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Many a times Hindus today are heard saying that there are no rules in Hinduism. Hinduism doesn't provide any scriptural injunction whether you are in 'Bramhacharya', 'Grihastha', 'Vanprastha' or 'Sanyasa'. Basically it is 'Do what thou wilt' religion, and any scriptural injunction is many a times seen as 'Abrahamic'. Is there any validity to it?

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This is not true. In the Bhagavad Gita (4.40), the fate of those souls who do not accept the scriptures is explained by Lord Krishna Himself through the words samśayātmā vinaśyati.

अज्ञश्चाश्रद्दधानश्च संशयात्मा विनश्यति । नायं लोकोऽस्ति न परो न सुखं संशयात्मनः ॥ ४० ॥

But ignorant and faithless persons who doubt the revealed scriptures do not attain God consciousness; they fall down. For the doubting soul there is happiness neither in this world nor in the next.

Men without faith in God and His revealed word find no good in this world, nor in the next. For them there is no happiness whatsoever. One should therefore follow the principles of revealed scriptures with faith and thereby be raised to the platform of knowledge. Only this knowledge will help one become promoted to the transcendental platform of spiritual understanding. In other words, doubtful persons have no status whatsoever in spiritual emancipation. One should therefore follow in the footsteps of great ācāryas who are in the disciplic succession and thereby attain success.

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There are rules in Hinduism. It is not a free-for-all.

Bhagavan Krishna mentions this in Bhagavad Gita

16.1 The Blessed Lord said - Fearlessness, purity of mind, persistence in knowledge and yoga, charity and control of the external organs, sacrifice, (scriptural) study, austerity and recititude;

16.2 Non-injury, truthfulness, absence of anger, renunciation, control of the internal organ, absence of vilification, kindness to creatures, non-covetousness, gentleness, modesty, freedom from restlessness;

16.3 Vigour, forgiveness, fortitude, purity, freedom from malice, absence of haughtiness-these, O scion of the Bharata dynasty, are (the qualties) of one born destined to have the divine nature.

16.5 The divine nature is the Liberation, the demoniacal is considered to be for inevitable bondage. Do not grieve, O son of Pandu! You are destined to have the divine nature.

It is to be understood that one must try to follow the attributes that are suitable to make one into a person with a divine nature.

Similarly, one need to avoid the qualities that can make one of a demonic nature. For example, below are some qualities that need to be avoided.

16.4 O son of Prtha, (the attributes) of one destined to have the demoniacal nature are religious ostentation, pride and haughtiness, [Another reading is abhimanah, self-conceit.-Tr.], anger as also rudeness and ignorance.

16.7 Neither do the demoniacal persons under-stand what is to be done and what is not to be done; nor does purity, or even good conduct or truthfulness exist in them.

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Hindus certainly do not have anything like the ten commandments. God does not normally interfere in the working of the universe. It is nature that runs the universe.

Resorting to Prakrti, Nature, which is My own Power, I send forth again and again this multitude of beings that are without any freedom, owing to Nature's sway over them.

Gita 9.8

These activities do not in any way bind Me, because I remain detached like one unconcerned in their midst.

Gita 9.9

Under My direction and control, Nature brings out this mighty universe of living and non-living beings. Thus does the wheel of this world revolve.

Gita 9.10

There are scriptural injunctions for Sannyasis.

Mantra, Symbols, Rules etc renunciation

After saying thrice, ‘I have renounced, I have renounced, I have renounced’, he shall take up the bamboo staff and don the loin-cloth, uttering the mantra: ‘Let all beings be devoid of fear. Everything originates from me. You are my friend and [you] protect me. You are the strength, my friend. You are the vajra of Indra that killed Vrtra. Be pleasant to me and remove all my sins.’ He shall pertake of food as if it were medicine. He shall eat as if taking medicine. He shall eat as and when food is obtained. ‘Oh [disciples], protect brahmacarya, non-injury, non-possession and truth with care.’ 1

1 The outer and inner aspects of these qualities are: brahmacarya (outer) = celibacy, (inner)=the dwelling of the mind on Brahman; ahimsa=not injuring others, non-injury of oneself; aparigraha=non-possession of anything other than what is needed for bare subsistence, non-concern with all but Brahman; satya=truthfulness, realization of the true nature of the Self.

Rules regarding the seat, etc of ascetics

[The life of] the wandering mendicants (Paramahamsa-s) , who dwell upon the Brahman (brahmcarins) is [passed] by sitting and sleeping on the ground. Theirs is the [drinking] vessel of clay, gourd or wood; he [the Paramahamsa] shall give up passion, anger, greed, delusion, hypocrisy, arrogance, desire, envy, possessiveness and egotism. During the rainy season, stationed at one place, the mendicant monk shall journey alone for eight months; or [he shall be stationary] for two months, for two months. He who knows thus shall renounce these [the undermentioned] either after inititaion or before: father, son, the [ritual] fire, the sacred thread, wife and whatever remains.

Rules for receiving alms

Mendicant monks enter a village for seeking alms., receiving food either in the bowl of the hand or in the mouth.

He shall utter the sacred mantra, Om hi Om hi Om hi (thrice). He who knows this is the knower.

Aruny upanishad translated by Prof A A Ramanathan

There is no doubt that the ancient rules given above are ideals. Not every such rule can be followed in toto today. However the spirit governing the life of Swamis is renunciation. Any one claiming to be a guru but violating this spirit is certainly not a guru.

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