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What are the spiritualpractices of Hinduism?
- The Four Yogas - seeking union with the divine
- Karma Yoga – the path of action throughselfless service (releases built up karma without building up new karma)
- Jnana Yoga – the path of knowledge(understanding the true nature of reality andthe self)
- Raja Yoga – the path of meditation
- Bhakti Yoga – the path of devotion
- Guru – a spiritual teacher, especially helpful forJnana and Raja yoga
How do Hindus worship?
- Bhakti Yoga is seeking union with the divinethrough loving devotion to manifest deities
- • In the home (household shrines)
- • In the Temples (priests officiate)
- Puja – making offerings to and decorating the deityimages
- Darsan – “seeing” the deity (not idol worship)
- Prasad – taking the divine within your own beingthrough eating of food shared with the deity
How did Hinduism begin?
- No particular founder
- Indus River Valley Civilization >5000 years ago
- Aryans enter 4000 - 3500 years ago
- Vedic Tradition 3500 – 2500 years ago:
- -rituals and many gods (henotheism)
- -sacred texts (Vedas)
- -social stratification (caste system)
- Upanishads (metaphysical philosophy) 2800 –2400 years ago
- Vedic Tradition develops into Hinduism
What is Hinduism?
- One of the oldest religions of humanity
- The religion of the Indian people
- Gave birth to Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism
- Tolerance and diversity: "Truth is one,paths are many"
- Henotheistic: A belief that affirms onedeity without denying the existence ofothers
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 (“That art thou”)
- Reincarnation – atman is continually born intothis world lifetime after lifetime (Samsara)
- Karma – spiritual impurity due to actions keepsus bound to this world (good and bad)
- Ultimate goal of life – to release Atman andreunite with the divine, becoming as one with Brahman (Moksha)
Who do Hindus worship?
- Brahman-the creator of God
- Vishnu-the preserver of God
- Shiva-god of constructive destruction
What about the goddesses?
- Devi – the feminine divine
- Saraswati, goddess of wisdom, consort of Brahma
- Lakshmi, goddess of good fortune, consortof Vishnu
- Parvati, divine mother, wife of Shiva
- Durga, protectress
- Kali, destroyer of demons
Hindus believe that we can gain knowledge of theTrue Self (Atman) and of the Transcendent Absolute (God, Brahman) through selfdiscipline,morally upright action, and meditation(yoga), especially under the guidance ofspiritually awakened and enlightened masters or gurus.
Hindus believe that all life is sacred and thatit is to be loved and revered, and theytherefore encourage the practice of ahimsa or non-injury (non-violence).
Hindus believe that there is a beginningless andendless cosmic evolutionary process known as samsara. Within that process, universes arecreated, evolve through time, and then dissolve. Onthe worldly plane, the samsaric cycle of creation,preservation, and dissolution of worlds goes onforever. Souls enmeshed in samsara are inevitablysubject to suffering.
Part of the samsaric process is the law of karma, the law of cause and effect by whicheach individual works out his own spiritualevolution through “his thoughts, words, anddeeds.” The main idea here is that, as youshape your own destiny through yourmanner of existence and action, you reapwhat you sow ("What goes around, comesaround").
Transmigration & Reincarnation
As an extension of the doctrines of samsara and karma,Hindus believe in transmigration and reincarnation ofthe soul (jiva). The soul transmigrates from life to life,living many lives and suffering many deaths, until it hasrelieved itself of its karmic burden. When all aspectsand consequences of one’s karma – good as well as bad– are resolved, the soul is then liberated from thelimitations of finite existence, transcends egoconsciousnessin a realization of its True Self (Atman),and finally achieves union with Brahman.
One Destiny, Many Paths
Hindus believe that no particular religionteaches the only way to salvation above allothers. All religious paths lead to “God”and “salvation” and are thus deserving oftolerance and understanding (althoughHinduism is the most direct and effectivepath).
Moksha is the release of the soul from a cycle of rebirths. It is one ofthe four acceptable goals of life for Hindus. Hindus believe that all souls (jivas) are evolving toward true self knowledge (knowledge of Atman) and union with Brahman and will ultimately find moksha – spiritual knowledge of Self and God andliberation from the cycle of rebirth (karma and samsara). Not a single soul will be eternally deprived of this destiny. All soulsultimately achieve moksha. There is no eternal hell, no damnation.
Brahman: Essence of Reality
He is not ultimate realitybecause he can be visualized. Brahma’s life span = each dayis 1000 times the whole of human history. The world will end with the appearance of Vishnu is about 4000 years from now.
Goal of Hinduism
Moksha: “release or liberation
United forever with the divine
Infinite bliss and awareness
- Samsara is the wheel of rebirth which means the soul is rebornfrom one life form to another.
- People may be reincarnated at a higher or lower level ofexistence depending on their karma from their present life.
- People may be reborn as plants or animals or they may beelevated to a higher caste as a human.
- Death is not final for Hindus as they expect to be reborn manytimes.
What are the Sacred Texts?
- Shruti (“heard”) – oldest, most authoritative
- -Four Vedas (“truth”) – myths, rituals, chants
- -Rig-Veda is the oldest Hindu text (~4000 years)Upanishads - metaphysical speculationPlus other texts
- Smriti (“remembered”) – the Great Indian Epics: Ramayana
- Mahabharata (includes Bhagavad-Gita, the most popular Hindu sacred text)
How does Hinduism direct life in this world?
Respect for all life – vegetarian
- Human life as supreme:
- -Four “stations” of life (Castes)
The Caste System
- Hindus believe that the ideal society is organizedinto four main classes or “castes”:
- -Brahmins (priests and intellectuals),
- -Kshatriyas (warriors and administrators),
- -Vaisyas (farmers, merchants, teachers, and artists),
- -Shudras (laborers and servants).
- -The idea of outcomes is a foreign concept to the Hindu.
- -Hinduism is a national religion (limited mostly to India andNepal).
- -There is no proselytization, as all true religious belief leads tomoksha.
- -Individuals are born into their caste, as well as point in thewheel of rebirth, so there is little individual decision to be made inthe matter.
- -However, Hinduism does have benefits, such as ultimatereconciliation to God, the disciplined pursuit of an undivided,focused, and serene self.
- -Also, the family is sacred and there is a great sense of communitywithin castes
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