Introduction to Hinduism There is only one God, but endless are his aspects and endless are his names
What do Hindus Believe? One impersonal Ultimate Reality – Brahman Manifest as many personal deities True essence of life – Atman, the soul, is Brahman trapped in matter (“That art thou”) Reincarnation – atman is continually born into this world lifetime after lifetime (Samsara) Karma – spiritual impurity due to actions keeps us bound to this world (good and bad) Ultimate goal of life – to release Atman and reunite with the divine, becoming as one with Brahman (Moksha)
What is Hinduism? One of the oldest religions of humanity 5500–2600 BCE No particular founder. Hinduism does not have a unified system of belief encoded in declaration of faith A philosophy and a way of life – focused both on this world and beyond
Location of Hindus The vast majority of Hindus live in India and Nepal
OriginsAryans An Indo-European people. Migrated to India in about 1500 BCE from the Caucus Mountains. Brought the Vedas. Hinduism has no central doctrinal authority
Sacred TextsRig Veda: Hinduism’s oldesttext, nearly 4000 years old.Bhagavad Gita: Hinduism’smost popular sacred text
The Major Gods Of Hinduism Brahma: The creator god Shiva: god of destruction/ transformation so that new can be created Vishnu: The preserver god
Festivals and Holy DaysNo set day of the week is holy-each days hasits possibilitiesReligious festivals may be solar or lunar-lunaris preferredThere are 125 special days in the Hindu year.
Reincarnation Samsara: constant cycle of rebirth. Death is not final for Hindus they expect to be reborn many times. People may be reincarnated at a higher or lower level of existence depending on their karma from their present life. People may be reborn as plants or animals or they may be elevated to a higher caste as a human.
Goal of HinduismMoksha: release or liberation of atman (thesoul) from the endless cycle of rebirth(samsara). You achieve Moksha by havinggood Karma.Infinite bliss and awarenessUnited forever with the divine
Sacred exclamation to be uttered at thebeginning and end of a reading of the Vedas or previously to any prayer or mantra
Caste System:Four major castesBrahmin: priestsKshatriya: warriors and administratorsVaishya: farmers, merchants, teachers, artisansSudras: servants, laborersUntouchables lived outside the caste system.Their presence was considered harmful.
Places of Worship Hindu temples exist but Hinduism is usually practiced in the home where there is usually a shrine dedicated to a favored deity
The Ganges River Falling from Its source of Vishnu’s feet ontoShiva’s head and out from his hair, the water of the Ganges is sacred enough to purify all sins.
Sacred Cow of India Milk holds a central place in religious rituals. In honor of their exalted status, cows often roam free. A citizen can be sent to jail for killing or injuring a cow.
Banaras - Hindu’s Holy CityPilgrims come from allover to bathe in theGanges.Countless Hinduscome to die1500 temples, most ofthem devoted to Shiva.It is a gathering placefor the religiouslylearned and theirdisciples.
What are the spiritual practices ofHinduism? Yogas: seeking union with the divine Guru: a spiritual teacher
Gandhi: the Father of IndiaFor Gandhi, social concern wasdeeply rooted in his convictionof the sacredness of life.Gandhi believed that humanbeings should strive to live assimply as possible sinceoverindulgence often meantthat others may have to dowithout their basic needs.Gandhi was assassinated by aHindu fanatic on January 30,l948 as India was gaining itsindependence.
Karma & DharmaKarma: Total of good and bad actions ahuman soul carries with it from life to life.Karma determines all the particularcircumstances and Situations of one’s life.Dharma: system of rules and values thatHindus follow in their everyday life