World’s oldest religion
World's third largest religion, after Christianity and
Largely influenced later religions: Buddhism, Jainism,
837 million followers
13% of the world's population
Dominant religion in India (82%)
Also found in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Bali
1.1 million Hindus in the U.S.
Began in Indus Valley (now Pakistan)
Along banks of Indus River
Very developed, urban population
Aryans (nobles from European and Persian
backgrounds) migrated into India
Mixed with native peoples
Believe in the universal soul or God (Brahman), as the sole
reality who is present in all things.
Brahman has no form, and is eternal.
Brahman is creator, preserver and transformer of everything.
Brahman appears in the human spirit as Atman, or the soul.
Often believed that Hindus worship many gods. Really one
eternal god (Brahman). The other gods are different aspects
of the Brahman.
Three principal gods: Vishnu
Brahma: creates the universe
Vishnu: preserves the universe
Shiva: destroys the universe.
SCRIPTURE: THE VEDAS
The Bhagavad Gita
quot;Song of the Blessed Lord“
Written around 1500 BCE to educate the priests about rituals
knowledge, work and devotion are all paths to
Developed from oral and poetic traditions.
salvation and that the central value in life is that of
Four parts, and each part is further split into fours
loyalty to God.
The Samhitas: most ancient part of the Vedas-hymns of praise
Spiritual insight that can transform spiritual life
The Brahmanas: rituals and prayers to guide the priests in their
The Aranyakas: concern worship and meditation. Arjuna (Krishna in human disguise) does not want to
fight his kinsmen, but it is his duty
The Upanishads: consist of the mystical and philosophical
teachings of Hinduism.
Relations among past deeds, present character,
Sanksrit word is varna and future fate
Division of social ranks and tasks developed by Aryans All actions have unavoidable consequences
Three parts, and a fourth added later:
The soul passes through a cycle of successive lives
The priests (or Brahmins)
and is reborn in a new body. The next incarnation is
The warriors, nobles (the Kshatriyas).
The merchants, artisans (Vaisya) always dependent on how the previous life was lived
Unskilled workers, peasants (Sudra)
Law that governs advancement or regression in
Each group has a different set of rules dealing with physical world of deaths and rebirths
careers, marriage, diet, etc.
The Sudra cannot be reborn
RELIGIOUS PATHS for MOKSHA
SAMSARA & MOKSHA
Karma Yoga: path of work
Samsara: wheel of birth and rebirth Doing caste duties without hope for reward
Continues forever Selfless duties
Jnana Yoga: path of knowledge
Souls reborn until they reach perfection
Study and learn the lessons of the ancient masters
Moksha: the release of the soul from samsara
Raja yoga: path of physical & mental discipline
Training the body so the soul can be free
Bhakti Yoga: path of love
Devoted love to God
Man is dependent on God, surrendering to Him is easiest way
THE PROBLEM FOR HUMANS The Laws of Manu
Soul 200 BCE-200 CE
Karma Ideal code of behavior for Hindus
Still have some influence on life today, thought
Wheel of rebirth
not considered “law” anymore
*the same things are the ingredients for
Laws of Manu, Chapter 6
The Four Stages of Life (for men) 1. A twice-born Snataka, who has thus lived according to the law in
the order of householders, may, taking a firm resolution and
1. keeping his organs in subjection, dwell in the forest, duly
(observing the rules given below).
Studies the Vedas
2. When a householder sees his (skin) wrinkled, and (his hair) white,
Between ages 8 and 24 and. the sons of his sons, then he may resort to the forest.
2. 3. Abandoning all food raised by cultivation, and all his belongings, he
may depart into the forest, either committing his wife to his sons,
Follow ideals of wisdom, rituals of household, observe caste
or accompanied by her.
duties, etc. 4. Taking with him the sacred fire and the implements required for
Can be turned over to a son domestic (sacrifices), he may go forth from the village into the
forest and reside there, duly controlling his senses.
Aging householder/Forest Dweller
5. Let him offer those five great sacrifices according to the rule, with
Orients himself away from family and worldly concerns towards various kinds of pure food fit for ascetics, or with herbs, roots, and
Brahman (to unite) fruit.
6. Let him wear a skin or a tattered garment; let him bathe in the
4. evening or in the morning; and let him always wear (his hair in)
Release of the soul (Atman) so it can unite with Brahman braids, the hair on his body, his beard, and his nails (being
The Three Stages of Life (for women)
Householder: duties complement her
3. Forest Dweller: she can join her husband if she