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Hinduism. The religion you have all been waiting for! Where there is no founder no required set of beliefs or practices and where all, no matter what religion, will eventually be saved. Hinduism. Hinduism is the oldest of the religions we will study, and the 3rd largest

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  • The religion you have all been waiting for!
    • Where there is no founder
    • no required set of beliefs or practices
    • and where all, no matter what religion, will eventually be saved
  • Hinduism is the oldest of the religions we will study, and the 3rd largest
  • It is both a religion and a culture (mostly in India)
  • As a culture, in includes:
    • the “caste system” - began after the Aryans invaded in 1500 BCE
      • there are 4 classes: priests (Brahmins), politicians, merchants, servants
    • vegetarianism, along with veneration of the cow (as a kind of “mother”)
    • arranged marriages
  • The culture became a religion shortly after 1500 BCE, as the Brahmins began to expand their role as spiritual leaders and guides
    • there developed a body of religious literature, called the Vedas
    • the Vedas were written between 1200 and 300 BCE
    • There are other sacred text as well
      • Upanishads, Baghavad Gita
    • the Vedas describe in poetry and metaphor how one can live in such a way as to…
      • please the forces of nature (gods)
      • attain the enlightenment of mind necessary to be freed from all suffering
  • As a religion, the basic beliefs include:
    • That all existing things have a single divine source, Brahman, to which they are related (like a drop of water and the ocean)
    • That this divine source (Atman) exists in all sentient beings.
    • That the forces of nature (“gods”) are parts of Brahman, parts of the divine energy concentrated to perform specific tasks, for example...
        • Shiva: god of wisdom, destroyer of evil
        • Vishnu: god of love and beauty
        • Brahma: god of power, creation
  • Shiva:
    • as an ascetic, his hair is matted, looks like snakes
    • he drinks “Soma”, a mixture of wine and cannibis
    • he has a third eye signifying wisdom
  • Vishnu:
    • takes on many earthly forms, including Krishna and Buddha
    • he controls all forces of nature, including physical health and sexuality
  • Brahma:
    • he has 4 heads signifying knowledge of all things N, S, E, W
    • he holds a copy of the Vedas in his hand
    • he is the god of knowledge and education
  • The gods are worshipped in temples
  • Their statues and pictures are objects of veneration
  • Small sacrifices are made there (food, incense, small gifts)


Take Four

goals in life
Goals in Life
  • In Hinduism there are four goals in living:
    • kama
    • artha
    • dharma
    • moksha
the four goals explained

is the life of pleasures. It can be the pursuit of pleasure in literature or in love making (Kamasutra)


is pursuing "politics or the materialism of commercial competition.


is the goal for those who want to fulfill their duties with regard to their caste.


is for those who have grown tired of the other pursuits and want to be released from the wheel of life.

The Four Goals Explained
the stages in life

The Stages in Life

Where are you?

four stages of life
Four Stages of Life
  • For the Hindu there are four stages in life.
    • Student
    • Householder
    • Renouncer
    • Seeker
  • Student - This stage is between 8 and 12 but no more than 24. He studies the Vedas and he has a sacred cord which shows that he is a member of one of the 3 highest castes.
  • At this stage a person is around 25 and usually married “he lives as close to the ideals as he can.” He tries to follow the rituals as prescribed for householders as closely as he can and he tries not to harm other creatures. “Above all he tries to observe duties in marriage, in his occupation and in raising children.”
  • He is a spiritual man who observes his duties.
  • This person renounces everything including wife and go to the forest; his wife can follow him if he desires. He leaves the village and goes to live in the wilderness. He offers “the five great sacrifices with various sorts of pure food or hermits . . .”
  • This person seeks release (Samadhi) of the soul so that it can unite with Brahman. This can be do through raya yoga where the body is trained to serve the soul.
  • In Hindu tradition one desires to be liberated from the cycle of birth and death
paths to salvation
Paths to Salvation
  • 1. The way of action (karma yoga)
  • 2. The way of knowledge (jnana yoga)
  • 3. The way of devotion (bhakti yoga)
  • 4. The way of meditation (raja yoga)
karma yoga
Karma Yoga
  • 1. karma yoga - the way of action is the path of unselfish action. One does one’s duty but not for fear of punishment or hope of reward. The right action is done not for praise or blame. One does an act because it is one’s duty dharma not because other people will praise you for it. Duties for men and women are prescribed. One performs the appropriate rituals every day. A person’s whole day is filled with actions explained in the Vedas.
jnana yoga
Jnana Yoga
  • 2. (jnana yoga) - the way of knowledge is the path of scriptural knowledge.
  • A person’s ignorance keeps one in illusion. If the bondage of illusion can be broken one can experience liberation. One attempts to identify with the universal soul instead transient material things or the world. “Salvation lies in a person’s recognizing that his or her identity is ground not in the world but in Brahman-Atman.
bhakti yoga
Bhakti Yoga
  • 3. bhakti yoga - the way of devotion is the path of devotion and it is emphasized in the Bhagavad Gita. One serves a god wholeheartedly with no reservations. One embraces god in love. One commits oneself to one of the Hindu gods.
  • Some worship Shiva “through trantrism, a religious practice that includes sexual intercourse as a ritual to generate the power of the spirit.
raja yoga
Raja Yoga
  • Raja Yoga - the Way of Physical Discipline. One wants “to train the physical body so that the soul can be free.” There are 8 steps to training the body.
four major castes
Four Major Castes
  • 1. Brahmins - intellectual and spiritual leaders, priests - They perform the Vedic rituals and counsels. They are in demands a cooks because of the association with fire and sacrifice. Furthermore, they can prepare food for other castes as well as their own.
  • 2. Kshatriya - warrior-noble - has the role of protecting society. This is the traditional caste of the aristocracy.

Castes (cont)

  • 3. Vaisyas - the merchants - includes landowners, moneylenders, and sometimes artisans. Males of the thee upper castes receive a sacred cord during a ceremony in their youth and afterward are called twice-born.”
  • 4. Shudras - the unskilled laborers - do manual labor and is expected to serve the higher castes. The origin probably goes back the Aryan subjection of native people, who were forced to do the work of servants. The peasant is called ‘once-born.’”
  • mlechcha - outcastes, untouchables - are considered so low as to be outside the caste system. Untouchables do the dirtiest work–cleaning toilets, sweeping streets, collecting animal carcasses, and tanning animal hides.


There is subcaste system which developed over the years from the simple four caste and is quite large. Although the caste system is outlawed it is still practiced to some extent.