Hinduism Notes

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What is Hinduism?
One of the oldest religions of humanity The religion of the Indian people Gave birth to Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism Tolerance and diversity: "Truth is one, paths are many" Many deities but a single, impersonal Ultimate Reality A philosophy and a way of life – focused both on this world and beyond

How did Hinduism begin?
No particular founder Indus River Valley Civilization >5000 years ago Aryans enter 4000 - 3500 years ago Vedic Tradition 3500 – 2500 years ago: rituals and many gods (polytheism) sacred texts (Vedas) social stratification (caste system)

Upanishads (metaphysical philosophy) 2800 –
2400 years ago Vedic Tradition develops into Hinduism

What are the Sacred Texts?
Shruti (“heard”) – oldest, most authoritative: Four Vedas (“truth”) – myths, rituals, chants Upanishads - metaphysical speculation
Plus other texts Smriti (“remembered”) – the Great Indian Epics:

Ramayana Mahabharata (includes Bhagavad-Gita)
Plus others

What do Hindus believe?
One impersonal Ultimate Reality – Brahman Manifest as many personal deities True essence of life – Atman, the soul, is Brahman trapped in matter (“That art thou”) Reincarnation – atman is continually born into this world lifetime after lifetime (Samsara) Karma – spiritual impurity due to actions keeps us bound to this world (good and bad) Ultimate goal of life – to release Atman and reunite with the divine, becoming as one with Brahman (Moksha)

How does Hinduism direct life in this world?
Respect for all life – vegetarian Human life as supreme: Four “stations” of life (Caste) - priests & teachers, nobles & warriors, merchant class, servant class Four stages of life – student, householder, retired, renunciant Four duties of life – pleasure, success, social responsibilities, religious responsibilities (moksha)

What are the spiritual practices of Hinduism?
The Four Yogas - seeking union with the divine: Karma Yoga – the path of action through selfless service (releases

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