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Hinduism T he world’s oldest religion. The sacred “Om” . Where in the world?. Worshipped in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Bali. Date of origin (beginning)?. 3000-1500 B.C.E (we are not quite sure, but we know it is at least three thousand years old).

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where in the world
Where in the world?
  • Worshipped in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Bali
date of origin beginning
Date of origin (beginning)?
  • 3000-1500 B.C.E (we are not quite sure, but we know it is at least three thousand years old).
  • Formed on diverse traditions with no single founder; we don't know precisely how it began.

1500 CE

2012 CE



DaVinci paints Mona Lisa 1500 CE

Mrs. Zuehl’s class studies history

Christ is


Hinduism begins

sacred texts
Sacred Texts
  • Vedas
  • Upanishads
  • These texts provide guidance on the practice of dharma or correct living. They are written in Sanskrit.
clergy religious staff
Clergy (religious “staff”)
  • Brahmin – perform religious duties, kind of like. The Brahmins interpret the Hindu texts (Vedas and Upanishads). They perform religious ceremonies such as weddings.
  • Sadhus - holy men who have given up worldly pleasures. Some wear yellow robes and practice meditation and yoga. Siddhartha (aka Buddha) was a sadhu.
place of worship
Place of Worship
  • Temples – can be very large or small. Temples have many statues of gods, bells and flowers.
  • Household shrines – every home has some sort of shrine that they can worship.
  • The Ganges river is the most sacred Hindu site. Believed to have flowed down from heaven, it supposedly has healing powers. Bathing in the Ganges (especially at dawn) purifies one’s soul, washes away the effect of bad actions.
holy days holidays festivals
Holy Days, holidays, festivals
  • Holi – a spring festival. It recalls the pranks that Krishna (the 8th avatar of Vishnu) played as a young man. People light bonfires, play tricks, and throw colored water on each other.
  • Diwali, a festival in the fall between October 15 and November 15, when the sky is at its darkest before a new moon. There is no school, kids receive presents and eat delicious food. Families light lamps called diyas to welcome Prince Rama (the 7th avatar of Vishnu) and his wife home after their defeat of the evil demon Ravana. (We will read about this defeat in the epic poem The Ramayana)
  • Thread ceremony – at adolescence, males learn about Hinduism then wear a thread around their chests to show their devotion
  • Weddings – traditionally, Hindu couple’s parents arrange their marriage so that the bride and groom come from the same area, belong to the same caste and speak the same language. They also check with the Horoscopes. The bride wears special jewelry and a red sari. Her hands and feet are decorated with henna.
  • Funerals – each family has a burial site – a fire is built, body is placed on logs, songs and prayers happen, and the body is burned.
sacred symbols
Sacred Symbols

“Om” Lotus flower

main beliefs
Main Beliefs
  • Hindus strive to follow dharma. Dharma is the “right” path in life: good deeds, duty towards God, society, family and themselves.
  • Karma – what goes around comes around
  • Eventually, after living many lives, Hindus finally break free from the cycle of reincarnation when they have done enough good deeds.
  • Good and bad points earned through one’s behavior, that accrue throughout their life and affect what caste they are born into in the next life.
  • Hindus believe the soul does not die with the body.  Instead, the soul casts off the body like old clothes and is reborn into another life.  The law of karma rules this process of reincarnation.  If a person does good deeds, he will be reborn as a person in a better position.  If he does bad, he might be reborn as an animal or insect. Eventually, after hundreds or thousands of lives, the individual soul can break free and be reunited with the supreme spirit Brahma.  This release from reincarnation is called moksha.
  • Once a Hindu has attained his best self he is freed from the cycle of reincarnation and has reached Nirvana. This freeing is called moksha.
  • Indian society is divided into levels. Priests are at the top, Sudras (laborers) are at the bottom. Below that – the absolute bottom of society – are untouchables.



brahma the creator of everything
BrahmaThe Creator of everything

The piece of Brahma in all of us (our eternal soul) is called atman

Brahma is everywhere and in everything.

He sits on a sacred lotus flower, has four arms and four heads – to watch the four corners of the universe.

vishnu the preserver
VishnuThe Preserver
  • Blue like the sky because he is everywhere. He appears on earth in avatars, and has so far appeared in 9 different identities
vishnu s avatars earthly forms
Vishnu’s avatars (earthly forms)
  • Fish
  • Tortoise
  • Boar (pig)
  • Half man/half lion
  • Dwarf
  • Rama the man, with an ax
  • Prince Rama (as told in the epic poem Ramayana)
  • Krishna (celebrated at Holi)
  • Prince Siddhartha (do you know who this is?)
  • Yet to come; Hindus are waiting for Kalki to arrive on a white horse, an event that will mark the end of time (apocalypse)