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Origins of Hinduism
 Hinduism, unlike most major religions, does not
have a central figure upon whom it is founded.
Rather, it is a complex faith with roots stemming
back 5,000 years to the people of the Indus Valley.
When the Aryan tribes of Persia invaded the Indus
Valley around 1700 B.C., the groups’ beliefs
merged and Hinduism began to form.
 Hindus believe the Ganges River to be sacred.
 Hinduism is one of the oldest known organized
religions in the world. It has about 800,000,000
followers today, most of whom are in India.
What Hindus Believe
 The Eternal Soul
 For many Hindus, religion is a matter of practice rather than of beliefs.
It's more what you do, than what you believe. Hindus believe in a
universal soul or God called Brahman. Brahman takes on many forms that
some Hindus worship as gods or goddesses in their own right. Hindus
believe that there is a part of Brahman in everyone and this is called the
 Reincarnation
 Reincarnation is the belief that the soul is eternal and lives many
lifetimes, in one body after another. The soul is sometimes born in a
human body, sometimes in an animal body and sometimes in a plant
body, such as that of a tree. All forms of life contain a soul, and all souls
have the chance to experience life in different forms.
 Karma
 Karma is the Sanskrit word for action. Actions are important because
they bring reactions. Hindus believe every experience, pleasant or
unpleasant, is linked to past actions, in this lifetime or in some previous
lifetime. This does not rule out free choice, because by practicing yoga,
or spiritual discipline, one can change one’s actions and so change one’s
future. Belief in karma teaches people to accept responsibility for their
behavior, and learn from their mistakes.
The Hindu Gods
 Hinduism is a polytheistic religion,
meaning that its followers believe in
more than one god. In fact,
worshippers commonly devote
themselves to one god, their
personal deity. Household shrines
feature pictures and statues of the
chosen gods. Individuals may
choose this god for its special
attributes. For example, Ganesh,
the god with the head of an
elephant, is known for overcoming
obstacles and bringing success.
The Hindu Trinity
 The foremost of the Hindu gods are Brahma, Vishnu,
and Shiva. Although each of these deities possess
special attributes, many Hindus believe they represent
three properties of one god. Together they form the
Hindu Trinity.
Brahma: The Creator
 Brahma is considered the mystical
creator, the supreme presence, or
God. Many Hindus believe that all
other gods originate from Brahma.
His four faces stand for the four
corners of the universe. He holds a
sacrificial ladle, the four Vedas
(sacred writings), a jar of holy water
from the Ganges, and a necklace of
prayer beads. Like all Hindu gods,
he sits upon a lotus throne.
Vishnu: The Preserver
 Followers of Vishnu worship
him as the preserver, greatest
of the gods. His role is to
maintain a balance between
good and evil powers in the
universe. In order to do this,
Vishnu returns to earth in
different forms, both animal
and human.
Shiva: The Destroyer
 Shiva is worshipped as the destroyer or
purifier. Like Vishnu, Shiva appears in
many different forms throughout Hindu
 Shiva dances in a halo of fire,
representing the cycle of birth and
death. As he dances, he crushes the
dwarf, the demon of ignorance. In his
right hand, he keeps rhythm beating a
drum, while in his left hand he holds
the flame of destruction, purification,
and renewal. Around his arms and neck
he wears deadly snakes. The snakes
symbolize Shiva’s power over evil
Hindu Daily Duties
Almost all Hindus keep a shrine in their home, regardless
of their caste or economic status. These shrines,
dedicated to a particular god, vary in size. Hindus attend
to five religious duties:
1. Worshipping God: Hindus must devote part of
their day to worship. This ensures spiritual
2. Reciting scripture: By reciting from a sacred
text, the faithful learn the lessons of worldly and
religious life.
3. Honoring parents and elders: Hindus are very
loyal family members. Parents and elders are
honored for their wisdom and self-sacrifice.
4. Helping the poor: Even the less fortunate try to
obey this commandment. Guests, in particular,
are given special attention in a Hindu home.
5. Feeding animals: Because Hindus consider all
life a sacred part of one God, animals are
respected and cared for.