Basic Disciplines of Hindu Dharma

Basic Disciplines of Hindu Dharma

Basic Tenets and Ideals of Hindu Religion
All the sects and offshoots of Hinduism share the same moral ideals:
1. Ahimsa - (non-violence);
2. Satya - (truthfulness)
3. Brahmacharya (search for the Brahma);
4. Maitri (Friendship)
5. Dharma - ("fulfilling one's duty");
6. KaruNa - (Compassion)
7. Dama (Self Restraint - mental and physical);
8. Viirya (Fortitude);
9. Shaucha (Purity - mental as well as physical)

(Note: Brahmacharya is often translated wrongly as sexual continence, it actually means the state of the incessant search for the (ultimate) Truth (Brahman).

Note that it is not called God, merely the Truth, whatever it is)

The Brihadãranyaka Upanishad [V.2] expresses these ideals in three words:
  • " 1. Dãmyata: Exercise self-control,
  • " 2. Datta: Be generous and giving,
  • " 3. Dayadhvamh: Be compassionate.
The basic discipline of a Hindu is following Karma Yoga, which is work or service without attachment to the benefits or works with self-control. The higher phase of self-control is detachment. Not only do we have to overcome what is evil in life, but we must also become independent of what is good. For instance, our love of home and friends is good in itself, but unless we expand it to include everything in the universe, it will be a shackle, even if it is golden.

Detachment does not imply disinterest in the changing world; it merely shifts a person's frame of reference to the Reality that endures forever, making his perception more objective, making him better equipped for life. Karma Yoga does not mean inaction or avoiding activity but performing the action as a duty and as an offering to the Supreme without looking for the results and benefits out of such action. The fruits of action, if any, will be received as a Prasãd or gift offered by the Divine.

Truth as a cardinal virtue in Hinduism is far more than mere truthfulness; it means eternal reality. Hinduism says that the pursuit of Truth, wherever it may lead or whatever sacrifices it may involve, is indispensable to the progress of man. Hence no Hindu scripture has ever opposed scientific progress or metaphysical and ethical speculations.

Truth and Non-violence are always associated with each other in the Hindu scriptures and are considered to be the highest virtues. Mahãtma Gãndhi describes Hinduism as a quest for Truth through Non-violence. This ideal is responsible for the pacific character of Hindu civilization. Notice that, in order to pursue non-violence, one must refrain from inflicting or tolerating violence on oneself. Therefore, non-violence is not passive resistance as many think: it is not the helplessness of the weak, but the calm strength of the mighty.

By: Bala N. Aiyer, M.D.

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