Summary and Definitions
“VEDANTA,” a Sanskrit word meaning “the end of the Vedas,” is the philosophical foundation of Hindu religion. Its essential theme is to enlighten the self SPIRITUALLY in order to be an effective member of the community at large.
HINDUISM: The name “Hindu” was given to the people from the valley of the river SINDU (in the Northern part of India) by the Persians (of present-day Iran) in the pre-Christian era. The Persians changed the “S’ of “Sindu” to an “H.” Subsequently, the Greeks changed the name of “Sindu” to “Indus,” naming the country “INDIA.”
HINDU SCRIPTURES: The most ancient Hindu scripture is the RIG-VEDA SANHITA, which contains 1028 hymns and 432,000 Sanskrit syllables. There are three more Vedas, but they are considered to be extensions and elaborations of this core Vedic text. There are additionally over a hundred Vedic works that are collectively entitled “UPANISHAD” (conversations between a teacher and a student.)
THE CENTRAL THEME OF HINDUISM: The Vedic poets observed the BEAUTY and HARMONY in NATURE which they expressed in terms of numbers and musical notes, and which they incorporated in the poems of the Rig- Veda Sanhita. Further, they concluded that there is a SINGLE UNIVERSAL POWER that governs not only the movements of the stars, the sun, the moon, and the planets, but also is the LIFE-FORCE behind the dynamic motion of human beings, animals, and plants. This fundamental concept of the ONE UNIVERSAL POWER behind every dynamic system in the cosmos establishes the interconnectedness of all objects in the Universe.
THE RELIGION OF THE HINDUS: The Vedic poets realized this ONE UNIVERSAL POWER in their own hearts, and provided a method for an individual to connect to this power based on KNOWLEDGE AND WORSHIP. The technique for achieving this realization is called “YOGA”: a Sanskrit word which means “to connect.”
External: For Hindus, the most popular form of worship is Image worship. Icons of different gods and goddesses are worshipped regularly in Hindu temples. In particular, devotees worship the moral and ethical principles described in mythological stories of these idols. Moreover, the devotees can make eye-contact with the deities, thus establishing a personal relationship with their chosen deities. Seasonal worshipping is also very central to Hindu forms of worship. The most important of these seasonal forms of worship is the annual celebration beginning on the first New-Moon night after the Autumnal equinox and concluding on the following New-moon night.
Internal: All these external forms of icon worship should be internalized by following the cardinal virtues of Hinduism such as :
CONTROL [self]: To prepare oneself, one has to control one’s MIND through MEDITATION. The systematic procedure of meditation has been provided by the Vedic Seers and should be followed.
CONTRIBUTE [to Society]: By participating in the activities of society, one should contribute towards the progress of society.
COMPASSIONATE [to others]: One should not forget the less fortunate ones, and thus try to help as much as possible.
Useful Link: All the sacred texts of Hinduism are available in the following website: http://sacred-texts.com/hin/