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Hindu Rituals and Routines : Why do we follow them ?


Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life. Unlike other religions, Hindu dharma has many specialties. This is not known as a religion, it is known as the dharma; Sanaathana Dharma. Sanaathana means, according to Bhagavath Geetha, which cannot be destroyed by fire, weapons, water, air, and which is present in all living and non living being. Dharma means, the way of life which is the 'total of all aachaaraas or customs and rituals'.

Sanaathana Dharma has its foundation on scientific spirituality. In the entire ancient Hindu literature we can see that science and spirituality are integrated. It is mentioned in the 40th chapter of the Yajurveda known as Eesaavaasya Upanishad that use scientific knowledge for solving problems in our life and use the spiritual knowledge for attaining immortality through philosophical outlook.

Remember that in each and every aachaaraa there will be a component of spirituality in it. Without spirituality, nothing exists in Sanaathana dharma. Generally everyone bear a wrong impression that this spirituality is religion. Spirituality is different in Hindu dharma. Here the question of religion does not exist at all, because Hindu dharma was not created by an individual, prophet or an incarnation. Spirituality is a part of every Hindu custom in the normal life of a Hindu.

Aachaaraas are to be followed based on their merits available from the self experience; you need not blindly follow a teacher or someone who gives advice 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

This is an important advice given in smruthies . It means a person can get only one quarter of knowledge from Achaarya - the teacher, another quarter by analyzing self, one quarter by discussing with others and the last quarter during the process of living by method addition, deletion, correction, and modification of already known aachaaraas or new aachaaraas.

Aachaaraath labhathe hi ayu:
aachaaraath dhanamakshayam
aachaaraath labhathe suprajaa:
aachaaro ahanthya lakshanam

Aachaaraas are followed for the psychological and physiological health and long life; Aachaaraas are followed for prosperity and wealth; Aachaaraas are followed for strong family and social bondage and following the Aachaaraas give a fine personality, dharmic outlook and vision, says our dharmasaastra.

In India everyone followed Aachaaraas for the above mentioned psychological, family relation, social benefits and national integration based benefits. It is your right and duty to understand scientifically, rationally and logically the meaning of each and every Aachaaraas and follow the same in your life systematically.

Why do we follow them ?

  1. Why do we light a lamp ?
  2. Why do we have a prayer room ?
  3. Why do we do Namaste ?
  4. Why do we prostrate before parents and elders ?
  5. Why do we wear marks (tilak, pottu and the like) on the forehead ?
  6. Why do we not touch papers, books and people with the feet ?
  7. To touch another with the feet is considered an act of misdemeanor. Why is this so ?
  8. Why do we apply the holy ash ?
  9. Why do offer food to the Lord before eating it ?
  10. Why do we fast ?
  11. Why do we do pradakshina (circumambulate) ?
  12. Why is pradakshina done only in a clockwise manner ?
  13. Why do we regard trees and plants as sacred ?
  14. Why do we ring the bell in a temple ?
  15. Why do we worship the kalasha ?
  16. Why do we consider the lotus as special ?
  17. Why do we worship tulasi ?
  18. Why do we blow the conch ?
  19. Why do we say shaanti thrice ?
  20. Why do we offer a coconut ?
  21. Why do we chant Om ?
  22. Why do we do aarati ?
source by Swami Chinmayananda