World Religions, Hinduism

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World Religions


Hinduism is a way of life, not a particular belief system. Hinduism, also known as Santana Dharma, is a set of traditions and beliefs that have developed over many centuries. Dharma embraces duty, natural law, social welfare, ethics, health, and ideal realization. The foundations of Santana Dharma are the Vedas and Upanishads; the sacred texts of Hinduism. “Hinduism differs from Christianity and other Western religions in that it does not have a single founder, a specific theological system, a single system of morality, or a central religious organization” (Robinson, 2001). Hinduism is believed to originate in North India, and is the world’s third largest religion. Hinduism is primarily monotheistic, with many different names given to the Supreme Being. The spiritual goal of Hinduism is to become one with the Supreme Being; Brahma, the Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer. Hinduism is a unique religion in that God is one, yet there are also many Gods. Due to assimilation and evolution, Hinduism now has a tremendous diversity of religious traditions. Of the denominations, Smartism, Shaivism, Shaktism, and Vaishnavism are the main divisions. Hindu beliefs include reincarnation, karma, samsara, moksha, yogas, and dharma. Rituals are a normal, daily observance, or performance, but vary among different individuals. Some of these rituals are comprised of meditation, chanting mantras, reciting scriptures, and singing devotional hymns. The purpose of these rituals is to rid oneself of impurities. There are many different aspects that make up the Hindu religion, such as the different concepts such as self-realization, the nature of reality, consciousness, the direct path, the soul and its destiny, and worship. Hindu’s personal beliefs differ between individuals. The religion comprises of approximately 330 million different gods and goddesses, but the Hindu Trinity of gods is Brahma, the creator, Vishnu, the preserver and Shiva, the destroyer. The ultimate God is Brahman; the absolute reality. Brahman is formless and infinite, but is personified due to the limited human mind. Unlike most other religions, Hinduism does not promote the worship of one or many different manifestations of divine. One of the sacred elements that make up the Hindu religion is the Hindu philosophy, which focuses on the importance of the absolute truth and finding one’s true nature. Hindu philosophy believes that every human being is God himself, and accepts the existence of all other religions as a means to realize God. Hindu’s strive to reach nirvana, the supreme state free from suffering and individual existence, and is often referred to as self realization. The attainment of nirvana breaks the otherwise endless rebirth cycle of transmigration, known as eternal bliss. The desire for liberation from earthly existence became more popular over the years. Hinduism is centered on the idea of reincarnation. Hindu’s believe that when one experiences death, the soul or spirit is re-born in a new human body or other form, such as an animal, depending on one’s previous life. When one reaches self realization, or nirvana, the cycle of reincarnation is broken. Hindu’s believe that Brahma is the creator of the universe, Vishnu controls the presence of the universe, and Shiva is the destroyer of the universe. Hindu’s believe that having good Dharma will result in being reborn into a person, rather than something else. Dharma is the religious conduct of each individual while one is alive. Dharma will affect someone’s Karma, which is the relationship between cause and effect. Deeds done in previous lives, good or bad, will affect the next life. Calmness, restraint, renunciation, resignation, concentration, faith, and an intense longing for liberation are spiritual virtues that Hindu’s seek. Understanding that desires are burdensome directs one in the right direction towards relieving oneself of those burdens, by eliminating...
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