Understanding Hinduism, a massive global religion

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Hinduism is one of the largest world religions, but its teaching and beliefs are vastly unknown by many other world religions, such as those for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Jared W. Ludlow taught a “crash course on Hinduism” for one of the many BYU Education Week classes to an overflowing room of LDS church members.

Doctrinal Beliefs

Ludlow touched on many basics of the Hindu religion. One of the first concepts he taught was Atman, which is the soul or the the “true self.”

The next concept he taught was reincarnation. Reincarnation is also a belief of Buddhism, but the two religions differ slightly. Hindus believe you reincarnate into animals, that’s why most of them are vegetarians. In Buddhism, they do not believe you reincarnate into animals.

Ludlow taught how Darma and karma are important phrases to understand the reincarnation process. Karma means good things happen when you do good and bad things happen when you do bad. One becomes a part of a better class in their next life if they had good karma and vice versa, Ludlow said.

He explained darma is duty, one’s social status, what they are supposed to do and how they live their life.  Both darma and karma need to be followed to become closer to Moksha.

Ludlow explained how one reincarnates until they reach Moksha, which is the end of the incarnation cycle and is achieved by overcoming desires and ignorance.

“They believe you are born into the status you are because there is a reason,” Ludlow said. “You shouldn’t feel bad if you above somebody else.” He continues to say that karma in the previous life determines what reincarnation is. For example, he said the “untouchables,” the lowest social class, are said to be there because they lived a bad past life, and that is why they are poor in this life.

“A great part of Hinduism is for man to realize they are all just part of a greater reality for Brahman. And once you achieve that stage of enlightenment you, in a sense, return to that Brahman and escape the cycle of reincarnations. They don’t want to keep reincarnating, they reincarnate because they haven’t achieved Brahman [means the Supreme Self] yet.”

Another belief Ludlow described was, Ahimsa, which means do no violence to any living thing, which they also try to live by.

“They are very polytheistic, and believe they are just all representations of one truth.”

Paths to Moksha

The paths that they believe lead to Moksha, Ludlow said are: meditation, study, work, love and devotion to a god.

Experiential

Ludlow described meditation, yoga, prayers and food offerings to be experiential. They usually have shrines they do these to. They also believe rivers are manifestations of gods and goddesses. Festivals and pilgrimages are also a big part of their culture and religion.

Caste System

One of the last learning points Ludlow addressed is there cast system. It is as follows:

  • Brahmans – the intellectuals and the priestly class
  • Kshatriya –  nobles and warriors
  • Vaishyas – working class
  • Shudras – peasants and serfs
  • Untouchables– had worst jobs like cleaning up dung

Ludlow said he is not a complete expert on Hinduism but this is some of the main points of it and a further study of it will lead to further appreciation.

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