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Religious Traditions: Hinduism & Buddhism Basic Hindu Beliefs Hinduism is the chief religion of India. Hinduism: no founder or formal church Its roots lie in ancient Aryan beliefs and practices. Sacred texts: the Vedas (eternal truths revealed to wise men) and the Upanishads (help explain ideas in Vedas) The Ramayana and the Mahabharata Brahman Polytheistic Each god is part of a single supreme force called brahman. (nameless, formless, and unlimited) Many gods of Hinduism give brahman a concrete form that is more understandable to the average person. Three main gods of Hinduism: Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva Brahma: the creator, Vishnu: the preserver, and Siva, the destroyer Throughout India, different sects, or religious groups, worship one or another of these gods or their many wives and children. Hindu Beliefs Unity of all life Every person has an essential self, or atman. This self is part of a universal soul, also called atman. To Hindus, atman and brahman are the same thing. All things in nature are part of the same universal soul Nonviolence; Respect nature and not struggle against it Reincarnation: Rebirth of the soul in various forms ranging from a god to a flower or a snake (temporary) Moksha –the true goal of life; freeing of the sould from the body so that the sould can unite with brahman Karma means “to do” in Sanskrit Hindus—cycle of death and rebirth continues until the individual soul achieves union with brahman Law of karma—every deed—mental or physical—in this life affects a person’s fate in a future life. A person’s present situation is the result of his or her deeds in a past existence. Good—happiness and evil—sorrow Dharma Most Hindus believe that a person’s caste is the result of karma. Each caste has its own dharma: duties and obligations. Some examples: obedience to caste rules and moral laws Guide to conduct Offers Hindus hope for a better life in the future Buddhism 600 B.C. the Brahman caste had become very powerful Some Hindu reformers tried to limit the priests’ power; Siddhartha Gautama He left his family and his life of wealth to find the cause of human misery (meditated and became enlightened) Buddha “Enlightened One” Spent life teaching others what he learned under that sacred tree: the Four Noble Truths The Four Noble Truths 1. Universal suffering 2. The cause of suffering is desire. 3. The only way to end suffering is to crush desire. 4. The way to end desire is to follow the Noble Eightfold Path. (guide to right conduct) Buddha believed that salvation was achieved (like Hindus) when the individual escaped the body; reincarnation, karma Buddha denied the existence of any gods; priests were not necessary; people were to seek nirvana on their own; also rejected the caste system Sources: World Cultures: A Global Mosaic Prentice Hall 1993.