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Research paper example essay prompt: Hinduism - 1665 words

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Hinduism hinduism The term Hinduism refers to the civilization of the Hindus (originally, the inhabitants of the land of the Indus River). Introduced in about 1830 by British writers, it properly denotes the Indian civilization of approximately the last 2,000 years, which evolved from Vedism the religion of the Indo-European peoples who settled in India in the last centuries of the 2nd millennium BC. The spectrum that ranges from the level of popular Hindu belief to that of elaborate ritual technique and philosophical speculation is very broad and is attended by many stages of transition and varieties of coexistence. Magic rites, animal worship, and belief in demons are often combined with the worship of more or less personal gods or with mysticism, asceticism, and abstract and profound theological systems or esoteric doctrines. The worship of local deities does not exclude the belief in pan-Indian higher gods or even in a single high God. Such local deities are also frequently looked down upon as manifestations of a high God. In principle, Hinduism incorporates all forms of belief and worship without necessitating the selection or elimination of any.

It is axiomatic that no religious idea in India ever dies or is superseded-it is merely combined with the new ideas that arise in response to it. Hindus are inclined to revere the divine in every manifestation, whatever it may be, and are doctrinally tolerant, allowing others - including both Hindus and non-Hindus - whatever beliefs suit them best. A Hindu may embrace a non-Hindu religion without ceasing to be a Hindu, and because Hindus are disposed to think synthetically and to regard other forms of worship, strange gods, and divergent doctrines as inadequate rather than wrong or objectionable, they tend to believe that the highest divine powers are complement one another. Few religious ideas are considered to be irreconcilable. The core of religion does not depend on the existence or nonexistence of God or on whether there is one god or many.

Because religious truth is said to transcend all verbal definition, it is not conceived in dogmatic terms. Moreover, the tendency of Hindus to distinguish themselves from others on the basis of practice rather than doctrine further de-emphasizes doctrinal differences. Hinduism is both a civilization and a congregation of religions; it has neither a beginning or founder, nor a central authority, hierarchy, or organization. Hindus believe in an uncreated, eternal, infinite, transcendent, and all-embracing principle, which, comprising in itself being and non-being, is the sole reality, the ultimate cause and foundation, source, and goal of all existence. This ultimate reality is called Brahman. As the All, Brahman causes the universe and all beings to emanate from itself, transforms itself into the universe, or assumes it's appearance.

Brahman is in all things and is the Self (atman) of all living beings. Brahman is the creator, preserver, or transformer and reabsorber of everything. Although it is Being in itself, without attributes and qualities and hence impersonal, it may also be conceived of as a personal high God, usually as Vishnu (Visnu) or Siva. This fundamental belief in and the essentially religious search for ultimate reality - that is, the One is the All - have continued almost unaltered for more than 30 centuries and has been the central focus of India's spiritual life. In some perceptions, Hinduism has been called 'atheistic'. In other perceptions, and this is perhaps the more common one, it is labeled 'polytheistic'.

The term 'polytheism' acknowledges the presence of a God-figure in a religious system, but in the plural. Thus it is said that Hindus worship many such beings we call God. But obviously this implies a very profound difference in the understanding of what such a 'God' could be. It is often said that Hindus worship three gods and they are in fact called the 'Hindu Trinity'. The gods involved are: Brahma, Visnu and Siva.

The first is supposed to create the world (at the beginning of each cosmic cycle), the second to maintain it in being, and Siva, at the end of a cosmic cycle, to destroy it again. But then a further idea is added which is ignored by the proponents of the theory of a Hindu Trinity. What is added invariably implies that, over and above these three figures lies a single reality. This 'one above the three' controls the activities of the creation etc. Brahma and the others, who carry out these functions, are merely manifestations of that highest being, or they relate to it in some other, equally secondary, form. This concept of a single, all powerful, eternal, personal and loving God, is the concept of Bhagavan. But who is this Hindu Bhagavan? At least to us the outside observers he is not one, but many.

Siva, Visnu, Krsna, Rama, Karttikeya and Ganesa may be mentioned as the most important Bhagavan figures. But to speak of many Bhagavans has nothing to do with 'polytheism', for in terms of Indian society, different groups have their one and only Bhagavan. In most cases a particular Bhagavan-figure may look the same as deva. By 'looking the same' is meant here: possessing the same external characteristics (including name) and having the same or very similar stories told by his mythical deeds. From this follows that the individual (or, in practice, far more often, the group to which he belongs, and this is more frequently by birth than by choice) makes a decision as to how to regard such a figure.

Visnu could thus be the Bhagavan for some people, a minor manifestation of Siva for others, a godling for a third group, possibly an evil demonic being for a fourth and Isvara for a fifth. But this does not mean that every single religious individual in India ends up with a Bhagavan. Although those Hindus who particularly worship either Vishnu or Shiva generally consider one or the other as their 'favorite god' and as the Lord and Brahman in its personal aspect, Vishnu is often regarded as a special manifestation of the preservative aspect of the Supreme and Shiva as that of the destructive function. Another deity, Brahma, the creator, remains in the background as a demiurge. These three great figures (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) constitute the so-called Hindu Trinity (Trimuriti, the One or Whole with Three Forms). This conception attempts to synthesize and harmonize the conviction that the Supreme Power is ingular with the plurality of gods in daily religious worship. Although the concept of the Trimurti assigns a position of special importance to some great gods, it never has become a living element in the religion of the people.

Brahma, the first of the three Hindu gods, is called the Creator; he is the father of gods and men, the Vedic Prajapati, the lord of creators. The term is used for the Absolute, or the Ultimate Principle, beyond which nothing exists or has any reality. In the Upanishads, Brahma is said to be beyond all description. This universe was enveloped in darkness - unperceived, indistinguishable, undiscoverable, unknowable, as it were, entirely sunk in sleep. The irresistible self existent lord, undiscerned, creating this universe with the five elements, and all other things, was manifested dispelling the gloom.

He who is beyond the cognizance of the senses, subtile, indiscernible, eternal, who is the essence of all things, and inconceivable, himself shone forth. He, desiring, seeking to produce various creatures from his own body, first created the waters, and deposited in them a seed. This (seed) became a golden egg, resplendent as the sun, in which he himself was born as Brahma, the progenitor of all worlds. The waters are called nara, because they are the offspring of Nara; and since they were formerly the place of his movement (ayana), he is therefore called Narayana. Being formed by that First Cause, indiscernible, eternal, which is both existent and non-existent, that male is known in the world as Brahma. That lord having continued a year in the egg, divided it into two parts by his mere thought.

In the Mahabharata and some of the Puranas, Brahma is said to have issued from a lotus that sprang fromthe navel of Vishnu. In picture Brahma is represented as a red man with four heads, though in the Puranas he is said to have had originally five. He is dressed in white raiment, and rides upon a goose. In one hand he carries a staff, in the other a dish for receiving alms. A legend in the Matsya Purana, gives the following account of the formation of his numerous heads: - Brahma formed from his own immaculate substance a female who is celebrated under the names of Satarupa, Savitri, Sarasvati, Gayatri, and Brahmani.

Beholding his daughter, born from his body, Brahma became wounded with the arrows of love and exclaimed, 'How surpassingly lovely she is !' Satarupa turned to the right side from his gaze; but as Brahma wished to look after her, a second head issued from his body. As she passed to the left, and behind him, to avoid his amorous glances, two other heads successively appeared. At length she sprang into the sky; and as Brahma was anxious to gaze after her there, a fifth head was immediately formed. At present times Brahma is not largely worshipped by the Hindus. It is said that the universe will come to an end at the end of Brahma's life, but Brahmas too are innumerable, and a new universe is reborn with each new Brahma. VISHNU is called the second person of the Hindu Trimuriti or Trinity: but though called second, it must not be supposed that he is regarded as in any way inferior to Brahma.

In some books Brahma is said to be the first cause of all things, in others it is as strongly asserted that Vishnu has this honor; while in others it is claimed for Siva. As Brahma's special work is creation, that of Vishnu is preservation. In the following passage from the Padma Purana, it ...

Related: hinduism, hindu religion, indian society, hindu gods, indus

Research paper topics, free essay prompts, sample research papers on Hinduism