Introduction to Hinduism
Hinduism is a major religion but mainly in the south parts of Asia, like India and Nepal. It also has over 750 million followers worldwide, but mainly in India and Nepal. Surprisingly, almost 80 percent of India's population consider themselves as Hindus and 30 million live outside of India. It dates back to 4000 B.C. Hinduism is considered the oldest living religion in the world, or at least the elements within it date back to thousands of years. The neat thing about hinduism and different than most other religions is, it doesn't have a single founder or date of origin, it developed out of the rituals and philosophy in many ancient sacred texts. Historians tend to believe it's a way of life or a family of religions, rather than being a single religion.
The symbol, the Om, is always spoken at the
beginning and end of all Hindu prayers. Om is the most
sacred sound in Hinduism because it's believed to contain all
Most Hindus believe in the one supreme spirit called Brahman. They also believe that Brahman can be found within every person. Oddly, they worship Brahman in the form of other gods and divine beings. They believe that these gods can grant followers wisdom and goodness and help them overcome obstacles. For a lot of Hindus there are 4 goals in life; Moksha - the release of the soul (Atman) from the cycle of rebirth. The individual soul (Atman) unites with Brahman the universal soul. Dharma, the code for leading one's life. Respect for elders is considered very important and many consider marriage as a son's religious duty. Artha, which is the pursuit of material gain by lawful means. Karma, and everyone's heard of this, is through pure acts, knowledge and devotion, can reincarnate you to a higher level. The opposite achieves the contrary result, which means act bad, you're gonna regret it. But, above all, they believe that their faith can let out their souls from the repeated cycle of life and death. Once they're "free", their souls can achieve a heaven like state of bliss, which is the ultimate goal of Hinduism.
Hinduism Leadership Structure
First you have the Brahmins, the priests and religious officials, teachers of the sacred knowledge of the veda. Rajanyas, which are made of rulers and the warriors. Vaishyas, who were farmers, merchants, traders, and craftsmen. People in these three varnas are permitted to study the Vedas and have the possibility to be reborn into a higher caste, eventually reaching enlightenment or Moksha. Shudras, the lowest caste, were not permitted to study the vedas, and had their own religion and priests.
Maker Sankranti is celebrated on the January 13 and it is the first Hindu holiday on the western calendar. Diwali which is the festival of lights for Hindus. Maha Shivaratri celebrations honor Shiva, the destroyer of the universe.
Hindus believe that the water of the Ganges
River is holy. Many Hindus travel to the river to bathe and
pray. They believe that bathing in the river causes the forgiveness of sins. They also keep jars of the river’s water in
their homes to bless the dead and the dying.
These are the Hindu teachers, which are called gurus. Gurus, help Hindus gain
the wisdom they need to free themselves
from suffering. Today, finally they've hit the modern day stride, use the Internet to reach
their followers that helps broadcast their sermons and songs. If you look at their hair and beards, the practice of growing their hair out is symbol of respect for the perfect of God's creation. They also believe the use of a razor or shaving the chin, is as sinful as incest.