THE SCIENCE OF CUSTOMS AND RITUALS IN HINDU DHARMA
What is the definition of a Hindu : Aa sindho: sinduparyantham yasya bhaaratha bhoomikaa maathru bhoo: pithru bhoo (punya) schaiva sa vai Hindu iti smruthaa: whomsoever, is considering the land between the sapta sindu ( Indus valley river) upto Indian ocean as the motherland/ fatherland and holy land, is known as Hindu. This land is known as Hindustanam which is defined as follows: Himaalayam samaarabhya yaavath hindu sarovaram tham deva nirmitham desam hindustaanam prachakshate. The land created by god himself and which is lying between Himalayas and Indian ocean is known as Hindustanam .
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Hence we say Hinduism is not a religion but the way of life.
One should always remember that in each and every aachaaraas / dharma there will be a component of spirituality in it. Without spirituality, nothing exists in Hindu dharma. Almost everyone carries a wrong impression that this spirituality is religion. No ! spirituality is different in Hindu dharma, where the question a religion does not exist at all, because Hindu dharma was not created by one individual/prophet/incarnation/…. Hence it is not a religion. Spirituality is a part of every Hindu custom in the life of a Hindu.
What are the rules to be followed while practicing the Hindu customs and rituals (aachaaraas) ?. This question has to be scientifically analyzed. Whatever may the aachaaraas we are practicing in our life, it has been told that saakshaath anubhavairdhrushto na srutho na guru darsitha lokaanaam upakaaraaya ethath sarvam pradarsitham. Aachaaraas are to be followed based on their merits available from the self experience, one need not blindly follow a teacher or someone who gives advise without reasoning. All these aachaaraas are mentioned for the prosperity of the human beings and it should be the prime focus for practicing the Hindu aachaaraas.
Achaaryaath paadam aadatthe paadam sishya swamedhayaa paadam sa brahmachaaribhya sesham kaala kramena cha is another important advice given in smruthies. It means one can get one quarter of the knowledge from the teacher, one quarter by analyzing oneself, one quarter by discussing with others and the last quarter one can get during the process of living by the method addition, deletion, correction and modification of already known aachaaraas/ new aachaaraas.
It is mentioned that we have to take one quarter from the teacher/ guru. Now, what is the definition of a guru or teacher. Aachinothi cha saastraarthaan sishyaan saadhayate sudhee swayam aacharti chaiva sa aacharya iti smruthaa: who is knowing the scientific meaning of the purpose of the aachaaraas, who can teach the student very systematically and who is following (all what is taught to the students) in ones own life, that person is fit to be called as the teacher/guru. Here, one can see the qualification of a teacher who can define and explain about the aachaaraas.
Can we practice the aachaaraas at all times with the same level of devotion ? This is a common question asked. The answer is also given in our smruthies. Swagraame poornam aaachaaraasasm anya graame thadardhakam pattane tu thath paadam yaatre baalaad aaachaaraasastheth. In one’s own village, practice all the aachaaraas, in other villages (while travelling or staying) practice one half of the aachaaraas, in the cities/ towns follow atleast a minimum of one quarter of them and while traveling, like a child one need not practice any of the aachaaraas.
Should we practice the aachaaraas blindly saying...