Ultimate Reality 1. Ultimate reality in Hinduism is described as Braham. 2. The theory of Braham in Vedic sacrifices. 3. How Braham was presented in Upanishads. a. The three words used to describe Braham.
Nature of Self 1. Nature of self in Hinduism is described as Atman. 2. How Atman differs from the traditional notion of a “soul”. 3. Atman is a theory that is believed in its relationship to Braham.
1. The Shrimad Bhagavatam describes the 4 pillars that form the foundation for the ethical theory in Hinduism. a. The first pillar is austerity (tapah) and involves self-control. b. Second is purity (shaucham) and relates to cleanliness of the body and inner purity. c. The third is compassion (daya) involves compassion to all living things.
d. The final pillar is truthfulness (satyam). This theory applies to both always telling the truth but involves compassion in that the truth must be necessary and kind.
Death 1. Hinduism believes in the theory of reincarnation after death. 2. The role that karma plays in reincarnation. 3. How the caste system plays a role in determining your position in the next life.
Religions always seem to conjure up the idea of something mystical and powerful. There is always an idea that there is a higher being present in our lives. This presence is not seen or heard but acts on our behalf and guides our actions and decisions. The mystical presence is evident in a beautiful sunset or the unexplained joy we feel when seeing an infant. In Hinduism this idea is expressed in Brahman.
The term Brahman is not an actual person or thing. It embraces the idea that every living thing is holy because it comes from a holy source. It was believed that Brahman is present during religious ceremonies and had a connection to the priests who performed these ceremonies. A high priest who has studied the Vedas is referred to as a Brahmin. This privilege was limited to members of the upper class because they were able to afford the education involved with this devoted study. The priests, through their knowledge and social status, were able to call upon Brahman by using chants. The idea that Brahman is present in every living thing is somewhat contradicted in the knowledge that this status could only be achieved by those fortunate enough to afford the education.
When Brahman is described in the Upanishads its definition is elaborated upon as being “a divine reality at the heart of things” (Molloy, p.84). Hindus strive to achieve Brahman, or ultimate reality. The story in Michael Molloy’s, Experiencing World Religions, about a father and his son, is an excellent explanation of the term Brahman. The son is confused about exactly what Brahman is since, being a child, he needs to see things to believe them. The father instructs the boy to put some salt in a glass of water. The next day the father asked the boy if he could still see the salt. The boy responded no, so the father asked him to taste the water. The boy responded that the water was salty, and thus concluded that the salt was still in the water, he just could no longer see it. In order to achieve Brahman or ultimate reality, you have to have faith in something that you cannot see. You have to believe it is present and a driving force in our life.
There are three words used to help describe the meaning of Brahman. The first is “sat” which means reality itself. Pure consciousness is described by the word “chit” and the word “ananda” is used to describe bliss. The three words and their meanings combine to explain the term Brahman or ultimate reality as the understanding of reality using full consciousness and bring bliss. By experiencing Brahman in this sense you are relieved of everyday suffering and the fear of death and free to experience life in a timeless way.
The Upanishads also present the concept of Atman. The early