SHADMIA'S WORLD

Just Another Guy with Opinions

World Religions – Hinduism

Posted by shadmia on November 18, 2006

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Hindus are the third largest religious body in the world with over one billion members. The vast majority of Hindus live in India but they can be found all over the world. Unlike most religions, Hinduism does not have a founder but traces its beginnings to the dawn of recorded history. It also does not, unlike many religions, seek converts. It is generally considered to be the world’s oldest organized religion. So what is Hinduism?

In the Beginning

The beginnings of Hinduism can be traced back as far as 5500 BCE. The oldest surviving Hindu writings (the Rigveda) has be dated between 1700-1100 BCE. It is the oldest religious document in the world. The Rigveda is composed of a number of hymns used in religious ceremonies. It is still in use today and is revered by Hindus. The Rigveda is one of the four holy books of the Hindu faith collectively called The Vedas

 

The Hindu GOD

Hindus believe in one formless and all prevailing GOD. God created the universe and represents the supreme truth. They also believe in many other gods who serve to fulfill their religious needs. These gods (and goddesses) have various forms sometimes blending human and animal characteristics. They each have special powers and are worshipped to provide particular needs and desires. They are viewed as corporal representations of the one GOD. Below are four of the principal gods and what they represent.

 

Lord Ganeshaganesh.jpgthe Hindu deity in a human form but with the head of an elephant – represents the power of the Supreme Being that removes obstacles and ensures success in human endeavors. For this reason, Hindus worship Ganesha first before beginning any religious, spiritual or worldly activity. In Hindu mythology, Lord Ganesha is the first son of Lord Shiva and the Divine Mother Parvati. Their second son is Lord Subramanya and their daughter is Jyoti. The portrayal of Lord Ganesha as the blend of human and animal parts symbolizes the ideals of perfection as conceived by Hindu sages and illustrates some philosophical concepts of profound spiritual significance.

Lord Brahmabrahma.jpg symbolizes the aspect of the Supreme Reality that brings forth the creation. For this very reason, Hindus call Lord Brahma the Creator of the universe. He is the first member of the Hindu Trinity that also includes Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. His divine consort is Saraswati, the Goddess of learning and knowledge. Goddess Saraswati provides Lord Brahma with knowledge that is necessary for the process of creation.Brahma is usually conceived of by Hindus as a bearded, four-faced, four-armed deity. In popular images, He carries a rosary in the upper right hand, a book in the upper left hand, a kamandalu (water pot) in the lower left hand, and bestows grace with His lower right hand. The four faces represent the sacred knowledge of the four Vedas (Rig, Yajur, Sama, and Atharva), and this is the most prominent feature of any image of Brahma. The four faces, therefore, symbolize that Brahma is the source of all knowledge necessary for the creation of the universe. The four arms represent the four directions and thus represent the omnipresence and omnipotence of Lord Brahma.

Lord Vishnu vishnu1.jpgrepresents the aspect of the Supreme Reality that preserves and sustains the universe. Although there are variations in images and pictures of Lord Vishnu, He is generally symbolized by a human body with four arms. In His hands He carries a conch (shankha), a mace (gada), and discus (chakra). He wears a crown, two earrings, a garland (mala) of flowers, and a gem around the neck. He has a blue body and wears yellow clothes. The Lord is shown standing on a thousand-headed snake (named Shesha Nag), and the snake stands with its hoods open over the head of the Lord. The four arms indicate Lord’s omnipresence and omnipotence. The two front arms signify the lord’s activity in the physical world and the two back arms signify His activity in the spiritual world. The right side of the body represents the creative activities of the mind and the intellect. The left side symbolizes the activities of the heart; that is, love, kindness, and compassion.

Lord Shivashiva2.jpg represents the aspect of the Supreme Being (Brahman of the Upanishads) that continuously dissolves to recreate in the cyclic process of creation, preservation, dissolution and recreation of the universe. Lord Shiva is the third member of the Hindu Trinity, the other two being Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu. Lord Shiva is the Lord of mercy and compassion. He protects devotees from evil forces such as lust, greed, and anger. He grants boons, bestows grace and awakens wisdom in His devotees.

 

You can learn about more Hindu gods here.

 

Reincarnation

Hindus also believe in reincarnation. Karma (or action) during your present life determines where your soul will be reborn after death. If your karma is good you will return as a human being. If it is not good you could return in animal form. The objective is to have good karma, each time progressing to a better life and eventually the cycle ends in Moksha. At this stage the soul becomes godly and is freed from the cycle of reincarnation.

 

Other Aspects of Hindu Life

Yoga is an integral part of Hindu life. It has been practiced for thousands of years. The major branches of Yoga are: Bhakti, Jnana, Karma and Raja.

The Caste system is also linked to the Hindu faith. It according to the faith is necessary for order in society.
The system created the castes of Brahmins, the intellectual class, Kshatriyas, the warrior class, Vaishyas, the trader class and Shudras, the service people.

Om is the most sacred word/symbol of the Hindu faith. It is used in religious rites and represents the Trinity (the three supreme Hindu Gods: Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver and Shiva the destroyer).

For further information on Hinduism here are some sources:

Roots of Hinduism

Hinduism Simplified

Hindu Universe

Hindu Divinity

Hindu Philosophy

Some video clip links related to Hindu life:

Hindu Temples

Thaipusam Festival

India

Opening Prayer

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6 Responses to “World Religions – Hinduism”

  1. Hiren said

    It is said that “Religions are many religion is one”. Many things have happened throughout the history of mankind in the name of religion. Hindu religion has been thankfully very assimilating though one is disappointed that things like caste system have been changed by vested interests for their own ends.

    The thing I like most about hinduism is Svadharma. A lot is there in theory but not much is followed in practicals- Make your passion your profession

  2. Abhi said

    A good introduction to Hinduism.

  3. shadmia said

    Hiren and Abhi,
    Thanks very much for your comments. People of faith have a lot to offer the world.

  4. Namasthe: I am very much impressed by your introduction to Hinduism. Many make a mistake when they compare Hinduism with Islam and Christianity. Hinduism is NOT a religion like Islam or Christianity. . Hinduism is the true culture of Indians in India. Many call it A WAY OF LIFE. It has no founder. It has no Pope. It has no hierarchy. Just a lot of scriptures. In Hindu scriptures, you are actually studying about the HISTORY AND CULTURE OF INDIA, like in 66 books of the Holy Bible you are actually studying about the CULTURE AND HISTORY OF JEWS.

    HINDUISM AND JUDAISM are the mothers of all modern religions in the world. BUDDHISM, SIKHISM, to some extent JAINISM & ZOROASTRIANISM came from Hinduism. ISLAM and CHRISTIANITY came from Judaism. Judaism, Islam and Christianity have ABRAHAM as the common father figure. All three have many common prophets. There is even mention about Jesus Christ many times in the Holy Koran.

    Thanks again for your valuable introduction about Hinduism.
    http://www.amiahindu.com/

  5. shadmia said

    Ed Viswanathan, Thanks for your kind words. I tried to be as accurate as possible in this intro.

  6. saju said

    well iam a hindu & realy proud to be one .i came to know that the abraham that christians &muslims worship is the hindu lord bhrama is it so ?.can you please gimme full details about it it will be gr8 if u mail me the whole matter. and also i want to know were the followers of judaism actually hindus .thank you

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