Defenition of a Hindu

What is the definition of a Hindu :
“Aa sindho: sinduparyantham yasya bhaaratha bhoomikaa maathru bhoo:
pithru bhoo (punya) schaiva sa vai Hindu iti smruthaa:”
whomsoever, is considering the land between the sapta sindu ( Indus valley
river) upto Indian ocean as the motherland/ fatherland and holy land, is
known as Hindu.
This land is known as Hindustanam which is defined as
follows:
” Himaalayam samaarabhya yaavath hindu sarovaram tham deva
nirmitham desam hindustaanam prachakshate”
The land created by god himself and which is lying between Himalayas and
Indian ocean is known as Hindustanam .

Unlike other religions, Hindu dharma has many specialties.This is not known as a religion, it is known as the dharma. Either Hindu dharma or sanaathana dharama. Sanathana means according to bhagavath
geetha, which cannot be destroyed by fire, weapons, water, air, and which is
present in all living and non living being. Dharma means, the way of life which
is the ‘total of all aachaaraasas or customs and rituals’. The aachaaraas which
are to be performed by the mother is known as mathru dharma, those of father
is known as pitru dharma. Similarly there are putra dharma ( dharma of son)
aachaarya dharma (dharma of teacher), as a continuation we can say
bhraathru (brother) dharma, bhagini (sister) dharma, poura (citizen) dharma,
raja (king) dharma and so on. All these dharmas have been described in detail
giving the specific importance in the dharma saastra and smruthies. There is
no specific English word for dharma, but it is the sum of the duties +
responsibilities + privileges of that individual. Then what is the sanathana/
Hindu dharma ? It is the total of mathru dharma + pitru dharma + putra
dharma + putree dharma + acharya dharma + poura dharma + …+…etc. Hence
we say Hinduism is not a religion but the way of life. One should always
remember that in each and every aachaaraas / dharma there will be a
component of spirituality in it. Without spirituality, nothing exists in Hindu
dharma. Almost everyone carries a wrong impression that this spirituality is
religion. No ! spirituality is different in Hindu dharma, where the question a
religion does not exist at all, because Hindu dharma was not created by one
individual/prophet/incarnation/…. Hence it is not a religion. Spirituality is a
part of every Hindu custom in the life of a Hindu. What are the rules to be
followed while practicing the Hindu customs and rituals (aachaaraas) ?. This
question has to be scientifically analyzed. Whatever may the aachaaraas we are
practicing in our life, it has been told that saakshaath anubhavairdhrushto na
srutho na guru darsitha lokaanaam upakaaraaya ethath sarvam pradarsitham.
Aachaaraas are to be followed based on their merits available from the self
experience, one need not blindly follow a teacher or someone who gives advise
without reasoning. All these aachaaraas are mentioned for the prosperity of the
human beings and it should be the prime focus for practicing the Hindu
aachaaraas.
Achaaryaath paadam aadatthe paadam sishya swamedhayaa paadam sa
brahmachaaribhya sesham kaala kramena cha is another important advice
given in smruthies. It means one can get one quarter of the knowledge from the
teacher, one quarter by analyzing oneself, one quarter by discussing with
others and the last quarter one can get during the process of living by the
method addition, deletion, correction and modification of already known
aachaaraas/ new aachaaraas. It is mentioned that we have to take one quarter
from the teacher/ guru. Now, what is the definition of a guru or teacher.
Aachinothi cha saastraarthaan sishyaan saadhayate sudhee swayam aacharti
chaiva sa aacharya iti smruthaa: who is knowing the scientific meaning of the
purpose of the aachaaraas, who can teach the student very systematically and
who is following (all what is taught to the students) in ones own life, that
person is fit to be called as the teacher/guru. Here, one can see the
qualification of a teacher who can define and explain about the aachaaraas.
Can we practice the aachaaraas at all times with the same level of devotion ?
This is a common question asked. The answer is also given in our smruthies.
Swagraame poornam aaachaaraasasm anya graame thadardhakam pattane tu
thath paadam yaatre baalaad aaachaaraasastheth. In one’s own village,
practice all the aachaaraas, in other villages (while travelling or staying)
practice one half of the aachaaraas, in the cities/ towns follow atleast a
minimum of one quarter of them and while traveling, like a child one need not
practice any of the aachaaraas. Should we practice the aachaaraas blindly
saying that those aachaaraas were followed by my father or forefathers.?
Thaathasya koopoyam iti bruvaana kaa purusha kshaarajalam pibathi. Saying
that this well was dug by my father ( and for showing respect to him) one need
not drink the salt water (if it is present) in the well. Aachaaraas need not be the
same in Kerala and Kashmir, similarly for a Hindu the same customs cannot
be practiced in America and Rajastan desert. Hence depending upon the place ,
time, season, age, availability of the materials, financial position of the
individuals, the aachaaraas can be duly modified. The same principles one can
see in bhagavath geetha also. Lord Krishna told Arjuna in the end of
Bhagavath geetha, that vimrusya ethath aseshena yathaa icchasi thathaa
kuru: Hey Arjuna all those whatever I have told you, critically analyze, and the
option for accepting or rejecting is yours. These are the rules one should follow
while analyzing and practicing the aachaaraas in Hindu dharma. There are
many words of guidance given in dharma saastra book. Saastram pramaanam :
scientific results are the first basis, aapta vaakyam pramaanam : guidance to
be taken from the scholars is the (next ) basis, prathyaksham pramaanam : the
direct experience is the next basis, anumaanam pramanam guessing the
consequences/results, if none of the above parameters is available. These are
the steps one should select for the analyses of the aachaaraas. What are the
purposes of practicing the aachaaraas ? It has been described in the smruthies (
which are also known as dharmasaastras) : aachaaraath labhathehyaayu:
aachaaraath dhanamakshayam
achaaraath labhathe suprajaa aachaaro ahanthya lakshanam . By following
the aachaaraas one gets health and longevity, it leads to prosperity, it gives
social relations and friends, and the followers of achaaras are considered as the
embodiment of nobility. Aachaara heenam na punanthu vedaa: The person
who does not have the habit of practicing the good achaaraas, cannot even be
purified by Vedas. What are the achaaraas ? those customs and rituals which
are irrelevant in the modern times are known as anaachaaraas, those which
leads to negatives/ non deleterious results are known as duraachaaraas and
those achaaraas which give very positive and useful results are known are
sadaachaaraas or generally known as aachaaraas. The sadaachaaraas are
followed for any one or more of the following purposes in the Hindu dharma.
The aachaaraas are those give psychological. physiological, family relation and
bondage, social relations and bondage and national integration based positive
results. Focusing on the above five points one can analyze very systematically
all these aachaaraas. Psychologically beneficial aachaaraas/ customs and
rituals: Few examples are selected for explaining these type of aachaaraas The
morning and evening prayer, the positive songs and keerthans, the Vedic
mantras which produce psycho linguistic and neuro linguistic effects, etc are
psychologically useful aachaaraas. They give extremely good response in the
brain cells by way of producing curative hormones. The blessings of the elders
and parents, the encouragement given to the children and also to those who
are desperately struggling in the life, the words of consolation, the blessings
like vijayee bhava, the aachaaraas in social gathering and family functions, etc
give psychologically positive results. ( I wish you will remember that all these
aachaaraas are also spiritually connected, is the Hindu way) More examples:
Reading a puraana gives the messages of ups and downs/ failures and
success/ pains and pleasures in the life. The stories of Sri Rama in Ramayana
and that of Pandavas in Mahabharatha inform us that there are sufferings in
the life and everyone should face them boldly. Reading Bhagavath geetha is for
mentally preparing to face any type of consequences and without failure
practicing the swadharama (ones own duty). Through puranic story telling for
the children, value based messages are given in the form of story capsules to
remain in the memory for many years and to get the reminder whenever the
abnormal pathway is opted to in their life. Visiting elders on festive occasions is
for getting value and experience based advise from their life. Respecting
teachers and elders, is for keeping the values in ones life and in society for the
learned people who continue to guide the society. Auspicious time selection for
visits and performing ceremonies, is to take extra mental precaution to see that
everything is carefully / systematically programmed and planned . Consulting
a good astrologer is to see that things are meticulously planned and the
blessings of the Vedic devathaas are assured for optimism in ones endeavor
(however this should not go to the level of superstition and should be carefully
monitored). Performing pooja is mainly to see that good will come if good is
practiced. And to give the feeling that rest is left to the divine mercy/
blessings. This blessing is directly assured (at least we feel so) by conducting
poojas in presence of family and relatives (hence gives an opportunity for the
family members to come together also). Worshiping the idols/ images having
smiling faces (prasanna vadanam) gives a psychological positive feeling of
confidence ( avoid the worship of weeping/ bleeding/
cruel images as it gives a negative influence in the mind). Chant positive
manthra/ keerthan/ bhajan for positive effect (neurolinguistic and
psycholinguistic) and never chant crying or weeping songs which also influence
the mind negatively Physiologically beneficial customs and rituals. You can
also analyze these customs and rituals yourself on the scientific base. The
soorya namaskaara / sun salutation performed in the morning is a
combination of 7 yogaasaanaas practiced in ten steps, which give smooth
exercise for all the movable skeletal joints in the body and hence this is also
known as ‘ the king of the exercises’. Morning prayer karaagre vasathe lakshmi
karamadhye saraswathi karamoole sthithaa gouri prabhaathe karadarsanam:
Sitting in the same bed where you sleep everyday, without cleaning the
teeth‐face‐body, why this manthra is chanted, because the body was horizontal
for the whole night while sleeping and it is going to become vertical ( suddenly)
when you get up. In the vertical position of the body the force exerted by the
heart for pumping the blood is more, hence the change of position of the body
from horizontal to vertical level should be slow and steady. Hence we are
instructed to sit on the bed for few seconds ( it has been statistically estimated
that 23% of the heart attack deaths take place in the heart patients when they
suddenly get up and stand/walk from the lying position ). Similarly with a
mantra we touch the floor samudra vasane devi parvatha sthana mandale
Vishnu patnee namasthubhyam paada sparsam kshamaswa me. The bio static
electricity in the body gets earthed through the fingers instead of the feet,
reducing the chance of arthritis and many other nervous based disorders.
Before taking the food, few second prayer is a Hindu aachaaraas. during this
prayer time and while looking to the food the flow of saliva in the mouth takes
place and this liquid activates the generation of other digestive enzymes also,
thus activating the process of digestion ( a layer of saliva and digestive enzymes
in the bottom of the stomach before the food comes to the stomach is a
biochemistry). Fasting leads to cleaning of the intestine, certain fasting (partial)
in which change of food is instructed in the custom, which leads to getting
variety of micro nutrients from different types of food sources. Choodaakarna
the ceremony connected with wearing of the ear ring is just like giving the first
vaccination and annapraasana the first food giving ceremony is like the first
inoculation to the baby through the hands of different people (the ear ring in
the former and food in the latter carries little dirt/germs which leads to
augmenting the immunity in the body of the baby). These are only very few
among thousands of aachaaraas practiced by Hindus, for physiological benefit
More examples: Do not keep the direction of the head towards north because
the magnetic meridian of the earth retards the blood flow through brain
capillaries and affect the functioning of brain cells. Avoid taking bed coffee to
prevent the obnoxious decomposed materials generated by microorganism in
the mouth ( in the night ) going to the stomach to avoid the chance of stomach
cancer. Wake up early morning, because the brain is perfectly active during
that time. Take a bath in the morning itself so that all the decomposed
products/ salts/ urea etc present on the surface of the body gets cleaned
which prevents the skin diseases significantly. The cold water/ hot water bath
activates the biological process of the body cells to maintain the body
temperature when cold/ hot water bath is taken. Dhyaana / meditation
activates brain cells. Praanaayaama activates the lungs cells and functioning.
Taking thulasi water/ theertha gives the medicinal property of the plant in it.
Using sandal wood paste in the forehead gives the chance of absorbing the
medicinal components in the chandan through the most sensitive part
of the body. Visiting a temple ( in Hindu worship, the temples are not merely
prayer halls, they are quantum healing centers) gives energy to the body if
pancha suddhee is maintained. Doing pradakshina to aswatha gives an
atmosphere/ air through which traces of ozone produced by the tree goes to
the lungs and purifies the lungs. Attending and participating temple festivals
give the opportunity for leadership qualities, social gathering, entertainment
and hence variety of merits including spiritual benefits. Customs and rituals
beneficial for strengthening the family bondage: When we look for integrated
development of the society, the family relation becomes the first step in the
social life. There are hundreds of aachaaraasasas in the Hindu life which are
exclusively aimed at strengthening the family relations and bondage. Every
spiritual and family based customs are to be practiced by the wife and
husband together, This strengthen the family relationship. The message that
maathru devo bhava, pitru devo bhava : Let the mother and father be divine to
me ( gods to me) convey a strong relation thread between the children and
parents. The death anniversary functions known as sraardha are mainly
performed to give the demonstration of the relationship between the parents
and children. The demonstration from generation after generations. In all the
rituals, the individual is expected to tell the gotra (clan) and sootra (thread of
connection) which again show the connection with the forefathers. During
festivals, the parents were saluted/prostrated as mathru/ pithru namaskaara,
to get the feeling for the children that ( whatever may be their age) their
relationship, with the parents is not merely that of people living together in a
house. This gives the message that in younger days children were looked after
by the parents and in the old age, the parents should be looked after by the
children with due respect and care. Similarly the relationship between the wife
and husband is not merely the relation for sex, but for building a family with
culture and values in the life. Through 16 sacraments known as samskaaraas (
samskaara means refining or purification) the life of the baby is getting
enriched by the values of the life. During the construction of the house the
ground breaking , stone laying , the door fixing and house warming ceremonies
are all connected with the star of birth of the wife, thus giving importance to
the wife in the family. Without the husband or wife, the other (among the
couple) alone cannot perform any of the household achaaras, which again
makes it compulsory to build the strong family bondage. The marriage is
performed by tying the thread‐ putting the garland‐ holding the right palm (
paanigrahana)‐ presentation of the cloths or exchanging the rings‐ and by
sirodhaara, these five rituals in presence of hundreds of invited guests/ and
agni/fire give the feeling of strong wife – husband bondage. It is said that the
marriage is conducted as agni saakshi. Thus one can analyze the customs to
understand the impact of the family relations. More examples: If properly
performed matching a horoscope before marriage gives an opportunity for
understanding the personality of the individuals who are getting married and
suitable corrective measures can be adopted. Inviting relatives and guests for
marriage gives an opportunity to share the joy among relatives and social and
family relations get strengthened. After marriage ceremonies are aimed at
getting a healthy baby and giving the feeling of love and affection among the
couples. The jaatja karma of the baby is performed to record scientifically the
position of the celestial body when the
baby was born. It is the bound privilege of the parents to give the name for
their baby and hence the name of their choice through naamakarana, is given as
a part of the samskaaraas. Dhampati pooja/ couple pooja is performed by
other family members to remind their respect and appreciation on
strengthening the bondage between the couples. Birthday celebrations are
conducted to inform the duty and responsibility of the individuals when they
grow and to remind them that the society and relatives are with them for
undertaking the responsibility. Celebration of the 60th birth anniversary
(shashtipoorti), to remind the time for doing more good for the society using the
experience gained for the last 60 years of life, when the period of rest starts.
Customs and rituals beneficial for the social bondage: Inviting guests for family
functions like birthday, marriage, during the death and after death rituals,
getting together during the festival seasons like
holi‐deepavali‐krishnaashtamai‐ramanavami‐ celebrations etc. temple festivals,
village festivals, are all aimed at building social bondage . Through these social
relation building mechanisms the cultural relationship among Indians was
built up for the last many millennia . Many spiritual and religious activities as
samooha pooja, samooha bhajan, mantra aalapan etc are all done in groups
with the leadership of the common Hindus themselves, not through appointed
priests , which lead to the cultural integration of the social bondage in the
Hindu society. More examples: Family visits during happy and unhappy
occasion by relatives and friends ( even without taking appointments) is to
confirm the family members that during happy and unhappy incidents in ones
life we , the relatives and friends will be with them. Get together during festival
occasions is for strengthening social bondage among the society members.
Kumbha mela, vaisaaki, and many other festival is for sharing the joy and
forgetting the negatives of the past and to build better relations ship among the
members in the society . Group pilgrimage to long distance is to share the joy
and difficulties together in the spiritual way to strengthen social bondage…
Customs and rituals beneficial for national integration: There are many
customs which are followed exclusively for getting the feeling of patriotism
among the Indians. The morning prayer ( praathasmarana) we chant the
names of seven holy rivers from Indian continent … gange cha yamune
chaiva… and seven mountains.. mahendro malaya sahyo… the great women of
India… ahalya droupadi seetha… the great men aswathaama bali vyaaso….
Seven major cities of India ayodhya mathuraa maaya…. and so on. These
stanzas were written three or four thousand years ago. This informs and
reminds us that India was culturally one for the last many thousand years The
pilgrimage to north India by the south Indians and to south India by the north
Indians are fine example of national integration. The customs followed in the
immersion of the ashes (obtained after cremation) in kaasi / varanaasi triveni
sangam by the south Indians and in kanyakumari triveni sangam by the north
Indians lead to this national integration through visits and experiences of
direct contact among south and north Indians ( where the languages/ food/
dressing/ cultural traits etc differ). It is also important to note a very
interesting fact, that for making any curries (food items) in south India , north
Indian spices are required and for north Indian curries, south Indians spices
are inevitable. Thus even in kitchen of Hindu family, the national integration
can be seen. Learning of Sanskrit language, chanting of Vedas and related
literature, the story of Ramayana and Mahabharatha are all finally aims at
integrating the people of India and give the message of unity in diversity . More
examples: A deep analyses of the holy places, rivers, mountains and asramas
given in Ramayana and Mahabharatha when Sri Rama ( in Ramayana) and
Pandavas ( in Mahabharata) visited during vanavaasa , gives familiarity of the
nation through itihasas and puraanaas. Puranic stories do influence the
national integration. Pilgrimage to Asrams, Gangotri, Haridwaar, Kailash,
Kanyakumari, etc integrates the mind of all Indians towards the nation. The
concept of athithi devo bhava to serve the people who visits our home without
taking appointment gives the opportunity to know and help others. During the
age old customs anyone who is on pilgrimage has to depend for the food and
shelter upon the unknown people . People traveling from north to south and
south to north of India, for the pilgrimage could take the shelter in the athithi
devo bhava concept. Bharath maatha ( mother Bharath) concept of the nation
gives the relation among Indians as the children of the country. In
mahasankalpa names of different kshetra in India are given ( as parasurama
kshetra ( Keralam) ‐ Sri Rama kshetra ( Tamil Nadu) ‐ Sreenivasa kshetra (
Andra) ‐ Jagannatha kshetra ( Orrissa) ‐ Bhaskara kshetra ( Karnataka) and so
on, which informs us that we are part of the great nation Bharath. Like this
there are hundreds of the aachaaraas aimed at national integration. Thus the
aachaaraas are directly connected with the day to day life of Hindus. Even the
spiritual rituals also compels us to pray saha naa vavathu, saha now
bhunakthu saha veeryam karavaavahe thejaswinaavadheethamstu maa
vidvisha vahai aano bhadraa . Let us exist together, share the results of the
work together, work together, thorough that path way let us enlighten
ourselves, let us not have hatred towards anyone , let noble thoughts come
from all over the world. Hindus always prayed lokaa: samasthaa: sukhino
bhavanthu . let everyone become happy. Hindus never prayed haindavaa:
samasthaa: sukhino bhavathu Let (only) Hindus become happy. Hindus never
said their pathway is the only correct one for attaining god. They always
allowed other thoughts also to penetrate/integrate into the minds of the people, if
those pathways can also fetch good results. Hindus are the only people who
prayed sarve bhavanthu sukhina: sarve santhu niraamaya sarve bhdraani
pasyanthu maa kaschit dukhabaag bhveth. Let sarve‐ all become happy and
glorious, free from pains and sorrow. Here too Hindus never said only let
Hindus get all the benefit Say that all Indians are proud Hindus whether they
follow lord Siva, Krishna, Jesus Christ or Prophet Mohammed, if their blood is
Hindu blood then they are Hindus. In India there are only two categories of
people who are Hindus and who were Hindus. Those, who are following the
sanathana dharama, even though born and brought up under different culture
anywhere in the world, are also Hindus.

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