Nature and Deity
There is one Godhead or Divine Power, with innumerable forms. Three
major forms are: Brahma, creator of each universe; Vishnu, sustainer and
defender; and Shiva, destroyer and re-creator. (Vishnu has ten main forms
or avatars, which come to the help of the universe. These include Krishna
Understanding of Beginnings
Creation is cyclical. From the destruction of a previous universe, Brahma
arises to create a new universe; Vishnu sustains it through a cycle of birth,
growth and decline; Shiva destroys the universe and the cycle begins again.
Conception of Time
Time is cyclical. The world passes through various stages, from birth to
growth to decline. We are currently in Kali Yuga, the age of decline. The
world will eventually be destroyed, only for a new world to appear in the
Mortality (and Afterlife)
Depending upon the karma—the consequences of action in this present
life—at death, the soul (atman) is reborn in either a higher or lower physical
form. Through devotion or correct behavior it is possible to ascend through
the orders of reincarnation, achieve liberation from the cycle of rebirth, and
be reunited with the Divine Power.
There are many sacred books, of which the Bhagavad Gita and the
Upanishads are seen as the most important.
Prophets and Founders
There are thousands of Hindu gurus, reflecting the huge variety of teachings.
A guru, or teacher, is someone who has gained enlightenment through
knowledge and practice. A Hindu wanting to follow a particular path of
prayer, meditation and devotion usually has a guru.
Rites of Birth and Death
Before birth and in the first months of life, there are many ceremonies. These
include: reciting the scriptures to the baby in the womb; casting its
horoscope when it is born; cutting its hair for the first time. At death, bodies
are cremated and the ashes thrown on to a sacred river. The River Ganges
is the most sacred river of all.
Festivals and Calendar Events
There are many festivals, of which the main ones are: Mahashivaratri
celebrating Shiva; Holi, the harvest festival in honor of love and of Krishna;
Divali, celebrating the New Year and Rama and Sita, central figures of The
Ramayana, a Hindu epic.
Teaching About Religion
in support of civic pluralism