Hinduism derives from various ancient religious beliefs. Its origins are uncertain, but it is believed to be influenced by the religion of the Ancient Indus Valley culture in India whose roots predate 2000 BC, combined with the ancient religion of various Aryan people who came to the region at various times, particularly around 1500 BC. As those ancient teachings flourished in the region, they developed into the distinctive religion of Hinduism.
Over time, Hinduism has become a diverse religion that varies widely among its practitioners, and also has developed many various scriptures. These scriptures are commonly put in such groups as the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Mahabharata (which contains the central Hindu text titled the Bhagavad Gita), the Ramayana, the Puranas, and many others. Most of these date from before 1500 BC to as late as 1000 AD.
It is difficult to determine whether Hinduism is monotheistic or polytheistic, and some conclude it is both and neither, and that it also differs between different sects of Hinduism. In Hinduism there are various gods such as Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Maintainer), Shiva (the Destroyer), and many others. However, there is also a concept known as Brahman (not to be confused with the aforementioned Brahma, which is often considered like an agent of Brahman), which is often described as “the essence,” the absolute, the supreme spirit, the ultimate reality, or God.
Hinduism also has a concept called Atman, which can be defined as breath / soul / universal soul / inner self / inner God / vital principle. Some people feel that a message of Hinduism is to realize that Brahman is Atman.
A main theme of Hindu belief is the idea that people’s souls transfer (reincarnate) into a new body after death, and that this process happens over and over in a continuous cycle called samsara. Throughout these lives, a soul accumulates karma based on good or bad deeds, which always eventually come back to the soul. Hindus see most things that happen to someone as the result of karma accumulated in his/her current and former lives. Hindus also believe that the cycle of samsara can be escaped when a soul reaches a stage known as moksha (liberation).
Most Hindus practice meditation and yoga. Another main theme of Hinduism is a social system where people are placed into a specific caste (social level based on a certain hierarchy) due to their heredity.
Hinduism is considered the source of many principles prevalent in Buddhism and Jainism. Today, India is still the primary land of Hinduism, but the religion is also followed in many other regions, including Malaysia, East Africa, regions nearby India, and many island countries. There are approximately 1 billion Hindus today.
Bhagavad Gita Passages
The undisciplined person eats too much, or doesn’t eat enough. The undisciplined person sleeps too much, or doesn’t sleep enough… The spiritual discipline that destroys suffering goes to the person who eats the proper amount of food, does the proper amount of exercise, performs the proper amount of work [/ play], and gets the proper amount of sleep.
The intelligence that is clear understands action and inaction, what should be done and what shouldn’t be done, danger and the absence of danger, and freedom and bondage.
Although all people seem to be on different paths, they are all traveling to one goal: the goal of Self-Realization.
Through meditation, the Higher Self is seen.
…[The mind is] difficult to control, but it can be conquered… through regular practice.
There is no need for this weakness [of yours]—it is not worthy of you. Get rid of this base weakness of spirit; arise and conqueror your foes!
He who is not self-restrained will have no steadiness of mind or perseverance in the pursuit of self-knowledge. There is no tranquility for the person who doesn’t persevere in the pursuit of self-knowledge—and without tranquility, how can there be happiness?
There is no existence for what is unreal, and there is no non-existence for what is real—to know the correct conclusion for both of these things is to know the truth. What pervades all of this is inexhaustible and indestructible—nothing can bring about its destruction.
It is better for a person to do his own duty, even if imperfectly, than to do another’s duty well performed.
The devoted and discipline person who control’s his mind will attain tranquility and oneness.
Know that nature and spirit both are without beginning, and that all developments and qualities to be produced from nature.
When one sees eternity in temporal things, and infinity in finite things; then one has pure knowledge.
The person with devotion… attains the highest tranquility; but the person who is without devotion… is tied down by his desires.
Devoted people cast off attachment and perform action to attain purity of self, with the body, the mind, the understanding, or even the senses—all free from individualistic notions.
A person whose self is not attached to external objects obtains the happiness that is in one’s self, and by concentrating of the mind… obtains indestructible happiness
…[The devoted person who understands the truth] thinks he does nothing at all when he sees, hears, touches, smells, eats, moves, sleeps, breathes, talks, excretes, takes, opens his eyes, or closes his eyes… He knows that the senses deal with the objects of the senses.
A man should elevate his self by his Atman [breath / soul / universal soul / inner self / inner God / vital principle]. The Atman can be a person’s friend, but it can also turn into his enemy. A person’s self-control will make his Atman his friend, but without self-control, it will behave like his enemy.
When a man sees all the variety of things as existing in one, and all as emanating from that, then he achieves harmony with Brahman [“the essence,” the absolute, the ultimate reality, or God]. This inexhaustible supreme entity, being without beginning and without qualities, does not act, and is not tainted… though stationed in the body.
Other Hindu Scripture Passages
You should keep your mind pure, for what a person thinks, he becomes—this is the eternal mystery… When the mind is silent… you can transcend the mind. (Maitri Upanishad)
Words cannot express the joy of a soul purified by spiritual meditation that has achieved harmonious oneness… (Maitri Upanishad)
The mind can be the source of bondage, or can be the source of liberation. (Maitri Upanishad)
Brahman [“the essence,” the absolute, the ultimate reality, or God] shines forth, vast, self-luminous, inconceivable, subtler than the subtle. He is far beyond what is far, and yet here very near at hand. He is seen here, dwelling in the cave of the heart of every conscious being. (Mundaka Upanishad)
He who knows Brahman [“the essence,” the absolute, the ultimate reality, or God] becomes Brahman. (Mundaka Upanishad)
Ask to know the infinite (Chandogya Upanishad)
The spiritual migration of life takes place in one’s mind. (Upanishads)
The miserable tend to constantly notice other people’s faults, even if they are as small as a mustard seed; and continuously shut their eyes against their own faults, even if they are as large as a vilva fruit. (Garuda Purana)
... The wise and intelligent practice attaining self-knowledge. (Viveka Chudamani)
Children and other family and acquaintances can free a father’s debts, but no one can free another person’s bondage. Other people can remove someone else’s pain that is caused by something like a weight on the head, but only one’s own self can end the pain caused by something like hunger. A sick person can get better through treatment such as an improved diet, but cannot be improved through treatment undergone by others.
Reality can be experienced only with one’s own experience, but not through someone else’s. (Viveka Chudamani)
…Wise men should seek to understand the truth of their own nature. (Viveka Chudamani)
[The beginning of the world:] There was neither non-existence nor existence; there was no air, nor the sky beyond it. What covered it? And where? And what contained it? Was water there, an unfathomed depth of water? There was neither death, nor was there immortality. There was no divider of night and day.
That One Thing, breathless, and breathed by its own nature—apart from it there was nothing else whatsoever. Darkness was concealed by darkness; all was indiscriminate chaos. Everything that existed then was void and formless, and by the great power of heat, that One Thing was born. Then desire arose—the primal seed born of the mind [/ spirit].
Sages who searched with their heart’s thought know the existent’s kinship in the non-existent. Their separation extended; what was above it, and what was below? There were begetters, powerful forces, free action here and energy up there.
Who really knows and who can declare from what origin this creation comes from? And the entity of this creation after it came about—who knows how it came into being?
He, the first origin of this creation, whether he formed it all or did not form it, he who observes this world in highest heaven… he knows it—or perhaps even he does not know. (Rg / Rig Veda)