World Religion By: Aryanna

Hinduism

Who are the Hindu Deities OR ASPECTS OF BRAHMAN, and how did they impact Hindu Religion?

  • Which Deities are most famous?
  • Are there any 'bad' Deities?
  • What are some stories behind Hindu Deities?
  • Are there more Deities like Ganesha, they are part animal?
  • How do people nowadays worship these Deities?

List of hindu deities

  • Brahma, the Creator
  • Vishnu, the Preserver, who has many avatars
  • Avatar of Vishnu: Rama, the ideal person
  • Avatar of Vishnu: Krishna, teacher of sacred scriptures
  • Avatar of Vishnu: Matsya, fish avatar
  • Avatar of Vishnu: Koorma, tortoise avatar
  • Avatar of Vishnu: Varaha, boar avatar
  • Avatar of Vishnu: Narasimha, man-lion avatar
  • Avatar of Vishnu: Vamana, dwarf avatar
  • Avatar of Vishnu: Parasurama, the angry avatar, sometimes seen as Rama with an axe
  • Avatar of Vishnu: Balarama, brother to Krishna
  • Avatar of Vishnu: Kalki, last incarnation of Vishnu, so he will be the one to come at the end of Kali Yuga to get rid of bad rulers...
  • Shiva, the Destroyer
  • Ganesha or Ganapari, the remover of obstacles, he has an elephant head
  • Hanuman, the monkey king
  • Saraswati, goddess of learning, wife to Brahma
  • Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, wife of Vishnu
  • Durga Devi, goddess who fights to keep dharma, she is known as terrifying to her enemies
  • Indra, giver of rain
  • Surya or Soorya, the sun
  • Agni, the fire god, who will lead all sacrifices

What is the impact Brahman have had on hindus?

To begin with, the overall religion, Hinduism, comes with a set of rules, dharma, that you have to follow. To enforce dharma, Hindus believe that, since Brahman created the universe, Brahman will enforce these rules. One impact Brahman has made is, especially in ancient times, they were the ones who enforced rules. In fact, there even is a Hindu deity that's job is to enforce dharma, Durga Devi. Deities/Brahman affect life, because 1) there's a goddess who is known to terrify her enemies (people who don't follow dharma) and also if you don't follow your dharma, you get bad karma, and no Hindu wants bad karma.

Secondly, as you know Brahman controls all, including Samsara, the process of life, death, and rebirth. It is a Hindus dream to get out of Samsara, and become one with Brahman, so this is another impact Brahman has had on Hindus. Also, Hindus, especially in ancient days went on pilgrimages, where they would go to holy places to rid themselves of their sins. Hindus would go to rivers (especially the ganges), because they believed the bathing in the water would purify and cleanse ones soul, and also show an act of devotion. Hinduism isn't though only religion which believes water is holy and/or godlike, Christians are baptised (Bathed or dipped in holy water) too! Going on pilgrimages is a third way Hindus were affected by Brahman, because they would bathe in holy water, and show an act of devotion to their Brahman.

To add on to that, because the cow was considered holy, Hindus would not eat it's meat. All animals were considered holy, because Hindus believe that ones soul should be treated well, and all living beings have souls. The cow represented this the most though, as Hindus did eat other meats then (though some would not). This is possibly, because in ancient times people needed meat to survive. This still does show that Brahman has affected what Hindus eat, because some Hindus don't eat beef.

Finally, the last way Brahman has affected Hindus is, Hindus go to religious places, celebrate religious holidays and read religious texts. Hindus often go to the temple to pray to the gods or Brahman. Hindus also celebrate holidays like Dewali, the celebration of light, the journey Rama took to get Sita (his wife) back, a very famous religious story. Hindus also celebrate the religious celebration of Holi, where you throw coloured powder at your family, friends, and even the town, to celebrate Krishna's playfulness.

On top of these 2 activities that show how Brahman has impacted Hindus, Hindus also read sacred texts, or the Vedas. In fact, in Ancient India, Brahmins had to memorise much of the Vedas, because they passed these stories down orally! All these activities show devotion and love towards Brahman, and they all show how Brahman has affected Hindus. In conclusion, Brahman has affected what Hindus eat, do, what they believe, what their rules are and much much more (I couldn't even name all the effects Brahman has had on Hindus in this long article), so it's no doubt Brahman/Deities has had an huge impact on Hindu life

Who are the hindu deities? What are there stories? Read on, and you'll find out

Rama and Sita:

Long ago in the kingdom of Ayodhya, there was a young prince named Rama. Rama was to be king of Ayodhya, but his stepmother wanted her son, the youngest to be king.

His stepmother marched up to the king and said "Rama should be exiled, so he can live in the wild. " The king, unsure of what to do looked around till he met Rama's eyes, Rama, the perfect son, perfect king, exiled?

He was going to dismiss this request until Rama spoke up "I'll go, if that is what you want mother."

Her eyes gleamed with pleasure and soon Rama, his brother Lakshman, and wife, Sita left for the forest. The whole kingdom went to say goodbye, but soon they were on their own. Rama, being the perfect son, and builder, built a small home for them to stay in. He collected freshwater from a pond, and hunted animals and picked berries for food.

One day, whilst Rama was out hunting, Sita spotted a golden deer. She wanted it so bad, so she begged Lakshman to get it for her. Lakshman swore to protect Sita, but decided to please her and get the deer. He drew a circle around the house and told Sita to stay within it, because if she stayed in, nothing would harm her. This circle is known

As it turns out, the deer was an evil demon named Ravana, who had ten heads. He had heard of Sita's beauty, and had wanted her for his own. Whilst Lakshman was out hunting for this 'deer', Ravana's sister disguised herself as an old woman and came knocking at the door, begging for food. Sita gave her the food, but would not step out of the circle.

"Why won't you come out?" the women asked, "you seem like a nice girl, it would be a shame for you to disrespect your elders. Sita filled with shame stepped out of the circle, and the old woman turn back into a demon and captured Sita.

Lakshman ran back to the house, but Sita was nowhere to be found. He quickly found Rama, and told him of Sita's disappearance. They hunted the whole forest for her, but she was not to be found. Rama, then approached the monkey king, Hanuman, asking for his help. Hanuman told him he had seen Ravana and his sister fly off with Sita. Hanuman directed Rama and sent his best monkeys to accompany him.

Soon they found the island where Sita was held hostage. It was surrounded by water, and there was no means of entering, but fueld with longing, they grabbed rocks, and built a bridge from the forest to the island. Once they arrived at the island, and epic battle broke out. It lasted a full 10 days!

It seemed like Ravana was going to win, as he had all the benefits, but Rama, taking a bow and arrow set from the gods, shot an arrow straight through Ravana's heads and the battle ended. Rama saved Sita and travelled back home. Everyone lit diyas, so Rama would find his way home. Rama and Sita became king and queen, and were released from the exile, and they lived a long happy life. Now the story of Rama and Sita is the most famous one, and people always celebrate Dewali, lighting diyas to guide Rama home

Here are some more videos about Dewali:

Bibliography:

Buddhism

What are the differences and Similarities between Mahayana and theravada?

  • Which is more popular, Mahayana or Theravada?
  • Have the differences ever lead to conflict?
  • Do they all speak the same language?
  • What is Vajrayana?
  • Do any differences relate to how they reach Nirvana?
  • Do any differences relate to how monks act and/or who they are?

First of all, you must know what Mahayana and Theravada are. They are both a form of practice for Buddhists, you could follow Mahayana Buddhism or Theravada Buddhism.

People who follow Mahayana Buddhism seek full enlightenment, they believe that you can reach Nirvana in one lifetime! They also think that you can reach Nirvana no matter your qualifications. Mahayana is the bigger, more practiced religion, with 53.2% or 57.9% of Buddhists following it's practice. Now you might be wondering why there are two percentages. The answer is that some people believe that Vajrayana Buddhism is it's own practice and others don't. Since Mahayana Buddhism has more followers, it only makes sense that it is widely spread across the world. It has spread to Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Taiwan, Mongolia, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Theravada Buddhism on the other hand has spread to Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Burma (Myanmar). It is mainly associated with South East Asia. Theravada followers don't believe in the supernatural, the Buddha has acknowledged them, but the main focus is reaching enlightenment/Nirvana. Theravada Buddhism is more traditional and conservative, one example of this is that all their worship, scriptures... are written or spoken in Pali, the original language the Buddha spoke. Theravada Buddhist believe people can gain enlightenment by themselves. No one can get it for you, which leads to them not worshipping the Buddha, just being grateful for what he has done for them. Also some believe you can only reach Nirvana as a monk. Which is actually a difference between the two.

Now that you know a bit about these forms of Buddhism you might be wondering what the differences are. Mahayana and Theravada both have the same core beliefs, I mean they all are a part of the Buddhist Religion, but there are small differences. Theravada, for example, is more conservative. It follows the most original teachings. In fact, all their teachings are said in pali the original language the Buddha spoke. Whilst Mahayana does not resemble the original as much. Their teachings aren't said in pali, they're said in sanskrit.

Also the overall goals of each are a bit different. Theravada Buddhists mostly seek Nirvana, where as Mahayana Buddhists give the role of Bodhisattvas more fame. Speaking of Bodhisattvas, there are differences between them too. A Bodhisattvas is a more Mahayana thing. They believe the Bodhisattvas is someone who is able to reach enlightenment, but delays it, so they can help others. In Theravada Buddhism the Bodhisattvas is similar the Maitreya, the future Buddha. Another difference is that Theravada Buddhism states that someone cannot get you to Nirvana, you have to get there your self without external forces. Now some Mahayanian Schools teach this outlook, but not all do, so it's still a difference. Now I'm sure there are many differences I've missed, but in the end, these are all forms of Buddhism and they have all the same core beliefs, and they are both, after all, a part of Buddhism.

Bibliography:

Judaism

How did hanukkah come to be? why is it an important celebration?

  • During Hanukkah, why do Jewish people light the menora?
  • What does Hanukkah symbolise or stand for?
  • What are some other rituals that happen during Hanukkah?
  • Do Jews go to the Synagogue during Hanukkah?
  • Who founded Hanukkah?

Hanukkah is an eight day celebration that came to be after the Jews drove the Greeks out of Jerusalem. It was a battle that is said to have lasted 20 years, but once it was over the Jews had reclaimed their temple, and had driven the Greeks out. This was all said to be mainly led by the Maccabees, or more specifically Judah Maccabee. It was a time of celebration, since, though historians are unsure of whether they won the battle overall, the Jews had won back what mattered to them. Hanukkah means dedication, and it celebrates the purification and rededication of the temple, after the Greeks had taken it.

When the Jews went into the temple, it is said that they relit the eternal light (ner tamid), which is also now found in modern day synagogs. After lighting the ner tamid, the Jews found a little jar of oil. There wasn't much oil, so the candle wasn't go to burn for much more than a day. A messenger was sent to get more oil, and went on a long eight day journey to get it, but surprisingly, the candle still shone when the messenger got back! The candle lasted eight days, and so Hanukkah also lasts eight days.

Now that you know about how the celebration came to be, you must know about what you do during modern day Hanukkah. Of course, the most famous of all the traditions is the lighting of the menorah, the nine candles. During Hanukkah Jews light the menorah. The reason there are nine candles, is that everyday of Hanukkah one candle is lighten, and there is an extra 'helper candle' that will help light the other candles.

Now, thought the menorah is most famous, there are other candle lighten during Hanukkah. This candle is called a shamash. This candle is held while other members of the family say blessings. During Hanukkah you must say blessings every night, two to three of them. First you say a blessing over the candle, then you say a blessing expressing thanks... Finally you say a blessing said during all Joyous occasions. This blessing is only said during the first day, though, the blessing is called Shehecheyanu.

HOW DID CHRISTIANITY SPREAD ACROSS THE WORLD?

  • What were some of the hardships people faced whilst spreading the religion?
  • Who were some main people who really spread this religion?
  • How did the Romans react to the rising popularity of Christianity?
  • Were there some Romans who helped spread this religion?
  • Were there any people who betrayed or opposed the Christian religion, and if so what did they do?

As most of us already know about Christianity Jesus was the main reason it started, but who else helped? Read on, and you'll find out. Christianity originated from Jewish religion, so most of the people who converted to the Christian religion were Jews. However, there were other missionaries who spread this religion to gentiles too. One of these people was Paul. He originally opposed Christianity, but one day he saw the light. It is said he saw a blinding light and he heard the voice of Jesus, from that day forward, he converted to the Christian religion, and became a missionary. He spread the word, preached in many different regions, he even was daring enough to go to the Roman Empire. As a well educated greek speaking person, Paul could really spread the word well, even once he was jailed, he sent letter preaching about this new Christian religion! Paul told people we are all children of God, and Messiah will be the savior to all of us. Paul is now considered a hero, and has even been made a saint!

Of course, Paul isn't the only person who's helped spread Christianity. Another person who helped spread the Christian religion was Constantine. He was a roman emperor, who adopted Christian beliefs during a battle. It all started when Constantine had a vision, where the cross hung over the sky. He took the vision as a sign that to win the battle he would have to go to, he'd have to adopt Christian beliefs. He put the first two letters of Christ on all the army's shields, and sure enough, they won the battle. From that day forward he did lots to promote Christianity. For example, he legalised the Christian religion, and every emperor after him accepted the religion too! He legalised this religion by creating the Edict of Milan.

Still there were many more people who helped spread this upcoming religion, such as Jesus's disciples. The disciples were Jesus's followers , they went with Jesus and learned what he had to teach. They helped Jesus in all his journeys and listen to all his teachings along with the others. Once Jesus died, they continued spreading his teachings, but who were the disciples? The disciples were Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James (another one), Lebbaeus, Simon, and Judas. Now, the disciples are known as holy and good people, but did you know one of them betrayed Jesus?! Judas, in fact, betrayed Jesus. The bible has said he was a greedy man, and betrayed Jesus for just 30 pieces of silver! This is in fact what got Jesus crucified. Though he wasn't all that bad, since according to the gospel of Matthew, after he found out Jesus got a death sentence, he tried to give the money back, and after the priests rejected him, he hanged himself.

But of course, just as there are many people who helped spread Christianity, there are many people who tried to destroy it. The Romans were the main destroyers. At first, though, they were fine with this new religion. Another God added onto the many the Romans had. Why did that matter? However, the Christians refused to worship the other gods, and to the Romans that was a deal breaker. Not only did they refuse to worship Roman gods, they also refused to be part of the Roman army! And with the growing Christian population, the Romans decided they had to do something. Soon, the Christian religion was banned! The romans would even torture them by crucifying them or putting them in the colosseum to be eaten by lions!

Still, in the end, Christianity became a popular religion, it still is now. It even became the Roman's religion too! If you go to Rome, you can learn a lot about the Roman religion, but lots about Christianity too. It's crazy to see how Christianity went from illegal, to the most popular religion in Rome!

Sources

Islam

What is the story of muhammad? how has he impacted muslims?

  • What is different about Muhammad than other prophets?
  • What were the hardships of Muhammad's life?
  • How is Muhammad's early life/story similar to other religions?

Well to know about how Muhammad impacted Muslims you must first know who he is. Muhammad is a prophet who introduced the Islamic religion to the world. He introduced the idea that there shouldn't be idols, so he isn't worshipped. The only one to be worshipped is Allah. His father died before he was born, and once he was six his mother passed too. Since both of his parents were dead, Muhammad went to live with his grandpa. But... you guessed it, his grandpa died. After the death of his grandpa, his uncle became his legal guardian. Muhammad's uncle was a trader, so, as a result, Muhammad helped out and became a trader. In fact, he was known has the "trustworthy one." Because of this he got a job for a rich woman named Khadijah, who he later married. He had everything, the riches, the respect, the fame, but he still felt incomplete (similar to the Buddha).

He decided to pray in a cave, and suddenly an angel appeared! The angel was named Gabriel, and it told Muhammad the word of god/Allah. At first he thought he was going crazy, but then, after talking with a Christian scholar, he realised that he had heard the word of god. He then decided to preach the word of Allah, and day by day got more and more followers. Unfortunately, he didn't get enough followers, and with death threats coming, Muhammad had to go to Medina, a nearby city. This journey is called a hijrah. He was then accepted as their ruler, and spread the Islamic religion to the people of Medina. Though, as always, he had to return to Mecca, the home and birthplace of Islam. He spread the religion, and before you knew it, Mecca was the home of this new and upcoming religion called Islam.

Muhammad has impacted Muslims in many ways, I mean, without him the word of God/Allah wouldn't have gotten out. It is possible Allah would have selected a different prophet. Though perhaps, the jewish or christian religion would have just spread farther instead. Still, it is no doubt he has impacted this religion. Here's some reasons why:

  • He was the person who got the word from Allah
  • He preached to many other places and people, resulting in a wider spread of the Islam religion.
  • He gave the people the Kaaba, which has been a visiting point for Muslims from all over the world. In fact, Muslims have to make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their life, assuming they're health, and financially able.
  • He had the Hadith written about him. The Hadith is a book full of the stories from Muhammad's life, it's similar to the Gospels.
  • Without him, the religion wouldn't have spread.

sources

What I believe in

I’m a 12 year old girl, who lives in Singapore. My family consists of my dad, mom, helper, dog, but it also includes my best friends, my cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents. To me, family doesn’t have to be by blood, your family is the people you’re most comfortable with. I’m from India, but I hold a Singapore passport, and I’m Christian.

Even though I’m Christian, I believe in other things to. I believe in other religions, such as Hinduism (my father is hindu). I also believe in non religious things, like, every cloud has a silver lining (every struggle or bad thing has a good outcome),

Beliefs influence my life in many ways, when things get hard, I think about no pain no gain, and I try harder, when I’m feeling lost and depressed, I think about how every cloud has a silver lining, and I feel better. My Beliefs also influence my choices, I believe that, since God has done so much for us, I have to make sure it doesn’t go to waste, and make good decisions. I believe that god will love you and care for you no matter what, but I also believe that you have to do good to make your life mean something.

Every Sunday, I go to the church, and listen as the priest tells us about God and the bible. I also pray in the church. I pray for health, wealth, happiness, good education. I pray for my family, and pray that they live fulfilling lives. I also pray for those in need, like the poor children, who don’t have enough food and water, immigrants, who don’t have a home, and others. We also have special masses, which is what we call going to the church. We have one for Christmas, Easter, Lent, and we have some others too. Sometimes during the Christmas mass, everyone gets a candle to hold while we listen as we hear the story of baby Jesus, in fact, Christmas is the celebration of when Jesus was born. He sacrificed himself for us, and led us back on the right path. We believe god is one person, but he has three forms; God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

Even though I go to church every Sunday, you don’t have to go to church to pray. Before I go to bed, I tell God 3 things I’m grateful for that happened in that given day. Sometimes I also pray for upcoming events, or people. I tend not to ask God for anything, I generally ask him to help me with something, because I feel you shouldn’t ask too much from god, otherwise it won’t be your work, and whatever you pray for feels less meaningful. Sometimes people like to say the rosary, which is a necklace, and for every bead, you say a specific prayer (1 our father, 5 hail mother mary), and it represents the mysteries, which are from Jesus, and Mother Mary’s life.

Some people also like to read the bible, the bible is the sacred manuscript of Christianity, it consists of 2 parts, BC and AD. BC represents the time before Jesus, and I find in this section, God seems a bit more harsh and more like the God from other older religions, God even drowned the whole world (excluding Noah, his family, and all the animals) once. I think that may be part of cultural diffusion, because I know at least 3 religions where God has drowned the world. The AD part is the time after Christ, and it was full of God loves you unconditionally, which I personally believe, because to me God has no flaws, he is not like humans. It also shows a more modern (for a gazillion years ago) take on life. BC is full of people making mistakes, the creation of the world, and other ancient like stories, while AD is mostly about Jesus.

I consider myself more Christian than Hindu, but sometimes we go to the temple. I haven’t been in a while, but I remember it was very different from the Church. People prayed alone or with their families and friends, so it wasn’t like a church where everyone prays together. Also I found the temple was a bit more airy and free, because part of it was open, and you didn’t have to follow one person's prayer. Sometimes we’d get oranges, flowers and coconuts from the temple, if they were giving them out. I found the church and the temple very different, but I respect them both.

In conclusion, I have to say that you can have many beliefs, whether they are religious or not, and you should be proud of what you believe. I believe in many things, such as God, Karma, gods, magic, and you should never let someone else bring you and your beliefs down.

Credits:

Created with images by kropekk_pl - "the rosary beads christian" • LoggaWiggler - "temple figures temple colorful" • mckaysavage - "Sri Kali Hindu Temple" • D-Stanley - "Hindu Temple" • Sukanto Debnath - "Sadhu" • sonja_paetow - "india sculpture art from asia" • Swami Stream - "Ganesha" • ben.hollis - "Hanuman" • NatoPereira - "meditation buddhism monk" • Neville Wootton Photography - "The Thatbyinnyu Temple which is near the main Ananda Temple used for most of the Full Moon Festival" • maxlkt - "meditate theravada buddhism monk" • suc - "thailand buddhists monks" • Jnzl's Photos - "Bodhi tree at Mangala Vihara" • kevindvt - "candles menorah light" • 777jew - "old man prayer" • s2dent - "menorah candles light" • mrsdkrebs - "Crosses" • laszlo-photo - "Sultanahmet Mosque"

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