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So, when I left, my discussions went with me xD But now that I am back, I'm breathing life into a new one. 

I'm a Hindu, formally a Shaiva, but now dabbling more into Shaktism. I still love Shiva, though.

SO ask away. I'll try to answer as best I can. I can't promise that I have all the answers, but again, I can try :D

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yes. I was only outside of it dabbling for a little bit, but I came back because it's where I am most comfortable.

Can you give me just the basics,please? I know very little.....I see Hindus as Pagan?

Oh dear, even that's a little bit of a loaded question :p It really just depends. MOST Hindus believe in Karma (action) Moksha (union with God, be it in a monistic or dualistic sense) Samsara (reincarnation) Maya (illusion) Anava (darkness), and so forth. But even these are interpreted in different ways (for example; with Moksha, do we realize that we are Brahman? Do we unite with Brahman? Do we enjoy the unity of Brahman?) And Maya, in Smartha, is this very world, seen as an illusion, because it is temporary. But in Kashmir Shaivism, everything is real, because it comes from God; the only illusion is seperation. 

As for Hinduism being Pagan, again, depends on who you ask. Some take it as offensive because of the way missionaries treated them and they would use it in the same sense as the n-word, basically. But I've heard Hindus use the word in a good way, too. 

THANK YOU!! I learned alot.

Namaste...OM NAMAH SIVA

Shivaya Namaha! :)

Would you say that Kali Ma is a more fearsome side of Parvati or some other goddess?

Yes, she's an angry and fierce form of Maa. 

If you ever come back, then, message me about Shaktism. I consider myself Shakti now and was leaning that way prior to the Aztec religion. I cannot give up Kali.

Not on the regular. I mean, I have my quick puja that I can do at my house and I talk to other Hindus.

Not yet, I still eat beef. The brand of Hindu I lean towards though, is far more liberal than other brands. 'Hindu' is a broad term for a variety of beliefs and practices. The common thread they have is being somewhat connected to the indigenous Indian practices. (I wouldn't even say 'gods' because there is even atheistic schools of Hinduism, and there is also Hindu schools that reject the vedas or idols.)

So, the biggest traditions with Hinduism are:

1. Vaishnavism where Vishnu is supreme. Hare Krishna/ISKON splintered off of this, and they tend to be even more conservative than mainstream American Christians are. (Even down to only having sex for procreation!) This is probably the second most popular tradition in India.

2. Shaivism where Shiva is the supreme deity. Sometimes there is overlap with Vaishnavism here. This denomination is more acetic and promote individualism. This school is related to Shaktism because of the Shiva's heavy associations with Devi. (He has even been said to have written the tantric texts.) This is the sect that you see produce weird 'holy men' hermits, sometimes!

3. Smartism, a tradition where it centers around the worship of all major Hindu deities. They are sometimes more eclectic in approach. This is the major school of Hinduism and most people in India are this. It combines many elements of all the sects and some Bhakti devotional practices.

4. Shaktism, this is the particular brand I am focused on. It focuses on the Devi and other goddesses, usually Parvati (wife of Shiva) and her many forms; Durga, Kali, Shakti, etc or Lakshmi. They tend to revere women and I would venture and say this is the least popular of the major schools. Tantra is heavily associated with this because it branched off of it, I do believe, and tends to break taboos. (I.e. wine drinking) The Devi is more geared towards animal sacrifice, eating of meat, violence, and so forth than the male gods are. (That's weird isn't it?)

However, most mainstream traditions do not require adherents to be strict in diet and consumption. It's generally a thing for the devotee. For example, in Calcutta a family would sacrifice and eat their goat to Kali ma, except the daughter because she did not like it so she was a vegetarian.

I think Shiva wants me to go back to being a vegetarian, but I am not ready yet. (Health reasons also come into play. I will be cutting down on beef, however.) I have not been cool with smoking, I got no complaints on that though. Alcohol I did, yet I rarely drink. So, I don't usually get pressure from it. But like I said, it's really an individual thing.

I've been a vegetarian before, the first few weeks is very hard, then you get used to it. After that, your body is never the same. I don't really know how to explain it.

It's because Hinduism has no real founder and thus has no real 'canon'. I would say the term 'Hinduism' is much like the term 'Paganism' except a tad more regional specific.

Hinduism is a brand now?  Since when?

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