This course has helped me greatly by increasing my knowledge and understanding of various religions and religious practices on earth. I have realized that there are very many religious groups on earth and all the people have a religion in which they can identify themselves. The world has a population of more than 1 billion people of whom they have a supernatural being whom they worship. I have also realized that some communities can a lot of respect to their ancestors whom they believed were close to their gods. In addition, I have realized that some communities observed witchcraft, which was a religious practice before the introduction of modern religious such as Christianity, Muslim, and Hinduism. There are more than 500 religious groups on earth including the traditional religions. This article is a personal reflection of the religion, which I was least familiar with before I undertook this course.
Before I took this course, I was not familiar with a many religions, mostly Hinduism. I have learnt that Hinduism is one of the main religions on earth and is practiced in many countries on earth. It is the main religion of the Indian subcontinent and makes up one of the indigenous religions in the continent. I have learnt that Hinduism includes many traditions observed by the people of India such as Shaivism, Vaishnavism, and Srauta among others. I have also realized that Hinduism includes a variety of spectrums and laws, and philosophies of the everyday moral practices which are based on the karma, dharma, the norms observed by the society. I have also realized that this religion is a conglomerate of different knowledge or logical points of view from the society, and not my earlier understanding that Hinduism is a rigid set of beliefs within the society. I have also realized that this religion is a made up of many traditions and does not claim to have a single founder as compared to Christianity and Islam where they claim to have Jesus and Mohammed respectively as their founders. Unlike Christianity and Islam, Hinduism can trace its history in the Iron Age in India. Thus, it is referred to as the oldest major religion in existence today. I have also realized that Hinduism has several minor categories that view Hinduism differently from the rest of the group. Such categories include folk Hinduism, which is a subcategory of Hinduism and is founded on the indigenous civilizations and cults of the native deities at a communal level (Smith 5). Folk Hinduism can trace its history back to the antediluvian eras or even before the era of the written Vedas. There is also another group of Hinduism, which is known as Srauta, or Vedic. This group practices Hinduism as it was previously practiced by traditionalist Brahmins also known as Srautins. Hinduism has another class of believers known as Vedantic Hinduism. This group practices Hinduism founded on the ethical approach of the Upanishads. One of the examples of this type of Hinduism is Advaita Vedanta also known as Smartism. Yogic Hinduism is another major subcategory of Hinduism and is observed centered on the Yoga Sutras of Pat Anjali. Hinduism can also be classified based on the daily morality of Karma upon which its practices observe communal standards such as Vivaha, which is the traditional Hindu marriage. It is also known as Dharmic Hinduism. Hinduism can also be categorized based on their devotion to religion also known as Bhakti (Smith 5).
Unlike Christianity and Islam, my previous impression of Hinduism was that the religion does not have a unified system of belief that is encoded in any religious declaration of faith or a creed such as that of Christians known as the bible and that of Muslims known as the Quran. Through taking this course, I have realized that Hinduism is an umbrella terminology that is composed of several religious phenomenal that originated and based on the Vedic traditional practices. It is hard to define Hinduism based on the western conceptions such as Hinduism's openness, comprehensive tolerance, and differences in belief. I have also learnt through this course that Hinduism is a traditional way of life and thus has a range of traditions and ideologies observed that are amalgamated inside or enclosed by the religion. I have also learnt that Hinduism is referred to as a religious tradition and not a religion. It is the world's oldest and most diverse religion.
One of the interesting things that I learnt of Hinduism is its concept of beliefs. The religion allows outright and total freedom of faith and worship unlike other religions such as Christianity and Islam. The religion conceives all the inhabitants of the earth as a single unit family, which believe in one truth. This means that the religion assents all forms of beliefs and discerns tags of different religions, which means that it does not accept division of identity. The religion is therefore lacking on the perceptions of apostasy, sacrilege, and profanity.
What I perceive to be Hinduism greatest strength is their concept of God. I have learnt that the religion has a diverse concept of belief that spans across polytheism, monotheism, pantheism, atheism, monism, and others. This implies that in Hinduism, a person is allowed to worship many gods unlike other religions such as Christianity and Islam whereby they are all united under one supreme God.