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Directions: Read the descriptions of each of the following polytheistic religions and complete the graphic organizer and the bottom of the page. Hinduism Hinduism is a polytheistic religion that began in India and is the world’s third largest religion. Within in the Hindu religion there are hundreds of different Gods and Goddesses. Each deity (God) has his or her own individual personality and powers. Hindus follow a set of holy texts called the Vedas. The Vedas layout the laws of Hinduism and were the basis for India’s social structure. It is from the Vedas that caste system originates. The Caste System is a very strict social system based on birth and the type of work a person does. The highest people in Hindu society are the Brahmins (priests). At the bottom of the Caste System were the untouchables. These people were considered to be unclean and were only allowed to do certain types of jobs such as burying dead bodies. The caste system was a rigid social structure, meaning that a person could not move up in life. Hindus believe in reincarnation, being reborn after you die. Reincarnation is influenced by karma (your actions in this world influence who you will be in your next life), and dharma (fulfilling one's duty in life). A person who fulfills their dharma will be reborn as something or someone positive. Very often this means being reborn into a higher caste. However a person with bad karma will be reborn in a lower caste. Animism A polytheistic religion that believes all things in a nature has a living spirit. There is no one person who is considered the founder of Animism and it developed simultaneously in different parts of the world. Most traditional cultures that practice Animism have an oral tradition of story telling, rather than a developed written code rules. Animism is the world’s oldest form of religion. Early humans believed that nature created life and should be worshiped. Animism has been practice all over the world. In South America, Mayan’s and Aztec believed that the Sun was a living spirit that demanded human sacrifice. Africans worshipped a number of natural spirits including the spirits of dead ancestors and animals Shintoism Shintonism is a polytheistic and animistic religion found in Japan. Japanese culture is heavily influenced by geography and nature. The respect and preservation of nature is a major part of Shinto belief. Shinto’s worship many different spirits called Kami. Each Kami represents a different aspect of the natural world. For example there is river Kami and sun Kami. It is believed that these kami can bring a person good fortune or punish people. Ancestor worship is also an important part of Shinto belief. Shintos believe that the spirits of their dead ancestors exsist in the real world and can have an affect on a person’s life. A few times a year, Shinto’s give an offering to their ancestors, which often includes a bowl of rice and a class of tea. Unlike many other religions there is no religious text or code of laws in Shintoism. Traditions are passed down orally to each generation. Where did the What religious religion begin? texts or codes of law are followed in this religion? Hinduism Animism Shintoism List 3 important beliefs of this religion.