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Religion & Theology
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Hinduism (Essay Sample)


I was to write a general paper about Hinduism

The term Hinduism is used to collectively describe several religious and philosophical traditions that are native to the Indian subcontinent. Hinduism does not have a specific founder or a specific moment of origin. According to its believers, Hinduism is timeless because it has always existed. The collection of sacred texts is known as “The Eternal Teaching” (Sanatana Dharma) reflects the timelessness of the religious beliefs. Hinduism encompasses several interconnected religious practices and doctrines. The philosophical and religious traditions within Hinduism share some similar characteristics but they lack unified systems of practices and beliefs. Hinduism comprises various sects and sub sects with regional and local variations. A study of Hinduism reveals that even though the distinct philosophical and religious traditions within Hinduism have specific ritual traditions and theologies; they use different means to achieve a common purpose.
Hinduism is the religion of most of the people in Nepal and India. Adherents of Hinduism are believed to be over nine hundred million worldwide. It is historically associated with other Indian religions such as Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism (Ross). Due to the diverse religious practices within Hinduism, it can be regarded as a family of religions. The main teachings of Hinduism are referred to as Vedic texts. The Veda is treated by most Hindus as the sacred scripture while the Dharma is the common system of values shared by Hindus.
Hinduism is believed to have originated near the Indus River around the Indus Valley in what is modern day Pakistan. 80% of the Indian population consider themselves to be Hindu (Ross). The majority of the Hindus believe in a Supreme God whose forms and powers are represented by numerous deities. Hindus believe in a cycle of rebirth, death, and birth governed by the rules of Karma. They believe that the soul goes through a cycle of consecutive and successive lives and that the next stage of the soul’s incarnation depends on how the person has lived the previous life. Hindus celebrate several holy days but the best known holy day is Diwali, the Festival of Lights (O’Malley).
There are various concepts shared within Hinduism. They include: the concepts of Brahman and God, Purushartha, Karma and Samsara, Varna, Dharma, and Atman. Atman refers to the existence of the “eternal self”. Hindus believe in the soul or spirit which represents the essence of existence (Flood). The belief in the existence of an eternal self supports the idea of reincarnation since it is believed that the eternal self can exist in different temporary bodies. The eternal self is regarded as a spiritual being rather than a material being. The belief in an eternal self explains the strong emphasis on detachment from the material world in Hinduism, and the promotion of unique practices such as asceticism (O’Malley). In the earthly world, the atman is a spiritual being that goes through the human experience.
The concept of Dharma is highly valued in Hinduism traditions. It refers to morality, virtue, and duty. It symbolizes the power which governs the society and the universe. Dharma is regarded as the universal code for righteousness which was revealed in the collective Holy Scriptures known as the Vedas (Nicholson). Dharma enables human beings to act morally and virtuously. It maintains society, makes the sun shine, and makes the grass grow. In Hinduism, acting morally does not have a similar meaning for everyone. People have different duties and obligations depending on their social position, gender, and age. Each person has a unique Dharma referred to as sva-dharma (Flood). What is correct for a child might not be correct for an adult and what is correct for a man mi...
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