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Hinduism By doing the above, the gods or goddesses may look with favor upon the devotees, ... In Hindu thought, death is but a prelude to rebirth ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Hinduism

  • The Trimurti (or Trinity) and the Caste System

  • It is said that Hinduism has taught the world
    both tolerance and universal acceptance.
  • Most Hindus not only believe in universal
    tolerance of others, but they accept all
    religions as true.
  • It is said, 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.

  • Hinduism offers its devotees many paths.
    Individuals may find release from life (samsara)
    through devotion to one or more of the Indian

  • One may give full religious attention to each of
    these gods or goddesses by worshipping at their
    temples, offering sacrifices, praying, supporting
    the priests of the temple, and so on.

  • By doing the above, the gods or goddesses may
    look with favor upon the devotees, support the
    believers in life, and help in the struggles of
  • Brahman, who is the ultimate reality, is at the
    core of Hindu thought.
  • He is one and undivided, yet Hinduism sees him in
    terms of three forms or a trinity of functions
    called Trimurti creation, destruction, and

  • Of the three leading deities in the Hindu
    pantheon (all parts of the Brahman), the creator,
    Brahma receives the least attention.
  • Even though Brahma is widely respected and
    recognized as the creator of the world, only two
    temples are specifically dedicated to him in all
    of India.

  • Brahma is usually shown with four bearded faces
    and four arms.
  • His chief wife (Sarasvati) is the goddess of
    knowledge, wisdom, speech, and poetry.

  • Among the most popular gods in Hinduism is Shiva,
    known as the destroyer.
  • Shiva is the god of death, destruction, disease,
    and decay.

  • Shiva is complex because not only is he the god
    of death and destruction, he is the god of dance.

  • Probably the most important reason for Shivas
    popularity is he is also the god of vegetable,
    animal, and human reproduction.
  • In Hindu thought, death is but a prelude to
    rebirthso it follows that the god of death is
    also the god of reproduction and sexuality.
  • So Shiva paves the way for renewal in the endless
    cosmic process of samsara.

  • Often associated with Shiva (and as popular) are
    many of the goddesses that are his companions.
  • The most important and popular of these goddesses
    are Kali (means She who is black or She who is
    death) and Paravati.
  • Mythology connects Kali to the founding of the
    modern city of Calcutta.

  • Kali is the goddess of time, doomsday, and death.
  • She is more terrifying than Shiva because she
    wears a necklace of human skulls, tears away the
    flesh of sacrificed victims, and drinks blood.

  • Paravati is nearly the opposite of Kali.
  • She is the daughter of the Himalayas and the
    female element of the perfect loving couple when
    paired with the gentler aspect of Shiva.

  • Paravati is usually depicted as the perfect wife
    and mother.
  • She is also a fertility goddess and a goddess of
    love and devotion.

  • The son of Shiva and Paravati is Ganesha, the
    elephant-headed god of the arts and sciences, of
    intellect and wisdom.
  • He is the Lord of success and wealth, and the
    destroyer of obstacles.

  • Ganesha's head symbolizes the Atman or the soul,
    which is the ultimate reality of human existence,
    and his human body signifies Maya or the earthly
    existence of human beings.

  • The third god of the Hindu triad of Brahman is
    Vishnu, the preserver.
  • In contrast to Shiva, he is not complex.
  • Always benevolent, Vishnu appears as the
    expression of divine love, peace, and
  • He is also a prankster and he loves to play games
    and tricks.

  • The chief feature of Vishnu is his overwhelming
    concern for humanity.
  • In times when the Earth has been in great peril,
    Vishnu has appeared in various forms known as

  • Vishnu supports the moral order and moral balance
    of the world, but sometimes evil over takes the
  • God, in the form of Vishnu, then comes to Earth
    to relay some message or to accomplish an
    important task (like saving humanity).

  • To restore the natural balance, Vishnu appears as
    an avatar, sometimes as a man, sometimes as an
    animal, and sometimes as a mythical creature.
  • Here he is Matsya, the fish that saved humanity
    from the great flood.

  • Tradition states that there are ten avatars and
    that nine have already appeared.
  • One incarnation was Krishna (former Beatle George
    Harrison was a devotee of Krishna).
  • According to this tradition, Krishna was divine
    and also heroic. He killed demons, monsters,
    dragons, and tyrannical rulers.

  • The Buddha was one of the nine avatars to come to
  • In some Hindu traditions, Jesus and Muhammad were
    also avatars.

  • The tenth and final avatar has not yet appeared,
    and it is said Vishnu will come as an avatar
    riding a white horse bringing time to an end.
  • He will then punish and destroy the wicked,
    re-establish order, and reward the virtuous.

  • Lakshmi is the wife of Vishnu.
  • She arose from the ocean to ensure the fertility
    and welfare of the world.
  • She is a goddess of fertility and wealth, and
    also of victory.

  • In some places, Lakshmi is known as Sri, and
    worshipped as the goddess of rice.
  • She is often seen as the mediator between humans
    and Vishnu, since it is hard for humans to
    approach Vishnu directly.

  • The moral order and natural harmony of the world
    is known as the Dharma (in Sanskrit means duty,
    morality, and virtue).
  • Dharma is the power that maintains society, makes
    the grass grow, makes the sun shine, and makes us
    moral people or rather gives humans the
    opportunity to act virtuously.

  • But acting virtuously does not mean precisely the
    same thing for everyone different people have
    different obligations and duties according to
    their age, gender, and social position.
  • What is the correct Dharma for a woman might not
    be for a man or what is correct for an adult
    might not be for a child.
  • Correct action in accordance with Dharma is also
    understood as service to humanity and to God and
    not to act according to ones Dharma is
    considered a moral transgression.

  • One of the ways to achieve harmony and maintain
    Dharma is through yogas.
  • Hindus believe that meditation is necessary if
    one is ever to break free of the cycle of
    samsarait is even necessary for the gods.
  • Yogas (there are four different forms) stress
    mental and physical discipline as a way to free
    the mind of pain, anger, fear, hatred, greed,
    lust, etc.

  • Hindus try to live according to their Dharma,
    which is their code of behavior or duty that
    governs their life.
  • In the Hindu tradition, a persons duty is
    determined by their position in society and by
    the stage of life they have reached.
  • It is from here that the Caste system developed.

The Caste System
  • The term castea social class of hereditary and
    usually unchangeable statuswas first used in
    India by Portuguese merchants and mariners during
    the 16th century CE when they observed sharp
    social distinctions among the Indian people.
  • The Aryans used the term varna, a Sanskrit word
    meaning color, to refer to their social

The Caste System
  • By about 1000 BCE, the Aryans recognized four
    major varnas and explained them in their creation
    myth which revolved around the father of
    humankind, Purusha.

The Caste System
  • The first Aryan epic, the Rig-Veda attributed the
    rise of the caste system to the gods
  • When they divided the original Man into how many
    parts did they divide him?
  • What was his mouth, what were his arms, what were
    his thighs and his feet called?
  • The Brahmin was his mouth, of his arms was made
    the warrior.
  • His thighs became the vaishya, of his feet the
    shudra was born.

The Caste System
  • Brahmins the highest social classes were the
    priests and scholars, who sprang from Purushas
    mouth, and represented intellect, knowledge, and
  • Brahmins were the lightest in skin color.

The Caste System
  • Next came the Kshatriyathe warrior-aristocracy,
    the rulers and government officials who came from
    the arms of Purusha.

The Caste System
  • The third layer of people, the Vaishya, came from
    Purushas thighs. They were the landowners,
    merchants, artisans (or skilled laborers).

The Caste System
  • The fourth level, the Sudra (or Shudra), came
    from Purushas feet. They were the common
    peasants, (unskilled) laborers, and servants.

The Caste System
  • During the classical era, the caste system became
    much more complex with each caste further
    subdivided into jati, or birth groups, each with
    its own occupation, duties, and rituals.
  • Each jati had little contact with others, and its
    members intermarried and followed the same
    occupations as their ancestors.
  • Marriage between castes was forbidden, under
    penalty of death?

The Caste System
  • A fifth group eventually developed, considered so
    low, they didnt even merit a caste designation.
  • Called the Dalits (or untouchables), they were
    relegated to the jobs considered the most
    polluted or defiling (handling garbage, dead
    bodies, animal skins, etc). Nearly 20 of all
    Indians are a part of this group.

The Caste System
  • Today, these people are known as the Harijan
    (so named the Children of God by Gandhi).

The Caste System
  • The Dalit were outside the caste system
    (outcastes) because they were considered too
    impure to be worthy human beings.
  • They are untouchable by the other four castes in
    some areas of India, even contact with their
    shadow was considered polluting.
  • Prejudice and oppression defines their lives and
    they are in constant danger of being shunned,
    insulted, or humiliated in public.

Mark on the Forehead
  • The colored mark on the forehead is a sign of
    piety and reveals to others that the wearer is a
  • It symbolizes the third eyethe one focused
    inwards towards God.
  • Both men and women wear the mark, but it is
    generally falling out of favor with men.
  • Traditionally, unmarried women wear a black mark
    and married women wear a red one.

Mark on the Forehead
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