Hinduism Essay, Research Paper
Hinduism is the religion followed by the people of South Asia, mainly in India though. The term HInduism actually means “what the Indians do” and was applied to these people by Islamic Invaders. Hinduism is actually a mix of several differents ideals from different religions. Parts of it draw on the Vedic
religion of the Aryan tribes from the north, some from the Dravidian civilization to the south, along with ideas from Buddhism. From the Dravidians came the
beilief of intense devotion to the gods and the rituals for fertility and other such things. It is not known yet how the Vedic religion manifested into Hinduism.
As in all civilizations of the time, the priests held high power and stature in society, but unlike other religions of the time, Hinduism did not rely on sacrifice as much. They believed that they should instead use immense personal devotion, called bhakti, to a certain deity. This allowed for better relations between the gods and the people. The most common deities worshipped were Vishnu, Shiva, and Devi, all of which were formerly lesser gods in some other religion of the time. Shiva and Devi most likely came from the Dravidian culture.
Vishnu is a god that was directly linked to his worshipers in a way. Whenever they were in trouble, VIshnu was there to help them out. If there was
a battle with the demons, it was believed that Vishnu would incarnate himself on earth to fight the war against evil. Such examples of this are the hero Rama and the Buddha. Shiva, who lived in the Himalayas in isolation. He is the symbol of both creation and destruction. Often, he is seen doing dances representing creation and destruction. Finally, Devi, called “the Goddess”, also manifested herself on earth. Such manifestations were a full-bodied mother-goddess that promoted fertility and procreation or a freightening deity, named Kali or Durga. This deity would then bring violence and destruction to the world. This ideal of women and of fertility is almostly directly to the beiliefs of the Dravidians.
There are also many, many other gods besides these three main ones. That’s one of the distinguishing factors of Hinduism, the amount and the variety of gods that were used to explain events in life and life itself. Even with all of these gods out there, worshipers were to devote most of their worship at one specific deity. This did not mean that the other gods would strike back for not being worshipped, for each was worshipped by at least one person. This sense of unity amongst the gods and the people is brought out buy certain texts, such as the Bhagad-Gita.
The purpose in life was to praise your deity to the best of your ability so as to get the god’s favor. Religious duties were not only based on class, but also on gender and on age. The center of worship for these gods was the temple, some being simple and others being extremely elegant. Many of these temples had a beautiful statue of their deity. This statue was there for the diety to possess so that they could be worshipped by the people even more. To worship their deity, some would take part in puja, which was a service to the deity that involved bathing, clothing, or feeding the statue. Some people were even blessed
enought to see their god, even if just for an instance. They called this vision darsan. Another key component of Hindu worship was making a pilgramage to shrines and other festivals that show your devotion to your deity. The word for these sites is tirthayatra, which translates to “journey to a river-crossing”. This idea led the people to make their pilgrimages to mountains or caves. The most sacred of all rivers to the Hindus is the Ganges River, which millions of Hindus still travel to today. In ancient times, these trips to the rivers and other sacred
places helped to promote unity amongst India. All Hindus would be there at the same time and could talk about what has been happening in their tribes and
The biggest factor of Hinduism’s survival over the centuries has been the fact that it molded itself to the needs of the people and to the times. The deities were ones that got involved with the people, not all-powerful beings that didn’t care at all about mortals. Hinduism also was able to absorb other similar religions into its own, spreading the religion even further.