Hinduism; WIU

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�PAGE � �PAGE �5� Hinduism


Laura Gabbard

Western International University

HUM 127 Religions of the World

John Papazafiropoulos

March 19, 2006


Unlike Christianity or Islam, Hinduism does not have a uniting belief system. Hindus believe that existence is a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth governed by karma, the actions of the individual in the present life combined with the actions of past lives. Good deeds and behavior leads to good karma. Bad deeds and behavior brings bad karma. Hinduism is a single set of beliefs, although there are similarities and relationships to other religions.

In Hinduism, there is a belief in one God-Brahman. Other gods worshipped by Hindus are representative expressions of Brahman. Siva, Vishnu, Kali, Ganesh, and others are forms of Brahman. "Ultimately, many Hindus rest their faith in one genderless deity with three basic aspects: creating, preserving, and destroying." (Fisher, 2005, p 83).

The beginnings of Hinduism originated in the Indus River Valley, one of the first four cradles of civilization.

Indigenous people based their rituals and worship around water and rivers. In time, the Aryans migrated from the Russian-Baltic area to the Indus River Valley. The Aryans focus of worship was fire, the moon, the sun, and forces of nature. Eventually the religious practices of both groups of people blended, into Hinduism, according to some theories. Aryans introduced the Varna (estates/classes) system to India, possibly the basis of the caste system. There was a two-tier structure with nobles at the top or a three-tier structure led by priests, divided in this way:

-Priests (Brahmins)

-Warriors (Kshatriyas)

-Ordinary People

The caste system expanded to five groups with further divisions within those groups. Social groups are defined by birth, marriage, and occupation. The caste system came from the idea that "Hierarchy is natural-The belief...