The Historical Basis of Hinduism

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1 Hinduism

2 The Historical Basis of Hinduism Hinduism is not founded by one particular person Because it is not confined to one person s beliefs, it absorbed ideas and practices that suited the social and cultural framework over thousands of years in India Hinduism as we know today is the product of the various people who have occupied India throughout time

3 The Historical Basis of Hinduism The term "Hinduism" derives from a Persian word that refers to the Sindhu (or Indus) River in northwest India Hindu" was first used in the 14th century by Persians to describe the peoples of the region By the end of the 19th century, "Hinduism" was adopted by the British colonial administration in India to describe the various religious beliefs and practices of the majority of India's population

4 The Indus Valley Civilization 3000 and 2500 BCE at Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa which is located in present day Pakistan Impressive builders and town planners Larger buildings were found and believed to be places of worship Fire alters and pits, amulets and charms, and other religious items have been founded scattered around the cities

5 Arrival of the Aryans Around 1500 BCE thousands migrated into India from the northwest which destroyed the Indus Valley civilizations Migrated down around the Ganges Settlers were known for writing poems and texts on rituals and philosophy

6 Arrival of the Aryans Religious thought flourished from 1500 to 500 BCE and was embodied in a collection of hymns, thoughts and texts called the Vedas- the earliest collection of sacred writings on Hinduism The Vedas are written in verse and show the interpretations and understandings of human existence

7 Arrival of the Aryans The Aryans lived in awe of the magnificent forces of nature and worshipped them in the form of deities Worship and prayer of these deities formed the core of early Hindu practices The notion of prayer was combined with the philosophical inquiry into atman- the human soul, the breath of human life

8 Religious Beliefs Hinduism can be referred to as a non-dogmatic religion meaning that there is no one specific set of doctrines or ideas a person has to follow A person is free to allow their conscience to guide their beliefs Hindus are expected to follow certain rules regarding personal conduct and performance of daily duties but these interpretations change

9 Hinduism is a complex web of diverse beliefs and practices that are generally held together by a mutual respect and tolerance of humanity and the world

10 Hindu Deities The concept of god in Hinduism is very complex as some see it as: Polytheistic: multiple gods Monotheistic: one true god Monistic: god is an impersonal and unknowable entity The hymns of Rig-Veda show praises of natural forces such as fire, thunder, water and the Vedas show that each is represented by different manifestations of supreme beings

11 Hindu Deities Brahman is considered the highest god and is an all-knowing and all-powerful entity Hindus believe that Brahman is the supreme spirit who takes many forms and pervades the whole universe Most Hindus believe that Brahman contains everything: creation and destruction, male and female, good and evil The concept of Brahman has been divided into the Hindu trinity

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13 Beliefs Reincarnation Hindus believe the soul does not die along with the body but enters into another body to carry on its existence The endless cycle of rebirth or reincarnation is called samsara All of life is caught in this cycle of birth, death and rebirth

14 Beliefs Karma Karma is the totality of one s actions in life and it determines the form that an individual will take when he or she is reborn after their death The accumulation of bad karma will result in rebirth at a lower station of life Hindus work to attain salvation through achieving higher stations in life until they achieve moksha

15 Beliefs Moksha The goal of Hindus is the achieve moksha, which is liberation from the endless cycle of rebirths into the physical world and to unite one s atman with the Brahman

16 Beliefs Paths to Salvation A Hindu can follow one of four paths to salvation depending on their nature or inclinations A person can achieve salvation if their devotion is sincere and true

17 Bhatki Yoga (Path of Devotion) Involves devotion and love towards a person deity (ex: Shiva, Lakshmi, etc.) Provides the opportunity to worship Brahman in a concrete way rather than an abstract entity Deities help the follower focus their devotion through prayer and rituals Karma Yoga (Path of Action) The key to this path is good deeds and thoughts which lead to the accumulation of good karma Good deeds must be unselfish actions that are not done for rewards but because they are morally right

18 Jnana Yoga (Path of Wisdom) Calls for guidance from a guru or teacher Followers learn about the relationship between Brahman and atman, and about the nature of the universe By knowing writings and teachings, followers gain insight necessary for salvation Raja Yoga (Path of Meditation) Followers achieve salvation through deep meditation and contemplation on Brahman Intense meditation leads to a trance-like state in which the individual acquires knowledge of the Truth This is a difficult path as it requires strict physical and spiritual discipline

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20 Practices and Rituals Hindu worship rituals are passed down from generation to generation Daily worship takes place mainly at the home and a child learns these processes through observation and practice Many Hindus purify themselves with water before participating in a religious ritual

21 Practices and Beliefs The syllable om is chanted at the beginning of prayers and readings as a representation of the supremacy of Brahman In a practice called japa, worshippers chant the names of deities and sacred phrases called mantras Ex: I meditate on the brilliance of the sun; may it illumine my intellect.

22 Worship at Home Often, homes would have shrines set up that serve as an alter for worship- adorned by images of deities in pictures or sculptures The most common form of home worship is called puja, a form of thanksgiving in which offerings are made to the deities Traditionally, a puja follows 16 steps and concludes with the waving of a lamp called arati

23 Worship at the Temple Worship in a Hindu temple is not a requirement or necessity Hindus usually visit temples during festivals or for special functions Worship is conducted by a priest and his helpers each day

24 Worship at the Temple In the mornings, the priest: Rings the temple bells Prepare the deities Offer fresh flowers, incense and food sacrifices on behalf of the members of the temple In the evenings, members sing hymns and share in the arati Temples are a place of learning and community

25 Significance of the Cow Most Hindus refrain from eating beef since they consider the cow sacred to their culture and belief Hindus adore the cow as a manifestation of something that is good and precious Cows are also seen as providing sustenance to humans without taking away from them

26 Pilgrimages Pilgrimages to holy places are seen as a key act of devotion One holy place all Hindus strive to visit at least once is Varanasi which is located on the bank of the holy Ganges River Bathing in this river is very important as Hindus believe the river fell from heaven so the water is believed to cleanse the sins of a person

27 Sacred Writings Unlike many other religions, Hinduism has a number of written texts or books that are considered holy Hindu scriptures consist of over 200 books that were composed over 3000 years

28 Sacred Writings Hindu scriptures are classified as shruti or smriti Shruti is knowledge that is revealed or discovered by the seers of Hinduism (contained in the Vedas) Smriti is human-made literature, or knowledge that is remembered The Vedas would be comprised of 4 collections including the Rig-Veda, Yajur-Veda, Sama-Veda and the Atharva-Veda

29 Sacred Writings The Puranas (myths) are smritis that form a distinct category of literature that describes the exploits of the deities through legends and myths The Manusmriti (Laws of Manu) is an ancient Hindu law book and it is used to help guide matters such as inheritance, family matters, marriage, etc.

30 Sacred Writings While the Vedas are considered shruti texts, India has 2 great epics which are considered smriti texts The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are both popular texts for spreading Hindu ideals on moral conduct These epics have massive appeal in Indian society as they have been turned into TV shows and comic strips

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32 Festivals Diwali: This holiday honours Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and good fortune, and Vishnu, who defeated the demon Naraka The festival also commemorates Rama s return to his kingdom after defeating Ravana, the evil king who had kidnapped Sita in the epic Ramayana

33 Festivals Diwali: This festival of lights in Hinduism s most popular celebration In India, it is normally celebrated over five days at the end of October or beginning of November During this festival, Hindus set off fireworks, decorate their houses, give gifts and wear new clothes to celebrate the triumph of good and knowledge over evil and ignorance

34 Festivals Holi: According to Hindu legend, the young Prahalad was resented by his wicked father for being pious and God-fearing so his aunt tried to burn him in a fire Instead, the aunt was burned to ashes This festival is a spring event in which Hindus begin by lighting a fire which signifies the burning of evil Hindus join in the festival the following day by squirting coloured water and coloured powers on friends and family

35 Festivals Mahashivaratri: This event takes place on the day of the new moon in February It is not a festival or a feast, but rather a special event to show devotion to Shiva Devotees worship him and fast for 24 hours in an expression of devotion and worship Overnight, devotees worship by repeating him name and placing flowers and grains on his image

36 Festivals Navaratri: Nine night festival is held in the spring and autumn Hindus worship Durga, a manifestation of Parvati, who washes away laziness and evil thoughts for the first 3 nights The next 3 nights include offering puja to Lakshmi The final 3 nights are dedicated to Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and learning A tenth day can be used to observe Vijayadasami or the Day of Victory

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38 Four Stages of Life Student Discipline mind and body Gain knowledge Learn rules and rituals of Hinduism Show respect toward elders Householder Marry and have a family Provide for family Give to charity and care for others Practice social and religious traditions

39 Four Stages of Life Forest dweller Retire and transmit household duties to wife or son Read and study Participate in religious pilgrimages Ascetic Give up worldly life Wander Meditate Attain salvation

40 Four Goals of Life Dharma: conducting one s duties with compassion toward all beings Artha: earning money by honest means to provide for the family Kama: pursuing love and physical pleasures to balance life Moksha: leading the soul to salvation

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