Introduction of the religion
Hinduism is known to be the world’s oldest and the 3rd largest religion. Christianity is the first followed by Islamic and then Hinduism. Hinduism in India is the main religion with approximately 84% of the general population. The term Hinduism originated from a Persia word that meant a river in the north India (Sindhu). However, it is difficult to allocate the exact source of Hinduism. It is marinated that its timeless pronouncement about a religion has always existed though historians say that it originated from prehistoric Valley of Indus. Hinduism is called as Sanatan Dharma signifying the undying religion. Hindus believe in a ultimate God whose personalities are characterized by divinities that originate from him. The Supreme Being is imminent and magnificent as well the creator and invisible reality (Kumar, 2003.) Hindus believe in karma the law of effect and cause, and this belief is based on the fact that each individual has a method of creating his own fate by his thoughts, words and deeds.
Hinduism has four major divisions of denomination such as shaivism- this is the oldest sect of Hinduism comprising of followers known as Saivas. Smartism- it can be determined as a denomination of Hindu religion. Smarta means adherents who follow Vedas. Shaktism- this is a value that focus on ultimate Godhead. Vaishnvism- it is differentiated from other denominations by mode of worship. The central Hindu scriptures are the Brahmanas, Sruti, the Upanishads, and epics, Smriti, the Vedas, and the Puranas (Zaehner, 1962). The Sruti are such as intensely spiritual things correspond to a seer and evidence. Hindus recognize three paths to salvation, the first is through work. Its emphasis is that one can get salvation when they do their duties and hence escape the weight of bad karma. The second way of attaining salvation is through deep mediation. The third way is through devotion. This requires the desire for an additional emotional and personal move towards to religion. It involves self-surrender to one of the many gods and goddesses in Hinduism (Kumar, 2003). It rules the idea that life exists in a cycle from birth to death and to rebirth.
Hindus religion is based on the notion that animal and human spirits return to earth to live various times in diverse forms. Hindus think that a person moves up and down a chain of command on the basis of performance. Hindus believe that for a person to be born into the superior class must have done performed well in his/her past life whereas for a person to be born poor must have poorly performed in his/her previous life. Central to Hinduism are the notion of recreation, the background system, finding morality, integration with Brahman, and attaining Nirvana (Min, 2010). The paths to deliverance in Hinduism consist of loyalties, rituals and the way to understanding of reality and self-reflection. When the practitioner follows the paths, one will attain salvation. Unlike most other religions, it cannot be linked to a single founder as it is formed from diverse traditions. It is a predominant religion in the Indian subcontinent and is one of its indigenous religions (Sen, 2005). Due to the fact that it cannot be clearly defined and does not have rigid guidelines various forms of religious expressions coexist in Hinduism. It is actually a way of life since there are no set customs or rituals that make a person a Hindu if followed.
The medical ethics in Hinduism rise from the principle of non violence. Hinduism advocates for making choices that do not cause harm. Abortion is one of the unacceptable deeds in Hinduism since it can cause harm to a mother, fetus, father and the society at large. The doctrine of reincarnation form another basis against abortion since killing of the foetus causes a major karmic setback to it. Since it is deprived the opportunity its potential human existence would have given it to earn good karma and is immediately returned to the cycle. Hinduism is against suicide since they view it as assisting death and this brings about bad karma since it violates the non violence principle. Hinduism includes teachings that condemn violence and war and promote moral duty through teaching (Hebbar, 2009) Hinduism also opposes capital punishment since it is not in line with the non-violence code of Hinduism.
Location and review of the physical site
I travelled to Vancouver BC where there is a large population of Hindu community and Interviewed several and learned about their religion. They are welcoming and ready to help since they believe in doing well to everyone. I then went to Houston to visit their temple. Here I visited a temple situated in Brandt Street of United States of America.
Experiences of worship place
In this place of worship I was asked to take of my shoes as everyone else and when I entered I noticed all type of food but there was no meat. Hindus are vegetarian and believe that when you kill an animal you might be killing one of your relatives who came back after death inform of an animal. Then there are several book and tapes sold in the lobby which contain Sanskrit (Min, 2010). The women and men worship in different rooms. They do their worship differently men guided by the Guru, if a woman touches a Guru she should fast for 24hours.
What did you observe and experience?
Their mode of worship is different from the normal way. For instance, they lay down like push up and stand up again and go down many time as they are chanting. From there was a different building and here I was served with rice with pine nuts, pita bread and chapattis. It was a great experience to be treated with kindness and attention. Below are the questions I made to ask from them.
Who is or are the founders of your religion? And why did they create this religion?
Hinduism is not credited to a particular founder. The religion was created to break the cycle of birth, death and reincarnation, and to get salvation.
Where do you worship and how often do you visit your house of worship?
Hindus worship in Temples and for Orthodox schools prescribe three prayer times a day: at dawn, noon and dusk.
Do you find it difficult to live and practice according to your religion here in America?
In America, one can practice Hindu and anywhere else. This is because Hindus believe good deeds and moral behaviors is being a Hindu believer. Having a family, parents teach their children at home about the religion. They celebrate all the religious ceremonies which are celebrated in India. When one does the basic things, like looking after the family, the friends, and those around you, that’s the best way to worship God.
What social problems have you encountered if any in regards to your faith here in the US?
Non Hindus think of Indians as having many gods. However, Hinduism is not polytheistic, it’s monotheistic. It’s just that God is being viewed in different ways. We believe God has no form; you can view God in many different ways.
What is your holy scripture called and is it available to everyone?
The holy scriptures are Puranas, Vedas, Gita, and Upanishad. It is available to everyone.
What are your views on how others practice their religion? Specifically does your religion preach to people of other faiths?
The Hindus Follow dharma thus do righteousness, is their eternal law. The only people interested in Hindus faith can listen but normally they use their language. People admire to do meditation and yoga learned from Hindus.
What is your view on marriage outside of Hindus faith?
The family of the woman finds a man for her. Hindu believes that marriage brings two persons to pursue dharma, artha, kamaas well as moksa .the marriage is followed by traditional rituals for consummation. People wear red and gold in this occasion. A man can to marry a single woman but for kings they can marry more than one woman.
What is your view of what happens after death?
When a person dies, he becomes a spirit and is judged to his deeds when he was alive. Then he comes back to each as a different person in different family grounds. When one did good deeds he is born in royal family if he was bad he is born to poor family
How is your body handled after death? Is there specifically burial methods?
Most Hindus do not bury a dead body. They burn and cremate it. The dead body is cleaned with water from river Ganges and then burned with a slow fire that is considered by the hindus to be the final one. The Hindus perform rituals for 13days since the person died to help the soul to rest and settle. Their children under the age of a year are buried since they are considered to be holy men. We do not use caskets. They believe it is a natural burial.
What learned about practicing the religion from observing people engaged in a ceremony or service?)
At birth there are baby rites that are performed to the baby. This are performed to welcome the baby to family. It involves placing honey in the baby’s mouth and whispering the name of God into his ear. There are also precise details and rituals that are performed in a wedding ceremony. There are also sacraments involved at that time of the wedding. The whole essence of Hinduism is difficult to grasp since there are varied thoughts and concepts or lack of set rules governing the religion. The uniqueness of Hinduism and the fundamental concept is that it accepts all religions as being true and can lead one to salvation. It also acknowledges that there is no one path that can unveil the divine intervention in all humans. It is an evolving religion that is constantly influenced by various thoughts, ideas and cultures that requires humans to lead lives that seek knowledge and truth hence they attain true enlightening. Hinduism has developed into different forms over the years so that it could be able to remain important and meaningful to its people. For example, the Vedic form that was composed of hymn has been transform today inform of Hinduism Musicians. We can be able to state that Hinduism has for decades been on a constant process of change, absorbing and combining various religions and cultures of different people. Thus, it has been noted that Hinduism has developed from array of combination of cultures.
Comparing and contrasting Hinduism and Judaism
This study compares and contrasts the essential principles of Judaism and Hinduism and their religious practices of marriage and death, and how it affects one’s personality (Kurien, 2007). The Jewish origin is based on the narratives found in Hebrew Bible in the Levant. Though, the narratives suggest that the origin of Judaism come from Abraham- a herder who made a covenant with God his son Isaac, Jacob, and Moses and they worship in the synagogues as well as the western wall of the temple in Jerusalem. While Hinduism has no particular founder and they worship in (Mandir) Temple and it its origin is from Indian Subcontinent.
The Hindus are Dependent on school of thought. Their concept of Deity rely on Monism meaning (all is a manifestation of God), or polytheism (many deities managing different aspects of life), Monotheism (one God, perhaps with many manifestation or manifestations) while Judaism Belief in one God and teachings of the tradition, prophets and rabbis. Monists/Smarta considers that only Brahman exists, Pantheists believe all things are God, Monotheistic sects believe God as transcendent and immanent as well as different from others. The Nasadiya Sukta even discovers creation-ex-nihilo. God is the only one True Creator called HaShem—Hebrew for ‘The Name’, or Adonai and He. Is Omnipresent, none existed before him and will exist forever. He goes beyond life and death. God is one and the only holiness. He is beyond human perceptive, he is omnipotent.
Judaism developed into illumination one of the political and social movement. For example, enlighten movements led to the decline of harsh European laws. Jewish identity occurs from interaction of many tribes such as Christians, Canaanite and Hellenistic (Walker& Veigh, 2006). Orthodox- this can be considered as the major divisions. Here men and women are not allowed to sit together in the synagogue. Reform Judaism- it is considered as the liberal branch since individuals determine the fate of the commandments. Hindus consider Vaishnava, Shaivaya, & Shaktism as their major divisions. Jews forbid worship of idols while Hindus allow idol worshipping. Both of them believe the holy one will come back but have different names. Hindus call Him Kalki, the 10th Avatar of Vishnu while the Jews call them the Messiah.
According to Hinduism the contemporary issue facing it is abortion issue. Hindus have no legal framework that stops people from conductions an abortion meaning that is legal to them hence face challenges and opposition from different religions at most Christians. Violation of human rights from discrimination of women in the society is yet another contemporary issue facing Hinduism. Judaism is faced with leadership problem. They cannot be able to share power with their people and at most leads to war.
How does each compare to the Dionysian and Apollonian traditions of the past?
Dionysian and Apollonian traditions relied on the logic reasoning and passionate understanding but both Judaism and Hinduism depended on the views of the people, but were similar to by nature of wildness shown at initial stages. Both religions have developed and adapted by accepting the nature of the world and its people. For example the have been transforming so that they could remain relevant to the contemporary community. Hinduism had Gnostic features such as magic, and gods while that of the while that of Judaism was the Bible and magic.
All religions are alike in a way, being grateful for life, doing well and respecting others are one of the virtues practiced. However they have their unique differences as well as the people that practice it and the way they do it.
Min, P. G. (2010). Preserving ethnicity through religion in America: Korean Protestants and
Indian Hindus across generations. New York: New York University Press.
Kurien, P. A. (2007). A Place at the Multicultural Table the Development of an American
Hinduism. Piscataway: Rutgers University Press.
Walker, J., & Veigh, R. M. (2006). Hinduism and Judaism. United States of America: Hodder
Chakravarti, S. S. (1991). Hinduism, a way of life. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers
Zaehner, R. C. (1962). Hinduism. London: Oxford University Press.
Shattuck, C. T. (1999). Hinduism. London: Routledge.
Sen, K. M. (2005). Hinduism. London: Penguin. (Chapter1 and 2)
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