Exploring Religions: Hinduism


Last week, we covered Sikhism, an Indian religion that focuses on peace. This week, we are covering another Indian religion- Hinduism.

The Basics.

Just some facts on Hinduism before we delve deeply into this religion.

  • Hinduism is the oldest existing religion in the world today.
  • There are a billion followers of this religion.
  • Hinduism cannot be traced to any one individual.
  • Hinduism is a way of life.
  • There is not just “one” Hinduism- there is not a unified system of beliefs and ideas, in other words.

Beliefs of Hindus.

So, what do the Hindus believe? Very simply, they believe many things and are very diverse in their beliefs. However, there are some beliefs that make up the heart of Hinduism.

  1. The belief in one Supreme Being who is in everything, transcends everything, and is both Creator and Unmanifest Reality.
  2. Hindus believe in the divinity of the Vedas.
  3. The universe undergoes an infinite number of cycles of creation, preservation, and dissolution.
  4. Hindus believe in Karma.
  5. Hindus believe in reincarnation. Every soul will go through this.
  6. Hindus believe in divine beings that exist in other realms. Their devotionals, sacraments, rituals, and worship communes with these divine beings, called devas, and God.
  7. Hindus believe that an enlightened Master, called a satguru, is essential to The Transcendent Absolute. Personal discipline, pilgrimage, good conduct, purification, self-inquiry, meditation, and surrender in God are also needed for the Transcendent Absolute.
  8. Hindus believe that all life is sacred and practice noninjury, called ahimsa, in all aspects of life.
  9. Hindus believe that there is not a single religion that teaches only one way to salvation, but that all religions provide the way to salvation by being bits of God’s light.

What Is The Transcendent Absolute?

The Transcendent Absolute is the Absolute Reality as The Transcendent or The Transcendent as Absolute Reality.

This is an enlightenment within the mind that is not the Absolute or Supreme in its fullness, but a partial understanding of it.

It is reality in its true form, without the distractions that are often in day to day life that mess with the conception of reality as it is in its essence.

The Vedas.

The Vedas are the sacred texts that are followed in Hinduism.

Veda means wisdom, knowledge, or vision.

Some facts about the Vedas.

  • They are the earliest documents of the human mind.
  • Hindus do not believe that humans composed the Vedas.
  • They were handed down by word of mouth before being written down.
  • The Vedas have four parts: The Rig-Veda, the Sama Veda, the Yajur Veda and the Atharva Veda.
  • The Rig-Veda is the main part of the Vedas.
  • All of the four Vedas together are known as the Chathurveda.

Rites & Rituals In Hinduism.

There are two rites in Hinduism- one for babies and then one for weddings.

The Rites For Babies.

The rites for babies, called the sanskars, begins before the baby is born.

Hindus believe that it is the responsibility of every Hindu individual to continue the Hindu line. So, immediately after a couple is wed, a prayer for conception, called the Garbhadana, is prayed for the parental obligations to be done by the newly weds.

Once the conception occurs, some other things happen.

  • Third Month of Pregnancy- At this time, the ceremony for fetal protection, called the Punsavana is performed. This helps to promote the strong growth of the baby.
  • Seventh Month of Pregnancy- Now, a baby shower or Simantonnyana is performed. This means “the satisfying of the craving of the pregnant mother,” for Hindus. Prayers are offered for both child and mother. Emphasis is placed on strong mental development of the child.
  • The Birth and Events After- There are rituals done to welcome the child into the family, naming rituals, to celebrate the first trip out that the baby has, and then the first taste of solid food.

Wedding Rites.

There are three main stages of? wedding rites.

  • Jayamaala- the welcoming of the bridegroom’s parents by the brides parents at the threshold of the house that the wedding is taking place.
  • Madhu-Parka- the bridegroom is brought to a special altar and offered a welcoming drink.
  • Gau Daan and Kanya Pratigrahan- the exchange of gifts and the declaration the bride has accepted the bridegroom.
  • Viva-Homa- the recitation of the sacred mantras by a priest.

Then, climbing over a stone or rock is performed by the bride to show her strength in overcoming difficult times after the ceremony of vows.

Next week, be on the lookout for Exploring Religions: Islam.

Let us know what you think at the Liberal America Facebook page!