Hinduism

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History of religion – sacrifice, holidays

By |2018-04-21T12:09:37+00:00August 23rd, 2017|Religion|

Building at Gobekli Tepe (ca. 9000 BC) People have started a lot of different religions. Some of them are still practiced today; others are not. It is hard even to know what religion is. But let's say religion is any tendency to change your own behavior in accordance with supernatural forces. Most people [...]

The end of animal sacrifice – History of religion

By |2018-04-21T12:09:34+00:00August 23rd, 2017|Religion|

Sacrificial procession (Pitsa, ca. 530 BC) People probably began to do animal sacrifice around the time they began farming and keeping domesticated animals, about 10,000 BC. They were certainly sacrificing animals to their gods all over Europe and Asia by 3000 BC. That's when we first have paintings and carvings and written stories about it. For seven thousand years or so, animal sacrifice [...]

Who is Vishnu? – Hinduism – India

By |2017-07-21T13:35:30+00:00July 21st, 2017|India, Religion|

Vishnu and Lakshmi (Kashmir, 1000s AD now in Los Angeles) Vishnu was one of the Hindu gods. He was mentioned in the Rig Veda as a god of light and the sun. But people first began to worship Vishnu as a really important god around 300 BC. About this time, people began to think about Vishnu as being like the sun's energy, everywhere, [...]

The god Varuna – Hinduism – India

By |2017-07-21T13:25:30+00:00July 21st, 2017|India, Religion|

Monsoon rain (Goa) Around 1000 BC, in the Vedic period in India, Varuna was an important Hindu god. Varuna was originally a sky god - his name means "the one who covers everything." Often people think of Varuna as a rain god. He represented order in the universe (against the forces of chaos). Some parts of Varuna's identity, at [...]

Shiva – Hindu god – Ancient India

By |2017-07-21T13:13:00+00:00July 21st, 2017|India, Religion|

The Hindu god Shiva Shiva was a Hindu fertility god, who made the crops grow. He was not mentioned in the Rig Veda, about 1000 BC, and seems to have come into Hinduism later than that. Around 300 BC, in the Mauryan period, people began worshipping Shiva. This might be another name for the Harappan god Rudra. But unlike the earlier Hindu gods, [...]

What’s the Rig Veda? Hinduism – India

By |2017-07-21T13:08:21+00:00July 21st, 2017|India, Religion|

The Rig Veda in Sanskrit (from the 1800s AD) The Rig Veda is a group of poems that people in India first sang and recited maybe about 1500 BC. That was soon after the Yamnaya - the Indo-Europeans - arrived in India. For hundreds of years, people passed down these poems by reciting them out loud. They [...]

What is Nirvana? Indian religion

By |2018-04-23T15:20:30+00:00July 21st, 2017|India, Religion|

Wheel of Life (Konark Sun temple, Odisha, India, 1200s AD) About 300 BC, Hindu people in India began to feel that they didn't like the idea of being reincarnated over and over again forever. Instead, they wondered what it would be like to be free from greed, money, work and slavery. People thought maybe it would be better to [...]

Who is Lakshmi? Hindu goddess – India

By |2017-07-21T11:07:45+00:00July 21st, 2017|India, Religion|

Lakshmi (Sanchi Stupa, central India, 200s BC) Lakshmi was (and is) a Hindu goddess of light, wealth, good luck and success. Her name comes from the Sanskrit word laks, which can mean "light" or "goal". And that comes from an earlier Yamnaya word for "bright and shiny". There are statues of Lakshmi starting about 500 BC, but she probably became a [...]

Who is Krishna? Hinduism in India

By |2017-07-21T10:37:03+00:00July 21st, 2017|India, Religion|

The god Krishna killing the horse demon (Guptan Empire, 400s AD,now in Metropolitan Museum, NYC) Krishna was one of the Hindu gods. He was actually just one of the many forms of the god Vishnu. People thought of Krishna as one reincarnation of Vishnu. The god Krishna doesn't appear in Indian stories before about 300 BC. Probably he [...]

What is karma? Hinduism – India

By |2017-07-21T10:31:29+00:00July 21st, 2017|India, Religion|

Jataka Tales about karma: King Siva offers his body to save a dove from a hawk, and King Candraprabha is so generous that he gives away his own head (Mogao Caves, China, about 500 AD) Karma is the Sanskrit word for "action" or "doing something." It comes from an earlier Indo-European word meaning "to make" or "to [...]