What is the Basic Philosophy of Hinduism
Hindu religion is full of diversity but still it maintains unit among all those diversity. Under the hood of diversity, there is an underlying philosophy in Hinduism which unites them.
There is a Brahman which is all pervading and pervasive. That was always there and that will always be there. That is the beginning and that is the end. That is everything.
There is an Atman, pieces that come out of Brahman. That Atman enters Maya (Prakriti).
Brahman is Purush (pure consciousness and energy). Atman comes out of it and enters Maya (Prakriti) and the atman is surrounded by a physical structure body. Atman reveals itself through Chetna (consciousness), Chetna interacts with body, and body interacts with Maya (Prakriti) through three ways (Sattvik Guna, Rajasik Guna and Tamasik Guna). Every interaction generates Karma. Good deeds generate good Karma and bad deeds generate bad Karma.
When the body dies, the Atman takes another birth in any of the six categories (Aquatic, Plants, Insects, Birds, Animals and Humans) based on the thought of the Atman at the time of death and its Karmic balance.
Karma can only be generated in human life because only humans have free will and choice. The Atman with 3 Gunas (i.e. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas) has choice of what to do (Karma). Next birth is based on Karmic balance of the Atman. In human life, it is possible to improve karmic balance by doing good karma otherwise next birth will be in any of the lower categories (Aquatic, Plants, Insects, Birds, Animals). In the lower categories, Karmic balance cannot be improved, only bad karma will be burnt because Atman is not aware of itself. Hinduism, for example, believes that insect is not aware of itself and that’s why their Karma is AKARMA (no karmic balance is generated). When the Karmic balance is higher, Atman goes higher and becomes Deva. But when the karmic balance of Deva lowers, it becomes human again and this cycle repeats itself.
While in the cycle of life (birth and death), once in a time the Atman gets human body. In human body, if Atman has good Karma, it will find a Guru who will teach scripture. There are two types of scripture – Shruti and Smiriti. Shruti is divine revelation (Veda and Upanishads). With that knowledge, the Atman will realize that he is stuck in cycle of life (birth, grow and death) and the Atman will try its best to cut the cycle of life and become one with ParamAtman (Brahman). That is the destiny of every human being which is called Liberation. This will not be realized by everybody. So, what will happen to those Atmans? – those Atmans will be stuck in the endless cycle of life and death. Why will this happen? – because this is Sansar. What is Sansar? – It is Maya. What is Maya? – Maya is temporary material reality which confuses Atman. Atman is confused all the time so it needs a Guru for realization. Guru will guide the Atman to do Sat-Karma. Guru will protect the Atman from doing Rajsik and Tamsik Karma. If the Atman is involved in Rajsik and Tamsik Karma, it will not get liberation. That’s why a Guru is needed to guide the Atman to be on the right track of Sat-Karma.
At one side, this cycle of Atman is repeating itself, and on the other side, the universe itself is getting created, nurtured and destroyed. In the Sansar inside the Brahmand (Universe), four Yugas will come – Sat Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapar Yuga and Kal Yuga and this cycle will continue. Inside that cycle of universe, the cycle of our life will continue. This is a system which was always there and which will always be there. The system has no beginning and the system has no end.
This summarizes the central philosophy of Hinduism.