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Brahman. The Human Condition –life is a journey to union with God but, when they remain ignorant of this, human beings suffer and are continually reborn. The Goals - to live a virtuous life and finally to achieve Moksha.

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The Human Condition –life is a journey to union with God but, when they remain ignorant of this, human beings suffer and are continually reborn.

The Goals - to live a virtuous life and finally to achieve Moksha.

The Means – there are many paths which lead to Moksha. Brahman also has a role in the attainment of Moksha.










Kama Dharma Artha


God’s Grace





Guru, rishi, swami




What is the Human Condition?

  • All life is a journey to union with Brahman
  • Until humans achieve this they will continue to suffer (dukkha) and be reborn (samsara)
  • Life is transient; brief and short-lived, ever-changing

What is the cause of the human condition?

  • Avidya; ignorance of the true nature of self and the universe
  • Maya (illusion)
  • Lack of balance of the three Gunas

What are the goals during life?

  • To live a virtuous life leading to improved rebirth and the attainment of bliss
  • Follow dharma; act in harmony with the laws of the universe
  • Follow dharma (duties and customs) for varna
  • Follow dharma for jati (one of the thousands of birth groups)
  • Pursue kama and artha

What is the final aim of existence?

  • Achieve moksha
  • Release from samsara
  • Union with Brahman
  • Jivanmukti - liberation while still living
  • Samadhi - attainment of bliss

How are the goals achieved?

  • Understand the truths revealed in shruti – Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita
  • Follow guidance of rishis, swamis and gurus
  • Achieve detachment and renunciation

What practices help to achieve the goals?

  • There are many paths which lead to moksha
  • Brahman has a role in the attainment of moksha
  • Practice margas; karma, bhakti, jnana
  • Follow dharma for ashrama
  • Varnashramadharma – dharma for varna and ashrama
Who or What is Brahman ?

the ultimate reality behind existence

pure being – sat

pure consciousness – cit

pure bliss – ananda

What aspects of Brahman are represented by the Trimurti ?

Creation – Brahma

Preserver – Vishnu

Destroyer – Shiva


What is the Atman ?

The real self.

The one that is permanent.

A spark of the divine Brahman

Hinduism is all about realising the Atman & Brahman are the same.

The Atman goes through samsara, and controls moral behaviour

Moksha ends the Atman’s journey.


What is Avidya ?

Ignorance; stops spiritual enlightenment or the union of the Atman & Brahman.

People sometimes claim to know something is true but they don't. Avidya is kept alive by materialism, Education is not the same as knowledge. (see Jnana Yoga)


What is maya?

  • The grand illusion
  • Everyday reality makes false promises of comfort and security
  • There is no lasting beauty or possibility of immortality in everyday reality.
  • Liberation will not be achieved until maya is ignored and the Ultimate reality is understood.

What are the Gunas?

  • The 3 categories the world of matter can be divided into
  • Sattva: goodness or purity; represents all good and holy aspects of the world.
  • Rajas: passion or energy; represents the active component of the world
  • Tamas: dark or inactive; represents negative aspects of the world
  • There is peace when the 3 categories are balanced.
  • All 3 are present in humans and while they are imbalanced liberation is not possible.

What is samsara?

  • Samara literally means ‘sea of change’.
  • It is the cycle of birth, death, rebirth that the soul or atman travels through.
  • Samsara is the journey to moksha.
  • It can act as a motivation to improve a person’s life through following their dharma.
  • It is the cycle of life that Hindus strive to ‘escape’ from.

What Is Dharma ?

Right Conduct – behave yourself, duty of your caste/varna and your obligation or responsibility to society.

Religious or moral duty relating to specific varna and stage in life.

It gives order to the world – we all know what we should do allowing a harmonized universe.

Personal code of conduct.

Affects a person’s journey through samsara.


How can a person affect samsara through their dharma?

  • Following your dharma well can help the atman progress through samsara
  • Samsara is the apparent endless cycle of rebirth the atman has to go through. Performing dharma and developing karma can attain a better rebirth
  • A Hindu aims to achieve Moksha and the end of samsara and carrying out their dharma makes it possible to move towards moksha.
  • Varnashramadharma: duties depending on caste(fixed) & stage in life (changes)

What is Samadhi ?

It means enlightenment.

It means realising who Brahman really is.

It is the final state of the Atman, and you have no sense of 'I' or 'mine'

The highest state that someone who practices yoga/meditation can reach


What is Moksha?

  • A Hindu’s final destiny.
  • The final stage of existence after the cycle of samsara is ended.
  • The end of suffering.
  • The atman is never reborn.
  • Highest state of happiness which cannot be described.
  • Important to some Hindus; not important to others.

What is Jivanmukti?

  • Jiva (the soul of a person) Mukti (liberation)
  • Liberation while still living
  • Debate whether liberation is achievable while alive
  • True gurus are believed to have achieved liberation

Why is Moksha Important to Hindus ?

The ultimate goal for a Hindu is to achieve Moksha. Without re-uniting with Brahman, your Atman/soul can never be at peace.

It encourages Hindus to lead a good/honest and peaceful life because to achieve Moksha requires good karma & following Dharma – varnashramadharma

Gives hope of a better life after this one


Why/when is Moksha not important to some Hindus?

Many Hindus struggle to survive from day to day and do not think about life after death.

Moksha has too many stages and some Hindus do not think it is achievable.

Scientific development has lead many Hindus to question the concept of reincarnation.


What does varna mean?

  • Varna literally means ‘colour’
  • Refers to the 4 social classes or castes.

What are the 4 varnas?

  • Brahmins
  • Kshatriyas
  • Vaishyas
  • Shudras

What are jatis?

  • Birth groups
  • Sub groups of the 4 varnas
  • Social divisions of which there are thousands

Who are the Brahmins ?

They are priests and those in a higher professions, i.e. teachers & doctors.

They understand and study Hindu teachings.

They set a good moral example for others by remaining pure in words and deeds.


Who are the Kshatriyas ?

They are the rulers & military forces in society, such as royal family, prime minister, members of the government and officers in the armed forces.

They are leaders, and protectors and guard the welfare of the people.

They were a secular (non-religious) power responsible for enforcing dharma.


Who are the Vaishyas ?

They are the business people in society. They deal with money and commercial activities i.e. traders, bankers, financial advisers, solicitors and directors.

They were farmers or peasants involved in agriculture to provide food.

They are responsible for providing the material goods & the wealth in society.


Who are the Shudras ?

Skilled workers eg potters, weavers and servants.

The working class. i.e. workers, labourers, factory workers and builders.

They do the physical and manual workers, serving the needs of others.

They were banned from access to scriptures.

Could not be twice-born (sacred thread ceremony)

Who are the Untouchables ?


They are outside the caste system.

They deal with things considered unclean i.e. dead animals/rubbish.


Why are Varnas important for Hindu Society ?

Everyone is given a role and responsibility to produce a stable society.

It was based on occupation ensuring that society had a thriving society with everyone depending on each other.

Your caste reflects your position and status in terms of a persons karma and therefore reincarnation.

It provides a moral incentive for all to improve their caste.


What are the 4 Ashramas ?

Student Stage – Brahmacharya

Householder Stage – Grihastha

Retirement Stage – Vanaprasta

Renunciation Stage – Sunnyasin


What is Brahmacharya ?

(student stage)

This begins with the initiation rite of the sacred thread called upanayana preformed only by boys in the upper 3 castes

Students study Hindu scripture.


What is Grihastha?

(householder stage)

This begins when the student returns from his studies, marries, produces children and takes on the duties of a householder.

This stage is considered very important.

Pursue kama

Pursue artha


What is kama?

  • A goal humans pursue in householder stage
  • Pleasure such as music, drama, painting, sex.
  • Required for a well-ordered society
  • Should be pursued before moksha as it prepares a person for what is needed to be devoted to Brahman i.e. longing and loving adoration.
  • Achieving kama means a person is ready for higher spiritual achievement.

What is artha?

  • A goal humans pursue in householder stage
  • Material wealth
  • Was first sought by Indian king as part of his dharma towards his people.
  • Householder has to provide for family
  • Must be pursued within moral structure of dharma or can result in poor karma

What is Vanaprastha?

(retirement stage)

This stage occurs when the children are grown up and able to run their own lives.

To become detached from worldly goods, go on pilgrimages.


What is Sunnyasin?

(renunciation stage)

Practices detachment and renunciation from all worldly possessions

To give up all worldly ties, possessions, family and even name and devoting one's entire life to the spiritual god of liberation or moksha.

Some become a wandering holy man (sadhu)


What are the Three Margas ?

Karma yoga including 'seva' – charity work

Bhakti yoga including 'puja‘ - worship

Jnana yoga – Meditation & learning

A form of following dharma


What is shruti (or sruti)?

  • Hindu scriptures
  • The Vedas
  • The Upanishads
  • The Epics
  • The Bhagavad Gita

What is the role of a guru?

  • Respected religious teacher and leader
  • Sometimes thought of divine being
  • The same as or similar to a swami
  • Some believe it is necessary to have a guru or swami to achieve moksha or samadhi
  • Other believe it is possible to achieve moksha or samadhi without a teacher

What is an ashram?

  • A place for spiritual education, social work, medicine, religious activities and community activities
  • Where you will find a swami (religious teacher) or guru

What is Ahimsa ?

Means non-violence to all things, this is because Hindus believe in the 'specialness' of all life.

All life is involved in samsara.

Gandhi followed ahimsa.

Some Hindus reject it because if we don't defend ourselves we can allow suffering to happen. This might mean poor karma and not following your dharma.


What is God’s Grace?

  • Without it man is nothing on his own
  • Impossible to achieve spiritual progression without it.
  • Some Hindus believe it doesn’t exist; we are on our own
  • Some Hindus believe that man by nature is free.