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With a partner, pick two questions to discuss: 1. What ideas do you have about the religion of Hinduism? 2. What information have you seen or read about the religion or about people who are Hindus? 3. Why do you think it is important to know something about Hinduism? 4. How might the religion of Hinduism affect the lives of people who are not Hindus? 5. What similarities or differences do you see between Hinduism and Christianity? Judaism? Islam? What are the main beliefs of Hinduism? I. Main Gods A. Brahman- creator god B. Vishnu- preserver god; god of love. C. Shiva- destroyer god; stresses knowledge and self-discipline II. Main Goal A. Leave behind the harsh material world and be united with the god, Brahman. - There is no purpose towards which the whole world appears to be working. There is only the endless repetition of life. Within this repetition, individuals make progress towards Brahman. B. 4 Steps: 1. daily worship and rituals of purity 2. self-control 3. non-violence 4. compassion towards all creatures III. Path to Brahman A. Dharma- duties that each caste performs; one’s social obligation. - The higher castes have more (social) responsibilities. “There is more joy in doing one’s own duty imperfectly than in doing another man’s duty well.” - Bhagavad Gita. B. Karma- collection of all of your good and bad deeds; behavior. - The misdeeds of a Brahmin (priest) are more serious than the misdeeds of an untouchable. C. Ahimsa- A belief in non-violence to animals as well as humans. 1. Cows are sacred. 2. Insects are protected. D. Yoga- A Hindu system of exercises for gaining bodily or mental control and well-being. E. Twice born: • • Initiation of the Hindu boy into his caste. Occurs between the ages of 7-12. Life Stages: 1. student: Young child studies the Vedas with a guru (a religious teacher). 2. householder: Person marries and raises a family. 3. retirement: Choose to live in a forest and meditate. 4. ascetic or sadhu: At this stage, only a few men and women give up everything, including caste membership, to become a holy person. F. Death and Re-birth: 1. When a person thinks they are going to die, they travel to Benares to bathe in the Ganges River and cleanse himself/herself of all sins. 2. The dead body is burnt before sundown and the ashes are thrown into a river or stream.