Brahman: “Supreme Being” • Brahman nirguna*: God “without qualities.” Formless, existing beyond the physical world. This Brahman totally transcends earthly problems or reality. *Definitions are from www.himalayanacademy.com
Brahman: “Supreme Being” • Brahman saguna: God “with qualities.”God as superconscious, omnipresent, all-knowing, all-loving and all-powerful. God becomes represented by figures like Ganesh, Shiva or Krishna.
Atman: The ‘Soul’ • Atman is the essence of life. The goal is to have your atman re-united with the Brahman nirguna.
Karma • The law of cause and effect by which each individual creates his own destiny by his thoughts, words and deeds.
Dharma • The daily duties that you fulfill to create good karma. • Having an ultimate balance between religious, social and familial balance.
Reincarnation • The process of re-uniting the atman with Brahman can take several life times and depends on the Karma of the individual. • The atman continues to be reborn until all the Karma issues have been resolved. • All Hindus will eventually achieve this goal.
Moksha The ultimate goal of human life. This is when your atman meets the Brahman and you are released from the cycle of reincarnation
Ascetics • Ascetics deny themselves earthly comforts to prove their devotion to God.
Sahdus are Nepali ascetic, homeless monks who travel throughout the country, meditating.
The Bagmati River, the holiest in Nepal, becomes the Ganges in India. The steps of Pashpatinath leading down to the river are the holiest places in Nepal to be cremated.
Basics • 1557 miles long • Main functions: agricultural, industry, energy source, transportation, drinking, bathing and baptisms • Seasonal flooding greatly enriches nutrient content of soil • Drinking water for 300 million people
Gangotri Glacier • Located in the Himalayas, the “abode of the gods” • Source of water for virtually all major rivers in India • Ganges rises from an ice cave from the Gangotri Glacier, 10,300 feet above sea level.
Haridwar • Location of the connection between the Ganges and a tributary is considered a sacred place where Hindu pilgrims may take a holy dip • Hindu Deities are said to have left footprints at Haridwar
Haridwar • In Haridwar and many cities along Ganges are Ghats, a series of stone steps. Hindus come early in the morning to bathe, brush teeth, and make Puja (offerings) to the rising sun
Varnarsi • To die in Varnarsi ensures release from reincarnation and instant connection with Brahman • Most Hindus have a vial of water from the Ganges in their house connected to idea of ensured release by drinking the water
Pollution • Holy sites also location for extreme pollution • Holiness of Ganges encourages mourners to place cremated dead in the river. Without proper ritual, Hindus feel soul will never find rest • ~180 bodies released per week
Pollution • Also, 1 billion liters of untreated raw sewage are released in the Ganges • 10 million bathe in river daily • Pollution at Varnarsi 350,000 times the acceptable level
Fresh water dolphins • The Ganges is home to two of the 5 worldwide species of fresh water dolphins Irrawaddy dolphin Ganges River dolphin
Ganges fresh water river Shark • Little known about shark, only preserved examples from 19th century • One of six freshwater species, all rare and endangered • Small, but has reputation as a man-eater in India