INTRODUCTION TO HINDUISM Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian subcontinent.

Hinduism is known to its followers as Sanātana Dharma (a Sanskrit phrase meaning "the eternal law"), amongst many other expressions.Hinduism is is formed of diverse traditions and has no single follower. In a very broad sense Hinduism is a way of life. From time immemorial indigenous religious consciousness has continuously enriched it. It has been influenced by the aspirations and needs of the human society from time to time. It embraces the indigenous religions of India which have been modified almost continuously with the development of ideas and the needs of local communities. As a result Hinduism is a mixture of sects, cults and doctrines which have had a profound effect on Indian culture. In Spite of this diversity, there are few of its aspects which do not rely in some way or the other on the authority of Indian religious literature – the Vedas, the Epics and the Puranas.Hinduism is often known as the "oldest living religion". SECTS OF HINDUISM Hinduism is divided into a number of sects. The four most widely followed sects are :

•Shaivism : worship of lord Shiva.
•Vaishnavism : Worship of lord Vishnu or his associated avatars like Rama, Krishna, etc.

•Shatism : Worship of Skati or Devi - The hundu divine mother. •Smartism :It is a liberal or nonsectarian denomination of the Vedic Hindu
religion which accept all the major Hindu deities as forms of the one Brahman. The term Smarta refers to adherents who follow the Vedas and Shastras. Only a section of south Indian brahmins call themselves Smartas now. HINDUISM AND WATER The worldwide practice of Hinduism encompasses a wide variety of beliefs. However, a prevailing belief that is shared by most, if not all, Hindus is the importance of physical and spiritual cleanliness and well-being... a striving to attain purity and avoid pollution. This widespread aspiration lends itself to a reverence for water as well as the integration of water into most Hindu rituals, as it is believed that water has spiritually cleansing powers. • Holy places are usually located on the banks of rivers, coasts, seashores

the tanks are mostly found in a state of neglect. In the Smarta tradition. rivers. humility. Shiva is seen as the Supreme God. sterility leading to death. In actuality. thereby purifying oneself. • Every spring. • Milk and water are symbols of fertility. Lord Shiva is usually worshipped in the abstract form of Shiva linga. and destroyer of evil. It is said that He looks like an . These days. In these sacred waters.and mountains. It is an unwritten rule to take a dip in the temple tank before offering prayers to the presiding deities. the Lord of the dance. Conventional beliefs hold that the water of a temple tank is holy and has cleansing properties. Water in India is largely dependent on the monsoons. Yet one with great power lives a life of a sage at Mount Kailash. absence of which can cause barrenness. and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti. people can look to these temple tanks to fulfill basic water needs. carry special significance and are especially sacred. the distinctions imposed by castes are alleviated. which leads to contamination. the demon of ignorance in his manifestation of Nataraja. In images. the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. In the Shaiva tradition of Hinduism. Sacred rivers are thought to be a great equalizer. and the impure have their pollution removed if only temporarily. or even better three. • Water represents the "non-manifested substratum from which all manifestations derive"and is considered by Hindus to be a purifier. The water brings life as trees and flowers bloom and crops grow. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. LORD SHIVA Shiva is a major Hindu deity. For example. the tanks serve as a useful reservoir to help communities tide over water scarcity. He is represented as a handsome young man immersed in deep meditation or dancing the Tandava upon Apasmara. in the Ganges. • Water is very important for all the rituals in Hinduism. goodness. the pure are thought to be made even more pure. Sites of convergence between land and two. life-giver. he is regarded as one of the five primary forms of God. They are either dried up or poorly maintained. the Ganges River swells with water as snow melts in the Himalayas. This cycle of life is seen as a metaphor for Hinduism. and every good quality a human should have. as all sins fall away. Every village/town/city has a temple with a sizable water tank. • Temple Tanks are an essential part of every large Hindu temple. In case the rains fail.

SHAIVISM shaivism (Sanskrit: शैव पंथ. mostly. rebirth and immortality. In the later Vedic period some Upanishads emerged. the creator. Lord Siva was recognized as a part of Hindu Trinity and His worship became popular in many parts of the Indian subcontinent." revere Shiva as the Supreme Being. is universally supposed to be the name for the bull which serves as the mount (Sanskrit: vāhana) of Shiva and as the gate keeper of Shiva and Parvati. in which Lord Siva was depicted as the highest Supreme Brahman. the other being Mahākāla. Shaivism is widespread throughout India. Also." and also "Saivas" or "Shaivites. the Kushanas. generally facing the main shrine.The early Vedic Indians worshipped an aspect of Lord Siva. whom they both feared and revered. There are also a number of temples dedicated solely to Nandi. śaiva paṁtha) is the oldest sect of Hinduism. the Satavahanas and the Cholas were ardent .eternal youth because of his authority over death. destroyer. Many prominent rulers of ancient India such as the Chalukyas. revealer and concealer of all that is. But the application of the name Nandin to the bull (Sanskrit: vṛṣabha) is in fact a development of recent centuries. Singapore. preserver. as Gouriswar Bhattacharya has documented in an illustrated article entitled "Nandin and Vṛṣabha" The name Nandin was earlier widely used instead for an anthropomorphic deity who was one of Śiva’s two door-keepers. whose antiquity is said to be rooted in the prehistoric traditions of ancient India. dating back to the Indus Valley civilization (5000 BC) or even earlier. Shaivas believe that Shiva is All and in all. known as Rudra. and in Hindu mythology. The doorways of pre-tenth-century North Indian temples are frequently flanked by images of Mahākāla and Nandin. the Barasivas. and Sri Lanka. and Indonesia. By the time the Puranas were composed. Both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata mention Lord Siva as a prominent Hindu god. Temples venerating Shiva and Parvati display stone images of a seated Nandi. especially Malaysia. Followers of Shaivism. the Guptas. and it is in this rôle of Śiva’s watchman that Nandin figures in Kālidāsa’s poem the Kumārasambhava. Nepal. he is the chief guru of eight masters including Patanjali and Thirumular[1]. It is considered to be one of the oldest sect of Hinduism. called "Shaivas. such as the Svetasvatara Upanishad and the Katha Upanishad. NANDI Nandi or Nandin or Nandi Devar . Areas notable for the practice of Shaivism include parts of Southeast Asia.

symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva. represents Rudra and is also called Pujabhaga since it receives the actual offerings of milk and other substances. the Lingam has also been considered a symbol of male creative energy or of the phallus. it has three parts. THE SHIVA LINGA: The Lingam is a representation of the Hindu deity Shiva used for worship in temples. The union of lingam and yoni represents the "indivisible two-in-oneness of male and female. The lingam is often represented with the Yoni. An interpretation suggests that the Lingam represents the beginningless and endless Stambha pillar. a symbol of the goddess or of Shakti. while to practising Hindus they stand for the inseparability of the male and female principles and the totality of creation. represents Vishnu. The upper part.worshippers of Siva. which is cylindrical in shape.The lingam and the yoni have been interpreted as the male and female sexual organs since the end of the 19th century by some scholars. which is octagonal in shape. . According to another interpretation. the passive space and active time from which all life originates". female creative energy. The lower part represents Brahma. The middle part.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful