Hinduism is the major religion in India and one of the oldest in the world. About 750 million people believe in Hinduism. Although most Hindus live in India, its influence has spread to many other places.
Hinduism has developed slowly over the thousands of years. Like most religions, it has basic beliefs about gods, life after death and how a person should live. It doesn't have a holy book like our Bible or the Islamic Koran. But Hinduism has many scriptures that were written down over the ages. They consist of myths about gods, prayers and hymns , as well as long stories called epics.
The first Hindus worshipped gods that represented the powers of nature - like rain and the sun. As time went on, Hindus believed in spirits that were in control of the universe. Brahma is its creator , Vishnu its preserver and Shiva its destroyer .
There are also goddesses , like Shiva's wife who has many names and appears in different forms. One time she is the goddess of motherhood and another she is the goddess of destruction .
According to the Hindu tradition, animals, as well as human beings, have souls . Hindus worship some gods in the form of animals. Cows are holy , but Hindus also pray to monkeys and snakes.
Temples are the homes of God on earth. Some people take fruits or flowers into the temples and offer them to their gods. Hindus take off their shoes before they enter the temple. Sometimes they light lamps and wave them towards statues of gods.
Life after death
Hindus believe that after they die, they are reborn . This is called reincarnation.
The most important thing that we take with us when we are reborn is our character . People who are very smart may have received their skills in their past lives.
The Caste System
The caste system has developed out of Hinduism. It is made up of four main groups called varnas.
The caste system was forbidden in 1949 but you can still find it in many parts of India, mostly in villages in the countryside.
- People are born into a caste. In their caste they can chose certain jobs.
- Hindus can only marry men or women who belong to their caste.
- For a long time people were not allowed to eat, drink or smoke with a person from a different caste.
- The untouchables were people who did not belong to any caste .They were thought to be dirty and they lived in the streets and under bridges.
The coloured dot is a sign of religion and shows that a person is a Hindu. It shows a third eye that looks towards God. In the past, many unmarried women wore black dots and married women wore red ones. But today they often wear dots that match the colour of their saris .
The Caste System
Yoga is a system of exercises that help you control your body and your mind . Hindus use it to be closer to God.
Yoga teaches you that there are two parts of a person: the body and the soul . These parts can be controlled separately . The yoga school tries to show people the meaning of their soul.
A yogi learns
- how to behave in a disciplined way
- how to control his body
- how to control his breathing
- and his senses
- how to concentrate on a certain situation
A yogi who can do all these things can separate the soul from the body.
Downloadable PDF Text- and Worksheets
- according to =as said by
- although =while
- appear = to show yourself
- basic beliefs = the main things that you believe
- behave =to act in a good way
- belong to =to be a part of
- breathing =to let air into your lungs and push it out again
- certain =special
- character = the way we show ourselves to others
- consist of =to be made up of
- control =manage; to have power over
- creator =maker
- destroyer =here: the god that destroys everything
- destruction =to damage everything so that it cannot be used any more
- develop = to grow or change into something
- disciplined =to obey rules and control your behaviour
- dot = a small round mark
- exercises =to do physical activity or sports
- forbidden = not allowed
- goddess = a female god who controls much of the world
- holy =sacred; related to a religion or god
- human being = a person
- hymn = a song that is sung to God
- influence =power
- labourer = worker
- major = the most important
- match = are the same as
- meaning =what something means
- meditation = to clean your mind of thoughts and relax
- merchant = a person who sells and buys things
- mind = your thoughts and the way you think
- motherhood =the state of being mother
- myth = an idea or a story that many people believe but which is not always true
- offer = give
- prayer =words that you say to God
- preserver =someone who wants to save something and keeps things the way they are
- professional = someone who does a job that needs special training
- reborn = born again
- receive = get
- represent =stand for
- sari = a dress that Indian women wear
- scholar = an intelligent person who reads a lot of books
- scriptures = the holy books of a certain religion
- senses = the natural powers that you have : seeing, hearing, smelling and others
- separately =alone, one by one
- separate =divide
- servant =a person who worked in someone’s house and was paid to cook or clean the house
- sign =symbol
- skills = talents ; what a person can do very well
- soldier =member of an army who fights for their country
- soul =someone’s spirit; the part of a person that does not die; the feelings and character
- spirit = something that has no body, but people think it lives
- spread =move to another place
- statue = small things that are symbols of gods
- system = a group of
- thought to be = most of the people think that they are
- towards = to
- warrior = a very brave soldier
- wave = to move up and down
- worship = pray to