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The Main Tenets of Hinduism

The Basics of Hinduism


Durgiana Temple in Amritsar, India
Graham Klotz/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Hinduism lacks any unified system of beliefs and ideas. It is a phenomenon and represents a broad spectrum of beliefs and practices which on one hand are akin to paganism, pantheism and the like, and on the other very profound, abstract, metaphysical ideas.

Since religion and culture are nearly interchangeable terms in Hinduism, emotive expressions like 'bhakti' (devotion) or 'dharma' (what is right) and 'yoga' (discipline) are used to depict essential aspects of the religion.

Hinduism believes in idol worship, reincarnation, karma, dharma and moksha. Some moral ideals in Hinduism include non-violence, truthfulness, friendship, compassion, fortitude, self-control, purity and generosity.

Human life is divided into four stages, and there are defined rites and rituals for each stage from birth till death.

Traditional Hinduism has two life-long dharmas that one can follow: ‘Grihastha Dharma’ (Domestic Religion) and ‘Sannyasin Dharma’ (Ascetic Religion). The ‘Grihastha Dharma’ has four goals: ‘kāma’ (sensual pleasure), ‘artha’ (wealth and prosperity), ‘dharma’ (the laws of life), and ‘moksha’ (liberation from the cycle of births). The ‘Sannyasin Dharma’ recognizes ‘moksha’ as its ultimate goal.

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