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  1.  Cultural Religion of India  The grouping of thousands of different “religions” with similar beliefs  Developed over thousands of years (is the oldest “major” religion)  Parent religion to Buddhism, Jainism, Sik hism and more  Is considered “Monotheistic” by Hindus  “Polytheistic” by westerners  Clearly formed out of an animistic style of worship (god is not separate from creation)
  2. Brahma (Creator) Vishnu (Sustainer) Shiva (Destroyer)
  3.  Brahman(universal energy/god) and Atman (individual energy/soul/god)  Dharma (Ethics/Duties)  Samsara (The continuing cycle of birth- life-death-rebirth  Karma (actions and reaction)  Moksha (liberation from samsara)  Yoga (path or practices)
  4.  Brahman The concept of Brahman is that God is the universal creative energy or spirit  Many devotees worship only one form of Brahman (Vishnu and Shiva) but there is an acknowledgement that God is one, universal, and that all that is, is incorporated and there is still more.  Because all the universe is Brahman, everything must be treated with respect.  Because Brahman is everything and more, Hindu Sacred texts describe it as “Not _______” ex. Brahman is not a dog, not a house, not the sky, not the sun etc.
  5.  Atman The concept that Brahman is in everything leads to Atman,  Atman is the term for Brahman in each of us.  The greeting “namaste” means "That which is of God in me greets that which is of God in you.“ it is accompanied by a bow with hands in the form of an “offering sign” (Añjali Mudrā)  Atman can mean breath, meaning the breath of life etc. It commonly refers to the real you not the ego/material version, but the part of you that recognizes that you are god, and see god in everything else.  One of the purposes of yoga and other meditative practices is to recognize atman in one’s self, or rather to recognize Brahman in yourself and everything else. To be able to say “I am that” or summed up in 4 great sayings from the sacred Upanishads You are that I am Brahman All this is truly Brahman This self is Brahman
  6. -Dharma is a really simple concept, which has lead to a really complex system of rules and responsibilities for Hindu people. -The belief in dharma is the principle religious backing of the Indian caste system –that though illegal, separates and “oppresses” millions or people in India. Karma, is the belief that if one does actions that follow their dharma they will receive reward in the next life, where as if they do not follow their dharma, they will be punished in the next life.
  7. SAMSARA MOKSHA  Samsara is the cycle of life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life death life etc  Moksha is the release from this cycle. It is the Hindu equivalent of salvation or nirvana  Devotees disagree on the best way to achieve Moksha  Some believe that the best you can do is to recognize the spirit of God  Others believe you can recognize god in yourself and thus become part of him again  Others believe you can recognize and obtain the eternal love of God.  They also disagree on whether one can obtain moksha while living (physically)
  8. The Vedas  There are four Vedas, the Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda. The Vedas are the primary texts of Hinduism.  The Vedas contain hymns, incantations, and rituals from ancient India.  Each of the Vedas typically deals with specific things, IE one will give instructions on how to perform sacrifices where as another might give examples of good mantras to use.  Though they may be the most sacred text of the Hindu books, they are not usually understood by most common people. The Upanishads, Epics and Puranas are much more common. The Upanishads  Are philosophical texts of the Hindu religion. More than 200 are known, of which the first dozen or so, the oldest and most important, are variously referred to as the principal, main (mukhya) or old Upanishads. The Bhagavad Gita and Mahabharata •Epic poem concerning the story of Krishna and other stories (some historical references-mythology) The Puranas “of ancient times” •Are narratives of the history of the universe from creation to destruction, genealogie s of kings, heroes, sages, an d demigods, and descriptions of Hindu cosmology, philosophy, and geography Ramayana •Epic poem concerning the story of Rama •Explores the concept of Dharma
  9. Followers of Vishnu wear a “tilak” in the shape of a “U” with two vertical lines crossed over the nose. This shape is often said to represent the foot of Vishnu. Between these lines they often have another color representing one of the many wives of the avatars of Vishnu.
  10.  Beliefs:  Usually followers of Vishnu worship one of the sacred avatars of Vishnu.  What is an Avatar?
  11.  Lord Vishnu's preserving, protecting powers have been manifested to the world in a variety of forms, called Avatars, in which one or more of his divine attributes were embodied in the shape of a human being or an animal or a human-animal combined form, possessing great and sometimes supernatural powers.  All these Avatars of Vishnu appeared in the world either to correct some great evil or to effect some great good on earth. These avatars are ten in number, however, the Bhag wad Purana increases them to twenty two and adds further that they are innumerable. Of the ten universally recognized avatars, nine have already manifested whereas the tenth is yet to appear. It is important to note that all of the Avatars are earthly form of Lord Vishnu , who himself is eternal, unchangeable and immutable.
  12. Buddha Krishna (pictured with his lady - Radha)
  13. Matsya Avatar - Lord Vishnu in the form of Fish The first avatar, Matsya, was taken by Lord Vishnu at the end of the Satyuga (last age), when a flood destroyed the world. Through this avatar, he saved humanity and the sacred Veda text from the flood. Kurma Avatar - Lord Vishnu in the form of Turtle The second avatar, Kurma, was taken in the Satyuga (last age) to help the Devas and to obtain the amrut (nectar) of immortality which was also sought after by the Asuras (demons). He helped in creating the world by giving support of his back through this avatar. Varaha Avatar - Lord Vishnu in the form of Boar The third avatar, Varaha, was taken at the end of the last flood in the Satyuga, when Bhoomi Devi (Earth Mother) sank to the bottom of the ocean. Vishnu, in the form of varaha, dived into the ocean and raised the goddess out of the ocean, supported by his two tusks. Narsimha Avatar - Lord Vishnu in the form of Half - Man and Half - Lion The fourth Avatar, Narsimha, was taken in the Satyuga (last age) to kill a tyrant demon king. Narsimha is the only avatar which was Hybrid in form being half human and half animal. Vamana Avatar - Lord Vishnu in the form of a Dwarf The fifth avatar, Vamana, appeared in the Tretayuga in order to destroy Bali, the king of demons. He came during a huge ceremony conducted by the king and cleverly asked for just three feet of land, measured by his own small feet. Vamana covered whole of the earth and the heaven, subduing Bali into his feet.
  14. Parshurama Avatar - Lord Vishnu in the form of a Brahmin The sixth avatar, Parshurama, appeared in the Tretayuga to destroy the warrior caste. When the kings of the earth became despotic and started to harm people and saints in the forest, Vishnu incarnated as Parshurama and destroyed all the kings who were harassing the people. Rama Avatar - Lord Vishnu in the form of the King The seventh avatar, Rama, the prince and king of Ayodhaya, appeared in the Tretayuga, to rescue Sita with his loyal servant Hanuman and his brother, Lakshmana, and killed the demon Ravana. Lord Rama became one of the most popular gods in the Hindu religion. Krishna Avatar - Lord Vishnu in the form of a Cowherd's Boy The eighth avatar, Krishna, along with his brother Balarama, appeared in the Dwaparyuga to kill the demon king, Kansa. Lord Krishna conveyed the message of love and humanity to the world. Krishna told the epic poem Bhagavad Gita to the warrior Arjuna ,in which he acclaimed : ''Whenever Dharma, or the situation of law and order, is endangered on this world, I incarnate onto this world to re establish Dharma, law and order, and to protect the Sadhus or saints and to destroy the evil elements of the society.'' Buddha Avatar - Lord Vishnu in the Form of Buddha The ninth avatar, Mahavira Buddha, appeared in the Kalyuga, to teach the lesson of following a middle path in life. ''Buddha'' means 'the enlightened one'. He taught that all sorrow comes from attachments and desires, so it's better to curb all attachments in order to remain happy. Kalki Avatar - Lord Vishnu in the form of Horse The tenth Avatar, Kalki, ("Eternity", or "time", or "The Destroyer of foulness"), is yet to appear on the earth. And it is expected to appear at the end of Kali Yuga, the time period in which we currently exist, which will end in the year 428899 CE.
  15. Followers of Vishnu practice their religion in much the same form as other Hindu believers. Devotion or “Bhakti” is especially important to Vaishnavites and can be seen through a variety of practices (such as wearing different symbols, clothes, and practicing slightly different forms of yoga) From the western point of view though, the practices of Vaishnavites would not be that different from other Hindu worship, adherents go to temple, make sacrifices and are blessed. They say mantras, practice yoga and meditation, and fulfill their dharma .
  16. Mantras A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that are considered capable of "creating transformation“ Mantras are used in all religions, but take center stage in many of the Hindu religious rituals, as well as common practices in Indian cultural practices such as yoga/meditation. Singing “HARE KRISHNA” AUM “om”
  17. Shaivism and Shaivites Shaivites wear their tilak with three horizontal lines across the forehead. Other Symbols associated with Shiva are: -Trident (three aspects of god, creation, sustaining, destruction ) -Snake Necklace (control over death and rebirth) -Crown of Skulls (death) -Two Sided Drum (heartbeat and AUM) -Crescent Moon(sign of fertility and sign of white bull) -White Bull(sign of control over fertility) -Tiger fur blanket (potential creative energy) -Third Eye (enlightenment/consciousness)
  18.  Aum Namah Shivay (I bow to Shiva)  Om Namah Shivay is a very powerful mantra. It has been said about this mantra that if this mantra vibrates continually in your heart, then you have no need to perform austerities, to meditate, or to practice yoga. To repeat this mantra you need no rituals or ceremonies, nor must you repeat it at an auspicious time or in a particular place." This mantra is free of all restrictions. It can be repeated by anyone, young or old, rich or poor and no matter what state a person is in, it will purify him.  To practice this, repeat to yourself over and over with the full understanding that you are bowing to God (the god within you).
  19.  “Om Namah Shivaaya Shivaaya namaha, Shivaaya namah om Shivaaya namaha, namaha Shivaaya Shambhu Shankara namah Shivaaya, Girijaa Shankara namah Shivaaya Arunaachala Shiva namah Shivaaya “ I bow to the Soul of all. I bow to my Self. I don't know who I am, so I bow to you, Shiva, my own true Self. I bow to my teachers who loved me with Love. Who took care of me when I couldn't take care of myself. I owe everything to them. How can I repay them? They have everything in the world. Only my love is mine to give, but in giving I find that it is their love flowing through me back to the world...I have nothing. I have everything. I want nothing. Only let it flow to you, my love... sing! – Krishna Das’ interpretation The version of the song you are listening to is by an American man who spent several years in India learning this particular style of mantra inspired music (the version of “Hare Krishna” was also by him). These songs, though inspired by Indian music and using Indian instruments often have a more western sound because he is uses western scales and rhythm.
  20. Nataraja is a depiction of Shiva as the cosmic dancer who performs his divine dance to destroy a weary universe and make preparations for god Brahma to start the process of creation. The form is present in most Shiva temples in South India, and is the main deity in the famous temple at Chidambaram. The sculpture is usually made in bronze, with Shiva dancing in an aureole of flames, lifting his left leg (and in rare cases, the right leg) and balancing over a demon or dwarf who symbolizes ignorance. It is a well known sculptural symbol in India and popularly used as a symbol of Indian culture.[2] The two most common forms of Shiva's dance are the Lasya (the gentle form of dance), associated with the creation of the world, and the Tandava (the violent and dangerous dance), associated with the destruction of weary worldviews - weary perspectives & lifestyles. In essence, the Lasya and the Tandava are just two aspects of Shiva's nature; for he destroys in order to create, tearing down to build again.
  21. Ardhanarishvara is an androgynous deity composed of Shiva and his consort Shakti, representing the synthesis of masculine and feminine energies. The Ardhanari form also illustrates how the female principle of God, Shakti, is inseparable from the male principle of God, Shiva. Ardhanari in iconography is depicted as half-male and half- female, split down the middle.
  22. In Hinduism, Devi or Shakti represent the female form of God. The feminine half of the Gods are considered their mates/consorts. Without the feminine form the masculine form is made impotent so the two forms are often worshipped together, or are at least revered somewhat equally.
  23.  She is the goddess of speech and learning, and is the creator of Sanskrit, the language of the Vedas.  She is the consort of Brahma , the creator and member of the Hindu Trinity.  She is equally revered by Hindus, Jains and the Buddhists.  Her iconography depicts her association with art, science and culture,  She is shown as having four arms, and the most common items held by her in her hands are a book, a vina (lute), a mala, and a water pot.  The book signified art, science and learning;  the vina associates her with music and performing arts;  and the prayer beads and water pot signify her association with religious rites.
  24.  Sri, commonly known as Lakshmi and also called Sri Lakshmi, is one of the most popular and widely worshiped Goddesses in Hindu tradition  She represents ten qualities and objects, namely, food, royal power, universal sovereignty, knowledge, power, holy luster, kingdom, fortune, bounte ousness, and beauty.  She is also associated with the lotus and elephant  By the late epic period (400 AD), Lakshmi became associated with Vishnu, and emerged as his wife or consort, and acquired - in addition to her earlier attributes - characteristics of a model wife.  She is worshiped on Diwali, a new moon night, to symbolize that her presence is enough to dispel all the darkness from the hearts of her devotees.
  25.  Parvati is the daughter of the mountains (the Himalayas), and manifests the aspect  of the goddess as the wife of Shiva. She is generally considered a benign goddess.  She is one of the principal deities of Shaktism and sometimes considered the essence of Shakti herself,  She has been identified as a reincarnation of Dakshayani or Sati, Shiva’s first wife, who destroyed her by self-immolation because her father, Daksha, had insulted Shiva.  Parvati, when depicted alongside Shiva appears with two arms, but when alone, she is shown having four arms, and riding a tiger or lion.  She is also known by a number of other names, including Durga (Goddess Beyond reach) Ambika (mother), Gauri (golden), Shyama (dark complexioned), Bhavani (Mother of Universe) Bhairavi (awesome) and Kali (black-colored or Goddess of Time).
  26.  Son of Shiva and Parvati  He is popularly worshipped as a remover of obstacles, though traditionally he also places obstacles in the path of those who need to be checked.  Ganesha is considered to be the Lord of letters and learning  Ganesha is identified with the Hindu mantra Aum – he personifies the primal sound
  27.  These practices are all attempts to reach god or godhood through physical (postures, positions and breathing) or mental (meditation) acts.  The goal is to center on God either by denying the worldly or expressing it to its fullest.
  28.  A mudrā is a spiritual gesture and an energetic seal of authenticity employed in the iconography and spiritual practice of Indian religions  While some mudrās involve the entire body, most are performed with the hands and fingers.  One hundred and eight mudras are used in regular Tantric rituals.  In yoga, mudrās are used in conjunction with pranayama (yogic breathing exercises), generally while seated in Vajrasana pose, to stimulate different parts of the body.  A brain research paper published in the National Academy of Sciences in November 2009, demonstrated that hand gestures stimulate the same regions of the brain as language
  29.  THROUGHOUT the history of Hinduism ascetic ideals have maintained so strong a hold on the minds of the cultured and uncultured classes alike that it may be well to devote some attention to the subject of asceticism itself. There is no land in the world in which ascetic practices have been so widely followed. To the mind of the Hindu, the life of the sannyasi who has freed himself from all human ties, and stripped himself of all -that ministers to physical comfort and well-being, has almost always seemed to be the highest.
  30.  Though most transgender and transsexual people in India are openly discriminated against , they are mentioned positively in both the epic sacred texts.  Hijra/Aravanis have been typically treated as prostitutes and/or eunuchs in Indian culture.  They do however have one sacred role in blessing celebrations such as the birth of a male child or a wedding ceremony.
  31.  What did you learn?  What concepts have you heard of?  What concepts can you relate to?