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What is Hinduism?


What is Hinduism? One of the oldest religions of humanity Not a uniform, easy to compartmentalize religion but all have their roots in the Vedas (Holy Scriptures) – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: What is Hinduism?

What is Hinduism?
  • One of the oldest religions of humanity
  • Not a uniform, easy to compartmentalize religion
    but all have their roots in the Vedas (Holy
  • The religion of 80 of India
  • Influence on other Indian religions - Buddhism,
    Jainism, Sikhism
  • Tolerance and diversity "Truth is one, paths are
  • Many deities but a single, impersonal Ultimate
  • A philosophy and a way of life focused both on
    this world and beyond

How did Hinduism begin?
  • No particular founder
  • Indus River Valley Civilization gt5000 years ago
  • Aryans enter 4000 - 3500 years ago
  • Vedic Tradition 3500 2500 years ago
  • rituals and many gods that are manifestations of
    one supreme god --- HENOTHEISM
  • sacred texts (Vedas)
  • social stratification (caste system)
  • Upanishads (metaphysical philosophy) 2800 2400
    years ago
  • Vedic Tradition develops into Hinduism

Basic World View of Hinduism
  • The universe is one.
  • Even though going through surface changes and
    cycles, its ultimate nature as expression of the
    divine does not change.

God or Ultimate Reality
  • Brahman, the one Mind or Life, is the one
  • It expresses itself in all that is like a flame
    taking many shapes.
  • All the Hindu gods and souls of everything are a
    part of Brahman.

Origin of the World/Destiny of the World
  • The world goes through endless cycles of creation
    and destruction but has no real beginning or end.

Origin and Destiny of Humans
  • The individual has no known beginning.
  • It goes through countless lifetimes.
  • The nature of a lifetime depends on karma
    (actions) of a previous lifetime.
  • A series of lifetimes continues and may include
    episodes in heavens and hells.
  • Finally, one transcends karma through
    God-realization (moksha liberation from the

Revelation or Meditation between the Ultimate and
the Human
  • The Vedic scriptures
  • Brahmin priesthood
  • Gods and god-realized Saints as expressions of
    the One
  • Following ones guru as spiritual guide

Practical What is Expected of Humans? Worship,
Practices, Behavior
  • To follow dharma (social order) through rituals,
    behavior, and righteous deeds
  • If one is ready to seek moksha, or liberation,
    one should practice yoga, meditation, or devotion
    under the guidance of a guru

Sociological What is the relationship between
Hinduism and society?
  • The caste system
  • Temples as places of the worship of gods
  • Holy men
  • The family
  • The brahmin priesthood

Laws of Manu
  • Guidelines for how Hindus should live
  • Not always followed by Hindus

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

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
  • 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)

How does Hinduism direct life 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 (Also the untouchables)
  • Four stages of life student, householder,
    retired, renunciant
  • Four duties of life pleasure, success, social
    responsibilities, religious responsibilities

Caste System
  • Hindus are divided into different groups
    associated with religious purity
  • Hindus are born into a caste and cannot rise
    beyond it accept through reincarnation into a
    higher caste.
  • Good karma Reborn into higher caste Reaching

Brahmins Priestly caste
Kshatriyas Warrior Caste
Vaisyas Skilled workers, merchants, minor
Sudras Unskilled workers
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What are the spiritual practices 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
  • Hatha Yoga physical purification
  • Guru a spiritual teacher, especially helpful
    for Jnana and Raja yoga

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

Who do Hindus worship? the major gods of the
Hindu Pantheon
Brahma, the creator god
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,
One version of the Universe with Vishnu and Brahma
  • Vishnu slept over the ocean on a great serpent
    made up of the remains of the last universe
    before this one was formed
  • A lotus grew out of Vishnus navel and Brahma
  • Brahma defeated the imps (demons) of chaos and
    made the world
  • Then, Vishnu got up and seated himself in the
    highest heaven with his consort goddesses
    Lakshmi (Fortune) and Bhu-Devi (the Earth).
  • The serpent arched his hoods over the divine
    sovereign to make a canopy. The lesser gods
    attended him.

Who do Hindus worship? the major gods of the
Hindu Pantheon
Shiva, god of constructive destruction (the
Appears as Shiva Nataraja, lord of the dance of
and with his wife, Parvati, and son Ganesha (the
elephant headed remover of obstacles)
Shiva as Nataraja
Dwarf Representing Ignorance
What about the goddesses? Devi the feminine
Saraswati, goddess of wisdom, consort of Brahma
Hindus consider cows sacred because they may be a
representation of Devi.
  • Oxen and bulls were sacrificed in Ancient India
    and the meat consumed.
  • Even then, milk-producing cows were considered
  • Rigveda (a holy scripture) refers to the cow as
    Devi and even Aditi (mother goddess)
  • Practical too cows provide milk, browned butter
    for lamps, and dung for fuel

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What about the goddesses? Devi the feminine
Lakshmi, goddess of good fortune, consort of
What about the goddesses? Devi the feminine
Parvati, divine mother, wife of Shiva
What about the goddesses? Devi the feminine
Durga, protectress
Kali, destroyer of demons
Plus about 330 million other deities
All these deities are but Manifest forms
(attributes and functions) of the impersonal
And we too are manifest forms of God!
We are not human beings having spiritual
experiences We are spiritual beings having a
human experience!
Thou Art That
Hinduism is about recognizing the all
pervasiveness of the divine
  • I am proud to belong to a religion which has
    taught the world both tolerance and universal
    acceptance. We believe not only in universal
    tolerance, but we accept all religions as true.
    As different streams having different sources all
    mingle their waters in the sea, so different
    paths which men take through different tendencies
    various though they appear, crooked or straight,
    all lead to God.
  • --- Swami Vivekananda
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