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A Brief History And Look Inside Hinduism

1664 words - 7 pages

One may be familiar with India and its various taboos, much like our own country, these taboos and beliefs sprouted from a religion, which is Hinduism. Hinduism, being India’s traditional religion, is one of the oldest religions, shaping the country’s history and its people’s moral values. India being one of the most populated countries in the world gives advantage to expansion of Hinduism, making it the third largest religion. It is a complex religion with a vague beginning, but that hasn’t stopped its enlargement. Much like other religions, its concept is hard to grasp, but contains many unique values which set it far apart from any other religion. Hinduism is a teaching of love and acceptance in every way. In this paper, the history of Hinduism and its key aspects will be explained, in hopes to enlighten those about the teachings of Hinduism.
Hinduism’s exact time and place of origin remains unknown to this day, it is all speculation. It is said that Hinduism’s beginnings date back to the third millennium BCE, making it one of the oldest surviving religions in the world (Jacobs 5). It was born near some of the oldest and first civilizations, Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, in the Indus Valley. Although it has religious meaning now, the term “Hindu” was coined by Persians to describe those living on the eastern side of the Indus River, and had nothing to do with religion at the time (Ganeri 6). It is rumored that the religion came into existence with the merging of two ancient civilizations, bringing together their ideas and values. A group called the Aryans, presumably from Russia, invaded the valley making their way to India, until they ruled the entire region; Hinduism is thought to be a mix of the Aryan religion and Indus religion (George 8). Unlike the Indus people, the Aryans had a written language called Sanskrit; therefore, they could document their beliefs and create sacred texts. The Aryans helped solidify Hinduism’s future by doing so.
The Hindus call their religion sanatana dharma, which means “eternal teaching” so there is not a set of rules, but rather a code of behavior which one lives by (Ganeri 6). Unlike many other religions there is not a specific founder or teacher, so it is not based off the life teachings on a person, but rather a collection of thoughts and practices over thousands of years. There are many sacred texts which the Hindus hold valuable, and they are split in two groups called shurti and smriti. Shurti means “that which is heard” and are believed to be direct words from their main God, Brahman. The Upanishads and Vedas are the common forms of shurti, and more often than not, are never read straight through by the ordinary Hindu. Often it is the priests who study them and then explain their teachings. The Vedas were introduced by the Aryans, and contain prayers, hymns, and chants that are often recited at religious ceremonies. The Upanishads are the texts teaching the basics of Hinduism and its beliefs. Smriti...

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