Hinduism . Chapter 4 pg 115-157. Introduction . The name Hindu is universally accepted as the word that refers to the indigenous religion of India. Hindu , however, is not of Indian, but of Persian, orgin .
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Hinduism Chapter 4 pg 115-157
Introduction • The name Hindu is universally accepted as the word that refers to the indigenous religion of India. • Hindu, however, is not of Indian, but of Persian, orgin. • The term Hindus was used by early Persians to speak of the inhabitants on the other side of the Sindhu River. • Today the word Hinduism is used to refer to their religion.
Hindu elements most familiar to Canadians • Vegetarianism • Reincarnations • Meditationand yoga • Hinduism’s roots run far from Canadian shores, but its modern face is a vibrant part of the current Canadian reality.
Origins • Hinduism was NOT founded by a particular individual • It absorbed ideas and practices that suited its social and cultural framework as it evolved over thousands of years. • It’s the product of the various peoples that occupied the region of India through time, explaining its diverse and complex nature. • Although this is the case, the foundation was probably laid by two groups of people- the Indus Valley civilization and the Aryans.
The Indus Valley Civilization • The earliest evidence of religious thought in India was uncovered along the banks of the Indus River in 1926. • Remains from a civilization in the Indus Valley between 3000 and 2500 BCE were discovered. • The Indus Valley Civilization (or Harappa culture) extended over the area that is now Pakistan and northwestern India.
People of the Indus Valley Civilization • Evidence shows signs of impressive builders and town planners. • Lived in cities that included central area for civic activities and residential zones. • Some houses contained drainage and sewer systems.
Discoveries around the Indus River • Many amulets, or charms that protect against evil • Thousands of flat seals. Some of which depict a man wearing a head-dress seated in a yoga-like position, surrounded by animals. • *May be an early representation of the Hindu god Shiva. • Fire altars and pits lined with bricks, containing ashes and animal bones • *suggesting participation in religious activities like fire rituals and animal sacrifices.
The Arrival of the Aryans • Around 1500 BCE, thousands of people migrated into India from the northwest, destroying the Indus Valley civilization. • It was believed that they came from Central Asia and spoke an early form of the ancient language of Sanskirt. • First settled near the river Sindhu and later migrated to the area along the Ganges River.
- Aryan settlers created poems and texts on rituals and philosophy. • Aryan religious thought was embodied in a collection of hymns, ritual texts, and philosophical works called Vedas. • * Vedas are considered Hinduism’s earliest sacred writings • Considered to be authoritative scripture • The earliest is the Rig-Veda, constituting the earliest record of sacred knowledge on Hinduism. • Worshipped forces of nature in the form of deities, or gods. • Worshipped fire- Agni- and believe that it was a link between gods and humans
Atman • Defined as the human soul or spirit • The part of our innermost self that is identical to Brahman, the universal soul. • A Hindu’s goal in life would be to reunite the atman with the Brahman.
Beliefs • Described as non-dogmatic • One is free to worship any set of doctrines or rules as his or her conscience dictates. • Doesn’t impose its religious beliefs on others. • Doesn’t believe in conversion • Expected to follow certain rules in their personal conduct and in their performance of daily duties • A vast body of rituals exist of almost every station and stage of life. • Hinduism is a complex web of diverse beliefs and practices generally held together by considerable mutual tolerance and respect. • Many Canadians are challenged by the Hindu view of an unreal world, varied conceptions of god, and a unique view of reality.
Concept of God • Not easy for non-Hindus to understand • Some describe it as polytheistic • (belief in more than one god) • Some describe it as monotheistic • (belief in only one god) • Might also be described as monistic • (Where god is an impersonal and unknowable entity.) • These three different concepts of God is what scholars refer to as Hinduism’s “tolerant characteristic.”
Brahman • Upanishads refer to his supreme being as Brahman. • An entity without form and quality. • The soul of the universe from which all existing things arise and into which they all return. • Everything and everywhere • The essence is divine, invisible, unlimited, and indescribable. • Hindus are free to imagine Him or Her in any why that is meaningful to them. • Worship different deities that they consider manifestations, or expressions, of Brahman.
Hindu Deities • Manifestations of Brahman are the gods: • Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva • Often depicted as one concept, called the Hindu Trinity • The each have a female counterpart
Brahma- (female counterpart is Saraswati) • the creator of the universe • Has four faces and is seated on a lotus • Holds a book, a rosary, and a gourd. • Not as widely worshipped as Shiva and Vishnu • Saraswati • The goddess of learning and the arts • Depicted holding a book and a musical instrument • Her vehicle is a peacock or a swam • She is often portrayed alone
Vishnu- (female counterpart is Lakshmi • The preserver of the universe • loving, and forgiving • Bring salvation • Has four arms in which he holds a conch shell, a discus, a lotus, and a mace. • His vehicle is a divine eagle • Has many avatars • Appears on earth in the form of an animal or a human in order to conquer evil and establish righteousness. • Is often accompanied by his companion Lakshmi. • Lakshmi • The goddess of wealth, happiness and good fortune. • Blesses her worshippers with wealth and liberation. • Often shown rewarding worshippers with gold.
Shiva- (female counterpart is Parvati) • The destroyer and restorer of the universe • Associated with creative energy • Holds a trident, a rosary, and a gourd in his hands. • His vehicle is a bull • Also depicted as Nataraj, the god of dance. • Shown holding a drum, serpent, and sacred fire in his hands while performing the dance of creation. • Parvati • A mother goddess whom Hindus worship as Shakti, or female energy. • Takes on many forms • Depicted as Durga, the warrior goddess, in which case she is portrayed riding a tiger and holding many weapons in her hands • Also as Kali, the fierce destroyer of evil
Other Hindu Deities • Ganesha • son of Shiva and Parvati • Human body and eleohant’s head • The remover of all obstacles • Subrahmanya • The second son of Shiva and Parvati • Also called Kartikeya • Widely worshipped by the Tamil population in southern India. • Hanuman • Monkey god • A model of devotion and everyone’s protector
Caste System • Has it’s roots in Vedic hymns on creation • Divides humanity into four classes (from highest to lowest) • Brahmins • Kshatriyas • Vaishyas • Sudras • They are born into each caste based on their karma from previous lives. • People of different caste systems are not allowed to dine or marry eachother.
Caste System today • India’s Charter of Rights bans discrimination on the basis of gender, caste, race, or religion. • A number of social welfare programs have been put in place to improve the living conditions of those who have suffered as a result of the caste system
Four Aims of Goals of Life • Dharma: Conducting duties with compassion toward all beings • Artha: earning money by honest means • Kama: pursuing love and physical pleasures • Moksha: leading the soul toward salvation through honest and moral actions.
Milestones • Naming a child • A child’s first outing • First solid food • First haircut • Tread initiation ceremony • Marriage • All of the above milestones in the life of a Hindu is important and are celebrated in various ways.
Arranged Marriages • The majority of Hindu marriages in India are arranged. • Families feel disgraced and devastated if a girl does not marry or if her marriage fails. • Resistance to arranged marriages is becoming a growing social problem. • Check out “First comes marriage, then comes love” on page 138
Hinduism in Canada • Exceeds 300,000 • Majority live in Greater Toronto Area • Diverse community from India, Sri Lanka, Guyana, Trinidad, England, and many east African countries • Brought with them different values and customs native to their countries, and the embrace different deities. • There are learning centres where interested members are tutored in traditional vocal and instrumental music and dance in Southern Ontario.