Hinduism

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HINDUISM
HISTORY AND CHARACTERISTICS OF THE WORLD’S
OLDEST RELIGION
BASIC FACTS
• Basic religion of India
• Ultimate reality is unknowable
• Most tolerant of religions because Hindus believe
that all religions are true in the sense that they are
open to a spiritual reality
• Possesses few boundaries and believes that the
person can enter into a new religious awareness
• Approx. 850 million Hindus worldwide
• Oldest religion, most complex
• Traces its beginnings to 3000BC
FACTS, CON’T.
• Simple animism with elaborate philosophical systems;
allows for 1000s of gods
• 3 religions arose from Hinduism
• Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism
• No identifiable founder
• Scriptures
• Vedas: oldest writings containing spells and hymns, not of
“human origin”, Orthodox Hindus cite Vedas as authority
• Upanishads: philosophical and mystical texts with stories of the
gods added to Veda
• Bhagavad Gita: epic poem as told by a manifestation of godKrishna, explaining the Vedas to Arjuna (a Hindu hero)
THE HINDU GOD
• It is only possible to have a limited view of the “Ultimate
Reality”
• 3 Major Gods: gods of other religions (Allah, Yahweh, Christian
Trinity) are manifestations of the three major Hindu gods
• Brahma- the Creator
• Vishnu- the Preserver
• Shiva- the Destroyer
• Polytheistic and pantheistic
• The Ultimate Being is conceived in a way that best suits one’s
needs
• Unknowable, unsearchable, incapable of describing
• Could be a father image, an aloof deity, a powerful
protector
• Like Christians, Hindus believe that God is at the end of
everyone’s journey
THE CONCEPT OF SELF
• Atman- a reservoir of being that never dies,
and infinite center, or hidden, true soul or self,
divine and eternal
• Upon Death- Reincarnation
• Every person is reborn into a
higher or lower level of goodnessthe law of KARMA
The sacred Om
• Goal is to find your true self: MOKSHA (“release”)
• Margas- the path to Moksha
• Karma Marga
• Bhakti Marga
• Jnana Marga
* Dharma vs. Avidya
THE CASTE SYSTEM
• Although the caste
system is not legal
in India anymore,
like racism in the
US, it is sometimes
difficult to change
the minds and
hearts of people
• What concept in
Hinduism makes
the caste system
bearable for the
“untouchables”?
STAGES OF LIFE- ASHRAMAS
•
•
•
•
Brahmacarya (Student)
Grihastha (Householder)
Vanaprastha (Seeking reflection)
Samnyasin (World-renouncer)
• WORSHIP
• Temples in homes built to house the image of Brahman
• Enter into worship through yantras & mandalas
• Rituals such as mantras (Om), offerings, washings and
festivals
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