Hinduism is one of the oldest known religions in the world (3500 years)
No single person founded Hinduism, it evolved from early Aryan and Dravidian beliefs.
It does not have one single sacred book, they have many. Two important books are the ____________ and the ____________________.
The Rig Veda, meaning fount of knowledge, is regarded by Hindus as the highest, the most sacred scriptures. It is the oldest religious scripture in the world. The Upanishads are philosophical texts delineating some of the key concepts within Hinduism, including notions of the soul, reincarnation, karma, Brahman and liberation. Upanishads Vedas
2. Hindus believe that their main god, _____________ is an unchanging, all powerful spiritual force. The perfect state of being!
Hindus can worship many gods, one god, or no gods.
However, most Hindus believe that Brahman takes the form of many gods.
Pantheism : The belief that the divine is in all things and unifies all things, but is ultimately greater than all things. Monotheism or Polytheism? Brahman is seen as one unity, with the personal Gods different aspects part of only one Supreme Being, like a single beam of light separated into colors by a prism, and are valid to worship. Brahman
The Hindu Trinity Brahma – The Creator Vishnu – God of Love, the Preserver Shiva – God of Destruction and Reproduction Most Hindu gods are manifestations or avatars of these primary gods. Indo-European peoples are famous for their trinities including the Greeks, Romans and Germanic (Viking) peoples.
The goal of Hindu life is to achieve _________________, or union with Brahman, which can take many lifetimes. Hindus believe in ________________, which is when your soul, or ____________, is reborn. A Hindu continues to be reborn until they reach Moksha, the highest form of being.
The “Four Goals of Life" are kama , artha , dharma and moksha . Kama: pleasure, physical or emotional Artha: power, fame and wealth Dharma : moral harmony in all. Moksha: liberation from Samsara , the cycle of life, death, and existential duality. Attainment results in absolute bliss and happiness. Moksha, or Nirvana atman reincarnation
Hindus follow a very strict social structure called the ____________. You are born into your “caste” and must follow its rules, which are called __________. Therefore, the actions a person takes determines if they have a good or bad ________ and they will be rewarded or punished in their next life.
Caste System Dharma Karma Hindus consider samsara essentially painful, a cycle of four recurring problems: birth, disease, old-age, and death.
The cycle continues until a person in the highest caste achieves moksha and attains the highest state of being, union with Brahman.
Enlightenment Photograph by William Albert Allard Untouchable women meeting in southern India focus on such issues as literacy, malnourishment, and employment. Weighted with some 1,500 years of bitter history, Untouchables face daunting challenges as they try to shed the burdens of caste.
Crushing Work Photograph by William Albert Allard Because of their huge numbers—Untouchables now number 160 million, or 15 percent of India's people—many have had to leave their villages to seek work beyond their traditional caste occupations. Yet most Untouchable migrants merely exchange one kind of backbreaking labor for another, working in fields, construction sites, brick kilns, and stone quarries. Most earn one or two dollars a day.
Entrenched Irony Photograph by William Albert Allard Life's "unclean" tasks, such as cleaning latrines and digging graves fall to those born into one of the hundreds of Untouchable castes. They face a lifetime of discrimination and brutality—prejudice that endures even though Untouchability is officially banned by the Indian constitution.
Water Rights Photograph by William Albert Allard Colorful jugs line a neighborhood well where an Untouchable family takes its turn at the daily ritual of gathering water. Across India members of upper castes often refuse to share water with Untouchables, convinced that any liquid will become polluted if it comes in contact with an Untouchable. In the countryside Untouchables are often forbidden to use the same wells and ponds as upper caste villagers. Municipal governments have begun to install separate water pumps.
Dharma (duty) is now not just a requirement but a spiritual practice.
Emphasis on the devotional aspect of religion – especially the practice of Bhakti .
Kama becomes a way of attaining salvation. Passion for the god is a way to enlightenment that bypasses the usual route of dharma.
The Ancient Aryan gods begin to fade into the background and are replaced by the Hindu Trinity. Shivaite cults become extremely popular because he is believed to be a pre-Aryan god.
Shiva became popular as a devotional deity because the Dravidians consider him a god who predates the Aryan invasion. In many parts of South India, he is worshipped partly as a form of protest against imposition of Brahmin rule that came with the Aryan invaders.
Indus Valley Seal – the bull is associated with the Hindu god Shiva. This Indus Valley Seal of a horned god is believed to be a predecessor of the Hindu god Shiva.
Shiva the Ascetic Here the god Shiva is portrayed as a religious ascetic . He is believed, by his followers, to reside on the tops of the Himalayas meditating. He can also be found in the cremation grounds meditating on death and Nirvana.
Shiva Lingam In his attempt to attain Nirvana, Shiva became so frustrated with the god Kama (passion, sexual desire) that he burnt the love god out of his body and then castrated himself. The Shiva Lingam can be found all over India and has become a symbol of both asceticism and fertility. Young women will go to a Shiva temple or shrine and give offerings to the Lingam in hoping they will and their husbands will have children.
The Ganga The Ganges River is a goddess that agreed to come to earth to provide a means of salvation for the dead. She feared that the force of her river hitting the earth would destroy the earth so Shiva agreed to catch the river with his hair and dispel the force of the river hitting the earth. Hindus to this day bathe in the Ganges and have their remains thrown into the river so they can attain paradise.
Shiva Nataraja Here is Shiva in his most famous form – as Lord of the Dance . The god is centered in a circle of fire (Samsara). He holds the fire that purifies the devotee and with his other hand he beats the drum which makes the primordial sound “Ohm”. He dances on a smaller figure which represents either evil or ignorance.
The Holy Family Here Shiva is portrayed with his consort Parvati and their son Ganesh. Notice the Lingam to their right. Even though he has fathered a child, Shiva is still believed to be an ascetic who has never slept with a woman. Therefore, Ganesh’s birth is a miraculous event.
Ganesha – remover of obstacles and patron of scholars. He is viewed as a compassionate god who wants to remove obstacles both spiritual and mundane from people’s paths.
The Goddess Kali The goddess Kali is the female counterpart to Shiva. She too wears a leopard skin, haunts the cremation grounds and wears the waning moon in her hair. However, where as Shiva is passive (meditative) energy, Kali is active energy and only Shiva can tame her. She is both horrific and beautiful. Her skirt is made of severed arms and her necklace is of severed heads. Her name means blackness, death or time. Through her dance of death she removes illusions so the devotee can see life for what it is – Samsara.
The god Vishnu dreaming the universe. The god Brahma sits on the lotus coming out of his naval. Notice the snake is the same one that protected the Buddha. Many Hindus believe the Buddha was an avatar of the god Vishnu. He is being served by his consort Lakshmi.
Along with Dharma, Bhakti can also gain one salvation.
By devoting yourself completely to the god you can attain Nirvana.
However, you have to be a true devotee. Giving your entire life over to the god. This is called svadharma or “self-dharma”.
You give up your caste and age dharma to spend your entire life with the deity.
This was in many ways an anti-Brahman movement where people could attain spiritual perfection without the help and rituals of the Brahmans. This form of worship is very popular in South India.
Kama This temple carving of two lovers embracing symbolizes the powerful hold that the god holds over the devotee. Just as a this woman is submitting to her lover, so a devotee submits willingly to the god. Although it is misunderstood in much of the West, the Kama Sutra (Passion Scripture) is a book not just of love-making, but how to submit and channel desire to achieve Enlightenment.
One of the most popular Bhakti cults is that of the god Krishna an avatar of the god Vishnu. As a child, Krishna was fond of ghi (butter) and would steal it from his relatives.
The love (Kama) between Krishna and Radha has become a symbol of the human desire to be united with the divine: “ She presses her palm against her cheek, Wan as a crescent moon in the evening. Krishna, Radhika suffers in your desertion. ‘ Hari! Hari! She chants passionately, As if destined to die through harsh neglect. Krishna, Radhika suffers in your desertion.” Notice how you cannot tell where Krishna ends and Radha begins.
Sannyasins or ‘world renouncers’ have chosen to exit the path of dharma and caste and follow the way of Kama. Absolute devotion to a deity. The way of Svadharma is difficult because you lose all the benefits of the dharmic world.