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Hinduism

A sadhu, a Hindu wandering holy man, in Kathmandu, Nepal. He wears his hair in long dreadlocks, and has a twisted beard and...Read More >>A sadhu, a Hindu wandering holy man, in Kathmandu, Nepal. He wears his hair in long dreadlocks, and has a twisted beard and forehead markings. His tiffin box (metal container for food) is next to him. A sadhu (meaning "good man") is solely dedicated to achieving moksha through meditation. Widely respected for their holiness, there are 4–5 million sadhus in India today. Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world. It has its roots in India about 6000 years ago. Hindus believe in a set of ideas called the dharma, meaning the truth, virtue, morality and duty. Every living thing—in both animal and human form—has a soul, called the atman, that is reborn many times in an endless cycle of life, death and rebirth called samsara. The actions (karma) of people in this life will decide their fate in the next. Good actions lead to a better life next time, but bad actions lead to a life of suffering. Very bad actions can result in a person being reborn not as a human being at all, but as an animal or insect. A person who eventually achieves perfect mental peace and unselfishness will be released from the cycle of rebirth and attain moksha ("freedom"). What prevents most people from doing this, however, is their failure to replace their ignorance with wisdom. Hinduism today is the main religion of India, Nepal, Mauritius and the Indonesian island of Bali.



The Trimurti: from left to right, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva

Hindu gods and goddesses

Hindus believe that there is one supreme being, Brahman, who appears in the shape of many different gods and goddesses. Brahman stands for unchanging reality, which, Hindus believe exists beyond a world of ever-changing appearances, or maya, meaning “illusion”.

One of the oldest Hindu temples in India, and one of the oldest functioning temples in the world, is the Mundeshwari Devi Temple, in Bihar, India. It was constructed in about  AD 105.

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