It is difficult to define Hinduism religion because it is more than a concept but the whole tradition of living for millions of people around the world. It includes philosophical and human values so wide that a brief definition cannot express all importance and multi-sided concept. Hinduism is the oldest world’s religion that embodies old wisdom with unique traditions and sacred elements. Atman is one of the sacred elements in Hinduism which means the ‘self’ and sometimes a ‘soul’. “Atman is an essence of all things” (Moore, Aldyth 1967, 45). Atman can be identified as a microcosm which is the universal spirit.
Understanding the nature of the world is to see one’s self. According to Hinduism every one has an undying soul which is reincarnated. Immortal soul is a microcosm identified with ‘the universal spirit’. The concept of ‘Atman’ has a double meaning. On the one hand, it means ‘ego’, and on the other hand, atman is defined as ‘a pure Self of the Buddha’. It means knowledge that comes direct from experience (“wisdom”), as it does not rely on the abstractions and classifications of the intellect which as people have experienced are always relative and approximate.
The Brahma-Sutra says “the ultimate reality is known and realized within us as the Self, and this work is treated as an authority by all Vedantic schools, monistic and pluralistic Hence the Upanisadic utterances: All this is the Atman and “All this is from the Atman” (Moore, Aldyth 1967, 41). As the “universal religion” Hinduism teaches that eternal spirit, atman, is located both in the physical, external world and also in the spiritual and inner world. The concept of atman is important because it helps to explain such concepts as karma and reincarnation.
Atman can be defined as ultimate reality. Brahman is another concept which is closely connected with Atman. According to Hindu tradition: “Brahman can be located both in the physical, external world and also in the spiritual and inner world where it is present as Atman, “universal spirit” (Atman, 1999). The other scared element of Hinduism is the Mind. The tradition distinguishes three different phases of Mind: individual mind, universal mind and instinctive mind.
Mind reflects the human tendency to continue on a particular course of action until something goes wrong or a person is forced to question his or her actions. The five parts of the mind are conscious mind, subconscious mind, subsubconscious mind and superconscious mind and individual mind. The role of the Mind as a supporter of human’s values and morality is important for Hindus. It means a desire for liberation and a new faith for the strong and the weak, a belief in the harmony and orderliness of the universe.
There is no death, for man is reincarnated time and time again (Hinduism, 2006). Every thing in the world around us is transient and changing, nothing is static. “A self” and mind do not exist in opposition rather “a self” makes explicit in science and philoso¬phy forces at work in Universe. It incorporates the being as a part of universe. A person’s autonomy is not established by a kind of release from social constraints, so that the unencumbered self can realize individually-determined ends, but is realized through full participation in religion rituals.
One of the most important sacred objects in Hinduism is a cow. According to legends and myths, a cow is a mother of the Universe. “Cows are said to represent the highest energy both in this world and the world that is above. There is nothing that is more sacred or sanctifying than cows” (Cows are sacred, n. d. ). For centuries, Hindus regard cows as sacred animals which give mild and cream. The gift of cow is the highest honor. “Cows are said to represent the highest energy both in this world and the world that is above” (Cows are sacred, n.
d. ). The sacred aliments and objects show that Hinduism religion is more than a concept, but the whole tradition of living for millions of people. The sacred elements reflect philosophical and human values followed by Hindus. These elements represent knowledge about the world, Reality and philosophy. Atman and Brahman determine patterns of behavior and values. At its deepest level, the scared elements include both conscious and unconscious national values and ideas.
The elements and objects are based on cultural norms, family traditions and a dominant role of religion in the society. The values, attitudes and motivations of people are manifested in meanings of the main elements and their philosophical significance. The people in Hinduism through a mind structure understand and accept all people of the world, encompass them within their mind as being fine religious people. Meaning of the sacred elements suggests that Hinduism is knowledge that comes direct from experience as it does not rely on the classifications.
For these people it is more than a religion, it is a philosophy of life which involves political, economic and social life of the society they lived with. For instance, ”the cow is a complete ecology a gentle creature and a symbol of abundance” (Hinduism. 2006). For centuries, a cow was the main animal in India which helped people to survive. In general, Hinduism is a set of abstract rules for millions of people to live. Roman Catholic religion and Hinduism have much in common based on sacred elements and objects. For instance, both religions have a soul as the main sacred element.
The similarities suggest that religion is a universal concept. Roman Catholic religion and Hinduism are based on a strong dependence between spiritual and physical state of a person. For example, among those who do not go to church but who claim to believe in God, the formulation ‘higher power’ has overtaken the more traditional image of God as a person. Though many people believe that there is something after death, the Christian notions of heaven and hell have been replaced by some idea of reincarnation (Moore, Aldyth 1967).
Both religions permit great liberty to entertain whatever culture they wish in their private lives but heavily constrain the exercise of religiously inspired values in the public arena. This creates a problem dealing with any religious group which insists that life cannot be so compartmentalized and that its religious culture must affect every aspect of life. With the help of sacred elements people embody their beliefs and hopes, ideas and ideals unveiling social contradictions and ridicule low moral values of the society.
Both religions can be interpreted as philosophical tradition of the eternal knowledge. Hinduism is a central part of culture and identity. The religions identify the two contending groups of believers, they figure prominently in their histories, and they are frequently used by each side to justify positive self-images. Although Hinduism and Roman Catholic religion have worked hard to distinguish their religious values from the political agendas and cultural claims. They are puritanical in their morals and encouraged people to distance them¬selves from this world in preparation for the next.
Cultural difference is irreducible, and it reveals the ambivalence and hybrid nature of the religions. In sum, both religions include both conscious and unconscious century-old values, ideals, traditions and symbols. Cultural influences on Hinduism and Roman Catholic religion can be explained as a way of living built up during centuries and transmitted from one generation to another. It is a specific way of relations which is based on natural feelings and universal traditions embodied in sacred elements (Moore, Aldyth 1967).In general, religions vary significantly from society to society but they meet with supposedly universal human motivations.
1. Atman. (1999). Retrieved from http://www. wsu. edu/~dee/GLOSSARY/ATMAN. HTM [accessed 25 Nov 2006] 2. Cows are sacred. (N. d). Retrieved from http://www. hinduism. co. za/cowsare. htm [accessed 25 Nov 2006] 3. Hinduism. (2006). Retrieved from http://www. experiencefestival. com [accessed 25 Nov 2006] 4. Moore, Ch. A. , Aldyth, V. (1967). The Indian Mind: Essentials of Indian Philosophy and Culture. Morris; East-West Center Press.