Introduction to Religion: Hinduism
Hinduism is the world's third largest religion, and also considered to be the oldest. Hinduism is different from Christianity and other religions because it does not have one founder, a defined theological system, a system of morality, or a prime religious organization. Hinduism consists of thousands of different religious groups that have arranged in India since 1500 BCE. Hinduism is considered a henotheistic religion, meaning the people recognize one single deity, and view other Gods and Goddesses as aspects of that one almighty God. A henotheistic religion is thought to be one of the most religiously tolerant faiths in the world. There are many parts of the religion that make it what it is today. A few of the cultural traditions are even practiced and believed by those outside of the Hindu faith. Hinduism does not have one single creed or doctrine that binds its people together. There is complete freedom of belief, and the Hindus have an option of being monotheist, polytheist, or even atheist. This particular religion is welcoming and accepting to a variety of influences from the outside. According to Hinduism, Brahman is the principle and source of the universe. They believe this divine God exists in the souls of all living beings. The entire religion is based on the concept of reincarnation, in that all living beings, from plants to gods, are caught in a cosmic cycle of existing and dying. Life, as the Hindus know it, is determined by the rules of karma. They believe that one is reborn to a higher level of life based on moral behavior in a previous phase of existence. They also believe that life here on earth is regarded as a burden. In practicing Hinduism, there is a central focus on births, marriages, and deaths. Each ceremony is different depending on the event, and can even change according to the region in which it is held. Another well-known and important part of the Hindu culture and religion is yoga.
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