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World Religions

By: Jake Emerson

Origin of Hinduism
Hinduism started over 3,000 years ago in India. Currently, there are

950 million Hindus (followers of Hinduism). Hinduism is a polytheistic

religion, which means that they believe in many gods. The main god is

called Brahma. He is the creator. There are other gods such as Vishnu, the

preserver, and Shiva the god of death and reincarnation.

Hinduism Beliefs

Karma it is the belief of balance of good and bad beliefs. It basically

means if you’re good, then good things will happen to you. If you do bad

things, then bad things will happen to you. In the Hinduism religion there

are many rules to live by and these are called Dharma. One rule, basic

morality which means that you know what is good and what is bad. Another

rule is to not touch bodily fluids, waste, or garbage. Be nice to cows

because cows are considered to be the most sacred animal. You’ll not see

them eating any beef. Also, Hindus are required to follow the rules of their

caste level. Reincarnation is one of the most important beliefs in the

Hinduism religion. Reincarnation is the belief of the continuous cycle of

death and rebirth. To achieve reincarnation you must achieve moksha

through the caste system.

Caste System

The caste system was very important to the Hindus. It told them how

to live and what jobs they did. The caste system had four levels. In addition

to the caste system there were the untouchables. A Hindu was born into a

level of the caste and lived in that caste system their whole life. They were

unable to move up and down in the caste system. The highest level was

Brahmin, who were the priests and the academic. Next, were the

Kshatriyas. They were the warriors and the kings.. The next level was the

Vaishya merchants and landowners. At the lowest level were the Shudra

the commoners, peasants, and servants. Finally, there was a group of

people that were not even considered humans by the people in the caste

system. They were called the Untouchables. They did the jobs that were

against the Hinduism rules. They did jobs that made them impure, such as

butchers, gravediggers, and trash collectors. The castes were not allowed

to talk or marry other people in different classes.

Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world. It contains about

500 million people and it is around and 8% of the world’s population. It is

most popular in Asia in countries such as China and Japan.

Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama. Siddhartha grew up

a Hindu, he was in the Kshatriya caste. He lived in the 600’s BCE. When

he got older he realized that there inequalities in the caste system.

Siddhartha didn’t like this aspect about Hinduism. He devoted his life to end

suffering. He thought many things, but the main things he taught were the

Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path.

Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path

The Four Noble Truths say:

● Life is full of suffering.

● Suffering is caused by desire.

● To get rid of suffering, get rid of desire.

● To get rid of desire, follow the Eightfold Path.

These rules were the foundation of what Buddha taught. Then there was

the Eightfold Path. These are a series of ways to live to get rid of desire.

They were designed to make the follower live a simple life that does not

harm others. The Eightfold path included right understanding, right thought,

right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness,

right concentration. Buddhists believe if you follow these ways you will find

Enlightenment. Enlightenment is when the person has found perfect

wisdom and when the follower gets rid of desire. Once this is achieved, the

follower can get Nirvana.

Nirvana is the release from the reincarnation cycle. They believe Nirvana is


Buddhism and Hinduism

Buddhism and Hinduism are very similar religions. In fact, most

Buddhists were once

Hindus. Since Buddhism did

not revolve around the caste

system, many lower caste

people and the

untouchables converted to

the new religion. The Hindus

actually took Nirvana and called it something different, Moksha.

Spreading of Buddhism

Once trading became more popular, Buddhism began to spread with

trade. Buddhism began to spread to Asia and became popular in places

like China and Japan. It adapted to the cultures it went to, including
different gods and beliefs. It also split into different denominations, like

Christianity today.


Judaism is another major religion. It has 13 million followers. This

makes up 0.2% of world’s population. The followers of Judaism are called

Hebrews or Jews. Most live in the Middle east (Israel), United States, and

Europe. The person of origin is Abraham. He lived in Mesopotamia, which

is considered the place of origin for the religion.

Religion Basics
Judaism is a monotheistic religion meaning that they believe in

one god. Many other religion are polytheistic like Hinduism and Buddhism.

Other religion like Christianity and Islam are monotheistic. Jews worship in

synagogues. The sacred text for the religion is called the Torah. Torah

means law and it is the Old Testament in the Bible.

Parts of the Old Testaments

There are 5 books to the the Old Testament. The first book is

called Genesis this tells the Jewish creation story, and it tells about the

covenant between Jews and God. It states that if Jews obey God, God will

protect all Jews. The second book is called Exodus. This is the story of

enslavement. The Jews were appreciated in Egypt and then began to

become enslaved. Moses lead the Jews out of enslavement and to the

“Promised Land”. He received the 10 commandments on the way to the

“Promised Land”.


The Jews believe in the Ten Commandments. The basic meaning of

the Ten commandments is to be treat people how you want to be treated.

Some examples are you shall not kill, you should not commit adultery and

you should not steal. These are the rules the Jews live by. They have laws
for everything; marriage, diet, clothes, and worship. For clothing, men

usually wear a hat or a yarmulke. They believe to wear clean clothes in

places of worship to respect God. Kosher foods satisfy the requirements of

Jewish law. For meats, Jews can eat any animals that have cloven hooves

and chews its cud. In addition, they can eat any sea animals that have both

fins and scales. Marriage beliefs include that if you marry someone non-

Jewish then you are not considered to be not married. Marriage is seen to

be very important, and if you do not marry then you are considered

“unnatural”. At the end of your life they believe in two things; you either go

to Heaven which is good, or Hell which is bad.


In the Jewish religion there are three denominations; Orthodox,

Conservative, and Reform. These denominations are based on how much

they follow the religion.

● Orthodox=completely

● Conservative=mostly

● Reform=somewhat

Islam is the 2nd largest religion behind Christianity. There are

approximately 1 billion of the Islam religion. They are mostly in the Middle

East and Northern Africa. Followers of Islam are called Muslims. They

worship in places called mosques. These are the equivalent to temples and

synagogues. The founder of Islam is named Muhammad. Muhammad was

born in the 600’s in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Muhammad had a revelation. He

went to a cave and prayed. It was here that the Angel Gabriel spoke to him.

Muhammad went around and told people what he heard and he started to

gain followers. When he started to gain a following, local leaders felt

threatened by him and they attempted to kill him. Muhammad left Mecca
and fled to Medina. He soon became the leader of Medina. After he

became leader he was attacked by people from Mecca. Muhammad

defeated them and conquered part of Arabia. His leadership came to an

end and he died in 632. His followers began to fight over who was to

become the next leader. This fight divided the religion into two

denominations. These were called Sunni and Shia. Sunni believed that the

leadership should be inherited by the best scholar of Islam. Shia believed

that leadership should stay in the family of Muhammad. The majority of

people of the Islamic religion are Sunni (75% of them).


The Islamic religion has many beliefs. They are a monotheistic

religion, which means that they believe in one god. This is the same as

Christians and Judaism. There one god is Allah. They believe that

Muhammad was a messenger from God. Mecca is the most sacred city for

the religion because that is where Muhammad was born. They have a

sacred text called the Quran. It is in the Quran that they learn about their

religion. The four main things that the Quran focuses on is Faith, Justice,

Virtue and Worship. The Islamic religion also believes in the 5 Pillars of

Islam. The 5 Pillars of Islam include:

● Proclaim belief in God, Muhammad as his messenger

● Pray facing Mecca 5 times a day

● Fast during Ramadan (a Islamic holiday where Muhammad spent his

time in the cave, most holy time for Muslims)

● Give to the poor

● Go on pilgrimage to Mecca

The Islams believe that once you die, if you have lived a good life,

then you will go to Paradise. Muslims also have food and drink restrictions.

They are not allowed to eat any pork or have any alcohol. Pork is not

allowed because it is considered to be impure and unhealthy to humans.


Christianity is the largest religion in the world, it has about 2 million

followers. These people are called Christians. The religion began in the 1st

century of CE. The religion spreads throughout the world. The holy text for

this religion is the Bible. The Jews read the new testament, but the

Christians read from the new testament. Christianity is a monotheistic


Judaism and Christianity

Christianity has roots in Judaism. Jesus, who is very important to

Christians, was a Jew. Christianity is based on Jewish morals and they

have similar history.

Jesus’s Teaching

Jesus taught pacifism which is the refusal to fight. He states in the

Bible to not take revenge on someone who wrongs you. Jesus also says

that wealth corrupts people. Wealth distracts them from God. He also

taught that there is Salvation and Damnation. Salvation is the Christians’

goal in life. This is where they will go to heaven. Damnation is hell. This is

is where you go if you lived a sinful life.

Early Church leaders

One of the early church leaders name was Peter. Peter was one of

the 12 disciples. Jesus told him to lead the church. Peter was considered

the 1st pope of the Catholic church. In addition to Peter, there was Paul the

Apostle. He wrote letters that stressed things of the Christian religion. They

stressed that Jesus was the son of God, Jesus died for our sins, and all

people could convert to the Christian religion.


There are different sections in the Christian religion. These are called

Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant. They are based on different beliefs.