Who Is a Hindu?

The question, “Who is a Hindu?” is much harder to answer than the question “What is Hinduism?”

Historians, teachers, scholars, and gurus have disagreed about Hinduism for centuries and continue to disagree. Hindus themselves agree even less about who they are and what they believe. The reason is that Hinduism, which clear and simple, is a universal faith. Hinduism has powerful tenets, but they are open to interpretation and evolving scientific truth.

Respect for individual thought runs deep. Alternatives abound. Hinduism is easy to understand for Hindus, but complex or varied explanations create confusion in the minds of those who have not absorbed or been absorbed by Hinduism. Numerous and divergent ideas, images, and theories confuse strangers to Hinduism while Hindus themselves find giving answers to outsiders difficult because they never considered the questions.

To believers or followers of Hinduism, their religion is a premise, a starting point, rather than a conclusion or ending point. Hinduism can be views as a springboard and make leaps of faith. This is why describing a Hindu as a believer in Hinduism is accurate, but at the same time incomplete and redundant.

It must be true that no Hindu believes everything that has been preached in the name of Hinduism. The majority of Hindus have not even read Bhagavad Gita or the Gita in its entirety, which is a pity as this short quintessential scripture that contains the distilled essence of Hinduism is one of the greatest writings ever written.

Yet Hindus remain staunch and sophisticated in their affiliation. Their mindset is composed of philosophy, spirituality, and ethics, all colored by ritual, mythology, and tradition.

Do You Know God?

I know all beings, past, present, and future, But they do not know Me.

Not all can see Me because their minds are covered by foolishness and desire. They are confused by opposites, like wanting and hating, and their confusion covers up the truth which is God.

Oh Arjun, people in the world do not understand Me. But the wise people, the best people, keep trying to understand God. And those who do not stop trying—every—finally know Me and My secret.

—The Gita, by Irina Gajjar

 

It’s a common thread among many people to try to know and understand God. We search for answers in different places. Even the wisest among us, don’t have all the answers. Some of the answers must be simply left to faith.

You can purchase The Gita by Irina Gajjar on Amazon or learn more about the book at http://irinaspage.com/philosophy/the-gita-sacred/

 

 

 

The Gita’s Premise

God is the Gita’s premise. Its message is that life’s purpose is to attain enlightenment and eternal bliss by merging into God. This message is a familiar one. However its new and concise formulation coalesced Hindu thought and its fresh expression has guided Hindu behavior into the twenty-first century.

In the revelation that is the Gita, God delivers His word with beauty and simplicity. This scripture contains eighteen chapters and seven hundred verses upon which uncounted commentaries have been written and continue to be written.

In the course of responding to Arjun, God as Lord Krishna unclouds Arjun’s vision, opens his mind and touches his heart. He speaks of His own nature and power, of human nature and human duty, or worlds, of knowledge, of what is knowable, of the universal and human cycles of birth, life, and death and He speaks the truth.

Questions related to these matters intersect and overlap and they give rise to further questions and answers. In the end, the Gita paints an integrated picture of our human role in the vast scheme of things that is beyond us but not beyond our wonder.

The Gita develops around the concept of a universal God who can be envisioned, though not understood on a human level, and around the idea that life’s purpose is to attain unity with God. This precept is implicit as are other fundamental beliefs like reincarnation.

When the Gita makes explicit references to such ideas that are a familiar part of Hinduism, it does so for emphasis or analogy rather than for evaluation. It reiterates them and alludes to them in different contexts, but the beliefs themselves are treated as givens, not as theories. They are considered beyond question, though not beyond interpretation:

 

She who always worships God faithfully
Crosses past the world
And becomes a part of God

(Gita 14:26)

 

This excerpt is taken from The Gita, by Irina Gajar. To learn more about the book, visit http://irinaspage.com/philosophy/the-gita-sacred/

Doing Nothing Well

It is as important to nothing well as it is to do something well. The saying goes that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well. If something is not worth doing then we have to decide if we will not do it or not do it well, or if we will do it well anyway. However, I think that it is really important to be able to do nothing well and to take the time for doing nothing pleasurably.

When we do nothing, our minds rest. Thoughts flow. Tensions are released. We are free. It is best if we do nothing positively, but I think it is good even the negativity creeps in. Of course, we should not dwell on negativity, but we probably ought to at least acknowledge uncomfortable or even uncharitable feelings and thoughts and then find ways to dispose of them.

Read more from Irina Gajjar at www.irinaspage.com.

Faith or Reason

 

Faith is belief in the existence of something we cannot demonstrate and reason is belief in a conclusion that derives from a chain of data. I think the two go hand in hand. Together, faith and reason are the foundation of our world view, our behavior and our values.

I think these two components of human thought are mutually dependent. As different as they are, neither can exist without the other. Faith is trust in people, in our teachers, in our predecessors and in our destiny. Faith distances fear of the parade of horribles that lurks in our minds. It enables us to reason that we are likely to avoid the odds of random disasters that might wipe us out. Our reason causes us to take steps to protect ourselves, to strengthen ourselves and to inform ourselves.

Faith and reason together create the spark that encourages us to be as smart, as knowing and as kind as we can. They lead us strive to better ourselves and to be a force for good in our world.

Read more from Irina Gajjar at www.irinaspage.com

Knowledge

In Chapter 7 of the Gita, Lord Krishna speaks of knowing God. It is hard to put the meaning of knowing God or knowing anything for that matter into words. But without a doubt, there are some things we know or at least we feel like we know.

I wonder what the difference is between thinking or feeling we know and actually knowing. I suppose the distinction only makes a difference when we speak of matters which others take seriously. To opine or feel or believe that we love someone is no different from loving someone. However, when it comes to science, or politics or faith, knowledge that does not conform to what others have confirmed or what our society may lead to dangerous action.

To know is not the same as to understand or to believe. Understanding and belief often lead to knowledge, but they are not knowledge itself.

Read more from The Gita at http://irinaspage.com/philosophy/the-gita-sacred/

Virtue and Vice

One man’s virtue is another man’s vice and vice versa. Virtue is defined in various dictionaries in multiple ways that imply values like morality, goodness and integrity. In Eastern religions merit equates to “punya” which is action that earns good karma.

Antonyms of virtue include words like vice and evil. Evil is also an antonym of merit as are words like demerit and deficiency. The opposite of “punya” is “pap” which means sin. Sin earns bad karma.

Although virtue and vice must be considered in context, the fact that people and schools of thought differ in their views of these values can create problems. Such divergent views are particularly harmful when some seek to impose their personal notions upon others.

We cannot go wrong if we apply our beliefs regarding good and evil to ourselves rather than to judgements about others. This is not to say that we cannot praise those who perform acts that uplift us all or to criticize those whose acts shock our conscience. It is also not to prevent societies from imposing norms upon its citizens. But in terms of personal values and conduct, we should use our conscience to govern ourselves and seek to persuade only those who care about what we think.

Read more from blogs from Irina Gajjar here.

Happy New Year

I’d like to take a moment to wish all my followers a happy and healthy new year. Focus on the positive aspects of life and don’t get bogged down by the negativity of others. This is a healthy step we can all strive for in 2018.

I look forward to sharing new blogs and discussing my books with you in the year ahead.

–Irina Gajjar

Notions of God

In Chapter 8 of The Gita, Lord Krishna gives us a descriptive view of God’s characteristics. Even assuming we believe in a supreme divine force, this view stretches the limits of our intellect and

imagination. Lord Krishna Himself acknowledges that Brahma, the spirit of God, exists beyond what our mind understands. But He encourages our efforts to grasp what we cannot grasp because, He tells us, God can be reached by the wise.

Brahma exists beyond ignorance and shines like the sun. Brahma is Time. He endures for thousands of ages consisting of thousands of days and thousands of nights. Brahma Is permanent and indestructible. He is beyond the world. Brahma is the origin of everything and He is the resting place of those who are liberated from the cycle of birth and death.

Regardless of whether or not we believe or hope to believe, the possibility of Brahma can fill a huge void in our spirit. If we carry a spark of divinity within ourselves, we have a place and a role in the universe.

See On Hinduism, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture, by Irina Gajjar.