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The elaborate sacrificial rituals of Vedic religion have often been described as being focused on obtaining the goods of life—neatly summarized as prosperity, health, and progeny—from divine powers through exacting ritual behaviours.
However, in the Upanishads, the last of the Vedic texts, voices emerge that care for neither the rituals nor their promised fruits but are concerned above all with learning the nature of ultimate reality and how the human soul may recognize that indescribable essence in itself. In Hinduism today there exists, on the one hand, faith in the efficacy of ritual and desire for its worldly fruits and, on the other, disregard for all external practices and material results.
Thus, they implicitly contrast Hinduism to religions that appear to be primarily located in spaces and times set apart from the everyday—such as “church on Sunday.” Although Hindus have magnificent sacred architecture and a vital tradition of calendrical festivals, the “way of life” description means that religious attitudes and acts permeate ordinary places, times, and activities.
Although rural Hindus may have little time for meditative practices, they are fully aware of ultimate truths transcending the everyday.
Practical Hinduism is both a quest to achieve well-being and a set of strategies for locating sources of affliction and removing or appeasing them.