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A Brief Introduction
History of Hinduism
• Originated between 4000 and 2000 BC
• Over 750,000 followers, mostly in India
• No single founder
• Vedas: the oldest scriptures of Hinduism
• Veda means “to know”
• Upanishads explain the philosophical ideas in story
and dialogue form
• Hundreds of scriptures
• oldest scriptures: the four
• Most popular scripture:
Bhagavad Gita
Concept of God
• Believe in many gods
• You can have your own
god, your family can
have its own god
• Brahman – ultimate
“god” or existance
• Brahma – creater
• Vishnu – preserver
• Shiva - destroyer
Basic Beliefs
• Karma - the law of cause and
effect; “you reap what you
• Reincarnation - eternal soul
traverses through different
bodies till it finds liberation
• Caste System:
Brahmins - priests
Kshatriyas – government
Vaishyas – land owners
Sudras – peasants
Untouchables – lowest of low
Hindu Trinity
• Brahma - the Creator
• Vishnu - the Preserver
• Shiva - the Destroyer
• Three aspects/powers
of the same divine
Ultimate Goal for Hinuism
• Moksha – freedom from
• Escaping the cycle of
• Evolving out of the caste
Four Paths to Moksha
• Karma Yoga - Path of
righteous action
• Bhakti Yoga - Path of
selfless devotion
• Jnana Yoga - Path of
rational inquiry
• Raja Yoga - Path of
Holy Cow!
• Hindus have always had
great respect for
Mother Nature and its
• Cow is especially
significant because it
symbolizes gentleness
Temple Worship
• Although Hindus worship
anywhere, homes, etc. also
have temples
• Temples are centers of
social and cultural
• Provide a place for
collective worship and
Veda Vyasa
• 1500 BC
• classified the Vedas into the
four traditional collections
• composed the 18 Puranas
• composed his great poetic
work, the Mahabharata in a
period of two and a half
• Advaitha philosophy
• 7th century AD
• traveled all over India
having public debates
with other philosophers
• true happiness can be
attained by removing
avidya(ignorance) and
maya (self deception)
• Hinduism is a celebratory religion
• The motive: Festivals keep us close to Gods,
invigorate our household and renew our
personal life.
• Festivals signify victory of good over evil.
• Every month of Hindu calendar has atleast one
significant festival. Each festival has regional
significance also.
• Celebration of diversity.
Sri Ramanavami
Birthday of
Lord Rama,
the prince of
Ayodhya, and
his coronation
as a king.
Mahavir Jayanti
Buddha Jayanti
Birthday of Mahavira,
the founder of Jainism
Birthday of Buddha,
the founder of Buddhism
Birthday of Lord Shiva
Holi, the festival of colors
commemorating the victory of
Lord Krishna over the demon Holika