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What is Hinduism?. One of the oldest religions of humanity The religion of the Indian people Gave birth to Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism Tolerance and diversity: "Truth is one, paths are many" Many deities but a single, impersonal Ultimate Reality

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What is Hinduism?


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    1. What is Hinduism? • One of the oldest religions of humanity • The religion of the Indian people • Gave birth to Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism • Tolerance and diversity: "Truth is one, paths are many" • Many deities but a single, impersonal Ultimate Reality • A philosophy and a way of life – focused both on this world and beyond

    2. How did Hinduism begin? • No particular founder • Indus River Valley Civilization >5000 years ago • Aryans enter 4000 - 3500 years ago • Vedic Tradition 3500 – 2500 years ago: • rituals and many gods (polytheism) • sacred texts (Vedas) • social stratification (caste system) • Upanishads (metaphysical philosophy) 2800 – 2400 years ago • Vedic Tradition develops into Hinduism

    3. What are the Sacred Texts? • Shruti (“heard”) – oldest, most authoritative: • Four Vedas (“truth”) – myths, rituals, chants • Upanishads - metaphysical speculation • Plus other texts • Smriti (“remembered”) – the Great Indian Epics: • Ramayana • Mahabharata (includes Bhagavad-Gita) • Plus others

    4. What do Hindus believe? • One impersonal Ultimate Reality – Brahman • Manifest as many personal deities • True essence of life – Atman, the soul, is Brahman trapped in matter (“That art thou”) • Reincarnation – atman is continually born into this world lifetime after lifetime (Samsara) • Karma – spiritual impurity due to actions keeps us bound to this world (good and bad) • Ultimate goal of life – to release Atman and reunite with the divine, becoming as one with Brahman (Moksha)

    5. How does Hinduism directlife in this world? • Respect for all life – vegetarian • Human life as supreme: • Four “stations” of life (Caste) - priests & teachers, nobles & warriors, merchant class, servant class • Four stages of life – student, householder, retired, renunciant • Four duties of life – pleasure, success, social responsibilities, religious responsibilities (moksha)

    6. What are the spiritualpractices of Hinduism? • The Four Yogas - seeking union with the divine: • Karma Yoga – the path of action through selfless service (releases built up karma without building up new karma) • Jnana Yoga – the path of knowledge (understanding the true nature of reality and the self) • Raja Yoga – the path of meditation • Bhakti Yoga – the path of devotion • Guru – a spiritual teacher, especially helpful for Jnana and Raja yoga

    7. How do Hindus worship? • Bhakti Yoga is seeking union with the divine through loving devotion to manifest deities • In the home (household shrines) • In the Temples (priests officiate) • Puja– making offerings to and decorating the deity images • Darsan– “seeing” the deity (not idol worship) • Prasad – taking the divine within your own being through eating of food shared with the deity

    8. Who do Hindus worship? – the major gods of the Hindu Pantheon Brahma, the creator god

    9. Who do Hindus worship? – the major gods of the Hindu Pantheon Vishnu, the preserver god Incarnates as ten avatars (descents) including: Rama (featured in the Ramayana) Krishna (featured in the Mahabharata) (Each shown with his consort, Sita and Radha, respectively)

    10. Who do Hindus worship? – the major gods of the Hindu Pantheon Shiva, god of constructive destruction(the transformer) Appears as Shiva Nataraj,lord of the dance of creation… and with his wife, Parvati, and son Ganesha(the elephant headed remover of obstacles)

    11. What about the goddesses?Devi – the feminine divine Saraswati, goddess of wisdom, consort ofBrahma

    12. What about the goddesses?Devi – the feminine divine Lakshmi, goddess of good fortune, consortof Vishnu

    13. What about the goddesses?Devi – the feminine divine Parvati, divine mother, wife ofShiva

    14. What about the goddesses?Devi – the feminine divine Durga, protectress Kali, destroyer of demons Plus about 330 million other deities

    15. All these deities are but Manifest forms (attributes and functions) of the impersonal Brahman

    16. And we too are manifest forms of God! “We are not human beingshaving spiritual experiences;We are spiritual beingshaving a human experience!” “That art Thou” Hinduism is about recognizing the all pervasiveness of the divine

    17. Explore Hinduism on the Web: • The Hindu Universe: Lots of information on Hinduism and the Hindu community on-line and around the world. Includes chat rooms and message board forums - www.hindunet.org • The Virtual Hindu Temple: Contains some interesting and useful pages including: Discover Hindu Gods & Goddesses and FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT HINDUISM. Also contains a gallery of deity images and a collection of links to Hindu sacred texts online and other sites related to Hinduism - www.rajdeepa.com/vmandir/vmandirindex.htm • Hinduism for Schools provides basic, introductory info to teach primary and secondary level students about Hinduism - www.btinternet.com/~vivekananda/schools1.htm Created by Laura Ellen Shulman

    18. 1. Ramayana – what it is one of two great epics of India, the other being the Mahabharata. originally composed in Sanskrit by Valmiki around 1500 BCE or earlier. considered the first great poetical work. comprised of 7 books (Kanda), each book consisting of several chapters (Sarga), and each chapter consisting of several stanzas (Shloka); in all, there are 24,000 stanzas.

    19. 2. Ramayana – what does the title mean? Ramayana literally means Rama’s journey ( ‘ayana’ = Journey; Rama+ayana = Ramayana). The word ‘journey’ here refers to his wanderings in the forest when he is banished from the kingdom of Ayodhya for 14 years Rama’s journey also includes Rama’s march to far off Lanka to battle King Ravana who had abducted Rama’s wife, Sita, and his journey back to Ayodhya after he recovers her.

    20. 3. Ramayana – a living epic “If a poem has contributed substantially in keeping a culture alive amongst vast masses of people through ages, it is certainly the epic Ramayana.” ---Professor Uma Shankara Joshi, a noted poet and scholar People read it for spiritual guidance, peace of mind and to experience a ‘cleansing of the mind.’ Favorite of Mahatma Gandhi who upheld the values of Ramayana (when he was assassinated, the last words he spoke were “Oh, Ram!”) Mass reading of the text, mass story-telling Celebration of Ramanavami – Rama’s birthday. Theater and cinema Rama is one of the most common given names in India

    21. 4. Ramayana- influence on Indian Literature It is a literary masterpiece. One of the best known works in India. There is hardly anyone who doesn’t know at least some parts of Ramayana Inspired innumerable poets who have created their own masterpieces based on episodes from Ramayana Translated into practically all languages of India. Some regional versions are almost as popular as the original – e.g., Ramacharita Manasa of Tulasi Das Has spread to many other countries of Asia

    22. 6. Ramayana - all about relationships between... Individuals in Society Husband & wife Parents & children Mentor & student Siblings Individuals & Society King & subjects King & other kings Etc.

    23. 7. Ramayana- importance to humanity Ramayana is a Dharmagrantha, or religious text that illuminates the path of righteousness, offering a code of moral or ethical conduct to develop personal character and sustain relationships. Showsthat worthwhile relationships must be based on values recognized as building blocks of character:love, respect, loyalty, honesty, dignity, self-control of senses and emotions, valor, skill in action, accountability, charity, intellect and knowledge, physical strength, refinement, etc. Not by exhortation, but by weaving a beautiful story in which the characters are tested to their limits in their adherence to these values.

    24. Main Characters of the Ramayana • Dasaratha -- King of Ayodhya • Rama -- Dasaratha's first-born son and is regarded by many Hindus as an incarnation of the god Vishnu. • Sita -- Rama's wife • Bharata -- Rama's brother by Queen Kaikeyi. • Hanuman -- A leader of the monkey tribe allied with Rama against Ravana. • Ravana -- The 10-headed king of Lanka who abducted Sita. • Lakshman -- Rama's younger brother