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Hinduism Essay

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Hinduism is the name that foreigners called the many religious ways that people of India practice their faith (Fisher, 2005). In fact, Hinduism is a collection of belief systems that today is called Sanatana Dharma, Eternal or Ageless Religion (Fisher, 2005). Sanatana Dharma has many ways to express the sacred, and this is shown in the myriad of practices as well as the 330 million deities worshipped in this religion (Fisher, 2005). The main idea behind that number is that God is infinite and the expressions of God are infinite (Fisher, 2005).

The major philosophical systems of Hindu are all based in the Vedas (Fisher, 2005). The Vedas are an assemblage of ancient, sacred writings broken down into four parts: the Samhitas, the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas, and last the Upanishads (Fisher, 2005). Other commonalities are the use of meditation to discern the truth, the use of ethics as the key to a disciplined life, and believing all suffering comes from ignorance (Fisher, 2005).

Kapila, a semi-mythical sage, founded the Samkhya system that pre-dates Buddhism and Jainism (Fisher, 2005). According to Fisher (2005), the Samkhya belief systems asserts that there are two states of reality, the first is Purusha, the Self and the other Prakriti, the cause of the substance of the universe. Purusha could be described as the God Self, changeless, eternal, wise, innocent, and free (Fisher, 2005).

Samkhya believes all the suffering that one experiences is caused by confusing Purusha, the Eternal Self with Prakriti, the ignoble self (Fisher, 2005). Prakriti is the material world; the temporal world (Fisher, 2005). This is the world in which humans live and walk. The temporal world brings sadness and happiness, but in a manner that makes one forget the Eternal Self. This is a dualistic belief system (Fisher, 2005).

The next major philosophical system is Advaita Vedanta. This belief system is monistic unlike the Samkhya and believes in a single reality (Fisher, 2005). Its roots are in the Upanishads and its founder is said to be Veysa (Fisher, 2005). According to Fisher (2005), the human self, the atman, "is an emanation of Brahman" and Shankara was adamant that the atman and Brahman are unified. Shankara believed that the temporal, material world is the false reality, the chimera whereas the Eternal is the reality. He likened the material world to a wave in the ocean and thinking that the wave was different from the ocean when the wave is the emanation of the ocean (Fisher, 2005). Maya is the energy that makes one think that the material world is the reality and the spiritual world is the illusion (Fisher, 2005). The mistake is to identify with body or the mind because they are not changeless (Fisher, 2005).

The third major philosophical system is four different styles of yoga. Each style has its own purpose based on the desire of the person practicing yoga. The first is raja yoga. This yoga is used to attain a high consciousness and is said



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