INDUS VALLEY CIVILIZATION The origins of Hinduism trace the religion's roots to the Indus valley civilization circa 4000 to 2200 BCE. This was a very advanced civilization that boasted: Own language Planned cities Sophisticated plumbing and sewage systems Vast trading network No standing army No monuments to rulers • Thriving mercantile ruling class
Aryan Invasions The development of Hinduism was influenced by many invasions over thousands of years. The major influences occurred when light-skinned nomadic "Aryan" Indo-European tribes invaded Northern India (circa 1500 BCE) from the steppes of Russia and Central Asia. They brought with them their religion of Vedism. These beliefs mingled with the more advanced, indigenous Indian native beliefs, often called the "Indus Valley culture."
The Vedic Period The predominance of female figurines and seals depicting a horned goddess by the Indus People is generally regarded as evidence of the worship of a mother goddess who presided over fertility and birth and who may have acted as guardian and protector of the dead.
UPANISHADAS They are a continuation of the Vedas, and were written between 800 and 400 BCE. They elaborate on how the soul (Atman) can be united with the ultimate truth (Brahman) through contemplation and mediation, as well as the doctrine of Karma-- the cumulative effects of a person’s actions.
MAHABHARATA & BHAGAVAD GITA & RAMAYANA The Mahabharata, were written 540 to 300 BCE, The Bhagavad Gita is the sixth book of the Mahabharata. It is a poem describing a conversation between a warrior Arjuna and the God Krishna. It is an ancient text that has become central to Hinduism Another important text is the Ramayana. It is a moving love story with moral and spiritual themes. It is dated to the first century AD
CATEGORIZING HINDUISM IS CONFUSING Polytheistic - one which worships multiple deities: gods and goddesses. Monotheistic religion, because it recognizes only one supreme God: Brahman, that all reality is a unity. Trinitarian because Brahman is simultaneously visualized as a triad: Brahma, the Creator Vishnu, (Krishna) the Preserver and Shiva, the Destroyer
Vishnu, (Krishna) the Preserver, who preserves these new creations. Whenever dharma (eternal order, righteousness, religion, law and duty) is threatened, Vishnu travels from heaven to earth in one of ten incarnations.
URBAN HINDUS Most urban Hindus follow one of two major divisions within Hinduism: Vaishnavaism: which generally regards Vishnu as the ultimate deity Shivaism: which generally regards Shiva as the ultimate deity.
RURAL HINDUS Many rural Hindus worship their own village goddess or an earth goddess. She is believed to rule over fertility and disease -- and thus over life and death. The priesthood is less important in rural Hinduism: non-Brahmins and non-priests often carry out ritual and prayer there.
SAMSARA Hindus believe in the repetitious Transmigration of the Soul. This is the transfer of one's soul after death into another body. This produces a continuing cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth through their many lifetimes. It is called samsara.
KARMA Karma is the accumulated sum of ones good and bad deeds. Karma determines how you will live your next life. Through pure acts, thoughts and devotion, one can be reborn at a higher level. Eventually, one can escape samsara and achieve enlightenment. Bad deeds can cause a person to be reborn as a lower level, or even as an animal. The unequal distribution of wealth, prestige, suffering are thus seen as natural consequences for one's previous acts, both in this life and in previous lives.
Dharma • Dharma is to fulfill your moral duty in this life. By fulfilling your Dharma and producing only good Karma you can move up the caste system and could release you from Samsara.
CASTE SYSTEM The enslavement of the dark skinned people of the Indus Valley is thought to have laid the foundation of the caste system. The caste system was further enforced by the Hindu belief of Karma. Bad deeds can cause a person to be reborn as a lower level, or even as an animal. The unequal distribution of wealth, prestige, suffering are thus seen as natural consequences for one's previous acts, both in this life and in previous lives.
Atman • Atman is the “soul’ that is reincarnated. Atman is the part of god in every living thing. The purpose of life is to unite Atman with Brahman.
MOKSA The main goal for those who renounce the world is: Moksa or liberation from "samsara," This is uniting Atman with Brahman. Moksa is considered the supreme end of mankind.
Maya • Maya is the illusionary world created by our senses. This veil of illusion makes people believe they are separate from Brahma
MEDITATION Meditation is often practiced, with Yoga being the most common. The goal of meditation is to help break-through the Maya and to seek Brahman.
Prayer & Offerings Offerings are also often used to assist the Poor Other activities include daily devotions, public rituals, and puja, a ceremonial dinner for a God.
TOLERANT & ELASTIC Hinduism has a deserved reputation of being highly tolerant of other religions. Hindus have a saying: "Ekam Sataha Vipraha Bahudha Vadanti," which may be translated: "The truth is One, but different Sages call it by Different Names"