Patheos answers the question:

What is Forbidden in Hinduism?

entry to Hindu temple
entry to Hindu temple

The concept of forbidden and permitted are not natural concepts to Hinduism writ large. There are many denominations within Hinduism, each of which has a distinct code of conduct and different ways of practicing. Some, for example, forbid drinking alcohol and others don't make reference to alcohol one way or another. The Sanatana Dharma, or the ideal way of life, is the perfect way of living to which Hindus aspire. Action that turns people away from this life is considered not good, and some serious actions might require atonement to rectify the harmful consequences of the act onto the spiritual journey of the person’s soul. Actions that are considered not good are adharama, as opposed to dharma, or not within the expected conduct for one trying to perfect their way of life.

There are also different standards that a Hindu might keep if he or she was striving to perfect their soul, as opposed to a Hindu who was trying to avoid major sins, but was content living a spiritual life that stayed at a constant level and did not advance. When it comes to the concepts of forbidden or permitted, another key aspect is cultural or denominational, rather than the clear permission or rejection in traditional Hindu scriptures, which is not how most Hindus think about their own Hinduism. But the surrounding culture is critical in this regard. Many Hindus also live in communities, whether it is in the US, northern Indian, southern India, or anywhere around the world, where norms around behavior have developed in relationship with Hindu philosophy and the surrounding environment, and have thus resulted in certain actions considered by society to be transgressions. These cultural influences are considered legitimate influences on the developing norms of Hinduism in that area by many Hindus.

That said, there are practices and beliefs which are common to most Hindu denominations and ways of practicing. Though many Hindus will emphasize the diversity of traditions, the truth is that some actions can be considered forbidden by most Hindus who are trying to live within Dharma. Some common actions considered adharma include: Eating beef, or for some denominations eating non-vegetarian food at all; all forms of murder; adultery or other illicit sexual activity; and certain other immoral actions, such as lying for evil consequence or bearing false witness. Disrespecting one’s parents or ancestors is also considered inadvisable and a serious misstep. Many practicing Hindus believe that sex should be between a married couple only, and that the purest motivation for sexual activity is procreation. Belief in the deities of one's tradition is also important for virtually all Hindu denominations, though differences occur regarding whether to consider these beings as manifestations of a single God, or divine force, or distinct powers. Regardless, belief in the spiritual world beyond this physical plane is considered important. Within certain times of the years or around certain life cycle events, other behaviors and rituals become forbidden or permitted.

For more on Hindu beliefs, click here.

3/23/2021 6:32:40 PM