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Introduction to Hinduism. General Introduction. Founded: Hinduism evolved over a long period of time, beginning around 3000 B.C.E. It is the oldest of the major world religions. Founder: No one person established Hinduism and they have no set creed. Place of Origin: India

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Introduction to Hinduism

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general introduction
General Introduction
  • Founded: Hinduism evolved over a long period of time, beginning around 3000 B.C.E. It is the oldest of the major world religions.
  • Founder: No one person established Hinduism and they have no set creed.
  • Place of Origin: India
  • Distribution: India, and to a lesser extent Bali, Sir Lanka, and Indonesia. Africa and North America also have small numbers of Hindus.

Sacred Books: The main Hindu Scriptures which are written in Sanskrit are the:

  • VEDAS (the oldest … poems and verses)
  • BRAHMANAS (rules for worship), and
  • UPANISHADS (answers to questions on life and death)
  • In addition, there are two great epics, the RAMAYANA and the MAHABHAART, and such lesser texts as the PURNAS, the TANTRAS and the LAWS OF MANU.

God: Hindus slowly came to accepts the idea of the existence of and ETERNAL SUPREME BEING – BRAHMAN. To help them understand, Hindus worship different Gods who individually represent ONE particular aspect of Brahman.

  • Goal of Hinduism: All forms of existence, including this present world and everything in it are temporary and illusionary and are referred to as MAYA. The goal of every Hindu is to break free of this imperfect world and achieve a blissful reunion with BRAHMAN. Hinduism is essentially an optimistic faith, in that it contends that everyone will eventually attain this goal. There is no threat of permanent Hell or damnation.
monism all is brahman
Monism : All is Brahman
  • All reality is ultimately one
  • All rivers, all lakes, all rain share a common essence, all come from the ocean and eventually return to it.
  • For monists... all forms of reality-gods and goddesses, plants and animals, the material universe, and humans share a common essence... this one reality is Brahman
  • Brahman is the ground existence and the course of the universe
  • Brahman is everything... all things come from and eventually return to Brahman
  • Brahman is impersonal, without characteristics beyond the reach of human perception and thought
monism cont d
Monism (Cont’d)
  • Brahman can only be describes as neti, neti... “Not this, not this...”
  • Ultimate reality can be understood through inward contemplation of the self. Contemplation of the universe and the inner self are one and the same.
  • The ultimate reality within is named ATMAN, the eternal self
  • Atman is the spirit of Brahman living within you and all things... a soul
  • Brahman = Atman .... interchangeable terms
  • We see Brahman as Creator (Brahma), Sustainer (Vishnu), and Destroyer (Shiva)


One Reality Without Names and Forms




Brahma Creator



moksha salvation
Moksha: Salvation
  • Hindu ultimate goal = salvation
  • Not attainable in one lifetime for most
  • Therefore Hindus have re-incarnation
  • They can afford to be patient regarding the goal of salvation
  • Salvation = Moksha = “liberation” or “release”
moksha cont d
Moksha (Cont’d)
  • Moksha is a release from this ordinary, finite, limited realm of existence into the divine
  • Moksha characterized by infinite being, infinite awareness, infinite bliss
  • It is beyond description because it is beyond this imperfect world
  • Having attained Moksha a Hindu is united forever with the divine having returned to the sacred source
  • Hinduism is an optimistic faith since everyone will eventually attain this goal
  • “Wheel of rebirth” or law of rebirth
  • process of “transmigration”
  • soul reincarnated from one life form to another
  • Literally means “actions” or “deeds”… it is a merit system
  • Moral law of cause and effect of actions (good deeds, spiritual exercises, meditation)
  • Determines the nature of one’s reincarnation
  • The type of person your soul moves on to depends on how you have lived = the law of karma
  • Only humans have the will to effect the status of their karma (being human is a privilege and a responsibility)
  • People are held responsible for their actions
  • Functions hand in hand with samsara
  • ­life involves a series of duties to be engaged in = dharma
  • literally means “moral obligations” or “virtuous living”
  • These are not the same for every person – depends on job, family background
  • We have a duty to ourselves and others to do what is morally/ethically expected
  • Standard by which individuals can judge the rightness & wrongness of their acts
  • For every activity there is a way of acting that conforms to dharma
  • Hindus look to four sources when seeking guidance on certain situations:
  • divine revelation (sacred scriptures); b) sacred traditions; c) the practices of those considered to be wisest in the society, and; d) conscience

SamsaraCycle of Birth and Death

  • Karma Cause and Effect
  • MokshaRelease from the Cycle