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◦ Hinduism does not come from the
teachings of one person
◦ Hindu is a Sanskrit word meaning
“river,” it was once used to describe all
◦ The teachings of Hinduism have three
main sources:
◦ The traditions of the Indus River valley
◦ The traditions of the Dravidian peoples
◦ And the beliefs of the Aryan invaders
Aryan Invasion
◦ When the Aryans invaded India, the
native Dravidians responded in three
◦ Fleeing to southern India and preserving
their culture
◦ Becoming slaves to the Aryans
◦ Merging with the Aryans to form a new
culture in northern India-this was the
beginning of Hinduism
Hindu Texts
◦ Hindu beliefs come from a collection of
texts known as the Shruti, “that which is
◦ Other texts are called Shmriti, “that
which is remembered”-these are great
◦ The Upanishads are part of the Shruti
and answer questions about Hindu
beliefs and practices
Hindu Beliefs
◦ The one true reality is Brahman, the
mighty spirit that creates and destroys.
Brahman is One, but expresses itself as
◦ One part of Brahman is the Self, or Soul.
This is called Atman. Atman is found in
every living thing
Hindu Beliefs
◦ Nothing living dies entirely. The Atman
continues in a cycle of rebirth
◦ All Hindus strive to achieve moksha, a
state of spiritual perfection. Once
moksha is achieved, the Atman
merges with Brahman
◦ Moksha is achieved through margas:
knowledge and insight, appropriate
action and works, and devotion to god
◦ All diversity in the universe is an illusion
(maya)-the true nature is Oneness
Hindu Gods and Goddesses
◦ Brahma the Creator
◦ Vishnu the Preserver
◦ Shiva the Destroyer
◦ Shakti (Feminine energy force responsible
for fertility and creativity; manifests itself in
many female forms)
◦ Hindus believe in the Oneness of
Brahman, but often have devotions to
other gods
Caste System
◦ 1. Brahmins
◦ Created from the mouth, made up of
◦ 2. Kshatriyas
◦ Created from the arms, rulers and
◦ 3. Vaisyas
◦ Created from the thighs, merchants,
farmers, artisans
◦ 4. Sudras
◦ Created from the feed, servants and
Dalits (Untouchables)
◦ The Dalits, or Untouchables, are even
lower than the Sudras
◦ They had no rights in Hindu culture
◦ Members of other castes would not
speak to them, touch them, drink from
the same well, etc.
◦ The justification for the caste system is
Karma-your behavior in this life will
determine your status in the next life
◦ Good karma is accrued by following
◦ Dharma is the set of rules for proper
behavior for each caste
Goals of Life
◦ No matter what caste, there are four
purushartha, or goals of life:
◦ Dharma, artha (success), kama
(pleasure) and moksha
◦ A Hindu expects to pass through four
ashramas, or stages of life:
◦ Brahmacarya-Student
◦ Grihastha-Householder
◦ Vanaprastha-One who withdraws for
◦ Samnyasin-One who renounces the world