Of the theologies in the world, some change with time and are often further developed; many stay fairly constant and keep their original beliefs with them. One like this is Hinduism. An ancient religion formed centuries ago in India and Asia, Hinduism is a complex belief that is based on the spirit and mind, and also on the idea of reincarnation. With many rituals and festivals, Hinduism is a very active religion that requires a firm faith. In it is the idea of multiple gods, yet all of these are in turn forms of the one true deity, God. This religion also consists of many sacred writings that seem to incorporate mythological stories. Hinduism is a unique religion that focuses on a much more spiritual aspect of being than many of the world’s other religions.
Hindu teaching itself is based on a higher level of spirituality than simply being and is based also on mystic experience. It deals with God and its creation along with mankind and its salvation. Hindus believe in one true power of the universe that they call Brahman. This god has no form, no gender, and can not be prayed to; it simply exists. In each living creature there is a bit of Brahman, which they call atman, or a spirit. The religion also believes that human and animals spirits reincarnate, or come back to earth until they reach Nirvana. The Hind path of salvation is divided into three main parts: the way of works (rituals), the way of knowledge (self-reflection), and the way of devotion (harmony with the chosen god). Hinduism itself holds no true basis on a higher being view, meaning that a Hindu can be polytheistic, monotheistic, pantheistic, agnostic, or even atheistic.
Hindu scripture and literature are some of the oldest in existence of mankind. They are divided into two forms: primary scriptures known as Sruti, and secondary scriptures known as Smriti. The Sruti are channeled through sages during meditation while the Smriti are used to explain Sruti writings to the general populace. Examples of Sruti include the four Vedas and the Bhagavad Gita, while examples of Smriti include Dhama Shãstras Law Codes and Darshanas Manuel of Philosophy, to name a few.
Hinduism is a religion rich in rituals and festivals. Rituals are acts which are proscribed by scriptures and a great help to fulfilling various desires, to purifying the mind, and to bring Brahman into daily activities. They have a diverse amount of festivals to celebrate throughout the year. Some of these festivals include: Mahashivratri dedicated to Lord Shiva; Navrati in celebration of the goddess Mahamaayaa Bhagawati; Aahoi which is the fast to bring prosperity to children; and Holi, the festival of colors that mark the end of the year. These celebrations and rituals allow mankind to give homage to the gods and life itself while achieving further enlightenment.
The basis of higher being in Hinduism revolves around the idea of a trinity. It is a trinity of the three main gods: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Brahma is known as the creator and appears sitting on a lotus, the symbol of glorious existence. Vishnu is known as the preserver. He has four hands and is seen holding a lotus, a conch shell which indicates the spreading of the sound “Om”, a shakra representing time, and a mace to show his power. Shiva is the destroyer of the universe. He appears in a meditating state and his vehicle of transportation is the bull, the symbol of happiness and strength. Their wives, Saraswati the goddess of knowledge, Lakshmi the goddess of love and beauty, and Kali the goddess of destruction and transformation, respectively, make up the female trinity. Though separate in their appearances, they are all of one, of the true God, and each represent a different aspect of life.
There may not be another religion that is so complex and spiritually based as Hinduism. There may also not be a religion that allows for any chosen view of higher being so long as the person follows the basis of the religion. It is one of the most accepting, peaceful and understanding of beliefs that mankind has. Hinduism is a deep religion that has strong roots in morality, spirituality, and the search for eternal peace. Hinduism is a religion that tolerates humankind not for what it can be nor for what it wants to be, but rather for what it is indefinitely.