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Hinduism - a World Religion Report

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Hinduism: A World Religion Report


Hinduism - stands for the faith and the way of life most of the people who live in India. Hinduism is such an ancient religion that has many types of beliefs and religious practices. Around 1750 BC Aryan invaders from central Asia settled in North - West India and introduced their own religious ideas (Wikipedia, 2006).

Slowly the Hindu came to accept the idea of the existence of an eternal supreme being. They called this being, Brahman. Hindus also worship different gods, which individually represent one particular aspect of Brahman. The most popular one of the lesser gods are Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver), and Shiva (the destroyer). Hinduism has no founder, instead is a religion that has slowly developed over time (Wikipedia, 2006).

The Interview

I had the opportunity to sit down with a Shiri Pertu to discuss her Hindu heritage. Shiri came to the United States to attend the University of Alabama in pursuant of her Ph.D. Shiri and I discussed how does the education system in the United States compares to India, her homeland. Shiri's daughter Roloka will receive a more advanced education here in the states than in India. The facilities here are more modern, the education in India concentrates more on history and many children that complete primary education are barley literate.

The two temples are more than 60 miles and difficult to. Since the Hindu religion is a way of life, worship is not critical to attend on a weekly basis. Instead, they worship every day in how they live their life.

I asked Shiri's perception of the way Americans worship and represent faith. Shiri says "Americans believe that by being active in church and giving money guarantees a position in the

after life." The same people do not treat others with respect and do not live a healthy life. Being Hindu it all about how one treats another and the choice he or she makes in life. This belief has shaped her life and why her character is good.

Being in America has had a significant impact on Shiri and her family. She has had the opportunity to learn how Americans live and decide whether they will remain in the states are return to India. They would like to remain here until Roloka completes her education.

Hindu Beliefs / Hindu Gods

The Hindus have four gods Brahman, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva (Levinson, 1998). Their main god is Brahman. He is the origin and the sustainer of all life, and the goal of all things. He is eternal and omnipotent and only he is real. They believe that Brahman is so transcendent that he cannot be explained in human words because all humans are imperfect and Brahman is perfect (Levinson, 1998).

Shiva is usually depicted with six arms each one representing a different function to perform. He is known as the destroyer and restorer of life, symbol of the reproductive force of nature, philosopher and sage. He has a third eye that signifies wisdom or higher consciousness. He has a blue throat which is a result of him swallowing a full cup of mans sins. Worship of Shiva includes fertility rites and veneration of the symbols of male and female sex organs. Most Hindus imagine Shiva as being in deep meditation high in the Himalayas. Shiva is the ultimate god who holds in divine tension the preservation and destruction of the cosmos, both its birth and death. At times he is portrayed as the absolute ascetic. He is often depicted as the reconciler of

dualities such as good and evil, eroticism and asceticism, his creative energy are depicted in the Lingam and Yoni. Shiva is frequently shown in loving union with his consort Parvati (another form of the great goddess) (Wikipedia, 2006). Shiva devotees are called Shaivites, and devotion usually takes the form of Yogic practice. Shiva is often pictured, in one of the best-known religious images from India as the "Lord of the Cosmic Dance" (Levinson, 1998).

Life Before and After Death

A Hindu believes and hopes that eventually his soul will join with Brahman (Wikipedia, 2006). They welcome death as a step towards gaining this everlasting union with him. They believe that their souls were never born and therefore will never die but the soul moves on from one body to another. This movement from one body to another in the cycle of birth death and re-birth is called reincarnation. This belief that a person will be born again following the death is linked with the law of karma. They also believe that the type of existence a person will experience in the next life depends on the good and bad karma built up in the previous life.

The white cows are considered holy because they believe that they are a symbol of "atman", which means the soul in all living things (Wikipedia, 2006).

The Caste System

A caste is a group of people with a particular place in society. Hindu people are born into their caste (Levinson, 1998) whether high or low, they must accept their place without question. This means that a person can only be born a Hindu. To maintain purity Hindus can only marry within their caste (Wikipedia, 2006), they can only eat with members of their caste, and the men follow occupation of their caste that is passed from father to son (Wikipedia, 2006).

The difficulty that arises by the observing the caste system is that there are large groups of people who are classified as being outside of the caste system; some examples of this are untouchables and outcastes. These people are among the poorest and least educated people in India and they do all the dirty work. Even though the government has passed laws against classifying people as untouchable (Levinson, 1998), they still feel that customs die-hard; therefore there is still discrimination and hostility against them.

The name for the series of rituals for various phases in a Hindus life is sanskaras (Levinson, 1998). Conception: in the early days of marriage even before the children are conceived, the parents pray and meditate on the kind of child they wish to have. During pregnancy a number of rites are performed. The gods are asked to protect the unborn child, and to strengthen the mother spiritually, mentally and physically so that a healthy child is born.

Name giving: on the eleventh or twelfth day after birth a name is chosen for the baby. The choice of name is very important, it must be on which is hoped will bring good fortune. A boys name may indicate heroism and a girls name may indicate beauty. Parents would choose the baby's name as a result of praying and



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