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HINDUISM Hinduism • Almost exclusively practiced in India ORIGINS • no definable point or person can be traced to the origin of Hinduism • there is no founder for Hinduism • Originated from the Vedas-sacred writings • the world's largest and oldest polytheistic religion BELIEFS • Hinduism teaches that there is one universal spirit called Brahman. – Brahman - a spiritual power that is the source of all existence and is present in every thing and every place • They also worship Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, three gods that are different forms of Brahman. • Brahma is the god of knowledge and the creator of the universe whose work is almost complete. • Vishnu is the preserver of the universe who protects from evil. • Hindus believe that Vishnu often takes on human forms called avatars, so he can guide all living things. • Shiva is the god of destruction and re-creation. • Shiva represents change, from day to night, across the seasons, and throughout our lives. • Reincarnation is the belief in a cycle of life, death, and rebirth that is repeated by the soul many times until the soul reaches the state of Nirvana (internal bliss) and unites with Brahman (the universal soul) – Nirvana is the highest state a Hindu can get; a place of perfect peace and happiness • Karma – a person's actions in life affect the quality of his or her existence. (Reincarnation) • Dharma – the idea of a person’s duty and the obligation to fulfill that duty • Karma and Dharma helped to establish the Caste System • The goal of Hindu faith is to eventually merge with the Brahman after a series of reincarnations. This is called Moksha. • Moksha can be obtained one of three ways: – work – knowledge – devotion HOLY BOOKS • The Vedas, Upanishads, and the Bhagaad-Gita are holy books in Hinduism 1. Vedas - A collection of four books containing sacred poems and hymns. • 2. Upanishads - Text studied by students and teachers. • 3. Bhagavad Gita - a text that is a part of the Indian epic Mahabharata which teaches what Hindus must do to become one with God. DIFFUSION • Hinduism spread throughout the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia through trade, education, and the teaching of priests.