Some people might wonder which popular religion has the largest number of gods. The answer, of course, is Hinduism. The intriguing main religion of India, Hinduism, is an incredibly complex religion involving many gods, practices, and beliefs.
Even to this day, no one knows the exact origin of the Hindu religion. It has no defined founder or theology. However, it is believed to have gradually developed when Aryan Indo-Europeans invaders northern India in the 1500s. As stated on www.bbc.co.uk, the term Hinduism came from the word Indus, which is the name of an ancient Indian river. However, this is not actually the official and true name of the religion. The true name is Sanatana Dharma, which means The eternal way. The religion itself is believed to have come out of Brahmanism, another similar belief system. It is a highly pantheistic religion, and is deeply involved in self salvation and meditation.
In Hinduism, there are more than one main deity. In fact, there are thousands! All are believed to be aspects of one universal force in the cosmos that is called Brahmin. However, there are several more prominent deities that many Hindus pay homage to. Much like Seventh-day Adventism, Hindus have their own version of the trinity. According to Hindu beliefs, Brahma periodically creates everything in the universe. After the creation of the universe, Vishnu is believed to then maintain order and harmony. Lastly, Shiva is thought to destroy the universe in preparation for creation again by Brahma(www.dummies.com). Two other minor goddesses, Saraswati and Lakshmi, representing learning and good fortune respectively, are also widely worshipped by students before exams and for many other purposed as well. However, there are still many, many more gods that are worshipped by Hindus, all symboling and representing different aspects of nature and the natural laws of the world. This alone shows one aspect of the true complexity of Hinduism as a religion.
Hindus believe that their religion is more of a belief system rather than a religion as the world views it. They put far more credit to what a person does over what they believe in. One example of this would be the concepts of Karma and reincarnation. Karma is by definition the passing through the cycle of life depending on the way one has lived in their previous life (www.primaryhomeworkhelp.co.uk). Simplified, this means that the actions, good or bad, that one performs during their lifetime will determine what an individual will reincarnate into in their next life. Any and all misfortunes or other tragedies in life are thought to be the results of one’s actions in a previous life. This, in turn, translates to another aspect of the beliefs of Hinduism. They believe that all things in this world, animate or inanimate, are connected through a divine essence, and all powerful force they call Brahman. Therefore everything, whether it be a person, animal, rock, or tree, has a soul and is capable of reincarnating into anything else. This cycle of death and birth is known as Samsara. Thus, anything or anyone is never above nor below anything or anyone else.
The highest and most strived for goal for Hindus is to achieve oneness with Brahman. This oneness is called Moksha. In short, Moksha is a release of the soul from rebirth. However, achieving Moksha is only one aspect of life for the average Hindu. Moksha is one of four main laws of Hinduism: Moksha, Dharma, Artha, and Karma. There are four ways, or paths, to achieve Moksha. First is the Path of Knowledge. This path leads a person to Moksha through spiritual knowledge of the relationship between the soul and Brahman. The second path is known as the Path of Meditation. This path focuses on the self within and how to use that inner self to become one with Brahman. Thirdly is the Path of Devotion. This path promotes serving a particular god or goddess, which are all viewed as different aspects of Brahman, to worship throughout their lives. Lastly is the Path of Good Works, which includes doing all duties and tasks in life correctly and well. After Moksha is Dharma. This law is the concept of how one leads their life. It encourages respect for one’s elders and holds marriage in high regard. Next is Artha, or the seeking of material gain through lawful practice (www.primaryhomeworkhelp.co.uk). Simply out, this means to seek out and gain money and other work fly comforts through hard work and honesty. Lastly is Karma. As stated earlier, karma is how the good acts of your life determine what you will reincarnate into in the next life. A person will either reincarnated to a lower or higher level depending on this.
There are many important texts that demonstrate the beliefs and lives of a Hindu. Some if which include the Veda, Upanishads, Ramayana, Mahabharata, the Puranas, and Bhagavad Gita. The Veda is known as the book of wisdom and knowledge and is filled with many hymns, prayers, and ritual texts while other texts, such as the Ramayana, Puranas, and Mahabharata, tell stories of a well-known, righteous Hindu king and the deeds, Hindu gods and goddesses, and of the Aryans respectively. In contrast, the Upanishads contain teachings of men and the universe as well as the concept of atman, a concentration on the self and the soul. However, none of these texts are as well known as the Bhagavad Gita, or the Song of the Blessed Lord. This text is considered one of the most sacred texts in the Hinduism religion and is the most widely read out of all of them. It focuses on the concept of Bhakti, which is the idea of devotion to a particular god or goddess for salvation (www.primaryhomeworkhelp.co.uk). It also addresses the idea that if man’s duty will bring sorrow to all if it is carried out. This means, in short, that a person’s natural duties and behaviors on their own will bring sorrow to themselves and others. Hence, a person should follow a god and perform good deeds in hope to achieve a higher level of reincarnation and eventually achieve Moksha.
Hindus worship at many different places, including but not limited to: shrines, at home, or at work. It is common to find shrines, which are typically a small altar next to a statue or picture of a god or goddess, in a Hindu family’s home or workplace. Oftentimes, family’s will even worship together, repeating prayers, offering gifts of water, fruit, flowers, or other things to a god, or even meditating. The most common, however, is the communal worship, where groups of Hindus will gather in a ceremony called the Mandir. This is similar to the way that families worship together, but is in a much larger group. There are three main practices of the Hindu people. This includes Puja, an offering to the gods, cremation of all Hindu dead, and the following of the caste system. These all are considered very important, and must be respected and maintained (www.primaryhomeworkhelp.co.uk).
As mentioned above, the caste system is considered a very important part of Hinduism. The caste system refers to the occupational class of a member of society. It is organized like a pyramid. The higher one is in the system, the more luxuries a person has. The lower, the fewer luxuries and greater the need and poverty. Similarly to a pyramid’s structure, there are far fewer at the top than at the bottom of this system. There are five main groups that are clearly defined in this caste system. At the top are the Brahmins, or the priests that oversee worship and offerings. Just below them are the Kshatriyas, or the soldiers and king-warriors or rulers. Next are the Vaishyas; the merchants and other middle-class workers. One step down from them are the Sutras, or the common laborers and craftspeople. At the very bottom are the Harijans, or the untouchables. These people are incredibly poor and are viewed as the scum of society, whether or not they are actually bad people. This system can, unfortunately, create widespread discrimination and other large social problems. Even though it was outlawed in 1948, it is still viewed by many Hindus as the proper way of categorizing society (www.bbc.co.uk).
If one were to compare Hinduism to the Seventh-day Adventist religion, they would find few, but still prevalent, similarities. As mentioned above, the first and most prominent of which would be the trinity of Hinduism: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. These three gods are always viewed as a group that rules over the cosmos and performing three different tasks; periodically creating, preserving, and destroying the universe. Another similarity would be some of the life morales promoted by Hindus such as kind to others, respecting one’s elders, and valuing and remaining loyal in marriage. They also gather together at times to worship together, and will often do so within their own families and community.
There are many more differences between Hinduism and Seventh-day Adventists than there are similarities. The most prevalent being the fact that Hindus have thousands upon thousands of gods. As mentioned above, they do have their own version of a trinity, but this trinity is not seen as one entity or as the omnipotent force in the universe. They are simply three more important gods out of many that represent three aspects of Brahmin, the overall force that permeates the universe. Another large difference is the mindset of the Hindus. They look at themselves and focus the majority of their actions on themselves and on what they can do. They see man’s problem as ignorance of its own divinity, or equality with everything else due to karma and reincarnation. This, in turn, is the reason for sin and evil existing in the world. As such, Hindus believe that in order to erase evil from the world, humans must achieve enlightenment of their own divinity and become one with Brahmin.
Hinduism is indeed an incredibly complex religion with many different gods, practices, and beliefs. However, some of the values of it are worth examining by any person, Seventh-day Adventist or not. Every religion should be looked at thoroughly before making any decision on how to view them, for anyone can learn something from another’s perspective.
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