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Hinduism

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Introduction of Hinduism

Hinduism is the world's third most popular religion, with around 750 million followers. Hinduism is supposed to be a very old religion and the traditions have come since long and it takes in to fold several traditions and systems and no one is able to fix the exact period as to when it started.   Various periods like different emperors ruling at different periods, had adopted different religions, and they have also contributed immensely for the Hindi religion’s growth.  Broadly speaking,  Hinduism has history to be looked back during the periods of Indus Valley Civilization before 2000 BCE, During the Vedic period which is 1500-500 BCE, also during the periods of various Epics, Puranas and Classical Ages, which relates to the period 500 BCE-500 CE.  There is also thought to relate the origin of Hinduism to the period 500CE-1500 CE which was the Medieval period, 1500-1757 CE which was the pre modern period, 1757-1947 CE the period of British Rule, and 1947 CE, the period after India’s Independence.

 

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Symbol of Hinduism

Aum is the main symbol of Hinduism. It is the sound heard in deepest meditation and is said to be the name most suited for God.

As the cross is to Christians, the Om is to Hindus. It is made up of three Sanskrit letters, aa, au, and ma which, when combined, make the sound Aum or Om. The most important symbol in Hinduism, it occurs in every prayer and invocation to most deities begins with it. As the symbol of piety, Om is often found at the head of letters, pendants, enshrined in every Hindu temple and family shrines.

 

Karma

Hindus believe that the soul passes through a cycle of successive lives and its next incarnation is always dependent on how the previous life was lived. Karma is the cause of our particular destiny. Misfortunes in our present life are the result of acts that we have committed in the past. In the same way, our actions in our present lives will determine our fate in the lives that follow. Hindus therefore aim to live in a way that will cause each of their lives to be better than the life before.

 

The Hindu way of life

For many Hindus there are four goals in human life

1) Moksha - the release of the soul (Atman) from the cycle of rebirth. The individual soul (Atman) unites with Brahman the universal soul.

2) Dharma - the code for leading one's life. Respect for elders is considered important and many consider marriage as a son's religious duty.

3) Artha - the pursuit of material gain by lawful means.

4) Karma- through pure acts, knowledge and devotion, you can reincarnate to a higher level. The opposite achieves the contrary result.

 

The Hindu place of Worship

Most Hindus worship (puja) every day at home and have a shrine there. A shrine can be anything from a room, a small altar or simply pictures or statues. Family members often worship together. At the shrine, Hindus make offerings to a murti. A murti is a sacred stautue of God, or a god or goddess. The Hindu building for communal worship is called Mandir.The temples are dedicated to different gods and are the focus of religious life. Outside India, people mainly gather at the Mandir at the weekend. Worshippers repeat the names of their favourite gods, goddesses, and the mantras. Water, fruit, flowers and incense are offered to the god.

 

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Hinduism's Holy book

The most ancient sacred texts of the Hindu religion are written in Sanskrit and called the Vedas. Hinduism does not just have one sacred book but several scriptures. The Vedas scriptures guide Hindus in their daily life. They also help to preserve the religious dimensions of family and society. Hindus have developed their system of worship and beliefs from the scriptures.

 

The Vedas

The Vedas are the oldest religious texts in Hinduism. The word Veda means knowledge.  They were not written down; in fact this was prohibited. The Vedas are mainly comprised of of hymns or mantras written in the Sanskrit language. They cover various subjects, from nature to everyday life and behaviour, and form the basis of all other religious writings. The books are so special that they are often kept in glass cases.

 

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