The edifice of Hinduism has been founded, erected and fostered by sages, saints and illustrious spiritual guides. Hence the customs, usages and traditions which are being continued have eternal validity and they can be scientifically explained. The scriptures are not myths as some say.
Every act has a deep significance. Unfortunately, the cultural history of Hindus has been distorted by some “vested” interests who have made a ‘criminal’ approach towards this Faith. This ancient religion is universal in character and desires that the entire humanity should be one. To prove this, it can be pointed out how Hinduism has never believed in conquering other countries or forcing members of other Faiths to join its fold. A Hindu can take legitimate pride in his cultural and religious background and in preserving its heritage.
The mantras provide the moral strength to withstand trials, condition the mind to face any problem and remain pure and unperturbed, and ultimately have communion with God. They should not, therefore, be used indiscriminately. Some, who might have tasted power by utilizing them and got personal gains would have also experienced that the latter were short-lived. Spiritual leaders, who have digested their contents, before initialing others, will take care to test the genuineness of the recipients and ensure that they are fit persons who will cherish the mantras as a method to realise God. But the reward is certain for those who meditate on them.
There are different types of mantras but more common is the one in which a specific with attribute is visualized, along with the repetition of the sound. A family man, for instance, whose ideal is to be a loving and responsible husband might meditate on the name Rama. Visualization of deities is only an aid to focus the mind. Repeating the mantras, which are the names of deities, internalizes the power of manifests itself in sound, the mantra itself is the subtle body of the deity. By chanting the syllables with accuracy and devotion, the form of the mantra’s presiding deity will be invoked.
An individual who worship some form of God according to his religious tradition and belief and people gathering in one place to collectively offer obeisance to God for the fulfillment of their desires are intrinsic to Indian culture.
Renovation and preservation of temples are rooted in our culture. These symbols of faith have made India known throughout the world as a nation with a distinct identity. Scriptures refer to two forms of worship—the conduct of religious rites (like yagna and yaga) which is external and observance of fasting and other rituals, which is internal. They fetch peace.
Devotees objects for their meditation. God is omnipresent and omniscient even when He presents Himself in idols. He fulfils their wishes when images are made, sanctified, installed and worshipped with devotion. Welfare of the people will not be ensured if idols, which do not conform to proper proportions and form, are installed. On the contrary, there will be general well-being if the idols and the shrines are according to those texts which prescribe their shapes and dimensions.
Every temple has various artistic and functional features, known as styles, which are codified and described in the Agamas, Silpa Sastras and the Puranas. Temples have been built only according to the guidelines therein and not in the names of kings. It has to be remembered that temples are built based only on rules and not as per the whims and fancies of a person. All should realise that if men adhere to the Law of Righteousness, it will protect the entire world.
The Hindu Universe:
Hindu portal. Includes an overview, complete text of scriptures, history, festivals, forums, deities, temples, activism, shopping, and newsgroup archives.
Hinduism - Features an overview, and briefs on chief deities, sacred texts, beliefs, and the caste system.
Information about rituals, prayers, issues, and customs pertaining to Hindu marriages.
Hindu Kids Universe:
Contains prayers, festivals, customs and culture through pictorial descriptions, and a forum for kids and parents.
Streaming devotional songs (RealAudio) with transliterations. Also includes the traditional Hindu calendar, images of deities, a list of temples, and videos (RealMedia).
Contains information about festivals of northern India, and transliterated text of bhajans, aartis, chaleesas, and other devotional songs.
Meeting God: Elements of Hindu Devotion:
Companion site to accompany an exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. Features an overview of various aspects of Hinduism, including worship in the home, community, and temple.
BBC Religion and Ethics: Hinduism:
Features an overview, history, beliefs, list of holy days, and customs.
Articles on Hindu culture, philosophy, sacred texts, and customs.Includes pictures of deities, holy-men, and discussions of such topics as death, initiation, and weddings.
Hindu Caste System:
An article by Dr. Subhash C. Sharma on the natural evolution of various professions in ancient India before and during Vedic times, explaining that the original Hindu vocations were not based on heredity or birth.