Hinduism An introduction Ekam sat, viprah bahuda vadanti There is one truth, only men describe it in different ways - Rg Veda Slide 2 Hinduism is one of the worlds major religions. It is the oldest major religion. There are approximately 900 million Hindus today. Major populations include India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Mauritius, Fiji, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Guyana, Indonesia. Slide 3 History Hinduism has no founder. The ancestors of the Hindus were known as the Aryas. They called their religion Santana Dharma (The Eternal Religion). As the Aryans moved north around 1500BC and shared their religion with the indigenous peoples of north India. The name Hinduism comes from the Sanskrit word Sindhu, the Persian name for the Indus River. The river was the border between Persia and Ancient India. Slide 4 Dharmic Religion The most widely known Dharmic religions are Hinduism and Buddhism The concept of Dharma is complex but basically it is a belief in: Natural laws and natural harmony A path to righteousness through spiritual duty Spiritual justice (karma) Slide 5 God Most Hindus believe in a god concept known as Brahman. The concept of Brahman is: Eternal, genderless, omnipotent and omnipresent. Present within the human soul Present within everything in the world and universe To discover ones soul (atman) is to discover Brahman There are many deities in Hinduism but the Absolute is known as the Brahman. Slide 6 Sacred Texts Sruti (The Vedas) The Vedas are sacred books of divinely given knowledge, handed down through generations of Hindu sages. There are 4 Vedas holy books of hymns, chants and rituals. Each Veda contains 4 sections that represent the 4 stages of the life cycle Slide 7 RgYajurSamaAtharva The four Vedas Each Veda contains 4 sections that correspond to the four stages of the life cycle. The most important section is the Upanishad because it teaches a person the skills required to achieve moksa (enlightenment). Mantra- samhita BrahmanaAranyakaUpanishad HymnsCeremonies and rites Life of retirement Rejection of worldy life in order to achieve Moksa Slide 8 Sacred Text - Smriti The Smriti are the secondary scriptures. These are accessible to everyone. The Smriti are made up of scriptures, poems and stories. Which can be renacted through dance or drama. Of these the most widely known would be the Bhagavad Gita Slide 9 Karma Karma is the effect of any action: All good actions produce good effects. All bad actions produce bad effects. The fruits of good deeds bring pleasure and enjoyment. The fruits of bad deeds bring suffering and pain. No person can escape the karmic forces Slide 10 Reincarnation Reincarnation is the return of the soul to be reborn into a new physical body. Reincarnation occurs because a person must gradually evolve spiritually through experiences of different incarnations. Slide 11 Moksa (Moksha) The cycle of repeating the process of birth and death (reincarnation) is called samsara. The ultimate goal for Hindus is to free themselves from samsara. Once a person has reached the highest point of his spiritual path through God-realisation, their soul is freed. This liberation from the cycle is known as moksa. Slide 12 Four goals Kama desire for senory pleasure Artha acquisition of worldly possessions Dharma carrying out religious duties Moksa liberation through God realisation To reach Moksa a person must move through the four goals of human life. From the lowest (kama) to the highest (moksa) Slide 13 Class and caste The Hindu caste system divided society into 4 classes (varnas). This was based on a persons inherant qualities (guna) and karma. Brahmins Teachers, scholars, priests Qualities of compassion, unselfishness, spirituality and morality. The teachers of spiritual knowledge Kshatriyas Kings, warriors Qualities of military or royal leadership. The ruling class. Vaishyas Merchants Qualities of professional knowledge. Gifted merchants and businessmen. Shudras Farmers, artisans etc All others. The labouring class. Below these were the untouchables (dalit). The outcastes of society including the peasant workers and people who work with animal or human waste Slide 14 Mantras and Symbols Mantras and symbols are sacred words or images that have an association with God. Chanting a mantra can bring spiritual enlightenment to a person and bring them closer to God. The symbol of Om (Aum) is both a mantra (aural) and symbol (visual). It represents: A: creation/beginning U: progress M: destruction/dissolution Slide 15 Symbols Om Represents Brahman Lotus Universe rising out of primeval waters Svastika Auspicious symbol of luck and favour Cow The Hindu sacred animal. Descendant of Kamadhenu Slide 16 Sacred places Ganges River Rivers are seen as a bridge between heaven and earth. The waters of the Ganges are seen as healing and have the power to liberate a persons soul from the cycle of reincarnation Temples/Shrines Many Hindu homes have a small shrine for daily worship. Visiting temples is not obligatory for Hindus, they offer a venue for religious singing and public gathering. Slide 17 Teachers Guru: Hindu spiritual teachers are known as gurus. They guide students toward spiritual knowledge. Faith and confidence in the self and the guru is key to this process. Priest: Devoted priests care for temple shrines Slide 18 Now that you know more about the Hindu belief system.. Think about how persepctives of these beliefs might differ within the Hindu values system. What things could you ask our visitors about their perspectives?