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Thread: Do I have to choose a sect?

  1. #1

    Do I have to choose a sect?

    Namaste,

    I had a quick question and was wondering if I have to choose a sect to follow e.g. Vishnu or Shiva.

    I know ultimately god is one but currently I wear a rudraksha mala, recite hanuman chalisa, gayatri mantra every day.

    I also chant om namah shiva using a rudraksha mala in the morning and I also chant Shri ram dhun in the evenings.

    I have read a lot of threads on this forum but I find it difficult to even contemplate choosing a sect to focus on e.g. Just praying to Shiva only.

    Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

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    Re: Do I have to choose a sect?

    Namaste Mahesh,

    Non-sectarians Hindus outnumber the sectarian Hindus many times over. So, joining a particular sect is not necessary. However, for achieving higher level of spirituality, if you seek a Guru then you may have to choose a sect which your Guru belongs to.

    OM
    "Om Namo Bhagvate Vaasudevaye"

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    Re: Do I have to choose a sect?

    Namaste mahesh,

    Friend, you don't need to follow any sect to be a Hindu. Most of the Hindus in India do not identify with sects. Even if you love one God more than others, you don't necessarily need to follow a sect. Regarding philosophy - Take your time to understand the scriptures, one doesn't needs to take on a particular philosophy unless you are comfortable with one. I love Sankhya Darshna, Advaita Vedanta and some other schools but I have not become follower of any one philosophy. I won't till I will have all thoughts clear.
    When the light has risen, there is no day, no night, neither existence nor non-existence; Siva alone is there. That is the eternal, the adorable light of Savitri, - and the ancient wisdom proceeded thence (Svetasvatara Upanishad IV-18). :)

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    Re: Do I have to choose a sect?

    Pranam

    There you have it, no you don't have to belong to any sect to be a Hindu as it has been pointed out. Personally I would like to remain as it is, why would I want to box my self in and not allow to think outside of it, some will tell you this is not authentic or that is not in the line of authentic sampradaya, that begs a question who decides what is authentic? Sects restricts you to only read their shastra.
    If you must join a sect it is best to explore the vast array of literature that is available, although one can not read everyone of them, and then make a decision when the heart is set on a particular path.
    In meantime chanting the names of The Lord which you already do, will guide you with your sincere endeavour. In this Yuga they say chanting the names of The Lord is only requirement. Choice is yours.

    Jai Shree Krishna
    Rig Veda list only 33 devas, they are all propitiated, worthy off our worship, all other names of gods are derivative from this 33 originals,
    Bhagvat Gita; Shree Krishna says Chapter 3.11 devan bhavayatanena te deva bhavayantu vah parasparam bhavayantah sreyah param avapsyatha Chapter 17.4 yajante sattvika devan yaksa-raksamsi rajasah pretan bhuta-ganams canye yajante tamasa janah
    The world disappears in him. He is the peaceful, the good, the one without a second.

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    Re: Do I have to choose a sect?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mahesh View Post
    Namaste,

    I had a quick question and was wondering if I have to choose a sect to follow e.g. Vishnu or Shiva.

    I know ultimately god is one but currently I wear a rudraksha mala, recite hanuman chalisa, gayatri mantra every day.

    I also chant om namah shiva using a rudraksha mala in the morning and I also chant Shri ram dhun in the evenings.

    I have read a lot of threads on this forum but I find it difficult to even contemplate choosing a sect to focus on e.g. Just praying to Shiva only.

    Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
    Vannakkam: Although I agree with others that you need not choose a sect, still, not choosing is a choice, or at least can be a conscious choice and perhaps it becomes the default 'choice'. Some would argue that no-choice is another sect in and of itself. The Smarta sampradaya would be close, where you choose your favorite God within many, and worship all.

    For those of us who are sectarian, most of us would hold that it wasn't us that made the choice, but God in whatever form that he/she was) that made the choice for us. I certainly hold to that. I didn't choose to be a Saivite. I just was a Saivite, and Siva found me.

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: Do I have to choose a sect?

    Namaste

    I don't think it is as much a matter of "choosing a sect" as it is a matter of receiving more advanced teachings/revelations/pracitices from a "school", temple, sampradaya, guru, yogi etc..

    But it's "complicated".

    For example... typically, such lessons, initiation, yoga practice, sadhana, satsang, comes from a particular "school" or "sect", though you may follow what you are thinking of as a "sect", such as Sakta for example, with emphasis on Devi, because you were born into a family that attends a local temple associated with a "sect" and performs rites and festivals also associated with a "sect". Believe it or not, in the later example of family tradition there may NOT be a specific guru for example but they do know personally the temple priests or priest. In the later example, this is what some may be describing as "non-secular Hindu", where the family goes to the Devi and Sakta centric temple(s) in the example I am giving but at home have a Ganesha murti, Hanuman as Ishta, Ram, Durga.

    Then they listen to the story told by a local savant at the Devi temple, this could include the history and background of the Devi's local communion with the "region" or some local saint, this leela or events/adventures may even be "modern" history and not in any famous "scripture" or Veda, but it is true and in a way this adherence to such local leelas and traditions are also a "sect" but it may not even have a name for the sect but simply a name based on a location of the Devi or the Devi's name itself. Understanding the local power or Devata of a "realm" you are in can also be considered "more advanced instruction" that comes however by word of mouth. These Devatas who rule certain, what would be the word? "thrones", are associated with "areas" which are usually circular or sphere shaped if put on a map.

    There is nothing wrong with what you are currently doing. You are a Hindu. But you may also want "advanced" and direct assuciation with a "teacher" which probably will be from a "sect". Right now, you have the idea that a "sect" means a specific Deva(s) or Devi, but there are "sects" which have LOTS of Devas and Devi and not just emphasis on one. The sect may emphasize a path and goal and not one Murti or Devata such as Shiva for example. So you see, what you are thinking of as a "sect" is more complicated and diverse than first imagined.

    At some point, you may be connected with a "sect", but you may also still be doing what you are doing now.

    Om Namah Sivaya

  7. #7

    Re: Do I have to choose a sect?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mahesh View Post
    Namaste,

    I had a quick question and was wondering if I have to choose a sect to follow e.g. Vishnu or Shiva.

    I know ultimately god is one but currently I wear a rudraksha mala, recite hanuman chalisa, gayatri mantra every day.

    I also chant om namah shiva using a rudraksha mala in the morning and I also chant Shri ram dhun in the evenings.

    I have read a lot of threads on this forum but I find it difficult to even contemplate choosing a sect to focus on e.g. Just praying to Shiva only.

    Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
    Namaste Mahesh,

    Nobody has to do anything. Joining a sect or a guru is something of a calling. Some people want to devote their entire lives to their God. That is a deep desire in them. Especially if you enter on a path of renunciation that is really a very big decision.

    But most Hindus are just like other people, they have their families, their careers and religion is just an integral part of their lives. They can still be great devotees and interested in religion. To spiritually grow you do not need to have a human guru, devotion is an easy way for that. If you have the urge to want to grow more quickly, it helps to have someone that guides you. But there are also gurus that can help you with that without having to join a sect or tradition.

    As you are still uncertain, I think it would be wrong to make any far reaching choice. You also may want to understand that the population of a forum is not made up out of your average Hindu. Here are many people that made the choice to join a sect/tradition to devote themselves to a God. Their perspective of what is normal is a different one. This can create a distorted picture of what Hinduism for most people is.

    For instance their is a lot of emphasis on reading scriptures, doing lots of Japa, meditation, etc. For me personally this is too much performance driven, like people doing lots off push-ups to tone their bodies fast. It may score effects, but I myself prefer a more calm natural stable growth. We are no longer in the Abrahamic tradition in which we have to acquire heaven in an all or nothing attempt, we have many lives, and they are to be enjoyed. In Hinduism life is not a tragedy. To improve our character in this live is a good life purpose for me and many Hindus.

    I personally prefer devotion over the jnana path. Devotion creates a real connection and it enhances understanding and wisdom in a natural way. Forums are logically mostly visited by jana's as they are intellectuals who like to discuss. This is path that should best be done under guidance as it is not without risk. Reading scripture on your own can easily create false ideas of accomplishment creating inflated egos, because you acquire knowledge without the character growth needed to truly understand it and wield it in a good way. Also strong emphasis on scripture can in some sects become a brainwash. A good personal guru will not stuff you with knowledge but help you take the next step where you need it. It may not be intellectual advancement you need most at this moment.

    First thing for you to find out is what Deva/Devi attracts you most. If you do not know, look further. This is not a choice. Through our very character we have a deeper affiliation with one Deva in particular. You may also have a special liking for others. This is felt by the heart. It is not a matter of doing lots of japa to invoke it. This Deva is your guide in life, this guru is always around. And through devotion your relationship develops, and you will grow spiritually.

    If you are a normal person you want to seek practical knowledge about Dharm, how to live a good life, rather than highly philosophical scripture about the nature of God, and all kind of advanced techniques. Although I myself am not a Shiva devotee, I found this book of great practical value for getting to know Hindu way of life.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by Avyaydya; 07 January 2014 at 08:01 PM.

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    Re: Do I have to choose a sect?

    Namaste Mahesh,

    In meantime chanting the names of The Lord which you already do, will guide you with your sincere endeavour.
    For those of us who are sectarian, most of us would hold that it wasn't us that made the choice, but God in whatever form that he/she was) that made the choice for us. I certainly hold to that. I didn't choose to be a Saivite. I just was a Saivite, and Siva found me.
    First thing for you to find out is what Deva/Devi attracts you most. If you do not know, look further. This is not a choice. Through our very character we have a deeper affiliation with one Deva in particular. You may also have a special liking for others. This is felt by the heart. It is not a matter of doing lots of japa to invoke it. This Deva is your guide in life, this guru is always around. And through devotion your relationship develops, and you will grow spiritually.
    I agree with Ganesh Prasad ji, Eastern Mind ji and Avyaydya ji on the points they have made.

    I want to bring out one subtle point that I learnt from my personal experiences.

    Though it is not necessary to follow a sect, Deva of your liking (I refer that as your Ishta Devata) WILL DEFINITELY take you to a particular sect. The speed at which it happens depends on our devotion.
    Anirudh...

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    Re: Do I have to choose a sect?

    Mahesh,

    Actually, for clarification, I want to mention something not so much about “sect” but something about my previous response. Because it might be important one day to anyone, and I don't want to be the cause for overlooking opportunity.

    There are some who worship death. Each death typically is first born, and then each death is followed by another birth. This can amount to many repeated births and deaths. Yes, it is fair to call this “worshipping death”. But, life has earnest, and life is real. Death is not its end, nor its goal. The world of the average man is a shameless arena of claim and counter-claims, then hopes and disappointment, and competing for desires and then hatreds in attempts to “prove” things they are not capable of.

    While the spirit of what I shared as my opinion is that you do not need to join any “sect”, I think it would be a disservice on my part to discount your opportunity, should it arise, to have a Guru. Yes, this person is what you think of as a human. But there is a vital time and place, and everyone has this opportunity, as we see in the spirit of Ram who also had a Teacher. A teacher, a Guru, can lift you up from despondence with an ability you may not understand, and take you to the heights of spirituality. It is not me to say, nor anyone else, that you may never have this very opportunity, so do not dismiss it out of expedience to simply agree and be amiable. You see, I suspect you have a devotional intuition, but if a Guru awaits you who is true, that person also has a mystic intuition. He (or she!) will beckon you, it is not a mystery, the great mystery is how such a one can save you from repeated births and deaths.

    Rama is considered to be Vishnu. Does He have a Guru? Indeed, He is the Perfect Man, demonstrating dharma. He had a Guru. One has to adopt a valued mode of approach to the Divinity, the accelerated path to that mode is by way of one who already possesses it. That is what a Guru can bring for you. Ram “accepted” Rishi Vasistha, Who was the One offered the glory to be the family priest for the Solar Dynasty, as His Guru. Vasistha was born by way of Brahma with a pot filled with holy water in one hand, and a rudraksha in the other hand. Brahma told the Rishi, you must suffer the world. The Rishi was curious, as to why. Lord Brahma said it is so because that way you will inquire how to be released from it. And that is what the Rishi indeed did, and successfully found the answer to that inquiry. That is what is Guru.

    Brahma then told Vasistha, He will teach this spiritual knowledge on the Bhumi Mother Earth. Vasistha was not ordinary, He was a Brahmanrishi. He “never attains anything”, but others still need to attain. So a Guru beckons you to attain, and this is not a contradiction in scripture nor in life.

    For the darshan of Ram, He also becomes Ram’s Guru. Ram teaches, this is the correct way, that when the opportunity comes, and you are beckoned, then go there.

    A Guru becomes an Ineffable Master. You are just a boy or girl playing in the street before we grow to become an adult, to attain – this is the analogy, if the opportunity comes it will probably be by simple word of mouth but will sound like the beat of 1,000 drums.

    As you know, in Hinduism there is a saying:

    Thank you Guru, be forever glorified because you are so humble to accept the prayer of your simple servant. Guru you are Brahma, you are Vishnu, you are Guru Deva Maheswara Shiva. And you are Parabrahman. Salutations to You. You smear the mascara of Light on my eyes, and remove the darkness of ignorance. It may be a simple thing to open one’s eyes, but you open our inner eye.

    Back in the day, some folks used to sing a “hippie folk song”. If I remember right, it went something like:

    My Master is a Perfect Master.
    So kindly has He shown me Light.
    Cold,
    was my heart.
    Mind,
    In the dark.
    World,
    falling apart.
    But …
    My Master is a Living Master.
    So kindly has He shown me Life.
    I,
    feel it breath.
    Every,
    heartbeat.
    Each step,
    yet more to see.

    So, the song was something like that. Certainly there was a lot of appreciation for the teacher in that song. All I am saying is, yes you do not have to "join" anything. But also do not discount other things as well. Keep your eyes open. You never know who may beckon you.

    Om Namah Sivaya

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    Re: Do I have to choose a sect?

    Namaste,

    As others have said, there is no compulsion to select a sect, or as some say, you automatically belong to a certain sect. However, I think the most common is smArta for people worshiping many deities, which considers 5 Gods Ganesh, shiva, shakti, Vishnu and surya.

    So you do not need to be a part of any sect.

    Actually, even if you are born in any family following a particular sect, still, unless and until you are formally initiated, you do not belong to any sect. In that case, you are just a Hindu. As others have said, most do not belong or say associate themselves to any sect.

    Please continue your worship to Shiva and Hanuman and chant Gayatri Mantra. Later if you wish to dedicate to one God, then chanting has to be done for any particular deity e.g. OM Namah Shivaya.

    When you chant a mantra, for 1 hour, it continues later on in subconscious mind. If you keep chanting multiple mantra-s when God knows what happens. But people do it.

    Hari OM
    Only God Is Truth, Everything Else Is Illusion - Ramakrishna
    Total Surrender of Ego to SELF is Real Bhakti - Ramana Maharshi

    Silence is the study of the scruptures. Meditation is the continuous thinking of Brahman which is to be meditated upon. The complete negation of both by knowledge is the vision of truth – sadAcAra-14 of Adi SankarAcArya

    namah SivAya vishnurUpAya viShNave SivarUpiNe, MBh, vanaparva, 3.39.76

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