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Hinduism Definition and Characteristics Essay

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Updated: Apr 17th, 2020

Introduction

Hinduism is the third most popular religion on earth. This paper seeks to discuss Hinduism in details by covering its Origin, diffusion, location, and characteristics. The discussion will bring out what makes Hinduism unique.

Origin of Hinduism

Hinduism is one of the oldest religions, and it is considered to be approximately 20,000 years old. It was the first religion of human civilization. The chief prophets that introduced the Hindu religion were BRAMHA from central India together with BISHNU and MAHESWARA from the south and north India respectively.

Hinduism, unlike Christianity and Muslim, does not subscribe to a single book either does it derive origin from a human being like Jesus and Mohammed for Christians and Muslims respectively, instead it is an amalgamation of numerous religions and various set of beliefs. Hindu lacks creed and a single authority which makes it unique.

Hinduism as a name was derived from central Asia as an explanation of the civilization that took place along the river Sindhu. The pronunciation of s as H by the residents brought the real meaning of the name of the religion. The specific origin of Hindu was at the Indus valley in Pakistan; the Hindu religion was originally referred to as SANATANA DHARMA.

The residents of Sindhu invaded India and integrated with the local population and adopted the Hindu religion. Hinduism is divided into various divisions and includes the Punjab and the Gujarati as the main groups while the others come from India, Sri Lanka, and other countries.

The language used in the summons is Sanskrit. Other distinguishing features that make Hinduism unique are: they lack a theological doctrinarian, lacks a single system of morality and also there is an absence of the concept of the prophet (Dogra and Dogra 5).

Diffusion of Hinduism

From the Indus valley, Hinduism spread into Southeast Asia all through to the island of Bali in Indonesia. Hindu has an estimated population of 750 million followers. The largest numbers of people who subscribe to the Hindu religion are in India where it is the main religion with almost 80% of believers.

The Hindu religion also has some followers in the United Kingdom that amount to approximately 1% of the UK population; in the UK it developed in the 1960s and 1970s following the migration of people from Africa and India to the UK.

Location of Hinduism

Being the third largest religion in the world Hindu is the predominant religion in the south Asia region. That means it is the main religion in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia. The spread of Hindu religion was primarily due to trade. The Indians used their merchandising power to assimilate people into the Hindu culture.

This is explained by the presence of Hindu in the dominantly Muslim countries like Malaysia, the main reason why it operates in these Muslim countries is due to its appealing and universal nature.

Characteristics of Hinduism

Just like the other religions, Hindu has an inherent characteristic that distinguishes it from other religions. Among the characteristics of Hindu are: there exists no universal Hinduism, and it lacks a conventional system of beliefs. The distinguishing tenets of Hinduism are the belief in the following themes: “Dharma-to mean ethics and duties; Samsara- rebirth; karma- right action and moksha- liberation of the cycle of samsara” (Hinduism 1).

Followers of Hinduism believe in one Supreme Being who they refer to as Brahman: Brahma to them is uncreated, omnipotent, omnipresent and eternal; Hindi recognize the existence of other gods representing different aspects of Brahma, and they recognize both the masculine and the feminine to complement each other (Hinduism 1). These are:

  • Brahma: this is the creator aspect of the supreme god and often associated with Maya; avidya Maya who is the symbol of ignorance and Vidya Maya who is the symbol of knowledge (Hinduism 1).
  • Vishnu: he is the one who preserves the universe and can appear in the earth in different forms and more often linked with the incarnations of God (Hinduism 1).
  • Shiva: This aspect of God who is the destroyer or transcendent; he is the supreme God of Shaiva, the three branches of Hindu (Hinduism 1).

Hindu also believes in the theory of causality or karma: the Hindu religion believes on the rebirth and the notion that the human soul is eternal. According to a Hindu therefore, an individual can experience the consequences of his actions through the rebirth cycle.

Another belief of the Hindu religion is the belief in the theory of the wheel of rebirth: this is well known as the reincarnation of rebirth. Hinduism is a polytheistic religion: the fact that there is one god and several goddesses make it a polytheistic religion.

Hinduism, unlike Christianity, is not only a religion but a way of life. Several forms of Hindu are henotheistic; this implies that they recognize only one Supreme Being but under him are the gods and goddess who can manifest each source (Hinduism 1).

Lastly, it should be noted that Hindus have three basic principles that are linked to religion; these are:

  • Worship: Hindu belief in worship as an integral mode of their faith.
  • Cremation: according to the Hindus, people who die are burned and not buried.

Adherence to the rules of the caste system: caste system is the division of individuals according to social groups. Each caste has its specific rule that has to be followed and obeyed (Hinduism 1).

Conclusion

Hinduism is quite popular and unique too. Hinduism cannot be considered to be a religion due to its many divisions and origin. Unlike other religions, Hinduism did not originate from a prophet but rather is considered as a set of many beliefs which are sewn together.

Works cited

Dogra, Urmila and Dogra, Ramil. Let’s know Hinduism: the oldest religion of infinite adaptability and diversity, 2nd Ed. New York: Star Publications, 2003. Print.

Hinduism. . Hinduism Today, 2011. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Hinduism Definition and Characteristics." April 17, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/hinduism-definition-and-characteristics/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Hinduism Definition and Characteristics'. 17 April.

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