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The Indians’ national religion, the Hinduism, is called santana dharma by the Indians themselves. It’s one of our oldest world religions and it has existed for several thousand years. Hinduism is merely based on the practice of Dharma, the code of life, and therefore it’s not strictly a religion. Because it has no founder, anyone who practices Dharma can call himself a Hindu.
You find parts of the Hinduism in many other religions, for instance the Buddhism. Nevertheless it’s also very different from the other religions because it allows so much. The Hinduism is always changing, although it still remains the same.
Around 780 million Hindu worshippers are spread across the earth, but most of them live in India, which is the centre of the Hinduism.
As much as 80% of the population in India and Nepal are Hindus, but you find Hinduism in almost every place you find an Indian. The United States, Canada, Great Britain and South-Africa are some of the places where Hinduism is widespread.
There’s only one real God in the Hinduism, which is Brahma, the creator of the world. He can show himself in three ways; as Brahman (the creator), as Shiva (the destroyer), and as Vishnu (the maintainer). Together they show divinity. There’s also millions of other “gods”, but they’re just shapes of these three gods. Some of the most important ones are Ramah (a young, heroic prince), Krishna (a man with many personalities), Hanuman (king of the apes), and Devi (the goddess).
In the Hinduism, there are casts. A cast is a rank that is given to a human already when it’s born. The casts are not as important as they were before, but they’re still used at the countryside, where 70% of the Indian population still live. If you’re born with a cast of low rank, you can’t associate with someone with a higher rank than yourself. The worst thing you can do is to marry someone with a lower cast than yourself. People with high casts can’t butcher, or be in contact with a butcher. If they do this they can become “impure.” People with a high rank are not supposed to help people with a low rank, because the cast is a symbol of your previous life. It’s your own fault that you have been given the cast you’ve got, and this is the reason why there is so large difference between rich and poor in India.
At the beginning there were only four casts; the priest cast, the warrior cast, the worker cast, and the servant cast. When these casts were gradually broken, new casts came into being, and by the year 1900 there were about 3000 different casts in India.
If you did a serious crime, you were thrown out of your cast and became cast loose, consequently a “pariah”. This is the lowest of all casts, and it has to be avoided by all costs. In 1947 there was made a law against cast discrimination, but you can still see the large difference between rich and poor in India.
Bhagavad-Gita is one of the many sacred books you find in the Hinduism, and it’s just a part of a larger collection of books, named Mahabarata. Bhagavad-Gita contains the actual idea that the Hinduism is built on; the people do their duty in the community, and God intervenes if Dharma is threatened.
The book deals with a battle between two parts. Arjuna, the leader of one part, drops his weapons and refuses to fight because he recognizes so many friends among the opponents. One of Brahmas personalities, Vishnu, tells Arjuna why he has to fight. He’s born in the warrior cast, and it’s his duty to fight……
Transmigration of souls
According to Bhagavad-Gita, the world consists of two things; soul and matter. The matter again, consists of three forms; Sattva - the shiny, light and bright, Rajas – the incredible and passionate, and Tamas – the obscure, slow and reduced. Before the world came into being, all these forms were balanced. It was not until they became unbalanced, that the world was created, and the soul was bound to every living creature.
If you manage to get these forms balanced again, your soul won’t reborn anymore. This is called moksha, the detachment of the metempsychosis. Every Hindu try to achieve this and it’s therefore very important to make a balance between these three forms of matter. A Hindu can achieve this by doing his public duty, which often is bound to his cast. The duty includes action and spiritual exercise. If you’re kind and do your duty, you will live better in your next life. If you’ve done a lot of awful things, you will get a worse life than you already have. This is called karma.
Every Hindu has his own karma that he can improve or aggravate. If you were born in the warrior cast, you could go to war without infecting your karma. A person from the servant cast couldn’t have done that. It would have aggravated his karma. This shows how important the casts were.
Meditation is a part of the Hinduism which is very special and hard to understand. The meaning of the meditation, or yoga, is to become one with Brahman, the soul of the world; which lives in everything.
The goal is to loose your human characteristics, like lack and wishes.
Then all karma will fade and you’re not longer part of a cycle or metempsychosis.
People who mediate can sit in the same position for several hours, and do things who normally would give them large pain.
The holy cows
The cows are the most important creature for the Indian population. You can get several years in prison by hurting a cow, because the cow is a part of their culture. The cows are a symbol of life and non-violence, that’s a point of view that has always existed in India. They’re very useful as draught animals, and they give the Indians milk, butter and cheese.
A true Hindu
Mahatma Gandhi, who lived from 1869-1948, was very true to his religion. He was a faithful Indian Hindu, and a spiritual leader with great influence on his country-people. Mahatma shaped the erudition about compassion, charity and non-violence. To hold on to the truth was very important for Gandhi. Mahatma was a lawyer in South-Africa for 21 years, before he returned to India and founded a school in Ahmadabad. He encouraged the Indians to show passive resistance against the Englishmen, and his fight for independence resulted in many terms of imprisonment. In 1947 he achieved his goal, India became independent.
The 31. of January 1948, Gandhi was murdered by a fanatic Hindu in Delhi.