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SHIVA              VISHNU
          Hindu Gods

GENESHA                KALI
          Hindu Gods

KRISHNA                RAMA
Location of Hinduism
       Hinduism World Status
• Hinduism: 900 million
• 15% of world population
• Third largest world religion
  • Christianity 32%
  • Islam 22%
  • Secular/Non-religious 14%
        Origins of Hindu Culture
• Indo-Aryans began to invade the India sub-
  continent about 1800 to 1500 B.C.
  • Source of Greek, Latin, Celts, German, Slav language
• Early tribal people, Dasas, described as dark
  skinned, thick lipped, possessing cattle and
  speaking a strange language
• Began to become acclimated to new environment
  and become agriculturists
• Ruler (rajah=rex), private army, priests
         Origins of Hindu Culture
• The term “Hindu” had its origin from the
  Muslims conquerors who used it to describe the
  inhabitants of Northern India.
• Hinduism was use by the British for the diverse
  religious traditions of the people of India.
• Today it is used popularly to describe the
  religious life distinct from Christianity and Islam.
• There is no unified religious entity so it is best to
  talk of “Hindu traditions.”
      Hinduism World Status
• Third largest Religion – 13.5%
  • Christianity largest – 32.5%
  • Islam second largest – 21.1%
  • Non-religious/secular more numerous
    than Hinduism – 15.5%
• 900 million Hindus
• Located primarily in India
            Hindu Religion
• “We venture to predict that Hinduism is not
  a religion at all, but a series of loosely
  strung and infinitely varied sacerdotal and
  sociological artificial conventions to which
  a religious verisimilitude has been imparted
  by the ancient law-givers, but which is
  nevertheless daily undergoing endless
  fluctuations, not only in any given locality,
  but throughout the Hindu world.” (V. N.
  Narasimmiyengar True Hinduism, 5)
          Hindu Culture & Religion
• Extremely varied personal beliefs allowed
• Cannot separate from the culture
• To be Hindu, a religion has to:
   • Regard the Vedas as divinely expired and authoritative
   • Accept the caste system
   • Respect the veneration of the various levels of deities and
     spirits, including the protection of cows
• Recognizing them as authoritative does not mean
  accepting them as literally true or practicing them as
                                                    Winfried Corduan
              Hindu Religion
• Not a creedal religion
• Both Christianity and Islam are creedal
  religion where people may come to faith in
  God through belief and conviction
  • Islam – anyone can become a Muslim by saying the
  • Christianity – through faith in Christ
• A non-Hindu can hold the same beliefs as a
  Brahman friend but is still considered an
• “Let him live a pious life and then, after
  many transmigrations, his soul may be at
  least reborn into a Hindu family.”
        History of Hinduism
• Two Early Periods
  • The Vedic Period (1500 B.C. – 500 B.C.)
  • The Philosophic Period (500 B.C. – A.D. 500)
• Vedas – literally means “knowledge” but
  basically refers to the four sacred
  scriptures, often includes the Upanishads
  and their commentaries (sometimes used to
  refer to all the Hindu sacred writings).
  • Originally revealed to holy men who wrote
    them down.
           History of Hinduism
   Way      Origin         Scriptures                Practice
Works      1500 B.C.     Vedas, Sutras,        Detailed observance
                         Brahmanas. Code       of laws & rituals,
                         of manu               governed by priests
Knowledge 500 B.C.       Upanishads            Mystical recognition
                         (Vedanta)             of Atman-Brahman
                                               identity, withdrawal
Devotion   200 B.C. –    Bhagavad Gita,        Attachment to one
                         Tamil poetry,         god or goddess; three
(Bhakti)   A.D. 800      Puranas               main schools
                        By Winfried Corduan, Neighboring Faiths, p. 192
         History of Hinduism
• Vedic Period (1500 B.C. – 500 B.C.)
  • Aryans, speaking Sanskrit, authors of the Rig-
    Veda (lit. knowledge enshrined in verses)
  • Rig-Veda – oldest collection of 1,028 prayerful
    Sanskirt hymns – prayers addressed devas
    (gods) “shinning ones” who dwell on earth, the
    heavens, and intermediate air (as early as 1500)
  • Like Greeks, practiced ancestor worship,
    worshipped nature gods or devas (Lat. deus).
    Devas invested with personal attributes, bright
    beings with superhuman powers dwelling in
    celestial regions.
  Origins of Hindu Culture/Religion
                          VEDIC TEXTS

• Hinduism based on Vedic Texts written between 1500 –
  500 BC
   • Shruti – “that which is heard” distinguish from later writings
   • Smriti – “that which is remembered” also considered by some
     as authoritative (considered less sacred and non-Vedic)
• Four parts of the Vedic texts
   •   Samhitas (1500 – 900 BC) – “collection” of hymns
   •   Brahmanas (850 BC) – Caste
   •   Aranyakas – Later part of Brahmanas
   •   Upanishads (500 BC) – Philosophical: Brahman, Atman,
       Maya, Yoga, Nirvana
Origins of Hindu Culture/Religion
• Other Vedas basically dependent on Rig-Veda
  • Yajur-Veda – mostly in prose, meant to supply dedication,
    prayers, and litanies recited by priests in the course of their
    duties in sacrifices
  • Sama-Veda – Chants for worship by priests derived from
  • Atharva-Veda – Charms, incantations and spells
    (considered somewhat inferior and associated with folk
Origins of Hindu Culture/Religion
• Over time the sacrificial system developed to
  compel the gods to grant appropriate rewards.
• Brahmans (priests) alone knew how to offer
  sacrifice aright and extract favors from the
  gods and they took on a sacred position.
• Aryans kept a distinction between themselves
  and the darker skin indigenous population the
  Sudras (serfs) and they as Dvija (twice born).
• Varna (color) – distinction between races;
  source of caste system
            Philosophic Period
• Caste system
  •   Based on dharma (religious duty)
  •   Each person born into a caste community
  •   Each person has his/her duty with community
  •   Every community has its own religion/god
  •   Preservation of social and ceremonial purity
Origins of Hindu Culture/Religion
• Aryans four castes (1st three = twice born)
   • Kshatriyas – warriors and princes
   • Brahmins – priests and instructors
   • Vaishyas – Agriculturalists and merchants
   • Shudras – Workers (surfs)
      • Hundreds of subcastes (jati)
• Twice born have full participation in Hindu life
   • Study of Vedas, puberty initiation, & social
• Aryans controlled study of Vedas
• Aryans brought all of India under their control
  and people assimilated their beliefs with Aryan
Origins of Hindu Culture/Religion
• Brahmins (priests) until recently were sole
  custodians of study of the Vedic texts
• Different brahmans:
  • Brahman – the impersonal pantheistic god
  • Brahma – the personal creator god
  • Brahmin – the priest & priestly caste
  • Brahmanas – priestly commentaries on the Vedas
 Origins of Hindu Culture/Religion
  Development of deities per Corduan, p. 193:
        Deity                       Features
Dyaus Pitar      Original supreme sky god, losing significance
Pritivi Mater    Mother earth
Varuna           Later sky god, losing significance
Indra            King of gods, supreme during Vedic period
Mitra            A sun god; ritual and moral purity
Rita             God of truth and right
Vishnu           A sun god; later the Preserver
Rudra            Capricious mountain god; later Shiva
Agni             God of fire
Soma             God of drink or immortality (soma)
Brahmanaspati    Spoken word; gaining significance
   Periods of Hinduism Beliefs
• Three Paths (Margas) to Moksha
  • Karma Marga (Way of Action or works)
     • Vedic period
     • Dependent on priests and rituals
  • Jnana Marga (Way of Knowledge) by Yoga
     • 500 B.C.
     • System of mystical contemplation
  • Bhakti Marga (Way of Devotion)
     • 200 B.C. to A.D. 800
     • From south India – Tamil
     • Love of a god or goddess provides salvation
           Philosophic Period
• Inana – Way of Knowledge
  • Belief system with mystical contemplation
  • Reaction against priests and rituals controlled
    by priests
  • Recorded in Upanishads
     • Vedas focused on priestly ritual
     • Upanishads seek a deeper spiritual reality
  • Yoga
  • Form of Sankhya system
  • Perfect pose by which desire is subdued
  • No fresh round of karma set in motion
           Philosophic Period
• Two philosophic schools of thought
  • Sankhya – source of Buddhism
  • Vedanta
• Sankhya
  • Dualistic and atheistic
  • Denies any beginning or a creator
  • Two eternal realities: praakriti and purushas
    which are both considered real
     • Matter (Western categories)
     • Spirit
           Philosophic Period
• Vedanta
  • Non-dualistic
  • Atman the only reality, all else is illusion
          Philosophic Period
• Way of Knowledge
  • Vendata or Vedantic philosophy
  • Search for ultimate secret of all existence
  • Search for release from transmigration of the
  • Epics literature – legends of gods and heroes
  • Rise of Buddhism
             Philosophic Period
• Ultimate Reality
  • What is behind the changing phenomena?
     • Brahman – pantheistic impersonal god
     • Atman – true self
  • Brahman – one true reality
     •   Unchanging something – reality
     •   Impersonal, all-pervasive being
     •   English – referred to as “world soul”
     •   Only true reality
     •   Maya – besides Brahman all else maya (illusion)
     •   Gods and worship are manifestations of Brahman
          Philosophic Period
• Brahman
   Since not by speech and no by thought,
      Not by the eye can it be reached,
      How else may it be understood,
      But only when one says, “it is”?
                              Katha Upansishad

• Tat, the All, Brahman without attributes
• Tat tvam asi – “that art thou”
• Key is to transcend world of experience
             Philosophic Period
• Maya – Lit. “play”
  •   Related to the word magic
  •   Daily life is just magic play
  •   Life seen as “illusion”
  •   Maya’a reality is derived from Brahman
  •   No reality within itself
       • E.g. image created by a projector
  • Everything we experience rationally belongs to
       • Feelings, emotions, thoughts
            Philosophic Period
• Atman
  •   Reality inside a person that is not maya
  •   True self
  •   Atman is Brahman – message of Upanishads
  •   God resides in the depth of person
  •   Soul of the Universe
       • Beyond thought and distinction
          Philosophic Period
• Life of sannyasin
  • Leave one’s previous environment and
    renounce worldly attachments & discipline
  • Seek one’s true identity apart from the world
  • Attain moksha, the release from samsara and
  • If attained, at death will return to Atman-
    Brahman (reenters Brahman as a drop of water
    in the ocean)
  • Nirvana – a state of supreme bliss is
             Philosophic Period
• Bhakti (loving attachment) – Way of Devotion
  • Mid-second millennium A.D.
  • Bhakti is at the heart of most contemporary Hinduism
  • Popular in southern India (non-Aryan or dravidians);
    today are Tamil people
  • Not through impossible works nor secret knowledge
    not easily attainable but through a loving relationship
    with a god or goddess
  • Devotion to a god need not exclude serving others
  • Roots of Bhakti is found in the Bhagavad Gita (200
    B.C.) where Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu tells heroic
    warrior, Arjuna to attach to him and do his caste duty
           Philosophic Period
• Two influential Hindu Philosophers
  • Sankara (8th century)
     • World is totally illusion
     • Only reality is “brahman”
     • Religion was the pursuit deliverance from deception
  • Ramanuja (12th century)
     • Absolute reality of this world
     • Human soul was separate from the godhead and
       could relate itself to god not by absorption but by
                   The Gods
• Brahman manifests itself in three gods.
• Rise of three gods above the pantheon of gods.
  • Brahma – Creator of visible things; since work is
    done there is no need to worship (what Brahma
    creates, Sheva destroys so new universe can be
  • Vishnu – Lord of protection (avatars)
  • Shiva – Lord of destruction
• It is said that there are 330,000,000 gods
  • Exaggerated
  • Many gods and go by different names
                                The Gods
    Primary Hindu Gods & Bhakti Hinduism Schools


Brahma ---------------- Vishnu ---------------- Shiva ---------------- Goddess (devi)
Sarasvati              Lakshmi                 Parvati                     Durga, Kali
                         --------               -------                      Draupadi
                  Avatars of Vishnu            Genesha                        Periachi
                      and Lakshimi             Skandar                     Mariamman

                      Vaishnavite              Shaivite                       Shaktite
                         School                 School                         School

                    Vertical Marks         Horizontal Marks
                                                          Adapted from Corduan, Neighboring Faith – p. 201
                 The Gods
• Each male god is associated with a female
  deity, his “shakti” which means “source of
  • Generally a consort or broadly a wife
  • Goddess infuses the god with energy to do his
• Each god has also has a certain symbolic
  representation and a riding animal.
• Multiple arms represents power
                     The Gods

• Brahma
  • Creator
  • Represented by four heads
  • Originally had five but Shiva cut it off
  • Images in many temples but not many temples
    dedicated to him
  • Not a major Bhakti god
  • His shakti, Sarasvati is a popular goddess
      • Receives a lot of veneration
      • Her representation is a musical instrument, e.g. sitar
                      The Gods
• Vishnu
  • People look to him for salvation
  • Also look to one of his avatars
  • Vertical line(s) on forehead
  • Known as the preserver
  • Emphasis on chanting, dancing, & meditation
  • Recognized by having four arms with a conch shell, lotus
    blossom, a discus, and a mace.
  • Riding animal is a bird but also shown reclining on a snake
  • Most concern for maintaining dharma, duty
  • Born into the world as heroic person or animal to put world
    on right track then dies to reincarnate again (avatar)
                           The Gods
• Avatars of Vishnu – incarnations of Vishnu in various
  forms which veil rather than reveal the god within.
  Usually ten avatars from myths:
   •   Matsya – Fish
   •   Kurma – Turtle
   •   Varaha – Boar
   •   Narasimba – Man-Lion
   •   Vamana – Dwarf
   •   Parashu-Rama – Rama with an ax
   •   Rama – Hero of Ramayana (wife sita, Hanuman)
   •   Krishna – Teacher of Bhagavad Gita (wife Rada)
   •   Buddha (9th avatar) – Founder of Buddhism
        • Balarama – Alernate, brother of Krishna
   • Kalki – Horse , future avatar (period when dharma supreme)
                      The Gods
• Rama (avatar of Vishnu)
  • Hero of epic Ramayana
     • His wife, Sita
     • Abducted by demon king, Ravana
  • Rescues wife with help of friends
     • Brother Lakshman
     • Monkey god, Hanuman
  • Usually hold a long bow
  • Color green dominant
  • Rama Bhakti emphasizes Rama’s love and grace to
    grant salvation
     • Baby monkey school (believer clings to mother)
     • Cat school (believer carried by mother, all Rama)
                       The Gods
• Krishna
  •   8the avatar of Vishnu
  •   Very popular god to worship
  •   Color is usually dark or blue
  •   Play a flute
  •   Usually seen with his wife, Radha
  •   Appears in the Bhagavad-Gita as a profound teacher
  •   Myth
       • Victorious over demon king
       • Another view is a mischievous and amorous wonder-
         worker in folklore with amorous and erotic adventures
                     The Gods
• Hare Krishna Movement
  • International Society for Krishna Consciousness
    (ISKON), form of Vaishnavite Bhakti
  • Krishna is the supreme form of a personal god
     • ISKON followers are basically monotheistic
  • Source is 16th century teacher, Caitanya
  • A. C. Bhktivedanta Prabhupada popularized it in U.S.
     • In 1960s at age 70, retired pharmaceuticals salesman
  • Popular in U.S. in early 70s but has declined
                      The Gods
• Krishna - Five Essential Teachings
  • Krishna is the supreme personal god
  • Salvation can be obtained by chanting the mantra,
    Hare Krishna
     • 1000 time a day
     • Special worship of singing and dancing
  • The Bhagavad-Gita is inspired scripture
  • Devotee must live a pure life devoted to Krishna
     • Abstaining from meat, caffeine, sweets, and sex for
  • Distributing literature to raise the consciousness of
    the message
                           The Gods
• Shiva
  • Followed by most Bhakti Hindus
     • Highest god
  • Called the destroyer (of evil)
     • Can cause harm
          • connected to early days being Rudra
     • Horizontal lines on forehead (tilaka)
     • Worship more austere
     • “self-inflicted extremes of devotion”
  • Represented in various ways
     • Phallic symbol (lingam) with yoni (vagina representation)
     • Rides a bull
     • Trident is main symbol
                    The Gods
• Ganesha
  • Older son of Shiva & Parvati
  • Myth – Shiva severs head but
    after calms down vows to replace
    it with head he see, an elephant
  • Known as remover of obsticles
  • therefore his followers seek him
    to overcome difficulties in life
  • Learned in Hindu writings & wise
• Skandar
   • Younger brother of Ganesha
   • God of war
               The Goddesses
• Shaktism – goddess is the principle object of
  • Two most popular, Durga or Kali
  • Unfaithful consorts of Shiva
  • Use of sexual motifs
• Durga
  • Conquering poses
  • Overcame buffalo-headed demon
  • One of ten arms hold trident and other war
  • Given blood as worship items
                  The Goddesses
• Kali – goddess of violence
  •   Directed toward evil & demons
  •   Black & Gruesome look
  •   Necklace of sculls
  •   Belt of severed arms
  •   Stands on a tiger or Shiva’s body
  •   Given blood in worship
• Thagis – cult of Kali that practiced human
  • Outlawed by Britain in late 19th century
• Tantrism – sexual emulation to release energy
  Elements of Hinduism Beliefs
• Transmigration of the soul
  • Samasara (reincarnation) – lit. means
    wandering, chains of finite existence that holds
    the soul to this world
  • An individual is transmigrated from one
    existence to another according to one’s
    behavior (karma) or merit or lack of merit
  • Not mention in Vedas
  • Important source for caste system - hope
  • Possibly assimilated from indigenous people
  • Negative – being in world is suffering
  Elements of Hinduism Beliefs
• Karma – cause and effect
  • A person’s life consists of actions both good
    and bad (not sin or judgment)
  • The amount of merit or demerit to be worked
    off will determine ones next status in life
  • Could be a Brahman, an outcast, a woman, a
    dog, a plant, or a worm eaten by a fish
  • Explains differences in human life
  • Good or bad health or poverty and riches due to
  Elements of Hinduism Beliefs
• Highest goal of Hinduism
  • Find release from the samasara cycle
  • Moksha – release from action and rebirth
  • Find nirvana by knowledge of the supreme
    Truth of the brahma-atman the soul is released
    from the life cycle
  • Found by very few
  “As rivers flow and disappear at last
  In ocean’s waters, name and form renouncing
  So too the sage, released from name and form,
  Is merged in the divine and ultimate existence.”
                                    Mundaka Upanishad
                 Hindu Worship
• Temple (jagopuram)
  • Usually dedicated to one god
  • Has images to other god in separate rooms or inset
    in walls
  • Gods live in their statues so statues must be washed
    and cared for
  • Daily worship – person removes shoes and places
    money before god, can chant, color mark on head
  • Temple service (puja – sacrifice)
     • Procession of gods with music, ring bells, no chanting
               Hindu Worship
• Daily Worship
  • Dependent on caste
  • High caste Hindu men pray three times a day,
    sunrise most practiced
  • Household that house a god must perform puja,
    washed, dressed, decorated, and given food at every
  • Usually performed by father of the household
    (wealthy families have their own Brahmin priest)
      Life Cycle – Rites of Passage
• Code of Manu divides life into four stages
   • First is student
• Rituals regarding birth
   • Ritual to protect unborn from evil spirits
   • Rituals to help new child to be a boy
   • Rituals for god to protect child, goddess Periachi
• Ritual for males of Twice Born castes
   • Cord over shoulder, renewed once a year
   • Begins in theory to study Vedas
• Marriage (2nd stage with raising children)
   • Arrange and within caste
   • Walk around sacred fire
   • Red dot on wife’s forehead to indicate married
     Life Cycle – Rites of Passage
• Withdrawal from earning living and devoting
  more time to prayer, meditation, and worship for
  the man – 3rd stage
  • Partial renunciation and withdrawal
• Complete renunciation (4th stage)
  • Pursuit of the Vedantic ideal of seeking moksha
  • Withdraw from family and live alone to achieve final
• Funeral rites
  • Body bathed with water, milk, honey & coconut milk
  • Burned on funeral pyre
  • Sati practiced primarily in past
        Festivals & Special Days
• Each goddess has a day of descent or
  “birthday” which celebrated in the temple
  • Holi – celebration of Krishna
• Many festivals associated with various gods
  and goddesses
• New Years
  • Homes are decorated with mango leaves
  • Women draw auspicious diagrams on temple floor
• Festival of Lights
  • Autumn to honor goddess Lakshmi usually
  • Lights to guide goddess to bring proserity
        Hindu Worldview

Universal                gods
 Reality    Individual


      Christianity & Hinduism
• Both have a sense of transcendence
• Illusionary satisfaction (pleasure does not
  bring fulfillment)
• Bhakti = worship and devotion to a
  supernatural being
• Self-knowledge – know who we are
• Karma as sowing what you reap
• Self-denial
• Sacrifice
  Important Terms in Hinduism
• Dharma – duty; everyone in whatever place
  in life has his/her dharma
• Ahimsa – doing no injury by word or deed
• Moksha – transcend samsara; get off the
  wheel of rebirth and redeath
• Maya – conscious illusion making power
• Bhakti – devotion
• Avataras – alternate forms that gods take
• Samsara – life cycle rebirth & redeath
  Important Terms in Hinduism
• Shakti – consort of god
• Tilaka – decoration on the forehead to
  indicate god worshipped
• Karma – cause and effect
• Brahman – the impersonal pantheistic god
• Brahma – the personal creator god
• Brahmin – the priest & priestly caste
• Brahmanas – priestly commentaries on the