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Hinduism. History and Origins of Hinduism. 1500 BCE Vedic beliefs spread through N. India by Aryan invaders The Vedas are the foremost in authority, importance and antiquity (hyms & poems)

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history and origins of hinduism
History and Origins of Hinduism
  • 1500 BCE Vedic beliefs spread through N. India by Aryan invaders
  • The Vedas are the foremost in authority, importance and antiquity (hyms & poems)
  • Other major scriptures include the Upanishads (philosophical reflections), the Mahābhārata and Rāmāyana(epic stories)
  • The Bhagavad Gītā, a treatise from the Mahābhārata, spoken by the god Krishna, is of special importance
distinctive beliefs and practices of hinduism
Distinctive Beliefs and Practices of Hinduism
  • “Hindu” is a word used by Muslim (and later English) invaders to describe all the vast array of diverse devotional traditions of India
  • Would describe themselves generally by the term followers of the Sanātana Dharma (a Sanskrit phrase meaning "the eternal law")
  • “Hindus” believe in an ultimate great spirit or “world soul”, Brahman, who takes many incarnations or manifestations (avatars), which may all be worshipped (Henotheism)
  • Specific devotional tradition will determine beliefs and practices
  • Worship (Puja) usually takes place at home or temple (usually cannot take place in a hospital)
  • Ayurvedic medicine—Ancient India medical treatments and practices are used by many people from India





reincarnation in hinduism
Reincarnation in Hinduism
  • We are composed of an immortal soul (“Subtle Body” or “Atman”) and a Physical Body
  • At death the Atman “transmigrates” either immediately or over period of time to another physical body
  • Karma (deeds) determine form of next incarnation
  • After many lives, atman can discover its unity with Brahman (self-realization)
  • This enlightened state is called “moksha”, after which no more incarnations occur
  • The universe/reality is just created in a way that every act of evil is perfectly balanced by an appropriate retribution
  • These evils can be “worked out” over many lives until a person’s soul (Atman) can be fully absorbed into the oneness of Brahman
  • When this final escape is achieved one is free from the Karmic cycle
  • Reincarnation is not in itself a good thing for Hindus, but is something to be escaped
bioethical issues
Bioethical Issues
  • Typically Hindus will have no objections to autopsies, transfusions or transplants (check for variations)
  • Some Hindus will seek abortions for female fetuses after prenatal tests (strong cultural pressure on mothers to produce a boy)
  • However, traditional Hindu doctrine considers the fetus a living entity
  • Sometimes medical problems in newborns will be attributed to bad Karma from past lives
hindu vegetarianism
Hindu Vegetarianism
  • Many practice lactovegetarianism which allows dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, cream, and ghee but excludes eggs
  • Not based in worry over eating “souls of dead relatives”, but the practice of “loving kindness” (Ahimsa) towards other living beings (all of which manifest the spirit of Brahman)
  • Some will eat meat, especially those who have embraced Western cultural patterns
caste system
Caste System
  • Since ancient times Indian society has been divided into 4 main “castes”: 1. Brahmins (teachers, scholars and priests), 2. Kshatriyas (kings and warriors), 3. Vaishyas (traders), and 4. Shudras (agriculturists, service providers, and some artisan groups)
  • Also a fifth group formerly called "untouchables" (now called Dalits) was considered either the lower section of Shudras or outside the caste system altogether
symbols of world religions
Symbols of World Religions



Wheel of life-Buddhism

Crescent Moon-Islam

Star of David-Judaism