Hindu beliefs and practices
Categorizing the religion of Hinduism is somewhat confusing:
Hinduism has commonly been viewed in the west as a polytheistic religion - one which worships multiple deities: gods and goddesses. Some have viewed it as a monotheistic religion, because it recognizes only one supreme God: the panentheistic principle of Brahman, that all reality is a unity. The entire universe is seen as one divine entity who is simultaneously at one with the universe and who transcends it as well.
view Hinduism as Trinitarian because Brahman is simultaneously visualized
as a triad:
Strictly speaking, Hinduism is a henotheistic religion - a religion which recognizes a single deity, but which recognizes other gods and goddesses as facets or manifestations or aspects of that supreme God.
Most urban Hindus follow one of two major divisions within Hinduism:
It is called samsara. Karma is the accumulated sum of ones good and bad deeds. Karma determines how you will live your next life. Through pure acts, thoughts and devotion, one can be reborn at a higher level. Eventually, one can escape samsara and achieve enlightenment.
Bad deeds can cause a person to be reborn as a lower level, or even as an animal. The unequal distribution of wealth, prestige, suffering are thus seen as natural consequences for one's previous acts, both in this life and in previous lives.
Hindus organize their lives around certain activities or "purusharthas." These are called the "four aims of Hinduism," or "the doctrine of the fourfold end of life."
The three goals of the "pravritti," those who are in the world, are:
The main goal for the "nivritti," those who renounce the world, is:
Meditation is often practiced, with Yoga being the most common. Other activities include daily devotions, public rituals, and puja, a ceremonial dinner for a God.
Hinduism has a deserved reputation of being highly tolerant of other religions. Hindus have a saying: "Ekam Sataha Vipraha Bahudha Vadanti," which may be translated: "The truth is One, but different Sages call it by Different Names"