Hinduism An introduction. Ekam sat, viprah bahuda vadanti There is one truth, only men describe it in different ways - Rg Veda.
Ekam sat, viprah bahuda vadanti
There is one truth, only men describe it in different ways
- Rg Veda
Hinduism is one of the worlds major religions. It is the oldest major religion.There are approximately 900 million Hindus today. Major populations include India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Mauritius, Fiji, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Guyana, Indonesia.
Hinduism has no founder.The ancestors of the Hindus were known as the Aryas. They called their religion Santana Dharma (The Eternal Religion).As the Aryans moved north around 1500BC and shared their religion with the indigenous peoples of north India.The name Hinduism comes from the Sanskrit word Sindhu, the Persian name for the Indus River. The river was the border between Persia and Ancient India.
The most widely known Dharmic religions are Hinduism and BuddhismThe concept of Dharma is complex but basically it is a belief in: Natural laws and natural harmony A path to righteousness through spiritual dutySpiritual justice (karma)
Most Hindus believe in a ‘god concept’ known as Brahman. The concept of Brahman is: Eternal, genderless, omnipotent and omnipresent. Present within the human soul Present within everything in the world and universe To discover ones soul (atman) is to discover BrahmanThere are many deities in Hinduism but the ‘Absolute’ is known as the Brahman.
The Vedas are sacred books of divinely given knowledge, handed down through generations of Hindu sages.There are 4 Vedas – holy books of hymns, chants and rituals.Each Veda contains 4 sections that represent the 4 stages of the life cycle
The four Vedas
Each Veda contains 4 sections that correspond to the four stages of the life cycle. The most important section is the Upanishad because it teaches a person the skills required to achieve moksa (enlightenment).
The Smriti are the secondary scriptures. These are accessible to everyone.The Smriti are made up of scriptures, poems and stories. Which can be renacted through dance or drama.
Of these the most widely known would be the Bhagavad Gita
Karma is the effect of any action:All good actions produce good effects.All bad actions produce bad effects.The fruits of good deeds bring pleasure and enjoyment.The fruits of bad deeds bring suffering and pain.No person can escape the karmic forces
Reincarnation is the return of the soul to be reborn into a new physical body.Reincarnation occurs because a person must gradually evolve spiritually through experiences of different incarnations.
The cycle of repeating the process of birth and death (reincarnation) is called samsara. The ultimate goal for Hindus is to free themselves from samsara.Once a person has reached the highest point of his spiritual path through ‘God-realisation’, their soul is freed.This liberation from the cycle is known as moksa.
To reach Moksa a person must move through the four goals of human life. From the lowest (kama) to the highest (moksa)
Kama – desire for senory pleasureArtha – acquisition of worldly possessionsDharma – carrying out religious dutiesMoksa – liberation through God realisation
The Hindu caste system divided society into 4 classes (varnas). This was based on a persons inherant qualities (guna) and karma.
Below these were the ‘untouchables’ (dalit). The outcastes of society including the peasant workers and people who work with animal or human waste
Mantras and symbols are sacred words or images that have an association with God. Chanting a mantra can bring spiritual enlightenment to a person and bring them closer to God.
The symbol of Om (Aum) is both a mantra (aural) and symbol (visual). It represents:A: creation/beginningU: progressM: destruction/dissolution
LotusUniverse rising out of primeval waters
CowThe Hindu sacred animal. Descendant of Kamadhenu
SvastikaAuspicious symbol of luck and favour
Ganges RiverRivers are seen as a bridge between heaven and earth. The waters of the Ganges are seen as healing and have the power to liberate a persons soul from the cycle of reincarnation
Temples/ShrinesMany Hindu homes have a small shrine for daily worship. Visiting temples is not obligatory for Hindus, they offer a venue for religious singing and public gathering.
Guru: Hindu spiritual teachers are known as gurus. They guide students toward spiritual knowledge. Faith and confidence in the self and the guru is key to this process.Priest: Devoted priests care for temple shrines
Now that you know more about the Hindu belief system…..Think about how persepctives of these beliefs might differ within the Hindu values system.What things could you ask our visitors about their perspectives?