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Hinduism - Halverson

Hinduism - Halverson - Hinduism A Religion Profile from...

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Hinduism A Religion Profile from International Students, Inc. 1 Hinduism: An Overview after the revolt emphasized the importance of internal meditation as opposed to external practice. Between 800 and 300 B . C . the Upanishads were written. The Upanishads , also called Vedanta (“the end or conclusion of the Vedas ”), are the Hindu equivalent of the New Testament. The Upanishads exposed the idea that behind the many gods stands one Reality, which is called Brahman. Brahman is an impersonal, monistic (“all is one”) force. The highest force of Brahman is called nirguna , which means “without attributes.” Even after the Upanishads were written, the Hindu concept of God continued to develop, and it developed in the direction of seeing God as personal. Nirguna Brahman became saguna Brahman, which is Brahman “with attributes.” This personified Brahman is called Ishvara. According to Hindu tradition, Ishvara became known as humanity through the Trimurti (literally, “three manifestations”) of Brahman. Those manifestations include Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Preserver), and Siva (the Destroyer). Each of the three deities has at least one devi , or divine spouse. Ishvara became personified even further through the ten mythical incarnations of Vishnu, called avatars . The forms of these incarnations include that of animals (e.g., a fish, a tortoise, and boar) and of persons (e.g., Rama, Krishna, and Buddha). Epics such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata , which includes the Bagavad-Gita , tell the stories of these myths. Beyond the principal deities of the Trimurti , it is estimated that there are 330 million other gods in Hinduism. Besides the religion’s various concepts of God, Hinduism can also be divided along the lines of whether the physical universe is considered to be real or illusory ( maya ). The non-dualists ( advaiti ) see Brahman alone as being real and the world as illusory. The qualified non-dualists Number of Adherents It is estimated that there are over 850 million Hindus world- wide, accounting for more than 13 percent of the earth’s pop- ulation (Barret). There are more than one million Hindus in North America. Globally, Hindus outnumber protestant Chris- tians (Christudas, p. 18). Hinduism Among the Nations The vast majority of Hindus live in India, where they account for 81.3 percent of the population (2000 est.). Hindus also comprise a significant portion of the population in seven other countries: Bangladesh (16 percent), Bhutan (25 percent), Fiji (38 percent), Mauritius (52 percent), Nepal (86.2 percent), Sri Lanka (15 percent), Suriname (27.4 percent), and Trinidad (23.8 percent) ( CIA World Factbook ). Nepal is the only nation where Hinduism is the state religion. Introducing Hinduism The origins of Hinduism can be traced back to around 1500 B . C . in what is now India. It began as a polytheistic and ritualistic religion. The rituals were at first simple enough that they could be performed by the head of the household. As the centuries passed though, the rituals became increasingly complex. As a result, it became necessary to create a priestly
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