Hinduism refers to a number of different types of liberation. Perhaps the most prominent liberation is liberation from Samsara, the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth or reincarnation. Hinduism views God from a perspective that is very different from that of Christianity. God is not a Super Human Being but rather a supreme principle and the human soul, or the atman is a part of God. In this respect, one could consider Hinduism as being polytheistic, but that would be oversimplifying the religion which is basically monotheistic and in some respects could be viewed as being without any God at all.
In the past, some aspects of Hinduism have been atheistic. In this concept, the atman is the human soul. The atman goes through cycles of birth, life, death and rebirth. The desire for “liberation” is to free the atman from this repetitious cycle so that it can reach “Nirvana” or “Samadhi” or perfect union with God. This is a state of unity with all existence, perfect unselfishness and mental peace. Although we cannot go into great detail as to even the basics of the Hindu religion, we can briefly touch upon a few more basic concepts.
Dharma has to do with the duties of Hindus and the ethics that should govern their life. Samsara is a fundamental concept that underlies all of Hinduism. As mentioned, it refers to the continuing cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth. Hindus ultimately seek to free themselves from the cycle of Samsara. Karma is the idea that every action gives rise to a subsequent reaction, a feedback or backlash whereby we pay for our actions by the consequences of our actions. Those consequences are our Karma.
Once an individual has lived a life that has freed them, the atman, from the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth, the reach Moksha, that is, liberation from Samsara and to attain an eternal union with and realization of God, a union between the an individual’s atman and the Cosmic Spirit of Brahman, a point when both are one and inseparable. This union, called moksha, nirvana or samadhi, is the ultimate goal of all Hindus. Many of these concepts can be seen in Buddhism as well. Buddha grew up in a Hindu society and thus Hinduism served as his initial and possibly his basic influence.
Summary and Conclusion Hinduism is the oldest religion known religion. A religion that originated in the Vedic plains of northern and eastern India, it stands as the third largest religion today after Christianity and Islam and above Buddhism. Centered today in India, Nepal and the surrounding regions, Hinduism has adherents around the world. The ultimate goal of Hindus is to free themselves from the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth so that their atman, or soul, will attain a perfect union with God with Brahman, the Supreme Cosmic Spirit and the Supreme God of Hinduism.
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