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  • Hinduism, the religion of over a billion people, is the world's oldest religion and probably the most confusing one to non-Hindus.

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  • Some say it isn't even a religion, more a way of life.

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  • Hindus themselves call it the "Sanātana Dharma," the eternal tradition.

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  • So what is Hinduism, does YOLO apply to them, and who is this elephant guy?

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  • Well, let's find out.

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  • Hinduism is the world's oldest active religion.

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  • It's the result of the merging of the ancient Indus Valley civilsation and the nomads that came into India around 1500 BC.

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  • Some scholars say it could even go back many more thousands of years.

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  • But we won't delve too deep into dates, because dates in Hinduism are very controversial.

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  • But one thing is certainHinduism is old, like, at least, 36 Betty White's.

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  • Hinduism has been around so long that it and the concept of India itself are inseparable.

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  • Hindu and India even come from the same word.

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  • Sanskrit was the ancient language of the Hindus, and the Sanskrit name for the Indus River is Sindhu.

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  • The Ancient Persians who sat across the Indus tended to switch S's to H's.

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  • So, Sindhu became Hindu.

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  • So the people the living across the river became Hindus.

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  • The Persians told the Greeks who dropped that not-very-Greek-like H, stuck a very Greek-like "ia" to the end and boom, India.

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  • Hinduism has a long long history.

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  • But today, we'll be focusing just on the core beliefs of Hindus, because I don't have the willpower to animate a 3-hour long video.

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  • Hindus are a diverse group.

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  • Some are strict, dedicating their lives to prayer, while others don't believe in any gods but still follow Hindu philosophy.

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  • To make things easier to understand, let's break Hinduism down into 7 core beliefs.

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  • So here's my rap about the 7 Hindu beliefs.

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  • You promised you weren't gonna do the rap, come on, you're better than this man.

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  • Fine, here's the regular version, then.

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  • 1. Belief in one universal soul: Hindus believe in a Universal Soul known as "Brahman."

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  • A formless, genderless source of all reality.

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  • "Brahman" is the universe and the material that makes up the universe.

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  • It's a trippy concept.

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  • But, think of Brahman as an ocean and everything else as drops propelling out of that ocean.

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  • Separate for a time, but still the same thing, that makes sense.

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  • 2. Belief in an immortal individual soul.

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  • In Hinduism souls are known as "atman."

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  • Actions of the soul, while in a body, have effects on that soul's next life.

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  • When you die, your soul moves to another new body.

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  • This is called transmigration.

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  • The kind of body the soul inhabits next is determined by karma.

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  • 3. Belief in karma.

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  • Karma is action, usually good or bad actions that affect society.

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  • For Hindus karmic actions in the past affect us today, and our actions today affect our soul's future.

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  • 4. Belief in 'Moksha.

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  • The goal in Hindu life is to somehow get back to Brahman.

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  • If a Hindu can do this, they'll be freed from the cycle of life and death.

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  • This is called "moksha."

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  • You can achieve moksha by realising your oneness with Brahman.

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  • How you realise this is up to you.

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  • For this reason, Hindus pray, "Lead me from the unreal to the real."

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  • 5. Belief in the "Vedas."

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  • The "Vedas" are Hindu sacred books of knowledge.

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  • There are four "Vedas."

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  • Hindus believe that all four were divinely revealed to ancient Hindu sages.

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  • We'll take a closer look at the "Vedas" in a while.

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  • 6. Belief in cyclical time.

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  • For Hindus, there are no beginnings or endings.

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  • Time is a series of cycles.

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  • Each cycle containing 4 ages or "yugas."

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  • There's the "Krita, Treta, Dwapara," and the "Kali."

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  • Added together, the 4 yugas total about 4.32 million years.

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  • At the end of each cycle, declining human morality leads to the total destruction of reality.

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  • Hindus believe that we are in the fourth and final yuga, "Kali."

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  • 7. Belief in "dharma."

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  • Dharma is a difficult word to translate to English.

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  • "Proper behavior," is the best I could come up with.

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  • Dharma maintains balance in the universe.

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  • As long as everything in the universe, like animals, plants, and humans, follow their dharma, then everything will be fine.

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  • If they break from the dharma though, things will be super not fine.

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  • Each being has its own dharma.

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  • A lion's dharma is to kill and eat antelope.

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  • A king's dharma is to rule well.

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  • A subscriber's dharma is to smash the like button and ring the notification bell.

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  • For humans, their specific dharma is usually based on their age and their caste.

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  • An old priest will have a very different dharma than a young merchant, for example.

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  • So those are the 7 core beliefs of Hinduism.

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  • With them, you can understand the Hindu mindset.

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  • Unlike Christianity or Islam, Hinduism is a non-prophet organisation. There is no Jesus

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  • or Mohammed for Hindus. There is no Bible, Koran, or Torah. Instead, they have a bunch

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  • and I mean a bunch of different sacred texts.

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  • The 4 "Vedas" form the basis of the Hindu faith. So let's take a look at them.

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  • 1. The "Rig Veda"

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  • The "Rig Veda" is a collection of songs that praise and discuss ideas like truth,

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  • reality, and the universe. Along with discussion on war, weddings, and rituals.

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  • 2. The "Yajur Veda"

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  • The "Yajur Veda" covers stuff such sacrificial rites and rituals.

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  • 3. The "Sama Veda"

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  • 'Sama' literally meanssweet song that destroys sorrow.” It is mostly songs dedicated to

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  • praising gods. It's different than the rest of the "Vedas" because it is set to music.

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  • 4. The "Atharva Veda"

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  • The "Atharva Veda" is my favourite one! Do you wanna curse your enemies or charm that

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  • special someone? Maybe learn to invoke rain or discover herbal medicine along with tips

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  • on warfare? Like how to make poison arrows! Well, this "Veda" has you covered.

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  • Along with a bunch of other charms and curses. It even has a curse against cursers: "Avoid us,

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  • oh curse, as a burning fire avoids a lake! Strike him here that curses us, as the lightning

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  • of heaven the tree!"

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  • A link to the "Atharva Veda" is in the description, just in case you need a spell get a wife or

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  • another to banish pigeons from your presence. It's great.

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  • After the "Vedas" come the "Upanishads," which are like a sequel that makes the original

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  • make much more sense. They were probably written down between 800 BC and 500 BC. During a time

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  • when some Hindus started to question the "Vedas." Their ideas became the "Upanishads."

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  • The "Upanishads" are books on philosophy. Like we would expect from Plato or Aristotle.

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  • They're all about questioning, doubt, debate, and finding the answers to life's difficult

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  • questions.

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  • A theme in the "Uphanishads" is that people are not their minds or bodies or egos, but

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  • their 'atman.' Your soul is you. Everything else is unreal and temporary.

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  • After the holy texts, like the "Vedas" and the "Upanishads" are other less divine but still important

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  • texts. These include the stuff like the "Puranas," the "Bhagavad Gita," and the "Ramayana and Mahabharata."

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  • The "Puranas" are like encyclopedias of Hindu beliefs.

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  • There are 18 well-known "Puranas." The "Puranas" cover things from yoga, to army organisation,

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  • to taxation, to the caste system, to hell, gods, and everything in between.

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  • The "Bhagavad Gita," Gita for short, is one of Hinduism most important texts.

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  • The Gita takes place on a battlefield where Arjuna, a great warrior, refuses to fight. Lord

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  • Krishna steps in to urge Arjuna to fight and their discussion covers things such as 'dharma'

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  • and how to live your best life.

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  • Arjuna eventually fought after Lord Krishna taught him the truth about 'dharma.' As a member

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  • of the warrior caste, Arjuna's 'dharma' was to fight against evil. The lesson of the Gita

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  • is that everyone faces difficult choices ,but they must act on them according to their 'dharma.'

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  • No matter how unpleasant.

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  • Along with all these philosophical texts, Hinduism also has two action-packed epics.

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  • The "Ramayana" and the "Mahabharata"

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  • The "Ramayana," the earlier of the two texts, tells the story of Prince Rama. In the epic, you

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  • find out about his 14-year-long exile, the abduction his wife Sita, his battle with the evil demon Ravana,

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  • and his awesome monkey sidekick Hanuman.

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  • The second epic, the "Mahabharata" is the longest poem in the world. Five times the length of the

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  • Bible and 8 times the length of the "Iliad" and "Odyssey" combined. It rivals any soap opera

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  • you've ever seen when it comes to drama. Murder, betrayal, love, love-murder, and giant battles.

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  • The "Mahabharata" has it all.

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  • The theme running throughout the "Ramayana" and the "Mahabharata" is that 'dharma' must be followed

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  • for society to function.

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  • In Hinduism, there 4 goals a person should aim for to have a good life. The first of

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  • these is 'dharma.' Followed by 'artha,' the pursuit of prosperity and good reputation. 'Kama,' pleasure

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  • both in body and in mind. And 'moksha' the release from the cycles of rebirth. Hindus should practice

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  • 'artha' and 'kama' with 'dharma' in order to attain 'moksha.'

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  • There are also 6 temptations Hindus should try and avoid.

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  • 'Kama:' Lust and materialism. This kama is different from the good 'kama' mentioned above.

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  • Next is 'krodha,' which is anger;

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  • 'Lobha,' which is greed;

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  • 'Moha,' which is unrealistic attachment to things, people, and power;

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  • 'mada,' which is pride and

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  • 'matsarya' which is jealousy.

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  • By following their 'dharma' and avoiding these 6 temptations a Hindu can break the cycle

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  • of rebirth and have their soul merge back into Brahman.

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  • But even though everything comes from Brahman, who is the One real thing in Hinduism, Hindus

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  • do have thousands of gods. So let's take a look at them.

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  • First, there's Brahma, the creator. He created everything in the universe, but he is not the universe

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  • itself. Because that's Brahman. They aren't the same thing. That last letter changes a

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  • lot, apparently.

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  • He has 4 heads. The heads face each of the four directions, to represent the four

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  • "Vedas," which he created and the 4 'yugas.' He also holds a book, which represents knowledge.

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  • Oh, and he rides a giant swan, because he's just fancy.

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  • His consort is Saraswati, the goddess of learning.

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  • Vishnu, the preserver, is the second member of the Hindu Trinity. He preserves the world

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  • created by Brahma until it is eventually destroyed by Shiva. He holds a discus, which he uses to

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  • cut down anyone that's tries to mess with his 'dharma.' Along with a conch, which symbolizes

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  • victory and the 5 elements. Vishnu has many many avatars, such as Krishna or Rama, who

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  • he uses to defend 'dharma' on Earth.

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  • Oh, and he rides a giant eagle named Garuda.

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  • Vishnu has 2 consorts: the goddesses Lakshmi and Bhu Devi. Bhu Devi is the earth goddess

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  • and Lakshmi is the goddess of good fortune and wealth.

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  • Next, is Shiva, the Destroyer, the third member of the Hindu Trinity. It's his job to destroy

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  • the universe in order to prepare for its renewal at the end of each cycle of time.

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  • The most identifiable of his features is his third eye, which he almost always keeps closed.

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  • If de does open and you're in front of him, then you will have you face melted off.

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  • When not unmaking existence, Shiva enjoys long walks with his bull named Nandi.

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  • At the end of the Kali Yuga, the fourth age of the world, Shiva will perform a dance that

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  • destroys the universe, which is odd because people have told me that my dance moves make them wish the world

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  • would end, so me and Shiva have quite a lot in common.

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  • Parvati and Sati are Shiva's consorts.

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  • Shiva also has 2 sons: Ganesha and Murugan. Ganesha is worshipped as the remover of obstacles

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  • and Murugan is the god of war.

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  • Ganesha holds a special place in the hearts of Hindus, due to him being the remover of

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  • obstacles. The elephant head is the most obvious clue to identifying him. He was actually born with

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  • a human head, but after Shiva cut that one off, he kind of had to make due with an elephant one.

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  • If you're Christian or Muslim you're aware that your religion has a bunch of different

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  • denominations, like Catholics or Protestants, Sunni and Shia. Hinduism has these too.

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  • Hindus developed 4 major denominations, some of which have their own subdivisions.

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  • The Vaishnavas primarily worship Vishnu and Shaivas primarily worship Shiva and his sons.

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  • Smartas follow sacred texts, like the "Puranas," the "Ramayana," and the "Mahabharata," rather than

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  • the "Vedas." They worship 5 gods and goddesses: Ganesha, Durga, Surya, Shiva, and a preferred

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  • avatar of Vishnu.

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  • Finally, Shaktas worship the goddess, Devi.

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  • Shaktas see Devi as the ultimate and eternal reality. Like a feminine Brahman.

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  • Even though there are all these variations and more, the core beliefs of Hindus remain mostly the

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  • same.

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  • Hindus believe that 'dharma' keeps the balance in the universe. If the scales between good

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  • and evil start tipping towards evil, then something needs to intervene to fix the universe's 'dharma.'

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  • This divine intervention is known as an avatar.

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  • The literal meaning of the word avatar isdescent.” Avatars are gods that descend

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  • to Earth to intervene whenever help is needed to restore 'dharma.'

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  • For example, when the Earth was dragged underneath the ocean, Vishnu descended to Earth as the

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  • avatar Varaha, a boar, and dragged the Earth back out.

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  • In other cases, Vishnu was born on Earth as an avatar, like Rama or Krishna, where he

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  • spent his avatar's life fixing 'dharma.'

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  • So⁠—the caste system. If you know only one thing about Hinduism, this is probably

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  • it. People see it as an oppressive system that locks people in place based on their

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  • birth and for a huge part of history that's what it's been, unfortunately.

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  • Let's do a quick explanation of what the caste system is. In Hinduism there are 4 castes

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  • or classes that you can be born into.

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  • There's the Brahmin, the Priests,

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  • the Kshatriyas, the warriors,

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  • the Vaishyas, the traders,

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  • and the Shudras, the manual labourers.

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  • The main basis for the caste system can be found in the "Bhagavad Gita" and the "Rig Veda." Krishna

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  • says in the Gita, "I have created a fourfold system in order to distinguish among one's

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  • qualities and functions."

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  • The "Rig Veda" also refers to the 4 castes. It says humans were created from parts of

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  • the god Purusha. The Brahmin from his face, the Kshatriya his arms, the Vaishya his thighs,

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  • and the Shudra his feet.

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  • This system was supposed to assign people functions based on their abilities, not their birth.

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  • If someone had the qualities of a Brahmin or Vaishya they could fill those roles.

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  • The Gita didn't restrict movement among castes and the caste system functioned as intended

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  • for a while. Until a document known as "The Laws of Manucame about around the

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  • 5th century BC. Popularly referred to as the "Manu Smrti," they created hard rules for Hindu life.

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  • Two rules presented in it contributed to the way the caste system turned out.

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  • "Manu" states that the Brahmin were the lords of all castes.

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  • and he forbid moving among the castes. The caste you were born into was now the caste you're

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  • stuck in.

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  • If you give humans a hierarchy, they'll exploit it and things go sour pretty quickly.

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  • As time passed, Hindus began thinking in terms of upper and lower castes. Soon cleaning toilets,

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  • tanning leather, and dealing with meat products were thought to beimpure.” The people

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  • doing those jobs became untouchables, the lowest of the low, a people without caste.

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