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Hinduism

       Hinduism is the most widely practiced religion in India.  80% of India's population is Hindu.  Hinduism first began when the basic teachings of Hinduism were first recorded between 1500 and 100 B.C. in written scriptures called the Vedas.  It is a polytheistic religion, meaning its followers believe in many gods.  It is one of the oldest religions in the world and is more a way of life than a religion.  It has no founder and its basic beliefs can be interpreted in many ways.  Hinduism basically worships three main gods: Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu. 

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Vishnu- preserver of the universe

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Brahma- creator of universe

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Shiva- destroyer of the universe

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Parvati (left), Lakhsmi (middle), Sarasvati (right)

Hinduism reveals profound truths about life; it doesn't lay out rules, and instead suggests different ways of living.  The most basic belief is that they believe in 3 main gods: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.The God Brahma is thought to be the creator of the universe.  Vishnu preserves the universe and Shiva is the destroyer of everything.  Some of the goddesses are Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth; Sarasvati, the goddess of music and learning; and Parvati, Shiva's wife.  Parvati has a double role and sometimes plays Durga, the killer of ignorance.  In all, Hinduism believes that there are about 330 million gods and demons.

Reincarnation

      Hindus believe in reincarnation which is basically the idea that when a person dies, their soul is reborn again into another living creature.  People can be reborn as animals, or reborn into a higher or lower caste.  A caste is the social status of a person.  Priests were thought to be the highest social status, with warriors and merchants in the middle, and servants, or farmers and peasants at the very bottom.  Karma is the record of a person's good or bad deeds, and it is from this thatit is determined which caste or what living creature a person is born into in their next life.  Dharma is defined as the group of moral duties that belong to each living creature.  Priests must perform religious services, a warrior must fight, houswife must cook, and so on.  If people do their dharma and live a pious, pure life, then when they die, they are reborn into a better life.  Moksha is spiritual salvation.  It is being able to break free from the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.  If a person gains enough good karma, then they can acheive this.

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The holy Ganges river

Holy Cities

       One city that is especially holy to Hindus is the city of Varanasi.  Hindus believe that if they die and are cremated on the bank of the Ganges they automatically acheive moksha. 

Holy Books
       There are several holy books in Hinduism.  One is the Vedas, which is a collection of holy scriptures. Vedas contains the Upanishads which deal with the nature of the universe and soul.  The Mahabarata is another text of Hinduism.  It is one of two epics of India, the second one called the Ramayana. These are but a few of the books.