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The Main Characteristics of Hinduism

Hinduism is a religious practice that originated and is practiced in India. It is one of the oldest religious practices in the world. It is mainly practiced in India and it’s the world’s 3rd most popular religion with over 900 million followers. It is a complex religion, but it is widely accepted.

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Hindus Participate in Sacraments and believe in the Holy Book of the Hindus called Veda, which is made up of four different books. The first book is Rig Veda, the second book is Sama Veda, the third book is Yajur and the Argtharva is the fourth book. However, ordinary Hindus read it rarely because it was only reserved for certain classes of people. Hinduism beliefs are focused mainly on spiritual matters (Bowes & Pratima, 1976).

Apart from the Veda, the following are the major characteristic of Hinduism beliefs and practices:

  • Existence of Brahman, one Supreme Being who is omnipotent, eternal, uncreated, and omnipresent (Monier & Monier-Williams, 1974).
  • Existence of different aspects of the one supreme God in form of other gods.
  • Existence of the Hindu Trinity comprising of Brahma, who is the Creator of the universe, the divine who is usually associated with Maya, a sign of eternal illusion. Vishnu, whose followers make one of the major divisions of Hinduism. Shiva is the last of the Trinity who represents the destroyer. He is the protector of evil and is often linked to the river Ganges because of his hair (Monier & Monier-Williams, 1974).
  • They believe in Karma, a theory of casualty in which the Hindus use to believe in Samsara, a cycle of rebirth, and the concept that the soul is immortal. They believe that someone experiences the consequences of his or her actions when he is reborn. This stems from the law of cause and effect called Karma. A person’s good or bad actions are determined by the reward he or she gets after the rebirth.
  • Hindus also believe in Samsara, a theory of the Wheel of Rebirth. This refers to the idea of rebirth which is viewed as escaping from the knowledge of one’s True Self. Maya refers to any kind of illusion. A situation whereby someone is freed from Samsara is referred to as Moksha. There are various beliefs one has to undergo to attain Moksha. These include Yoga, which is the main issue on which the activities of Hindus are focused. It refers to somewhere between prayer, healthy exercise, and meditation. Jnana yoga, Karma yoga, Raja yoga, and Bhakti yoga are the four major ways a Hindu undergoes on his or her path to liberation (Monier & Monier-Williams, 1974).
  • The Belief in Dharma, a common rule that every believer is required to perform his duties and roles to the letter. Hindus believe that one has to perform their duties and play their roles without question (Bowes & Pratima, 1976).

It is however important to understand that this religion is very diverse and even though some of the codes of belief are widely accepted by most Hindus, it is very difficult to identify the beliefs that have been accepted universally in all denominations. Hinduism is both a religion and a style of living that makes up the way of life of most Indians. It makes up the world’s most original, bold and insightful philosophy of living.

References

  1. Bowes and Pratima. (1976).The Hindu Religious Tradition: A Philosophical Approach.” Allied Pub, ISBN 0710086687
  2. Monier and Monier-Williams (1974), Brahmanism and Hinduism: Or, Religious Thought and Life in India, as Based on the Veda and Other Sacred Books of the Hindus; Adamant Media Corporation, ISBN 1421265311.

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