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Religions in
and Eastern
Polytheistic religion
Major world religion
Began about 1500 BC in Indus River Valley
Almost all follow these practices: reverence
for the Brahmans and cows, prohibition on
the eating of meat, and marriage in the
same caste.
• Religious Text: Vedas
• All Hindus believe in Karma
– What you do comes back to you basically. If you do
good things- good things will happen. If you do bad
things- bad things will happen to you.
• All Hindus believe in Reincarnation
– Each person is reborn repeatedly until he or she
reaches the final supreme goal of Absolute
(Moksha). Then you are released from life and reach
• All Hindus believe in Darma
– You are born into a specific social caste. You must
do your proper duties in life and you will be rewarded
in your next life by being born into a higher caste.
Believe in the universal soul or God (Brahman),
as the sole reality who is present in all things.
– Brahman has no form, and is eternal.
– Brahman is creator, preserver and transformer of
– Brahman appears in the human spirit as Atman,
or the soul.
• Often believed that Hindus worship many gods.
Really one eternal god (Brahman). The other
gods are different aspects of the Brahman.
• Three principal gods:
– Brahma: creates the universe
– Vishnu: preserves the universe
– Shiva: destroys the universe.
• Brahma - known as
the Creator.
• Vishnu - Known as
the Preserver
• Shiva (Siva)- known
as the Destroyer.
Other Gods
• Ganesha - Son of
Shiva and Parvati.
• The Hindu god in a
human form but with
the head of an
What is the Hindu place of
• Most Hindus worship
every day at home and
have a shrine there. A
shrine can be anything
from a room, a small
altar or simply pictures
or statues. Family
members often worship
together. At the shrine,
Hindus make offerings
to a murti. A murti is a
sacred statue of God,
or a god or goddess.
• Originated through the teachings of
Siddhartha Gautama around 500 BC in
NE India. He reached enlightenment
and was given the name of Buddha.
• Buddhists believe that one must go
through the cycle of birth, life, and death
and then become reincarnated.
• The teachings of Buddha were written
down several years after Buddha’s
– Sutras – Buddhists sacred writings
• They don’t believe in any particular god,
so the need for a savior or prayer is
Central Beliefs of Buddhism
• Reincarnation and Karma
• Soul strives for enlightenment
• Good or bad deed performed called Karma
and travels with soul to next life
• When the cycle is finally broken
(enlightenment), like the Buddha, the soul
enters a state of nirvana (highest bliss)
and never returns to earth.
Shinto means “way of the gods”
Ancient religion of Japan
Important text – Kojiki or Nihon-gi
Followers believe that spiritual powers
exist in the natural world
They believe that “spirits” called kami
live in natural places such as animals,
plants, stones, mountains, rivers,
people, and even the dead
Worship in shrines found in beautiful,
natural settings
Most important Kami is Amaterasu, the
sun goddess
Many people practice both Shintoism
and Buddhism
Philosophy of Confucius
• A Chinese philosopher believed that
society could become perfect in the
people in it exhibited perfect conduct
• Confucius (551-479 BC) also taught that
your well-being depends directly on the
well-being of others. This principle is
called Jen.
• There are five texts (Analects) which
contain Confucian scriptures. These
include poems, history, rituals, and
• Some say Confucianism is more a
description of how to be a good person
than a spiritual practice.
– After death, people built temples in his
What did Confucius teach
Confucius taught people five basic
ideas about behavior:
Always be considerate to others.
Respect your ancestors.
Try for harmony and balance in all
Avoid extremes in behavior and
If you live in peace and harmony, then
you will be in contact with the spiritual
forces of the universe, including
Confucius taught five basic virtues:
1) kindness
2) righteousness
3) sobriety
4) wisdom
5) trustworthiness
• Islam is mostly practiced in Indonesia. It
is actually the most populated Muslim
country in the world.
• It is also found in Bangladesh, India,
Malaysia, Philippines, and Pakistan.
• Many believe Islam was spread to this
region through trade.