Hinduism in Ancient India

Hinduism in Ancient India
Coach Parrish
Chapter 4, Section 2
New Delhi Temple – Largest
Hindu Temple in the World
Beginnings of Hinduism
 Aryan prayers and hymns were
passed down through generations,
mixing with India’s existing cultures.
 The ideas and beliefs were added to
the Vedas. This blending of ideas and
beliefs brought about one of the
oldest world religions, Hinduism.
Blend of Religions
 As Hinduism developed, it absorbed many
different practices. Hindus believe that
since people are different, they need
different ways of worshipping.
 There are approximately 850 million
practicing Hindus in India today.
 Hindus believe in many gods and
goddesses, but believe in one single
spiritual power called brahman which lives
in everything.
Hindu Gods and Goddesses
 The gods and goddesses of Hinduism stand
for different parts of brahman.
 Important Hindu gods are Brahma – the
Creator; Vishnu – the Preserver; and Shiva
– the Destroyer.
 Avatar – representation of a Hindu god or
goddess in human or animal form.
 Hindu teachings say that Brahma was born
from a golden egg, and then created
Mt. Kailash – Sacred Home of
Shiva in Tibet
Hindu Gods and Goddesses, cont.
 Hindus believe that Vishnu is a kindly god who
is concerned with the welfare of human beings.
 Vishnu visits Earth occasionally in different
forms. He does this to guide humans or to
protect them from disaster.
 Unlike Vishnu, Shiva is not concerned with
human matters. He is very powerful and
responsible for both the creative and
destructive forces of the universe.
 Hindu gods have their own families. Many
Hindus worship Shiva’s wife, the goddess
The Upanishads
 Upanishad – one of Hinduism’s religious
texts that means “sitting near a
 Much of the text is in the form of
questions by students and responses by
 Reincarnation – rebirth of the soul. It is one of the
main ideas in the Upanishads.
 Hindus believe that when a person dies, the soul is
reborn in the body of another living thing. According
to the Hindus, a person’s life affects his or her fate in
the next life.
 Good behavior is always rewarded in the next life.
Bad behavior is always punished. If a person lives a
good life, they may be elevated to a higher position in
the next life. If a person lives a bad life, they may be
sent to a lower caste or even be reborn as an animal.
 If a person lives a perfect life, he or she may be freed
from the cycle and their soul becomes one with
A Hindu’s Duties
 To become united with the one spirit and
escape the death and rebirth cycle, a person
must obey his or her dharma. Dharma –
religious and moral duties of each person.
 The duties depend on a person’s class, age,
and occupation.
 Ahimsa – nonviolence. Ahimsa is another
important Hindu practice that states that all
living creatures are part of brahman and
therefore should not be harmed. Many Hindus
will therefore not eat meat or harm living
The Yogas
 Hindus believe that yoga exercises help
free the soul from the cares of the world.
In this way, the soul can unite with
Brahma. The word yoga means “union.”
 For Hindus, there are many yogas that can
be used as paths to brahman.
1. Physical activity (yoga)
2. Yoga of selfless deeds (giving to poor)
3. Yoga of knowledge (learning sacred texts)
4. Yoga of devotion (honoring a personal god)
Shiva in Yoga Meditation
Private Devotion
 Hindus worship in public by praying
and performing rituals in temples.
They also show devotion at home.
 It is common for Hindus to choose a
personal god, and honor that god by
offering food, gifts, and prayers at a
home altar. A Hindu’s devotion to the
god brings the soul closer to
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