B2 High-Intermediate US 100 Folder Collection
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Hinduism, the religion of over a billion people, is the world's oldest religion and probably the most confusing one to non-Hindus.
Some say it isn't even a religion, more a way of life.
Hindus themselves call it the "Sanātana Dharma," the eternal tradition.
So what is Hinduism, does YOLO apply to them, and who is this elephant guy?
Well, let's find out.
Hinduism is the world's oldest active religion.
It's the result of the merging of the ancient Indus Valley civilsation and the nomads that came into India around 1500 BC.
Some scholars say it could even go back many more thousands of years.
But we won't delve too deep into dates, because dates in Hinduism are very controversial.
But one thing is certain—Hinduism is old, like, at least, 36 Betty White's.
Hinduism has been around so long that it and the concept of India itself are inseparable.
Hindu and India even come from the same word.
Sanskrit was the ancient language of the Hindus, and the Sanskrit name for the Indus River is Sindhu.
The Ancient Persians who sat across the Indus tended to switch S's to H's.
So, Sindhu became Hindu.
So the people the living across the river became Hindus.
The Persians told the Greeks who dropped that not-very-Greek-like H, stuck a very Greek-like "ia" to the end and boom, India.
Hinduism has a long long history.
But today, we'll be focusing just on the core beliefs of Hindus, because I don't have the willpower to animate a 3-hour long video.
Hindus are a diverse group.
Some are strict, dedicating their lives to prayer, while others don't believe in any gods but still follow Hindu philosophy.
To make things easier to understand, let's break Hinduism down into 7 core beliefs.
So here's my rap about the 7 Hindu beliefs.
You promised you weren't gonna do the rap, come on, you're better than this man.
Fine, here's the regular version, then.
1. Belief in one universal soul: Hindus believe in a Universal Soul known as "Brahman."
A formless, genderless source of all reality.
"Brahman" is the universe and the material that makes up the universe.
It's a trippy concept.
But, think of Brahman as an ocean and everything else as drops propelling out of that ocean.
Separate for a time, but still the same thing, that makes sense.
2. Belief in an immortal individual soul.
In Hinduism souls are known as "atman."
Actions of the soul, while in a body, have effects on that soul's next life.
When you die, your soul moves to another new body.
This is called transmigration.
The kind of body the soul inhabits next is determined by karma.
3. Belief in karma.
Karma is action, usually good or bad actions that affect society.
For Hindus karmic actions in the past affect us today, and our actions today affect our soul's future.
4. Belief in 'Moksha.
The goal in Hindu life is to somehow get back to Brahman.
If a Hindu can do this, they'll be freed from the cycle of life and death.
This is called "moksha."
You can achieve moksha by realising your oneness with Brahman.
How you realise this is up to you.
For this reason, Hindus pray, "Lead me from the unreal to the real."
5. Belief in the "Vedas."
The "Vedas" are Hindu sacred books of knowledge.
There are four "Vedas."
Hindus believe that all four were divinely revealed to ancient Hindu sages.
We'll take a closer look at the "Vedas" in a while.
6. Belief in cyclical time.
For Hindus, there are no beginnings or endings.
Time is a series of cycles.
Each cycle containing 4 ages or "yugas."
There's the "Krita, Treta, Dwapara," and the "Kali."
Added together, the 4 yugas total about 4.32 million years.
At the end of each cycle, declining human morality leads to the total destruction of reality.
Hindus believe that we are in the fourth and final yuga, "Kali."
7. Belief in "dharma."
Dharma is a difficult word to translate to English.
"Proper behavior," is the best I could come up with.
Dharma maintains balance in the universe.
As long as everything in the universe, like animals, plants, and humans, follow their dharma, then everything will be fine.
If they break from the dharma though, things will be super not fine.
Each being has its own dharma.
A lion's dharma is to kill and eat antelope.
A king's dharma is to rule well.
A subscriber's dharma is to smash the like button and ring the notification bell.
For humans, their specific dharma is usually based on their age and their caste.
An old priest will have a very different dharma than a young merchant, for example.
So those are the 7 core beliefs of Hinduism.
With them, you can understand the Hindu mindset.
Unlike Christianity or Islam, Hinduism is a non-prophet organisation. There is no Jesus
or Mohammed for Hindus. There is no Bible, Koran, or Torah. Instead, they have a bunch
and I mean a bunch of different sacred texts.
The 4 "Vedas" form the basis of the Hindu faith. So let's take a look at them.
1. The "Rig Veda"
The "Rig Veda" is a collection of songs that praise and discuss ideas like truth,
reality, and the universe. Along with discussion on war, weddings, and rituals.
2. The "Yajur Veda"
The "Yajur Veda" covers stuff such sacrificial rites and rituals.
3. The "Sama Veda"
'Sama' literally means “sweet song that destroys sorrow.” It is mostly songs dedicated to
praising gods. It's different than the rest of the "Vedas" because it is set to music.
4. The "Atharva Veda"
The "Atharva Veda" is my favourite one! Do you wanna curse your enemies or charm that
special someone? Maybe learn to invoke rain or discover herbal medicine along with tips
on warfare? Like how to make poison arrows! Well, this "Veda" has you covered.
Along with a bunch of other charms and curses. It even has a curse against cursers: "Avoid us,
oh curse, as a burning fire avoids a lake! Strike him here that curses us, as the lightning
of heaven the tree!"
A link to the "Atharva Veda" is in the description, just in case you need a spell get a wife or
another to banish pigeons from your presence. It's great.
After the "Vedas" come the "Upanishads," which are like a sequel that makes the original
make much more sense. They were probably written down between 800 BC and 500 BC. During a time
when some Hindus started to question the "Vedas." Their ideas became the "Upanishads."
The "Upanishads" are books on philosophy. Like we would expect from Plato or Aristotle.
They're all about questioning, doubt, debate, and finding the answers to life's difficult
A theme in the "Uphanishads" is that people are not their minds or bodies or egos, but
their 'atman.' Your soul is you. Everything else is unreal and temporary.
After the holy texts, like the "Vedas" and the "Upanishads" are other less divine but still important
texts. These include the stuff like the "Puranas," the "Bhagavad Gita," and the "Ramayana and Mahabharata."
The "Puranas" are like encyclopedias of Hindu beliefs.
There are 18 well-known "Puranas." The "Puranas" cover things from yoga, to army organisation,
to taxation, to the caste system, to hell, gods, and everything in between.
The "Bhagavad Gita," Gita for short, is one of Hinduism most important texts.
The Gita takes place on a battlefield where Arjuna, a great warrior, refuses to fight. Lord
Krishna steps in to urge Arjuna to fight and their discussion covers things such as 'dharma'
and how to live your best life.
Arjuna eventually fought after Lord Krishna taught him the truth about 'dharma.' As a member
of the warrior caste, Arjuna's 'dharma' was to fight against evil. The lesson of the Gita
is that everyone faces difficult choices ,but they must act on them according to their 'dharma.'
No matter how unpleasant.
Along with all these philosophical texts, Hinduism also has two action-packed epics.
The "Ramayana" and the "Mahabharata"
The "Ramayana," the earlier of the two texts, tells the story of Prince Rama. In the epic, you
find out about his 14-year-long exile, the abduction his wife Sita, his battle with the evil demon Ravana,
and his awesome monkey sidekick Hanuman.
The second epic, the "Mahabharata" is the longest poem in the world. Five times the length of the
Bible and 8 times the length of the "Iliad" and "Odyssey" combined. It rivals any soap opera
you've ever seen when it comes to drama. Murder, betrayal, love, love-murder, and giant battles.
The "Mahabharata" has it all.
The theme running throughout the "Ramayana" and the "Mahabharata" is that 'dharma' must be followed
for society to function.
In Hinduism, there 4 goals a person should aim for to have a good life. The first of
these is 'dharma.' Followed by 'artha,' the pursuit of prosperity and good reputation. 'Kama,' pleasure
both in body and in mind. And 'moksha' the release from the cycles of rebirth. Hindus should practice
'artha' and 'kama' with 'dharma' in order to attain 'moksha.'
There are also 6 temptations Hindus should try and avoid.
'Kama:' Lust and materialism. This kama is different from the good 'kama' mentioned above.
Next is 'krodha,' which is anger;
'Lobha,' which is greed;
'Moha,' which is unrealistic attachment to things, people, and power;
'mada,' which is pride and
'matsarya' which is jealousy.
By following their 'dharma' and avoiding these 6 temptations a Hindu can break the cycle
of rebirth and have their soul merge back into Brahman.
But even though everything comes from Brahman, who is the One real thing in Hinduism, Hindus
do have thousands of gods. So let's take a look at them.
First, there's Brahma, the creator. He created everything in the universe, but he is not the universe
itself. Because that's Brahman. They aren't the same thing. That last letter changes a
lot, apparently.
He has 4 heads. The heads face each of the four directions, to represent the four
"Vedas," which he created and the 4 'yugas.' He also holds a book, which represents knowledge.
Oh, and he rides a giant swan, because he's just fancy.
His consort is Saraswati, the goddess of learning.
Vishnu, the preserver, is the second member of the Hindu Trinity. He preserves the world
created by Brahma until it is eventually destroyed by Shiva. He holds a discus, which he uses to
cut down anyone that's tries to mess with his 'dharma.' Along with a conch, which symbolizes
victory and the 5 elements. Vishnu has many many avatars, such as Krishna or Rama, who
he uses to defend 'dharma' on Earth.
Oh, and he rides a giant eagle named Garuda.
Vishnu has 2 consorts: the goddesses Lakshmi and Bhu Devi. Bhu Devi is the earth goddess
and Lakshmi is the goddess of good fortune and wealth.
Next, is Shiva, the Destroyer, the third member of the Hindu Trinity. It's his job to destroy
the universe in order to prepare for its renewal at the end of each cycle of time.
The most identifiable of his features is his third eye, which he almost always keeps closed.
If de does open and you're in front of him, then you will have you face melted off.
When not unmaking existence, Shiva enjoys long walks with his bull named Nandi.
At the end of the Kali Yuga, the fourth age of the world, Shiva will perform a dance that
destroys the universe, which is odd because people have told me that my dance moves make them wish the world
would end, so me and Shiva have quite a lot in common.
Parvati and Sati are Shiva's consorts.
Shiva also has 2 sons: Ganesha and Murugan. Ganesha is worshipped as the remover of obstacles
and Murugan is the god of war.
Ganesha holds a special place in the hearts of Hindus, due to him being the remover of
obstacles. The elephant head is the most obvious clue to identifying him. He was actually born with
a human head, but after Shiva cut that one off, he kind of had to make due with an elephant one.
If you're Christian or Muslim you're aware that your religion has a bunch of different
denominations, like Catholics or Protestants, Sunni and Shia. Hinduism has these too.
Hindus developed 4 major denominations, some of which have their own subdivisions.
The Vaishnavas primarily worship Vishnu and Shaivas primarily worship Shiva and his sons.
Smartas follow sacred texts, like the "Puranas," the "Ramayana," and the "Mahabharata," rather than
the "Vedas." They worship 5 gods and goddesses: Ganesha, Durga, Surya, Shiva, and a preferred
avatar of Vishnu.
Finally, Shaktas worship the goddess, Devi.
Shaktas see Devi as the ultimate and eternal reality. Like a feminine Brahman.
Even though there are all these variations and more, the core beliefs of Hindus remain mostly the
Hindus believe that 'dharma' keeps the balance in the universe. If the scales between good
and evil start tipping towards evil, then something needs to intervene to fix the universe's 'dharma.'
This divine intervention is known as an avatar.
The literal meaning of the word avatar is “descent.” Avatars are gods that descend
to Earth to intervene whenever help is needed to restore 'dharma.'
For example, when the Earth was dragged underneath the ocean, Vishnu descended to Earth as the
avatar Varaha, a boar, and dragged the Earth back out.
In other cases, Vishnu was born on Earth as an avatar, like Rama or Krishna, where he
spent his avatar's life fixing 'dharma.'
So⁠—the caste system. If you know only one thing about Hinduism, this is probably
it. People see it as an oppressive system that locks people in place based on their
birth and for a huge part of history that's what it's been, unfortunately.
Let's do a quick explanation of what the caste system is. In Hinduism there are 4 castes
or classes that you can be born into.
There's the Brahmin, the Priests,
the Kshatriyas, the warriors,
the Vaishyas, the traders,
and the Shudras, the manual labourers.
The main basis for the caste system can be found in the "Bhagavad Gita" and the "Rig Veda." Krishna
says in the Gita, "I have created a fourfold system in order to distinguish among one's
qualities and functions."
The "Rig Veda" also refers to the 4 castes. It says humans were created from parts of
the god Purusha. The Brahmin from his face, the Kshatriya his arms, the Vaishya his thighs,
and the Shudra his feet.
This system was supposed to assign people functions based on their abilities, not their birth.
If someone had the qualities of a Brahmin or Vaishya they could fill those roles.
The Gita didn't restrict movement among castes and the caste system functioned as intended
for a while. Until a document known as "The Laws of Manu” came about around the
5th century BC. Popularly referred to as the "Manu Smrti," they created hard rules for Hindu life.
Two rules presented in it contributed to the way the caste system turned out.
"Manu" states that the Brahmin were the lords of all castes.
and he forbid moving among the castes. The caste you were born into was now the caste you're
stuck in.
If you give humans a hierarchy, they'll exploit it and things go sour pretty quickly.
As time passed, Hindus began thinking in terms of upper and lower castes. Soon cleaning toilets,
tanning leather, and dealing with meat products were thought to be “impure.” The people
doing those jobs became untouchables, the lowest of the low, a people without caste.
And the rest is history.
The modern world has brought many changes though. Now Hindus mix freely, while working together
in the same businesses, attending the same schools, and generally just living together.
But when it comes to marriage, many Hindus still stick to their own caste. But this too
is changing and on Hindu dating websites you can actually see people list a non-preference for caste. It will say "caste no bar"
So, those are the basics of Hinduism. It isn't even close to covering everything. One video
simply can't do it. Hinduism is too diverse, too deep, and means too many different things
to different people. But learning even the basics of this fascinating and ancient religion
gives us an insight into the worldview of over a billion people and I hope you enjoyed
You can find all the sources used in the description below. If you would like to follow your correct 'dharma,' then please subscribe.
If you are interested in supporting the channel, there are links to the store t-shirts and
Patreon also in the description. Thanks you so much for watching.
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What Is Hinduism?

100 Folder Collection
jeremy.wang published on May 6, 2020
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