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Beliefs and Cultures The Basics What is Hinduism? Followers are called Hindus They are extremely faith based Sanatana dharma = eternal teaching There is no founder Started 4,000 years ago Hindu god = Shiva Most Hindus live in India Hindu Beliefs The caste system Brahmans (priests) Kshatriyas (nobles and soldiers) Vaishyas (traders) Sudras (servants) Food Most Hindus are vegetarians Hindus will not eat beef They eat with their fingers A typical meal: Rice or flat bread Spicy vegetables yogurt Festivals Holi- marks the end of winter Diwali- marks the new year Family Celebrations Celebrating a birth The sacred thread Death and cremation Hindu Religion Hinduism The word Hindu comes for the name of the river Indus, where the religion originated. The world's third most popular religion Has around 750 million followers. Originated in Northern India. Hinduism is practiced by more that 80% of India's population. Who is the founder of Hinduism? Hinduism does not have a founder. It was developed out of Brahmanism. Hinduism is the oldest religion Dates back to around the prehistoric times The symbol of Hinduism Aum It's the sound heard when someone is in deep meditation Aum is said to be the name most suited for God. What do Hindus Believe? Religion is a matter of practice not based of beliefs. They believe is a universal soul or God called Brahman. Brahman takes on many forms that Hindus can worship as gods or goddesses. They believe that there is part of Brahman in everyone and that is called Atman. Hindu believes Reincarnation-a belief that the soul is eternal and lives many lifetimes in one body after another. Karma-is the existence of the cyle of reincarnation. Moksha-the spiritual goal to become one with Brahma. Hindu Gods Hindus only believe in one God, Brahman But, most Hindus have a personal god or goddess they pray to regularly. The three most important Hindu gods are Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Brahma is known as the creator Vishnu is known as the preserver Shiva is known as the destroyer Other god are... Saraswathi who is the goddess of Wisdom and the wife of Lord Brahma. She is the goddess of knowledge, music and all the creative arts. Lakshmi who is the goddess of wealth and the wife of Vishnu. She is also the goddess of light, beauty, good fortune and wealth. Parvati is the goddess of Sakthi and the wife of Lord Shiva. Ganesha is the son of Shiva and Parvati. The Hindu god in a human form but with the head of an elephant. Place of worship Most Hindus worship everyday at home and have a shrine in there home. While worshiping at home, the Hindus make offerings to a murti. A Murti is a sacred statue of God, or a god or goddess. The Hindu building public worship is called Mandir. Every Mandir is dedicated to a different gods and are the focus of religious life. They offer Water, fruit, flowers and incense to their gods. The Hindu holy books Hinduism does not have just one sacred book. There are several. The most ancient sacred texts of the Hindu religion are called the Vedas. The Vedas scriptures guide Hindus in their daily life. The Vedas The oldest religious texts in Hinduism. The word Veda means knowledge. Vedas were orally revealed by Brahma. They were not written down and it was actually prohibited to do so. Now they are available in the written form but are still known as `That which is heard' The vedas are the law. Most beliefs, concepts and ceremonies are based on the information contained in the Vedas There are four vedas (Rg-Veda, Yajur-Veda, Sama-Veda, and Atharva-Veda) and each vedas is divided into four sections. The samhitas- the oldest portion Brahmanas- the ritualistic teachings The Aranyakas- the meditation section The Upanishads-the mystic and philosophical Other holy books The Upanishads-these consider the nature of the individual soul and the universal soul. One of the Upanishads contain the earliest reference to reincarnation. The Smrutis- the Laws of Manu The Puranas-a collection of ancient tales about the different incarnations and the lives of saints. Ramayana- contains the story of Rama and his devoted wife Sita. She is kidnapped by the demon king Ravana but later freed by Rama with the help of the monkey god Hanuman. Mahabharata-an epic poem telling the story of a war between two branches of a family Hindu Practices Worship-This is a very important part of their faith. Offerings are usually made to representations of the gods. Cremation- their dead are burnt not buried Compliance with the rules of the caste system- the way society is divided into different groups. Pilgrimage Pilgrimage is a very important aspect of Hinduism. Popular pilgrimage places are rivers. Temples, mountains, and other sacred sites in India. These sites are where gods may have appeared. Views on suicide Hinduism teaches that those who commit suicide are not following their religion. God has given their life and no on must take it away but him. Suicide disrupts the timing of the cycle of death and rebirth and therefore they will have bad Karma. Views on Euthanasia Not all Hindus agree on whether euthanasia should be permitted. One side says that a person who helps another end a painful life and is reducing suffering is doing a good deed and will gain good Karma. The other side says that Euthanasia interrupts the timing of the cycle of rebirth and both people will take on bad karma. Karma and Reincarnation Reincarnation "Just as a man discards worn out clothes and puts
on new clothes, the soul discards worn bodies and wears new ones." "Carnate" = flesh Reincarnate= to re-enter flesh, to be made flesh again Soul is immortal, body is subject to death 14 Lokas and purity Cycle of death and rebirth=samsara Unfulfilled desires lead to rebirth Spiritual awakening and realization of immortal soul= salvation. Death, Rebirth, Life Goddess Kali Hindus belief about the death process Death is natural Suicide Artificially sustaining life Euthanasia Karma Means "deed" or "action" God and Karma Some actions yield immediate effects, some do not Karmic force is not the only force "According as one acts, so does he become. One become virtuous by virtuous action, bad by bad action." Lessons from karma Not fate No eternal damnation Karma + reincarnation Ceremonies Before Death When a Hindu approaches death, they are surrounded with religious rites and ceremonies that support the dying person. Before a Hindu dies, the eldest son and relatives put water taken, if possible, from the Ganges River into the dying person's mouth. At this time, family and friends sing devotional prayers and chant Vedic mantras (sacred sounds). More than the words, which are themselves comforting, the tone of the communal chanting soothes the dying person and comforts relatives in their time of stress and grief Ganga Water A must in all Hindu homes is to have Ganga water. Ganga water makes the house holy. A drop of Ganga jal in the mouth of the dying, brings great benefits to both the giver of the water and to the one on dying. Monks If a monk is present during the death, he recites mantras to try and revive the person. If unsuccessful, he will pronounce the person dead. Ritual Exceptions When the news is received but if the body is not found, then make a doll from Kusha grass, and taking the name of the deceased, burn it and place the ashes in water. When a pregnant woman dies, the unborn infant under 7 months, must be taken out and buried and then the woman is cremated. Infants upto 27 months are buried and 28 months and above are cremated. Pre-mature, still-born, miscarriage babies are not cremated but are buried. After the death of such infant, bathing cleanses the family. When a wedded girl dies, then the in-laws side does the Sutak. A girl, who is engaged only, has both sides observe Sutak. When a son dies and the father is alive, then the father cannot apply or light the funeral pyre, and there is no Sapindi ceremony. Father does not do Vidhi (ceremony) for son Cremation Hinduism requires cremation. They cremate their dead, believing that the burning of a dead body signifies the release of the spirit and that the flames represent Brahma, the creator. This occurs as soon as possible because it is believed that as long as the physical body is visible the soul remains nearby for days or months. New Cremation Laws In New Delhi alone, it is estimated that 50,000 bodies are cremated annually. In response to the depletion of forests caused by wood-burning cremations, the Indian government has begun building electric crematoriums throughout India. Some traditional Hindus, however, have argued that ending wood-burning cremations could violate their religious rights. After Death The place where the person has died there is a lamp lit to light the way for the departed soul. Water is also kept there for nourishment. Dressing the Body Prior to cremation, the body is washed and anointed, the hair and beard is trimmed, and the corpse is given new or clean clothes. Usually dressed in white. Flowers are placed on the body, rice in the mouth (for nourishment), and coins in the hand. Grieving Family No cooking is done in the house until after cremation. "The fire in the house is not lit until the fire in the cremation pyre has gone out." Friends bring food to the grieving family. Only `pure' food, vegetarian without onion and garlic. Procession During the procession, relatives and mourners, who carry the body to the cremation ground, chant verses that invoke Yama's help. The funeral procession may pass places of significance to the deceased, such as a building or street. Prayers are said here and at the entrance to the crematorium. Preparing the Pyre The body is decorated with sandalwood, flowers and garlands. Scriptures are read from the Vedas or Bhagavad Gita. The chief mourner, usually the eldest son or male, will light some kindling and circle the body, praying for the wellbeing of the departing soul. Funeral Pyre The body is then placed on a funeral pyre. The eldest son finally walks around the pyre three times, each time pouring sacred water on the deceased. He then sets fire to the wood with a torch that has been blessed. Throughout the sacred ritual, relatives and mourners chant Vedic mantras to quicken the soul's release. After Cremation Everyone undergoes a purifying bath. The immediate family remains in a state of intense pollution for a set number of days (sometimes ten, eleven, or thirteen). They recite mantras and pindas. Pinda On the first day after death a pinda or round ball (made from rice flour and milk) is offered with libations of water endows it with the basis of the requisite body. Next day another pinda is offered with water giving it limbs, This goes on for twelve days and the offering of the pinda on the twelfth day gives the head When a child of 5-to 12 years dies, then ten days ceremony is done with ten pindas. Burial Three days after the death, the eldest son returns to the cremation spot, takes the remaining bones, and buries them or casts them into a river. They leave the river without looking back. Shraadh Shraadh denotes the ritual that one performs to paying homage to one's deceased ancestors (Pitri), and especially to one's deceased parents, either on the anniversary of their death or during the dark fortnight called Pitri Paksha (usually falls in September or October, or both). The Brahmanaas The karta (person who performs Shraadh) invites Brahmanaas (individuals who are considered to be very noble, worthy, knowledgeable etc.) that day, imagines they are his or her parent, performs a homa (offering cooked rice to the sacred fire, Agni). That serves them with sumptuous food, and treats them with all hospitality and finally does "pinda pradaana".(pinda--balls made of rice, given as offerings to the pitri). The Karta then gives "dakshina" to the brahmanaas (giving money to them, with all due respect).He finally asks them what is to be done of the remaining food and once the Brahmanaas give their consent, the karta and his family have the food. There are various other actions done, to show respect to the Brahmanaas, like washing their feet during the course of shraaddha. YouTube - Funeral pyre in India ...
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- Fall '07