The term religion comes from the latin word religio which can broken into two words ie re (back) and ligare (to bind) which means something which brings you back to your source or GOD. A religion in true sense is not just a set of practices, rituals and sacred symbols, but it is a science to help us unite with the Supreme Divine Power, it is an instrument to reach the zenith of spirituality and ultimately manifest excellence. It basically satisfies the human craving for spiritual consolation, solace and peace, who is other wise not always content with even best of the material successes at his feet.
What is Hinduism
Hinduism is one such religion which fulfill this need of mankind with a holistic approach, it does not impose any boundations, but is flexible enough to accommodate every individual in its vast ocean of knowledge, where there is a gem of bliss & spirituality for every body. It will not be an exaggeration, if I say that Hinduism is the most ancient blend of art and science which teaches man to live happily forever at will and also to progress in his spiritual journey towards his ultimate goal of self realization.
Teachings of Hinduism are neither limited to the preachings of a prophet, nor it is based on a set of dogmas preached by a specific set of teachers. In fact Hinduism is the only religion not started by any human being, its being a way of life as per vedic teachings is there since eternity.
Hinduism is Sanatana – Dharma
‘Sanatana’ here means eternal and literal meaning of ‘Dharma’ is not exactly religion but can be depicted as laws of cosmos because of which the whole Universe is running. Please read my previous article – “Why every thing in this cosmos should be governed by Dharma”, to know its exact meaning in real sense. Hinduism is Sanatana-Dharma, not started by some one, but is present since eternity as per Vedas, hence also called Vedic-Dharma. Vedas are the Hindu Scriptures oldest in the world, which is not only eternal but also said to be protected by GOD himself. The Vedas are revealed by Supreme Divine and are realised by ancient sages communicated further to the mankind through ‘shruti’ – can be termed as verbally for the sake of understanding. As the Divine knowledge is revealed by the GOD himself, it is not only protected by Supreme, but also has got the capability to protect those who follow it with faith and devotion. Just like any other laws of science, laws of cosmos (Dharma) are also equally applicable to all, and one who follows it are always benefitted by it, as rightly said in scriptures as well:-
धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः
Dharmo Rakshati Rakshitah
Hinduism – A religion of Freedom
As stated earlier as well, Hinduism is not preached by some prophet, but is the reflection of vedic knowledge allowing absolute freedom for rational mind of man, where there are multiple paths to reach the same goal of realising the Supreme Brahman. It never imposes the restraints with a to do guide for people, but it gives freedom to people to choose their Swadharma (their role in society) and path to manifest excellence. There are multiple paths in the form of different types of yoga. People believing in action take it to Karma Yoga, where as people with faith and devotion take it to Bhakti Yoga and so on.
Though there are different types of Sadhanas, different forms of worship, different gods and goddesses, but still there is an underlying unity of a common goal of achieving Moksha (Self Realisation).