Hinduism is a religion older than recorded history itself, which in turn means that it has no known human founder. Hinduism is a mystical religion that directs its followers to living along a path of positive choices beneficial to the world as a whole, and thereupon finally reaching that existential state in which God and Man become one. Hinduism has four main denominations--Saivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism and Smartism.
According to Hinduism, our beliefs determine our thoughts and actions, which in turn determine how we lead our lives. One’s destiny is created by the actions he takes – it is not a predetermined timeline one must comply with. Beliefs in the importance of terrestrial actions are very important in Hindiusm, yet more important are the beliefs one has of celestial happenings. Hindus believe a great many things, yet the bedrock of all Hindu sects relies in a few simple yet profound beliefs. The following nine beliefs, though certainly not explained in the extent that they should be, provide a basic understanding of the pillars of Hinduism.
1. Hindus believe in a single, all-powerful and omni-present Deity, who is both a creator and a external force that drives the universe as we know it.
2. Hindu Scripture relies on the premise that the Four Vedas are sacred. These are the world's most ancient scripture, and therein state that the Agamas are equally sacred. These books are a conglomeration of ancient hymns meant to exude religious fervor and instill earthly harmony.
3. Hindus believe that the earth is continuous in a cycle of birth, longevity, and death, and the cycle is representative of all life in the universe.
4. Perhaps one of the most culturally acknowledge beliefs of Hindus is the belief in Karma, the state of one’s inner being affected by the good or bad actions we choose to execute.
5. Hindus believe that the soul itself will be reincarnated, once again representative of all life, until the Karma has been resolved, and Moksha, the freedom from the continuous cycle of death and rebirth, will be ended in the blissful existence of harmony with all that was, is, and will be. All souls continue in the cycle of death and rebirth until Moksha has been attained.
6. Hindus believe that divine beings live and thrive in the celestial world, though man may not see them. This belied has lead to the development of many dieties and a hierarchy of gods that dwell in both the heavens and the earth.
7. Hindus believe that the only way to realize the Transcendent Absolute is to have an enlightened master, or satguru. The satguru is also the only path to achieving personal discipline, good conduct, purification, pilgrimage, self-inquiry, meditation and surrender in God.
8. Hindus believe that all life is sacred, leading many to belief in the practice of non-inury towards all living things, in words, actions, and deeds.
9. Hindus believe that no earthy religion teaches its followers the exclusive way to salvation, Moksha, but that all religions are different paths all leading to the same end in God.
While this may seem a harder concept to view in modern culture, the belief that good things come to those who are good to others is directly derived from Hinduism. In fact, many people openly, if not intentionally, state that when something bad happens, it might have been due to bad karma, or evil actions earlier partaken in.
Since this is perhaps the oldest religion on the planet, many religions that are based in both Mono and poly theistic religions base their central ideas around the underlying themes in Hinduism.
The cycle of death and rebirth is seen in modern culture all the time, even in what has become known as the circle of life. While life taken from on thing may mean its death, this also means life given to another, a concept so beautiful that even Disney movies have incorporated them into their films, such as The Lion King.
The entire premise behind one of the most celebrated animated shows ever, Avatar: The Last Airbender, is that the Avatar must bring balance and enlightenment to the world in each of his recurring lives. The Avatar's cycle of life and death is representative of the way the world of the show works: life gives way to life - in this there is enlightenment.
Hinduism may not be for everyone, but the basic idea of Karma relates to people of all walks of life. Even as it says in the bible, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”