HINDUISM Often known as Sanātana Dharma , a Sanskrit phrase meaning "the eternal law"
- Is the third largest religion in the world.
- Has approximately 837 million followers.
- Followers make up 13% of the world population.
- Makes up more than 80% of India’s population.
- Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in existence.
- It was originated about 4000 years ago.
- The religion of Hinduism originated in Northern India, near the river Indus.
- It originated with the Aryan culture and with the people of the Indus Valley.
- Hinduism developed from their religious practices, literature and systems for social order.
Founders and Spiritual Leaders
- It existed from time unexplored (prehistoric times), as a religion
- It grew out of the overlapping beliefs of the diverse groups who settled India.
- Developed out of Brahmanism.
- Their spiritual leaders are called Gurus, or, more respectively, Gurujis.
- Vedas - Written in Sanskrit language, the texts form the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and of Hinduism.
- Upanishads - They consider the nature of the individual soul (Atman) and the universal soul (Brahman.)
- Bhagvad-Gita - ethical ideas of Hinduism
- Ramayana - A poem that clearly portraits the fact that good will always triumph over evil and Rama and Sita are held up as role models for the perfect husband and wife.
- Mahabharata - An epic poem telling the story of a war between two branches of a family.
- Puranas - A collection of ancient tales about the different incarnations and the lives of saints.
- Hindus believe in a universal soul or God called Brahman.
- Brahman takes on many forms that some Hindus worship as gods or goddesses in their own right.
- Hindus believe that there is a part of Brahman in everyone and this is called the Atman.
- Hindus believe in reincarnation - a belief that the soul is eternal and lives many lifetimes, in one body after another.
- Hindus also believe in Samsara which means going through the cycle of repeated births and deaths as part of reincarnation. They believe that this cycles exists due to karma.
- Worship (puja)- made offerings as representations of gods.
- Cremation - a ritual for the funeral where the dead are burned and not buried.
- Study Vedas and other scriptures.
- Provide food for those who are in need.
- Serve guests with love, respect, and reverence. This practice is the basis for the traditional hospitality of Hindu households.
Place & Language of Worship
- Most Hindus worship (puja) every day at home with an established shrine.
- A shrine can be anything from a room, a small altar or simply pictures or statues.
- The Hindu building for a community worship is called Mandir (Hindu Temple).
- Language of worship differs as India consists of most states who follow Hinduism, but also has their own, specific language.
- Although, the official language of India is Hindi.
- Hinduism is divided into 4 major divisions:
- Vaishnavism - devotees of Vishnu.
- Shaivism - devotees of Shiva.
- Shaktism - worships Shakti, the Divine Mother.
- Smartism - accept and worship all major forms of God, (Ganesha, Siva, Sakti, Vishnu, Surya and Skanda).
- One may consider themselves a Shakta (a devotee of Shakti), a Shaiva (a devotee of Shiva), and a Vaishnava (a devotee of Vishnu) all at the same time Many gods of Hinduism.