Chandler W. Morgan
Dr. Virginia Merlini
Hinduism originated in India around 2000 B.C.E. (Before Common Era). At the time of origination Hinduism had 1,000,000,000 followers (Reincarnation of Hinduism, 2012). This religion has originated from the ancient Vedic Age and other indigenous beliefs. Incorporated over time, Hindu religion comes in many different religious beliefs. Hindu religion includes Dharma, meaning religion, encompasses duty, social welfare, natural law, health, ethics, and transcendental realization. Karma is another well-known belief of Hinduism, meaning action or the consequences of action, followed by Samsara, which is the ultimate goal of the eternal cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Lastly, Moksha, which means the liberation from the limitation of space, time, and matter through realization of the immortal absolute (Fisher, M.P., 2005). Considering that Hinduism lacks a uniting belief system, what makes up the Hindu religion, includes Veda, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, and Epics, also known as Sanatana Dharma. Still practiced today, Sanatana Dharma or Hinduism is one of the oldest religions known to mankind. The spiritual expression of Sanatana Dharma range from extreme sensuality, from the heights of a personal devotion, to a deity, to a abstract philosophy (Fisher, M.P., 2005). This religion is still one of the major religions in the world and has been able to hold itself together for many years. Hinduism is more than a way of life; it is a restrictive and well organized religion of India. Numerous traditions and social systems that were adhered by the people of India or fellow adepts made Hinduism vital to the region in which it originated. Hinduism contains various myths that imply the countless faces of the Devine to interact in various forms with people. In cultural traditions, the Deities or Devine would protect, bless, or punish the people depending on how well they were venerated. Traditions and myths were passed on describing ways to worship Hinduism and the importance of venerating the Deities. However, various forms of discipline were formed to express devotion towards a Deity. “From the cradle to the cremation ground, the Hindu’s life is wrapped in rituals. There are 16 rites prescribed in the ancient scriptures to purify and sanctify the person in his/her journey through life including rites at the time of conception, the braiding of the pregnant mother’s hair, birth, name-giving, beginning of solid foods, starting education, investing boys with a sacred thread, first leaving the family house, starting studies of Vedas, marriage, and death (Fisher, M.P., 2005). Society influences the Hindu religion by implementing a five step “Caste System,” shaping their lives accordingly and segregating people. Priests, Philosophers, or specialists in spirituality, make up the first group known as Brahmins. Second is the Kshatriyas, which is made up of Nobility such as kings, warriors, and vassals, having their priority set to guard and preserve the society. The third group in the “Caste System” is the Vaishyas. The Vaishyas were the economic specialists, made up of farmers and merchants, although, the Shudra’s were the manual laborers and artisans. Lastly, we have the a group that goes by the name of the untouchables, who did most of the undesired work including cleaning human waste and transporting corpses. The membership in a Caste is hereditary and maintains strict rules. According to Fisher (2005), contact between Castes was limited until the intervention of Gandhi who renamed the lowest Caste “children of god” or “Harijas.” In Hinduism, the soul, also known as Atman is immortal while the body is subject to birth and death. Due to Karma, Hindu’s believe to be born again and again. Therefore, all Hindu’s seek liberation from birth and death. Basically, they seek liberation from this earthly existence of misery and suffering and be permanently one with the Hindu lord Moksha. The ultimate goal, however, is not creation of good lives by good deeds, but a clean escape from the Karma-run wheel of birth, death and rebirth, or Samsara. To escape from Samsara is to achieve moksha, or liberation from the limitations of space, time, and matter through realization of the immortal Absolute. Many lifetimes of upward-striving incamations are required to reach this transcendence of earthly miseries.
Living Religions, Sixth Edition, by Mary Pat Fisher. Published by Prentice-Hall. Copyright © 2005 by Pearson Education, Inc.
Contender Ministries. (2008). Hinduism. Retrieved from http://www.contenderministries.org/hinduism/hinduism.php