World Religions Report
University of Phoenix
Due Sunday June 10, 2012
World Religions Report
Hinduism is one of the oldest religions, although, back in the Vedic Age of 1500 B.C.,
around when it is believed to have been started possibly by indigenous peoples, it was not called
Hinduism. This name was given to a people along the progression of the many variations that it
has to offer still to this day. There are so many different styles that they cannot be counted or
characterized, everybody can have their own set of beliefs. In which, according to my
interviewee with a practicing Hindu in the following paragraphs, can and does vary from family
to family and region to region. Some worshippers today like to use the term Sanatana Dharma.
The practices as far back as 3000 B.C. were then known as Brahmanic traditions; this is
understood to be when the Vedas was first written. It is because of those intense variations that
Hinduism is not very unified and it is hard for outsiders, other religions, tograsp and actually
understand these beliefs. Then again there is something we could call “the main beliefs,” or the
most popular God‟s and ways to worship. Also, like my interviewee states later, “it is all-
encompassing,” (Srivastav, 2012) meaning aside from having their own belief system, Hindu‟s
believe in the “heads of religions.” They know Jesus walked the Earth, as well as Mohammed
and Buddha. To be Hindu you must be very open-minded and accepting, this is their whole way
of life, not just for church on Sundays. Most worship by going to Temple, like the one I visited
(which will be described more in depth later), but they are able to worship on their own time.
Unlike Christianity, where there is a certain time you have to be at mass or church and this on
certain days of the week. Comparing Hinduism and Christianity will also be included here, as
well as a review of some interesting Hindu facts and concluding with personal beliefs and
thoughts on this religion. (Fisher, 2005)
Hindu Temple of the Woodlands
The house of worship that was decided upon for reviewing is called The Hindu Temple
of the Woodlands. The Woodlands is the name of the city that I and the temple are located in.
There is a lot of money in the city so, imagine, this place was breathtakingly beautiful with
perfect landscaping and ornate statues. It was surprising to learn that there are quite a few
temples in North Houston because I personally have never seen one. According to my guide,
there are six parts to a Hindu temple: the dome and steeple, the inner chamber, temple hall, the
front porch, a reservoir, and a walkway. Like most temples, this was away from the immediate
public. As I walked into the temple, I was starting to understand why. The bell that was being
rung was very loud and someone I asked said every person coming in or going out, by way of the
front porch, must make their arrival and departure known. This was mostly for the Gods, I
gathered, because there were not any ushers having you sit down quickly and quietly; basically,
nobody was being monitored. It was high over the front porch that the golden bell was hung.
The next room, as vast as it was, was also quite welcoming; they called it the Temple Hall. It
had very high ceilings and was decorated with colorful paintings of Gods and Goddesses, all of
them trimmed with a golden frame. The hall was the place where worshippers were welcomed
to sit, meditate, chant, pray, and even watch as Hindu priests perform rituals. Next, we came to
something they called the Inner Chamber. Now, only the Temple priests were allowed here, but
the inside was described as a place to worship the main idol or deity by using the God‟s image
either in a statue or an elaborate painting with a shrine. Around the Inner Chamber, there was
the walkway, this wrapped around the entire middle room because people that came to worship
would make a lap, sometimes a few to have their respect for their deity known. Moving back
outside now, I began to recognize the reason for such high ceilings. On the top of the temple
were a dome and then a steeple. This is also referred to as the summit. Also, not every temple is
the same with the design of their steeples and dome decorations because it depends on what God
that temple worships. Finally, I was taken to a quite large reservoir of water and it was said to be
used for rituals and sometimes a devotee will want to take a ritual bath before entering the
temple. My guide informed me that there was going to be a festival very soon, in the following
days, and that I should go back to see how the temple looks when it is decorated.
1) What are the 3 most important aspects of your religion and how has it shaped your
It is all encompassing
The promotion of non-violence
While being a major religion, it is also a lifestyle which makes it conductive
to practicing constantly and incorporating into every aspect of your daily life
(thoughts and actions, minute by minute)
2) What ideals and values separate your religion from others?
Non-violence, thus the large numbers of Hindus that are vegetarians
The importance of females over men from a respect and importance
3) How do you worship and what kind of traditions do you have?
Through meditation on God, prayer, and religious ceremonies that usually
consist of reading from the holy books like the Vedas, Mahabharata, and the
Ramayana coupled with rituals that usually involve a celebratory element as
well as an offering.
4) Where do you worship?
Well, you can worship anywhere, but the „house of worship‟ is a Hindu
temple. As a Hindu, however, you can worship in your home, outdoors, at a
church/mosque/synagogue/etc. Since Hinduism is all encompassing and
accepts all religions as the truth (despite the fact that Hinduism is older than
most modern-day religions)…
5) Who do you worship?
Hinduism is monotheistic; however, there are many manifestations of one
God. Thus a Hindu may worship a particular manifestation. Some popular
ones are Krishna and Radha, Ram and Sita, Vishnu and Parvati, Shiva and
Lakshmi, Durga Ma (a Goddess). Also Ganesh and Hanuman, who were not
manifestations of God, but god-like. Every male manifestation of God is
always depicted with a female (usually the wife of the male manifestation in
his human form). In the case of female manifestations of God (Goddesses),
she may not be depicted with a male as it is said that she is complete without a
6) Do you bring offerings while worshipping?
7) What kind of offerings do you bring?
It can be anything; your offering can be to feed the birds. Common offerings
during prayer are money (which goes to the temple or some effort of
betterment), vegetarian food items, and things for the temple or Hindu priest.
8) What is the significance of these offerings?
The significance of these offerings is to give and promote selflessness and
also to remind yourself that in order to get, you must first give.
9) What do you feel is the most common misconception about the practices of your
The Hinduism is polytheistic (it is monotheistic).
10) Do you ever feel any prejudices or challenges by being this religion?
Very rarely, but when I do it is by someone of the Christian faith telling me
that I will go to Hell if I do not accept Jesus Christ as my savior. Being that
Hinduism is all-encompassing, I do believe in Jesus Christ, Mohammed, etc.
As a Hindu, I believe that all of these „heads of religions‟ existed, but at
different times. If you put the different major religions on a timeline
indicating when they came about, there would be very little to no overlap.
Hinduism vs. Christianity
Compared to Catholicism
There are a few distinguishable differences between these two religions. It is actually not
even mandatory for worshippers to come to temple. Many families have small shrines or “puja
rooms” at their homes to worship and have their daily prayers. Unlike Christianity, most who do
not attend church are categorized as “non-believers.” Most families go to temple for the social
events and religious festivals, which are in abundance, but that is all. Hindus find truth in every
religion; Christians believe Jesus is the only man to ever be worshipped because he was the son
of God. In not so many words, Christians oppose any religion but their own.
A Hindu fact that I found to be interesting while I was interviewing Anu, was that they
accept all religions as their truth and treat all people as their own, which was proven with my
visit to The Woodlands Hindu Temple. I have never felt more welcome into a religion, then
when I did while I was entering this temple. The other people their saw me as a new worshipper
in the area and did not even think that I could be there doing research. After I explained, some
were even a little disappointed and we laughed. The interview with Anu went very smoothly as
well, she is also in college and travels the world. We had quite a bit to talk about, I am very glad
I met her through my cousin, on Facebook of all places. I had thought at first that this class was
making it harder for me to realize what religion I am because of all of the information I was
receiving about the different ones and it was actually this Hindu religion that made me see that I
do not necessarily have to pick a religion out of a hat. I do accept all religions as the truth even
though I am a Christian and grew up Catholic.
Fisher, M.P. (2005). Living religions (6th Ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Srivastav, Anu. ( 2012, May 27 ). Interview byW. Lile. [ Personal Interview ]. Ten questions on
Hinduism religion. World religions report, The Woodlands, Texas, Retrieved from
The Woodlands Hindu Temple. (2012). The Woodlands, Texas. Retrieved contact information