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Ancient India Chapter 4 Find out about the beginning of Hinduism. Learn about the teachings of Hinduism. Examine the practice of Hinduism. brahman avatar reincarnation dharma ahimsa Hinduism is a major world religion that resulted when Aryan and Indian cultures blended. It is one of the world’s oldest living 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. The Hindu holy book. It is a collection of songs and poems that contain Hindu beliefs. Hindus worship many gods and goddesses and one single spiritual power, called Brahman. Hindus believe that Brahman lives in everything. 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. Hindu teachings say that Brahma was born from a golden egg, and then created everything. 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 Shakti. •It is unlike other major religions, because it has no one single founder. Reading Check: What are the three main Hindu gods? The three main Hindu gods are Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver), and Shiva (the destroyer). Upanishad – one of Hinduism’s religious texts that means “sitting near a teacher.” Much of the text is in the form of questions by students and responses by teachers. 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. If a person lives a good life, they may be elevated to a higher position in the next life. Bad behavior is always punished. 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 brahman. The duties depend on a person’s class, age, and occupation. 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. 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 creatures. Ahimsa – nonviolence. Reading Check: According to Hindu belief, what happens to a person’s soul after death? Hindus believe a person’s soul is reborn into another living thing or it becomes one with brahman 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) 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 brahman. Reading Check: How is yoga practiced by Hindus? Hindus who practice yoga use special exercises, breathing, and deep thinking to help free their souls and unite them with Brahman. Why do you think Savitri chose Prince Satyavan? What about him attracted her to him? What message does this tale try to teach? 1.(a) Explain How did the early Aryan religion grow into Hinduism? As Aryan culture blended with India’s preexisting cultures, new ideas and beliefs formed and led to the development of Hinduism. (b) Compare and Contrast How is Hinduism different from other religions you have learned about? How is it similar? Hinduism is different from Judaism because Hindus worship several gods and Jews worship one god. It is similar to the religions of ancient Egypt because more than one god is worshipped by both religions. 2.(a) Analyze Information What is the relationship between good and bad behavior and the Hindu idea of reincarnation? In Hinduism, good behavior results in reincarnation into higher status or unity with brahman; bad behavior results in being reincarnated into a lower class or into an animal. (b) Find the Main Idea What does “escaping the cycle of birth and death” mean to Hindus? To Hindus it means reuniting one’s spirit with brahman. 3.(a) Describe In what ways do Hindus practice their faith? They practice various forms of yoga and worship in temples and at home. (b) Draw Conclusions How do you think the yogas bring Hindus closer to brahman? Practicing yoga helps Hindus lead a more perfect life, which may help their soul become one with brahman.