Hinduism believes in the existence of only one God (Brahman) but known under different names and forms:
‘Ekam Sadvipra Bahudà Vadanti’ (There is only one God, the wise call Him by different names)
Hindus believe that God has many attributes or forms, each of which can be the focus of a person’s religious devotion. God therefore can be pictured in
as many forms a person chooses. This religious attitude and the fact that many local or regional practices (including beliefs) have been incorporated into Hinduism allow for a diverse range of ritual practices.
The goal of life is the realisation of God (Brahman) and the attainment of Moksha (liberation), thus releasing one from the cycle of births and deaths
(samsara). The ardent prayer of every Hindu heart is embodied in the following:
Lead me, 0 Lord, from untruth to Truth from darkness to Light and from death to Immortality.
‘Since what is stressed in Hinduism is not variations of religious expressions but the realization of spiritual truths, there is therefore an inherent
toleration towards the many forms of worship in the religion’. Indeed the famous line in the ‘Rig Veda’, ‘Truth is one, Sages call by various names’, has been interpreted by Hindu scholars as Hinduism’s basic
acceptance of all religions or religious faiths as being equal.
Hinduism lends itself to the idea that different religions are different ways of expressing a single underlying truth: The Hindu believes there are many
paths leading to God, just like there are many rivers leading to the sea. There are three main ways of reaching God:
‘Jnana (knowledge), Karma (action), and Bhakti (devotion)’
The vast majority of Hindus approach God through the path of ‘Bhakti’ (personal devotion and surrender) rather than the complicated path of ‘Karma’
(selfless action) or ‘jnana’, the path of ‘pure knowledge’. The ‘Bhakti’ (the devotee) is satisfied to remain enraptured with the beauty of God as manifested in the Universe and through His incarnations.
‘All this world’, exclaims Raj jab, ‘is the Vedas and the entire creation is the Koran!’ The bhakti is content to worship God as a loving and intensely
The ‘Bhakti’ path has encouraged the worship of ‘Brahman’ (God) in different forms. Depending dn their social traditions, their cultural and regional
circumstances, Hindus show particular attachment to a particular deity and worship God in that form. Hindus therefore worship their different gods as aspects of one supreme Being, as so many symbols of that Divinity.
Among Mauritian Hindus, the most popular among these deities are Shiva, Canesa, Muruga, Durga, Lakshmi, and the ‘avatars’ (incarnations) of God in the
form of Rama and Krishna. The ‘avatara’ (Divine Incarnation) is the Hindu tradition of giving a shape to the One beyond all shapes. Hindus believe that there is only one God (Brahman) but that he descends on earth
in human form:
‘Whenever and wherever there is a decline of righteousness, and a predominance of unrighteousness, I appear in human form. To help the righteous, to
root out the sinners, and to establish the sacred law (dharma), I am born from age to age’.
Lord Krishna in ‘Bhagavad Gita’,
‘The Song of the Lord’
The idea of the ‘avatar’ (Divine Incarnation) helps ‘bhakti’ (devotion), for it is much easier for man to love a personal God than an all-embracing,
all-pervading abstract ‘Brahman’ (God).At first, the uninitiated observer is baffled by the diversity and complexity of Hindu festivals. Their rites and rituals appear so bizarre to his eyes and so foreign to his
experience that he is tempted to dismiss them as tourist curios, with an exotic blend of idolatry and superstition thrown in for good measure; a bit like Indian curry for example— ecstasy for the initiated, and
misery for the novice.
Second one needs to have a key to unlock the meaning of Hindu rituals and traditions without which one will forever remain a stranger on the shore. The
Hindu tradition is ‘full of symbol and image, lively with festival and celebration, active with worship and rite, noisy with chanting and bell-ringing, vivid in its image of God, adept in discovering the presence of
the divine everywhere and in bringing the whole human life into the religious arena. At the outset, the Western observer cannot even “see” the dimensions of this tradition, for we can see only what we are trained to
see and we have not been well enough trained in the living language of image, myth and symbol. Yet this is the language of access to the Hindu religious tradition’
The Western observer sees these things in one dimension, the Hindu sees them in many dimensions. In a sense, Hindus do not see the same reality, for
myths and symbols are the very building blocks of their reality. The Western observer has a factual and analytical eye, the Hindu a mythical and transcendental one, shared by mystics and poets of every nation and of