'Sanatana Dharma' or wrongly called as Hinduism by English colonialists is one of the oldest religions in the history of mankind. It is also one of those religions that has been able to hold itself against repeated onslaughts by other religious fanatics who have tried to destroy it from time to time. Perhaps the reason why Hinduism has been able to hold itself together for so many years and is still one of the major religions in the world is the fact that it is more a way of life than a restrictive and organized religion. In fact, the essence of Hinduism is imbued in the psyche of the Indian society, and permeates in the every day life of the conservative as well as liberal Hindu.
The sacred elements that characterize Hindu religious traditions, and their sublime meanings
It would be difficult to completely list all the sacred elements that make up the Hindu religious traditions because of the sheer vastness and depth of the Hindu culture and traditions that have evolved through thousands of years. Some of the salient features of the Hindu religion are mentioned below.
The Hindu Philosophy
Hinduism stresses on the importance of the absolute truth. According to Hindu philosophy, God is the absolute reality and the universe is the manifestation of the single Supreme Being alternatively called as the supreme consciousness. Many Hindu philosophers equate the Hindu Brahman (the Supreme Being) to pure consciousness, which according to Hindu traditions have no beginning or end. The ultimate reality is blocked from the perception of the mundane man by Maya or delusion that makes him think that the ephemeral world is real. The objective of each man and woman is therefore, to go beyond this Maya and find his true nature. In fact, Hinduism stresses on the fact that every living organism is a manifestation of the ultimate truth and so in essence every being is the Lord himself.
The Hindu philosophy believes that the Brahman: the Supreme Being, takes the form of earthly creatures. Hence the Brahman that is localized in the earthly creatures is called the Atman. The Atman due to the influence of the mind is deluded, and thinks that the world is real and final by identifying with the sense objects (the atman may also be called as the ego). Liberation comes only when the Atman understands that its nature is Brahman. Until this happens, the atman taken on successive births as different animals and plants according to his karma, or past actions.
The Hindu religion
The Hindu religion is strongly dependent on the Hindu philosophy and in addition, has inculcated a lot of rituals and practices. The Hindu religion has 333 million gods; perhaps the largest number of Gods in any religion. This is because the Hindu philosophy believes that every human being is God himself. This acceptance of the multiplicity of the Supreme Being in many forms is the hallmark of the Hindu religion. The Hindu religion is also very assimilative and ...