What Hindus Believe
Central tenets of this faith, based on the questions in the Belief-O-Matic quiz.
Continued from page 5
|•||Belief in Deity |
Diverse beliefs. Many Hindus believe in Brahman (God) as the impersonal ultimate reality/world soul. Many believe God is both impersonal force and personal savior. There are many, or countless, gods and goddesses (devas) representative of various aspects of the One Supreme God. The Hindu trinity of Brahman is the creator (Brahma), the preserver (Vishnu), and destroyer (Shiva) of the universe.
There are many if not countless incarnations and manifestations (avatars) of God also worshipped as Gods.
|•||Origin of Universe and Life |
Diverse beliefs. Many believe the universe recreates itself cyclically after karma is extinguished from all individuals. Many believe in a Creator God.
|•||After Death |
Through laws of karma, one's soul is reborn until enlightened and liberated from rebirth, at which time you enter a state of ultimate bliss (moksha) and become one with the ultimate truth and reality, God, Brahman. One may be reborn into a number of heavens and hells, or as lower life forms, depending on one's karma.
|•||Why Evil? |
Diverse beliefs. Some believe in gods who have powers to do some evil, a small price to pay to have the gods on our side with their powers to provide great benefits. Many believe evil, sin, and death are illusions, as only the Ultimate Reality (or God) truly exists. Most believe people have free will to commit wrongs, and evil results as cravings, attachments and ignorance accumulate through perpetual rebirths, resulting in greed, hatred, violence. The illusion of evil is extinguished with egoism through enlightenment.
To become liberated from cycles of rebirth and merge with the Universal Spirit, Brahman, one must worship God or gods, do good works, and live correctly according to the dharma (based on one’s caste and phase of life), go on pilgrimages to the holy places in India, and learn through meditation, yoga, and, with the help of a master, the truth of one's true nature as one with the Universal Spirit. An ascetic lifestyle is recommended in the last phase of life. Some Hindus believe salvation is granted by the grace of a forgiving God.
|•||Undeserved Suffering |
Many believe that suffering is a result of past-life greed, hatred, and spiritual ignorance, which returns as suffering (karma). Coping with suffering is sometimes viewed as valuable in furthering spiritual growth. Suffering is also seen as illusory, in that it results from attachment to bodily pleasure and pain, and only the Absolute, or God, truly exists.
|•||Contemporary Issues |
Abortion is considered an abomination, as the fetus deserves protection. Views on homosexuality range from neutral to strong opposition, in part because sexual activity itself is generally regarded as contrary to enlightenment and, as such, is only acceptable within marriage for procreation. Divorce and remarriage is traditionally and culturally unacceptable, although not prohibited by the scriptures. Divorce and remarriage of widows is becoming more common, however, among Hindus.
More on Hinduism, Hindu
What does being a Hindu mean in your life? Take our quiz to find out how you relate to Hinduism and its traditions. Many Hindus will find that their beliefs are spread across several categories, and that divisions are seldom as neat as our categories might imply. So when you're finished, tell us more about yourself on our boards.
Take Another Quiz
Top Beliefnet Features