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Introduction to
Hindu / Sanatan Dharma
The search for Truth is called the Sanatana Dharma, or the Eternal Path.
Practiced by people on the otherside of Sindhu river, so Hindu Dharma.
 Hinduism has been enriched by the contributions by many sages.
 Hinduism is as old as the world itself. Vedas form the basis.
 A Way of life that TRANSCENDS Religion
 Believes in ‘Truth is one. Paths are many’.
 World’s 3rd largest with 1 billion+ followers.
 Let Noble Thoughts Come From ALL Directions
 Focuses on personally experiencing the Truth within.
Dharma: Dharma is the natural and rightful order and foundation of everyone
and everything. It is both why things are as they are and the path to the
realization of why things are as they are. It is a way-of-life.
Religion: is a way to understand or practice on how to realize God. Religion is
concerned with all of the relations existing between God and human beings,
and between humans themselves because of the central significance of God.
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Contents of the presentation
What are the Hindu scriptures?
What is the concept of God?
Hindu concept of Individual and Universe
What are the basic principles of Hindu Dharma?
Three Debts of Human Life
Four Stages of Hindu Religious Life
Four Ends of Human Life
Who is a Hindu?.
Code of Conduct
Additional Topics
References and links
The Rig Veda has declared the Ultimate Reality (God) as:
“Ekam sat, vipraha bahudha vadanti.” (Rig Veda 1.164.46)
"Truth (God) is one, the wise call it by various names" for more info.
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Hindu Scriptures
Vedas are the eternal truths revealed
by God to the great ancient Rishis.
These eternal truths never change.
 Vedas (Four)
 Rig (21 shakas)
 Sama (109 shakas)
 Yajur (1000 shakas)
 Atharva (50 shakas)
 Hymns, Brahmanas,
Aranyakas and Upanishads
Prajnanam Brahma:—‘Consciousness is Brahman’
Aham Brahma Asmi:—‘I Am Brahman’
Tat Tram Asi:—‘That Thou Art’
Ayam Atma Brahma:—‘This Self is Brahman’
Scriptures that change with time and space and summery
of Smriti in understandable format for common mind
 Dharma Shastras (Law Codes)
Ex: Manu Smriti
 Epics (Ramayana and Mahabharata)
 Puranas (Mythology) – There are many;
each tradition has its own. Ex: Shiva Purana
and Bhagavat Purana
 Agamas and Tantras: (sectarian scriptures)
 Darshanas (Manuals of Philosophy) –
Each school has its own literature. Ex:
Yoga Sutras of Sage Patanjali. for more info.
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Concept of God (Brahman)
In Hindu scriptures, the Cosmic Absolute/Absolute Reality is defined as
Transcendent (impersonal) and Immanent (personal).
In the transcendent aspect, the Supreme Reality is called Nirguna Brahman, that is
Brahman, without attributes. " Brahman is He whom speech cannot express, and
from whom the mind is unable to reach Him, comes away baffled" states the Taittiriya
Nirguna Brahman is not an object of prayer, but of meditation and
knowledge. It cannot be described, and It is absolute existence, absolute
knowledge, and absolute bliss (sat-chit-ananda). It is unborn, self-existent, allpervading, and the essence of all things and beings in the universe. It is
immeasurable, unapproachable, beyond conception, beyond birth, beyond
reasoning, and beyond thought". God cannot be defined in terms of any specific
manifestation, nor indeed in terms of their sum total. He is beyond all possibility of
definition. The Bhagavad Gita, the best-known scripture of India, states this point
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Concept of God, cont’d
Brahman , the Cosmic Absolute
(beyond description)
(personal aspect,
can be prayed, and
worshipped, but not
(impersonal aspect,
can be realized, but
not worshipped
We will focus on Immanent aspect of Brahman for now
Male Aspect
Ishvara or God (note capital G)
worshipped by many names
and forms known as deities
or gods (note small g)
Female Aspect
Divine Mother, worshipped
by many names and forms
known as deities or goddesses
(note small g)
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Concept of God (Bramhan)
In its Immanent (personal) aspect, the Supreme
Reality, is called Saguna Bramhan. He is the personal
God, the creator, the preserver, and the controller of
the universe. In Hinduism, the immanent (personal)
aspect of Bramhan is worshipped in both male and
female forms. In the male form, He is worshipped as
Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma is the creative
aspect, Vishnu is the protecting, sustaining aspect; and
Siva is the transforming, dissolving aspect. In the
female form, as Saraswathi, Lakshmi and Parvathi.
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Concept of God (Bramhan)
However, on the personal level, its up to individuals to
create a form/view of the same Supreme Bharman to pray.
Hindu accepts only one God, the Supreme. Because of this
flexibility in giving a shape or form, it appears as if there
are many Hindu Gods/Goddesses to a non-Hindu. Hindus
see divinity in all living creatures. Animal deities therefore,
occupy an important place in Hindu dharma. Animals, for
example, are very common as form of transport for various
Gods and Goddesses. This is dues to the concept of Atman
and Brahman being the same. We will discuss that in later
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Hindu Concept of the Individual
Just as a man living in a house is called a householder,
Atman (meaning “God within”) living in a human body is
called an individual. When this “human house” becomes old
and irreparable, Atman leaves the house and we say that the
individual has died. But Atman is immortal and is part of
Brahman, Supreme God. Atman is divine so all the beings are
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Hindu Concept of the Individual,
 Atman is uncreated, immortal and divine.
 Although Atman is generally translated as soul or spirit,
Atman and soul do not mean the same.
 Atman and Brahman is same. So individual can reach
the state of divinity. “Aham Brahmasmi” – I am God.
 In the human body, Atman is deluded by cosmic
ignorance, called Maya in Sanskrit.
and may commit sin under the influence of Maya.
Thus, the purpose of Hindu religious life is to transcend
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Hindu Concept of the Individual, cont’d
Why are individuals different form each other?
Human Body
just as
Type of Appliance
Type of Application
Audio & Video
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Hindu Concept of the Universe
Brahman (Infinite, Undivided and Changeless)
Cosmic Ignorance
(Heavenly Father)
Cosmic Energy
Divine Mother
Appearance of Brahman as things and beings of the world
The Infinite, Undivided and Changeless
appears as finite, divided, and changing
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Hindu Concept of the Universe
Hindus believe that the universe is without a beginning (anadi= beginning-less) or
an end (ananta = end-less). Rather the universe is projected in cycles. Each cycle
is divided into four yugas (ages of the world).
Satya yuga (golden age)
Treta yuga (silver age)
Dvapara yuga (copper age)
Kali yuga (iron age)
Pralaya (cosmic deluge )
New Creation
Duration of One Cycle
4,000,000 years
3,600,000 years
2,400,000 years
1,200,000 years
4000,000 years
400,000 years
12,000,000 years
Total duration of the four yugas is called a kalpa. At the end of kalyuga the
universe is dissolved by pralaya (cosmic deluge ) and another cycle begins.
Each cycle of creation lasts one kalpa, that is 12,000,000 human years ( or
12,000 Brahma years).
Hindus believe that there is almost a universe hidden in each Atman and
that can be explored looking inward with the help of Yoga and Meditation.
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Lord Vishnu's preserving, protecting powers have been manifested to the
world in a variety of forms, called Avatars, in which one or more of his divine
attributes were embodied in the shape of a human being or an animal or a
human-animal combined form, possessing great and sometimes
supernatural powers.that are innumerable.
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Basic principles of Hindu Dharma
Divinity of the Atman
 Unity of Existence
 Ahimsa
 Harmony of Religions
 Law of Karma
 Doctrine of Incarnation
 Freedom of Thought
 Law of Dharma
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Divinity of the Atman
Each human being, regardless of religion, geographic
region, gender, color or creed is in reality Atman
clothed in a physical body. Since Atman is inherently
pure and divine, every human being is potentially
divine. In Hindu view, a man is not born a sinner,
but becomes a victim of ignorance under the
influence of cosmic ignorance, called Maya. Just as
darkness quickly disappears upon the appearance of
light, an individual’s delusion vanishes when he gains
Practical Significance: Eliminates fear of God,
encourages freedom of thought, and removes
psychological barrier to human growth. No fear of
eternal hell.
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Unity of Existence
Science has revealed that what we call matter is
essentially energy. Hindu sages tell us that the
cosmic energy is manifestation of the Universal Spirit
(Brahman). Brahman has become all things and
beings in the world. Thus, we are all interconnected
in subtle ways. “All is One and One is in all,” declare
the sages.
Practical Significance:
Encourages universal brotherhood, reverence for all
forms of life, and respect for our environment. Hindu
scriptures address earth as Mother Earth.
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Ahimsa means non-violence, non-injury, or nonkilling. Hinduism teaches that al forms of life are
manifestations of Brahman. We must, therefore, not
be indifferent to the sufferings of others.
Practical Significance: Creates mutual love between
humans and other forms of life, and protects our
environment. Ahimsa provides basis for Hindu notion
of morality. “That mode of living which is based upon
a total harmlessness towards all creatures or (in the
case of necessity) upon minimum of such harm, is
the highest morality.” (Mahabharata Shantiparva
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Harmony of Religions
Hinduism believes that there is no one religion that
teaches an exclusive way to salvation. All genuine
spiritual paths are valid and all great religions are equally
true. “In whatever way humans love Me (God), in the
same way they find My love. Various are the ways for
humans, but in the end they all come to Me.” (Bhagavad
Gita 4.11)
Practical Significance: This doctrine lays foundation for
universal harmony. The attitude of religious tolerance is
one of Hinduism’s greatest gifts to mankind.
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
The Law of Karma
Hindus believe that God, who is all-loving and
merciful, does not punish or reward anyone. He
molds our destinies based upon our own thoughts
and deeds. Every action of a person, in though,
word, or deed, brings results, either good or bad,
depending upon the moral quality of the action, in
accordance with the adage, “As you sow, so shall you
reap.” Moral consequences of all actions are
conserved by the Nature.
Practical Significance: Eliminates fear of God and
hell; enhances self-confidence and strengthens the
concepts of righteousness and fairness.
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Doctrine of Incarnation
Hindus believe that God incarnates
Himself on earth to uphold righteousness,
whenever there is a decline in virtue.
Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita,
“Whenever there is a decline in
righteousness and predominance of
unrighteousness, I (God) embody Myself.
For the protection of
the good and for the
destruction of the evildoers and for the reestablishment of
righteousness, I am
born form age to age.”
(BG 4.6-4.7)
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Freedom of Thought
Hindus believe that wisdom is not an exclusive
possession of any particular race or religion.
Hinduism, therefore, provides everyone with absolute
freedom of thought in religious matters. One is free
to approach God in his or her own way, without
conforming to any dogma or blind faith. An open
mind is all that is needed to study Hinduism. Hindus
place the greatest value on experiencing truth
Practical Significance: Eliminates blind faith and
dogma. Encourages reason and logic for mutual
understanding. Hinduism is a God-loving religion and
not God-fearing one.
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
The Law of Dharma
The thought of dharma generates deep confidence in
the Hindu mind in cosmic justice. This is reflected in
the often-quoted maxims: “The righteous side will
have the victory.” “Truth only prevails, not
falsehood.” “Dharma kills if it is killed; dharma
protects if it is protected.” “The entire world rests on
Dharma is the law that maintains the cosmic order as
well as the individual and social order. Dharma
sustains human life in harmony with nature. When
we follow dharma, we are in conformity with the law
that sustains the universe.
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
The Law of Dharma
“Don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you.”
Individual Resp.
Social Resp.
Laws of the Land
Ahimsa (non-violence)
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
3 Debts, 4 Stages, and 4 Ends of Human
Three Debts:
– Debt to God
– Debt to Sages and Saints
– Debt to one’s parents and ancestors
Four Stages:
Brahmacharya (Studentship)
Grhastha (Householder)
Vanaprastha (Retirement)
Sannyasa (Renunciation)
Four Ends:
– Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Progress of Human thought Towards Dharma
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Who Is Hindu? – 9 Point Test
Hindus believe many diverse things, but there are a few bedrock
concepts on which most Hindus concur. The following nine beliefs,
though not exhaustive, offer a simple summary of Hindu spirituality.
1) I believe in the divinity of the Vedas, the world’s most ancient
scripture, and venerate the Agamas as equally revealed. These
primordial hymns are God’s word and the bedrock of Sanatana
Dharma, the eternal religion which has neither beginning nor end.
2) I believe in a one, all-pervasive Supreme Being who is both
immanent and transcendent, both Creator and Unmanifest Reality.
3) I believe that the universe undergoes endless cycles of creation,
preservation and dissolution.
4) I believe in karma, the law of cause and effect by which each
individual creates his own destiny by his thoughts, words and deeds.
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Who Is Hindu? – 9 Point Test
5) I believe that the soul reincarnates, evolving through many births
until all karmas have been resolved, and moksha, spiritual
knowledge and liberation from the cycle of rebirth, is attained. Not a
single soul will be eternally deprived of this destiny.
6) I believe that divine beings exist in unseen worlds and that
temple worship, rituals, sacraments as well as personal devotionals
create a communion with these devas and Gods.
7) I believe that a spiritually awakened master, or satguru, is
essential to know the Transcendent Absolute, as are personal
discipline, good conduct, purification, pilgrimage, self-inquiry and
8) I believe that all life is sacred, to be loved and revered, and
therefore practice ahimsa, “noninjury.”
9) I believe that no particular religion teaches the only way to
salvation above all others, but that all genuine religious paths are
facets of God’s Pure Love and Light, deserving tolerance and
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Code of Conduct – DO NOT’s
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Code of Conduct – DO NOT’s
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Code of Conduct – DO NOT’s
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Code of Conduct – DO’s
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Code of Conduct – DO’s
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Code of Conduct – DO’s
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Hindu Temple
Sikh Gurudwara
Jain Temple
Buddhist Pagoda
Four major religions of the world have originated from
India: Hinduism,Jainism,
and Buddhism.
Hindu Swayamsevak
Some Facts
Probably the first written language with
complete grammer is Sanskrit. 5000 years+.
Oldest civilization to exist on the earth today.
The science of Yoga and Meditation was
developed in the Himalayas
Birthplace of 4 major religions Hinduism,
Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism
World’s first University in Takshila in 700 BC
Vedas are the oldest texts available to humans
Sanskrit: Source of
numerous languages
 No Human Founder.
 No known beginning
 No One Scripture of authority
 One Supreme God/ Ultimate Reality
 Emphasis on personal experience
 All Paths deserve equal respect
 Whole world is one family
 Let every one be happy, healthy and peaceful
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Sacred Cow – Why?
Everything is sacred for Hindus. Cows, Like in
all societies of all times, have been
considered to be “wealth”.
Cows provide milk which helps sustain life,
life of adults and children alike. The byproducts of the milk, yoghurt, buttermilk,
butter etc were an integral part of their daily
diet. Their dung was a useful, year around
fuel supply. By pulling carts and ploughs,
they were partners in technology that helped
develop new frontiers in the Indian subcontinent.
Their usefulness meant they were valued as
highly as any gold, gem or sometimes even
kin. By giving it a very special place in our
society, that of a pseudo mother, we made
sure it was respected at all times. By giving
it the same divine status as parents, the
ancients made sure the humble cow had the
same legal and social protection as humans !
All this to protect our wealth !!
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Caste System
Vedas speak of nobility of entire humanity (krinvanto vishvam aryam), and do not
sanction any caste system or birth-based caste system. Mantra, numbered 10-131 in Rig Veda, addresses the entire humanity as divine children (shrunvantu vishve
amrutsya putraha). Innumerable mantras in Vedas emphasise oneness, universal
brotherhood, harmony, happiness, affection, unity and commonality of entire
Veda Mantra numbered 5-60-5 in Rig Veda declares, “All men are brothers; no one
is big, no one is small. All are equal.” Mantra numbered 16.15 in Yajur Veda
reiterates that all men are brothers; no one is superior or inferior.
Hindu scriptures speak only about ‘varna’ which means to ‘select’ (one’s
profession, etc.) and which is not caste or birth-based.
As per shloka numbered IV (13) of the Bhagavad Gita, depending upon a person’s
guna (aptitude) and karma (actions), there are four varnas. As per this shloka, a
person’s varna is determined by his guna and karma, and not by his birth. Chapter
XIV of the Bhagavad Gita specifies three gunas viz. satva (purity), rajas (passion
and attachment) and tamas (ignorance). These three gunas are present in every
human in different proportions, and determine the varna of every person.
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
Additional Resources
Idiots Guide To Hinduism
By Linda Johnsen
On The Internet:
This is a presentation by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh(HSS). For more
information, email at [email protected]
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh