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Hinduism and the Spiritual Process

Essay by   •  May 12, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,041 Words (5 Pages)  •  2,163 Views

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Hinduism is the world's third most popular religion and is the world's oldest existing religion, with around 750 million followers and dating back to 4000 years ago! The religion of Hinduism originated in Northern India, near the river Indus. Hinduism is practiced by more than 80% of India's population (ReligiousTolerance.org). The four central beliefs or spiritual goals of life in Hinduism are Dharma (being righteous), Samsara (rebirth), Karma (right action), and Moksha. (liberation from cycle of rebirth). As a matter of fact, there are four yogas or methods that one can follow to achieve the spiritual goal of life. These include Bhakti Yoga (the path of love and devotion), Karma Yoga (the path of right action), Raja Yoga (the path of meditation), and Jnana Yoga (the path of wisdom). In Hinduism, you get the freedom to choose living your life by any of these yogas. This, in turn, ensures you make your way closer to Brahma (God). In the first half of this paper we'll be looking at the four central beliefs into more detail. Then once the concepts of these beliefs are established, we will be looking at how the beliefs of Hinduism shape the way the believers view themselves, view others, and how they relate to the world we live in. Lets' begin by looking at what comprises Dharma.

Dharma is one of the central tenets of Hinduism and is the path of right and living life as mentioned in the moral laws described by Hindu scriptures. Dharma is described by Hinduism as universal moral laws which if followed enables human beings to lead a happy and contented life. It combines with discipline to guide one's life in the right direction. Dharma is mainly the means to go near God and its essence lies in having spiritual power and strength. A saint called Manu laid down the 10 rules of Dharma in his 'Manusmriti': Patience, forgiveness, self-control, honesty, sanctity, controlling the senses, reason, knowledge, truthfulness and not getting angry (Fowler 87). Dharma is considered to be the very basis of life by followers of Hinduism and it means the "law of being" without which nothing can exist (Fowler 79). Now that we've taken a look at what Dharma is comprised of, let's take a look a look at what Karma is.

Dictionary.com defines Karma (as) "the principle of retributive justice determining a person's state of life and the state of his reincarnations as the effect of his past deeds". Since Hinduism believes in rebirth and reincarnation, it holds that the karma of a person in the present birth decides his life after death. Hinduism says that every person is responsible for his own karma, so, each person's karma is entirely his own doing. Karma can be called the "moral law of cause and effect" (Viswanathan 10). Karma is closely related to reincarnation and in its essence it binds together the concepts of both free will and destiny. In Hindu traditions, Karma governs the existence of the cycle of reincarnation also referred to as Samsara.

Samsara means going through

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