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Prabhupada founded ISKCON in New York in 1966 (Haddon 147). This religious institution promulgates ideas and beliefs that are rooted in Hinduism. The followers of ISKCON believe that Krishna is the supreme being that should be worshiped. ISKCON devotees believe that humans reincarnate constantly living numerous lives in different shapes (people, animals, plants, and so on).
ISKCON is also famous for its mantra that involves saying ‘Hare Krishna’ many times (Petersen 146). The rituals include chanting mahamantra and Japa (chanting mahamantra for each bead in their bead string) that help the devotees to purify their spirit. The most important ceremony is the initiation that includes a discussion with the guru, commitment to the principles of the religion and certain way of life (no substance use, no meat-eating, no gambling, no illicit sex), and receiving a new name.
Sikhism appeared between the 15th and 18th centuries (Mandair 4). Ten gurus created it. This religion is associated with an individual’s path to perfection through the guidance of his/her guru. It originated in India but became popular in the USA in the 1970s when many Indian immigrants came to this country. Devotees believe that there is one god that is one for all religions.
They also believe that all people are equal and should try to achieve perfection through knowledge and virtue (Kaur Singh 33). Some gurus stress that rituals cannot be used in Sikhism as they distract from self-perfection (Mandair 120). However, rituals still exist. For example, the ritual of initiation involves expressing commitment to the values and beliefs in front of a guru. The devotees also drink ‘holy water’ and eat special food. After this, people are regarded as devotees.
Yoga and Its Five Paths
Yoga is deeply rooted in Hinduism, and the development of this practice started around five thousand years ago (Payne 20). The major belief is that the central goal of human life is to get rid of the individual’s ego and achieve enlightenment. Five paths can help people achieve enlightenment (Payne 20). These paths include the path of action (Karma), the path of devotion (Bhakti), the path of knowledge (Jnana), the path of introspection (Raja), and the path of balance (hatha). Meditation is one of the basic rituals of yoga. This is the process that helps devotees to achieve enlightenment and balance as well as get rid of their egos. Yoga also teaches non-violence and the focus on the spiritual aspects.
Jainism appeared in India in the 6th century BC (Long 219). Jains believe that there is no creator, and the universe includes hell, heaven, and siddhas (enlightened souls) (Vemsani 116). Devotees of this religion promulgate non-violence. They believe in reincarnation. At that, reincarnation is seen as eternal suffering. They also think that the universe is full of violence as every human’s (or animal’s and plant’s and so on) existence is associated with violence (Long 227).
The existence of violence is seen as evidence of the absence of the creator. It is also believed that an individual should try to act in a way to eliminate violence in his/her life. Meditation is one of the central rituals in Jainism. Jains also fast, which can take extreme force as Jains believe that fasting people can achieve enlightenment and progress spiritually.
Haddon, Malcolm. “Contested Genealogies and Across-Cultural Dynamics.” Controversial New Religions. Ed. Jesper Aagaard Petersen. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. 144-159. Print.
Kaur Singh, Nikky-Guninder. “Sikhs.” Religions in Focus: New Approached to Tradition and Contemporary Practices. Ed. Graham Harvey. New York: Routledge, 2016. 33-55. Print.
Long, Jeffrey D. “Jains.” Religions in Focus: New Approached to Tradition and Contemporary Practices. Ed. Graham Harvey. New York: Routledge, 2016. 217-237. Print.
Mandair, Arvind-Pal Singh. Sikhism: A Guide for the Perplexed. New York: A&C Black, 2013. Print.
Payne, Richard K. “Introduction.” Homa Variations: The Study of Ritual Change Across the Longue Duree. Ed. Richard K Payne and Michael Witzel. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. 1-47. Print.
Vemsani, Lavanya. Krishna in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Hindu Lord of Many Names. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, Inc, 2016. Print.