Hinduism has been practiced since before history was recorded. The stories were first oratory and eventually written in Sanskrit, which now have been translated into several languages. The list of sacred texts is long and includes the Vedas: Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, Atharva Veda, Upanishads, Puranas and Bhagavad Gita as some of the better known.
Hindu’s believe in reincarnation and cause and effect. This means that for every action there is a reaction. An individual is responsible for their behavior or actions and builds Karma (deeds, acts), that will follow into their next life. The cycles of life and death result from a lack of knowledge of our true self and our desire for fulfillment through the world outside ourselves. The goals are to realize our union with the supreme, to acknowledge that this world is made of illusion and therefore gain freedom from the cycle of rebirth.
Because all creation is a form of the supreme being, we are all connected and united by the divine. Because of this belief, diversity is accepted including that which Westerners would consider oddities or deformities. An example of this practice is while I was in India, I read about a little boy who was born with a tail bone that was four inches longer than what is considered normal. The news article reported how this three year old was looked upon as an incarnation of Hanuman and how his family took him to various temples so people could see him.
Hindu’s are known for having several Gods and Goddesses. They believe that there is only one supreme deity and these gods are manifestations of his various attributes. Some of the better known are Brahman, Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesha, Krishna, Laskhmi, Hanuman, shakti, Durga, Devi, Kali and Rama. Brahma is viewed as the creator, Shiva as the destroyer with Vishnu the preserver. The Atharva Veda says, “Great indeed are the Gods who have sprung out of Brahman.”
One aspect of Hinduism is Vedic astrology which originates from the Rig Veda and is used by many Hindu’s not only as an indicator of auspicious times for endeavors, but also for personal insight and guidance.