The Basic concept of Hinduism
We have seen some historical information on Hinduism.
Now we move on to see the basic idea…
Hinduism – The Concept
The Hindus believe that there are three important aspects in relation to a living being in this world.
It has to be created (Eg: the birth of a human baby)
and once created
it’s got to be protected from harms
it’s got to be eliminated (Eg: The death of a human at an old age) so that life comes to an end.
Hence the great GOD has taken three forms to do these three important functions namely;
Creation, Protection, and Destruction.
Threee Forms of God
Thus Lord Brahma is responsible for the creation of life (Begining of life: Birth) and the Lord Vishnu is responsible for the protection of that life through its life cycle and Lord Shiva is responsible for the destruction (End of life: Death) of it.
Why the destroyer is more popular than the creator
It may be astonishing to know that there are not many followers for Lord Brahma, the Creator, compared to the other two. But it is understandable in that our affairs along with Lord Brahma is over even before we are born.
It is actually believed that depending of the level of sins that we committed in our previous birth, Lord Brahma decides about our life in this birth: Whom we are to be born (rich or poor), Our sex, Our destiny, social status (will we be educated or uneducated), etc.
This implies that there is less or no business with him after our birth and so there would not be many worshippers for Lord Brahma and we will not see many temples for him compared to the other two.
The prominent Hindu subsets
Those who worship Lord Vishnu, the protector, as their first and foremost god is known as ‘Vaishnavas’. The Hindu sub-sect of ‘Vaishnavism’ is of these ‘Vaishnavas’. It should be noted that a high percentage (nearly 70%) of Hindus in India are in this sect.
A Vaishnavaite devotee can be identified by the vertical ‘Thiru-Mann’ mark on the forehead and the Saivaite devotee can be identified by the three parallel ‘Thiru-Neeru’ marks on the forehead.
Those who worship Lord Shiva, the destroyer, as their first and foremost god is known as ‘Saivas’. The Hindu sub-sect of ‘Saivism’ is of these ‘Saivas’.
Note that a very high percentage of Hindus in Sri Lanka are ‘Saivas’. In the great epic Ramayana, Lanka’s king Ravana was described as a great devotee of Lord Shiva.
Worshiping Lord Vishnu for our protection is understandable and the high percentage of his worshippers explains this. Yet one might wonder why people want to worship Lord Shiva, the destroyer?
The Important Philosophy
There is an excellent philosophy supporting this concept which you may find out in detail in your later lessons. For now, we will note that this philosophy is based on a few important beliefs in Hinduism.
1. The ‘certainty of death’ of a living being and
2. ‘Re-birth’ (reincarnation) of the same soul and that occurs due to the sin committed in the previous birth. This means that we all are here, instead of being near the lotus feet of the great God forever, just because of our earlier sins.
It follows that the level of sins committed in our previous birth determines how our life is going to be in this birth. (rich or poor, healthy or sick, highly respected in society or a person languishing as a jailbird, etc.)
Thus the reason for the worshiping of Lord Shiva.
Hence the simple idea is NOT to commit further sins in this life but to pray to the Lord to get rid of all sins before death so that there would not be more rebirths into this world that is full of troubles.