What should Muslims know about Hinduism
Hinduism's roots go back more than 3,000 years. Hinduism is the third largest religious community after Christianity and Islam, and almost all of its followers live in India. They are called "Hindus".
Hindus also call their religion "Sanatana Dharma", the "eternal religion". Hindus believe in Brahman, a "divine force" that animates and gives life to everything. Many Hindus worship Vishnu, the god of goodness. Now and then he comes to earth as an animal or human to avert disaster.
Another main deity is Shiva. This god is called "the destroyer", he destroys the old so that new things can arise in the world. He gets all his strength from Shakti, the goddess of primal energy.
Hindu is whoever is born into a Hindu family. Incidentally, "Hindu" is both a female and a male follower of the religion in German.
The oldest holy scriptures in Hinduism are the Vedas, which means "knowledge". They were written about 3,000 years ago and contain ancient tales of gods, magical incantations and songs that used to be sung by priests.
Today the teachings of the Upanishads are among the most important scriptures. The word means "sit at your teacher's feet". In it, the teachers pass on knowledge about the cycle of life and death to people. The Bhagavadgita, the "song of the sublime", is the most famous sacred scripture of the Hindus. It is particularly popular with children because it tells wonderful stories about the hero Arjuna and his encounters with the god Krishna. Stories of divine heroes play a major role in the everyday life of the Hindus. They are read aloud at religious festivals, shown in movies and even in comics.
For Hindus, the Dharma determines the order of the world, of animals, plants and also of people. Karma, the account of good or bad deeds, determines which caste a Hindu is born into. Good karma causes the soul to be reborn or even redeemed in a better life. For Hindus, the soul returns to earth after death in another living being. Birth, death and rebirth form an eternal cycle, samsara. In general, the ten rules of life apply in order to lead a good life in everyday life.
In a traditional Hindu house there is a small altar with a figure of a god. In the morning the family says the "pujas", the prayers, together. Then the father reads from the scriptures or they all spend some time in silence in front of the altar. Madir, "place of worship", is the name of a Hindu temple. In cities and villages, on mountains, in forests, everywhere Hindus have built small huts or huge temples for their deities.
Hindus believe that only one epoch of existence comes to an end with death. The soul or spirit is reborn in a new body immediately or much later. Hindus call this eternal rebirth Punarajati.
The idea of the eternal cycle of birth - life - death and rebirth is bad for Hindus. It forces them to behave well and right all the time if they want it to be good in the next life. Because Hindus, like Buddhists, believe in karma. This is a law according to which every act here and today is rewarded or punished in the next life.
According to Hindu belief, the cycle of eternal rebirth does not end until their soul is free and reaches nirvana. The liberation of the soul from rebirth is called moksha in Hinduism.
Because the Hindus worship so many gods, there are also thousands of large and small festivals. Some celebrate their god with large festival processions in which the idol is driven on colorful floats.
One of the biggest festivals is called Divali, "chain of lights", and is the Indian New Year. In honor of Vishnu and the goddess of luck, Lakshmi, all houses and streets, even lakes and trees, are decorated with small oil lamps. Fireworks are also set off in the cities.
Every day many thousands of pilgrims come to Benares, the holy city on the banks of the Ganges. A colorful swarm of sick people who hope to be cured, of pious and holy men, the sadhus, populate the steps leading to the river. Everyone wants to dive into the holy waters of the Ganges to purify their souls from guilt. Believing Hindus spend some time of their lives in an ashram. It is a quiet place to immerse yourself in spiritual exercises and meditation. A guru, a religious teacher, instructs them there in the sacred teachings. The exercises of yoga, which means "union with God", are widespread.
Women in hinduism
There are a large number of powerful goddesses in Hinduism. One would think that women are highly valued in society. But this is often not the case: many believers - including women - find that women are less valuable than men. The only hope for women is that they will be born again as a man in the next life. Girls are often married under fifteen years of age and cannot choose their own husband. It is only after a woman has had sons that her standing improves. In modern India, of course, men and women have equal rights before the law. Many Hindus also reject discrimination against women. But in many areas it is still difficult to be born a girl
Of other faiths
Hindus, with their many different faiths, make up over 80 percent of the Indian population. They do not try to convert others to their beliefs because one can only become a Hindu by birth.
Hindu teachers outside India
In the West we know Hindu gurus like Baghwan, later called Osho, who founded an ashram in Poona in the 1970s. He attracted many people from all over the world who were fascinated by his teachings.
Mararishi Maharesh Yogi became famous for teaching meditation to the Beatles, a 1960s pop group. After that, some of the Beatles' hits were heavily influenced by Indian music. Hare-Krishna is a Hindu movement known in Europe, North America and India. The devotees worship the god Krishna and live from begging. They are particularly noticeable because of their head shave, their yellow robes and their uninterrupted chanting "Hare Krishna".
The caste system
According to Indian law, the caste system is now abolished. Nevertheless, it still dominates social life in India, for many Hindus consider this order to be correct. According to the concept of the Hindus, every person is born into a caste. Belonging to his caste determines what profession he is allowed to pursue and how well he is regarded. Below the box are the pariahs, the "untouchables". The most famous fighter against the caste system was Mahatma Gandhi.
Mahatma Gandhi (1869 - 1948)
The policy of India was determined by Great Britain until 1947. Like many Indians, Gandhi wanted India to be independent: it should become a democratic country governed by the Indians themselves. Gandhi led the great nonviolent movement against British politics in India. Indians from all castes participated in decades of resistance to British rule in India. They did not carry out British orders and did not take part in the British administration. Gandhi found that the caste system did not fit this common movement. In his opinion, the lower castes and the pariah also had a right to a life without hunger and poverty, to education and a profession of their own choosing. Gandhi also sought peaceful coexistence with the many Muslims in India. With this he made many enemies among the Hindus. A year after India gained independence, Gandhi was shot by a fanatical Hindu.
All world religions
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