Do Hindus know something that the rest of the world ignores? Yes, they have known for more than three thousand years.
1. In Hinduism animals are respected and even worshiped.
For more than three thousand years, respect for animal life has been one of the pillars of Hindu tradition and way of life. Hindus not only do not kill animals indiscriminately, they worship many of them—elephants, cattle and cows, monkeys, tigers, peacocks, and other animals.
Hindus consider the cow to be a sacred symbol of life. According to one of my Yoga gurus in India, Master Yogi and Teacher Rana Yogi Singh, the cow is seen like a Mother who provides sustenance to people. From the cow's milk, a great number of basic products are derived like food, soap, medicinal treatments, beauty products and other essential items.
According to the ancient Vedas, one of the oldest and most important Hindu scriptures, the cow is associated with Aditi— the mother of all the Gods.
2. Many Hindus are vegetarian.
About 40% of Hindus—half a billion of them—are vegetarian. They do not eat meat nor kill animals for human consumption. Hinduism does not require a vegetarian diet, but many Hindus do not eat meat in an effort to minimize hurting other live forms as much as possible.
In the food chain, first come plants, then animals, then human beings, then spiritual beings, and at the top are the enlightened beings. The less living forms human beings eat, the closer they will get to a God-like existence— self-realization and self-enlightenment.
3. Hindus greet each other with Namaste.
The now widely-known term "Namaste" is typically associated with the Yogi way of life. But there is much more to it. "Namaste" is the highest form of respectful salutation which recognizes the sacredness and inherent value in another human being or living form.
Unlike the west, in India there are no handshakes, kisses, or hugs as forms of salutations. Historically, a handshake was used to signify that two persons meeting were not concealing any weapons. It is an ancient form of salutation that has remained in the West over the years.
In India, "Namaste" is the highest form of respectful salutation which recognizes the sacredness and inherent value in another human being or living form.
Namaste also conveys a beautiful ancient message:
I honor that place in you in which the entire Universe dwells. I honor that place in you which is love, light, truth, and peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are one.
4. Hinduism was founded on the principles of non-violence and peace.
The principles of non-violence and peace are another pillar of the Hindu way of life.
The people living in India were called "Hindus" because they lived in the area beyond the Indus River in the north-west part of the Indian subcontinent. But, according to Jane monk and spiritual teacher Acharya Shree Yogeesh, the term "Hindu" originally referred to a person who follows the principle of non-violence.
Hinduism provides valuable teachings to live a peaceful and stress-free life by following the spiritual path. The entire Hindu culture and philosophy was designed around traditions and techniques to help human beings know their true self and achieve self-realization.
Not everyone in India follows the spiritual path, but many people do. Thanks to people like this, the entire world is awakening to the wisdom of the East.
5. Hinduism respects and accepts other religions.
Hinduism is not a religion in the formal sense of the word. Hinduism is first and foremost a culture— an ancient and rich culture permeated by different religions like Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and others.
Hinduism teaches that God and soul are one and inseparable. Brahman (God) is the ultimate reality. In contrast, most Western religions teach that God (the Creator) and soul are separate.
Hinduism respects and supports other religions while maintaining its own Hindu traditions. One of these important traditions is emphasis on God realization (Self-realization).
The Hindu monk Swami Vivekananda (direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, considered an enlightened being whose life inspired another renaissance of Vedanta) said: "Until your religion makes you realize God, it is useless."
"Until your religion makes you realize God, it is useless." ~ Swami Vivekananda