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Some Facts….
•World’s Oldest Religion
•3rd largest religion after
Christianity and Islam
•Influenced Buddhism
•837 million followers
•Dominant in India
•1.1 million Hindus in U.S.
•Began in 3000
•Indus Valley
•In 1000 B.C.
Aryans moved to
the area and
mixed with
diverse people
•No single
Hindu Gods…
•Monotheistic Religion or Polytheistic? 1 God in many forms or
3,333,000 Gods?
•Believe in the universal soul or God (Brahman), who is present
in all things.
•Brahman has no form, and is eternal.
•Brahman is creator, preserver and transformer of everything.
•Brahman appears in the human spirit as Atman, or the soul.
•The other gods are different aspects
of the Brahman.
•Goal is to get closer to Brahman
•Three principal gods:
1) Brahma: creates the
2) Vishnu: preserves the
3) Shiva: destroys the
Puja- house warming ceremony with Vishnu
Ancient Scripture: The Vedas
•Means “knowledge”
•Written around 1500 BCE to educate the priests about rituals
Ancient Scripture: The Bhagavad Gita
•"Song of the Blessed Lord“
•knowledge, work and devotion are all paths to
salvation and that the central value in life is that of
loyalty to God (dharma or duty)
•Setting: Battlefield
•Arjuna does not want to fight, but it is his duty
Caste System…
•Division of social ranks and tasks
developed by Aryans
during conquest
1) The priests (or Brahmins)
2) The warriors, nobles (the
3) The merchants, artisans
4) Unskilled workers,
peasants (Sudra)
5) Untouchables
• Each group has a different set of
rules dealing with careers,
marriage, diet, etc.
•Relations among past deeds, present character,
and future fate
•All actions have unavoidable consequences
• Reincarnation
•The next incarnation is always dependent on how the
previous life was lived
•Samsara: wheel of birth and rebirth
•Continues forever
•Souls reborn until they reach perfection
•Moksha: the release of the soul from samsara
•dharma: duty is more important than self
Religious Paths for Moksha…
•Karma Yoga: path of work
-Doing caste duties without hope for reward
-Selfless duties
• Jnana Yoga: path of knowledge
-Study and learn the lessons of the ancient masters
•Raja yoga: path of physical & mental discipline
-Training the body so the soul can be free
-Requires celibacy
•Bhakti Yoga: path of love
-Devoted love to God
-Man is dependent on God, surrendering to Him
is easiest way of release
"The goal which all the Vedas declare,
which all austerities aim at, and which
men desire when they lead the life of
continence … is Om. This syllable Om is
indeed Brahman. Whosoever knows
this syllable obtains all that he desires.
This is the best support; this is the
highest support. Whosoever knows this
support is adored in the world of
~ Katha Upanishad I
"Om is the one eternal
syllable of which all that
exists is but the
development. The past,
the present, and the
future are all included in
this one sound, and all
that exists beyond the
three forms of time is also
implied in it".
- Mandukya Upanishad
So what is Om?