- An Introduction to Hinduism
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They were passed on from generation to generation orally for centuries before they were written down, mostly in the Sanskrit language. The major and most popular Hindu texts include the Bhagavad Gita , the Upanishads , and the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata.
An Introduction to Hinduism
Adherents to Hinduism believe that there is only one supreme Absolute, called Brahman. However, Hinduism does not advocate the worship of any one particular deity. The gods and goddesses of Hinduism number in the thousands or even millions, all representing the many aspects of Brahman. Therefore, this faith is characterized by the multiplicity of deities. The most fundamental of Hindu deities is the divine trinity of Brahma the creator , Vishnu the preserver , and Shiva the destroyer. The Hindu calendar is lunisolar, based on the cycles of the sun and moon.
Like the Gregorian calendar, there are 12 months in the Hindu year, and a number of festivals and holidays are associated with the faith throughout the year. Other festivals celebrate aspects of life that are important to Hindus, such as family bonds. Unlike other religions like Christianity, which have elaborate rituals for joining the faith, Hinduism does not have any such prerequisites. Share Flipboard Email. The Code of Manu also teaches the various stages through which a man is expected to pass in a successful life: student, householder, hermit, and wandering beggar.
These stages are only for twice born men. Women should stay in the home under the protection and control of the chief male in the household. The code requires the cultivation of pleasantness, patience, control of mind, non-stealing, purity, control of senses. The killing of cows is listed among the greatest of sins. The composition of the great epic poem, the Bhagavad-Gita, sometime between the second century B. The Bhagavad-Gita is found within the text of a much longer poem and is probably the most highly esteemed scripture of Hinduism.
In the poem Arjuna, a Hindu knight, for the first time in the recorded history of Hinduism, raises the question of the propriety of killing people. He is answered by his charioteer, Krishna, who turns out to be an incarnation of the god Vishnu. Arjuna is told he must be loyal to his duty as a warrior and kill.
The Gita also teaches a variety of means of personal salvation. One may achieve release from life Nirvana through asceticism, through meditation, through devotion to and worship of the gods, or through obedience to the rules of his caste,.
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After the close of the classical period subtle changes gradually appear in Hinduism. Out of the millions of major and minor gods, worship tended to center around the Trimurti: Brahma, the creator; Shiva, the destroyer; and Vishnu, the preserver. Among this trinity, Brahma receives the least attention. Shiva is the most popular probably because he is the god of sex and reproduction and appeals to the deprivation experienced by the masses. His various goddess consorts such as Kali are equally revered. According to mythology, Vishnu has appeared on earth in nine forms and will come a tenth time to bring the world to an end.
Among his appearances are Krishna; Gautama, the Buddha; Matsya, the fish who saved Manu from the great flood; and Christ. The majority of the people of India seek salvation through devotion to the gods while many of the wealthy and educated seek salvation through the way of knowledge. All claim to be based on the Vedas and revolve about common themes. The only basic difference among them is their view of ultimate reality. The Vedanta system is monistic and asserts that the only essence in the universe is Brahman; all else is illusion.
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The Samkhya, Yoga, Vaiseshika, and Nyana systems are dualistic and assert that the universe is composed of two forces, matter and spirit. The Mimamsa system is basically atheistic and teaches that salvation comes through the correct observance of Vedic rituals. Jainism and Buddhism began as reform movements in Hinduism and it has absorbed much of their thinking. The two religions are in many ways opposites and there has been much bloodshed in their struggles. Sikhism arose in an attempt to bring reconciliation between the two.
Tradition credits the disciple Thomas for bringing Christianity to India.
Introduction to Hinduism for Beginners
During the three centuries of British rule Christianity had considerable influence on the growing edge of Hinduism. The nineteenth and twentieth centuries brought three main reform movements in Hinduism. Ram Mohan Roy, called the Father of Modern India, was a monotheist who tended to agree with Christian missionaries in their attempt to suppress the suttee, child marriage, polytheism, and idolatry in Hinduism.
The greatest reformer was Sri Ramakrishna, a follower of non dualistic Vedanta, who believed there was one single reality, God, behind all religions and that truth is essentially one. His disciple, Dutt, later known as Vivekananda, became the first Hindu missionary to the modern world.
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He described Vedanta Hinduism as the mother of all other religions. The best known Indian reformer is Mohandas K.
Gandi who was influenced by the teachings of Jesus and the Jain doctrine of non injury ahimsa espoused civil disobedience and nonviolence which were largely responsible for bringing India freedom from British rule. Gandi, in turn, became a major influence in the political thinking of Martin Luther King, Jr. If these topics are of interest to you, you may be very interested in The Urantia Book.
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