Thank you for visiting Project Conversion. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Religion 101 Happy Reading!
It’s finally here! Project Conversion began its first day with Hinduism and I must admit, I have much to learn.
The day began at 8 A.M. Traditionally, an observant Hindu wakes before sunrise to perform their morning puja (ritual worship) before an altar bearing one’s personal deity (ishta devatha), or the family deity. This form of worship is called Bhakthi, as devotions are made before images or statues (called murti) of the deity and is the most popular among everyday Hindus. Because I’ve selected Shiva as my deity, my murti includes a small picture of Shiva and a small, oval stone that represents him called a lingam.
If there’s anything I’ve learned so far about Hinduism (or Sanatana Dharma), it’s that methods of worship are seldom consistent. One’s puja can be as simple or complicated as you wish. Shiva in particular is viewed as very receptive to all forms of worship, so long as the devotee is sincere. I’m using the method (with some modification) prescribed in this book called “Siva (an alternate spelling) Puja for Beginners.”
My first puja took me half an hour. This isn’t typical for a home puja. I pretty much fumbled through it like a newborn learning to walk and trying to recite the Sanskrit hymns and mantras didn’t help. But hey, I was sincere.
1) The Vedas are the ultimate scriptural authority
2) The Self (Atman) is One, and is independent of the body, mind, and intellect
3) The doctrine of karma (universal law of cause and effect)
4) The doctrine of reincarnation (the transmigration of the soul)
5) The existence of God as the creator, sustainer, and destroyer, with reference to the world of names and forms
God exists to many people, in different names, and in different forms. What a great concept!
I think that’s enough for now, but I haven’t even scratched the surface. Sanatana Dharma is about more than rituals and worship; it’s a lifestyle. I’ll dive more into those issues the next time we meet. Until then…