Essential Questions: Hinduism
Part 1. What is essential?
Hinduism sees to put an origin for all things in the natural world. Everything must be treated with respect and seen as a part of ones self. It is observed that everything in the universe was created by Brahman, including himself. At the time of creation, Brahman emanated outward into the world and became the world. He became every rock, animal, river, and anything else we see. Stories of the creation and all the gods and events that follow, are passed down in the Puranas and the Vedas, through the scripture or sruti and smrti. Sruti is the scripture while smrti is the tradition. These are passed down with great precision as the Vedas. Furthermore, Purana is all the myths and legends of Hinduism that are widespread unlike the sruti and smrti.
In the Hindu religion, there are three main gods, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Brahma is the creator, Vishnu is the sustainer, and Shiva is the destroyer and regenerator. Brahma’s doings are done and world has already been created so he is not as worshipped, while Vishnu and Shiva are often seen with their consorts as there many avatars in the Puranas. These 3 main gods spread out to millions of different avatars while at the same time being all one. Since Brahman created the universe and is the universe at the same time, he is all of the gods together. Whom one chooses to worship whether is be Brahman or an avatar of any of the other gods, is completely up to the follower.
Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu are seen as their avatars that further represent a different more specific aspect of their greater being. These avatars are then worshipped in ceremonies called puja where blessing are received. This includes prayer, offerings, and meditation to become in harmony with the gods.
What does it mean to be human?
In the Hindu religion every living being has a soul and a position on the circle of life. After death the soul is reincarnated in another life in accordance to how well dharma was followed in the past life. The person may be reborn in the caste system or even lower amongst the insects or untouchables. Where one is reborn is determined by how well dharma was followed and if they lived their life positively with good karma. The caste system is broken into 4 sections; the Brahmins, the ksatriyas, the vaisyas, and the sudras. There is as well a 5th group, the untouchables which are outside of the caste system unworthy of it. The Brahmins are the highest in society and are the priests and teachers of the others. Brahmins study the Vedas and perform the sacred rituals. Next are ksatriyas, which tend to be the royals of the society and the vaisya whom are the back bone of society as business people, farmers and merchants. Then there are sudras who are the laborers and servants. Lastly, there are the untouchables that are left to the worst conditions of life often dealing with death and excrement.
Each caste is expected to follow dharma closely to achieve atman. Atman is the true self, when one realizes that everything is one in the same. When atman is achieved, the soul becomes at peace with Brahmin and is removed from the cycle of rebirth.
Actions are judged by the extrasensory karma. Karma cannot be perceived but is a universal tally on the good and bad someone performs. Karma then dictates reincarnation and how close one is with atman. The higher up one goes through the caste system the closer they get to peace within themselves.
How do humans interact with the sacred?
The human interacts with the sacred amongst all levels in the Hindu religion. This can be achieved in many different ways; firstly, through sacrifice, purity, and ritual. As previously mentioned, many Hindus practice puja but as well there are festivals and celebrations. The puja allows the individual to connect to the gods and goddesses but then there are holidays that are celebrated among the community on...
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