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Hindu Dharmam Pravesika (Telugu)
February 23, 2016
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Hinduism a Primer (English)

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This “Hinduism A Primer” is intended to fill the needs of enquirers, learners and seekers of Hinduism. It unfolds the eternal esoteric concepts of this world’s oldest religion in a simple lucid and easily understandable format.

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This “Hinduism A Primer” is intended to fill the needs of enquirers, learners and seekers of Hinduism. It unfolds the eternal esoteric concepts of this world’s oldest religion in a simple lucid and easily understandable format. It provides a bird’s eye view of this eternal religion (Sanatana Dharma) and provides the deeper meaning (Vedic meaning) for the Hindu practices and concepts.

This information is based on years of learning, studying, reasoning, intuition and direct experience.

It is envisioned that the reader of this primer will develop a clear understanding of concepts of Hinduism and develop appreciation of the unique inclusivity of this great religion. It is also hoped that this primer will stimulate inquisitiveness for further expanded reading of the Hindu scriptures that will pave a way for furthering their knowledge, practice and experience.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. Dedication 1
II. Preface 14
III. Acknowledgements 15
IV. Foreword – Stephen Knapp 16
V. Opinions and Blessings
Sri Viswamjee Mahāraj 18
Sri Paripurnānada Giri Swamy 20
Sri Swami Bodhānanda Saraswati 21
1. Sanātana Dharma 22
2. Origin of Word ‘Hinduism’ 23
3. Beliefs of Hinduism 24
4. Uniqueness of Hinduism 26
5. Goal of Life 27
6. Fourfold Path 28
A. Path of Devotion (Bhakti Yoga)
Nine Types of Devotion (Nava Vidha Bhakti
29
Sixteen Steps of Hindu Worship (Puja) Ritual
(Shodasopachār)
30
Four Kinds of Devotees (by nature) 31
B. Path of Selfless Service (Karma Yoga) 32
 Three qualities of selfless service (Nishkāma Karma). 35
C. Path of Knowledge (Jnāna Yoga) 36
Four practices (Sādhana Chatushtaya) 37
D. Path of Contemplation (Rāja Yoga) 38
Eight fold path of contemplation
Ashtānga Yoga)
Serpent Power (Kundalini Yoga)
39
Seven Centers (Shad Chakrās Sahasrāra) 40
7. Three levels of Spiritual Progression
(Three Philosophies)
43
Duality (Dwaita)
Qualified Non-dualism (Visishtādwaita)
Non-duality (Adwaita)
8. Two levels of contemplation
Form Worship (Sākāropāsana)
Formless Worship (Nirākāropāsana)
45
9. Four goals of Life (Chatur Vidha Purushārdhās)
Dharma
Ardha
Kāma
Moksha
47
10. Four Stages of Hindu Life (Āsramās)
Brahmacharya
Grihastha
Vānaprastha
Sannyāsa
48
11. Dharma, the Concept of Hindu Ethics 49
12 Concept of Avatār 50
Dasāvatārs 52
13 Concept of Trinity (Trimurty)
Brahma
Vishnu
Maheswara
53
14. Teacher Disciple Relationship (Guru Sishya Parampara) 55
Dakshināmurty 58
Dattātreya 60
Veda Vyāsa 62
Ādi Sankarāchārya 63
Other Contemporary Gurus 64
Sathya Sai Bābā 66
15. Food: Vegetarianism: Sacred Cows 67
Sacred Cows 70
16. Sects in Hinduism
Saivites
Vaishnavites
Sāktites
71
17. Offshoots of Hinduism 72
Jainism 72
Buddhism 73
 Sikhism 74
18. Sixteen Vedic Purification Processes in Hinduism
(Shodasa Samskārās)
77
19. Hindu Marriage 79
20. Hindu Funeral (Antyeshti) 83
21. Hindu Iconography (Symbols: Murtis: Mudrās) 85
OM 85
Sacred Dot (Bindi) 86
Sacred Ash (Vibhuthi) 87
Siva Lingam 88
Other Symbols or Gestures (Mudrās) 89
Vehicles (Vāhanās) 90
22. Doctrine of Cause and Effect (Karma Theory) 91
23. Doctrine of Destiny
A. Sanchita Karma
B. Prarabdha Karma
C. Āgāmi Karma or Kriyamāna Karma
92
24. Doctrine of Free Will and Divine Will 94
25. God’s Grace 95
26. Theory of Reincarnation 96
27. Three Natures and Creation (Trigunās)
Tamo Guna
Rajo Guna
Sattwa Guna
100
28. Concept of Illusion (Māya) 102
 Mala Dosha 103
Vikshepa Dosha 103
Āvarana Dosha 103
29. Five Sheaths and Three Bodies (Pancha Kosas)
Sthula Sareera (Gross Body)
Annamaya Kosa (Physical Sheath)
Sukshma Sareera (Subtle Body)
Prānamaya Kosa (Vital Energy Sheath)
Manomaya Kosa (Mind Sheath)
Vijnānamaya Kosa (Knowledge Sheath)
Kārana Sareera (Causal Body)
Ānandamaya Kosa (Bliss Sheath)
105
30. Eternal Cosmic Cycle (Rita) 107
Four Yugas
31. Caste System in Hinduism (Varnāsrama Dharma)
Brāhmana
Kshatriya
Vaisya
Sudra
111
32. Spiritual Journey (Adhyātma Sādhana) 114
Character
World is a Mirror in Front of us
116
33. Vedās and Upanishads 118
Rig Veda 119
Yajur Veda 119
Sāma Veda 119
Atharvana Veda 119
Upanishads 120
34. Mission Statements of Vedās (Mahā Vākyās) 122
Pragnānam Brahma 122
Aham Brahmāsmi 122
Tatvamasi 123
Ayamātman Brahma 123
35. Case Histories of Vedās (Purānās) 124
Bhāgavata Purāna 124
36. Six Schools of Hindu Philosophy (Shad Darsanās) 126
37. Āgamās: Code of Worship and Construction of Temples 127
38. The Hindu Epics (Itihāsās) 128
Rāmāyana 128
Sanskrit Versions 129
Regional Language Versions 130
International Versions 131
Mahā Bhārata 132
39. Bhagavad-Gita 134
Dharmakshetra 135
Role of Compassion (Daya) 135
Mama Dharma 136
Mamakār: Attachment: Me and Mine 137
One Sloka Gita (Eka Sloki Gita) 137
Anchor Slokas 138
Sorrow (Vishāda): It’s role in Spiritual growth 139
Equanimity (Sthitaprajnatva) 139
40. Salutations to Feet (Pāda Namaskār) 141
41. Mantra, Tantra and Yantra 143
42. Gāyatri Mantra 146
43. Spirituality: Religion: Culture 148
44. Goodness vs. Greatness 150
45. Individual (Vyashti): Society (Samashti): 151
Creation (Srishti): God (Parameshti)
46. Hindu Festivals 153
 Ugādi 153
Sri Rāma Navami 154
Guru Purnima 155
Rakshā Bandhan 155
Sri Krishna Janmāshtami 156
Ganesh Chaturthi 157
Navarātri 157
Dasarā (Vijaya Dasami) 158
Deepāvali (Diwāli) 159
Sankrānti (Pongal) 159
Mahā Sivarātri 160
Holi 161
47. Hindu Temples 162
Four Types of Hindu Temples 163
Drāvida Type Temples 163
Nāgara Type Temples 164
Vasara Type Temples 165
Kalinga Type Temples 166
Parts of Hindu Temple 167
48. Hindu Priests and Preachers 170
49. Hindu Scriptures 171
Sruti Literature 171
Smriti Literature 172
Prasthānatraya 173
50. Spirituality Defined for the Disinterested 174
51. Spirituality Demystified: Eight Steps to Happiness
(Moksha)
177
52. Quotes from Distinguished Western Scholars on
Hinduism
181
53. Quotes from Distinguished People on Bhagavad-Gita 186
54. Recommended Reading 191
55. Glossary of Terms of Hinduism 193
Epilogue 216

LIST OF PHOTOS AND DIAGRAMS
1. OM – Radiating Energies
2. River
3. Modes of transportation-on foot
4. Modes of Transportation-by bus
5. Modes of Transportation-by airplane
6. Modes of Transportation-by s hip
7. Devotional singing
8. Service activities-Playing with the Blind
9. Service activities-Feeding the poor
10. Service activities-Medical Service
11. Service activities-Medical Service
12. Reading spiritual books
13. Meditation
14. Chakrās
15. Madhwāchārya
16. Ramānujāchārya
17. Sankarāchārya
18. Hindu worship ritual
19. Ten Avatārās of Vishnu (Dasāvatār)
20. Dasāvatārs
21. Brahma (Creator)
22. Vishnu (Protector)
23. Maheswara (Destroyer)
24. Dakshināmurty
25. Dattātreya
26. Veda Vyāsa
27. Ādi Sankarāchārya
28. Dr. Prasad with Sathya Sai Bābā
29. Vegetarian food
30. Sacred cows
31. Cow and Calf
32. Saivism
33. Vaishnavism
34. Saktism
35. Jainism-Mahāvir
36. Jainism-Five Mahāvratās
37. Buddhism-Sāranāth Stupa
38. Buddhism- Celebration
39. Sikhism-Golden Temple
40. Sikhism-Musicians
41. Hindu Marriage-Fire Offering
42. Hindu Marriage-Pouring Saffron Rice
43. Hindu Marriage-Blessings from Parents
44. Hindu Funeral-Body being carried to Cremation Ground
45. Hindu Funeral-Manikarnika Ghat, Vāranāsi
46. OM Symbol
47. Sacred Dot (Bindi)
48. Red Tilaka Powder in Market
49. Sacred Ash (Vibhuti)
50. Siva Lingam in Vāranāsi Temple
51. Siva Lingam in Madhurai Temple
52. Lakshmi
53. Saraswati
54. Durga
55. Nataraja
56. Vishnu
57. Ganesa
58. Prārabdha Karma
59. Birth to Self Realization Cycle
60. Reincarnation
61. Journey of Soul
62. Birth Rebirth Cycle-Reincarnation
63. Vishnu-Brahma-Creation
64. Creation as a Ripple
65. Māya Illustration-Sun’s reflection in the lake
66. Five sheaths (Pancha Kosās)
67. Cosmic Wheel- Kāla Chakra
68. Lunar Cycle
69. Caste Pyramid
70. Bhāgavata- Krishna lifting Goverdhana
71. Bhāgavata- Vishnu blessing Dhruva
72. Bhāgavata- Krishna- Kaliya Mardhana
73. Rāmāyana- Rāma’s Coronation
74. Rāmāyana- Rāma, Lakshmana and Sita in Forest
75. Rāmāyana- Rāma’s anger over Sāgara
76. Popularity of Regional Rāmāyanās
77. Māha Bhārata-Manuscript Illustration of Kurukshetra War
78. Bhagavad Gita- Arjuna and Krishna on Chariot
79. Guru’s Feet
80. Sri Chakra (Yantra)
81. Mother Gāyatri
82. Ātman Merger into Paramātman-Merger of river into ocean
83. Ugādi-Chutney Ingredients
84. Ugādi-Chutney
85. Rakshā Bandhan-Tray
86. Rakshā Bandhan-Tying Rākhi
87. Rakshā Bandhan-Rākhi
88. Krishna Janmāshtami-Breaking Dahi Hundi
89. Krishna Janmāshtami-Bāla Krishna
90. Ganesh Chaturthi-Water Immersion
91. Ganesh Chaturthi-Celebration
92. Ganesh Chaturthi-Procession
93. Navarātri -Cultural Program
94. Navarātri -Cultural Program
95. Dasarā -Display of Durga
96. Dasarā -Toy Display
97. Dasarā -Rāvana Effigy Burning
98. Deepāvali-Fire Works Display
99. Deepāvali- Family Fire Works
100. Deepāvali-Diwāli Lamps
101. Deepāvali-Diwāli Cityscape
102. Sankrānti-Floral Design
103. Sankrānti-Artist Rendering
104. Sankrānti-Kite Shop
105. Mahā Sivarātri -Siva
106. Mahā Sivarātri -Siva Lingam
107. Holi-Colored Powders
108. Holi-Marigold Floral Shop
109. Holi-Color Sprinkling
110. Sri Rāma Navami-Rāma, Lakshmana and Sita
111. Sri Rāma Navami-Rāma
112. Sri Rāma Navami-Rāma with Guha
113. Drāvida Temple-Sri Venkateswara Temple, Tirumala
114. Drāvida Temple-Hindu temple, Kualalumpur
115. Drāvida Temple-Venkateswara Temple, Malibu, USA
116. Nāgara Temple-Khujaraho Temple
117. Vasara Temple-Ankor Wat Temple, Cambodia
118. Kalinga Temple-Jagannāth Temple, Puri, Orissa, India
119. Temple Schematic Drawing
120. Hindu Priest-DFW Temple, Irving, Texas, USA
121. Hindu Preacher-Swāmi Chinmayānanda
122. Dr. Raghavendra S. Prasad

23. DOCTRINE OF DESTINY

Doctrine of Destiny implies the belief in pre determination of events in life, brought forward from previous actions. Our birth is the result of Kārmic baggage from past lives. When this Karmic baggage is exhausted, it is called Moksha. The Karmic baggage we bring to this life is called destiny. This is our own making. We make our own destiny. “As you sow, so shall you reap”.

While we have no control on the present destiny that was controlled by past actions, the future destiny is absolutely in our own hands. Our today’s actions will decide the future destiny. This is why it is said that one’s destiny is in one’s own hands. Scriptures tell us three kinds of Karma that we reap the fruits from.

A. Sanchita Karma:
The actions of the past lives, which are yet to produce results and will produce results at a future date are Sanchita Karmās. It is the fixed deposits of past lives that have maturity dates beyond this life, but in future lives.B. Prārabdha Karma:
This represents the past actions which produce results now in this life. It is the fixed deposits of past lives with today’s maturity date.C. Ā gāmi Karma or Kriyamāna karma:
These are today’s actions that produce results in future lives. An Āgāmi
Karma could produce results in this life if it is a “heinous crime. It is today’s fixed deposit with future and occasionally immediate maturity.
Destiny - Prārabdha Karma
Destiny – Prārabdha Karma

Among these three kinds of Karmās, Sanchita and Agāmi Karmās could be wiped out (burnt) by Jnāna or Self Realization, where as the Prārabdha Karma is inescapable. This is the reason why self realized souls like Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Ramana Maharshi suffered through worldly physical ailments.

Prārabdha Karma can only be burnt by going through it. God in His mercy hastens the experience of Prārabdha Karma for his devotees. He also anaesthetizes them from the suffering of Prārabdha Karma.

28. CONCEPT OF ILLUSION (MĀYA)
The illusionary force of creation
According to Adwaita School, there is only One and that One appears as many due to illusion created by God. This illusionary force, created by God prevents the experience of God, as Sun creates clouds and the clouds cover that Sun from view; the amber creates the ashes and the ashes cover the amber, the eye creates discharge in the eye and discharge covers vision of the eye.
 Maya: Mala- Vikshepa- Avarana: Sun’s refection in the lake
Māya: Mala- Vikshepa- Āvarana: Sun’s refection in the lake

Truth is the ultimate reality. Truth is defined as something that does not change with time and space. If we use this standard for all the things we see, feel, touch, nothing the senses perceive is fit to be true. The one that does not change and is beyond time and space is defined as Truth and God. Then what is the world we see, feel, and touch every day. This contemporary reality is called illusion (Māya). In order to make that single and simple ‘white light’ appear as many colors of rainbow, an intervention of a glass prism is necessary. This glass prism is Māya.

In order to make the One appear as many, the illusionary force was created at the beginning of creation. This illusionary force is called “Māya”. This Māya has three characters detailed as below through which it blocks the vision of God.

Mala:
Clouding caused by impurities: cleared by Nishkāma Karma (Selfless Action) which causes Chitta Suddhi (purity of heart).

Vikshepa:
Caused by agitations in mind: cleared by Bhakti and Rāja Yogas (Devotion & Contemplation) that stills the mind.

Āvarana:
Caused by veiling and by covering: This is cleared by Jnāna Yoga (Knowledge). The Avidya (Ignorance) is removed by Sravana, Manana and Nidhi Dhyāsana.

Example: In order to see the reflection of the Sun (Ātman) clearly in a lake, the impurities in the water have to be cleared (Mala), the agitations of water have to be stilled (Vikshepa) and the covering leaves on the top of waters have to uncovered (Āvarana). When the water is purified of impurities (Mala), the agitations in water are stilled (Vikshepa), and the covering layers are removed (Āvarana), the reflection of Sun (Ātman) is seen clearly.

For a dreaming person, the dream is very real and he goes through all emotions of the dream characters in the dream. It is only when he wakes up from dream state, he realizes that all he has seen, experienced is unreal. Similarly for a realized person (Awakened Soul) this world is unreal and illusion (Māya). Likewise, this world of contemporary reality is the dream state of God. When he wakes up from dream, all that remains is, oneness .


Delusion will vanish as the light becomes more and more

effulgent, load after load of ignorance will vanish, and
then will come a time when all else has disappeared and
the sun alone shines.
Swami Vivekananda

Additional Information
Weight 450 kg
Dimensions 30 x 20 x 3 cm
Reviews (3)

3 reviews for Hinduism a Primer (English)

  1. :

    A must read for spiritual seekers and all who wish to know more about Hinduism, the world’s oldest religion. This primer distills the essence of the Hindu faith, which is practiced by millions around the world, and presents it in an easy-to-read format. This book answers the most common questions people have about Hinduism and its practices.

    Dr. Raghavendra Prasad’s “Hinduism – A primer” is a must for anyone desiring to know about Sanatana Dharma and the rich Vedic tradition. The author is to be commended for covering such a wide range of topics and in such a slim volume – a real achievement in itself. —- The sheer range of topics and their coverage is enlightening.—- . Those who are familiar with Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma too will find many golden nuggets of wisdom which are also very practical in their scope.

  2. :

    I was impressed by its simplicity and clarity. I find the rendering just superb and marvelous. ———— Dr. Prasad has drawn upon his experiences and broad knowledge of Hinduism to produce a comprehensive primer which distills the essence of the world’s oldest religion. This book is a trove of information for anyone wishing to understand the basic tenets of Sanatana Dharma. This book is a must book to have in home and public libraries.

  3. :

    “A comprehensive taxonomy of Hindu Dharma Tradition, this slim volume serves the purpose of a teaching note for teachers of Hinduism and as a reference book of salient features of Hinduism for the lay Hindu believers. Dr. Prasad, fusing insights from his personal religious practices, wide reading of Hindu scriptures, association with great Hindu spiritual leaders and discipline of his scientific training, has produced a powerful package of wisdom and knowledge as a gift for the one billion strong global Hindu community.”

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