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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

  • 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


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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


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Shiva

Ganesh

Krishna

Hanuman

Rama


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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


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Karma

  • 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


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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


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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


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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


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Symbols of World Religions

“Aum”-Hindusim

Cross-Christianity

Wheel of life-Buddhism

Crescent Moon-Islam

Star of David-Judaism


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