Spirituality Articles

Adoodad watercolor Condensed History Of Hinduism
Submitted by wpo1408
Fri, 2 Mar 2012

Hinduism is a complicated combination of polytheistic religion, a (belief in numerous gods, rather like the Greek and the Roman deities) and philosophy. It originated from Vedism, which dates back to the second millennium before Christ. It is not surprising therefore that numerous sects have evolved or split away from a faith of this age.

However, most of these sects rely on the one set of Vedic texts known universally as the 'Upanishads', and their differences result from their individual interpretations of them. These writings describe the activities of Shiva, the creator, preserver and destroyer of the universe. There are also ancient writings such as the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and, less well-known in the Developed world, the Puranas.

The Bhagavad Gita, the Lord's Song, a part of the Mahabharata, relates a dialogue between Krishna (another incarnation of the god Vishnu) and the acolyte Prince Arjuna. This dialogue sheds light on the four paths to enlightenment or union with God.

This may sound dreary, but I can assure you that reading the Bhagavad Gita could easily change the manner in which you look upon life no matter which religion you believe in, if you have one.

The basics of Hinduism are that individuals ought to strive to connect their selves (Atman) with the Godhead (Brahman) and reincarnation (samsara). Just what individuals come back as is determined by how they have led their lives, that is, one's actions (karma) and one's duty (dharma).

This continuous reincarnation into a life of suffering can only be stopped if one reaches the Godhead in a state of Atman-Brahman. Their are four paths to attain this divine state in Hinduism.

These are: jnana yoga, which is based on knowledge; bhakti yoga, which is based on service to God; karma yoga, which is based on work for God (instead of oneself) and raja yoga, which is based on psychophysical exercises.

Raja yoga, or the 'Royal Path', is the kind of yoga that most Westerners will have heard of and seen. Raja yoga is more popular in the Developed world nowadays than at any other time in history.

Hinduism has three principal theistic traditions based on anthropomorphic gods. Vishnu is a loving god incarnated as Krishna; Shiva is both protective and destructive and Brahma is the creator. Saktism is a kind of worship dedicated to the female partners of Vishnu and Shiva. Hindu's venerate all types of life, but the most sacred animal to Hindus is the cow.

Hindu worship revolves about a person's and a family's dedication to a particular 'favourite' god or group of gods. The act of worship is carried out at a shrine, which can be at home or communally in public. There are a number of places of pilgrimage including the Ganges in northern India.

The three primary festivals are Dipavali - the 'festival of lights' - which sacred to Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity; Holi, a spring festival and Dashara, a harvest festival.

Hinduism is the oldest of the world's prolific religions. It is most prevalent in India, which has outlawed the ancient caste system of Hinduism. This caste system used to segregate society into five chief classes: brahmins were leaders, philosophers and artists; kshatriyas were princes, soldiers and administrators; vaishyas were traders and landowners; shudras were labourers and the remainder were outcasts or untouchables.

Owen Jones, the author of this article, writes on a variety of topics, but is now concerned with Hindu religious beliefs. If you would like to know more go to What is Religious Belief?

Source: ArticleTrader.com
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