The Worldview In Hinduism Religion

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“Worldview” refers to the way a culture experiences the world through the expression of its own beliefs and philosophy. Martin and Nakayama (2002) describe it as a culture-specific set of “values or beliefs about the way the world and human behavior should be,” (p. 21) although worldview is defined as the external relationship between humans and the divine, the nature of life, and with ourselves. In Indian culture and Hinduism, we value a particular belief system and set of morals specific to our perception of worldview. Hinduism isn’t complete without our spiritual traditions that have been passed down for generations and borrowed and often named after Gods in the Vedas (Hindu holy scripture). These spiritual traditions are practiced every day by millions of Hindus like me who are pleased to feel connected through each other and to the Gods through these traditions. In Hinduism, cyclical time is another worldview that is unique to us, in that we believe history is an illusion and thus unimportant, whereas spiritual truth and progress toward the divine afterlife is our ultimate goal. Cyclical time in Hindu culture means that time is not linear but rather cyclical or on a continuous, recurring cycle. Similar to the topic of cyclical time, karma is another value of the Hindu perception of worldview. In Hindu beliefs, karma is determined by how well you carry out dharma (acceptable behavior and social order) as well as other morals important to our system of beliefs. The Hindu worldview is difficult to summarize in only a few main points because our culture is composed of so many values and principles that we cherish in our religious beliefs.

Spiritual traditions, always rapidly evolving and developing, have reached the hundred and thousands in India, and the Hindu religion. Because Hinduism accepts continuous revelation through sages (Holy figures) new spiritual traditions are openly embraced in our religion. All spiritual and religious traditions originally stemmed from the “great mother tradition” called Sanatana Dharma which translates to eternal dharma (Viswanathan, 2014). One of our spiritual traditions that have been adopted by the west, is our easily recognized greeting “Namaste” or “Namaskar” which is often used by yogis. Going back to its Indian roots, the Hindu greeting is often spoken while the two palms of their hands are held together and the word “namaste” literally translates to “the divine in me bows to the divine in you,” (Das, 2007). Hinduism has over 330 million Gods in our Vedas, but we do not consider ourselves a Polytheistic religion because the 330 million are all manifestations of one Supreme Being. 'There can be as many Hindu Gods as there are devotees to suit the moods, feelings, emotions and social backgrounds of the devotees,' wrote Sri Ramakrishna, a prominent Hindu saint, meaning essentially we as Hindus pray to the specific God(s), that will help us with whatever troubles we are facing at that time. Another prominent spiritual tradition, recognizable worldwide, is the Bindi, worn by Hindu women particularly after we are married signified by a red dot applied between our eyebrows. The Bindi holds significant spiritual meaning and symbolism taken straight from the Vedas, where the sages describe the existence of areas of concentrated energy called the chakras. There are seven main chakras that run along the center of the body, and the sixth one called the ajna chakra, the “brow chakra” or “third eye chakra” occurs exactly where the Bindi is placed (Jha, 2018). Spiritually, the Bindi’s purpose is to enhance the powers of the third eye chakra by accessing our inner wisdom and allowing us to see the world in a new truthful light, without bias (Jha, 2018). Without these spiritual traditions, Hinduism would not be what it is today, because these traditions are what lead us on our path to enlightenment and help bring us closer to the divine.

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As Hindus, we believe that the world revolves around a cyclical timeline and that there is no hell or eternal judgment. Instead, when the temporary end of every soul’s journey arrives, they return to Brahman (one of the three main Gods in the Hindu religion; “the Creator”) and eventually evolve into their next form through Brahman. This belief is sometimes referred to as reincarnation or the belief that when humans pass away, their souls move onto the next body to be reborn in order to exhaust the karma built up from a soul’s previous lives (Jayaram, 2015). In Hinduism, each time cycle begins with creation, continuation, and extinction, or srishti, sthithi, and laya. Our three main Gods in Hinduism, Brahman (the Creator), Vishnu (the Preserver), and Shiva (the Destroyer) control these three aspects of the cyclical time cycle. This time cycle can be observed in our everyday life, from our mornings which continue until they dissolve into the night, and the same pattern is also paralleled in life throughout our aging process from childhood, and adulthood, into old age (Jayaram, 2015). As Hindus, we follow a cyclical timeline for the reasoning that time is believed to be without boundaries and is eternal and ever-flowing.

As aforementioned, karma is the judgment of how well our souls have carried out dharma in their collective lifetimes. Morals that are high in value to Hindus and to Brahman include upholding one’s responsibilities in life, especially when it comes to family and community, maintaining self-control, and preserving a life of non-violence (Hoefer, 2013). “The law of karma suggests that a person's mental and physical actions are binding and through our actions or inactions and our intention behind them, we bind ourselves to the seemingly neverending cycle of births and deaths that comes from our karma,” (Jayaram, 2015). The good or the bad actions we committed in our previous lives have an effect on us today through the work of karma. This is why often times it seems good people have negative outcomes in life, despite their best efforts to succeed and be moral and vice vera. The Hindu religion has always believed in the idea that karma is affected by our intentions and their consequences not only by our actions.

Social aspects, such as the caste system in India, had a major impact on Hinduism shaping it into the religion it is today. In the past, Hinduism enforced a strict social hierarchy through a system of castes which essentially made it impossible for those in lower castes to leave their social rank. During the Gupta and the Mauryan empires, Indian culture and way of life were deeply influenced by Hinduism and focused on our religion as a means of “personal salvation” by adopting the caste system (Violatti, 2013). Hinduism was exceedingly difficult to access as a person of a lower caste because originally Hinduism was founded as a religion within the Brahmin caste (highest of the four Hindu castes; priests). Hinduism slowly began to gain traction throughout India as epic poems, Mahabharata, Ramayana, Bhagavad Gita, spread the word about Hindu philosophies, Gods, and the possibility of salvation. These written texts helped to spread the popularity of Hinduism among the lower castes in India because it assured they could achieve their salvation by simply carrying out their caste duties (Violatti, 2013). Social forces have increased our religion’s influence across India through the use of written texts to spread Hindu philosophies and further increase Hinduism’s popularity over time.

As Hindus, our perspective of Worldview is seemingly abstract compared to other cultures’ definitions of the word. We tie our religion and our desire to reach the divine and spiritual enlightenment into our definition of worldview. Hinduism can be characterized by the thousands of spiritual traditions we practice daily which bring us closer to our Gods and our Supreme Being. Our religion can be distinguished by the cyclical timeline around which we believe our days and nights, years and our aging process revolve. Tying into the cyclical timeline is karma, another distinguishable feature of the Hindu worldview, which outlines the judgment of our actions, intentions, and morals. By expressing our own religious beliefs and universal philosophies, we as Hindus continue to shape our unique worldview.

References

  1. Baldwin, J. R. (2014, May 22). World View and Culture--COM 372. Retrieved from http://my.ilstu.edu/~jrbaldw/372/Worldview.htm
  2. Das, S. (2007, July 1). What Does the Indian Gesture of 'Namaste' Really Mean?. Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/what-does-namaste-mean-1770004
  3. Hoefer, H. (2013). Relating Meaningfully to the Hindu Worldview. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.andrews.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1223&context=jams
  4. Jayaram, V. (2013). The Belief of Reincarnation of Soul in Hinduism. Retrieved from https://www.hinduwebsite.com/reincarnation.asp
  5. Jayaram, V. (2013). Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, the Highest Gods of Hinduism. Retrieved from https://www.hinduwebsite.com/hinduism/hindutrinity.asp
  6. Jayaram, V. (2015). The Concept of Kala or Time in Hinduism. Retrieved from https://www.hinduwebsite.com/hinduism/h_time.asp
  7. Jayaram, V. (2015). What is Karma in Hinduism?. Retrieved from https://www.hinduwebsite.com/hinduism/h_karma.asp
  8. Jayaram, V. (2015). Brahman, The Highest God Of Hinduism. Retrieved from https://www.hinduwebsite.com/brahmanmain.asp
  9. Jha, S. (2018, June 5). The Purpose of the Bindi. Retrieved from https://www.hafsite.org/blog/the-purpose-of-the-bindi/
  10. Lam, T. (2005, July 15). Hinduism Gods. Retrieved from https://www.allaboutreligion.org/hinduism-gods-faq.htm
  11. Martin, J., Nakayama, T., & Flores, L. (2002). Readings in Intercultural Communication: Experiences and Contexts. McGraw-Hill Humanities Social.
  12. Stein, K. (2019, September 27). Hindu Customs and Traditions. Retrieved from http://www.hinduismfacts.org/hindu-customs-and-traditions/
  13. Violatti, C. (2013, May 11). Hinduism. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/hinduism/
  14. Viswanathan, K. (2014). The Dharma Traditions of India. Retrieved from http://www.dcfusa.org/the-dharma-traditions-of-india/
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