8.34 Hinduism

In India, the period between approximately 800 BC and 200 BC was a pivotal time of formation and a transition between the Vedic period and the period of Synthesis that preceded the ‘Golden Age’ of Hinduism in the first millennium AD.

During this period, the orthodoxy and ritual of the Vedic religion and Brahmanism were challenged by new movements. Mahavira and Buddha were central teachers in this movement, turning away from Vedic authority and back / ahead towards older metaphysical ideas. This movement and pressure caused a new Synthesis of various local traditions that began to give rise to the diverse religious expression we now know as Hinduism.

Some of the core ideas of Hinduism include:

  • the celebration of a massive array of deities, which are integrated into a higher order unity through the understanding that they are manifestations of a single underlying Absolute / Unity / Supreme Being;
  • belief in a universal law of cause and effect (Karma);
  • the possibility of Liberation (moksha) from the endless cycles of life and suffering (Samsara);
  • One Truth, expressed by the Wise in many ways;
  • Truth as the very essence of Reality / the Universe;
  • One limitless, formless, eternal, universal, all-encompassing God from which all other deities and manifestations of the universe arise;
  • Dharma / Righteousness / duty / right action / right way;
  • Liberation of the Soul, which comes through realizing one’s true nature and thereby reuniting one’s soul to God;
  • Self Discipline
  • Pilgrimage
  • Purification
  • Self Examination
  • Self Inquiry
  • Meditation

Hinduism is not a consolidated system or religion arising from a single founder, but rather the evolution over time of the belief systems that arose from the peoples that lived along the Indus river, into the brilliant diversity of spirituality that we witness today.

What a tragedy to leave behind so soon the infinite depths to which we could follow the golden threads of all these teachers. I fear I have done them a terrible disservice, however hopefully I have done the reader some service by consolidating core teachings, principles, and ideas into a relatively brief thread, contextualized within history, and informing our present moment in time. We will return later.

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