Anand_Patelasd (1) - Anand Patel Professor Lees Religions...

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Anand Patel Professor Lees Religions of the World May 7 , 2011 Hinduism and its influences on Western Culture Hinduism , dating back to 1500 BC, is the world’s oldest religion . It is not only a snapshot of the diverse cultural history of the Indian subcontinent over thousands of years , but also the glacier out of which numerous streams of philosophical and religious doctrines , such as Jainism and Buddhism , have sprung . Simultaneously , Hinduism provides its subscribers no set rules of conduct to follow , no particular divine being to pray to and no specific philosophical direction to adopt . It is almost divisive in the sense that it provides various interpretations of the universe that are ever evolving as a result of the passage of time and the inclusion of other religious ideologies . Therefore , it seems as though it would be hard for an individual to seek any specific religious identity through Hinduism , given its multi-dimensional nature . However , this is not the case—Hindus , both within India and across the world, strongly identify with their religion . Furthermore , tolerance and a vivid curiosity for a fellow Hindu’s interpretation of the Vedic and post-Vedic doctrines are paramount to the religion . The fact that Hinduism today is a culmination of 3000 years of knowledge and does not omit any alternative interpretations that have arisen thus far , is a strong testament to this statement . Nonetheless , there are contrasts inherent to Hinduism . One of the main areas of tension lies in the underlying concepts of dharma and moksha . Dharma deeply rooted in the earlier Vedic literature , postulates that the primary
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Patel 2 role of religion is to maintain the cosmic order , which in practical terms means order within society . It states that a person’s first obligation is to others and he must fulfill his duties within the hierarchical role that is assigned to him . On the other hand , the concept of moksha introduces the Brahman , which is the eternal, conscious, spatially and temporally unqualified reality . All human beings , that is, every atman or soul, is not real and can transcend to become the Brahman . This process of salvation from the endless cycle of karma can only be brought about through asceticism and world renunciation . Since 500 BC , the religion has grappled with ways to reconcile these two inherently conflictual concepts , in order for the followers of the religion to be able to live in society and still attain the ultimate goal of every pious Hindu’s life: nirvana . In fact , these reconciliatory measures have often become a means of defining Hinduism itself . For example , many Hindu scriptures prescribe the four stages or ashramas of life , which allow a human being to preserve
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This note was uploaded on 05/30/2011 for the course PHR 121 taught by Professor Witek during the Spring '10 term at Bergen Community College.

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Anand_Patelasd (1) - Anand Patel Professor Lees Religions...

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