What is Hinduism?



Ms. Catsos

World History

What is Hinduism?

One of the oldest religions of humanity

Began in India

Gave birth to Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism

A philosophy and a way of life – focused both on this world and beyond

How did Hinduism begin?

No particular founder or holy book, instead early Vedic tradition evolved into Hinduism.

Vedic tradition is based on a group of sacred texts known as the

Vedas .

Controversy over the Vedas

Historians are currently debating the origins of Vedic tradition. The two main theories are:

The Vedas were brought by the

3500 years ago

Aryans, who some historians believe entered India 4000 -

The Vedas were developed by Ancient Indian people of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa

What are the Sacred Texts?


(“heard”) – philosophical texts that state the basic principles of Hinduism




(“remembered”) –apply the principles of the Shruti to daily life






Both shruti and smriti were originally told orally before being written down

What do Hindus believe?

There is one impersonal life spirit is manifested as many different gods and goddesses

Brahman that

Every person, plant, and animal has a true essence or soul, called



, which is part of

Who do Hindus worship? – the major Hindu gods


, the creator god

Who do Hindus worship? – the major gods of the Hindu Pantheon


, the preserver god

(appears in ten different forms)

Who do Hindus worship? – the major gods of the Hindu Pantheon


, the Destroyer

Often shown with his wife,


, and son


All these gods and goddesses are different forms of Brahman

The Cycle of Life and Death


– Atman is continually born into this world lifetime after lifetime.

Ultimate goal of life is


, releasing

Atman and become one with Brahman.

Reaching moksha means escaping the cycle of reincarnation.


– actions that affect one’s fate in the future.

How do Hindus reach Moksha?

People earn good karma by doing their dharma (religious and moral duties)

If you earn good karma, you can be reborn as a higher life form or in a higher caste, and eventually reach moksha.

If you earn bad karma, you will be reborn as a lower life form or in a lower caste.

The Caste System

Each group has specific duties, or dharma.

Hindu Nonviolence

Ahisma is the Hindu word for nonviolence.

All things and people have aspects of

Brahman and should be respected.

Most Hindus are vegetarians.

Adapted from…

“What is Hinduism?” by Laura Ellen Shulman