Spirituality and Spiritualism

ॐ Hindu Of Universe

“God’s light is within you, It never leaves you.”


The ultimate aim of Indian spirituality is to gain the Supreme Knowledge and become one with the Supreme Being.

Several spiritual paths have been prescribed to achieve this transformation. Love, nonviolence, good conduct and the law of dharma define the Hindu path. Hinduism explains that the soul reincarnates until all Karmas are resolved and God realization is attained.

At the Heart of Hinduism is the monotheistic principle of Brahman. The entire universe is basically a representation of the Supreme Soul, and He is present in each and every thing, human and animal, animate and non-animate.

Deity is simultaneously visualized as a triad.-
Brahma , the Creator , who is continuing to create new realities 
Vishnu , the Preserver , who preserves these new creations.
Shiva , the Destroyer , who is its ultimate destroyer.

The Hindu gods are very much alive and live in temples, snow capped peaks, in rivers and oceans and above all in the very hearts and minds of the Hindus.

Basic believes of Sanatan Dharma

According to Hindu beliefs, Brahman is the principle source of the universe. This divine intelligence exists in all beings. Thus all the Hindu gods and goddesses are manifestations of the one Brahman. Hinduism is based on the concept of reincarnation, in which all living beings, from plants to gods, live in a cycle of living and dying.

Life is determined by the law of karma. According to karma, the quality of rebirth is determined by the moral behavior displayed in the previous life. In this view, life on earth is regarded as temporary and a challenge. The goal of existence is to reach liberation from the cycle of rebirth and death and enter into an indescribable state called moksha (liberation). The ones who reach this state no longer struggle with the cycle of life and death.


  1. What is Hinduism?

How and when did Hinduism begin? While there is no shortage of historical scholars, sages, and teachers in Hinduism, there is no historical founder of the religion as a whole, no figure comparable to Jesus, the Buddha, Abraham, or Muhammad. As a consequence, there is no firm date of origin for Hinduism, either. The earliest known sacred texts of Hinduism, the Vedas, date back to at least 3000 BCE, but some date them back even further, to 8000-6000 BCE; and some Hindus themselves believe these texts to be of divine origin, and therefore timeless.

Related to this, it is worth mentioning here that there is no designated religious hierarchy that determines official Hindu doctrine or practice. Thus, there is no one who can speak for Hindus as a whole, and no single authority regarding what is “truly” Hindu or not. Nevertheless, below is a list of principles that, by practitioner consensus, characterize one as “Hindu.”

  • Belief in the divinity of the Vedas
  • Belief in one, all-pervasive Supreme Reality
  • Belief in the cyclical nature of time
  • Belief in karma
  • Belief in reincarnation
  • Belief in alternate realities with higher beings
  • Belief in enlightened masters or gurus
  • Belief in non-aggression and non-injury
  • Belief that all revealed religions are essentially correct
  • Belief that the living being is first and foremost a spiritual entity
  • Belief in an “organic social system.” (Steven Rosen, Essential Hinduism, )

Sacred Texts of Hinduism

There is no single, authoritative text in Hinduism that functions like the Bible for Christians, or the Qur’an for Muslims. Instead, there are several different collections of texts. The Vedas are the oldest Hindu sacred texts, and have the most wide-ranging authority. They are believed to have been written anywhere from 1800 to 1200 BCE. The Upanishads describe a more philosophical and theoretical approach to the practice of Hinduism and were written roughly between 800 and 400 BCE, around the same time that the Buddha lived and taught. The Mahabharata is the longest epic poem in the world, the most well-known portion of which is the Bhagavad-Gita, which is perhaps the best-known and widely cited book in all of Hinduism; the Ramayana is the other most important epic poem in Hinduism.

Gods in Hinduism

Hinduism encompasses a lush, expansive understanding of the divine accommodating a vast assortment of dynamic and multifaceted concepts. Hinduism sees the divine as not either one or many, but both; not male or female, but both; not formless or embodied, but both. Some of the most important deities in Hinduism are Vishnu, Shiva, Ganesha, Krishna, Sarasvati, Durga, and Kali.

As a result, there are dozens upon dozens of Hindu festivals honoring and celebrating these multitudinous divinities. Some are celebrated throughout India, and many more are primarily regional. They mark specific seasons, specific events in the lives of the different gods and goddesses, and specific concerns of life—wealth, health, fertility, etc. Two of the most well-known in the United States are Divali and Holi.

Divali, the festival of lights that falls somewhere in October or November, honors Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and good fortune, and lasts roughly four to five days. Families often visit the temple during this time and make offerings to Lakshmi there, but they also worship at home, perhaps even arranging a special place on their home altar for Lakshmi. Doors are left open to welcome her into the house, and the whole period of celebration is a time of great joy, in which Hindus fill their houses with light.

Holi is celebrated with great abandon and gusto all over India. It inaugurates the coming of spring and is celebrated primarily by throwing colored paste and water on anyone who happens to be out walking around. It, too, is celebrated over a period of days.

Hindu Worship

For Hindus, there is no weekly worship service, no set day or time in which a community is called to gather publicly. Although most Hindus do visit temples regularly, or at least occasionally, to pray and make offerings, a “good” Hindu need never worship in public. Instead, all worship can be performed to icons in the home shrine, which is why the home is a very important place of worship in India.

The best word that describes and summarizes Hindu worship is puja, which means respect, homage, or worship. Most—if not all—Hindus have small altars at home on which they place pictures and/or statues representing different deities, including those to whom the family is particularly devoted. Each morning, one member of the family, usually the father or the mother, will perform a short puja at the altar. This may include saying prayers, lighting a lamp, burning incense, making offerings of fruit and flowers, and ringing a bell. The goal in this worship is to please the gods through all five senses.

Much the same thing happens in temple worship, though the rituals are much more elaborate there, since deities are believed to inhabit the temple images at all times, rather than just when invited, as in a home puja. In temple worship, the priest performs the puja, then on behalf of the god he returns to the people some of what they first brought as offerings—food, flowers, etc. This is called prasad, which means grace, goodwill, or blessing. In this way, the offerings are then received back by the devotees as a blessing. So, for example, small morsels of food are eaten, flowers are worn in the hair, incense is wafted around one’s body, holy water sipped, and colored powders are mixed with water and used to make a tilak, a mark in the center of the forehead above the eyes.

Nine Beliefs of Hinduism

Our beliefs determine our thoughts and attitudes about life, which in turn direct our actions. By our actions, we create our destiny. Beliefs about sacred matters–God, soul and cosmos–are essential to one’s approach to life. Hindus believe many diverse things, but there are a few bedrock concepts on which most Hindus concur. The following nine beliefs, though not exhaustive, offer a simple summary of Hindu spirituality.

  1. Hindus believe in a one, all-pervasive Supreme Being who is both immanent and transcendent, both Creator and Unmanifest Reality.
  2. Hindus believe in the divinity of the four Vedas, the world’s most ancient scripture, and venerate the Agamas as equally revealed. These primordial hymns are God’s word and the bedrock of Sanatana Dharma, the eternal religion.
  3. Hindus believe that the universe undergoes endless cycles of creation, preservation and dissolution.
  4. Hindus believe in karma, the law of cause and effect by which each individual creates his own destiny by his thoughts, words and deeds.
  5. Hindus believe that the soul reincarnates, evolving through many births until all karmas have been resolved, and moksha, liberation from the cycle of rebirth, is attained. Not a single soul will be deprived of this destiny.
  6. Hindus believe that divine beings exist in unseen worlds and that temple worship, rituals, sacraments and personal devotionals create a communion with these devas and Gods.
  7. Hindus believe that an enlightened master, or satguru, is essential to know the Transcendent Absolute, as are personal discipline, good conduct, purification, pilgrimage, self-inquiry, meditation and surrender in God.
  8. Hindus believe that all life is sacred, to be loved and revered, and therefore practice ahimsa, noninjury, in thought, word and deed.
  9. Hindus believe that no religion teaches the only way to salvation above all others, but that all genuine paths are facets of God’s Light, deserving tolerance and understanding.


Hinduism, the world’s oldest religion, has no beginning–it precedes recorded history. It has no human founder. It is a mystical religion, leading the devotee to personally experience the Truth within, finally reaching the pinnacle of consciousness where man and God are one. Hinduism has four main denominations–Saivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism and Smartism.

Spirituality and Spiritualism

A definition of spiritualism

Spiritualism is a theological and speculative subject which deals with matters concerning the spirit or the Self: its nature, existence, mediums, ghosts, afterlife, spiritual powers, healing, angels, gods and goddesses, heaven and hell, occult worlds and so on.

In the last three centuries, spiritualism developed into a religion in itself in Europe and Latin America with its roots dating back to the medieval witchcraft, Wicca and other traditions. The French teacher and educator Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail (1804-1869), popularly known by his pen name Allan Kerdec, is considered the founder of spiritualism or Spiritism. He practiced what is called spirit tapping to communicate with spirits and record their messages and activities.

Spiritualism as a creed is based on the following common beliefs.

  1. Belief in our ability to communicate with spirits and mediums>
  2. Belief in afterlife
  3. Belief in the individuality and ethereality of the souls
  4. Belief in astral worlds and paranormal powers
  5. Belief in God, gods, angels and hierarchy of spirits
  6. Belief in extra terrestrial spirits
  7. Belief in nature spirits and animal magnetism
  8. Belief in supernatural and occult powers
  9. Belief in possessions, magic potions, sorcery and witchcraft

Spirituality is an attitude

Spirituality is different from spiritualism. It is the practice of cultivating the spiritual attitude based upon the belief in God and individual Self or Soul and the possibility of liberation or self-realization through the practice of yoga and other methods. Spiritual people who are endowed with this attitude work for their self-transformation and inner purification. By transcending their ordinary nature and perceptual consciousness they aim to enter higher states of consciousness or the realm of the Self. In their expansive state of consciousness they want to experience oneness with the highest and the purest state of the individual Self, or the Supreme Self. Spirituality is the culminating stage in the religious practice of a person who develops a distaste for worldly life and the sensual pleasures of mind and body and yearns to return to his essential nature and achieve oneness with God.

Differences between spiritualism and spirituality

The practice of spiritualism means many things to many people. It covers a broad range of practices of which some are intensely evil and some are radiantly divine. Like any other branch of knowledge, spiritualism can be used both for good and evil purposes. Many people are drawn into it because of the immense powers and miraculous experiences it promises to bestow upon its practitioners. Spiritualism is a western concept in which soul is considered to possess some individuality, powers and memory of the past life and attachments. It is more suited for those who do not believe in rebirth or liberation.

Spirituality on the other hand is a purely austere effort, meant exclusively for liberation or self-realization. It is well suited for those who believe in karma, rebirth and the possibility of liberation. In spirituality there is no intent to harm only the yearning to escape from the cycle of births and deaths by realizing one’s true nature. Spiritualism is for those who want to dabble with the spirit world for personal or professional reasons or to explore the alternative states of existence and methods of knowing and healing. Spirituality is practiced for different reasons. It is meant for those who want to transcend the physical, mental and material things achieve self-realization or peace and equanimity. It not for enhancing one’s power or prestige, practice magic or attract the opposite sex. Those who practice spirituality eschew all worldly pleasures and practice self-restraint to transcend their baser nature and cultivate divine qualities. They become pure to the extent they are indistinguishable with God’s very nature.

Different beliefs about the Self

In the religious scriptures such as the Upanishads a Self is described variously as the innermost self, the highest self, the deepest self, the real self and the immortal self. Atheism does not recognize the existence of Self. The Charvakas of ancient India believed that beings returned to their elements after death and that there was nothing beyond death. They exhorted people to make the most of their lives while living upon earth without worrying about their afterlives.

Most religions believe in the existence of the immortal self and its close affinity with God. Buddhism is an exception. It abides by the concept of anatma, or the nonexistence of an immortal and pure Self. It is however wrong to assume that Buddhism does not believe in any kind of Self at all. It does not believe in the kind of Self (atman) described in Hinduism and Jainism as pure, immortal, universal, highest, etc. In Buddhism the Self is a physical and mental entity representing the individuality of a being, brought together by the aggregation of various elements through chance into the whirlpool of existence and perpetuated through desires and actions till it achieves nirvana or complete freedom from change and suffering.

Some religions believe that plants, animals, humans and even inanimate objects like stones, elements, planets and other celestial objects have Selves, and that all Selves are the same in their essential nature. According to them plants and animals have the potential to evolve into human beings through their good karma or good actions. Human beings may also potentially degenerate into lower life forms, if the indulge in evil actions and mortal sins. Practitioners of occultism describe the Self as having made of the finest particles of energy, finer than the subatomic particles, which resonate at a much higher frequency and radiate higher energy. The fifth element ether (the other elements are: fire, water, air and earth) is associated with the Self. Its physical manifestation is the sky or space and it acts as the medium for sound. Hence, many religions rely upon prayers, mantras and other sacred chants to reach out to God or gods.

According to the Hindu scriptures, atman or the Self is smaller than the smallest and larger than the largest. It is essentially the same as Brahman, the highest Universal Self. It exists in human beings like a flame of the size of the thumb somewhere in the heart region. It cannot be grasped by the mind or the senses. It is swifter than them and always ahead of them. It is also described as the subjective consciousness or witness consciousness, different from the body and the mind and the egoistic self. By meditating upon it one gains immortality and union with the Highest Self. In human beings we can see its reflection in the buddhi or conscientious intelligence. The knowledge of the self is considered the highest knowledge, which liberates as well elevates the individual beings from bondage to the earthly life.

The individual Self and God

According to most religions, the Self is a representative aspect of God, having or reflecting all His essential qualities and powers. Some schools of Hinduism believe that God created numerous individual Selves at the beginning of creation. According to other schools, the individual Selves have never been created. They are without a beginning and without an end and exist along with God eternally. Their number is believed to be fixed. A similar concept is held by other religions like Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam. There are believed to be different types of Selves, depending upon their level of awareness and nearness to God. The deluded Selves are bound to the cycle of births and deaths and liberated only when they become aware of their true nature. According to Christianity, Islam and Zoroastrianism, after death the Selves live eternally either in heaven or in hell depending upon their actions and allegiance to God. According to Hinduism, Jainism, heaven and hell are temporary residences for Selves in their long journey towards liberation. Till they are completely liberated they keep returning to the earth from these worlds after exhausting their good or bad karma.

Qualities of a truly spiritual person

The thought of a spiritual person conjures up in our mind images of gurus, saints, yogis, mendicants, rishis, Jinas, Sufis, fakirs, monks and so on. While this is true largely, what is more important to the practice of spiritualism is moral purity and the attitude of inwardness rather than obsession with the outward rituals or physical appearance. A person may wear orange robes but inwardly may be hankering after worldly desires. Another person may be living like an ordinary householder and yet may be virtuous and deeply spiritual. So one should not be deceived by outward appearances or the mere words and speeches of spiritual gurus. One should look at their general behavior, and what they are trying to do. A truly spiritual person is one who:

  1. Believes in the existence of Self or innermost Self.
  2. Accepts it as his true Self.
  3. Identifies himself with it all the time.
  4. Lives and acts as if he is the Self, not his mind and body.
  5. Dwells deep within himself to understand the true nature of his existence.
  6. Does not see any difference between himself and the rest of the creation.
  7. Is morally pure.
  8. Is uninterested in showing off his spiritual powers for personal popularity.

A spiritual person does not have to believe in God. However, he should believe in himself and his spiritual nature. He should lead a virtuous life. He should know how to control his mind and body and remain free from the temptations of life. He should know how to withdraw from his senses and remain centered in his self all the time. He should remain mentally stable under all circumstances by cultivating detachment from the things and attractions of the world. He should learn to overcome the limitations and weaknesses of his lower nature, by practicing virtue and identifying himself with his inner Self. If we set aside all the complexities and dogmas associated with the subject, spirituality is all about believing, thinking, acting and living like an immortal spirit.