Basic beliefs of Hinduism

As you know, Hinduism is the oldest religion on the planet. It is very, very vast and has a large number of beliefs compared to other religions. It is very difficult to encompass all the beliefs of Hinduism in an article. So, here we will discuss only basic and major beliefs of Hinduism.

Belief in soul (also called as “aatma”):

This is one of the major and most important beliefs of Hinduism. What Hinduism believes is each living creature on this planet has a soul, and all these souls are the part of a Supreme Soul called “Parmatma.”  Therefore each animal in the universe has the same soul as a human being has. Therefore, the ultimate aim of human life should be to be one with the Supreme Souls, Parmatma. This is called as Nirvana or Moksha.

Before entering a human body, the soul travels through 84 million species and then is able to gain the human body. So, we should always strive in our human life to attend Nirvana or Moksha. We should not waste our life in collecting earthly things.

After death, our soul enters a new body depending on our Karma of past life. This process continues until we become one with the Supreme Soul.

Belief in Karma:

Hinduism believes that what we are now is the result of our Karma in the past life. The Karma is what we do in our life. The good things we do is called good Karma and the bad things we do is called as bad Karma or sin. Those who do bad Karma, suffer in their present life as well as their coming life until they get punished for their bad Karma. So, as a human being we should always do good Karma, so that our present life and coming life be happy.

Depending on our past life Karma, our soul enters the body of the human being or another species like animals, birds, etc.

Belief in reincarnation:

Not only Hinduism but also other major religions like Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism also believe in concept of reincarnation. What it is that the soul is immortal and the death is that of the body only. As we change our clothes, the soul changes body and is reborn again. It travels from one body to another body until it becomes one with the Supreme Soul. Thousands of proofs are available now on the internet that reincarnation is the truth.

Belief in multiples paths to reach the God:

Hinduism does not believe in only one path to reach the God. You can do it by multiple ways. That is what makes Hinduism a different religion.

What we eat is what we are:

As told by Lord Krishna (and accepted by the scientists worldwide now), we tend to become what we eat. The food is divided in three categories:

1. Rajasi.

2. Satvik.

3. Tamasi.

Parents, Teacher, and Food are next to God:

Hindus believe that parents, teacher, and food are next to God. Parents give us birth, nurture us, teach us values. Teachers gives us knowledge to survive in this world. Food is the thing by which we all live. Therefore, these three things have utmost importance and reverence in Hinduism.

Incarnation of Vishnu:

Yada Yada Hi Dharmasya| Glanirbhavati Bharataha | Abhutthanam Adharmasya | Tadatmanam Srijanmyaham | Parithraanaay Sadhunam | Vinashach Dushkruteha | Dharmasansthapanarthaya | Sambhavami Yuge Yuge|

Hindus believe that whenever the darkness on earth will cross its limit, whenever the Dharma will be in peril, Lord Vishnu will reincarnate himself and save the earth and protect the good people from evil. He will destroy the evil and will reinstate the Dharma.

Lord Vishnu has incarnated himself for 9 times so far. The 10th reincarnation will come soon or might have born. It will be called “Kalki Avatar.”

The 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu are:

1. Matsyavatar

2. Kurmavatar.

3. Varahavatar.

4. Narasimhavatar.

5. Vamanavatar

6. Parashurama

7. Shree Rama.

8. Lord Krishna.

9. Gautam Buddha

10. Kalki Avatar.


Concept of God in Hinduism

It is the biggest misconception about Hinduism that Hindus worship 330 million Gods making Hinduism a polytheistic religion, but in fact, Hinduism believes in only one God but allows its followers to worship the God in many forms such as nature (including trees, sun, idols, animals, etc.) and persons (Lord Krishna, Lord Rama, Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, etc.). These persons are called devas (deities) and are often confused by calling Gods. Devas are celestial beings that control forces of nature such as fire, air, wind, etc., which is same as Christians worship Jesus and Buddhist worship Lord Buddha as messengers of God. They are not to be confused with the One and the Supreme God. The God is a different thing and deity is a different thing. These words should not be confused together.

In Vedic Hinduism, there were 33 devas, which later became exaggerated to 330 million devas. In fact, all the devas are themselves regarded as more mundane manifestations of the One and the Supreme Brahman (God) for devotional worship. The Hindus do not literally worship 330 million separate gods. The Sanskrit word for “ten million” also means “group”, and “330 million devas” originally meant “33 types of divine manifestation.

Concept of God by Hindu Scriptures:

Vedas and Bhagvad Gita are considered as most sacred scriptures of Hinduism. Following are a few lines where they talk about the God.

1. “Ekam evadvitiyam” meaning” He is One only without a second.

[Chandogya Upanishad 6:2:1]

2. “Na casya kascij janita na cadhipah” meaning “Of Him there are neither parents nor lord.”

[Svetasvatara Upanishad 6:9]

3. “Na tasya pratima asti” meaning There is no likeness of Him.”

[Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:19]

4. “Na samdrse tisthati rupam asya, na caksusa pasyati kas canainam” meaning “His form is not to be seen; no one sees Him with the eye.”

[Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:20]

Vedas refer to God as “Brahman.” Brahman is the unchanging, infinite, immanet, and transcedent reality, which is the Divine Ground of all matter, energy, time, space, being, and and everything beyond in this universe. It is the Supreme Cosmic Spirit or Absolute Reality (often confused as God Brahma) and is said to be eternal, genderless, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and ultimately indescribable in human language. Noteworthy thing is that Hindus believe that God is genderless whilst most of other religions generally believe God as male.

The Brahma Sutra of Hinduism is:

“Ekam Brahm, dvitiya naste neh na naste kinchan” which means

“There is only one God, not the second; not at all, not at all, not in the least bit.”

But it is true that in practice, Hindus worship the Almighty in several different forms. Therefore, it is interesting to understand the concept of God in Hinduism and how the other Gods developed over the time and became popular.

According to Shiv Purana, The Brahman created Lord Shiva. Then, Lord Shiva created Lord Vishnu, and Lord Brahma was born from the lotus originated from the naval of Lord Vishnu. These three Gods were assigned three different jobs to run this universe systematically:

Lord Shiva – The Destroyer

Lord Vishnu – The Protector

Lord Brahma – The Creator

Lord Brahma created the universe and he recreates it after every destruction called Mahapralaya (Armageddon).

All other demi-Gods are creation or incarnation of these three. In the process of protecting the people, Lord Vishnu needs to reincarnate on the earth. Hindus worship these all 10 reincarnations of Lord Vishnu and their other forms also.

Concept of God according to Bhagvad Gita:

Bhagvad Gita is an important Hindu scripture according to which Lord Krishna is the incarnation of Supreme Being and hence everybody should worship Lord Krishna only. Worshiping other deities would give you worldly benefits and you would have to suffer for those gains afterwards.

Hindu Gods and Goddesses

There are three main deities or demi-Gods in Hinduism namely, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva and one main Goddess, Mata Parvati. Most of the other Gods are incarnations or other forms of Vishnu and Shiva and Goddesses are also incarnation or other forms of Devi Parvati.

Besides that there are a number of other demi-Gods and local deities, which are popular in particular areas only. These demigods and deities are known as Devas and Devis. It is very difficult to cover all of them but we are trying to cover as many names as possible.

Hindu God:

Brahman (not to be confused with Brahmin caste) is considered as the God of Hindus. He is formless and genderless. He is the supreme soul. He is omniscient and omnipresent. He is also called as Parmeshwara, Om, or Parmatma. He created the trinity who are carrying out their job of taking care of the universe. Other demi-Gods are considered as manifestations of Him.

List of Hindu demi-Gods:

1. Lord Dattatreya: Lord Dattatreya is the most powerful deities of Hindus. This deity is formed by the combination of three main Hindu deities viz Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva and he is the most powerful than any other deities.

2. Lord Ganesha: Lord Ganesha is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. He is blessed to be worshipped first in all deities and at the start of all rituals and new activities. His head is that of an elephant and the body is that of a human.

3. Lord Brahma: Lord Brahma is the creator of the universe. He is not worshipped individually as he is cursed because of his misbehavior. He is worshipped in the form of trinity.

4. Lord Vishnu: Lord Vishnu is the protector of the universe. So far, he has incarnated himself nine times. The 10th incarnation is expected to come soon.

5. Lord Shiva: Lord Shiva is considered as destroyer of the universe. He is also called as God of Gods (Mahadev). He is very popular and is worshipped mainly in the form of a Lingam.

6. Lord Kartikeya: Lord Kartikeya is the elder son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. He is also known as Lord Murugan.

7. Lord Krishna: Lord Krishna is considered as eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He killed many demons. He told Bhagvad Gita, the divine song, to Arjuna. Vaishnavites consider him as incarnation of Brahman, Supreme Being.

8. Lord Rama: Lord Rama is the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He killed Ravana, the demon king and established an ideal kingdom which is known as Ramrajya.

9. Lord Narsimha: Narsimha is the fourth incarnation of Lord Vishnu who killed the demon king, Hiranyakashyapu. Hiranyakashyapu was a very despotic ruler and was trying to kill his own son, Pralhad, who was a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Narsimha’s head is that of a lion and the body is that of a human.

10. Lord Hanuman: Hanumn is known as monkey god who belonged to the ape race. He served Lord Rama and helped him kill Ravana. He is immortal and Hindus believe that he is still alive.

11. Yama: Yama is considered as God of death. His ambassadors come to take the soul of the dead person.

12. Lord Venkatesha or Balaji: Lord Venkatesha is considered as incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

13. Parshuram: Parshuram is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. When the warriors became powerful, they started bullying common people. Hence, Vishnu incarnated as Parshuram and defeated them seven times.

Natural powers worshipped as deities:

1. Indra: Indra is considered as king of the paradise and is a deity of storm. Hindus do not worship Indra because he is cursed as he is not of a good character.

2. Agni: Agni means fire. Agni is considered as a deity by Hindus. It is believed that the sacrifices offered through Agni go to the heaven.

3. Vayu: Vayu means wind. The wind is worshipped as Vayu devta. Lord Hanuman is considered as the son of Vayu devta.

4. Surya: Surya means sun. Sun worship is prevalent in many parts of India since ancient times. Sun worship is also common to many other cultures in the world. Hindus consider Sun as a deity and is depicted in many epics and Puranas as a person.

5. Kamdev: Kamdev is the god of sex in Hinduism. The desire for sex is because of him.

List of Hindu Goddesses:

1. Devi Parvati: Mata Parvati is the wife of Lord Shiva and the mother of Lord Ganesha. She reincarnated in many forms to kill demons on the earth. She represents the feminine power.

2. Devi Saraswati: She is the goddess of education and daughter of Lord Brahma. She is always depicted as having a Veena, a stringed musical instrument, in her hands.

3. Devi Laxmi: Devi Laxmi is the goddess of wealth and prosperity. She is the wife of Lord Vishnu. Hindus worship Laxmi so that she would make them wealthy. In Diwali, Laxmi Pujan is celebrated and Devi Laxmi is worshipped. This is one of the biggest Hindu festival.

4. Annapurna Devi: She is the goddess of food. She is also a form of Devi Parvati.

5. Maa Durga: Devi Durga is the incarnation of Devi Parvati who killed Mahishasur, a very cruel and powerful demon. Mahishasur was invincible for men. Hence, Goddess Parvati had to reincarnate as Durga and kill him.

Some regional important deities in Hinduism:

1. Khandoba.

2. Yallamma Devi.

3. Mhasoba.

4. Bhairavnath.

5. Navnath.

6. Chamunda Devi.

7. Tuljabhavani Mata.

8. Kali Mata.

9. Kalubai.

10. Saibaba of Shirdi.