Hinduism Notes

With a partner, pick two questions
to discuss:
1. What ideas do you have about the religion of Hinduism?
2. What information have you seen or read about the religion
or about people who are Hindus?
3. Why do you think it is important to know something about
4. How might the religion of Hinduism affect the lives of people
who are not Hindus?
5. What similarities or differences do you see between
Hinduism and Christianity? Judaism? Islam?
What are the main
beliefs of Hinduism?
I. Main Gods
A. Brahman- creator god
B. Vishnu- preserver god; god of love.
C. Shiva- destroyer god; stresses knowledge
and self-discipline
II. Main Goal
A. Leave behind the harsh material world
and be united with the god, Brahman.
- There is no purpose towards which the whole world
appears to be working. There is only the endless
repetition of life. Within this repetition, individuals
make progress towards Brahman.
B. 4 Steps:
1. daily worship and rituals of purity
2. self-control
3. non-violence
4. compassion towards all creatures
III. Path to Brahman
A. Dharma- duties that each caste performs;
one’s social obligation.
- The higher castes have more (social) responsibilities.
“There is more joy in doing one’s own duty imperfectly than in
doing another man’s duty well.”
- Bhagavad Gita.
B. Karma- collection of all of your good and bad
deeds; behavior.
- The misdeeds of a Brahmin (priest) are more
serious than the misdeeds of an untouchable.
C. Ahimsa- A belief in non-violence to animals
as well as humans.
1. Cows are sacred.
2. Insects are protected.
D. Yoga- A Hindu system of exercises for gaining
bodily or mental control and well-being.
E. Twice born:
Initiation of the Hindu boy into his caste.
Occurs between the ages of 7-12.
Life Stages:
1. student: Young child studies the Vedas with a guru (a
religious teacher).
2. householder: Person marries and raises a family.
3. retirement: Choose to live in a forest and meditate.
4. ascetic or sadhu: At this stage, only a few men and women
give up everything, including caste membership, to
become a holy person.
F. Death and Re-birth:
1. When a person thinks they are going to die, they
travel to Benares to bathe in the Ganges River
and cleanse himself/herself of all sins.
2. The dead body is burnt before sundown and the
ashes are thrown into a river or stream.