What is Hinduism

The Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world (about 1 billion faithful) and probably the most complex.

It encompasses almost all the religious traditions of that region (except Buddhism and Jainism).

The word Hinduism is of Persian origin to name the river Indus (Hindu) and refers to all the peoples that lived in the Indian subcontinent.

In Hinduism, there is no founder, as in other religions.

From this, the deities (which can reach millions) are part of everyday life. Even though there are temples, worship is usually held in homes, where there are altars for favorite gods.

In this belief system, dogmas are not rigid, which allows the incorporation of varied traditions.

However, the sacred texts are greatly respected, mostly written in Sanskrit. Of these, the Ramáiana and the Maabárata stand out , with religious and philosophical treatises, as well as mythical narratives about the rulers of ancient India.

Customs and Beliefs of Hinduism

It is common among Hindus to practice singing (especially mantras), meditations and recitation of religious texts.

Usually, rituals involve offerings to the gods, worshiped in the form of images and meditations.

Among the Hindu rituals, we can mention:

  • The Annaprashan, the first occurs when food intake;
  • the Upanayanam, initiation into formal education for children of higher castes;
  • the Shraadh, in which the deceased are revered at banquets.

Another important aspect concerns death and cremation, which is almost always considered obligatory. Not infrequently, Hindus also practice pilgrimages, in which the favorite destination is the Ganges river.

Another well-known aspect of Hinduism is the mantras, prayers in the form of intonated sounds that aid in concentration during meditations. The best known mantra is “OM” (Aum).

Belief in reincarnation is another striking fact in this religion. Based on Karma , a moral law of cause and effect, reincarnation is the continuous cycle of rebirth to which we are called Samsara.

It ends when one attains Nirvana (moksha), a state of detachment and self-knowledge that is only attained by the most evolved spirits who no longer need to reincarnate.

Remembering that among Hinduists, a soul can reincarnate many times and in various forms (animals and vegetables).

The veneration of images is another strong point, since the image is considered as divine manifestations, for which there is a specific iconography in artistic terms.

Another curious fact is the number of deities worshiped, reaching millions of different entities.

However the Trinity (Trimurti): Brahma (creator of the universe), Shiva (supreme god) and Vishnu (responsible for the balance of the universe) is the most popular.

Other deities such as Ganesha (God of wisdom), Matsya (savior of the human species) and Sarasvati (matron of arts and music) are also highly worshiped.

Finally, the gods (or devas) have many epic accounts in the Puranas, where they narrate their descent to earth in divine incarnations called “Avatars.”

Hinduism History

Considered one of the oldest religions of humanity, Hinduism has its origin in prehistory and dates back to ancient India.

However, it is in the pre-classical period (1500-500 BC), Iron Age of India, that the Vedas will be written by the Aryan invaders, establishing a uniform set of beliefs and forming Vedic Hinduism, where tribal gods were worshiped.

Subsequently, the Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva trinity will mark the period known as Brahmanic Hinduism.

Finally, Hybrid Hinduism will begin with the advent of Christianity and Islam.

It is important to remember that Hinduism was the path of freedom chosen by Indians in the nineteenth century, when Mahatma Gandhi led them peacefully to political independence.

Curiosities

  • Visiting temples is not mandatory in Hinduism.
  • About 30% of the Hindu population is vegetarian.
  • Hinduism believes in the principle of nonviolence.

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