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Hinduism’s Cultural and Religious Opinions Research Paper

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Introduction

The history of Hinduism has not been clear for many years due to various reasons. The first reason is that the religion came into existence after the modern times. The second reason is that Hinduism comprises of many different religions which are under one supreme deity. The third reason is that the exact period of time when the religion began has not been traced. Some of the doctrines that define the religion have a history dating back to thousands of years ago.

Although Hinduism lays much emphasis on adopting spirituality at a personal level, the history of the religion has a close relationship with political and social developments. Some of these developments include the appearance and disappearance of various kingdoms. As a result, it is not easy to trace the history of Hinduism and the Hindus are not concerned about the specific dates when the religion might have started (Klostermaier 10).

History of Hinduism

Hinduism is among world religions that have been in existence for a long period of time and one that is very complicated. Its history is not clear since the religion has no particular founder or theological background. It is believed that the religion came into existence when nomads from the Aryan Indo-Europeans moved into the northern part of India and started driving Harappans away.

Hinduism is derived from Indus, which refers to an ancient river in India. The Aryans started assimilating the beliefs and cultural practices of the Harappans. Eventually, the two groups adopted similar religious beliefsand started living like one group. The Aryans worshipped many gods while the Harappansbelieved that there was need to sanctify fertility(Klostermaier 15).

The Aryans introduced a system of ranking the society known as the caste system. This system grouped members of the society depending on their occupations. Those who were high in the caste system received more luxuries in life than those who were lower in the system. However, the system was declared illegal in 1948 but it remains valuable to the Hindu people as a way of grouping people into different classes.

Hinduism has smaller subdivisions and comprises of many organizations and religious beliefs. Some of the Hinduism beliefs have spread into other countries and form the basis of various religions such as the Buddhism. Hinduism is the most popular religion in Nepal and India. It is also found in other regions outside India and Nepal with close to one million followers making it to be among the religions that have existed in the world for the longest period of time.

However, despite the long history of the religion, there is no single definition because of the many practices and beliefs that are associated with it. In addition, the religion does not have a single founder or scripture and lacks teachings that have been agreed upon by all the followers.

Defining Hinduism

Hinduism is believed to have emerged in the 16th century when people used the term to segregate themselves from other existing religions such as the Muslims. During this period, there was nothing elaborate that defined Hinduism apart. The religion was only characterized by a group of people who had been brought together by similar cultural practices like cremation.

The emergence of Hinduism is therefore related to culture, geography of different regions and politics. The term Hinduism is nowadays a common usage although its clear definition is still unavailable. It has been argued that Hinduism is a religion which has emerged recently but one whose roots date back to many years ago (Klostermaier 15).

Some people argue that individuals are born Hindus but cases of Hinduism among non-Indians have rendered this assumption untenable. Hinduism is criticized by many people as a religion that exercises polytheism although the followers of the religion regard it as monotheistic.

Adhering to orthodox doctrines is regarded by some Hindus as a way of complying with the teachings of the religion. However, other followers of the religion identify with a different order of conduct which does not rely on any written Hinduism literature. Some scholars have paid attention to the caste system in their attempts to define Hinduism although the system is viewed by Hindus as being socially inclined.

Uniqueness of Hinduism

Hinduism is unique in that it is not associated with a single founder or core doctrines that must be followed by all the Hindus. The religion also does not have an exact period of time when it started. The other uniqueness of Hinduism is that the followers are allowed to express varying ideas hence the religion is inclined to culture rather than a set of creeds.

In addition, cultural and religious opinions borrowed from other places are accommodated in Hinduism. As a result, the religion is characterized by many ideas and practices arising from what can be described as a mixture of different religions under Hinduism. The theories and practical expressions of Hinduism are so diverse that it is seemingly the sole religion that comprises of many religions under one major religion(Antuna 2).

Basic Beliefs in Hinduism

Hinduism does not have a uniform system of beliefs and ideas.It is characterized by a combination of many beliefs and practices which are considered to be beliefs of pagans or pantheists. Moreover,the beliefs and practices can also be described as metaphysical and abstract ideas.

Culture and religion are almost similar terms in Hinduism hence terms like dharma which means what is right and yoga which means discipline are used in explaining important features of the religion.In Hinduism, the life of a human being is divided into for four phases. These phases are characterized by rituals that are peculiar for each group from birth to death.

Hindu gods and goddesses

Hinduism is defined by the existence of many gods since it does not believe in one god. There are thousands of goddesses and gods in the religion depicting different aspects of a single god called Brahman who is considered the supreme god.However, the presence of these gods does not make Hinduism a polytheistic religion(Historyworld 2).

Chosen Deity and Spiritual competence are the two doctrines that are very important to followers of Hinduism. Spiritual competence argues that the spiritual practices that an individual is involved in should be in conformity with his spiritual competence. On the other hand, chosen deity doctrine argues that followers of Hinduism have the freedom to select the Brahman that they feel comfortable with.

Different idols and images are used to represent divine power. The idols are preserved in ornate temples which are beautifully designed. Hinduism is also characterized by the worship of inanimate things such trees and spirits. The most significant deities among the deities of the religion are the Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma.

Hinduism Rituals

The rituals in Hinduism start before the birth of a child. It is a common belief in Hinduism that once a child is born, he or she has a responsibility of remaining a loyal follower of the religion. The marriage of Hindus is followed by a special prayer known as the Garbhadana which is aimed at ushering the couple into marriage.

During the third month of the pregnancy, another ceremony referred to as Punsavana is conducted. This ceremony is believed to enable the growing child to gain enough strength while in the mother’s womb. When the pregnancy is seven months old, another ceremony which is believed to fulfill the longings of the pregnant mother is conducted.

During the ceremony, prayers for the child and the mother are conducted especially for the unborn child to have good mental development. In Hinduism, it is believed that the mental state of the mother has an effect on the mental development of the child (Religioustolerance 4).

Once a child is born in Hinduism, a ceremony called the Jatakama is conducted. This ceremony involves placing honey on the child’s mouth after which the name of God is pronounced. There are also other ceremonies associated with Hinduism which are performed when the child is being given a name and as he /she starts eating solid food for the first time.

Piercing of the ears and cutting the hair for the first time are also ceremonies which are considered important in Hinduism. All these rituals are conducted on both male and female children in Hinduism. Although the rituals are explained in the scriptures of Hinduism, they are conducted differently in various caste systems (Religioustolerance 5).

Conclusion

Hinduism is one of the largest religions in the world with majority of its followers living in India and Nepal. Attempts have been made to establish the exact date when the religion came into existence but this has not been ascertained. Hinduism is characterized by different religions which subscribe to one supreme God. The religion is characterized by many rituals and rites that members have to go through for them to be recognized as true followers of the religion.

Works Cited

Antuna, Pablo. “The Uniqueness of Hindu Religion.”2009. Web. Retrieved

Historyworld. “History of Hinduism.”n.d. Web.Retrieved

Klostermaier, Klaus. A Survey of Hinduism. New York: SUNY Press, 2007.Print

Klostermaier,Klaus. Hinduism:A Short Survey. New York: Oneworld, 2000. Print.

Religioustolerance.”Hinduism: The world’s third largest religion.” 2011. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Hinduism's Cultural and Religious Opinions." January 19, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/hinduism/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Hinduism's Cultural and Religious Opinions'. 19 January.

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