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How would someone describe Hinduism?

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jbesf | Valedictorian

Posted June 12, 2013 at 3:55 PM via iOS

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How would someone describe Hinduism?

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kipling2448 | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 12, 2013 at 5:13 PM (Answer #1)

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The reason questions regarding Judaism, Islam and Christianity are answered very quickly, but questions regarding Hinduism are only grudgingly answered, is because Hinduism is very complicated and difficult to explain relative to the three major monotheistic faiths.

Hinduism is practiced mainly in India, a country of over one billion people, although several hundred million of those are Muslims.  Hinduism's origins go back more than 4,000 years, and are difficult to trace.  The holiest text in Hinduism is the Rig Veda, which is believed to have been written more than six thousand years ago.  While Hindus believe very strongly in reincarnation, and believe in a god who manifests itself in multiple incarnations.  That God, Vishnu, also known as Brahma, is believed to be the creator of the universe and of all life on Earth.  Vishnu, according to the theology of Hinduism, appears on Earth from time to time to vanquish evil, and to restore the Hindu way of life, or Dharma, which constitutes the laws, traditions, beliefs, and rituals under which followers live.  Hinduism is not a monotheistic religion because Vishnu, while enjoying Supremacy, is only one of the gods to which Hindus worship, the others including Rama, Lakshmi, and Shiva, among many others.  It is important to understand that some texts indicate that Vishnu and Brahma are the same god, and some indicate that they are different gods.  Identifying gods to whom Hindus worship is, in fact, one of the major challenges of understanding Hinduism.  The fact that Hindus believe God assumes infinite forms adds to the complications.

One commonly accepted notion of God in Hinduism is as follows:

Brahma is the Creator; Vishnu is the Preserver; and Shiva is the Destroyer.  But, this is all subject to many alternative explanations.


Unlike God as worshipped by the three major monotheistic religions, Vishnu is given concrete form in Hindu texts, and is described as having four arms and the blue color of water-filled clouds, with a lotus flower in one hand, a mace in another, a conch in another, and a weapon called Sudarshana Chakra in the fourth hand.  While the Old Testament (Genesis 1:1) describes man as having been formed in God's image, that is far more subject to interpretation than the physical description provided for Vishnu.

Unlike God as understood by Jews and Christians, the Supreme God in Hindu beliefs cannot be known, but is omnipresent.  As stated, Hindus believe in reincarnation, which continues until a certain state is achieved and one is finally liberated from that cycle.

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