Hinduism is a polytheistic religion that was formed
from a variety of different religious practices.
Established-Elements of the Hindu religion can be traced
back to the
Indus River Valley civilization (approximately 3000 BCE) in
Founder-It has been theorized that Hinduism is a result
of cultural diffusion that occurred between
and the native peoples of India sometime around 1500 BCE. Geographic Origin-Developed on the Indian subcontinent. Currently Practiced-Most common in India. Significant Writings-Vedas,
Gita. Places of Worship-While Hindu temples do exist, Hinduism
is usually practiced in the home where there is usually a
shrine dedicated to a favored deity. Significant Religious People-Hindu priests carry out
traditional religious practices in temples.
Teachings and Beliefs In Hinduism, salvation is achieved through a spiritual oneness of the
soul, atman, with the ultimate reality of the universe, Brahman.
To achieve this goal, the soul must obtain moksha, or liberation from
the samsara, the endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. As a
result of these basic teachings, Hindus believe in reincarnation,
which is influenced by karma
(material actions resulting from the consequences of previous actions), and dharma
(fulfilling one's duty in life). Because all forms of animal life possess
souls, Hindus believe in ahimsa, or that all life is sacred. and
should not be harmed. In fact, one animal which Hindus consider to be
extremely sacred is the cow. The peaceful and contented existence of cows is
considered virtuous by Hindus and would represent a rewarding reincarnation
for a soul. For this reason, most Hindus are vegetarians so that they do not
harm other living beings. The belief in reincarnation, karma, and dharma
the religious justification for the existence of the rigid social structure
known as the Caste System.
Samsara, or reincarnation, is a central teaching of Hinduism.
Rivers are sometimes thought to symbolize reincarnation because they
constantly flow, yet follow the same course. Perhaps the most sacred river
is the Ganges, which is used for spiritual cleansing, funeral rites,
and other Hindu rituals.
The concept of reincarnation can best be
represented by the infinity symbol. When one is born, they are given life by
Brahma, as the pass through life, they are preserved by
finally Shiva claims you in death. Then the cycle is repeated over and over
again until one finally achieves moksha.
System The Caste System is a rigid class structure based on Hinduism
which is found in India. It is believed that if one leads a good life,
following good karma and dharma, then they will be rewarded by
being reincarnated as a person belonging to the next highest level in the
Caste System. However, if one is wicked during their life, they will be
demoted, and possibly even removed from the Caste System altogether. Outcasts,
or Untouchables, are members of Hindu society thought to have been
removed from the Caste System, with no hope of returning to it, due to their
misdeeds in previous lives. Work that is deemed unclean for all other Hindus
is reserved for these Outcasts.
After winning its independence from Great Britain in 1947, India
adopted a national constitution which stated that "Untouchability is abolished and its practice in any form is
forbidden." Since that time many Caste reforms have been enacted to
diminish discriminatory practices in India. Today, the Caste System still
exists in practice, despite the many laws designed to legally abolish it.