this research paper we will be discussing and going more into depth on Hinduism along with the pillars that have significantly shaped the religion and its beliefs. Hinduism is not only a major religion in South Asia, but it is also a cultural tradition that has shaped and impacted Ancient India. It’s interesting to note that Hinduism as a religion has no specific founder so it’s difficult to trace its origins and history. What makes Hinduism as a religion stand out amongst so many others is that it’s not just a single religion but a compilation of many traditions and philosophies.
According to many scholars, it’s arguable that Hinduism is the world's oldest religion. With about 900 million followers, Hinduism falls as the third most practiced religion behind Christianity and Islam. Indian civilizations begin around 2700 BCE along the Indus River in area known as Sindà, which is where the terms “India” & “Hindu” derived. There was a large Aryan (nomads from the north) influence around 2000-1500 BCE where they dominated the Indus Valley civilization. They influenced many beliefs and ideals India still has today, some being their language, the caste system, and of course: religion. The Aryans followed Vedic tradition which was one of the major influences that shaped Hinduism. The Vedic tradition is polytheistic, so It’s important to understand that Hinduism believes that there is only one absolute called Brahman; Nevertheless, it does not advocate the worship of just one God.
Hinduism is a very inclusive religion and its three main foundations include: The Vedas (sacred religious texts), The Upanishads ( philosophical text based on observations), and the idea of Brahman. The Vedas are known as the oldest sacred literature in Hinduism representing knowledge, wisdom, and vision. In the essay A Hindu Perspective by Anantanand Rambachan states that “..Hindus, in practice, look to an array of written and oral sources for guiding their lives” (Rambachan 17). The Vedas are a perfect example of that as they were usually passed down orally, in chants, and sacrifice. Traditionally they were only available to priests, but that idea later modified towards a spiritual essence available throughout the universe. The Upanishads as mentioned before, are philosophical texts mostly based on observation. During the Axis age around 500 BCE there was lots of violence going on such as animal sacrifice and resentment against the priestly class, leading to new schools of philosophy emerging with emphasis on seeking a single divine reality. It was recorded on the Upanishads the newer views on the true nature of the reality and the practicing of spiritual disciplines. The Upanishads focus on many things, one being the emphases on the unity of opposites. One may argue that the Upanishads were meant to allow people to sit in philosophical and mystical thoughts.
After the Axis age many started realising that anyone can be a “spiritual master” and both priests and non-priests can experience Brahman (the one reality that connects). Brahman is an essential part to Hinduism and we could even argue that its the base, or even the foundation (if you will), of Hinduism itself. Brahman mean many things in Hinduism, but what we know for sure is the its the one absolute truth and the one universal power that connects all things. Brahman can be interpreted as a non-gendered meaning “to be great”, but is mostly known for being the universal soul or divine source of all being at the center of all things. Since Brahman is considered “everything” it goes beyond time and space, allowing each person's experience with Brahman can be known directly. In Brahman separation is an illusion so all things are one because they come from same source; that being said, although everyone can experience it in their own way, each individuals reality is seen merely as wave of the one sacred reality ( part of a whole). One of the most important aspects of Brahman that many may believe to be the most important is that once it’s experienced it is believed to bring an end to suffering and the fear of death.
Hindu perspective is simple yet complex. In Hinduism, you will get whatever it is you want more of, but usually whatever it is you want more of, is only something you think you want (an illusion). If it doesn’t keep you happy, many believe it to not be what you are truly seeking. The main perspective is that your divine self, or essence that is Brahman really just wants freedom from want itself. In Hinduism to want isn’t always positive because in the end its is just a reminder of what you don't have ending in more sadness of what we don't have rather than gratitude over what we do have. The main goal is to understand that this idea of what we want is ultimately an illusion, known as “Maya” to believe that those things will bring you any kind of perpetual happiness.