Three Basic Principles of Hinduism
- God is Infinite – Brahman · Truth is one, the wise call it by many names.
- Unity of all
- Mutual Respect
Hindus believe that there is one God (Brahman), like a single fire, The Infinite, whose sparks are in equal amount in all humans, without any exceptions – without any labels. Therefore, we are all united with that single fire and with each other. God pervades and sustains the entire universe and Hindus see the elements of the Divine everywhere – in animate as well as in inanimate objects – we are all connected!
The Devine in Hinduism
There is one God but many representations in both male and female forms.
Divine Feminism plays a pivotal role.
While the Infinite Brahman does not have a limiting form, Hindus represent the Infinite One in numerous forms. These forms help Hindus to develop loving relationship with the Infinite God that cares about us. Hindus are free to choose the form which appeals most to them. In the words of Swami Vivekananda, who spoke at the first World Parliament of Religion during September 11-27, 1893 in Chicago,
“My brethren, we can no more think about anything without a mental image than we can live without breathing.”
In Hinduism, the Divine is seen in both male and female forms. However, Hindus see Energy (Shakti) in a female form.
God In Everything
In Hinduism, God, without undergoing any change in nature or being diminished in any way, is both the cause and the source of the universe. The example often given is of a spider projecting the web-material, withdrawing it and projecting it again.
Hindus believe that there is an Infinite responsible for this Universe. How can a being come from a non-being? Hindus believe there is an order to this Universe and there is no room for chance and randomness in Hinduism. However, the important thing to note is that all is not preordained – law of Karma (as explained later) - as humans, we have choices!
Hindus believe that the essence of the Divine is not only in us humans, but also in animals. That’s why many Hindus (not all) are vegetarians – they don’t eat meat. Hindus also see the Divine in plants; or in a piece of clothing. After all where did the cloth ultimately come from? It’s made up of atoms, and electrons are going around; the same electrons that make us.
In Hinduism, God plays a Pivotal Role. God in Everything and Everything in God.
Divinity in all of us
We are a part of the Divine
We are all connected
No Conversion Needed
Hinduism believes that the sparks of the Divinity are in all of us and thus we are connected with that Single Fire, the Infinite One, and with each other.
Research question: Compare and contrast Hindu’s view of Divine unity with other religions.
The official website for AWAKE: Life of Yogananda. Award-winning documentary about the Hindu swami who brought yoga and meditation to the West.
It’s of no surprise that in India, in the birthplace of Hinduism where nearly 80 percent practice Hinduism, a past President was Dr. Abdul Kalam, a Muslim, and the Prime Minister of India was Dr. Manmohan Singh who practices Sikhism.
If we are all one – if unity is the essence of the universe – then mutual respect is a self-evident truth. The God-essence in you is also in me. Hence disrespecting others is disrespecting yourself.
The attitude of mutual respect by majority Hindus is reflected in the diversity of religions, cultures and languages in India.
Discussion question: How would the concept of mutual respect change our presidential elections?
UNITY IN DIVERSITY
Embracing other Faiths with Respect and Honor
“Hinduism is a world religion that reaches out to embrace other faiths with respect and honors the sincere beliefs of others without trying to convert them.” -Linda Johnsen, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hinduism
“To claim salvation as the monopoly of any one religion is like claiming that God can be found in this room but not the next, in this attire but not another.” – Huston Smith, The World’s Religions
Discussion question: Why do we fear embracing other faiths?
Mahabharata is one of the two greatest Hindu Epics. Mahatma Gandhi was a Hindu who used non-violent civil disobedience, as inspired by Hindu teachings, to throw out the yoke of British rule on India.
“Nonviolence is the highest duty and the highest teaching.” -Mahabharata 13.116.37-41
Today, oppressed people in different parts of the world use Gandhi’s teachings on non-violence in their struggle for social justice.
- The Civil Rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi.
- Gandhi inspired Nelson Mandela on South Africa's 'Long Road to Freedom'
- Gandhi & Cesar Chavez: Legacy of Justice for All
Discussion question: How did non-violence achieve the goals of these four men?