Hinduism is a very well defined, well-structured religion with Sanatana Darsana at it’s core as it’s Atma. Those who pontificate, Hinduism is a way of life and not a religion, betray their pathetic knowledge of Hinduism, would do well not to comment upon Hinduism at all. From conception to Pinda–Dana, each and every Hindu ritual is abundantly and profoundly defined, narrated in scriptures. In absence of ideological dogmatism, leave alone fanaticism, Hinduism allows ample space to redesign and redefine one’s own package of Hinduism to be pursued. Hinduism also allows and accepts complete non-acceptance of all Hindu rituals in the name of atheism so as to enable the iconoclast to transcend entire Hinduism and leap-frog to the Adhyatmika summit in one go !!! However, that does not validate the ridiculous notion that Hinduism is merely a way of life and not a religion at all !! Ignoramuses and ignorants often refer to ‘Discovery of India’ authored by JL Nehru and narration of Hinduism therein as a way of life. Abject ignoramus in Nehru did not know, Hinduism did not exist in India at all and what all he ‘discovered’ in India in the name of Hinduism is still an enigmatic riddle for the knowledgeable ones !! Had he struggled to discover Hinduism in Bharatavarsa, he would have certainly succeeded in discovering something in the name of Hinduism if not in it’s entirety.
One of the largest religions in the world with Buddhism / Sikhism / Jainsim included, Hinduism has a few elemental constituents around which entire Darsana as well as rituals revolve. This article is intended to elaborate those elemental constituents to have an aerial view of the religion so as to enable you proceed in an ordered manner to have an intense understanding of the religion gradually.
Parama Brahmatma / Paramatma
He is the Supreme Absolute Reality, the Only One, Eternal, Immortal and Immutable. He is the fundamental principle of existence and every entity emanates from Him and terminates into Him. He is Omniscient and Omni-existent too. He is Sat i.e. Truth, Cit i.e. Consciousness and Ananda i.e. Bliss, three aggregated into One. He is the fulcrum of entire existence, Core of entire Perceptible and Cetana-Incarnate. He is the Universal Principle wherein everything that is cognisable, everything that is cognised and every cogniser, all merge into Him into one entity. He can be realised, attained and perceived but impossible to describe because for the purpose of description and narration, cogniser shall have to disengage himself from the Cognised i.e. Param Brahma by virtue of Ahamkara. The moment cogniser is disengaged from the Cognised, he is mortified and rendered incapable of describing Him. Thus, you can be Param Brahmatma yourself or none of Him but not between the two states of existence !!! Every faculty of excellence belongs to Him alone. For every faculty of excellence owned by Him, He is endowed with a name. Since number of faculties of excellence possessed by Him are infinite, He possesses infinite number of names described in tales and lores variously. Since He is Immutable, He is Immortal implying thereby, immortality is a cosmic proceed of immutability. Or in other words, immortality is a consequence of immutability.
He is the Supreme / Absolute / Ultimate Cause as well as Supreme / Absolute / Ultimate Effect too, inseparably intertwined. This one Ultimate Effect is constantly, incessantly coming into existence from it’s Ultimate Cause and redeeming itself instantly into that. So Param Brahmatma is the Cause as well as Effect within Himself and the consequential eternal dynamic flux is the state of Supreme Entity or the Supreme Bliss. Supreme Bliss too because redemption of existence of the Ultimate Effect is instant to it’s Cause within His Being. And redemption alone is the source of cosmic bliss whatsoever.
Atma / Jivatma
If Param Brahmatma is akin to the sun, Atma is it’s ray of effulgence. When Atma is embodied, it is transformed into Jivatma. While all Atma-s are exactly identical, Jivatma-s are different owing to the nature of embodiment. Atma-s are infinite in number, emerge from and immerse into Param Brahmatma. Every Atma is Sat and Cit but not Ananda unlike Param Brahmatma who is Sat, Cit and Ananda too. It is this Ananda of Param Brahmatma that every Atma is incessantly striving for. The moment this Ananda is attained, Atma is rendered eternally tranquil. Atma is not appropriately empowered to create and nurture universe albeit Param Brahmatma is and He accomplishes that through Karma-s like Dana, Yajna, Tarpana etc. performed by Jivatma-s i.e. embodied Atma-s. Atma cannot accomplish any Karma while Param Brahmatma is capable of but does not enact Karma-s Himself. In search of Ananda, Atma-s are prodded into Karma-s at the instance of, on behalf of Param Brahmatma through embodiment while course of Karma is guided by their prevailing Guna-s emanating from respective unredeemed Karma-s committed in past albeit ripe to deliver proceeds i.e. Prarabdha. Existence of an Atma may not be eternal as it may merge into Param Brahmatma and forfeit it’s individual identity. However, emanation of Atma and it’s eventual merger into Param Brahmatma is certainly eternal. Hence, Atma is mortal while Param Brahmatma, immortal i.e. never ever forfeits His identity. Inter-relationship of Atma with Param Brahmatma is beautifully explained by fundamentals of Quantum Physics. If Photon is an energy-bundle of heat / light / electromagnetism, Atma is a Sat / Cit bundle being sprayed by Param Brahmatma into the cosmos to search for Ananda hidden behind within the Cosmic Being of Param Brahmatma Himself !! No Atma can exist independent of Param Brahmatma just as no sun-ray may exist without the sun even for a fraction of moment.
Prakrti / Guna
Prakrti is the cosmic tendency / inclination / propensity to act in a certain manner. The cosmic propensity to act may be towards existence of Param Brahmatma or towards Maya i.e. all worldly creations that are transient and evanescent. These two propensities are Guna-s i.e. qualifying modifications that decide nature of Karma. Karma directed towards Param Brahmatma is known as Sattvika chasing Sattva i.e. the cosmic Truth. Karma intended towards Maya i.e. plethora of cosmic illusions is known as Rajasika chasing Raja i.e. desire to possess and enjoy. Third Guna is Tamasika relying upon Tamas i.e. tendency to remain resolute / steadfast in the state of existence be that Sattva or Raja. Tanmatra-s of Sattva, Raja and Tama are equi-distributed throughout cosmos. At the instance of Param Brahmatma, rather impelled by Param Brahmatma, the equi-poise of three Guna-s is disrupted at multiple points in cosmos causing cosmic whirlpools that trigger association with Cetana, then embodiment into Jivatma. Then is the commencement of a long-drawn cosmic journey through the world to restore the equi-poise and emancipate associated Cetana i.e. Atma into it’s original glory of divinity. Prakrti is devoid of Cetana, incapable of enacting Karma on it’s own. Prakrti is regarded as eternal as Param Brahmatma albeit mutable and Maya enacted through Prakrti is mortal. Prakrti is the means, instrumentality through which Maya is enacted.
Guna-s of Prakrti exist in the manifest of Spandana i.e. extremely subtle modulations and conglomeration through aggregation of Guna-s creates five Maha Bhuta-s i.e. elemental constituents of entire universe. These Maha Bhuta-s are the building blocks of entire universe.
Karma / Karmaphala
Karma implies actions and Karmaphala, it’s proceeds. Principle of Karma and Karmaphala is an extension of the fundamental principle of cause and effect. Just as every cause has an effect and every effect, a cause, every Karma has a Karmaphala and every Karmaphala, it’s very own Karma to explain it’s existence. Karma already rendered can be neutralised either through it’s redemption in it’s corresponding Karmaphala or through another Karma. If this ‘another Karma’ is Niskama i.e. enacted devoid of aspiration to possess or enjoy it’s proceeds, it does not create another Karma while redeeming pre-existing Karma. If ‘another Karma’ is Sakama i.e. enacted in the spirit of possessing or enjoying it’s proceeds, it shall create yet another Karma to be redeemed later while redeemimg pre-existing Karma. Now ‘another Karma’ may also be Adhyatmika i.e. ascetic pursuits undertaken to dissolve Karma-s enacted earlier. Every Karma has a gestation period to ripe and once a Karma matures to deliver proceeds, it is absolutely impossible to dissolve it and the only option available is to undergo it’s consequences in a Niskama manner. When a Karma matures to deliver proceeds, it is known as Prarabdha, a cosmic entity so sacrosanct that even the Supreme Absolute Param Brahmatma is incapable of violating it’s sanctity or eradicating proceeds. Gestation period of Karma varies based on it’s intensity and content. It may mature immediately or may be after several lives. Since Karma always search for conducive / facilitative ambiance / circumstances to mature, it is Karma-s alone that decide nature of next embodiment / family / community to be born to so as to be able to be redeemed unhindered and uninhibited. Also, desire / aspiration moments before demise enjoys supremacy and that one of the first Karma-s to be redeemed in next life. In a nutshell, our present is the proceed of our past Karma-s impossible to be altered now as these constitute Prarabdha. However, we are certainly capable of improving our future by enacting right Karma-s in our present existence.
Thus, every act of every moment impacts upon subsequent moments of our being, our consciousness. Causes and conditions of our emotions, perceptions, volition and grades of consciousness are proceeds of our Karma-s of past. All phenomena are undergoing an intransigent state of dynamic flux, changing moment to moment. Nothing is permanent or forever, including miseries and sufferings. By retaining deserts of vanities, we cannot harvest savannas of virtues. Every sentient is a potential giant. Only our negative Karma-s obfuscate us from beholding this profound reality.
Maya literally mean “that does not exist”. Entire creation through Guna-s of Prakrti constitute Maya. Every piece of Maya has a specified life-span before being either dissolved or transformed into another state of transient existence. Complete dissolution of Maya is known as Pralaya in which matter loses it’s identity through dis-aggregation and complete reversion into the state of Guna-s is attained. Thus, it may be enigmatically said, Maya too attains Moksa !! Contrary to a belief that Maya is sheer hallucination, Maya does exist, albeit transiently. Param Brahmatma explores Maya through innumerable Jivatma-s without being involved in it directly. However, being Master of entire universe, entire Maya is solemnised at His instance alone, on His behalf alone. Belief in Maya that Maya is real, is the state of Moha that every Jivatma is mandated to transcend through Sadhana while traversing the world repeatedly as a cosmic traveller. Someone may like to remark, “Maya is a smart, well-crafted divine corruption…may be divine Ghotala” !! It would be an interesting observation indeed.
Being physical, Maya is finite. Even the vast Cosmos littered with thousands of galaxies spread over 26 dimensions, is a finite reality. Albert Einstein calculated it’s radius to be 100000000000000000000000000000000 Light-Years springing into existence from the Infinite Black-Hole with a diameter of 100000000000000000000000000000000th fraction of a centimeter !!!!! Similarly, our finite bodies carry within Infinite Cetana of infinite dimensions !!
Ultimately, entire existence boils down to mere three entities, Param Brahmatma, Jivatma and Maya. Quite mystically, Maya leads to enrichment of knowledge and wisdom vested in the Supreme Being of Param Brahmatma.
Avatara is Divinity-Incarnate who descends to restore righteousness and slay sinners. Human conduct is perfect only as a rare exception and not as a rule. Hence, these have to be restored to greater heights from era to era by a powerful, influential persona who derives His / Her acceptability by virtue of His / Her divine faculty as divine faculty alone may impart influence of that order. Interestingly and quite mystically, several of them are susceptible to dislodgement from their divine celestial glory, suffer exile and even humiliation at the hands of those diminished ones who had earlier inveigled them into granting fabulous boons climaxing their long-drawn ascetic pursuits for the purpose !!! Appearance of an Avatara may occur once or twice in the entire span of a Yuga and every such descendance is an event of the highest order. During interregnum between two Avatara-s, sinner may be punished variously, even by another sinner. Immediate past Avatara had been Gautama Buddha whose mission was to mitigate suffereings through violence and animal-slaughter while next impending Avatara happens to be Kalki Bhagavana by the conclusion of Kali–Yuga after some 4,50,000 man-years.
Punara means repeatedly and Janma is embodiment into life. Punarjanma is re-incarnation through embodiment i.e. metempsychosis. Sakama Karma leads to Punarjanma and Punarjanma provides a platform to perform more Karma. Not only felonious Karma-s but noble, Sattvika Karma-s too, lead to Punarjanma so as to be able to accept proceeds of Karma-s enacted earlier unless these are utterly Niskama in nature. Unredeemed aspirations too, constitute a powerful causative factor to effect Punarajanma. Real life cases of Punarjanma have been reported, documented and verified too. In large number of cases, it has been discovered to be true and authentic.
Purusartha is the entire spectacle of activities undertaken in pursuit of four elements of Purusartha i.e. Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksa encompassing entire life-span and beyond. Dharma constitutes foundation of one’s life and all activities. No one is allowed to digress from the charted path of his / her Dharma lest it invites appropriate Karmaphala. Ignoring or violating one’s Dharma itself is an intense regressive Karma that causes drag in one’s spiritual advancement. Artha is working for livelihood. Every activity pertaining to Artha must never ignore cardinal principles of Dharma. Any violation of Dharma while pursuing Artha again is a regressive Karma. Kama is the desire for possessions and acquisitions. Kama too, must be governed by canons of Dharma and Kama devoid of Dharma is a felonious action. Moksa is the ultimate objective of entire Purusartha implying thereby, ultimate emancipation from shackles of Maya. Those who attain Moksa after being rendered absolutely Karma-less, are never born again to undertake cosmic journey through the world spanning innumerable lives. Thus, four elements of Purusartha present an entirely holistic approach to life without ignoring human infirmities and frailties.
Beautifully carved out of rock, when a stone-idol symbolically representing a deity undergoes Prana-Pratistha through elaborate Vedic rituals, then it evolves into a Murty i.e. divinity solidified into a stone figurine. It is regarded as real, live symbol of the celestial deity implying thereby, deity dwelling within the Murty incessantly. Scriptures do describe events when the deity concerned appeared from the Murty, then disappeared into it again. Tailanga Swami Maharaja of Varanasi prayed to the Murty of Ma Kali whom he used to worship everyday, for a Darsana at the instance of his disciple during 19th century. Ma Kali came out of the Murty in the manifest of a young lass on his entreaties. After both completed worshipping Her, Ma Kali again reverted into the Murty before their eyes. For a Hindu, an idol is not just a Murty but also a living deity to be adored wholeheartedly the way a live deity would have been otherwise. Any socio-religious reform movement may never succeed if that happens to contradict the institution of Murty–Puja. Buddhism and Arya–Samaja Movement are stark examples thereof.