encompass the greatness of God.  God is neither the father nor the mother. Since man cannot conceive anything without name and form, man has the right to worship God with a form.

At the same time, every worship leads to a God without any name and form in course of the development of the seeker in spirituality. 


What are the Hindu Moral Codes? 


Hindu moral codes are written as a collection of books called Dharma Sutras. Hindu moral Codes are the integral part of Hinduism and they come under the big umbrella called Dharma. It is very difficult to translate the word Dharma.

Some of the codes are Ahimsa (non killing), Satya (truth), Dharma (duty), Karuna (compassion), Virya(fortitude), Dama (self-restraint), Saucha (Purity).  


What is an Avatar? 


An Avatar is an incarnation of God. Whenever God come down to earth in any form then Hindus call that an Avatar. According to that definition, even Jesus Christ can be considered as an Avatar, even though there is no mention about Jesus Christ in any of the Hindu scriptures.  Jesus Christ came when Jews had problems and he solved it. 


What is Salvation according to Hinduism? 


Hindu salvation concept is different from Christian salvation concept. Hindu salvation is known as Self Realization. In Hindu salvation a person realizes that he is not the body, but the immortal soul (Atman) within.

That is the reason why Hindu salvation is known as self-realization or "Realizing that one is the Immortal self and not the perishable body. In Hindu salvation the identity of the soul is lost when it attains salvation.

Hindu salvation can be compared to a pinch of salt trying to find the bottom of the ocean. The moment the pinch of salt touches the surface of the mighty ocean, it becomes part and parcel of the Ocean. Similarly, when a person seeks after God according to Hinduism, becomes One with God when he attains salvation. Hinduism never ever boasts monopoly on salvation.

You do not have to a Hindu to attain salvation. Salvation is for all, irrespective of one is a Hindu or not.  Even an atheist can attain salvation. A Jew, a Christian and a Moslem can attain salvation, irrespective of whether they read any Hindu scriptural book. 


How can anyone attain salvation?


Through one or all four paths or Yogas.

Jnana Yoga---- The path of wisdom [Jnana] or knowledge. It deals with knowledge, introspection and contemplation. Based on meditation and contemplation this is the most difficult path.

Karma Yoga ----The path of selfless service by thoughts and actions about which Lord Krishna described in detail in the Bhagavad Gita.

Raja Yoga----- The path of self-control [control of thoughts & mind] through Yama & Niyama, Pranayama & breathing exercises.

Bhakti Yoga---- The path of total surrender to God. Path of love and devotion. Most people in the world follow Bhakti Yoga.


What is the Law of Karma? 


Hindus believe in life after death. They also believe in the Biblical concept "Whatever a man soweth, that shall he reap". That is the basis of karmic law. Every action and every thought has a result. Hindus believe that every thought and every action is weighed on the scale of eternal justice. The law of karma is one of cause and effect. Nobody can escape from the Karmic debt. I believe Christ took care of the Karmic debt of all the apostles so that he can make them fishermen of men. 


What happens to us when we die? 


According to Hinduism, the body alone dies. the soul within the body never dies, But the path the soul takes is decided upon the past actions which are known as karmas. So the actions of former body do not die with the body. Past actions are attached to the body and they decide what kind of body the soul takes in the next life.  When an individual soul exhausts all its karmas and merges with God then Hindus say that soul has attained salvation. 


Does that mean one has to take millions of lives to achieve salvation? 


No, absolutely not. That question is the question many ask. Hindu scriptures, especially the Bhagavad Gita very clearly says that one can attain salvation in one life, provided one surrender his will to the will of God 100%. Lord Krishna said: "Those who surrender all actions to me and regard me as the supreme goal and worship me with whole hearted devotion, will be saved by me from repeated births and deaths." 

In another verse, Lord Krishna said: "Give up all your righteous and non-righteous actions and come to me; take refuge in me. Then I shall free you from all sins; grieve not." 

That 'Me' who is mentioned is not the Lord Krishna but the absolute soul or God. Krishna is one of the representations of that God. That God can appear in another form like Christ or without any form or name at all. 


What is Aum (Om)? 


Aum or Om is the vibratory aspect of God.  It is the Hindu word. It is a syllable that stands for absolute. It is uttered in the beginning as well as at the end of all Hindu prayers. To some extent it is the logo of the Holy Bible. 


Do you believe that John 1:1 came from the Hindu Scriptures?


Yes, I think so. 

Long before John 1:1 (Holy Bible) was written, Hindu Vedas (Krishna Yajur Veda) wrote

"Prajapathi Vai Agre Aseet"

In the beginning was Prajapathi, The Brahman, The God 

"Tasya Vag dvitiya Aseet"

With whom was the word: 

"Vag Vai Oarama Brahman"

And the word was verily the Supreme Brahman - The God. 

John 1:1 state: 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”


Is it true, “Born again” concept might have come from the Hindu word “Dwija” (twice born)?


I speculate that. We do not have any concrete evidence.  Jesus Christ said: "Except man be born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (St John 3:3) Jesus Christ also said: "Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again". (St. John 3-7).

Those words from Jesus tells us “Without complete change of consciousness, it is impossible to attain salvation or self-realization.”


What do you mean by Dwija or twice born?   


"Twice-born" means the first birth is physical, while the second birth is a 'spiritual' one.

Jesus Christ might be saying, exactly what Rishis said thousands of years ago.

Who is a Dwija (Twice Born)? ..... A Brahmin. 
Who is a Brahmin? He or she who realizes Brahman.
What is Brahman? That which is infinite...God

So, in a nutshell,

He who realizes God is a “twice born”   

He who is a “twice born” automatically will realize God. 


Why do women wear a dot on their forehead? 


That dot is supposed to be the meeting point of eye brows. That important point is called Angina Chakra or spiritual eye. Everyone is supposed to protect that. In fact, all saints protect that point with sandalwood paste. But later women alone started protecting that area. 


What is Namaste'? 


It is the popular Hindu greeting performed by pressing two hands together and holding them near the heart. The whole act communicates to the world 'You and I are one. I salute and worship the God within you, which is a mirror image of myself". 

Namaste concept originated from the Hindu belief that the real  “I” within all of us is the immortal soul  or Atman which is indeed God and our  problem is our ego, the false belief that we are the perishable material body.


Do Hindus Practice Monogamy? 


Hindus practice monogamy and Hindus have stopped "child marriages in India by Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929 under the British". It is the Moslems in India who are allowed to marry four wives for Moslems in India.


Do Hindu Scriptures Forbid Abortion? 


Yes, they do. Hindu scriptures forbid abortion. From time immemorial, Hindus consider children as gifts from God. In the code of Manu, Manu forbids abortion. One of the worst acts described in the scriptures is Sis-Hatya meaning destruction of the unborn fetus. There are prayers in the Rig Veda to guard a growing embryo. Only time abortion is allowed is when the fetus is known to be defective as per Susruta Samhita, the Hindu Ayurveda book. 


What is the creation and annihilation of the universe?


When rest of the world  religions and cultures  talk about thousands of years, Hinduism alone talks about trillions of years of history.

Lord Krishna said:  “In the beginning of time or Kalpa (4,320,000,000 years) , I create everything and at the end of time Kalpa ( 4,320,000,000 years), the whole creation merges in me. By my will the whole universe is created & annihilated again and again.”(Bhagavad Gita Chapter 9:7 )

Four Yugas are

Krita or Satya Yuga lasting 1,728,000 years (4 x Kali Yug

Treta Yuga lasting 1,296,000 years (3x Kali Yuga)

Dvapara Yuga lasting 864,000 years (2X Kali Yuga

Kali Yuga lasts 432,000 years

One Maha Yuga Four Yugas 4,320,000 years

One Kalpa 1000 Maha Yugas 4,320,000,000 years

One day of Brahma One Kalpa 4,320,000,000 years.

One night of Brahma One Kalpa 4,320,000,000 years

One whole day of Brahma Two Kalpas 8,640,000,000 years


Life of Brahma – the god of creation lives for 311.04 trillion human years.                                                                    After that another Brahma will come.          


After that another Brahma will come.


When did Kali Yuga start?


According to the Surya Siddhanta, Hindu astronomical treatise, which calculated the diameter of all planets such as earth, Jupiter, Mars, Venus etc. as well as by the mathematician & astronomer Aryabhata.    (476-550 CE)

Kali Yuga began at midnight (00:00) on 18 February 3102 BCE. 

Kali Yuga started after Lord Krishna left earth and went back to Vaikunta.  This is also the date Parikshit became the king of Hastinapura.

Kali Yuga already finished 5125 years will last for another 421,875  more years

What is Varna (not Caste) System? 

There is no word “caste” in the Sanskrit. 

There is nothing in Hinduism as complex as Varna system. Varna system started as division of labor for the smooth functioning of the society during Rig Vedic times and it has nothing to do with birth of a person at all. 


Varna System (not Caste system) started in Rig Vedic period.


The Rig Vedic Hymn, known as Purusha-Suita (Mandala-x, 19th hymn, 12th verse) states: "The Brahmin was Purusha’s (cosmic man - the first principle of Sankhya Philosophy in Hinduism) mouth, the Kshatriya his arms, the Vaisya his thighs and Shudra his feet. 

It was never intended as a tool to hurt anybody when it was formulated thousands of years ago. 

Lord Krishna said: 

“According to people’s born aptitudes (Guans) and professional interests, I created the four divisions called Varna system of human society.”

(Bhagavad Gita Chapter 4:13)


Lord Krishna further said:

“A learned and enlightened person sees with equal vision a learned Brahmin, an outcast, a cow, an elephant, or a dog” 

(Bhagavad Gita Chapter 5:18 )


The greatest apostle of Varna system, was Sage Manu. He laid down all provisions governing caste system in Manu-Smriti. 

Brahmins - Priests 

Kshatriyas - Fighters and warriors

Vaisya - Business men 

Shudras - helpers of every one 

Unlike in the Holy Bible, where Slavery is discussed and accepted even by St. Paul (Holy Bible verses Col. 4:11; Exodus 21:21 1: Lev. XXV:44- 55 Thessalonians 3:22), there is no statement in the entire Hindu scriptures to ill-treat lower castes, except Sage Manu's Code, where punishments of lower castes are severe comparing to punishments for the higher castes for the same offence.

        There is no word "untouchable" in the entire Hindu scriptures. Still Varna (caste) system degenerated in India. It is indeed the greatest curse on Hinduism. It attacks the core of Hinduism. It resulted in large scale conversion of Hindus to other religions.

I sincerely pray and hope, caste system eventually will go away, making it a relic of the history. Hindus should do what Christians did.

Even though slavery is mentioned and accepted as a practice in the Holy Bible, even though during Civil war many such as Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America quoted from the Bible to support slavery, Christians took it upon their chin and eliminated slavery completely. 

Once upon a time, India had 3,000 castes and 25,000 sub-castes. Even there were 1,800 Brahmin castes in India. Even different Brahmin castes did not mingle themselves socially or otherwise, in ancient times. Last of all, ancient India, persecuted a large group of people called untouchables.  

Mahatma Gandhi said: "Untouchability is a crime against God and men." Ambedkar once wrote out of his own experience, "To the untouchables, Hinduism is a veritable chamber of horrors." 


Why do Hindus Practice Suttee (Sati)? 


None of the Hindu scriptures mention about Sati. Suicide of the consort of Lord Siva, Sati, has nothing to do with Sati or Suttee. Suicide of queen Madri in the epic Mahabharata has nothing to do with Sati. Suicide of 16000 wives of Lord Krishna in the Srimad Bhagavatam has nothing to do with Sati. At the same time Suttee is the most horrendous way of widows jumping into the funeral pyre of their fallen husbands. It is an ancient ritual practiced by a warrior race of India called Rajputs. Nobody else in India, practiced Suttee. Once again, Suttee is never mentioned in any Hindu religious scripture. There is not even one episode of Suttee in the vast Hindu mythology. 


What is Dharma, whether it is mentioned in Rig Veda? 


The word Dharma has multiple meanings in Hinduism. The Sanskrit word Dharma originated from the root word dhr which means to “hold, maintain and keep.”    It is the cosmic order of the universe as well as embodies the fundamental principles of religion, law and duty governing all reality.  

Dharma is the most central concept which is shared by many religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism as well as by the Indo-Iranian faith Zoroastrianism. 

Dharma originated from another word Rta, meaning the natural order of things that regulates and coordinates the operation of the universe and everything within it. In Rig Veda, the word Rta appears more than 390 times.

As times progressed, Dharma eventually grew to overshadowing Rta in the later Vedic and early Hindu literature. Dharma includes action, duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues, and the "right way of living.”

Rig Veda 1-75- 5 states, " ritam. satyam vijnani ", which would literally mean "absolute truth which is Rta, is the only true knowledge."


What is the Creation Hymn in the Rig Veda?


When people settled down on the banks of rivers Indus, Ganges, Dharmaputra, like everybody else on earth, the first thing they did was to start cultivation. 

Then they looked at the stars and asked questions about the paradox of the origin of creation. 

Rig Veda 10:129 hymn in the 10th chapter clearly indicates desperate search for answers questions such as Who are we? Why are we here? etc.

Like scientists of today, 6,000 years ago, Indus valley dwellers also asked: 

How could the universe have sprung into existence? 

Did it come out of nothing? 

How is that possible?  

Did God create everything or God came after creation? 

Soma Ritual in Rig Veda:

Everything about Soma is somewhat mysterious.  Soma is a very ritualistic hallucinating drink, frequently mentioned in the Rig Veda in the chapter Soma Mandala with 114 hymns.  Rik Veda calls this plant, the plant of the “God of Gods”.

Soma juice is prepared by extracting juice from the stalks of certain plant of Mushroom origin.  A similar plant named Haoma is mentioned in the Zoroastrian scripture Avesta.

Soma juice is different from the regular alcoholic drink available in ancient India called Sura in Sanskrit


Is it true Hinduism is very Complex and Contradictory? 


All religions are the result of the works of thousands of thinkers. Hinduism and Judaism are cultures and they are the mothers of all religions. New religions like Christianity and Islam took the best aspects of Judaism and made part of them. So too Buddhism and Jainism took the best aspects of Hinduism and made part of them. In Christianity, there were several housecleaning in its 2000 years of history. 

Hinduism on its part, never had any house cleaning in its history. Since Hinduism never tossed anything away, in it you will see in it primitive religion as well as very advanced thoughts. 

I have repeatedly stated that Hinduism has the good, the bad and also the ugly aspects in it like any other culture or religion in the world. We have to boldly face facts and eradicate the bad and the ugly aspects, to better the lives of millions of Hindus, for years to come. 


The greatness of Hinduism can be summarized in few words. "Freedom of Thoughts and Actions." That is what Hinduism stands for. 


Even an atheist has the right to condemn Hinduism in the public and still proudly proclaim he or she is a Hindu.

Voltaire in Essay on Tolerance wrote: “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death, your right to say it.”  Hinduism is the embodiment of what Voltaire wrote.


Why don't Hindus convert others into their religion?


1-----It is very true that many religions resort to even forcible conversion, whereas Hindus do not do that. 

2----Reason Hinduism is a culture or a “way of life” or SCIENCE like Physics or Chemistry or Mathematics, with many religions in it; Whereas other religions are organized religions with a founder, one Holy Book and a very controlling hierarchy.

3----Hinduism has no founder, no Pope.  It has no hierarchy.  Hinduisms just has a lot of scriptures. 

4----“Absolute freedom of thoughts and actions” is the cardinal principle of Hinduism.  

5----Even an atheist has the right to condemn Hinduism in public and still proudly say he or she is a Hindu.”

6----Hindus rarely talk about their faith in public and always respect other religions and their holy scriptures.   

7---Voltaire in Essay on Tolerance wrote: "I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death, your right to say it."  

8----Hindus literally follow what Voltaire wrote in their daily life, whenever they talk to anyone. 

9----Of all the religions in the world, Hinduism is extremely liberal, tolerant, and elastic.  Nobody is thrown out of Hinduism. Once a Hindu, you are always a Hindu.

10----In Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna never ever said one has to be a Hindu to attain salvation. Instead, he very clearly stated that, he will reward a person irrespective of whatever faith he chooses to follow.

11----Lord Krishna said: “In whatever path people take to worship me, I reward them accordingly. Everyone follows my (God’s) path.”(Bhagavad Gita chapter 4:11)

12--- In Rig Veda it is written “Ekam sat, Viprah Bahudha Vadanti” “God is One, whom the learned call by various names.”

Meaning “One God expresses itself in trillions of forms with trillions of names.”

By Ed Viswanathan author of “Am I A Hindu?” Amazing Secrets of the Bhagavad Gita & Amazing Secrets of Hinduism.




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