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What is Hinduism? One of the oldest religions of humanity Not a uniform, easy to compartmentalize religion but all have their roots in the Vedas (Holy.

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Presentation on theme: "What is Hinduism? One of the oldest religions of humanity Not a uniform, easy to compartmentalize religion but all have their roots in the Vedas (Holy."— Presentation transcript:

1 What is Hinduism? One of the oldest religions of humanity Not a uniform, easy to compartmentalize religion but all have their roots in the Vedas (Holy Scriptures) The religion of 80% of India Influence on other Indian religions - Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism Tolerance and diversity: "Truth is one, paths are many" Many deities but a single, impersonal Ultimate Reality A philosophy and a way of life – focused both on this world and beyond

2 How did Hinduism begin? No particular founder Indus River Valley Civilization >5000 years ago Aryans enter years ago Vedic Tradition 3500 – 2500 years ago: rituals and many gods that are manifestations of one supreme god --- HENOTHEISM sacred texts (Vedas) social stratification (caste system) Upanishads (metaphysical philosophy) 2800 – 2400 years ago Vedic Tradition develops into Hinduism

3 Basic World View of Hinduism The universe is one. Even though going through surface changes and cycles, its ultimate nature as expression of the divine does not change.

4 God or Ultimate Reality Brahman, the one Mind or Life, is the one reality. It expresses itself in all that is like a flame taking many shapes. All the Hindu gods and souls of everything are a part of Brahman.

5 Origin of the World/Destiny of the World The world goes through endless cycles of creation and destruction but has no real beginning or end.

6 Origin and Destiny of Humans The individual has no known beginning. It goes through countless lifetimes. The nature of a lifetime depends on karma (actions) of a previous lifetime. A series of lifetimes continues and may include episodes in heavens and hells. Finally, one transcends karma through God- realization (moksha – liberation from the cycle).

7 Revelation or Meditation between the Ultimate and the Human The Vedic scriptures Brahmin priesthood Gods and god-realized Saints as expressions of the One Following one’s guru as spiritual guide

8 Practical: What is Expected of Humans? Worship, Practices, Behavior To follow dharma (social order) through rituals, behavior, and righteous deeds If one is ready to seek moksha, or liberation, one should practice yoga, meditation, or devotion under the guidance of a guru

9 Sociological – What is the relationship between Hinduism and society? The caste system Temples as places of the worship of gods Holy men The family The brahmin priesthood

10 Laws of Manu Guidelines for how Hindus should live Not always followed by Hindus

11 What are the Sacred Texts? Shruti (“heard”) – oldest, most authoritative: Four Vedas (“truth”) – myths, rituals, chants Upanishads - metaphysical speculation Plus other texts Smriti (“remembered”) – the Great Indian Epics: Ramayana Mahabharata (includes Bhagavad-Gita) Plus others

12 What do Hindus believe? One impersonal Ultimate Reality – Brahman Manifest as many personal deities True essence of life – Atman, the soul, is Brahman trapped in matter Reincarnation – atman is continually born into this world lifetime after lifetime (Samsara) Karma – spiritual impurity due to actions keeps us bound to this world (good and bad) Ultimate goal of life – to release Atman and reunite with the divine, becoming as one with Brahman (Moksha)

13 How does Hinduism direct life in this world? Respect for all life – vegetarian Human life as supreme: Four “stations” of life (Caste) - priests & teachers, nobles & warriors, merchant class, servant class (Also the untouchables) Four stages of life – student, householder, retired, renunciant Four duties of life – pleasure, success, social responsibilities, religious responsibilities (moksha)

14 Caste System Hindus are divided into different groups associated with religious purity Hindus are born into a caste and cannot rise beyond it accept through reincarnation into a higher caste. Good karma Reborn into higher caste Reaching moksha

15 Brahmins – Priestly caste Kshatriyas – Warrior Caste Vaisyas – Skilled workers, merchants, minor officials Sudras – Unskilled workers

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17 What are the spiritual practices of Hinduism? The Four Yogas - seeking union with the divine: Karma Yoga – the path of action through selfless service (releases built up karma without building up new karma) Jnana Yoga – the path of knowledge (understanding the true nature of reality and the self) Raja Yoga – the path of meditation Bhakti Yoga – the path of devotion Hatha Yoga – physical purification Guru – a spiritual teacher, especially helpful for Jnana and Raja yoga

18 How do Hindus worship? Bhakti Yoga is seeking union with the divine through loving devotion to manifest deities In the home (household shrines)In the home In the Temples (priests officiate) Puja Puja – making offerings to and decorating the deity images Darsan Darsan – “seeing” the deity (not idol worship) Prasad – taking the divine within your own being through eating of food shared with the deity

19 Who do Hindus worship? – the major gods of the Hindu Pantheon Brahma, the creator god

20 Who do Hindus worship? – the major gods of the Hindu Pantheon Vishnu, the preserver god Incarnates as ten avatars (descents) including: Rama (featured in the Ramayana) Krishna (featured in the Mahabharata) (Each shown with his consort, Sita and Radha, respectively)

21 One version of the Universe with Vishnu and Brahma Vishnu slept over the ocean on a great serpent made up of the remains of the last universe before this one was formed A lotus grew out of Vishnu’s navel and Brahma appeared Brahma defeated the imps (demons) of chaos and made the world Then, Vishnu got up and seated himself in the highest heaven with his consort goddesses – Lakshmi (Fortune) and Bhu-Devi (the Earth). The serpent arched his hoods over the divine sovereign to make a canopy. The lesser gods attended him.

22 Who do Hindus worship? – the major gods of the Hindu Pantheon Shiva, god of constructive destruction (the transformer) Appears as Shiva Nataraja, lord of the dance of creation… and with his wife, Parvati, and son Ganesha (the elephant headed remover of obstacles)

23 Shiva as Nataraja

24 Dwarf Representing Ignorance

25 What about the goddesses? Devi – the feminine divine Saraswati, goddess of wisdom, consort of Brahma Hindus consider cows sacred because they may be a representation of Devi.

26 Oxen and bulls were sacrificed in Ancient India and the meat consumed. Even then, milk-producing cows were considered sacred. Rigveda (a holy scripture) refers to the cow as Devi and even Aditi (mother goddess) Practical too – cows provide milk, browned butter for lamps, and dung for fuel

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28 What about the goddesses? Devi – the feminine divine Lakshmi, goddess of good fortune, consort of Vishnu

29 What about the goddesses? Devi – the feminine divine Parvati, divine mother, wife of Shiva

30 What about the goddesses? Devi – the feminine divine Durga, protectress Kali, destroyer of demons Plus about 330 million other deities

31 All these deities are but Manifest forms (attributes and functions) of the impersonal Brahman All these deities are but Manifest forms (attributes and functions) of the impersonal Brahman

32 And we too are manifest forms of God! “We are not human beings having spiritual experiences; We are spiritual beings having a human experience!” “Thou Art That” Hinduism is about recognizing the all pervasiveness of the divine

33 I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal tolerance, but we accept all religions as true. As different streams having different sources all mingle their waters in the sea, so different paths which men take through different tendencies various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to God. --- Swami Vivekananda


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