There are many different types of religions in the world. The majority of them can be classified into a certain belief system. Hinduism is one of the few that cannot. It is a combination of different religious groups, which have come out of India It is considered a way of life and has its own beliefs, traditions ethics, and philosophy. It has no single founder or teacher.
Hinduism can be traced back to 10000 BC and its earliest scripture, the Rig Veda, was written before 6500 BC. It was formed from the practices of those who lived near the Indus River, which is now Pakistan. Its basic scriptures are a collection of laws that have been made over time by different saints in its long history. There are two types of scared writings that make up the Hindu scriptures. They are Sruti and Smriti. Sruti means heard and Smriti means memorized. The writings were passed down for generations orally before being written down. Some of the other important Hindu texts are the Bhagavad Gita, which means Song of the Lord, the Upanishads, and the epics Ramanyana and Mahabharata.
Hinduism believes in idol worship, reincarnation, dharma, karma, and moksha. Dharma is a person's ethics and duties in life. Karma is the actions you take in life. According to Hinduism, the soul goes through a cycle of lives and the next incarnation depends on the previous life choices. So depending on your karma, you can either be reborn to experience good things, or be reborn as an animal or human that will undergo suffering and pain. It is said in the Upanishads that when you become fully aware of yourself, you will reach moksha. Moksha, or nirvana, is the removal of one's soul from the reincarnation cycle.
Even though practitioners of Hinduism believe in idol worship, they also believe in Brahman. Brahman is considered to be the Supreme Being or the absolute reality. It is the source of the material universe. In order to reach nirvana, you have to realize that Brahman is inside each and every one of us. In addition to worshiping Brahman, Hindus also worship deities. Some of the main ones are Shiva, Vishnu and Ganesha. Lord Shiva is considered to be in charge of destruction and recreation. He dissolves universes when the balance of creation becomes disturbed. He then creates new ones. Lord Vishnu is considered the preserver of life. He is symbolized as a human body with four arms. In his hands he holds a conch shell, a discus, a lotus flower and a club. The conch shell represents the five elements. The discus is the weapon he uses to fight evil and to protect the righteous. The lotus flower represents beauty and the club represents knowledge. Lord Ganesha is considered to be in charge of removing problems and making sure of your success at work. He is symbolized as human with an elephant head.
Hinduism is majorly practiced in India and has many cultural and societal influences. The majority of the people in India do not eat beef because in Hinduism the cow is considered a holy animal. Hindus also believe in a caste system.
A caste system is a type of social structure which divides people on the basis of inherited social status. If you are poor or sickly, it is because you made bad decisions in your past life. The four caste systems in Hinduism are Brahman, Kshatriya, vaishya, and shudra. The Brahmans are considered the highest level of the caste system. Priests and philosophers make up this level. Underneath them is the Kshatriya. Politicians and rulers make up this level. The next level is the vaishya. They are the artists and famers. The lowest level of the caste system is shudra. The unskilled and servants make up this level. Different versions of this caste system can still be visible in India today.
Another cultural influence that Hinduism makes on the world is yoga. In the Western world, yoga is considered a stretching form of exercise. It is actually much more than that. Yoga means union in Sanskrit. The goal of yoga ranges from finding any spiritual path that can be used to search for God to improving your health. There are four types of yoga in Hinduism. They are Karma yoga, Jnana yoga, Bhakti yoga and Raja yoga. The Western world is familiar with Raja yoga because it includes the popular form of yoga called hatha.
Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world. Its many cultural and societal influences reach as far west as America and as far east as Sri Lanka and will continue to influence the world as time continues.