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Gurus and saints
Hinduism is the most ancient religion known to the world as Sanatana Dharma. This is the only religion in the world which is also a way of life for all to follow, specially Indian's. It is a religion that gets its guidance from theVedas Upanishads Sutras Epics Granthas and Prabhandhams. Aagama Shastra is one of them.
The Bhagavat Gita preached by Lord Krishna to Arjuna, on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, suggests various parts to reach the ultimate aim that God is one. Sanathana Dharma based on the eternal Vedas, faced many upheavals for several centuries, and could withstand the onslaught only because of its innate strength. The Vedas proclaim that God is one. The Bhakthi cult preached by various Saints "Nam Smaran" (chanting God's name) is the easiest way of reaching Him. The Hindu sees God in the form the devotee likes most.
The temples were and are places where man learnt about himself, learnt various arts like music, dance, religion, etc. The temples reveal the various manifestations of the Supreme Being installed therein.
An important factor almost universally accepted is that faith in a divine power shapes the destiny of mankind. Sanathana Dharma had famous Saints who had expounded their own specific philosophy.
Sankhya is another religion-great and ancient of our land. This religion has produced more Ascetics and Gnanis than Buddhism or Jainism. But we do not find any images in honour of those ascetics and gnanis or any literature in the form of songs or stories. We find more reference to Sankhya than Buddhism or Jainism in philosophical works.
Shri. Madhavacharya expounded Dwaita philosophy where the emphasis is on Bhakthi (devotion). He insisted that one should perform one's duties as an offering to God. Shri Madhvacharya founder of Dwaita philosophy said, "God is the continuing cause of all activities of man. The purpose of creation by the Lord is to enable individual souls to work out their salvation." He prescribed Bhakthi as the supreme method to attain God. He pleaded to lead a life of purity to enable us to meditate on the Supreme Being. Devotion and duty import meaning into human life.
Adi Shankaracharya expounded Advaita philosophy. From time immemorial, Hinduism was subjected to severe tests on account of attacks by other religions. As a result, people strayed away from the path laid by the Vedas. Whenever there was religious degeneration, God saw to it, that a spiritual personality appeared amidst mankind, to revitalize Hinduism and establish Dharma. Lord Shiva Himself manifested as Adi Shankara to reinforce the declining religion. Adi Sankaracharya's Advaita philosophy propounds of only one Supreme Being, Lord Shiva - the philosophy is known as Shaivism - he stressed that spiritual knowledge, deep devotion and detachments are necessary for reaching the goal.
Vasishtadwaita was expounded by Shri Ramanujacharya which lays emphasis on the cult devoted to the worship of Lord Vishnu, signifying the cult of Vaishnavism. To propagate the cult of Vaishnavism, God deputed Alwars who established the Truth and Reality through their Hymns called "Prabandhams". There are thousands of temples - sanctified kshetras of worship - where divine power is manifested. Every temple has a Sthala Purana, through which the significance of every temple can be learnt.
Though God is the ultimate authority to grant salvation to a devotee the method of approach to attain Moksha (salvation) can be obtained by an Acharya or Guru, the intermediary, who represents Almighty, a learned intellectual, dispels the disciples spiritual ignorance. The Acharya who initiates the disciple into spiritual bliss is the link between the individual and the Cosmic Soul. Acharyas are chosen representatives of God.
It is amazing to find a majority of spiritual Saints in Hinduism had composed valuable literature- Kavyas, Prabandhas, Songs, Poems, Shlokas.
Hinduism is rich in such scriptures written by the great Saints, which again shows the God's blessing on them.