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Who can explain Hinduism to me like I'm five years old?

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tjdee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 04:22 PM
Original message
Who can explain Hinduism to me like I'm five years old?
Edited on Wed Jul-20-05 05:05 PM by tjdee
I tried looking it up myself, but there are so many gods and for some reason I got very confused. It seems that some believe Hinduism to be a monotheistic religion, its other gods somewhat similar to the Christian "trinity" theory... but some don't think that.

Krishna, Vishnu.... same? Different? Mohabbarata, or Bhagavad Gita?

I'm basically trying to figure out how one achieves salvation in Hinduism, and which is the...big god/most important god.

Hoping someone has some idea, LOL.
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rooboy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 04:24 PM
Response to Original message
1. Just go to your local video store...
Edited on Wed Jul-20-05 04:24 PM by rooboy
and rent out Simpsons DVD's which feature Apu. That's what I did, and I now think I have a pretty good handle on things ;)

Thank you, come again!!!
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Anarcho-Socialist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 04:30 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. LOL n/t
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onager Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 04:34 PM
Response to Reply #1
8. It started as a way to pacify the conquered Indians...
When the Aryans conquered India, like so many conquerors before and after them, they needed a way to pacify the masses.

Then as now, one of the easiest ways to do that was to convince them that being treated like shit on earth would mean they had the potential for a great Afterlife.

At its core, Hinduism was based squarely on racism. You kept being reincarnated until you got things right, and eventually came back to Earth as a light-skinned Aryan.

That was the basis of the caste system, which is still in effect and led to the wonderfully religious spectacle of higher-caste Hindus denying food and water to the lower castes during the tsunamis earlier this year.

So Hinduism was based on power and control, and the multi-armed goddesses and all the rest of it is just window dressing. Or in Robert Louis Stevenson's neat phrase, "hugger-mugger."

IOW, basically Hinduism is not much different from any other religion.
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tjdee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 04:49 PM
Response to Reply #1
13. Haha! Apu is how I know most of what I know!
I have been a slacker viewer of the Simpsons though...I knew that show was good for something.

I've been watching Bollywood films, and I am understanding more...but not much more.
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Anarcho-Socialist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 04:29 PM
Response to Original message
2. It is mainly considered monotheistic
Edited on Wed Jul-20-05 04:30 PM by Anarcho-Socialist
There is a Hindu trinity of: Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preservor and Shiva the Destroyer.

These three make up the consciousness of the universe which is why some consider it monotheistic. Some Hindus believe the Hindu gods make up a superbeing (Brahman (not to be confused with Brahma) ) with it's own attributes and characteristics, whilst other Hindus consider this universal consciousness to be without characteristics.

There are many Hindu gods, most of which are considered 'avatars' of one of the three main gods (i.e. many Hindus consider Krishna as a avatar of Vishnu). Although Krishna consciousness societies consider Vishnu to be an avatar of Krishna.

It is important to remember that Hinduism is much more varied and diverse than the splinterings in Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

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bobbieinok Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 04:36 PM
Response to Reply #2
9. where does Kali come in??????
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Anarcho-Socialist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 06:17 PM
Response to Reply #9
24. Kali is a consort to Shiva
Kali is a god but is not an avatar of the main three, but rather a demi-god - an equivalent of an angel in Judeo-Christian-Islam religion.
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tjdee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 04:55 PM
Response to Reply #2
16. Thank you--that clarified a lot.
So really, Vishnu/Shiva/Brahma is the trinity and there are avatars...interesting that some of their avatars are women.

Do you know anything about their texts? Seems one is an Iliad of sorts (I think the Mohabbarata?)... do Hindus use a 'bible'? I'm inclined to think not.
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Anarcho-Socialist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 06:11 PM
Response to Reply #16
23. You're right, they don't have a single "Bible"
Edited on Wed Jul-20-05 06:13 PM by Anarcho-Socialist
They have many examples of "divinely inspired scripture". Although many consider Bhagavad-Gita to be a good all-round book for general Hindu philosophy and beliefs, if you're looking a single reference.

Also, you're very welcome.
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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 04:31 PM
Response to Original message
4. yes
>I'm basically trying to figure out how one achieves salvation in Hinduism,

Become a Buddhist.

>and which is the...big god/most important god.

Brahma.
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tjdee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 04:50 PM
Response to Reply #4
14. Hmm...I wonder what that relationship is like.
Edited on Wed Jul-20-05 04:51 PM by tjdee
And I wonder how come even though Buddhism started in India, most Indians are still Hindus (with some Muslims in there somewhere) and Buddhism really caught on elsewhere.


Brahma or Brahman? Someone above mentioned one of the two...
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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 05:29 PM
Response to Reply #14
21. Maybe it was Brahman
What I meant about the way a Hindu can find salvation is by becoming a Buddhist was this:
Buddha was born a Hindu, but he didn't want to keep reincarnating,
because no matter how nice an incarnation, you will always feel loss and suffering.
So he figured a way out and taught others,
therefore a Hindu can be saved from endless rebirth and suffering by becoming a Buddhist.

IIRC, Buddhism was really popular in India for a while,
but a Hindu scholar came up with a sophisticated analysis that Buddha was really an incarnation of Vishnu, so everyone converted back to Hinduism.
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-22-05 04:14 PM
Response to Reply #21
29. But Sri Lanka still has a lot of Buddhists
among speakers of the Sinhalese language.

The Tamils, the other main ethnic group, are Hindus.
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Maat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-24-05 01:17 AM
Response to Reply #4
32. Check out the following church .. mine .. it has a very Hindu flavor:
Church of Religious Science ( www.rsintl.org ) - check out the frequently asked questions.
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Anarcho-Socialist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 04:33 PM
Response to Original message
5. Important Gods
Some say the most important God is Krishna, others say it's Shiva and some (the majority)think it's Vishnu. Most Hindus consider worship of any Hindu god/avatar to be a route to salvation regardless of their personal favourite.
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clydefrand Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 04:34 PM
Response to Original message
6. I'm curious about your statement below.
"I'm basically trying to figure out how one achieves salvation in Hinduism"

What does achieving salvation mean to you? What are you being saved from, for?

a Preservation or deliverance from destruction, difficulty, or evil.
b. A source, means, or cause of such preservation or deliverance.


Christianity.
c. Deliverance from the power or penalty of sin; redemption.
d. The agent or means that brings about such deliverance.

Which of these definitions do you mean for "salvation" that came from dictionary.com?

I'm only curious because this has always puzzled me.
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tjdee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 04:47 PM
Response to Reply #6
12. I should have said enlightenment, perhaps.
When I posted, I think I was thinking of the first definition, even though I'm a Christian. Hmm.

But I meant...you know how Christians are "saved" and then they go to Heaven, and how Buddhists wish to achieve....nirvana I think... I was wondering what the process was for Hindus, if there was one.

I do know some Hindus (all Hindus?) believe in reincarnation.

Eh, sorry--that's a good question, but my thinking is a bit too muddled about it to give a better answer!
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Anarcho-Socialist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 06:22 PM
Response to Reply #12
25. The ideal for Hindus
Is to be returned to the "God-Head" which is the supreme being of the universe, and obtain ultimate universal knowledge. Hindus believe that this can only be done by breaking the cycle of reincarnation and devoting yourself to the wishes of the God-Head thus breaking the "law of Karma". This entails giving-up your own materialism and self-satisfaction (earthly-pursuits) in the pursuit of ultimate knowledge.
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Sapphocrat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 07:53 PM
Response to Reply #12
26. The word you want is Mahasamadhi.
The final liberation of the consciousness from the physical body, and absorption into the Absolute.

You get there after enlightenment (complete self-realization), and all your karma has been evened out.

Sign me,
Four or Five Lifetimes to Go

Om Namah Shivayah!
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lvx35 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 04:34 PM
Response to Original message
7. Hinduism is what a Hindu does.
The above is a rather famous quote about hinduism. Its so sectarian and different across regions that its hard to pin down like christianity.
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tjdee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 05:01 PM
Response to Reply #7
19. I think that's when I started to get confused.
As Anarcho Socialist (I think?) says, apparently some see Vishnu as an incarnation of Krishna, some see it the other way around.

So I started to wonder if there was a standard--but it seems there isn't one, as you said.
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lvx35 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 06:07 PM
Response to Reply #19
22. Don't miss the bhagavad gita though
Its one of the most amazing books I've ever read, and its relatively short. Be sure to skip the versions where Sri "Hare Cult Cult" Prahubada is commenting over it. Project Gutenberg has a clean version:

http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext00/bgita10.txt
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LastLiberal in PalmSprings Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 04:37 PM
Response to Original message
10. Try this
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tjdee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 05:04 PM
Response to Reply #10
20. LOL!
That is a good primer on many religions, indeed!

I read a similar one a while ago with different religions interpreting "shit happens".

:silly:
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bobbieinok Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 04:39 PM
Response to Original message
11. as undergrad took a course in world religions (late 50s)
I remember reading somewhere that Hinduism was so broad that in one sense it encompassed every other religion in the world.......
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tjdee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 05:00 PM
Response to Reply #11
18. It's also the oldest, isn't it?
That'd make sense.

I've heard a number of times that Jesus' life is very similar to Krishna's.
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fhqwhgads Donating Member (165 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 04:54 PM
Response to Original message
15. from a hindu atheist...
Edited on Wed Jul-20-05 04:55 PM by fhqwhgads
hinduism is henotheistic; there are multiple gods and goddesses who are seen as being facets or manifestations of a single god, which isn't a being that is separate from the universe - god is the universe - we are god.

there is a "...for dummies" book on hinduism that's actually quite good...my hindu family highly recommends it (and owns a copy).

i don't think there really is a concept of "salvation" in hinduism, at least not in the same sense as in christianity. there is the concept of "samsara" (what people refer to as reincarnation - cycle of life, death, rebirth)...and what you do in life has an effect on how you will live your next life. eventually you are supposed to be able to achieve enlightenment, which means you are no longer in this cycle. the idols, the stories, the chants, all that stuff is to help humans, with our limited abilities, to eventually reach that transcendant state where we can perceive the infinite.

i don't really see hinduism as being a religion in the strict sense because it's not really dogmatic. it's more of a philosophy...you should be good and kind and all that, but it's not like there's a list of commandments or whatever. any such lists are really a cultural artifact. and there are people who would try to come up with a "fundamentalist hinduism" but really that's just indian nationalism and bigotry.

if you're interested, you should read some books on the subject written by people way more knowledgeable than i.

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tjdee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 04:59 PM
Response to Reply #15
17. Thanks for the input...
I'm noticing that so much of Hinduism is deeply related to India's culture--which makes it somewhat difficult for me as an outsider to wade through.

You really cleared up 'the point' of reincarnation for me--I didn't realize you could eventually get out of the cycle.

I'll check out the for dummies book--it would be a good thing to have around. Thank you for the recommendation!
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fhqwhgads Donating Member (165 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-21-05 09:56 AM
Response to Reply #17
27. in fact...
...the whole idea is to get out of the cycle. the goal is to achieve enlightenment...i'm pretty certain the concept of "nirvana" in buddhism is basically the same deal.

and yeah, you're right, hinduism is very tied into indian culture, which is especially tricky because "indian culture" is next to impossible to define. the sub-continent was basically a bunch of separate kingdoms with different languages, customs, etc., and so the "practice" of hinduism, culled from all these local practices, varies greatly from region to region. even wedding ceremonies, for instance, are different depending on the specific background of the people getting married. so what i tell you is pretty closely tied to my background (i was born and raised here in the US to very politically and religiously liberal parents from south india).

glad i could be of some help...i think i'll crack open that dummies book this weekend and read up a little too. :)
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ElsewheresDaughter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-21-05 10:07 PM
Response to Original message
28. snatch the peeble from my hand crasshopper
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-22-05 04:20 PM
Response to Original message
30. It's literally thousands of years old
Edited on Fri Jul-22-05 04:21 PM by Lydia Leftcoast
and has grown up from a lot of regional variations.

Its liturgical language, Sanskrit, is one of the oldest surviving Indo-European languages and the ancestor of the languages of northern India, such as Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, and Gujarati. The Sanskrit alphabet, known as devanagari, was adapted for languages of Southeast Asia, such as Burmese, Cambodian, and Thai, as well as for Tibetan. (Southern India speaks completely unrelated languages belonging to the Dravidian family, including Tamil, Telegu, and Malayalam.)
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Astarho Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-23-05 12:24 PM
Response to Original message
31. Hinduism evolved
over the millenia, and was not founded by anyone, as opposed to Christianity, Islam or Sikhism.

Hinduism is a combination of indiginous beliefs (probably from Dravidian peoples) and the invading Indo-Aryan peoples, who brought some of their native gods Indra, Varuna, etc. Gods can also be avatars and/or aspects of others, which can make it complicated. (interestingly enough, many of these gods appear as demons in Zoroastrianism)

There is no salvation in Hinduism, not as we think of it in the west anyway. It is mainly through reincarnation (the cycle of samsara) that purify the soul until it is reunited with the creator god, Brahma. And as for the big/important god, it depends. Ganesh is popular, as is Lakshmi.
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