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Hinduism

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Title: Hinduism


1
Hinduism
  • Unit Four

2
The Name
  • Hindu is universally accepted as word that refers
    to the religion of India. Hindus call their
    religion Sanatana Dharma.
  • The word is of Persian origin, used to describe
    people who lived on the other side of the Sindu
    river.
  • There are many sects within Hinduism, but they
    all share a common sacred literature, a history
    of religious thought and a world view that place
    spiritual matters above earthly concerns.
  • Elements of the faith such as reincarnation,
    Karma (deeds in this life that determine our
    place in the next), meditation and yoga are
    elements of Hinduism that many Canadians are
    familiar with.
  • Today Hinduism is the worlds third largest
    religion, about 837 million followers or 13 of
    the worlds population.

3
At The End Of This Unit You Should Be Able To
  • Describe the role of faith in Hinduism.
  • Describe the use of symbols to represent Hindu
    beliefs.
  • Identify significant sacred writings and their
    importance.
  • Explain the origin of Hinduism.
  • Describe the role of woman in Hinduism.
  • Show how Hinduism is reflected in Canada.
  • Describe an individuals role in Hinduism.
  • Explain the importance of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • Understand the characteristics and functions of a
    guru.
  • Evaluate Hinduisms place in the modern world.

4
The Origins of Hinduism
  • Unlike other religions, Hinduism was not founded
    by a particular individual. It is the product of
    the various peoples that have occupied the region
    of India through time.
  • Some have described it as more of a way of life
    than a religion.
  • Two groups of people laid the foundation for
    Hinduism, the Indus Valley civilization and the
    Aryans.

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The Indus Valley Civilization
  • Excavations along the banks of the Indus river
    provided the first evidence of religious thought
    in India.
  • Archaeologists discovered the remains of a
    civilization that rose in the Indus Valley
    between 3000 and 2500 BCE.
  • Two ancient cities, Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa,
    were the heart of this civilization, also
    referred to as the Harappa Culture.

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  • The people of this civilization were impressive
    builders and town planners. Houses contained
    drainage and sewer systems and some included
    bathrooms on the first and second floors.
  • Some of the buildings have been identified as
    worship houses, where archaeologists discovered
    stone sculptures that may be early depictions of
    the Hindu goddesses Parvati and Kali.
  • Other discoveries included charms against evil,
    thousands of flat seals and fire altars that
    suggest religious activity such as animal
    sacrifice.
  • One seal depicts a man wearing a head-dress
    seated in a yoga position, surrounded by animals.
    It may be an early representation of the Hindu
    god Shiva.

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The Arrival Of The Aryans
  • Around 1500 BCE, thousands of people, known as
    Aryans, migrated into India from the northwest,
    destroying the Indus Valley civilization.
  • They came from central Asia, spoke an early form
    of Sanskrit and settled near the river Sindhu and
    later, the Ganges river.
  • Aryan religious thought flourished between 1500
    and 500 BCE. It was contained in a collection of
    hymns, ritual texts and philosophical works
    called Vedas, and are considered Hinduisms
    earliest sacred writings.
  • The earliest Veda is Rig-Veda, which constitutes
    the earliest record of sacred knowledge on
    Hinduism.

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  • The Vedas were written in verse, and their
    translation into prose interpretations were
    called Brahmanas.
  • Other mystical texts on human existence, called
    Upanishads, also came from the Vedas.
  • The Aryans worshipped the forces of nature in the
    form of gods. Agni, god of fire, is an example.
  • Worship and prayer to honor these forces formed
    the core of early Hinduism.
  • The Upanishads combined prayer with philosophical
    inquiry about atman, the human soul. The atman
    was considered to be the breath of human life and
    became one of the fundamental principles of Hindu
    philosophy.

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Hindu Beliefs
  • The Hindu concept of god is hard for non-Hindus
    to understand. It has been described as
  • Polytheistic a religion of many gods
  • Monotheistic belief in only one god.
  • Monistic god as an impersonal and unknowable
    entity.
  • Scholars refer to this confusion as Hinduisms
    tolerant characteristic. It allows its members to
    follow their own conscience and does not impose
    its beliefs on others, nor does it believe in
    conversion.

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  • The early hymns of the Rig-Veda praise the
    spirits of natural forces such as fire, thunder,
    dawn, water, earth and the sun. However, it is
    believed that they all represent different
    aspects of the same supreme being.
  • The Upanishads refers to this supreme being as
    Brahman, the soul of the universe from which all
    existing things arise and into which they all
    return. It is everything and everywhere!
  • Hindus are free to imagine Brahman in any way
    that is meaningful to them. Therefore, Hindus
    worship different gods that they consider
    manifestations of Brahman.

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Hindu Deities
  • The most prevalent manifestations of Brahman are
    the gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, who are often
    depicted together as one concept, called the
    Hindu Trinity. They each have a female
    counterpart, the most prominent one being
    Parvati, Shivas main squeeze.

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Brahma
  • Creator of the universe.
  • Has four faces and sits on a lotus.
  • He holds a book, a rosary and a gourd.
  • Not as widely worshipped as Shiva and Vishnu.
  • His female counterpart is Saraswati. She is the
    goddess of learning and the arts, often depicted
    holding a book and a musical instrument called a
    veena. She gets around on a peacock or a swan.

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Vishnu
  • Preserver of the universe, a loving and forgiving
    figure who brings salvation.
  • Four arms in which he holds a conch shell, a
    discus, a lotus and a mace. His vehicle is a
    divine eagle.
  • Vishnu has many avatars, incarnation or
    manifestation of a deity in human form, and
    appears on earth in the form of an animal or
    human to conquer evil.
  • Hindus believe that one of his incarnations was
    of Siddartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism.
  • His companion is Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth,
    happiness and good fortune. She is often depicted
    rewarding worshippers with gold.

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Shiva
  • He is the destroyer and restorer of the universe
    and is associated with creative energy.
  • He is considered a great yogi, a spiritually
    involved individual who practices meditation.
  • He holds a trident, a rosary and a gourd in his
    hands.
  • His vehicle is a bull.
  • He is also depicted as Nataraj, the god of dance
    and is shown holding a drum, serpent and sacred
    fire in his hands while performing the dance of
    creation.
  • He holds water in his hair from the sacred Ganges
    river.
  • Parvati, his wife, is the mother goddess. She is
    worshipped as Shakti or female energy. She is
    portrayed riding a tiger with many weapons in her
    hands.

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Ganesha son of Shiva and Parvati, remover of
all obstacles. Elephant head, human body.
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Subrahmanya second son of Shiva and Parvati.
Worshipped by the Tamil in southern India.
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Hanuman The Monkey God, he is the model of
devotion and everyones protector.
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Atman
  • The human soul or spirit.
  • It is the part of ourselves that is identical to
    Brahman, the universal soul.
  • A Hindus goal in life is to reunite the atman
    with the Brahman.
  • The atman is eternal and immortal! When one dies,
    the atman lives on, shedding one body to enter a
    new one.

43
Reincarnation
  • Hindus believe that the soul does not die with
    the body but enters another body to carry on its
    existence.
  • This endless cycle of rebirth is called samsara.
  • Maya is a word used to describe the temporary and
    imperfect nature of the physical world. Hindus
    believe that all life is caught in this cycle of
    birth, death and rebirth.
  • The goal of Hindus is to achieve moksha,
    liberation of the soul from the endless cycle of
    rebirths into this world , by uniting the atman
    with the Brahman.

44
Karma
  • Karma is the totality of ones actions in life,
    and it determines the form the individual will
    take when he or she is reborn.
  • Bad Karma will result in rebirth at a lower
    station in life or as a lower form of life, such
    as an animal.
  • Good Karma will result in rebirth at a higher
    station in life, which is closer to attaining
    salvation.
  • Therefore, in order to achieve salvation, Hindus
    must work their way up the ladder of existence,
    by trying to secure rebirth at a higher level.
    This is what led to the caste system.

45
Four Paths to Salvation
  • Bhakti Yoga The Path of Devotion
  • - Devotion and love towards a particular personal
  • deity. Its popular among Hindus because it
  • provides the opportunity to worship Brahman in a
  • concrete way.
  • - Followers focus their devotion through prayer
  • and rituals.

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  • 2. Karma Yoga The Path of Action
  • - The key to this path is good deeds and
    thoughts, which lead to the accumulation of good
    Karma. Good deeds are considered unselfish
    actions that are not done for a reward but
    because they are morally right.
  • 3. Jnana Yoga The Path of Wisdom
  • This difficult path calls for the guidance of a
    guru or teacher, a spiritual guide that can help
    one achieve moksha or salvation.
  • Followers learn about the relationship between
    Brahman and atman and the nature of the universe
    as explained in the scriptures. By knowing the
    scriptures, following the gurus teachings and
    meditating, followers gain the insight necessary
    to achieve salvation.

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  • 4. Raja Yoga The Path of Meditation
  • Followers of this path achieve salvation through
    meditation or deep contemplation on Brahman.
  • Intense meditation leads to a trance like state
    in which the individual acquires knowledge of the
    truth and becomes one with Brahman.
  • Requires strict physical and spiritual
    discipline.

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Dharma
  • This is how Hindus refer to their religion. It
    means a code of moral and religious duty.
  • The concept of Dharma is related to the duties
    and obligations of the individual and is
    considered essential to the welfare of the
    individual, family and society.
  • There are two kinds of Dharma Sanatana dharma,
    eternal religion, refers to universal values and
    principles that apply to all people, regardless
    of religion, nationality, age, sex or profession.
    Varnashrama dharma, which concerns the specific
    duties of each individual with respect to age,
    sex and status in society.

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The Caste System
  • Divides humanity into four classes or varnas,
    which people are born into according to the Karma
    they have accumulated in previous lives.
  • Brahmins priests, religious teachers. Goals are
    knowledge and education. Have duties such as
    performance of rituals and sacrifices, pursuit of
    the arts, sciences, ethics and religious study
    and research and training. Must have highly
    developed intellect and discipline.

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  • Kshatriya warriors and rulers. Their goal is
    political power and diplomacy. They work in
    government, law and order and protection from
    foreign invaders. They should possess physical
    strength and courage, as well as governing
    skills.
  • Vaishya merchants and farmers. Their goal is
    wealth and commerce. They should manage wealth
    and trade with other societies. They should
    possess management and entrpreneurial skills.
  • Sudra servants and laborers. They have manual
    skills, provide service to other castes and have
    the ability to acquire particular skills.

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The Untouchables
  • A fifth group, outside of the four varnas, are
    called the untouchables.
  • They engage in what is considered unclean
    practices such as tanning leather, removing dead
    animals or washing toilets. They were degraded by
    the nature of their work and lived separately
    from those in the other castes.
  • Ghandi fought to have these people included in
    the mainstream of Indian society.
  • Today, Indias charter of rights and freedoms
    bans discrimination based on caste. President
    K.R. Narayanan is a member of this fifth caste,
    popularly known as dalits.

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  • For some Indians, untouchables are less than
    human.
  • Just over two years ago, five dalits were lynched
    near New Delhi after a rumour spread that they
    had killed and skinned a cow, revered as sacred
    in India.
  • An autopsy was conducted on the cow - none were
    done for the the dalits - which confirmed the
    story their friends told - the cow had died of
    other causes and they were skinning it legally.

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The Four Stages of Life
  • Student discipline mind and body, gain
    knowledge, learn rules and rituals, show respect
    towards elders.
  • Householder marry and have a family, provide
    for the family, give to charity, care for family
    elders, practice social and religious traditions.
  • Forest Dweller retire and transmit household
    duties to wife or son, read and study,
    participate in religious pilgrimages.
  • Ascetic give up worldly life, wander, mediate,
    attain salvation.

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Four Goals of Life
  • Dharma conduct ones duties with compassion, no
    jealousy, cruelty or greed, be good and pure.
  • Artha earn an honest living, provide for
    family, acquire wealth and power.
  • Kama pursuing love and physical pleasures to
    balance life and to sanctify marriage.
  • Moksha leading the soul toward salvation
    through honest and moral actions.

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Hindu Women
  • According to The Laws of Manu written 2000
    years ago, women are to be honored and provided
    for, while at the same time subordinate and
    dependant on men.
  • Divorce is not encouraged but allowed.
  • More and more Hindu women are working outside the
    home, changing tradtional gender roles.
  • Indira Ghandi was prime minister of India from
    1966 to 1977 and again from 1980 until her death
    in 1984.
  • Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit became the first woman
    president of the United Nations in 1953.

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Hindu Practices, Rituals Symbols and Festivals
  • Practices and Rituals
  • Hindus usually practice their religion at home,
    first purifying themselves with water, usually by
    taking a bath.
  • The syllable OM, which represents the supremacy
    of Brahman, is chanted at the beginning and end
    of prayers and scripture readings. Called Japa,
    worshippers chant the names of deities as well as
    sacred phrases called mantras. This is a mantra
    that Hindus chant to greet the sun..
  • I meditate on the brilliance of the sun may it
    illumine my intellect.

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  • Worship at home involves a shrine that serves as
    an altar for worship. Called puja, it is a form
    of thanksgiving in which offerings are made to
    deities. It has 16 steps and ends with a lamp
    called an arati waved around the altar while
    prayers and hymns are recited. You can eat the
    offering, called prasad, as it is considered a
    gift from the deity. Sometimes, on special
    occasions, a priest, usually from the Brahmin
    caste, performs a ceremony called Homa, which
    involves burning the offering in a fire.
  • Worship in a temple is not a requirement nor is
    it necessity. Usually they are for festivals and
    special functions. Arati and prasad are shared
    and they treat images of deities with baths,
    adornments and processions. Temples also teach
    children classes on Hindu prayers and hymns,
    called bhajans.

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  • The Sacred Cow
  • Holy cow is an expression that refers to
    Hinduisms reverence of cows. They see the cow as
    an manifestation of all that is good and
    precious.
  • They see the docile way of a cow as the result of
    its being a vegetarian. They aspire to the same
    lifestyle.
  • Yoga and Mediation
  • Yoga in the strict Hindu sense means yoke, or the
    atman at union with the Brahman.
  • To achieve this union with God, meditation is
    necessary. You control your breathing,
    concentrate on a single object, sound or idea,
    until you are in a deep meditative state and are
    experiencing the divine presence.
  • The real experts are the swamis, or holy men of
    India, who have dedicated their lives to
    meditation

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  • Pilgrimages or journeys to holy places are
    important to Hinduism.
  • Hindus strive to visit, at least once in a
    lifetime, the holy city of Varanasi.
  • It is believed that the holy Ganges River fell
    from heaven to give life to people and provide
    food. Varanasi is located along the west bank of
    the river and the first thing pilgrims do is
    bathe in the river to cleanse themselves of sin.
  • One of the holiest cities in the world, it is
    also sacred because it is the birthplace of
    Tirthankara Parsvanatha, a spiritual teacher of
    Jainism and Buddha gave his first sermon their
    and started the sangha or community of monks

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  • Some of the many symbols in Hinduism include the
    swastika, which represents good luck and well
    being, the lord of the dance which we have
    already seen and forehead marks called tilak
    which represent the third eye of wisdom.
  • Women wear red dots on their foreheads called
    bindi, which shows they are married and should be
    treated as such.
  • Festivals include
  • Diwali, the festival of lights, from the end of
    October to early November.
  • Holi, a spring festival celebrated in March.
  • Mahashivaratri, day before the new moon in
    February.
  • Navaratri, spring and autumn.

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Sacred Writings
  • Hindus have over 200 books that are considered
    sacred texts. They were written between 15000BCE
    and 1500CE.
  • Scriptures are classified as either shruti or
    smriti.
  • Shruti is knowledge that is revealed or
    discovered by the seers of Hinduism. This wisdom
    is contained in the Vedas.
  • Smriti is human made literature or knowledge that
    is remembered.

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  • The four Vedas are considered the oldest and most
    authoritative Hindu scriptures
  • Rig-Veda comprises 1028 hymns contained in ten
    books, that praise the ancient deities.
  • Yajur-Veda a priests handbook for the
    performance of fire sacrifices.
  • Sama-Veda melodies, chants and tunes for the
    singing of hymns.
  • Atharva-Veda magical formulas, chants, spells
    and charms.

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  • Each Veda contains..
  • Mantras, psalms of praise.
  • Brahmanas, prose manual for priests on prayer and
    ritual.
  • Aranyakas, forest books for saints and hermits.
  • Upanishads, philosophical commentaries that
    appear at the end of each Veda.

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Ramayana
  • Written in Sanskrit about 200 BCE, there are
    about 26 different versions, and 24,000 verses.
  • It is the story of prince Rama, who is worshipped
    as the seventh avatar or incarnation of the god
    Vishnu.
  • Rama was exiled to the forest for 14 years so
    that his brother, Bharata, could be king. His
    wife, Sita, and his other half-brother,
    Lakshmana, followed the prince into exile.
  • Sita was kidnapped by the evil Ravana. A battle
    ensued where Rama, assisted by Hanuman, king of
    the monkeys, defeated Ravana, rescued his wife
    and returned triumphantly to his kingdom.
  • The story represents the constant struggle
    between good and evil, where good eventually wins.

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Hinduism in Canada
  • There are approx. 300,000 Hindus in Canada. Most
    live in the greater Toronto area.
  • Came to Canada from India, Sri Lanka, Guyana,
    Trinidad and England.
  • Most Hindu priests in Canada are from Guyana.
  • Sermons, lectures and other discourses are
    delivered in the language particular to each
    group.
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