A Hindu is one who born in Hindustan or India and he is the one who believe in Hinduism. The term Hindu was derived from the river Sindhu. This term was first used to recognize the inhabitants who lived beyond the Indus River. Hinduism is considered as one of the oldest religions in history.
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Most people in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal belongs to this religion. “Hinduism, a religious tradition of Indian origin, comprising the beliefs and practices of Hindu.” (Hinduism tour in India. (n.d.)) Hindu religion is rooted by rituals and practices. Hindus give much preference to rituals and practices. Hindus believe in polytheism because Hindu philosophy considers every human being as god.
What sacred elements characterize Hindu religious traditions?
The two great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata played an important role to know more about the Hindu religion. It is a collection of legend, myth, superstitions etc. These two reflects the social, religious, economic and political condition of India in the later Vedic period. The Vedic religion had undergone a great change. In the epic or later Vedic period the religion became very near modern Hinduism.. Idol worship started during this period.
In Hindu religion people enjoys religious freedom. It teaches the people to overcome from the worldly bondages. To a great extend the Hindu beliefs helps one to have a social balance in the society. At the outset, the Hindu society was divided into various groups or families. Such a group was called caste. First, this division was based on occupation. Later the caste system became hereditary and rigid. The constituent element of Hinduism is Vedas which mean wisdom or knowledge. A collection of hymns, prayers, rituals were included in the Vedas. Four types of Vedas are there: The Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda. Each of these have three parts:
- Mantras, the song sung to praise the god,
- Brahamanas, which gives a wide knowledge about rituals and
- the Upanishads, which gives a detailed description about religious doctrines. (Vedas, 2009).
Hindus believe in reincarnation. They believe that the soul leaves our body after death and it will have a rebirth by joining with other body. Hindus believe in Karma which says that we ourself is the result of our own action.
Hinduism is knitted with so many blind beliefs and traditions. They give much honor to the animal cow and considered it as the carrier of great powers. According to Hindu beliefs there are about 330 million gods. Some will take the shape of human beings, others with the shape of animals or with the combination of man and animal and some others with natural phenomena’s like fire, water, air and so on.
Apart from Vedic period modern Hindus put the idol of Hindu god and goddess in their home and temples and worships from there. In the Vedic period people worshipped fire, rain, sun, air but in the modern period it is far away from their worship. Hindus believe that god Brahma is the creator, Vishnu, the protector and Shiva, the destroyer.
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What are their significance and meaning?
Hindu religion, the combination of heterogeneous beliefs belongs to thirty three million gods. In the beginning they worshiped objects which arouse wonder in them. These objects were within their reach. After that they began to worship the objects which are partly are seen and later they worshiped the objects which are far away from them. Like this Hindus objects of worship varies from the elements, planets and inanimate objects. Hindus worship millions of gods with countless faces. They worship the ball of mud, the idol as they consider divine power in the ball of mud. Every idol gives shape to a new god with new face. Hindus worship these idols and offer prayers to it as they fear its supernatural power to curse or bless them. These gods are differing from one another with their blessings and actions.
Hindus worship the Triad as they are the supreme gods of creation, preservation and destruction. Among the Triad Brahma meant for creation, the supreme lord for creation, Vishnu, for preservation and Shiva for destruction. The belief of this Triad has its own significance and meaning in Hindu religion. Hindus believes they are created by the almighty Brahma. It means all are equal in the eyes of god.
This vision makes them consider everyone as fellows. Hindus consider Vishnu, the god for preservation. They worship Vishnu for every comfort in their life. They believe the ups and downs of their life were based on their deeds. Hindus worship Shiva for the evil destructor in the world. The image of Shiva reminds them the immortality of physical body and also the eternity of noble soul. Hindus worship the elephant headed Gnash as the god of material success.
This worship has its own significance in Hindus even today. Hindus put prayer to Gnash whenever they start new actions, new convictions and new projects. They believe this help them for their material success otherwise they get the curse of Gnash.
Veda has its own significance and meaning in Hindu religion. Vedic worships everything in nature. Their worship belongs the earth, sun, moon, air, fire, sky and water. They believe earth have its own divine deity, thus they worship the ball of mud especially lingam and sculpture. They worship Indra, as the god of rain. When the country suffers drought they worship Indra for rain. Vedic worship Yama, as the god of death. (Williams, 1904).
This helps them to attain the knowledge of necessity of death. Fire destroys everything, the every evil in the world. So they worship fire and offer fire sacrifice. The significance of this worship is that the invocation of power of truth in opposition to the darkness prevailing in the world. There is also a practice of burning lamps in temples. Water is the necessity of life so it is worshiped. They belief that bathing in the sacred river purifies their souls. Millions of pilgrims come to purify their souls in Ganga, the sacred river. Sun and moon are worshiped because of the divine delighted light inherent them.
The two great epics, Mahabharata and Ramayana have their own significance in Hindu religion. Every human feelings and passions are depicted in these epics. In Mahabharata, nobility, anger, jealousy, pity, patience, evil etc of men, their ups and downs in life all are great teachings to men. Ramayana tells the ardent love of parents, necessity of humble mind etc. Even today these epics greatly influence the mind and life of men. This teach great lesson to men as they intended to correct their mistakes and be a noble and humble minded. Thus every objects and elements of worship have their own significance and meaning in Hindu religion.
In the midst of great troubles and enmity there is a need of a divine element. Hindu differs from other religions mainly in its origin. Every religion has its origin from founders but Hindu has its origin from the name of its country, Bharath. Every country has its own originality; India has its originality in its Hinduism. Hinduism is the liability towards other religion and fellow beings. Hinduism sees gods in every object in the nature and worships them. Those who respect and love their holy land with motherly and fatherly affection, that extends from sea to sea, can really be named as a Hindu.
Hinduism tour in India. (n.d.). Travel India. Web.
Vedas. (2009). Absolute Astronomy. Web.
Williams, M M. (1904). Ancient Indian Hymns. Web.