brahma

What is Hinduism?

My colleagues and acquaintances often ask me what exactly is Hinduism and, honestly, I’m tired of explaining it over and over again. So I’ve decided to write a short post on it in my blog www.ohmohmohm.org ! Please, never ever again ask me this question, instead – find a couple of minutes and read this post!

To begin with, Hinduism is among the oldest religions on Earth, the holy scripts date back to 1400 to 1500 years before Christ. It’s also one of the most complex religions as it has millions of gods in it. Hinduism does not have a single faith, instead, there’s hundreds of them, including different sects. Although it’s the third largest religion in the world, it mainly exists only in Nepal and India.

The main stories of Hinduism are the Vedas, Upanishad), Mhabharata and Ramayana. These stories contain hymns, philosophy, various magic spells and rituals, as well as poems and legends to which Hindi base their faith. There are also other stories used in Hinduism, such as, Brahmas, Sutras and Aranyakas.

Hinduism recognizes about 330 million gods, the most significant being Brahma. Brahma faith essence lays in the enhancement of every part of reality and existence throughout the great universe. Brahma is something unknown, unfamiliar and impersonal; it exists in three different forms: Brahma the Creator, Vishu the Guardian and Shiva the Destroyer.

It really hard to briefly summarize the Hindu theology as there are dozens of Hindu schools each of them containing different elements of the theological system. Hinduism can be:

  • monistic – only one thing exists, the school of Sankara
  • pantheistic – there is only one divine being; so God is the universe; Brahmanism
  • panentheistic – the world is part of God; Ramanujam School
  • theistic – only one God, distinct from the Creation; Bhakti Hinduism

Vedas are much more than just theological books. They contain a rich, colorful teo-mythology. It’s a religious kind of mythology that deliberately and intentionally twist myths, theology and history with the intention to find the roots of religion. It is so deeply rooted in Indian culture and history that the rejection of Vedas is seen as an act of treason towards India and its people. Therefore, Hinduism rejects any other belief system if it does not include Indian culture to all its extent. If the religion adapts Indian culture then it can be accepted as Hindu religion, even if in terms of theology it is theistic, nihilistic, or atheistic.

Hinduism considers the humanity as a deity. Since Brahma is essentially everything, Hinduism asserts that every single being or object is a deity. Atman (individual soul as a divine manifestation of the spirit in man) is together with Brahma or not. Everything outside of Brahma is considered to be an illusion. The spiritual goal of every Hindu follower is to become such as Brahma, meaning to stop existing in our own illusory, individual form. This freedom is named after the word Moshka. Hindi believe that as long as Moksha is not reached, the person has to work with himself to reach the ultimate truth. Rebirth of the human soul depends on karma and the principle of natural balance prevaletion. Everything done in the past affects the future, it represents what will happen in the future.

My bucket list: places that I want to visit

Sensoji Temple in Japan

Legend says that two brothers fished out of the Sumida River Khannon – Buddhist goddess of fortune and success. This temple was build in that place to honor the goddess. Information I found on the website of Japan Tourist Bureau suggests this temple has around 30 million visitors a year.

sensoji temple at night

Basilica of the Holy Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico

It is believed that in 1531 in Tepeyac Hill (which is located to the northwest of the existing Mexico City location) Virgin Mary appeared to a poor peasant named Juan Diego. Believers claim that after this meet the peasant’s cloak had Virgin Mary’s face imprint on it. As of today, this cloak hangs over the altar of the Holy Virgin of Guadalupe basilica. In spite of several controversial opinions Pope John Paul II in 2002 declared Juan Diego a saint.

Basilica of the Holy Virgin of Guadalupe

Vatican in Italy

The Vatican is the official residence of the leader of the Catholic Church. This country is not only the home of Pope but also is the home country of architectural wonders like the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica that is named after the very first Pope whose tomb is under the building’s altar. UNESCO World Heritage Center has called this the most significant sacred building on the planet. Every day approximately 10,000 people visit this place, but the Vatican as a whole has more than 18 million visitors a year.

vatican

Imam Reza shrine in Iran

Iran’s holiest city name translates as place of place of martyrdom as it was dubbed by the eighth Shiite imam Reza who is a direct descendant of Mohammed. Imam tombs is the most important Shiite holy site in Iran which is annually visited by 20,000,000 people.

Imam Reza shrine

Notre Dame de Paris in France

This house of God was dedicated to the Virgin Mary by the bishop of Paris in the 12th century. Gothic monument played a significant role in various important historical events taken place in France, for instance, the church was plundered during the French Revolution, Napoleon proclaimed himself an emperor in it and many others. Today it functions as the Roman Catholic cathedral each year welcoming more than 13 million visitors.

notre dame de paris

Aparecida do Norte in Brazil

City of Aparecida in Brazil is the largest Christian holy place in South America that annually attracts close to 8 million tourists. There’s a large shrine in the center of it that is built around 18th century after fisherman had pulled out a headless Virgin Mary statue. In 1955 locals build one more basilica that can host up to 45,000 Christians meaning it’s the second largest in the world.

Aparecida do Norte

Imam Husayn Shrine in Iraq

For Shiite Muslims the crypt of Muhammad’s grandson is the most important object outside Mecca and Medina. Special ritual that commemorates the saint’s death called Arbaeen attracts millions of pilgrims year to year. Previous year more than 7 million Muslims performed Karbala annual ritual in front of the crypt.

Imam Husayn Shrine

Varanasi in India

Varanasi is located on the banks of river Ganges, and is considered the home town of the Hindu deity Shiva. Every year millions of people come here to allow the holy river to wash away their sins, or to drown in it. For Hindu people going to Varanasi means liberation from the cycle of rebirth.

varanasi