Hindus Four Classic Aims in Life
for what is pleasant and delightful for the senses (kama)
for what is useful
and attaining prosperity (artha)
and virtue (dharma)
and redemption (moksha)
from the cycle of birth, death
Hinduism was invented by Europeans for the Indian religion. In
reality, it does not denote a single Indian religion but a whole
cluster of religions, a confederation of religions.
usually call their religion eternal order. In Sanskrit, the old
classical language of India, this is Sanatana dharma. This
central concept of dharma determines everything: it means
order, the law, obligation.
Hinduism is not a legal order but an all-embracing cosmic order
which governs all life. All men and women, regardless of the caste
or class to which they belong, are to observe it and to seek and,
finally, obtain cosmic conciousness. The journey of the human
being is, therefore, from humanity to divinity.
of dharma reminds us of something like the fundamental
ethic that can already be found among the Aboriginal people of
Australia, a fundamental order which was there from the start,
right from the beginning.
left: Kandariya Mahadev temple, Khajuraho; Varanasi, the city
is not primarily a matter of statements of faith, dogmas, orthodoxy.
Hinduism has no official doctrinal authority, but is about right
action, the correct rite, morality everything that makes
up the practice of religion.
is not primarily about specific rights either. It is about our
great human destiny, the responsibilities that we have: responsibilities
towards family, society, God and the gods which are regarded as
manifestations of the one and only Ultimate Reality.
believe in one God, Brahman, the Supreme Entity and the
Absolute, but depending on the path they choose, they associate
themselves with a particular divine revealer figure, like Shiva,
Vishnu, Shakti, Krishna or Ram.
convinced that the human soul is eternal, that it is identical
with the primal ground of the world and according to the law of
karma, undergoes several earthly existences.
means that all actions have causes from earlier life and effects
on later existences.
Vedas are regarded as classical sacred scriptures of the
Hindus, but the Bhagavad-Gita, a book from the Mahabharata
epic, is also extremely popular.
more than 800 million Hindus worldwide; most of them live in India.
left: A devotee at the temple; Morning prayers in the Ganges;
A Vishnavite priest.