About Hinduism

  1. Hinduism is the world’s third most popular religion, with around 750 million followers. The religion of Hinduism originated in Northern India, near the river Indus, about 4000 years ago and is the world’s oldest existing religion.
  2. Hinduism is practiced by more than 80% of India’s population.

 

Who is the founder?

True Hindu: Hinduism has no founder, it developed out of Brahmanism.

 

What is the symbol of Hinduism?

True Hindu: ”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.

"Aum"

“Aum”

 

Where the word Hindu came from?

True Hindu: The word “Hindu” comes from the name of the river Indus, which flows 1800 miles from Tibet through Kashmir and Pakistan to the sea.

Indus River

Indus River

 

How is Hinduism different from other faiths?

True Hindu: Hinduism has neither founder, single teacher nor any prophets. Hinduism is not a Single Religion. Hinduism is the practices of a variety of different religious groups which come out of India.

 

What does Hindus believe?

True Hindu: For many Hindus, religion is a matter of practice rather than of beliefs. It’s more what you do, than what you believe. Hindus believe in a universal soul or God called Brahman. Brahman takes on many forms that some Hindus worship as gods or goddesses in their own right. Hindus believe that there is a part of Brahman in everyone and this is called the Atman (soul).

Hindus believe in reincarnation – a belief that the soul is eternal and lives many lifetimes, in one body after another. The soul is sometimes born in a human body, sometimes in an animal body and sometimes in a plant body etc… Hindus believe that all forms of life contain a soul, and all souls have the chance to experience life in different forms.

Samsara means going through the cycle of repeated births and deaths (reincarnation). Hindus believe that existence of this cycle is governed by Karma.

Atman

Atman

 

What is Karma?

True Hindu: 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. (Similar to Buddhist beliefs) 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.

 

What is Moksha?

True Hindu: The spiritual goal of a Hindu is to become one with Brahma. This freedom is referred to as Moksha. Until Moksha is achieved, a Hindu believes that he/she will be repeatedly reincarnated in order that he/she may work towards self-realization of the truth (the truth being that only Brahman exists, nothing else).

 

The Hindu way of life?

True Hindu: For many Hindus there are four goals in human life;

Moksha – the release of the soul (Atman) from the cycle of rebirth. The individual soul (Atman) unites with Brahman the universal soul. There are different ways to Moksha.

  1. Spiritual – involves acquiring spiritual knowledge through yoga and meditation. Devotion to god
  2. Working selflessly for the good of society.

How a person is reincarnated is determined by Karma.

Dharma – the code for leading ones life. Respect for elders is considered important and many consider marriage as a son’s religious duty.

Artha – the pursuit of material gain by lawful means.

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

 

How do Hindus achieve Moksha?

True Hindu: There are four different paths to achieve Moksha which a Hindu can take. The Hindu can choose one or all four of the paths they are:

  1. The path of knowledge – Jnana-Yoga:

Spiritual knowledge -leading to the knowledge of the relationship between the soul (Atman) and God (Brahman)

  1. The path of meditation – Dhyana-yoga:

The idea is to concentrate so you can reach the real self within you and become one with Brahman

  1. The path of devotion – Bhakti-yoga:

Choosing a particular god or goddess and worshipping them throughout your life in actions, words and deeds.

  1. The path of good works – Karma-yoga:

This involves doing all your duties correctly throughout your life.

 

Why are there so many Hindu Gods?

True Hindu: Hindus actually only believe in one God, Brahman, the eternal origin who is the cause and foundation of all existence. The gods of the Hindu faith represent different forms of Brahman. These gods are sent to help people find the universal God (Brahman). Most Hindus have a personal god or goddess such as Lord Shiva, Lord Krishna or Goddess Lakshmi to whom they pray regularly.

Avatars of God

Avatars of God

 

The Hindu place of Worship?

True Hindu: 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 statue of God, or a god or goddess.

Lord Murugan's Murti (statue) in Malaysia

Lord Murugan’s Murti (statue) in Malaysia

The Hindu building for communal worship is called Mandir (Hindu Temple). 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.

Mandir (Temple)

Mandir (Temple)

Worshippers repeat the names of their favorite gods, goddesses, and the mantras. Water, fruit, flowers and incense are offered to the gods.

 

What is Hinduism’s Holy book?

True Hindu: 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. There are two main categories of the Hindu scriptures which are; Shruti (“that which is heard”) consists of the four Vedas and Upanishads scriptures & Smriti (“that which is remembered”) composed of traditional texts, including the Dharma Shastras (legal and ethical texts), the Puranas, and the folk/historical legends known as the Mahabharata and Ramayana.

The Hindu Holy Scriptures is mainly comprised of the following works written in the Sanskrit language:

  1. The Vedas: Rig-Veda, Yajur-Veda, Sama-Veda & Atharva-Veda.
  2. The Upanishads – These consider the nature of the individual soul (Atman) and the universal soul (Brahman.) One of the Upanishads contains the earliest reference to the reincarnation of the soul in different bodies (transmigration) of the soul.
  3. The Smrutis – are the Laws of Manu (250 BC)
  4. Ramayana – Contains the story of Lord Ram and his devoted wife Sita. She is kidnapped by the demon king Ravan but is later freed by Lord Ram with the help of the monkey god Lord Hanuman. The poem is about how good will always triumphs over evil and Lord Ram and Sita are held up as role models for the perfect husband and wife.
  5. Mahabharata – An epic poem telling the story of a war between two branches of a family. The Bhagavad-Gita forms part of this and means “The Song of God.”
  6. The Puranas – A collection of ancient tales about the different incarnations and the lives of saints.

 

What are the practices of Hindus?

True Hindu: The practice of Hinduism consists of rites and ceremonies centering on birth, marriage, and death. There are three basic practices:

  1. Worship (called Puja): This is an integral part of the faith. Offerings are usually made to representations of the gods.
  2. Cremation: The dead are burnt not buried
  3. Compliance with the rules of the caste system: The caste system was ‘a division of society to preserve society’ similar to the society in ancient Egyptian times. Each group had rules of conduct to be obeyed. No caste was higher or more important (superior) to another. All were equal and acknowledged as essential to the society. (For more info on the caste system click HERE)
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