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Hinduism

Posted in Religion on February 23, 2009 by woodly11

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by Woodly Sineus

Hinduism

Hinduism meaning “the eternal law” is a religion that originated from beliefs of diverse groups in India. Hinduism is the Third largest religion in the world after Christianity and Islam. Hinduism has no single founder or sacred texts. To some Hinduism is referred to as Sanatana Dharma which means the eternal law. Hinduism is a complex religion that is polytheistic and includes countless ways of worshipping their gods. Hindu beliefs come from many other religions such as monotheism, pantheism, atheism and many others. Although Hinduism is very diverse all Hindus shared common beliefs. “Hinduism is based on accumulated spiritual laws that were discovered by different people at different times. The scriptures of Hinduism were transferred orally in verse form to aid memorization, for many centuries before they were written down (wikipedia).” As centuries went by scriptures were updated and changed by different sages to refine the teachings and expand Hinduism.

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There are many beliefs in Hinduism including Reincarnation. Reincarnation refers to a rebirth of the soul in another bodily form. Hindus believe that every individual lives life in a cycle or continuous circle, unlike the Christians who think individuals live life in a straight line. Some Hindus believe that individuals once they die are reincarnated into animals, mainly cows. Reincarnation does not only allow Hindus to continues new lives but also allows them to work towards moksha wish is union with Brahman. In Hinduism all existence is ranked. The closest to Brahman is humans, and then comes animals, plants, and objects like rock and water.

Another belief that Hinduism possesses is in Karma. Karma refers to all the actions a person commits that will affect him or her in the life after reincarnation. With the laws of Karma Hindus believe that you can become closer to achieving moksha. Hindus believe that people who live by dharma, which is the moral and religious duties of an individual, will be reborn at a higher level of life after reincarnation. A person’s karma and dharma has a big affect in another property of Hinduism which is the caste system. The caste system is used to keep social order of Hinduism organized. The caste system insures that if you did live by good morals and were virtuous in your previous life you will be rewarded by being born in to a higher class of the caste system. The caste system involves the priest class, the warrior class, the peasant and merchant class, the labor class, and last the impure individuals class.

For the many beliefs and gods that Hinduism has comes many ways of worshiping and practicing their beliefs. According to Wikipedia, “Hindu practices generally involve seeking awareness of God and sometimes also seeking blessings from Devas.” One of the ways Hindus worship is by praying also called puja. These puja can be performed at either the individual’s homes or at temples. The puja require people to worship an icon. According to Wikipedia, “The icon serves as a tangible link between the worshiper and God.” Hindus use this icon because know one really knows the image of a god, but there are some Hindus who don’t perform these pujas because they don’t believe in using an icon as god.

In Hinduism there are many types of imagery and symbolism in there worshiping, arts, and literature. According to Wikipedia, “many of these symbols gain their meaning from the scriptures, mythology, or cultural traditions.” Forms of symbolism in Hinduism include the syllables Om which represent Parabrahman and Swastika which represents auspiciousness. On a daily basis Hindu perform their religious rituals. These rituals can be utilized at home but this can vary among individuals, location, and societies. Some of these daily rituals can include worshiping at the dawn after bathing, reciting scripts, meditating, reciting hymns and scriptures.

In Hinduism there are also known to be pilgrimages that are not mandatory for Hindus. Some of the holy visited cities include Allahabad, Haridwar, Varanasi, and Vrindavan. In these cities there are also sites that support the pilgrimage circuit like Puri, Drawka, Badrinath, and Rameswaram. One of the holiest pilgrimages is the Kumbh Mela that is held every four years resembling the world Olympics. There are also many festivals that are held in Hindu traditions. Almost all of these festivals are prescribed by the Hindu calendar.” The festivals typically celebrate events from Hindu mythology, often coinciding with seasonal changes (wikipedia).”Some of the most visited festivals are Holi, Ram Navami, Diwali, Durja Puja, and the Krishna Janmastami festival.

Hinduism is a polytheistic religion that incorporated characteristics from other religions such as monotheism, pantheism, and atheism. Since it is a polytheistic religion they are know for many gods. In Hinduism as said in Wikipedia:

“One Supreme God is worshipped within Hinduism. The Supreme God is regarded as an entity that exists in and gives life to all things. He is believed to have created the universe and many other Gods or Devas, to be his helpers. Different aspects of the Supreme God are worshipped, depending on the Hindu tradition. The other Gods, helpers of the Supreme God, are also worshipped.”

In this quote the concept of the Hindu Supreme god is explained, it also explains how different features of the supreme god are worshipped depending on the people.

In Hinduism the concept of gods is very complex because of different beliefs of different school systems. But all Hindus share a common belief and that is in Brahman which is known as the Absolute and Supreme One. Actually Christianity and Hinduism aren’t that different because they share a common characteristic in their gods. In Christianity they believe that there is one absolute god and he comes in three different forms called the holy trinity. Hinduism also relates this with their god in which they have one absolute god called Brahman and he comes in three different forms known as the Hindu trinity consisting of Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu (according to the Trimurti concept).

In Hinduism Brahma is known as the creator. According to Wikipedia, “

At the beginning of the process of creation, Brahmā created eleven Prajapatis, who are believed to be the fathers of the human race…He is also said to have created the seven great sages or the Saptarishi to help him create the universe. However since all these sons of his were born out of his mind rather than body, they are called Manas Putras or mind-sons or spirits.”

Brahma is said by this quote to have created all humans and the universe. The are many beliefs of how Brahma was created, some legends say that he was self-born in a lotus flower that grew from Vishnu’s belly button. Others believe that he was created by a golden egg that came from water. Brahma has many characteristics that he is recognized for. Examples include his four arms that represent north, south, west, and east and his lotus that represents the nature of all existence in the universe.

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Shiva, one of the aspects in the Hindu trinity is known as the destroyer. In Some Hindu traditions like the Shaiva, Shiva is regarded as the Supreme God. People who follow and worship Shiva are known as Shaivites or Shaivas. There are many ways that these people worship Shiva, some of the ways include deep meditation and a lord dance called the Tandava. There are also many characteristics that Shiva is well known for. Some examples include the Third eye that Shiva possesses and used to burn desire to ashes. There are many depictions and forms of Shiva. A depiction called Nataraja which is one of the most popular depictions, illustrates Shiva as a dancer. Another called Dakshinamurthy shows Shiva facing south, which is supposed to represent Shiva as a teacher of yoga, music, and wisdom. According to philological and linguistic evidence it is perceived that Shiva is closely related to a Vedic god called Rudra. Rudra as the god of roaring storms and is illustrated as someone with a fierce and destructive deity, resembling Shiva who is also known as a god of destroying. Also in Vedic scripts that were addressed to Rudra consisted of instances in which the individual invoked Rudra as Shiva.

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Vishnu the third member of the Hindu trinity is known as the preserver or maintainer. In Vaishnavite traditions, Vishnu is perceived as the Supreme God. According to Wikipedia in Vaishnavite traditions “It describes Vishnu as the All-Pervading essence of all beings, the master of—and beyond—the past, present and future, the creator and destroyer of all existences, one who supports, sustains and governs the Universe and originates and develops all elements within.” Vishnu is depicted to have the divine colors of clouds, four arms, and is holding a lotus flower, mace, conch, and wheel. Vishnu is known to have many theological attributes. Vishnu is known to have a Supreme soul in which all souls are contained. He is also known to be the only individual that possesses divine glory. Vishnu is also known to be able to travel in three strides. The first stride being the Earth, the second stride is the visible sky; the last stride is known to be the location that cannot be seen by humans. The last stride is known to be “heaven where all the gods and righteous dead live (wikipedia).”

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