Hinduism is a vast and profound religion. Some of the sacred elements that characterize Hindu religious traditions are the Hindu scriptures, the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the main deities. One of the most important beliefs in Hinduism is acceptance. They have scriptures, mythologies that deal with many elements of life which are considered unacceptable. For example, Gita (considered to be main scripture which tells way of Hindu life, its duties) has story about Dropadi who is married to 5 brothers. Gita has story about Lord Krishna who married 30,000 wives who were widowed in war.
Ramayana (story of Lord Ram) who is has one wife and he is faithful to her. Through many stories they are taught about accepting evil in world because there is always good in it. There is story about a prince who proves to his evil father that god is everywhere, in everyone, in every living and not living elements. Arshan (2006) stated, “The Vedas form as the basis for sacred element of Hinduism. The word Veda literally means wisdom or knowledge. It is the term applied to the oldest of the Hindu scriptures, originally transmitted orally and then subsequently preserved in written form.
The Vedas contain hymns, prayers and ritual texts composed over a period of one thousand years. The term Vedas refers to the entire collection of these wisdom books, also known as the samhitas, which include the rig-Veda, the samaveda, the yajur-veda and the athara-veda. Each of these texts consists of three parts: (1) the mantras, hymns of praise to the gods; (2) the brahmanas, a guide for practicing ritual rights, and (3) the upanishads, the most important part of which deals with teachings on religious truth or doctrine. The samhitas are the basis of Vedic Hinduism, the most significant of the group being the rig-Veda.
This collection of hymns, originally composed in Sanskrit, praises the various Hindu deities, including Indra, Soma, Varuna and Mitra. Based on the course readings, as well as to my understanding, they are the major Deva, based on Vedic scriptures, which include Indra (god of thunder and bringer of welcome rains), Agni (god of fire), Soma (associated with a sacred drink), and Ushas (goddess of dawn). The devas included both opaque earth gods and transparent deities of the sky and celestial realms. But behind all the myriad aspects of divinity, the sages perceived one unseen reality.
This reality, beyond human understanding, ceaselessly creates and sustains everything that exists, encompassing all time, space, and causation. (Living Religions) Naylor (1999) depicted, “In Vedic times, Indra was the supreme ruler of the gods. He was the leader of the Devas, the god of war, the god of thunder and storms, the greatest of all warriors, the strongest of all beings. He was the defender of gods and mankind against the forces of evil. He had early aspects of a sun-god, riding in a golden chariot across the heavens, but he is more often known as the god of thunder, wielding the celestial weapon Vajra, the lightning bolt.
He also employs the bow, a net, and a hook in battle. He shows aspects of being a creator god, having set order to the cosmos, and since he was the one who brought water to earth, he was a fertility god as well. He also had the power to revive slain warriors who had fallen in battle. Indra is described as being very powerful, with a reddish complexion, and with either two or four very long arms”. Naylor (1999) stated “Agni is one of the most important of the Vedic gods. He is the god of fire, the messenger of the gods, and the acceptor of sacrifice.
Agni is in everyone’s hearth; he is the vital spark of life, and so a part of him is in all living things; he is the fire which consumes food in peoples’ stomachs, as well as the fire which consumes the offerings to the gods. He is the fire of the sun, in the lightning bolt, and in the smoke column which holds up the heavens. The stars are sparks from his flame. He was so important to the ancient Indians that 200 hymns in the Rig Veda are addressed to him, and eight of its ten books begin with praises dedicated to him. Agni is closely associated with Indra, and is sometimes said to be his twin brother.
Agni loves all his worshipers equally, and so is loved in turn by all of them. He visits everyone’s hearth, no matter if they are rich or poor. He is the mediator between the gods and mankind. He is a great consumer of Soma. When people use fire, they must face it toward the proper direction for different uses. When facing east, the fire should be used for sacrifices to the gods; when facing south, the fire should be used for sacrifices to the Manes or spirits of the dead; a cooking fire should always face toward the West. The proper offering to Agni, and hence all the gods, is ghee, which is clarified butter.
Agni also had the power to impart immortality on mortals, as well as remove all sins at the time of one’s death”. Naylor (1999) also stated that “Soma is a very difficult deity for many outside of India to comprehend. He works on numerous levels, all of which are tied together rather strangely. Soma is firstly a plant. He is also an intoxicating drink which was brewed from that plant. As the blood of animals and the sap of plants, Soma courses through all living things. He is Inspiration to those who seek it, and so is the god of poets. He is also the god of the moon.
He is the dwelling place of the venerated dead, as well as the divine cure for evil. The ancient Hindus did not differentiate between these divergent aspects; all were the god Soma. Soma was one of the more important gods in the Rig Veda; 120 hymns and one entire book are dedicated to him. He has many different forms. He is seen as a celestial bull, a bird, a giant rising from the waters, the lord of plants, and as an embryo. He rarely is seen as a fully grown human”. The goddess of the dawn in Hindu myth, and the breath of life in the Vedas. Ushas is an exalted divinity in the Rig Veda, sometimes spoken of in the plural, “the Dawns. She is portrayed as welcoming birds and warding off evil spirits, and as a beautifully adorned young woman riding in a golden chariot on her path across the sky. In his Secret of the Veda, Aurobindo described Ushas as “the medium of the awakening, the activity and the growth of the other gods; she is the first condition of the Vedic realization. By her increasing illumination the whole nature of man is clarified; through her [mankind] arrives at the Truth, through her he enjoys truth’s. ” According to Arshan, the Upanishads form an important sacred element of Hinduism. The Upanishads are a collection of speculative treatises.
They were composed during the period 800 to 600 B. C. , and 108 of them are still in existence. The word Upanishad conveys the idea of secret teaching. Its treatises mark a definite change in emphasis from the sacrificial hymns and magic formulas in the Vedas to the mystical ideas about man and the universe, specifically the eternal Brahman, which is the basis of all reality, and the atman, which is the self or the soul. The Upanishads reportedly had an influence upon Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, as can be observed in some basic similarities between the Upanishads and the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism.
Evidence that Hinduism must have existed even circa 10000 B. C. is available: The importance attached to the river Saraswati and the numerous references to it in the Rig-Veda (interestingly, Ganga appears only twice) indicates that the Rig-Veda was being composed well before 6500 B. C. The first vernal equinox recorded in the Rig-Veda is that of the star Ashwini, which is now known to have occurred around 10000 to substantiate this claim. According to Fisher (2003) the common deities are derived from the common scriptures.
The idea that every deity whom men worship is the embodiment of a limited ideal, and that the deity is a symbol of some aspects of the Absolute is one of the most fundamental elements of Hinduism. It is this idea that makes Hinduism the most tolerant of religions and averse to proselytization through religious propaganda. The three important functions of the Supreme – Creation, Protection and Destruction – came to be established in popular imagination as the Hindu Trinity – Brahma (NOT Brahman of the Upanishads), Vishnu and Shiva. The power associated with these gods came to be personified as their respective consorts.
So Creator Brahma’s consort is Saraswati (the goddess of Speech and Learning), Protector Vishnu’s consort is Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth and prosperity), and Shiva’s consort is Shakti (the goddess of power). Since Vishnu is the protector, he is the one who can take on an avatara, taking human form whenever the world order is disturbed by a colossal form of evil. The other two of the trinity do not have avatars. ” Another important element that characterized Hindu religious traditions are the Common ways of life, include Upavasa (fasting) for cleansing and learning of suffering.
Dana (charity), donating to needy. For example the story about a King who decided to impress god by filling the temple floor with milk. So he called on all citizens to bring the milk and everyone brought all the milk they had, but the temple floor could not be filled. One poor lady gave the milk to cow’s calves, her children and brought the remainder (very little) and as she poured those drops the temple floor god filled. Caste system is not part of Hinduism; all mythological stories talk about different professions but never talked about anyone from any profession being of lesser value.
In conclusion Hindus believe in many gods some of them are human, some are animals and some others are natural phenomena. According to Hinduism beliefs, god incarnates, takes the form of human being and other animals and appears in this earth in that form. These are sacred elements that characterize Hindu religious traditions: the Hindu scriptures, the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the main deities, their significance and meaning are discussed. According to Hindu religion Gods and goddesses were born like human beings and had wives and children. Each sect views its deity as the Supreme Personified Godhead,” surrounded by a mythology that includes the texts, rituals and social and cultural observances. Depending on their needs, worshippers may appeal to many different deities, but all acts of devotion have the common goal of summoning the universal. The above facts clearly explain the sacred elements of Hinduism and beliefs of Hinduism. REFERENCES Fisher, Mary Pat (2003). Living Religions (5th Ed. ). : Prentice-Hall, Inc… Naylor, Stephen T (1999). Indra. Encyclopedia Mythica. Retrieved November 03, 2009, from Encyclopedia Mythica Online.
Naylor, Stephen T (1999). Agni. Encyclopedia Mythica. Retrieved November 03, 2009, from Encyclopedia Mythica Online. Naylor, Stephen T (1999). Soma. Encyclopedia Mythica. Retrieved November 03, 2009, from Encyclopedia Mythica Online. Naylor, Stephen T (1999). Ushas. Encyclopedia Mythica. Retrieved November 03, 2009, from Encyclopedia Mythica Online. Arshan, Dabirsiahi(2006). Sacred elements of Hinduism. Spirituality information. Retrieved November 03,2009, from spirituality information; http://spiritualityinformation. in;