Hinduism is indigenous to what part(s) of the world?
The Indian subcontinent
How many Hindus are there in the world today?
Around 1 billion
What are Hinduism's three most important texts?
Is Hinduism polytheistic? Why or why not?
Hinduism asserts a single Supreme Being called Brahman, but incorporates the worship of several different gods that represent Brahman's different aspects.
Around when did Hinduism begin to exist?
Its roots stretch back as far as 2000 B.C.E.
- It was codified in the Vedic texts beginning around 1500 B.C.E.
- Hinduism is unique among major world religions in that it has no single founder
What are the Vedas?
The most important Hindu text(s)
- Essentially complete by 1200 B.C.
- Four collections of verses: Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda, Atharva Veda
According to Hinduism, what are the four purposes or aims in life?
- Dharma – duty (generally meaning one's vocation)
- Artha – wealth (the pursuit of worldly success)
- Kama – physical pleasure
- Moksha – the most important: enlightenment, liberation, union with God
What is yoga?
Union of the self with the Hindu Supreme Being
Generally, refers to one of the many paths toward enlightenment
What three aspects of the Supreme Being make up the Trimurti, the central trinity of Hinduism?
Brahma (the Creator)
Vishnu (the Preserver)
Shiva (the Destroyer)
What are some important attributes of the Hindu god Brahma?
- Has never been worshipped extensively, despite being one of the three main gods of Hinduism
- In depictions, wears red clothes and does not carry weapons
What are some important attributes of the Hindu god Vishnu?
Protector and preserver of creation
- Embodiment of mercy, kindness, and peace
- Almost always has four arms and is often depicted lying on a serpent
- Consort is Lakshmi
What are some important attributes of the Hindu god Shiva?
Transformer and destroyer
- Destroys the world at the end of each cycle (before Brahma creates it again)
- Associated with dance and meditation
- Consort is Parvati
In Hinduism, what is Devi or Shakti?
The Mother Goddess or female aspect of the divine
Her many forms include Lakshmi, Kali, Parvati, and Durga
What are some important attributes of the Hindu goddess Kali?
Ferocious and destructive form of the Mother Goddess
Usually depicted with blue skin, wearing a necklace of skulls and a belt of severed limbs
What are some important attributes of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi?
Consort of Vishnu
Associated with wealth, happiness, pleasure, and good fortune
What are some important attributes of the central Hindu figure Krishna?
Eighth incarnation of Vishnu
Central character in much Hindu mythology, including the Bhagavad Gita
Embodiment of love and divine joy
Often depicted as a young man playing a flute
What are the four main levels of the Hindu caste system?
Note: there are many of subcastes.
In the Hindu caste system, what is the role of brahmins?
The highest caste
Priests and preservers of knowledge and tradition
In the Hindu caste system, what is the role of kshatriyas?
The second-highest caste after Brahmins
Responsible for protecting others, especially brahmins, and dispensing justice
Allowed to study the Vedas
In the Hindu caste system, what is the role of vaishyas?
The third-highest caste after brahmins and kshatriyas
Peasants and merchants
Have the right to lend money, own land, and study the Vedas
In the Hindu caste system, what is the role of shudras?
The labor caste
Their role is to serve the higher castes, and they are not allowed to study sacred texts
What is the Ramayana?
An epic Hindu poem written around the 2nd century B.C.E.
Tells the story of Rama, the 7th incarnation of Vishnu
What is the Bhagavad Gita?
The single most popular Hindu text
- A section from the Mahabharata
- A "manual for mankind," outlining major philosophical concepts of Hinduism, as well as several types of yoga
- Central figure and teacher of the Bhagavad Gita is Krishna
What is atman?
The "true self" within each person, which is identical to the Hindu Supreme Being, Brahman
What is Diwali?
The Hindu "festival of lights," a five-day festival celebrated between mid-October and mid-November
What is Holi?
A Hindu holiday celebrating the arrival of spring in early to mid-March
Involves general merrymaking, most famously spraying people with multicolored paints