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    Sacred Elements that Characterize Hindu Religious Tradition

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    What sacred elements characterize Hindu religious traditions?
    What are their significance and meaning?

    Please explain in detail. Excerpts and/or links are also welcome if they explain it in easy language.

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    The Hindu tradition has many abstract and somewhat complicated sacred elements to understand, plus there are many different traditions within Hinduism. So, please see response attached (also below), as well as one supporting article (describes the Hindu Scripture and different traditions) to consider. I hope this helps and take care.


    1. What sacred elements characterize Hindu religious traditions? What are their significance and meaning?

    This is a complicated religion, plus there are many different religious traditions within Hinduism.
    Hinduism (also known as Sanātana Dharma, and Vaidika-Dharma) is a worldwide religious tradition that is based on teachings of the Veda scriptures. It encompasses many religious traditions that widely vary by culture, as well as many diverse beliefs and sects. The estimates of Hinduism's origin vary from 3102 BCE to 1300 BCE. It is also the third largest religion with a following of approximately 1 billion people. Ninety-eight percent of Hinduism's practitioners can be found on the Indian subcontinent, chiefly in Bharat (India). It is noteworthy however that the relatively small Himalayan kingdom of Nepal is the only nation in the world with Hinduism as its state religion. The term 'Hindu' itself derives from the name of the Sindhu (Indus) river, which is known as Hindu in Persian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinduism).

    There are three qualities (gunas) in the Hindu tradition, which are listed in order here. The followeing is taken, mostly verbatim from one source (http://www.engr.mun.ca/~asharan/bihar/hinduism.html)

    a. A Satvik person is very pure in heart; he is pious, active, desireless, i.e. he is full of good qualities.
    b. A rajasik person is desire-driven, he possesses a lot of things and very active, but all his actions are done for the purpose of getting something.
    c. A tamasic person is lethargic; would sleep all the time; would not be active and would like to eat stale food.
    When considering the sacred elements of Hinduism, it is important to remember that, as with ALL other religions, Hinduism sets out to answer the fundamental questions of life. What is the Ultimate Reality (Truth)? What are we made of? What are we here for? Where are we going?

    The sacred elements and beliefs:

    1. The Brahman (God) is real.
    2. The world (Jagat), that is, all names and forms in the world are mithya or perishable.
    3. The Atman of a man and the Brahmana, are fundamentally ONE and the same and not two.
    4. Truth is beyond space and time.


    A. What is the Ultimate Reality (Truth)? The truth is beyond time and space and comes to be known through meditation. It is unknowable (in Hinduism) through the five senses, so we can only know partical truths. Some people have the Truth (MORE INTELLIGIBLE), while others wonder around aimlessly looking for the Truth and need many lives (if ever) to realize the Truth and salvation (i.e., Atman merges with Brahmana).


    B. What are we made of? The human body represented by the outermost shell is the easiest to see and comprehend. A physical pain in the body can be very easily explained even by a child but it would be relatively difficult for him to explain his mental conditions. Our body has five sense organs or they can also be called as the equipments for the perception of the external world. The mind contains memory and it is also a seat for internal emotions and disturbances. Therefore it is referred to as the internal equipment, which shows the internal condition of a person. The mind is subtler than the body. If we go further inside, we reach the intellect, which is the ability of discrimination. To achieve this ability one should be able to judge right or wrong actions etc. The subtlest of all is the Atman, which is considered to be pure consciousness in the Upanishads. It is qualitiless and is not affected by sorrow or pleasure experienced by the human beings. This is the Real Self and not separate from the Creator. It can neither be wetted by water nor burnt by fire. It lives through the Kalpas. The Atman is not affected by birth or death. These are only the outer three shells, which are affected (body, the mind, the intellect, but not Atman).


    Thus, these sacred elements and beliefs are significant as it provides meaning and direction to life. The goal of life is to become knowledgeable to come to the Truth to attain Atman (the Real Self), which was never born nor does it die.
    What are we here for? To gain knowledge to realized Atman (True Self) which will take many life times for some. Our ultimate goal is salvation, the merging of Atman and Brahmana (which are one and the same as Atman). No one really knows exactly how this is, not even the Hinhu, because the Truth is unknown to a large extent. Ignorance is bliss, I quess.
    Where are we going? What is death and what is killing? The answer is that man is not identified by the body alone but with body and Atman. The Atman was there yesterday, it is there today and it will live forever. Therefore the words, kill or die cannot be properly applied to Atman. On the other hand, the body which is perishable, will definitely die whether today or after 100 years. Since the Atman definitely acquires another body, according to the karma, there is nothing to lament for (i.e., reincarnation -taking another body). This element is significant because it illiminates the pain and sorrow related to death, because you are reincarnated searching for the Truth of Atman, who becomess Brahmana, who are one and the same.
    This Atman is never born nor does it ever die. It is unborn, ever lasting, immutable and primeval. It is not killed though the body is killed. Just as a man casting off clothes puts on others and new ones, so does the Atman cast off old bodies and become united with new ones. Weapons do not cut it; fire does not burn it; water does not make it wet; the wind does not dry it up. It is uncleavable, uncombustible, permanent, all pervading, stable, immovable and everlasting. It is imperceptible, unthinkable and immutable. Knowing this, the Lord says, Arjuna should not lament the death of others.
    Salvation is the merger of Atman and Brahmana.


    C. How do reach Salvation? To experience the blissful state, one has to withdraw from the external world (self-sacrifice) and focus internally and transcend the experiencing of space and time. This concept is called the meditation.
    We go through pains or pleasures when we experience the outside world through our ...

    Solution Summary

    The sacred elements that characterize Hindu religious traditions are explained.