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Hinduism


He who engages in My pure devotional service, free from the contaminations of fruitive activities and mental speculation, he who works for Me, who makes Me the supreme goal of his life, and who is friendly to every living being - he certainly comes to Me.
-- Bhagavad Gita

Hindu Texts:
Holy Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita (literally: Song of the Lord), composed between the fifth and second centuries BCE, is part of the epic poem of Mahabharata, located in the Bhisma-Parva, chapters 2340, and is revered in Hinduism. It is not limited to followers of the Vaishnava stream, since it is a core text for most yogic and tantric Hindu philosophies. The Gita is considered by most Hindus to be the single most representative sacred text of the faith, and it is the acknowledged source book of Yoga philosophy.
Intro taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhagavad_Gita
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Holy Rig Veda
The Rig Veda (Sanskrit 'praise' + 'knowledge') is the earliest of the four Hindu religious scriptures known as the Vedas. It consists of 1,017 hymns (1,028 including the apocryphal valakhilya hymns 8.49-8.59) composed in Vedic Sanskrit, many of which are intended for various sacrifical rituals). These are contained in 10 books, known as Mandalas. This long collection of short hymns is mostly devoted to the praise of the gods.
Intro taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rigveda
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Holy Atharva Veda
The Atharva Veda is a sacred text of Hinduism, part of the four books of the Vedas. It derives from the Indo-Aryan name Atharvan, a term which is usually taken to mean a fire priest in Vedic Sanskrit. More specfically, the Atharva Veda was mainly composed by two clans of fire priests known as the Bhrigus (also called Atharvans) and Angirasas.
Additionally, it also includes composition of certain other Indo-Aryan clans such as the Kaushikas, Vasishthas and Kashyapas.
Intro taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atharva-Veda
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Holy Sama Veda
The Sama Veda, or Veda of Holy Songs, is third in the usual order of enumeration of the four Vedas, the ancient core Hindu scriptures. The Samaveda ranks next in sanctity and liturgical importance to the Rigveda or Veda of Recited praise. Its Sanhita, or metrical portion, consists chiefly of hymns to be chanted by the Udgatar priests at the performance of those important sacrifices in which the juice of the Soma plant, clarified and mixed with milk and other ingredients, was offered in libation to various deities.
Intro taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sama_Veda
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Holy Yajur Veda
The Yajur Veda is part of the Hindu Vedas; these religious scriptures focus on liturgy and sacerdotalism and are associated with the Brahmanas. There are two primary schools of Yajurveda: shukla and krishna. Shukla yajurveda (vaajasaaniiya) consists of 40 chapters in metrical form. Krishna yajurveda (taittiriiya) has some portions which are in metrical form and some portion in prose forms and some portions contains a mixure of both.
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Holy Upanishads
The Upanishads are part of the Hindu Shruti scriptures which primarily discuss meditation and philosophy and are seen as religious instructions by most schools of Hinduism. The term Upanishad derives from the Sanskrit words upa (near), ni (down) and s(h)ad (to sit) i.e., sitting down near; implying the act of listening to a spiritual teacher. The Upanishads are commentaries on the Vedas, their putative end and essence, and thus known as Vedanta ("End of the Veda").
Intro taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upanishads
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About Hinduism:

Oldest of the world's major religions. It evolved from the Vedic religion of ancient India.

Though the various Hindu sects each rely on their own set of scriptures, they all revere the ancient Vedas, which were brought to India by Aryan invaders after 1200 BC. The philosophical Vedic texts called the Upanishads explored the search for knowledge that would allow mankind to escape the cycle of reincarnation.

Fundamental to Hinduism is the belief in a cosmic principle of ultimate reality called Brahman, and its identity with the individual soul, or atman. All creatures go through a cycle of rebirth, or samsara, which can only be broken by spiritual self-realization, after which liberation, or moksha, is attained. The principle of karma determines a being's status within the cycle of rebirth.

The greatest Hindu deities are Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. The numerous other Hindu gods are mostly viewed as incarnations or epiphanies of the main deities, though some are survivors of the pre-Aryan era. The major sources of classical mythology are the Mahabharata (which includes the Bhagavadgita, the most important religious text of Hinduism), the Ramayana, and the Puranas.

The hierarchical social structure of the caste system is important in Hinduism; it is supported by the principle of dharma. The major branches of Hinduism are Vaishnavism and Shaivism, each of which includes many different sects.

In the 20th century Hinduism has blended with Indian nationalism to become a potent political force.
Taken from http://education.yahoo.com/search/be?p=hinduism
Important Persons:

Krishna

Krishna (Sanskrit for 'black'), is according to common Hindu tradition the eighth avatar of Vishnu. In Gaudiya Vaishnavism he is seen as the Supreme God.

Among his important or celebrated aspects are: The incarnation of the Supreme Being, and the divine Guru, who teaches Arjuna how to take the right action in the Bhagavad Gita. The Gita is a poem which was at some time extracted from the epic Mahabharat and incorporated into the Upanishadic literature ascribed to various ancient sages.
Taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krishna

Rama

Rama (sometimes referred to as Lord Rama and also as Shri Rama) is a Hindu incarnation of God, said to be one of the ten avatars of Vishnu. His life and heroic deeds are related in the Hindu Sanskrit epic the Ramayana.

Rama is the embodiment of the absolute - Brahman. There is debate to whether Shri Rama was aware of his own divinity during his years in human form. One purpose of his incarnation was to carry out leadership by example. He exemplifies the perfect man through his proper conduct regardless of the unfavorableness of circumstance.
Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rama

Shiva

Shiva is a form of Ishvara or God in the later Vedic scriptures of Hinduism. Adi Sankara interprets the name Shiva to mean "One who purifies everyone by the utterance of His name" or the Pure One. That is, Shiva is unaffected by the three gunas (characteristics) of Prakrti (matter): Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas.

In some sects, and widely in the West, Shiva is commonly known as "the destroyer", though this title can be misleading as Shiva appears in a multitude of roles. Additionally, Shiva can also mean, "the Auspicious One." He is often depicted as the husband of Uma or Parvati. In the process of manifestation, Lord Shiva is the primeval consciousness and creates the other members of the trimurti.
Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shiva
Hinduism Symbol:

Om or Aum is of paramount importance in Hinduism. This symbol is a sacred syllable representing Brahman, the impersonal Absolute - omnipotent, omnipresent, and the source of all manifest existence.

Brahman, in itself, is incomprehensible; so a symbol becomes mandatory to help us realize the Unknowable. Om, therefore, represents both the unmanifest (nirguna) and manifest (saguna) aspects of God. That is why it is called Pranava, to mean that it pervades life and runs through our prana or breath.
Taken from http://hinduism.about.com/library/weekly/aa022200.htm




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