Facts About Hinduism
The belief structure of Hinduism, started about 45,000 years ago, in the Indus Valley Civilization. About 3,000 years later, the Aryans invaded India. The Hindu legends, as they were, became combined with the Aryans rituals and religions. The combination of these two belief system, is where the current Hindu belief system originates, at least part of it.
The Aryan people were a group of light-skinned people, who invaded and conquered ancient India, in the mid-19th through the mid -20th century. The Aryan invaders, “literature, religion, and modes of social organization; subsequently, shaped the course of Indian culture. This was especially true with the Vedic religion, which informed, and was eventually superseded by Hinduism.” On the other hand, some Hindu scholars do not agree, the Aryan invasion, has anything to do with the formation of Hinduism. They believe, it was locally born, and never changed by foreigners.
Most of the major religions, have a set of rules to live by, a book to follow, a specific god to worship. For example, if a person were to ask a couple of people about Judaism, they would hear pretty uniform replies. The same is true for Christianity (as well as other major religions), even across denominations. The answers, will be, pretty much the same, within each religion, with only slight variables. The point is, this is not the case for, Hinduism, which lacks a uniting belief system. Maybe, this is because the Aryan invasion, only had a role in shaping Hinduism, in certain areas, maybe it is something else all together.
With that being said, it is important to note, there are some core aspects, which lay the foundation of this credence. For one, this religion is based on scripture, and meditation. The belief is, meditation brings the participant, closer to a personal experience of the truth. Second, Hinduism is centered around Karma, which is basically the universe giving you back what you put out. They live by the theory, every action, has an equal reaction. This infers, all bad things are a direct consequence of, past unethical behavior. Which explains why, Hinduism is based on the belief, the main reason for angst is, people’s lack of self-awareness.
In like manner, there are some practices, which are a significant part of daily life, for most followers of this faith, such as: “rituals, castes and social duties, life stages, home puja, a homage to the guru, fasting, prayers, auspicious designs, and reverence paid to trees and rivers, pilgrimages, and religious festivals."
The reason why Hindu people desire liberation from earthly existence, is they understand suffering, and they want to put an end to it. They are looking to discover themselves, and while doing so, they believe they will find eternal bliss. Hinduism is structured on self-discovery, meditation, and spirituality. All aspects of this religion, point to the underlying desire, to find peace and happiness.
The Hindu religion is based on the belief, good deeds will bring karma, and when one is transcended, into the next life, they are transcended into a better life. However, the ultimate goal is not to keep moving forward with a better life, each time.
The objective is to, "escape from samsara and achieve moksha, or the limitations of space, time, and matter; through a realization of the immortal Absolute. Although, many cycles of birth and rebirth, with a higher status, are required to achieve this.
The Godess Shakti
One of the most fascinating aspects of this religion is, there is not a standard God, whom everyone must worship, and obey. In fact, one of the deities many people who practice Hinduism, worship is, the Goddess Shakti. In some parts of India, she is considered the Supreme Mother, in other parts she is the energy that connects everything. This energy shows up, in many faiths, in different forms. some call it the Universe, some may call it the Chi (qi), others refer to it as the Tao. There are, probably, plenty of names for this energy, this life force. Nonetheless, there is something poetic, about the energy which, is part of everything, being a creative feminine energy.
As previously mentioned, Yoga is a major part of the Hindu religion. For most, here in the west, when yoga is mentioned, the first thought is someone doing downward dog, or some similar type of stance. Along with modern Yoga, which is widely practiced in the west, there are many other types, practiced around the world. The types of yoga, Hinduism focuses on, are much different than modern yoga. In there own way, the types of yoga practiced for religious purposes, by Hindus, are similar to the Four Noble Truths, in Buddhism. They are meant to help guide a person to live in such a way, where suffering can be eradicated from their lives. Coincidently, there are also, four different types of Yoga. Each type of yoga, serves it’s own purpose, which is listed bellow.
• Raja yoga- (The path of mental concentration), this form of yoga uses breathing and the chakras.
• Jnana yoga- (The path of rational inquiry), this is most often considered the hardest form of Yoga.
• Karma yoga- (Is giving selflessly), this is when someone uses integrity in all things that they do.
• Bhakti yoga- (Devotion to a personal deity, such as Saktas), this form of Yoga involves prayer, chants, and rituals.
Last, but certainly not least, Chakras have been mentioned throughout this article, but what exactly, is a chakra? According to Hinduism today, there are one hundred and fourteen nerve centers in the human body. In Sanskrit, these nerve centers are known as Chakras. These are believed to be spinning balls of energy, which are part of, the power of one’s mind. Through prayer and meditation, it is believed, one can use Chakras to strengthen the mind, and achieve a higher state of consciousness. It is also believed, if a Chakra is blocked, or not functioning properly, it can affect a person's health. There are seven main Chakras:
• Crown Chakra
• Root Chakra
• 3rd Eye Chakra
• Heart Chakra
• Sacral Chakra
• Solar Plexus Chakra
• Throat Chakra
In conclusion, The Hindu religion is a fascinating religion, full of spirituality and self-awareness. The religion has, most likely, become the religion it is today, in some part, due to the Invasion of the Aryan people, although this has been disputed. This religion consists of Yoga, Chakras, and a devotion to personal deities. Hinduism is built on the belief in reincarnation and karma. If one does right by other people, they will be able to come back, as something better, in their next life. Their ultimate goal is to break the chain of reincarnation, and experience liberation from earthly existence.