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Beliefs of Hinduism

Common to virtually all Hindus are certain beliefs, including, but not limited to, the following:
  • a belief in many gods, which are seen as manifestations of a single unity. These deities are linked to universal and natural processes.
  • a preference for one deity while not excluding or disbelieving others
  • a belief in the universal law of cause and effect (karma) and reincarnation
  • a belief in the possibility of liberation and release (moksha) by which the endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth (samsara) can be resolved
The Hindu deities Shiva and Vishnu combined as Harihara, 600-700. Central India. Sandstone. Museum purchase, (Asian Art Museum, B70S1).
The Hindu deities Shiva and Vishnu combined as Harihara, 600–700. Central India. Sandstone. Courtesy of the Asian Art Museum, Museum purchase, B70S1.
Hinduism is bound to the hierarchical structure of the caste system, a categorization of members of society into defined social classes. An individual’s position in the caste system is thought to be a reflection of accumulated merit in past lives (karma).
Observance of the dharma, or behavior consistent with one’s caste and status, is discussed in many early philosophical texts. Not every religious practice can be undertaken by all members of society. Similarly, different activities are considered appropriate for different stages of life, with study and raising families necessary for early stages, and reflection and renunciation goals of later years. A religious life need not be spiritual to the exclusion of worldly pleasures or rewards, such as the pursuit of material success and (legitimate) pleasure, depending on one’s position in life. Hindus believe in the importance of the observation of appropriate behavior, including numerous rituals, and the ultimate goal of moksha, the release or liberation from the endless cycle of birth.
Moksha is the ultimate spiritual goal of Hinduism. How does one pursue moksha? The goal is to reach a point where you detach yourself from the feelings and perceptions that tie you to the world, leading to the realization of the ultimate unity of things—the soul (atman) connected with the universal (Brahman). To get to this point, one can pursue various paths: the way of knowledge, the way of appropriate actions or works, or the way of devotion to God.

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  • blobby green style avatar for user Kesh bv
    Nastikas (person who would argue as Na asti -i.e. it's NOT there) or those who do not believe in existence of GOD are still Hindus.. I see the article assumes that belief is a per-requisite to be a Hindu. It's NOT the case. Hinduism is a congregation of multitude of philosophies.
    - One of the example (NOT necessarily only one) is 'Charvaka Sidhanta' or roughly philosophy propagated by rishi Charvaka.

    Rather the essence of Hinduism is it's ability to question all it's own beliefs and customs.

    "athato Brahma jijnasa' or NOW we shall seek to understand the creator.... is more of an essence to understand. To seek is NOT to agree to what has been told or written but to realize by one-self. And freedom to agree to ONLY that has been realized is the freedom with a Hindu.

    Therefore to be a Hindu it is NOT required to agree or accept any belief systems or follow any rituals.

    Many rituals change from location to location, and even within a small sect of people in a particular location... rituals change from family to family....

    Caste system is a social system and has NOTHING to do with any of the Hindu philosophies. So agreeing or disagreeing to the caste system has NO impact on being a Hindu.

    There are few thousand casts in HINDU society and the four varnas are general classifications. In today's date it's Govt of India which decides which of those castes are part of Schedule List (So the abbreviation SC & ST) The castes in this list were Historically subjected to extreme social limitations and the list is maintained to provide necessary protection and social acceptance and protection. So it's NOT one group of sudras or untouchables but it's a vast group of casts or sects.

    In conclusion from my side:- to be a Hindu.
    - It's NOT necessary to accept there is GOD (one can have healthy debate)
    - It's NOT necessary to 'believe' in any text or ritual
    - It's NOT necessary to fear God or be afraid of hell.
    - It's NOT necessary to identify with one of the varnas - which is normally stated as integral part of Hinduism is most introductions.
    - It's NOT necessary to be part of a caste (New converts to Hinduism in legal sense may not be part of any traditional caste).
    - One can seek help from a Guru and refer to all available texts to fulfill spiritual needs.
    (28 votes)
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  • leaf green style avatar for user cpetch
    The last sentence in the second paragraph is puzzling to me: "... the ultimate goal of moksha, the release or liberation from the endless cycle of birth."

    How does an individual know that they have reached moksha? If a person achieves moksha, can they ever fall "out" of this state of being (before they die)? If so, will their cycle of rebirth begin again?
    (3 votes)
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    • leaf green style avatar for user kulkarniajinkya11
      please try to understand the concept of Moksha metaphorically and not "Logically". I am sure logically cycle of birth and death means nothing clear. But don't make it a logical thing. Its a very highly philosophical thing. And answer to your question is when you will get the experience of it you will know that you have reached at moksha. It is not the thing to be proved scientifically nor the person who attains it tries to prove it ( Or make publicity) that he has reached Moksha. So, No one knows what happens when Moksha is attained. Te only way to know is you yourself practice and attain the Moksha. But the moment you attain it you will not desire to anything and even to get the answer for this question.
      (15 votes)
  • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user Analicia
    do they have a bible or holy book to go by
    (2 votes)
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  • marcimus purple style avatar for user anushka
    is god really there according to science
    (2 votes)
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  • boggle blue style avatar for user Maya Simone
    With the theory of reincarnation and the "One-in-one-out" principle, how can population growth be factored into the equation? Also, where does one go after Moksha? Or would you just cease to be?It would seem that the population would only decrease, even if slightly, as people reached Moksha.
    (3 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user sarath tamma
      Attaining moksha is not so easy task. it's mentioned in the vedas and in bhagavad gita, out of many millions who practice the path to moksha, only a few people will realise the truth and out of the millions and millions who found the truth, only a few will attain moksha. So if that sense, it's not easy to attain moksha. we can attain moksha after death or when we are alive.
      (4 votes)
  • leaf green style avatar for user AtharvC
    I am hindu
    (4 votes)
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  • leaf green style avatar for user sophioleary
    what is the difference between samsara and reincarnation?
    (3 votes)
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  • starky ultimate style avatar for user E Simms
    Are Hindus ok with people converting to their religion?
    (2 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Jovanni Thomas
    Who do you think lord Brahma is?
    (3 votes)
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  • mr pink orange style avatar for user Lucy B.
    Where do most people who are hindu live?
    (2 votes)
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