Posted by : Shoumik Das Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Hinduism


Hinduism is the oldest living religion in the world.  It is also known as Sanatan Dharma – the “Eternal Law”. Hinduism is more than 7000 years old (even older than Jesus) !
Hindus believe there is only one God. 
Being universal, God can be “felt” and “experienced” in many ways.   Different aspects and characteristics of God are expressed in different “forms” of God.
Hindu philosophy is based on its sacred scriptures.


Sacred books – There are several sacred scriptures.

4 Vedas
18 Puranas
2 Itihases

Vedas are the oldest form of sacred literature in human history.
1) Rig Veda – hymns
2) Yajur Veda – explains how to do the rituals
3) Sama Veda – explains how to sing the hymns
4) Atharava Veda – has hymns on extra rituals

There are several “Upnishads” that for the appendixes to the Vedas.
Puranas – 18 Puranas narrate legends and mythologies of the various Gods of Hinduism.
Itihas – narrates the histories of Indian people.
Ramayan – has the history of Rama, Sita and the “Solar dynasty”
Mahabharata – has the history of the princes of the Bharata clan of the “Lunar dynasty”


Main Gods

The Singular God of the Vedas is expressed as the many “Gods” that represent different aspects of the divine.
The Divine is expressed in male and female forms.

Brahma, with his wife Sarasvati is the creator and educator of the universe.
His children are the 7 Rishis (sages).  All living things in the universe are the children of these seven sages.

Shiv, with his wife Parvati is the destroyer, and they keep the universe in balance.
Their children are Ganesh and Kartikeya.

Vishnu with his wife Lakshmi nourishes the universe.
Brahma and Kamdeva, the God of love are their children.


Holy animals

Hindus believe that all animals should be treated nicely !
Even cows on the road are holy !

Here are some animals Hindus consider to be holy eg - cow, peacock, mouse, tiger, snake, lion, boar, elephant, monkey, fish, turtle, eagles etc. What a lot of animals!  
How some animals became holy!
Cows – Milk and milk products are used for worship and hence cows have always been sacred to Hindus.  Krishna looked after them when he was young and so they became ever more sacred !
Pecocks – Because Kartikeya rides a peacock.
Elephants – because of their association with Ganesh and Indra.
Mouse – because it is Ganesh’s pet !
  

Festivals

Hindus celebrate lots of festivals.  Sometimes, there can be 4 festivals in a single week !
Here are some popular festivals - Diwali, Kite festival, Holi, Navratri, Raksha-bandhan etc.

  

Hindu temple

Hindus go to the temple to worship their God.
The temple is usually dedicated to a single God or a group of Gods – like the family of Shiva.

 
In the room where the God(s) “live”, the priest uses rice, kanku, water, flowers , arti (lamp), incense stick and prasad (sacred food) to worship the God.


 

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