Universal or Ethnic? Why?
The origins of Hinduism can be traced to the Indus Valley civilization sometime between 4000 and 2500 BCE. Though believed by many to be a polytheistic religion, the basis of Hinduism is the belief in the unity of everything. This totality is called Brahman. The purpose of life is to realize that we are part of God and by doing so we can leave this plane of existance and rejoin with God. This enlightenment can only be achieved by going through cycles of birth, life and death known as samsara. One’s progress towards enlightenment is measured by his karma. This is the accumulation of all one’s good and bad deeds and this determines the person’s next reincarnation. Selfless acts and thoughts as well as devotion to God help one to be reborn at a higher level. Bad acts and thoughts will cause one to be born at a lower level, as a person or even an animal.
Hindus follow a strict caste system which determines the standing of each person. The caste one is born into is the result of the karma from their previous life. Only members of the highest caste, the brahmins, may perform the Hindu religious rituals and hold positions of authority within the temples.
Mono or Poly?
- The gods of modern Hinduism are many, and include the chief gods Shiva, Vishnu and the Goddess Shakti as well as a myriad of local community gods.
Devotion to these various deities is based primarily on one’s region and needs, and even when devotion is given to only one, the existence of others is acknowledged. Hindu worship virtually always involves sculptures and images, to which offerings are made and rituals are performed.
http://www.religionfacts.com/hinduism/deities.htm ( Pictures of the gods)
Prophet or Founding Thinker
Major Beliefs & Sacred Text
Calendar & Symbol Diffusion
The swastika (Sanskrit svastika, “all is well”) is a cross with four arms of equal length, with the ends of each arm bent at a right angle. Sometimes dots are added between each arm.
The swastika is an ancient symbol that has been found worldwide, but it is especially common in India. Its name comes the Sanskrit word svasti (sv = well; asti = is), meaning good fortune, luck and well-being.
- The auspicious symbol of the swastika is very commonly used in Hindu art, architecture and decoration. It can be seen on temples, houses, doorways, clothing, cars, and even cakes. It is usually a major part of the decoration for festivals and special ceremonies like weddings.
- The Nazis adopted the swastika because it was understood as an Aryan symbol indicating racial purity and superiority. (The Nazis propogated a historical theory in which the early Aryans of India were white invaders.) There may also be a connection with the swastika’s magical connections, for Hitler and other Nazi leaders were keenly interested in the occult.
One of the most recognizable items in Hinduism is the bindi, a dot worn on women’s foreheads. It is a form of the tilak, a symbolic mark worn by many Hindu men and women, but has less religious connotations than other tilaks.
Young woman with decorative bindi.
Photo: Faraz Usmani.
Traditionally, the bindi is worn on the forehead of married Hindu women. It symbolizes female energy and is believed to protect women and their husbands. Bindis are traditionally a simple mark made with the paste of colored sandalwood, sindoor or turmeric. The bindi is most commonly a red dot made with vermilion.
In addition, the bindi is a way of accentuating the third eye, the area between the eyebrows where attention is focused during meditation. Men and women often apply a tilak after a puja ritual or on other religious occasions as a way of invoking religious feelings, concentration and focus. Sometimes a woman’s bindi represents sectarian affiliation, like the men’s tilak, but this is less common.
Architecture (include Illustration)