Hinduism began in India and is one of the oldest religions known to man and as such does not have a prominent founder that anyone can remember. In India, the land lying on the southern side of the Hindu-Kush Mountains was considered the land of the Hindus or Hindustan and the religion followed by the people there was known as Hinduism. It is a religion that is based upon Aryan settlers. The Hindu people believe that their religion has no beginning and no end. It consists of “thousands of different religious groups that have evolved in India since 1500 BCE.” Because of the wide variety of Hindu traditions, freedom of belief and practice are notable features of Hinduism. In Hinduism, Buddha is the last avatar of the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu. The word Buddha was not used to describe the last avatar of Vishnu, the description, time and place of his arrival is well chronicled in scriptures prior to the advent of the Buddha. Buddhism and Jainism are outside the Hindu tradition but are regarded as related religions.
Hinduism is different than Christianity and other monotheistic religions in that it doesn’t have a single holy text that the people follow or a single system of morality and or a central religious authority. This individual freedom to meditate and act according to one’s own conscious seems to give the followers more personal responsibility in their own actions. By this I mean they are not consciously breaking rules set down by doctrine; when they feel they have done wrong, it is because their conscious is telling them they have done wrong. Hinduism has grown to become the world’s third largest religion, after Christianity and Islam. It claims about 950 million followers — about 14% of the world’s population. It is the dominant religion in India, Nepal, and among the Tamils in Sri Lanka. Hinduism provides a freedom of belief system based in meditation and peaceful resolution to one’s problems.
This belief of and by itself is an extremely beneficial factor in aiding the people of India and other densely populated areas maintain an ordered and peaceful society. In many areas of India, resources such clean water and food are limited and sometimes scarce and in the struggle for such limited commodities, tensions may run high. The precepts of Hinduism help the people share and take what they need without hoarding. With the spread of Hinduism throughout the countries of India, Nepal and Sri Lanka there has been a positive impact on the people not only in the accepting the scarcity of basic needs but in the tolerance of others not of the Hindu faith. Hindus, unlike Catholics or most other religions do not believe in judging others but instead are focused on self-perfection; this focus, done correctly would make judgment of others counterproductive to their underlying goal. It is meditation that helps them find there center to calm and relax, resulting in a more holistic perspective to their problems.
These attributes of Hinduism help the culture to be more relaxed and tolerant providing a greater chance for success in their democracy. A significant negative aspect in the society which is not entirely caused by the religion, but is also not helped by the religion is the apparent denigration of women including high levels of domestic violence. The desire for liberation from earthly existence is a basic premise of Hinduism and involves the perfection of oneself while being true to one’s individualism. The freedom to express themselves this is one reason people practice Hinduism. The primary teaching of Hindu is self-realization in that the people don’t follow a certain book or person to tell them what to do.
True liberation means liberation of the individual soul from the constant cycle of births and deaths. Hindus understand that perfection might involve multiple lives and reincarnations to get it right and become a perfected being. Liberation is known in Hinduism as mukti, kaivalya, moksha or nirvana. When your soul becomes aware of the true nature of understanding and transcends into the sky to gain freedom and become one with the divine. As one of the oldest of all religions Hinduism has stood the test of time; partly perhaps due to the lack of a founding father or the lack of a dogmatic scripture which often becomes dated and irrelevant over time.
Hinduism puts the responsibility for correct behavior on the follower personally, we all know when we have done wrong, and Hindus must be shamed by themselves alone. The religion helps followers deal with incredible hardships when it comes to meeting the basic needs of their families and avoid wasting time on jealousy of others who have more. They are more tolerant of others while focusing on self-perfection to achieve their ultimate goal of Nirvana; while Hinduism may not be for everyone, all of us could benefit from accepting some of these precepts.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 1 December 2016
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