The questions were given as a study guide for my Hinduism test. The answers cover the basics of the religion.

Essay by rackelCollege, Undergraduate October 2005

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What is the name of the scriptures of Hinduism? When were they written? Which part of them describes the philosophical beliefs of Hinduism?

Vedas was written in 1500 BC. Philosophical sections (upanishads) are included. The hymn sections are the oldest. The others were added at a later date and each explains some aspect of the hymns or follows one line of interpreting them.

What are the four goals in life in Hinduism? What is the Path of Desire? What is the Path of renunciation? Why is the path of renunciation important?

Like other aspects of Hinduism, the goals are split between those emphasized by the "life is good" perspective and those emphasized by the "life is bad" perspective. The three life-affirming goals are Dharma (virtue),Artha (success) and Kama (pleasure), while the life-negating goal is that of mosksha (release). The path of renunciation is Pleasure-power-training; one of the steps enumerated in raja yoga: "the final renunciation of all desire as a sine qua non condition of phenomenal powers, and entrance on the direct path of Nirvana" .

The compound itself points out that by abandoning the lower desires and pleasures; one enters upon the path of obtaining the celestial joys and vast expansion of faculty and its spiritual use, although even this last is finally abandoned for a still higher stage.

What is Brahman? What are avatars? What is henotheism?

Brahman is the breath of all existence invoked by sacrificial rituals. The Absolute the Supreme Reality it is omnipresent. In Hinduism, the ultimate impersonal reality underlying everything in the universe, from which everything comes and to which it returns. Lord Vishnu's preserving, protecting powers have been manifested to the world in a variety of forms, called Avatars, in which one or more of his...