Hinduism Compared to Judaism

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  • Topic: Hinduism, Vedas, Sanskrit
  • Pages : 7 (2681 words )
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  • Published : April 25, 2006
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Hinduism is a very complex and intricate henotheistic religion. It is mainly practiced in India and came before all the other religions in India. The most important sacred text of Hinduism is called the Vedas. It consists of four Veda texts in which the other texts of Hinduism are based around. Hindus base their lives around the four goals.

Hindus divide their scripture into two categories: Shruti and Smriti. The Shruti is the primary revelation which has no human or divine author but has been passed on by Rishi's, which are ancient holy men that first heard the sound of truth (Van Voorst). They started to pass down these sounds of truths orally to the high and superior families. The Shruti consists of the Vedas which are four Veda texts, the Brahmanas and the Upanishads. The Shruti has been fixed for over two thousand years (Van Voorst). Smriti is not considered holy in the same way as the Shruti. The Smriti has a human origin. The Smirti is "what is remembered". The role of Smriti is to bring out the meaning of Shruti and apply it to the more modern times of Hinduism. It consists of the Sutras, the Epics, the Ramayana, the Puranas, and law codes. The canon of Smriti is still open and has a very strong influence on the Hindu Religion and Indian culture . The four Veda texts are the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda, the Sama Veda and the Atharva Veda (Van Voorst). The Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda and the Sama Veda are used for sacrifices while the Atharva Veda is different from the first three in that it does not relate to the sacrifice. The first Veda has 1,028 hymns divided into ten books. The hymns are addressed to a single god or goddess (Van Voorst) which a priest will sing loudly during a sacrifice to attract that specific god's attention to the sacrifice. The Rig-Veda also contains the stories of creation. There are two different creation stories in this Veda. They are viewed in more of a philosophical way than mythological (Van Voorst). The first of the creation stories said that there was no existence of night and day and just water. The powers came from the other powers and gods that existed. The second creation story begins with a soul alone in the shape of a person. The soul was speaking of how lonely it felt and wanted a second person. It made his self fall into two, who became husband and wife. Then they bore children and humans were created. After that they turned into every animal and every insect and every being on earth and mated to make more of them. Everything was created by humans (Van Voorst). The next two Vedas follow up on the Rig Veda. The second Veda contains instructions for the priests who actually perform the sacrifices. The third Veda takes the mantras, which are words and phrases that get repeated during the sacrifices and praise from the Rig Veda and set to music to be sung during the sacrifice. These three Vedas: the Rig, Yajur and Sama are known as the "threefold Veda" (Van Voorst) which reflects the religious life of the priestly group. The last Veda, Atharva Veda has 731 hymns divided into twenty books and consists of mostly spells, curses and charms. It reflects the everyday religious life of ordinary people (Van Voorst).

The next sacred texts are the Brahmanas. They are commentaries on each Veda text. They discuss the meaning of mantras and specify how to perform certain sacrificial actions and describe the impact the sacrifices have on the eternal world . Their main purpose is to act as a guideline for what is the proper use of the material in the Vedas. They present sacrifice as the power that strengthens the gods, keeps the universe intact and brings blessing to the sacrificer (Van Voorst). The Brahmanas is on sacrifice itself, not the gods. Sacrifice is the power that generates the universe and keeps it going. The final form of the Shruti is the Upanishads. The Upanishads are collections from different teachers about the philosophical way of life...
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