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Introduction to Hinduism. Background - Hinduism. The oldest of the five major religions Approximately 800 million followers “ OM ” – the Pravnava , most powerful mantra “ Hindu ” is a Persian word which refers to non-Muslims living beyond the Indus River.

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Introduction to Hinduism


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    1. Introduction to Hinduism

    2. Background - Hinduism • The oldest of the five major religions • Approximately 800 million followers • “OM” – the Pravnava, most powerful mantra • “Hindu” is a Persian word which refers to non-Muslims living beyond the Indus River. • Sanatana Dharma is the preferred name.

    3. Origins of Hinduism • No specific founder • Vedic Tradition 3500 – 2500 years ago: • Rituals • Many gods (polytheism) • Sacred texts (Vedas) • Vedic Tradition developed into Hinduism • Transmitted orally for thousands of years

    4. The Beliefs of Hinduism: Many Gods or One? • All the universe is part of the unchanging, all-spiritual force called Brahman • Brahman is too complex for most to understand • Most worship a variety of gods

    5. Beliefs of Hinduism • True essence of life – Atman (the soul), is Brahman trapped in matter • Reincarnation – Atman is continually born into this world lifetime after lifetime (Samsara) • Karma - all the actions of this life affect the next life • Ultimate goal of life – to release Atman and reunite with Brahman (Moksha)

    6. Three Paths to Moksha • Trimarga = “3 Paths” • Karma Marga • The way of action • Jnana Marga • The way of wisdom • Bhakti Marga • The way of devotion

    7. Karma Marga Four Goods • Good of dharma – duty • Good of artha – wealth • Good of kama – pleasure of the senses • Moksa – the highest form of good • Moksha is a distant event in another lifetime • To reach moksha you must give up the first three goods • Actions • Follow caste & gender roles • Rituals, festivals, pilgrimages

    8. Jnana Marga • Follows the Upanishads - metaphysical speculation (teachings of gurus) • Brahman • Its only quality is that of not having qualities • Atman & Brahman are the same • Path of wisdom • Give up attachment to individuality • Truth is found through meditation

    9. Bhakti Marga • Devotion is more important than ritual • What is done is not as important as how it is done • Do all things with devotion to God(s) • Relationships • Parent/Child • Friends • Master/Servant • Lovers

    10. Gods of Hinduism • Gods are supernatural, but not omnipotent • Thousands of Gods/Avatars • Three Primary Gods • Brahma, Vishnu, & Shiva

    11. Lord Brahma • God of Creation • Four faces represent the four Vedas

    12. Lord Vishnu • Most popular Hindu God • Preserver of the universe • Goodness & Mercy • Avatars • Rama • Krishna

    13. Lord Shiva • The Destroyer • The Procreator • Most powerful of Gods • Lord of the Dance

    14. Lord Ram • 7th Avatar of Vishnu • Hero of the Ramayana • Representation of an ideal man

    15. Lord Krishna • 8th Avatar of Vishnu • Representation of ideal love • Delivers the Bhagavad-Gita

    16. Durga • Divine Mother • Multiple arms (6, 8, up to 20) • When male logic fails she destroys evil

    17. Lord Ganesh • Son of Shiva & Durga • Remover of obstacles

    18. All Life is Sacred • Hindus have always had great respect for life • Nonviolence - Ahimsa • Cow is especially significant • Transportation • Milk • Fuel

    19. Places of Worship • Household shrines • Temples (Mandirs) • Importance of Rivers • Ritual purity