- Four Stages Of Hindu Life
- Varna Ashrama
- Origin of Puja
- Dharma and Karma
There are four important obligations (Rins) for a Hindu.These are obligations to the sages, to the ancestors, to god and to human beings.These obligations are fulfilled through the performance of duties in various stages of life (ashrama).There are four stages of life of a Hindu.These are:
- Vanaprastha and
Stage 1 — Brahmacharya Ashram—
- Devote to study.He leads a celibate life and in the pursuit of knowledge.
- Studying scriptures, accumulating knoweldge, and following a rigorous way of life a Hindu may fulfil his obligation to the sages.
Stage 2 — Grihasth Ashram—
- A householder beginning with marriage.
- The obligation to the ancestors,fulfilled by leading the life of a householder. His responsibilities are to procreate, to maintain the tradition of his ancestor, to take care of the young ones, to take care the foresters and wanderers stages of life.
Stage 3 — Vanaprastha—
- The householder accepts the life of a wanderer maintaining some linkages with the household.
- Leaving home behind the lives the life of homelessness.
Stage 4 — Sanyasa—
- Breaks away all ties with the household and goes to the forest and accept the life of a sage.
- Becomes nameless, homeless wanderer and becomes a renouncer.
Within the context of Hindu social organisation,these goals are to be achieved.
There is a four-fold division of Hindu society,in terms of four varnas:
A Hindu is born into a varna and follows his varnadharma in this birth for moksha – the ultimate goal of the life.
According to Rig Veda the four varna orders emerged from the limbs of the primeval man who is a victim of the divine sacrifice that produced the cosmos.
The Brahmana emerged from his mouth and involves in the pursuits of knowledge.
The Kshatriya emerged from his arm,to be the warriors and rulers.
The Vaishya emerged from his thigh,to be in the pursuit of trade and commerce.
The Sudras emerged from his feet,to be in the pursuit of service of other three varnas.
It is significant that untouchables are not mentioned in the Vedic hymn.
There are innumerable number of castes within the broad fold of these varnas with ascribed occupation, social status and localised concepts of purity and pollution.
Traditionally,each caste (jati) performs its jatidharma to achieve the goals of life.
All Hindus recognise this system and can place their identity in terms of the varna ashram. Most of the basic ideas on varna system and its links to the concepts of Karma and Dharma are universally present in the world view of Hindus.
The notions of Dharma and Karma are closely interlinked to each other
If Dharma is a social consciousness about the good life, Karma is the individual actor’s effort to live according to it.
Message from Bhagavad Gita:
One must perform Karma without expecting the rewards which may be desirable or undesirable. Popularly, Karma is also related to the perceptions of birth, rebirth and salvation.It is believed that an individual is born to a higher or lower caste and suffers the pains and enjoys pleasures in the present life in terms of the Karma he/she undertook in the past life. Again his or her future life, rebirth or salvation will be determined in terms of the Karma he/she undertakes in the present life.
That is,according to Indian cultural tradition all human actions have inescapable consequences. The fruits of action brings joy or sorrow depends upon the good or bad actions.
To be born a human being is a rare privilege because it is only through such a birth that a soul-may be freed from reincarnation.Significantly,there are three pragmatic aspects of the concept of Karma in popular Hinduism.
- Offerings of puja (both at home and in the temple) – Origin of Puja
- Performing of the life cycle rituals
- Offerings of prayers at the sacred places (Tirthas)
1. Worship or Prayer of favourite Gods and Goddesses which are popularly known as puja. The Real Origin of Puja Started:
Though, the origin of puja goes back to Vedic period, sacrificial rituals became associated with the concept of Karma in the later part of the evolution of Hinduism. It is popularly believed that the direction of life (present or future) can also be determined through the performance of such Karma.
2. Identified with life cycle rituals of the Hindus.
It is significant that every Hindu is to follow distinctive life cycle rituals (samskara) at birth, marriage and death. These rituals are performed for the moral refinement of the individual to make them complete and perfect, and ultimately after death,transform into an ancestor. Thus the rituals give social identity to the newborn.
Through the rituals of marriage the ocean of life is filled with love.
3. Offering of prayers at the sacred places (Tirthas) – Part of Origin of Puja
Going on pilgrimages particularly on auspicious occasions are also scripturally recommended Karma
Also,we have various sects and cults in India have a very rigorous definition of Karma dividing them into various types and linking them to Samsara and moksa.
Typical Hindu wants liberation from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. To him, the accumulated merit may appear to be a trap and hereby abandon all wordly Karma.
However, Bhagavad Gita gives a proper direction towards this dilemma. Gita emphasises on the accomplishment of Karma rather than the abandonment of Karma.
Ethics of Altruism – If one performs one’s duty in a spirit of sacrifice,eliminating one’s ego and self interest, one is liberated from the fruits of action even before death.
It is the most crucial statement in the Bhagavad Gita:
“Your entitlement is to Karma alone,never to its fruits.The hope of such fruit should not therefore be the motive for action,you should not therefore become inactive”
The concept of moksha (liberation from the chain of rebirth) is closely related to the notion of Karma and in turn with Dharma.
It is the reward of the persistent good deeds,Karma, that liberalise the individual from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth and ultimately brings him in contact with the Brahman (the universal soul)
Hindu theology is largely preoccupied with the issue of achievement of Moksha.
Sound knowledge, good deeds and love and devotion towards God are the ways to achieve Moksha.
For acquiring knoweldge an individual is required to renounce the world and lead the ascetic life.But,it is not followed by all.
The most popular form,is devotion — Worship of one’s own chosen God.
The Bhagavad Gita has emphasised on the way of works and devotion to bring moksha(including women and the lower castes).
In the last hundred years,the Bhagavad Gita reinterpreted by Indian political leaders, including Gandhi and Tilak, to provide the basis for live devoted to altruistic action.To know more about the true history of hinduism…