Frequently asked questions on Hindu Dharma

1. When were vedas recieved? Was it written by man or revealed by Gods? Do we have all the vedas today and are they in its original form?

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2. Are vedas relevant in this yuga?

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3. Who wrote Puranas and for what purpose?

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4. What was the impact of buddhism and jainism on Sanatan Dharma?

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5. Who wrote Bhagwat Gita? Why were the versus increases from orinigal 64?

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6. a) Would it mean that idol made of marble (not with clay) and placed in temples amount to denigration?
    b) Would it mean that idol made of metal (not with clay) and placed at altars in homes amount to denigration?
    c) Would it mean that idol made of sandal wood (not with clay) and placed at altars in homes amount to denigration?
    d) Would it mean that Image made on paper (not with clay) will also amount to denigration?
    e) Would it mean that Ganapati with his trunk on right (deviation from normal) amount to denigration?

If the idol of Lord Ganesh is sculpted as per the science then the pure spiritual particles of Lord Ganesh get attracted towards the idol to a greater extent and those worshipping it are benefited.

There are references in the Purans (mythological texts) that Ganapati was created from grime. Hence it is appropriate to use a Ganesh idol made of mud for ritualistic worship. The pure spiritual particles (pavitraks) of Ganapati get attracted to a greater extent towards an idol made of mud than to that made of plaster of Paris.

Also since mud is related to Pruthvi tattva, it is easy for us to derive benefit due to the pavitrakas attracted to the idol as we are also close to the Pruthvi tattva. If idol is made from any metal (e.g. silver, copper etc), it is difficult for us to derive benefit.

Also it is utmost important to have spiritual emotion towards the idol of worship and ritualistically worship it. This way the divinity is maintained and we get further benefited due to it.

Denigration occurs when the idol is sculpted in abnormal form (vikrut) and not just by making the idol using metal (rather than using mud). The form of the idol should be such that devotion and spiritual emotion towards the deity should be awakened instantly on seeing it. The idol maker should harbour the spiritual emotion that it is not he who is making the idol rather it is The Lord Himself who is getting it done through him. He should repose faith that making idols is not a vocation but a holy mission. When an idol is made with this faith and with repeatition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name along with observance of all the restrictions given above, it becomes more sattvik.

Denigration also occurs while immersing the idol in water, if the idol is not made from mud. Plaster of Paris does not dissolve easily in water and hence the idol floats on water after immersion. The deity should be offered the same reverence when immersing it as when it is invoked. Since the idol is not immersed properly, in a way it amounts to dishonouring the deity. Idols made from coconuts, bananas, betulnut, silver, coins etc. do not dissolve in water after immersion of the idol. The remains of such idols are used for other purposes or as toys by children, which causes denigration.

Refer to following article for reasons why generally Ganapati idol with right sided trunk is not used for worship:

7. Why do hindu temple have Kalas on the top?

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8. Why people sit in the temple steps for few minutes after the end of the darshan? Can the Bilwa patras used for puja once, be reused next day puja unlike flowers. Why Tulsi when given as prasad is kept in the ear and not on the head?

We visit the temple to obtain chaitanya from the deity. Since the environment of the temple is sattvik, we sit on the steps or in the mandap (gabhara) to get / absorb maximum sattvikta and chaitanya in the sattvik environment.

Once bilva patra is offered to the deity next day it becomes nirmalya. Hence it should not be reused for puja.

Only when Tulsi leaves are offered to Shri Guru they are placed on His head. However when we receive Tulsi leaves as prasad we keep it in ears as ears are most sensitive part of the body and we can keep imbibing chaitanya through our ears. Even when we make any mistake we catch our ears (in crossed manner) and beg for pardon.

9. Is it a wrong practice for women to walk into the "Gaabharaa" of a temple or a samadhi? Or is it descrimination of women?

That way there is no restriction for women except during their menstrual periods.

However, strictly speaking no-one (neither men nor women) should allowed in Gaabhara in order to maintain sanctity of the temple (like in temples in Goa and in South). People coming from external environment bring raja-tama along with them, which can hamper the sattvikta of the temple. Hence visitors are told to wash their feet and remove any leather material and wear sattvik attire (like sari / sacred clothes) before entering the temple. The temple priests follow all the norms (like bath (deha-shuddhi), pranayam, achaman etc.) and thereafter enter the gabhara. If they go outside the temple, they again perform the shuddhi before entering the temple.

10. What is the proper method of doing Abhishek to an idol of Bhagwan in swarup of Ganesha, which is as high as 90 feet approximately? Is it appropriate to perform Abhishek by sprinkling water through use of a metering pump from Ground level? Is it mandatory for the worshipper to climb up to the height and carry out Abhishek?

If the idol is very tall, Abhishek can be done on the feet of that idol or one can install and worship a one small Utsav Murty (small replica of that idol) and carry out the Abhishek. This is as per shashtra.

11. Shri Vishnu has taken form of tortoise, lion and pig to teach respect towards all type of creatures? Then why does it amount to denigration if an artist uses a cartoon character like bunny for representing Vishnu, especially if bunny is a very moral cartoon character?

Cartoon of any deity is denigration as it is deviation from Their normal form. There is no awakening of spiritual emotion (Bhav) in the person seeing it.

12. How do we instigate national pride in Hindus, especially since lust of western culture, money and materialistic life have made them slaves of their own greed?

The root cause for this condition of Hindus is the lack of pride for their religion. This is on account of lack of education about their religion. National pride is linked with pride for religion. If we have to change this condition, then we must educate Hindus about their religion and make them practice their religion (Dharmacharan) and do spiritual practice (Sadhana). HJS is striving towards this.

13. We can maintain Dharma without fighting, by simply practicing it. By really living by the good features of Hinduism, we can show it is a good religion. Voilence is a surest path to destruction. So why to take up arms against anyone to protect the Hindu religion? Hinduism is like a never ending ocean that will always be full and never dry up.

Spiritual dictum ‘Dharmo Rakshita rakshit‘ – Dharma protects the one who protects Dharma. When situation demands we must be able to fight for the cause of Dharma and that is Kshatrdharma. Read more at: What is the ideal spiritual practice for the current era?

14. Could you please tell where in our Vedic scriptures or thescriptures that govern Indian Culture is it written that "Hindu" is a religion or at least where is the word "Hindu" word used in this respect? Can you please tell me to which century does Meru Tantra date back? Is it a Vedic text?

The holy text Merutantra defines the word Hindu (हिंदु) as ‘हीनानि गुणानि दूषयति इति हिंदु ।’. ‘हीनानि गुणानि दूषयति’ means that which destroys (dushayati) the base and inferior raja and tama components. Thus Hinduism is an attitude. It means a seeker. If one is a seeker enriched with the sattva component which destroys the raja and tama components then one is certainly a Hindu. Hence the Hindu religion in the real sense views all religions with equality. Read more at Why is it essential to adhere to righteousness?

Another doubt created by the modern day anglicized historian is that the term ‘Hindu’ is not found used in Sanskrit literature. This misconception can be dispelled by quoting from Sanskrit works1: Meru tantra (4th to 6th century A.D.), a Shaiva text, comments on ‘Hindu’ How old is the word Hindu?"

Conclusion: Epigraphic evidence takes the antiquity of ‘Hindu’ back to at least 500 B.C. Use of ‘Hindu’ as part of ‘Hapta-Hindu’ in the Avesta suggests that ‘Hindu’ is as old as ‘Sindhu’ and therefore, belongs to the Vedic age. Regarding the origin of ‘Hindu’ from ‘Sindhu’, the Saurashtran practice of pronouncing ‘H’ in place of ‘S’ provides the answer.

Among the tantrik texts of recent origin, we find various descriptions about the relationship of tantras and Vedas. Some texts mention mantras and mahavakya‘s from Vedas (like Prapanchasara Tantra) and some explicitly mention that tantras are part of Vedas (like Meru Tantra). Kularnava tantra says that Kuladharma is based on Vedas. The same claim is repeated by Niruttara Tantra which calls tantras as fifth Veda and Kulachara the fifth ashram.