Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 12

Thread: Beginner Questions

  1. #1

    Beginner Questions

    Hi everyone. This is my first post here. I'm currently considering where I could find myself in Hinduism. I've been attracted to Hinduism off and on for many years (I'm part Indian and have a few relatives that are Hindu, but not any close ones), though currently I'm technically Christian. I've visited a temple once or twice (the Ganesh temple in Flushing, NY), but I was just observing and didn't really go for a holiday or elaborate puja. I guess I just keep coming back to Hinduism, almost like if I'm being drawn to it. So, I thought I'd explore more.

    Here are a few questions I've been wondering about lately:

    1) Do you believe that the Hindu Gods are real entities?

    2) Due to the belief in reincarnation, is there any concept of seeing family members, friends, etc after this life (or from any other lives)?

    3) What do you recommend a beginner do to start?

    4) If I obtain a statue of a deity, should I have it blessed (for example, in Catholicism, people would take a statue or medal/pendant to the priest to bless, or sprinkle it themselves with holy water)? If so, how?

    5) Do long time Hindus understand all the words being said during pujas? It just seems so complicated right now to me!

    6) Do Hindus perform any sort of "purification" before praying? For example, Muslims have the wudu washing, Catholics may make the sign of the cross, sometimes with holy water, etc.

    I know that's a lot, just things I've been wondering about at the moment. Thanks!

  2. #2

    Re: Beginner Questions

    Watching a little of the live stream of the all night Sivaratri vigil at the NYC Ganesh temple. Wish I could've gone but perhaps I would've felt a little intimidated, at this point, by the crowds for this holy day. There's actually a very small Ganesh temple in Manhattan (Broome Street Temple), I think I'll have to go there one day. I think the smaller setting may be a little more conducive to the beginner, though I did like the big temple when I visited.

    Maybe I'll add another question: for those that attended Sivaratri services (today or in the past), what were your experiences like?

    Random thought: I think I'm focusing a lot on "experiences" because that's part of what I'm looking for. It seems that Hinduism (maybe I should start saying Sanatana Dharma?) is very big on experience of the Divine, and that the presence of divine beings is really there in temples. That belief is very attractive to me. I watched a video recently about the Flushing Ganesh Temple, and one of the people in the video said that the concept of "energy" is important in Hinduism.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    July 2010
    Location
    The Holy Land - India
    Posts
    2,807
    Rep Power
    5359

    Re: Beginner Questions

    Namaste,

    Welcome to the forum.

    To start with, Hinduism is not a religion which proselytizes to attract people of other faiths. Please limit your flights of imagination and forget about seeing your family members through reincarnation ,or attaching yourself to other weird notions. Suggested starting points are:

    Read 'What is Hinduism' - https://www.himalayanacademy.com/view/what-is-hinduism
    Read and study an on-line translation of the Bhagwad Gita.
    Visit temples and gradually participate in pujas.

    Pranam.
    Last edited by Believer; 18 February 2015 at 10:18 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    September 2007
    Location
    Canada
    Age
    67
    Posts
    7,191
    Rep Power
    5027

    Re: Beginner Questions

    Vannakkam< and welcome to these forums.

    One of the first things you will observe in the beginning study is that for every question, you will get 10 or more quite different answers. That's because what is known as Hinduism has many sects and subsects within it, each with differing views on the nature of God, world, etc.

    So I'll answer your questions (although you could find them all already in this forum, and elsewhere) from my personal POV.

    1. Yes, absolutely, without question.
    2. No. It's the soul (anandamaya kosha) that reincarnates.
    3. same as Believer ... basic books, and also go to more temples, a variety of them, to see firsthand our variety
    4. not necessary, but you can, by taking it to a temple
    5. Most don't.
    6. Shower before home sadhana or going to temple, and wash feet (if there is a footwash station) at temples.

    Aum Namasivaya

  5. #5

    Re: Beginner Questions

    Thank you for the advice.

    I just got a hard copy of the What is Hinduism book. Wow, it is literally packed with information. I think I'll work through it for awhile. This looks like just what I need to start. I guess I'm a little overwhelmed with the vastness of Hinduism, so didn't really know where to start.

    Although I absolutely love the Flushing Ganesh Temple here in NYC, I think I'm going to start going to the much smaller Broome Street Temple, as it seems less...overwhelming at this point. On their website, I see that they have Siva Puja every Monday, Ganapati abhisekha every Friday, and a few others, so I'm going to try and attend as soon as possible.

    They also list "Satya Naranaya puja" which occurs on the first Saturdays of the month. What would that involve?

    What does it mean to "sponsor" a puja?

    In NYC we also have "The Bhakti Center", which kind of reminds me of ISKCON (on the site they say that they draw inspiration from Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada), though they aren't affiliated.

    Anyway, thanks again for the advice.

  6. #6

    Re: Beginner Questions

    I think I have a copy of the Bhagavad Gita: As It Is somewhere, have to look around. Is this a good edition?

  7. #7

    Re: Beginner Questions

    Any thoughts on my last two posts are appreciated!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    September 2007
    Location
    Canada
    Age
    67
    Posts
    7,191
    Rep Power
    5027

    Re: Beginner Questions

    Vannakkam Nurse Guy:

    Sponsoring a puja means you cover the cost of it. There are many variations of puja to sponsor and it varies from temple to temple. You can sponsor havans, abhishekams, archanas (chanting of the Lord's many names). The temple office and manager will be able to explain. Whenever someone sponsors, their name and nakshatra will be called out to the deities for personal recognition. If you ever see people wearing those grass rings, it means they are today's sponsor.

    The BG has been translated at least 100 times. If I was to select one, I'd probably use the reviews on Amazon. Each translation will vary slightly, as it's been filtered through the mind of an individual. You didn't give the particular translation you have.

    I've been to the Flushing temple ... maybe 30 years back. It is beautiful.

    Aum Namasivaya

  9. #9
    Join Date
    July 2012
    Age
    48
    Posts
    1,968
    Rep Power
    2544

    Re: Beginner Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by NurseGuy View Post
    They also list "Satya Naranaya puja" which occurs on the first Saturdays of the month. What would that involve?
    Satyanarayana is a form of Narayana who is worshiped on Full Moon nights alone. He is believed to be a powerful form of the deity who supposedly wards off all evil and bestows all goodness. His worship is believed to be extremely powerful during 'Kali-yuga' (you can Wiki this if you don't know about kali-yuga ).

    Typically Satyanarayana Puja involves keeping fast from Sunrise to night (until after completion of ritualistic puja in the night), offering of ritualistic worship in the night with friends, family and brahmins, preparing a grand (or upto what your means can allow you to do) offering for the Lord especially involving 'Sooji' ('Rava' - a form of cracked Wheat), Bananas, Ghee, Sugar, Milk, etc and most importantly, consuming this 'prasad' (offering to god) after the puja ends and distributing it to fellow devotees.

    Also, 5 stories on some devotees who benefitted from the puja are typically read.

    It is said this puja when done over a period of time, will grant anything the sadhaka desires -- those imprisoned will be set free, the timid will become courageous, jobless will be conferred with good job, etc.
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

  10. #10
    Join Date
    June 2012
    Location
    Mumbai
    Age
    38
    Posts
    1,210
    Rep Power
    1357

    Re: Beginner Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by NurseGuy View Post
    Hi everyone. This is my first post here. I'm currently considering where I could find myself in Hinduism. I've been attracted to Hinduism off and on for many years (I'm part Indian and have a few relatives that are Hindu, but not any close ones), though currently I'm technically Christian. I've visited a temple once or twice (the Ganesh temple in Flushing, NY), but I was just observing and didn't really go for a holiday or elaborate puja. I guess I just keep coming back to Hinduism, almost like if I'm being drawn to it. So, I thought I'd explore more.

    Here are a few questions I've been wondering about lately:
    Namaste and Welcome to the forums!

    1) Do you believe that the Hindu Gods are real entities?
    Answering questions in Hinduism is a bit difficult because there are so many views that are prevailing.

    The answer to this is

    1.a. Yes. They are real entities. Just like there is animal kingdom and below it is plant kingdom, and above both of them there is human kingdom / race, there is also the kingdom of gods, which is higher than human race.

    This categorization is generally done on the basis of evolution of consciousness. Humans have power to discriminate in what is right or wrong.

    1.b. A slightly different approach is that Gods are also present inside us. Some attached to Yoga identify them as certain energy points within our body.

    1.c. Some also identity them in symbolic manner. Shape or form of body, weapons, vehicle on which they travel all have their own meaning.

    Hence the answer is a combination of all 3.

    Gods are living identities. They have their own kingdom in which they live e.g. heaven. They also abide inside our subtle bodies as different kinds of energies. Their form or shape, etc also has it's own importance.

    2) Due to the belief in reincarnation, is there any concept of seeing family members, friends, etc after this life (or from any other lives)?
    There are some reports of few people who claim they remember their past lives and have traced down the families of parents in his / her past life. But this is never thought about. Our relationship with our family and friends is only for this life. We do not think much on this matter

    3) What do you recommend a beginner do to start?
    There are different philosophical systems which come to different conclusions, but have lived alongside other systems over thousands of years. Even people who do not believe in God, the atheists are called as cArvAka-s (chaaravaaka) had a place in our land.

    Practically speaking, I would suggest you to read works or those saints which are easily available. You can reach foundation / matha / ashram easily.

    Yoga is very popular and I feel that it acts as a bridge to understand Hinduism for people coming from other faiths. Yoga is based on experiences and is more meditative then philosophical approach.

    To begin it is better to listen to audio or video discourses given by saints who have dedicated many years in understanding our scriptures and who also meditate on the same. Hence when such saints give a lecture on Gita, they will connect it with Upanishads and Brahma Sutra and other texts. Hence who will know much more then simply reading word-to-word translation of Gita without any commentary. If you cannot find introductory lectures, please listen to Gita discourses. Discourses by Swami Chinmaya, books written by him on Gita are very popular and follow Advaita Vedanta. Chinmaya Mission is also doing good work under leadership of Swami Tejomayananda.

    Ramakrishna Mission is also very popular and have spread in the west. You can atleast learn the basics from them too.

    There are also bhakti movements and the most popular one is spread by Srila Prabhupada, who has written a commentary in Gita titled, Bhagavad Gita, As it is. Here 'As it is' means not interpreting Gita in symbolic way, but treating Krishna, Arjuna, and other characters of Gita and Mahabharata as real i.e. they are a part of our history. Srila Prabhupada arrives at a different conclusion then Swami Chinmaya due to philosophical differences.

    Some commentators have stressed on symbolism like a great and unique commentator following Kashmir Shaivism Sri Abhinavgupta says that the battle ground Kurukshetra is our mind. Kaurava-s are negative forces, energies and Pandavas, the divine one, etc. Many commentators have adapted this approach.

    I know that this is confusing, but study what suits you. Hinduism is vast and is tolerant enough to incorporate many different kinds of philosophies.

    Just one point that avoid getting too much close to any institution. They may try to pull you in - Human nature

    After some years of listening and meditating on Gita, you can simply read translation or some verses of your choice that inspire you.

    If you wish to understand Hinduism in traditional way, there is a Book 'Hindu Dharma' By Kanchi Paramacharya, Sri Sri Chandrashekharendra Sarasvati Swami, Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Matha. It is available online (link in my signature). One chapter is missing which can be found out by searching 'Missing chapter in online version of Hindu Dharma'

    Kriya Yoga of Paramhansa Hariharananda, now taught by his disciple Paramhansa Prajnanananda is a good. Their way of teaching is also good. They are not behind money, atleast not in India and they do not do much publicity like others do.

    This is 800 page book, but each chapter is about 2 pages long. The language is very easy and not too technical. Kanchi Paramacharya is revered by all and was appointed as a Shankaracharya at the age 13 when he was given sanyAsa i.e. when he became a monk. He travelled a lot in India and died at ripe age of 100 years.

    4) If I obtain a statue of a deity, should I have it blessed (for example, in Catholicism, people would take a statue or medal/pendant to the priest to bless, or sprinkle it themselves with holy water)? If so, how?
    No Hindu ever worships any Idol. Idol is not God. It is an inert element. What makes it worthy of worship is the presence of God inside it. For this we have a ritual (a set of mantra-s) called as prANapratiShThA, which means consecration ceremony.

    In other words, we pray to a form of God to abide in an idol. Mind needs a form to hold on to. PurANA-s, give us info about their exhaled character and induces devotion in our heart.

    Hence it is necessary to atleast pray to God to abide in an Idol you purchase. If you want to do puja or meditate on it.

    5) Do long time Hindus understand all the words being said during pujas? It just seems so complicated right now to me!
    Not many. But mantra-s are vibrations which are said to purify our nADI-s (subtle energy channels) and purify our hearts. Hence it is good to listen to sanskrit sloka-s though we may not much understand them though understanding their meaning is much better than simply listening to them.

    6) Do Hindus perform any sort of "purification" before praying? For example, Muslims have the wudu washing, Catholics may make the sign of the cross, sometimes with holy water, etc.
    Prayer itself is a form of purification. Meditation also purifies us.

    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

    Sanskrit Dict | MW Dict | Gita Super Site | Hindu Dharma

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Questions to Abrahamics
    By wundermonk in forum Abrahamic Religions (Closed For Posting)
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 27 November 2011, 07:07 AM
  2. A Few Questions EVERY Secularist MUST Answer!
    By TatTvamAsi in forum Hot Topics
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 30 December 2009, 09:12 AM
  3. Some questions on HK
    By Yogkriya in forum Hare Krishna (ISKCON)
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 06 August 2007, 02:03 PM
  4. Questions from a Beginner
    By sm78 in forum Jyotish
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 19 June 2007, 10:59 AM
  5. A few questions
    By Raven Chorus in forum Shakta
    Replies: 28
    Last Post: 13 January 2007, 05:08 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •