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The caste system was an essential base system for hierarchy in Hinduism. The warrior and priestly caste were highest, and this determined whether the clergy or the “raja” (king) ran a particular area. Usually the raja governed the law and powerful holy men had a significant amount of power. The role of women ranges from equal status to restricted. The position of women is dependent on the specific text and context. Each text varies in authority, content and theme.
Hinduism began to spread as people relocated to the Indus valley and Hinduism spread and became popular. The popularity of Islam kept Hinduism from spreading to Asia and the Middle East. The British took control of India and there was a diaspora of Hindu people from India. They moved to Britain and North America after the war. Hinduism has around 900 million adherents and are mainly located in India, United Kingdom and United States.
Hinduism has a history of co-existence with Buddhism and Jainism and more recently, with Sikhism. These religious traditions share a number terms and concepts such as dharma and karma. Similarities in Hindu and Christian theology exist and Hindus and Muslims have had a history since the arrival of the Arabs in India.
Currently, an Indian Holy Site is to be divided between the Hindus and the Muslims. The religious site lies in the city of Ayodhya and Hindus argue it is the birthplace of Rama. The High Court in the state of Uttar Pradesh stated one third will be given to the Muslims and two thirds to two Hindu groups. Both religions have different ideas of what they would like to build at the site and thousands of police were sent in to maintain peace.
Events of historical significance include the Indus Valley civilization (2800-2000 B.C.), the Early Vedic and Late Vedic Periods followed by the 11 major upanishads being written in 800-300 B.C. Epics and Puranas are then written and the Gupta empire is taken over. By 870 - 1280 the Cholas dynasty existed and Hinduism arises in the south. Vasco de Gama arrives in Europe as missionaries from Portugal arrive in India.
Important holidays include Diwali, Holi, birthday of Lord Rama, Shive Ratri, Kumbh Mela, Ganesha, Dassera, and Navarati. According to the Hindu calendar, a lunar year consists of 12 months. A lunar month has two fortnights, and begins with the new moon called "amavasya". The lunar days are called "tithis". Each month has 30 tithis, which may vary from 20 - 27 hours.
Major sects include Shaiva, Vaishnava, Shakteya and Smarta. Shaivites worship god Shiva, worshippers of Vishnu are the Vaishnavites, those of the mother goddess in different forms are the Shakteyas and those worshipping all the three gods are Smartas. Even among them there are sub-sects on the basis of theoretical differences, or difference in the styles of worship.
Hinduism has 10 main rules, split into things you should do and should not do. Meat, fish, poultry, and eggs are forbidden in the Vedas and most hindus are vegetarians altogether. They are not to consume alcohol, caffeine, garlic, onions or mushrooms. Prayer is an integral part of religion and chanting of “mantras” is the most popular form of worship.
Scared texts include the 4 Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, and Epics. The Vedas typically contain hymns, incantations, and rituals from ancient India and are the primary and most ancient texts for hindus. Each Veda consists of 4 parts- the Samhitas (hymns), the Brahmanas (rituals), the Aranyakas (theologies) and the Upanishads (philosophies).
All hindus believe in the the three-in-one god, the caste system, karma, reincarnation and nirvana. To find salvation, hindus strive for Moksha which can be reached in 4 ways- The Way of Action, the Way of Knowledge, the Way of Devotion,and the Royal Road. To be accepted as a Hindu, you must absolutely believe in the nature of the Vedas to understand the unknown.
Hinduism is a polytheistic universalizing religion. Hindus have lots of gods and goddesses that together symbolize and abstract being or Brahma. The most important hindu deities include Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva sometimes called “the triad”. Ghandi was the most important follower and preacher.