Puja: Darsan Dena, Darsan Lena CD set and MP3
Hinduism doesn't lend itself easily to definition. The more you read about it, the less you feel you know. It doesn't fit into any neat categories. Is it even a religion? There is no one Bible, no real founder, no supreme Pope and no single catechism. It's a bewildering mass of possibilities and contradictions.
Everything is tolerated, everything is absorbed. Hinduism is like the proverbial sponge that, in the course of time, absorbs everything that is considered good, right and exemplary. Everyone can pray to whomever and whatever he or she likes. The whole universe is sacred. As the Gods say: "If someone prays to a tree or a rock I will be there to hear him." And then there are the Gods! According to legend, there are as many Gods as there are Hindus.
In reality,several thousand who appear under different names in different parts of the country. Each god, of course, has many legends. Everyone chooses the story that suits them best. Nobody really cares if there are several different and contradictory explanations of the birth and deeds of their favorite gods. For Indians are perhaps more ready than we in the West to acknowledge contradictions and get on living with them. In short, Hinduism is not easy to grasp for minds raised on categorization, neat definitions and linear thinking. But one of the reasons one studies India is precisely to try and understand a very different way of thinking, a millennia older than ours, and shared by more than a fifth of Mankind. It's the challenge that the unknown always holds for us. For example: we have a concept called God, but a Hindu would say that the Divine can express itself in a million different ways and cannot, by definition, be defined or or tied down.
This notions paradoxically leaves the individual much freer to conceive of the Divine in forms and ways that suit his or her personality. This chapter is less about philosophy and more about how Hindus practice Hinduism. Puja is the act of worship.
Darsan is the act of seeing and being seen by the Gods. This is the blessing that will protect Hindus against the demons and evil realities of this mortal life. In this chapter we'll learn about the best-known Gods: Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, and the Goddess, and try to sort out some of their relationships and forms. We'll hear some of the best-loved stories about these and other lesser Gods, observe some of the roles these Gods play in the daily lives of Hindus and what being a Hindu means in practical terms of everyday life.