Hinduism Introduction

Introduction to
General Introduction
Founded: Hinduism evolved
over a long period of time,
beginning around 3000
B.C.E. It is the oldest of the
major world religions.
Founder: No one person
established Hinduism and
they have no set creed.
Place of Origin: India
Distribution: India, and to a
lesser extent Bali, Sir Lanka,
and Indonesia. Africa and
North America also have
small numbers of Hindus.
Sacred Books: The main
Hindu Scriptures which are
written in Sanskrit are the:
VEDAS (the oldest …
poems and verses)
BRAHMANAS (rules for
worship), and
UPANISHADS (answers to
questions on life and
In addition, there are two
great epics, the
RAMAYANA and the
MAHABHAART, and such
lesser texts as the
and the LAWS OF MANU.
God: Hindus slowly came to
accepts the idea of the
existence of and ETERNAL
BRAHMAN. To help them
understand, Hindus worship
different Gods who
individually represent ONE
particular aspect of Brahman.
Goal of Hinduism: All forms
of existence, including this
present world and everything
in it are temporary and
illusionary and are referred to
as MAYA. The goal of every
Hindu is to break free of this
imperfect world and achieve a
blissful reunion with
BRAHMAN. Hinduism is
essentially an optimistic faith,
in that it contends that
everyone will eventually attain
this goal. There is no threat
of permanent Hell or
Monism : All is Brahman
All reality is ultimately one
All rivers, all lakes, all rain share a common essence,
all come from the ocean and eventually return to it.
For monists... all forms of reality-gods and
goddesses, plants and animals, the material
universe, and humans share a common essence...
this one reality is Brahman
Brahman is the ground existence and the course of
the universe
Brahman is everything... all things come from and
eventually return to Brahman
Brahman is impersonal, without characteristics
beyond the reach of human perception and thought
Monism (Cont’d)
Brahman can only be describes as neti, neti... “Not
this, not this...”
Ultimate reality can be understood through inward
contemplation of the self. Contemplation of the
universe and the inner self are one and the same.
The ultimate reality within is named ATMAN, the
eternal self
Atman is the spirit of Brahman living within you and
all things... a soul
Brahman = Atman .... interchangeable terms
We see Brahman as Creator (Brahma), Sustainer
(Vishnu), and Destroyer (Shiva)
One Reality
Names and
 Brahma
 Vishnu
 Shiva
Moksha: Salvation
Hindu ultimate goal = salvation
 Not attainable in one lifetime for most
 Therefore Hindus have re-incarnation
 They can afford to be patient regarding
the goal of salvation
 Salvation = Moksha = “liberation” or
Moksha (Cont’d)
Moksha is a release from this ordinary, finite,
limited realm of existence into the divine
Moksha characterized by infinite being, infinite
awareness, infinite bliss
It is beyond description because it is beyond
this imperfect world
Having attained Moksha a Hindu is united
forever with the divine having returned to the
sacred source
Hinduism is an optimistic faith since everyone
will eventually attain this goal
“Wheel of rebirth” or law of rebirth
 process of “transmigration”
 soul reincarnated from one life form to
Literally means “actions” or “deeds”… it is a merit
Moral law of cause and effect of actions (good
deeds, spiritual exercises, meditation)
Determines the nature of one’s reincarnation
The type of person your soul moves on to depends
on how you have lived = the law of karma
Only humans have the will to effect the status of their
karma (being human is a privilege and a
People are held responsible for their actions
Functions hand in hand with samsara
life involves a series of duties to be engaged in = dharma
literally means “moral obligations” or “virtuous living”
These are not the same for every person – depends on
job, family background
We have a duty to ourselves and others to do what is
morally/ethically expected
Standard by which individuals can judge the rightness &
wrongness of their acts
For every activity there is a way of acting that conforms to
Hindus look to four sources when seeking guidance on
certain situations:
divine revelation (sacred scriptures); b) sacred traditions;
c) the practices of those considered to be wisest in the
society, and; d) conscience
 Samsara
Cycle of Birth and Death
 Karma
Cause and Effect
 Moksha
Release from the Cycle