Death and Rebirth Gods
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A History of the Hindus (back to top)
In 1922 workmen digging in a hill called The Mound of the Dead on the Indus River in Pakistan uncovered the remains of a remarkable city proved to be over 5,000 years old. This was a well-built city constructed by a highly civilized people not known to history until this amazing discovery.
After digging further, it was discovered that the people of Mohenjo-Daro (the name of the mound where the city was found) had a written language. In itself, this was shocking. The Egyptians along the Nile and the Summerians of Mesopotamia (Iraq) were believed to have started writing. It seemed now that a very different type of writing developed at the same time as the other two forms. Even though the Summerian wedge shaped writing and Egyptian picture writing have been translated, the Mohenjo-Daro writing remains a mystery.
Why did these people leave their home and spread over Europe? No one knows. One branch moved into Iran and became ancestors of the Persians and in 1,500 B. C. another came through Afghanistan and then into the north of present day Pakistan. Historians believe that these people ruined Mohenjo-Daro and the survivors fled south to be the dark-skinned Dravidian Indians of today.
The invaders settled along the Indus River and called themselves Aryas, which means nobles. Close Persians called them, however, Hindhus, meaning people of the Indus. We got our word "India" from the Greeks who later invaded this land. They left out the hard "h" sound and in their tongue in was "Indic".
In time, the Aryas settled twelve small kingdoms along the Ganges River plain in northern India. The Aryas were ancestors of the present day Hindus.
Death and Rebirth (back to top)
Most Hindus believe that
when you die your spirit is reborn into another body, either an animal
or human being. What you are reborn into depends on the record
of your actions in your previous life. This record is called karma.
If you live a good life you will have a better rebirth.
Hinduism is a religion full of life color and emotion. Death is but a turning of the endless wheel of life. The biggest event in life for Hindus is when a Hindu is about to die he/she has many thoughts. The first thought is to travel, if possible, to the holy city of Benares. They believe that if they bathe in the sacred river of Ganges they will be freed of their sins. Whenever a person has died, his friends and family burn him and if their is a river near by they dump his ashes in the river. The body of the holiest man of all men need not be burned. Instead of burning him they dump him in the water with rocks around him. Then his friends and family sing hyms and blow on shells made into instruments.
Gods (back to top)
The Spirit of Hinduism (back to top)
Thousands of years ago, before Christ, Buddha, or Moses had lived, sages stood on India's river banks and sang. Hindus say their songs were inspired "by the breath of God".
Out of these chants, there were more than 15,000 stanzas in the earliest collection, known as the Rig Veda. Out of the wisdom and the spirituality of sages since, has grown the religion known as Hinduism. More than 300 million people practice this religion in India, and of about 15 million more elsewhere. It has influenced thoughtful men of many lands through the centuries, yet Hinduism has remained very much a puzzle to the West.
Its contradictions make it pretty puzzling. Its one God, Brahman, is the eternal spirit, but it also has 330 million gods so that every family can have a favorite to honor at its household shrine. Some Hindus, however, look upon all these as separate gods, but both modern philosophers and ancient Hindu sages say they are only the infinite aspects of the one Brahman.
The ancient Hindu sages had pondered the fact that all things disappear and were shocked by the eternal recurrence of life like the caterpillar. From caterpillar to butterfly, from butterfly to death, and after death more caterpillars. The sages agreed that every individual little bit of life must be born over and over again, even a human soul or self. Hindus believe that one begins at a low form of life and after every death is borne again into another life. Depending on behavior, one may be borne into a higher life form or a lower life form.
Hinduism's sublime objective is to leave the harsh, material world and be united with God. This goal is reached through prayers, ritual, and the ideals of Hindu living: self-control, detachment, purity, truth, charity, nonviolence and the deepest compassion toward all creatures.
Waiting at the end of
this path is the universal God, Brahman of whom the old scriptures (the
Upanishads) say: "Thou art woman. Thou art man. Thou art the dark-blue
bee and the green [parrot] with red eyes. Thou hast the lightning as a
child. Thou art the seasons and the seas. Thou dost abide with all-pervadingness,
Where from all things are "born."