The purpose of this paper is to describe the Hindu religion. The paper will describe what the Hindu religious traditions consist of. It will describe what sacred elements characterize the Hindu religious traditions and their significance and meaning. Hindu Religion Hinduism is the described as the world’s oldest organized religion and is the world’s third largest religion. Hinduism consists of “thousands of different religious groups that have evolved in India since 1500 BCE” (“Hinduism: The World’s Third Largest Religion”, 1995-2012).
The term Hinduism came from the word “India” and refers to the wide variety of religious traditions and philosophies that developed in India over thousands of years. Most forms of Hinduism are henotheistic religions that are different from Christianity and other monotheistic religions. Henotheistic religions recognize a single deity, and view other Gods and Goddesses as manifestations or aspects of that supreme God. India is one of the most religiously tolerant countries in the world because they have both henotheistic and polytheistic religions.
Hindu Religious Traditions
There is a broad array of Hindu religious traditions. One of the most dominant traditions was the worship of the Gods. This took place at outdoor fire altars. The priestly would create a square or rectangular space, purify it with water, and construct one to three low alters inside of the space for sacrifice. There were also sacred chants that only the priestly would know and protect and would only be passed down from father to son orally. These chants were written down at a later time and are considered to have made up the core of the earliest Hindu sacred literature called the Vedas.
The Hindu religious traditions are also the sacred elements of the Hindu religion. One of the religious traditions of Hinduism is the Hindu scriptures. The Hindu scriptures were written over a period of 2,000 years and reflect the practices and beliefs of Hinduism. The scriptures are divided into two classes, the sruti and the smriti. The sruti (what is heard) refers to the internal truths of religion which the rishis or seers saw or heard (Sacred Elements Of Hinduism, 2005-2012). The sruti is the primary and final uthority of religious truth known as the vedas. Smriti (what is remembered) are a secondary authority. Smriti contain the sacred texts other than the vedas.
These texts include the law books, the two great epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the Puranas. These texts consist of myths, stories, legends and chronicles of great events. There is another text known as the aqamas, which consists of the theological treatises and manuals of worship, and the sultras of the six systems of philosophy. Another religious tradition of Hinduism is the Vedas. The Vedas form as the basis for sacred element of Hinduism” (Sacred Elements Of Hinduism, 2005-2012). There are several different types of Vedas. They include the rig-veda, the samaveda, the yajur-veda and the athera-veda. Each of these Vedas consist of three parts: the mantras, hymns of praise to the Gods; the brahmanas, a guide for practicing ritual rights; the Upanishads, the most important part of which deals with teachings on religious truth or doctrine. The Vedas, also known as the samhitas, are the basis of vedic Hinduism.
The rig-veda is the most significant of the group. The collection of hymns in the rig-veda praise the various Hindu deities. The yajur-veda is a collection of mantras borrowed from the rig-veda and applied to specific ritual situations carried out by the executive priest and his assistants. The sama-veda also borrows mantras from the rig-veda which are chanted. The athara-veda are magical spells and incantations that are carried out by the priests. The Upanishads form an important sacred element of Hinduism and are a collection of speculative treatises.
They were written during 800 B. C. to 600 B. C. in which 108 of them are still in existence. The Upanishads are the secret teachings of the Hindu religion. “Its treatises mark a definite change in emphasis from the sacrificial hymns and magic formulas in the Vedas to the mystical ideas about man and the universe, specifically the eternal Brahman, which is the basis of all reality, and the atman, which is the self or the soul” (Sacred Elements Of Hinduism, 2005-2012). Sacred Elements/ Significance and Meaning There are five sacred elements of Hinduism.
The five sacred elements are: common ideals; common scriptures; common deities; common beliefs; common practices. Every one of Hinduism beliefs shares the same moral ideals. There are nine moral ideals. The first moral ideal is ahimsa, which means non-violence. The second moral ideal is satya, which means truthfulness. The third is Brahmacharya, the state of incessant search for the ultimate truth. The fourth is maitri, which means friendship. The fifth one is Dharma, which means to fulfill one’s duty. The sixth one is karuna, which means compassion.
The seventh is viirya, which means fortitude. The eighth one is dama, which means self-restraint, mental and physical. The ninth moral ideal is shaucha which means purity, mental and physical. The common deities of Hinduism are very specific. They have many Gods that they belief in but only one is supreme. The important functions of the supreme are the creation, protection, and destruction, also known as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The supreme in Hinduism is the Hindu Trinity. The types of Gods and Goddesses consist of humans, animals and natural phenomena.
There are approximately 330 million Gods and Goddesses in Hinduism. The common beliefs of Hinduism consist of: the evolution of the physical world, the law of karma and rebirth, and the four-fold goal of human life. The four-fold goal of human life is the purushharthas, artha, kama, and moksha. These beliefs are not only learned from family and church, they are also learned at school. Hindu Gods and Goddesses do not have a fixed status in Hinduism. They may be there one year and then they are abandoned and new Gods and Goddesses will be adopted instead.
Closing After doing the research for this paper, I have realized that the Hindu religion is very sacred to the followers. There was not really any detail about their traditions or their sacred elements, but there was great detail about their gods and goddesses and why they were worshiped. There were also a lot of writings about the yogas that they would to become spiritually one with the world. The Hindu religion is very complex and a very interesting religion. I hope to learn more and more about the Hindu religion by continuing my readings and research.
Hinduism: The world’s third largest religion. (1995-2012). Retrieved from http://also known as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva Sacred Elements of Hinduism. (2005-2012). Retrieved from http://www.articlesbase.com/religion-articles/sacred-elements-of-hinduism-290
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Hindu Religious Traditions. (2016, Nov 18). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/hindu-religious-traditions-2/