We will be going over eight main topics in the religion of Hinduism. The beginning of Hinduism, relationship between the four Vedas, the Ganges River in Hinduism, karma and reincarnation, guru, enlightenment (salvation), yoga and mediation, and sacred rituals and practices.
Generally regarded as the world’s oldest organized religion, Hinduism, also known as Vaidika Dharma, consists of thousands of different religious groups. India is the home of Hinduism and has evolved since 1500 BC into the third largest religion. Hinduism believes in a single deity, “but it is essentially a religion of principles rather than persons” (Arihant web art, 2012).
Sages sought to understand why we are born, how the world came about, and how we can live a good life. After meditating, it is said God revealed these truths to the sages who, “composed hymns and texts in the Sanskrit language to express these truths” (ArshaBodha Center, 2008). These were passed down for many generations before eventually they were written down into four collections known as Vedas. Many other scriptures have been written since, but they are all based of Vedas.
Millions of Hindus take the pilgrimage to river Ganges each year for Yatra season. While it is believed in order to have a happy life, one must take the pilgrimage and bath in the water at least once. However, “most Hindus will perform many Yatra pilgrimages in their lifetime” (Demotix, Ltd, 2012). The Ganges is probably the holiest river in any religion, the most sacred river to Hindus, and among the five most polluted rivers in the world. Many get sick from bacteria but will not cease to continue drinking and bathing in the river for their religious beliefs.
“Karma literally means deed or act” (Himalayan Academy, 2012). Karma is often misunderstood as fate. Kara is the explanation of why some people get a better deal in life than others and if one lives like a pig they may be reincarnated as a pig. Past lives shape the present and present life shapes the future.
The word guru means “heavy or deep” and that means the guru is “heavy and deep” in knowledge. “Within Hinduism a guru is given great respect, even to the point of offering worship” (Dasa, 2007). Gurus are teachers that prescribe spiritual discipline and those without a guru are often looked at like orphans.
Moksha means salvation in Hinduism. Moksha is enlightenment when one is freed, enters a state of completeness, and becomes one with God. “To obtain salvation according to the Vedic teaching one had to offer prayers, offerings, and repeat magic formulas to avert the wrath of the offended gods” (Lemuel, 1994). The way of action is carrying out certain duties without personal gain. The way of knowledge is using the mind to comprehend the universe. The way of devotion is acts of worship. The royal road is the use of yoga mostly used by monks.
"Meditation" is the English translation of Hindi word "Yoga" (World Wide Center for Self Realization, 2000). Yoga is used for everything from increasing physical health to meditation for achieving a heightened state of awareness known as moksha. Yoga means “union” and it united a disorganized body and mind into one.
Aarti is songs sung to worship a deity while lamps are offered. Namaskar is “paying obeisance”. It is a form of greeting. “VastuShastra deals with the exercise of architecture and building science and in fact it gives a fair touch in every aspects of life on the earth as well as the universe” (FreeVastuShastra, 2008). It is the science of construction in Hindu architecture. Hinduism has many rituals and practices from these to bathing in the Ganges River and practicing Yoga.
HinduismThe World’s Oldest Organized Religion
TopicsThe Ganges River in Hinduism Beginning of Hinduism Guru Karma and Reincarnation
The Beginning of Hinduism Hinduism evolved in India since 1500 BC Consists of thousands of different religions The world’s oldest organized religion Referred to as Vaidika Dharma Religion of principles rather than persons
Relationship between the 4 VedasHinduism began with the VedasSages composed sacred truths into Vedas4 Collections of hymns and textsVedas- Rig, Sama, Yajur, AtharvaOther scriptures written based of Vedas
The Ganges River in Hinduism The most sacred river to Hindus The holiest river in any religionHindus bath in Ganges at least onceMillions flock to Ganges for YatraYatra is Hindu ritual of pilgrimage
Karma and ReincarnationKarma means “deed or act”How we live shapes our karmaLive like a pig, you may becomeKarma is misunderstood as fatePasts lives impact us in manyways
GuruSanskrit for Respectable“teacher or person withmaster” saintly qualitiesGuru means “heavy or“heavy or deep” indeep” knowledge Gurus prescribe spiritual discipline
Enlightenment (Salvation)Salvation in Hinduism is called MokshaFour ways to Moksha : The way to knowledge The way to action The way to devotion The royal road
Yoga and Meditation“Meditation” is English for Hindi “Yoga”Yoga means “union”Unites disorganized body and mind into oneFour types of yoga in HinduismIncrease health to achieving moksha
Sacred Rituals and Practices Aarti Namaskar Ritualistic worship Vastu ShahtraFamily religious traditions and social customs
Conclusion Hinduism is a religion that consists ofthousands of other religions. It is aspiritual religion that believes in asingle deity. There are many practicessuch as the pilgrimage to Ganges Riverto bath to performing yoga asmeditation to reach a spiritual plane ofenlightenment. Hinduism is more aboutspirituality than the worship of a deity.