Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world. It was originated in the Indian subcontinent, and more than 90% of the approximately 500 million people practicing this religion, live in the Republic of India, which occupies most of the subcontinent. Hinduism encompasses a wide diversity of beliefs and practices. There is no church hierarchy, no supreme authority in Hinduism; it is an entirely decentralized religion (Nicholson 185).
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Despite the contradictions between different versions of the Hindu religion, a few certain fundamental provisions make up the basis for them. Beyond the eternally changeable physical world, there is one universal, immutable, eternal spirit that is called Brahman (Rosinsky 11). The soul (atman) of all beings in the universe, including the gods, is a particle of that spirit. Atman is one of the central concepts of Indian philosophy and religion of Hinduism: the eternal, unchanging spiritual being, the absolute, conscious of its existence. When the flesh dies, the soul never dies, but passes into another body, where it continues its new life.
The fate of the soul depends on its behavior in previous incarnations. The law of karma states that no sin remains unpunished, there is no virtue without reward; if the person has not received the deserved punishment or reward in this life, he or she will get them later (Narayanan 66). Human behavior determines a higher or lower status of his or her subsequent embodiments. Sacred books play a significant role in all varieties of Hinduism. “Philosophical Hinduism” attaches the special importance to such classical Sanskrit texts, the Vedas and the Upanishads (Klostermaier 12). The Bhagavad Gita is known to almost every Hindu. The sacred books of Hinduism indicate the essential goals of human life (Senker 22).
These are artha, (wealth and power) and kama (pleasure and the satisfaction of desires). Maya is the term of Mahayana Buddhism meaning the illusory nature of reality. The world is unreal, Brahman is real only. Illusion means something that exists in reality, but we perceive and see it incorrectly in wrong forms. Moksha is the deliverance from the cycle of birth and death (samsara) and all the suffering and limitations of material existence. It is the ultimate spiritual achievement of the human being, the goal of human existence.
In Hinduism, there are hundreds of deities, from minor to great gods, whose deeds are known in every Indian family (Foulston and Abbott 3). The most famous are Vishnu, Rama and Krishna, two forms or incarnations of Vishnu; Siva (Shiva); and the Creator God – Brahma. Shiva, (“bringing happiness”) is one of the supreme gods in Hindu mythology (Pattanaik 9). Shiva is not only a good defender but also a fearsome God. Shiva is the unity of many aspects.
His admirers believe that destruction must precede the creation. Therefore, Shiva participates in creation and change. Shiva is portrayed in different ways, sometimes in the image of the ascetic, whose body is rubbed with a white ash sitting on the Himalayas in constant meditation. Shiva is the Creator God and the God of time, the God of fertility and at the same time ascetic. It was considered that as “king of dance”, Shiva governs the world order. Tired of dancing, he stops, and the chaos reigns in the universe. So, the period of destruction follows the period of creation.
Foulston, Lynn, and Stuart Abbott. Hindu Goddesses. Brighton, England: Sussex Academic Press, 2009. Print.
Klostermaier, Klaus K. A Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism. New York: Oneworld Publications, 2014. Print.
Narayanan, Vasudha. Hinduism. New York: Rosen Pub., 2010. Print.
Nicholson, Andrew J. Unifying Hinduism. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010. Print.
Pattanaik, Devdutt. 7 Secrets of Shiva. Chennai: Westland, 2011. Print.
Rosinsky, Natalie M. Hinduism. Mankato, Minnesota: Compass Point Books, 2010. Print.
Senker, Cath. Hinduism. New York: PowerKids Press, 2010. Print.