Who or What is Brahman ? Brahman is the ultimate reality behind

The Human Condition –life is a journey to union
with God but, when they remain ignorant of this,
human beings suffer and are continually reborn.
The Goals - to live a virtuous life and finally to
achieve Moksha.
The Means – there are many paths which lead to
Moksha. Brahman also has a role in the
attainment of Moksha.
God’s Grace
What is the Human Condition?
All life is a journey to union with Brahman
Until humans achieve this they will continue to suffer
(dukkha) and be reborn (samsara)
Life is transient; brief and short-lived, ever-changing
What is the cause of the human condition?
Avidya; ignorance of the true nature of self and the
What are the goals during life?
To live a virtuous life leading to improved rebirth and the
attainment of bliss
Follow dharma; act in harmony with the laws of the
Follow dharma (duties and customs) for varna
What is the final aim of existence?
Achieve moksha
Release from samsara
Union with Brahman
Samadhi - attainment of bliss
How are the goals achieved?
Understand the truths revealed in scriptures – Vedas,
Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita
Achieve detachment and renunciation
What practices help to achieve the goals?
There are many paths which lead to moksha
Brahman has a role in the attainment of moksha
Practice margas; karma, bhakti, jnana
Follow dharma for ashrama
Varnashramadharma – dharma for varna and ashrama
Who or What is Brahman ?
 the ultimate reality behind existence
 pure being – sat
 pure consciousness – cit
 pure bliss – ananda
What aspects of Brahman are represented by the Trimurti ?
 Creation – Brahma
 Preserver – Vishnu
 Destroyer – Shiva
What is the Atman ?
 The real self.
 The one that is permanent.
 A spark of the divine Brahman
 Hinduism is all about realising the Atman & Brahman are
the same.
 The Atman goes through samsara, and controls moral
 Moksha ends the Atman’s journey.
What is Avidya ?
 Ignorance; stops spiritual enlightenment or the union
of the Atman & Brahman.
 People sometimes claim to know something is true
but they don't. Avidya is kept alive by materialism,
Education is not the same as knowledge. (see Jnana
What is samsara?
Samara literally means ‘sea of change’.
It is the cycle of birth, death, rebirth that the soul or
atman travels through.
Samsara is the journey to moksha.
It can act as a motivation to improve a person’s life
through following their dharma.
It is the cycle of life that Hindus strive to ‘escape’ from.
What Is Dharma ?
 Right Conduct – behave yourself, duty of your
caste/varna and your obligation or responsibility to
 Religious or moral duty relating to specific varna and
stage in life.
 It gives order to the world – we all know what we should
do allowing a harmonized universe.
 Personal code of conduct.
 Affects a person’s journey through samsara.
How can a person affect samsara through their dharma?
Following your dharma well can help the atman progress
through samsara
Samsara is the apparent endless cycle of rebirth the atman
has to go through. Performing dharma and developing
karma can attain a better rebirth
A Hindu aims to achieve Moksha and the end of samsara
and carrying out their dharma makes it possible to move
towards moksha.
Varnashramadharma: duties depending on caste(fixed) &
stage in life (changes)
What is Samadhi ?
 It means enlightenment.
 It means realising who Brahman really is.
 It is the final state of the Atman, and you have no
sense of 'I' or 'mine'
 The highest state that someone who practices
yoga/meditation can reach
What is Moksha?
A Hindu’s final destiny.
The final stage of existence after the cycle of samsara
is ended.
The end of suffering.
The atman is never reborn.
Highest state of happiness which cannot be
Important to some Hindus; not important to others.
Why is Moksha Important to Hindus ?
 The ultimate goal for a Hindu is to achieve Moksha.
Without re-uniting with Brahman, your Atman/soul
can never be at peace.
 It encourages Hindus to lead a good/honest and
peaceful life because to achieve Moksha requires
good karma & following Dharma –
 Gives hope of a better life after this one
Why/when is Moksha not important to some Hindus?
 Many Hindus struggle to survive from day to day and
do not think about life after death.
 Moksha has too many stages and some Hindus do
not think it is achievable.
 Scientific development has lead many Hindus to
question the concept of reincarnation.
What does varna mean?
Varna literally means ‘colour’
Refers to the 4 social classes or castes.
What are the 4 varnas?
1. Brahmins
2. Kshatriyas
3. Vaishyas
4. Shudras
Who are the Brahmins ?
 They are priests and those in a higher professions,
i.e. teachers & doctors.
 They understand and study Hindu teachings.
 They set a good moral example for others by
remaining pure in words and deeds.
Who are the Kshatriyas ?
 They are the rulers & military forces in society, such
as royal family, prime minister, members of the
government and officers in the armed forces.
 They are leaders, and protectors and guard the
welfare of the people.
 They were a secular (non-religious) power
responsible for enforcing dharma.
Who are the Vaishyas ?
 They are the business people in society. They deal with
money and commercial activities i.e. traders, bankers,
financial advisers, solicitors and directors.
 They were farmers or peasants involved in agriculture
to provide food.
 They are responsible for providing the material goods &
the wealth in society.
Who are the Shudras ?
 Skilled workers eg potters, weavers and servants.
 The working class. i.e. workers, labourers, factory
workers and builders.
 They do the physical and manual workers, serving the
needs of others.
 They were banned from access to scriptures.
 Could not be twice-born (sacred thread ceremony)
Who are the Untouchables ?
 Dalits
 They are outside the caste system.
 They deal with things considered unclean i.e. dead
Why are Varnas important for Hindu Society ?
 Everyone is given a role and responsibility to
produce a stable society.
 It was based on occupation ensuring that society had
a thriving society with everyone depending on each
 Your caste reflects your position and status in terms
of a persons karma and therefore reincarnation.
 It provides a moral incentive for all to improve their
What are the 4 Ashramas ?
 Student Stage – Brahmacharya
 Householder Stage – Grihastha
 Retirement Stage – Vanaprasta
 Renunciation Stage – Sunnyasin
What is Brahmacharya ?
(student stage)
 This begins with the initiation rite of the sacred
thread called upanayana preformed only by boys in
the upper 3 castes
 Students study Hindu scripture.
What is Grihastha?
(householder stage)
 This begins when the student returns from his studies,
marries, produces children and takes on the duties of a
 This stage is considered very important.
 Pursue kama – pleasure e.g. music, dance, sex
 Pursue artha – wealth but only through honest means
What is Vanaprastha?
(retirement stage)
 This stage occurs when the children are grown up
and able to run their own lives.
 To become detached from worldly goods, go on
What is Sunnyasin?
(renunciation stage)
 Practices detachment and renunciation from all
worldly possessions
 To give up all worldly ties, possessions, family and
even name and devoting one's entire life to the
spiritual god of liberation or moksha.
 Some become a wandering holy man (sadhu)
What are the Three Margas ?
 Karma yoga including 'seva' – charity work
 Bhakti yoga including 'puja‘ - worship
 Jnana yoga – Meditation & learning
 A form of following dharma
What is Ahimsa ?
 Means non-violence to all things, this is because
Hindus believe in the 'specialness' of all life.
 All life is involved in samsara.
 Gandhi followed ahimsa.
 Some Hindus reject it because if we don't defend
ourselves we can allow suffering to happen. This
might mean poor karma and not following your
What is God’s Grace?
Without it man is nothing on his own
Impossible to achieve spiritual progression without it.
Some Hindus believe it doesn’t exist; we are on our
Some Hindus believe that man by nature is free.