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Hinduism, Vaishnavaism and Shivaism

Hinduism was founded sometime between 1500 and 500 CE in the are of the Indus valley civilization. There is no individual founder and no names given to say who developed it. They are many gods in the religion of Hinduism. Many Hindu followers believe that one of the gods is the true god, this creates a division in Hinduism, Vaishnavaism and Shivaism. People who follow Vaishnavaism believe that Vishnu is the one true god and people who follow Shivasim believe that Shiva is the one true god. Yet there are many sects that worship both gods. Over eighty percent of Hindu people worship the Lord Vishnu.

One out of six people in the world is a Hindu. Hinduism can be described as a monotheistic or a polytheistic religion depending on the point of view but Hindu people describe themselves as henotheisitic, which is the belief in one god without denying the existence of others. Hindus believe that the soul is immortal and re-enters a body of flesh and blood to resolve experiences and learn all the lessons that the material life has to offer. Hindus also believe in karma. They believe that karma is one of the natural laws of the universe. If you do good things, good things will happen to you.

If you do negative things, negative things will happen to you. Hindus also believe that the cow is sacred. The cow represents their life and all other animals. They also regard the cow as sacred because it gives and gives but only takes grass and grain. Not all of the Hindu people are vegetarian, they are given the freedom to make their own decisions. Hinduism claims over 793,076,000 people, which is 13. 7% of the world’s population. Most of the Hindus are concentrated mainly in India, Sri Lanka and Nepal. The Hindu purpose is basically to learn all that they can from this life so that they can ass their knowledge to the spiritual world.

Taoism The founder of Taoism is Lao-Tse, which lived between 604-531 BCE. Taoism began as a combination of philosophy and psychology but was later turned into a state religion in 440 CE. Lao-Tse was later established as a deity. In 1911, support for Taoism had disappeared and with the communist victory in 1949 there was very little room for religious freedom. Taoism has many sects and groups that have been influenced by Buddhism and Confucianism. Taoism is still practiced in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong although the current government has made attempts to uppress it.

The Taoist beliefs are that there is no god and that Tao is a force that flows. There are no personified beliefs in Taoism and they do not pray to a god. They seek out life’s problems through meditation and observation. Much like Hinduism, time is cyclical. There are five organs of the earth water, fire, wood, metal and earth. Lao-Tse developed “Yin” and “Yang” which are two competing energies found in all things which must be “balanced. ” There are two different denominations of Taoism, Ortodoxes and Spirit Claud Taoists. Ortodoxes are Tao masters and Black Headed Taoists.

They stress the importance of rituals, cosmic renewal, and controlling spirits. Spirit Claud Taoists are Masters of Methods or Headed Taoists they concentrate on meditation, not rituals. There is not a specific number of Taoists in the world. It’s hard to find the exact number of Taoists because at one time a person in China could be a Buddhist, a Taoist and a Confucian. The main concentration of Taoists are in China and Taiwan. Shintoism Shinto was started about 500 CE or earlier. The Shinto people believe in nature deities, Buddha was regarded as one of these deities.

There was a divine couple, Izanagi and Izanami ho gave birth to the Japanese Islands. Their children became the deities of the various Japanese clans. The Sun Goddess is regarded as the chief deity. There are “four affirmations” in Shinto. Tradition and Family, Love of Nature, Physical Cleanliness and Matsuri. Matsuri is a festival that honors the dead. Shinto is divided into three different forms. Jinja, which is the original form of Shinto. The Emperor of Japan was worshipped as a living god. Kyoha, which is further divided into thirteen sects.

Lastly, Folk Shinto is not actually a sect in Shinto but a form seen in local practices and rituals. Once again there is no exact number for the people that practice Shinto because they may also practice Taoism or another religion native to those parts. Judaism The beginnings of Judaism begin around 2000 BCE. God made a covenant with Abraham and made him the patriarch of many nations. There are four other religions that have roots in Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, Islam and he Baha’i World Faith. Moses led the Israelite people out of bondage is Egypt and later Joshua led them into the Promised Land.

The Jewish Scriptures consists of the Torah, the Nevi’im, and the Ketuvim. They also use the Talmud contains stories, laws, medical knowledge and other things. The Jewish beliefs include that God is the creator of all, he is worthy of all praise. God monitors humans and rewards good things and punishes evil. They also believe that they are God’s chosen people. In no way is this meant to say that they are better than any specific group of people but they were chosen to study the Torah and to worship God only. The Jewish people rest on the Sabbath day, which begins at sundown on Friday evening.

They celebrate Passover which to recall the deliverance of the Jews from Egypt. There are three large groups of Judaism in the world today. Conservative Judaism: A group that was created in the nineteenth century to counteract the reform movement. Orthodox Judaism: The oldest, most diverse and most conservative form. They attempt to follow the initial form of Judaism. Reform Judaism: A liberal form in which many North American’s are enrolled. They follow the principled laws of Judaism but they leave it up to personal decision to follow or ignore the original laws. Currently there are about 18 million Jews in the world.

The main concentrations are in Israel and North America. There are about 4. 5 million Jews in Israel and around 7 million residing in North America. Christianity Christianity was “formed” around 15 to 30 BCE. Although some people say that it has existed since Adam and Eve because they were followers of God. Probably the most important figures in the Christian religion are Jesus Christ, the Savior. Most Christians believe in a trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are three separate beings but they form a single unified deity. After the execute of Jesus, the disciples spread across the world and taught Christianity.

Christianity spread to Europe and then to the Americas. Christians believe that Jesus was atoning sacrifice and removed the burden of sin from the world. They also believe that God is the one true god and that Jesus will return to the earth and bring all of his believers to heaven. Christians pray to God for guidance and read the Bible because it is the “handbook” for life. The largest denominations in Christianity are Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Protestant. At one point in time the church was not separated but in 1054 CE the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek

Orthodox Church split because of a dispute over the use of religious icons. The total number of Christians in the world are is than 1,955,229,000. Eighty-seven percent of North Americans identify themselves as Christian. Around 33 percent of the world’s population regards themselves as Christian. Through missionary activity the Christian religion is currently active all over the world. Islam Islam is one of the three major monotheistic religions. It was founded in Arabia by Muhammad between 610 and 632. Muhammad was dubbed the prophet of Allah, the only god. He was considered last in line of prophets they went from Abraham to Jesus.

Islam spread fairly fast, it went from Spain in the west to India in the east only a century after Muhammad’s death. Muslims believe that Muhammad was visited by Jibreel (the angel Gabriel) and given the duty of converting his countrymen from their pagan ways. There are two mains texts that used Qur’an and Hadith. The Qur’an are the words of god and the Hadith are the words of Muhammad. The Muslims have five duties known as the Five Pillars of Islam. The first is to recite the shahadah at least once during their lifetime. Most Muslims say it everyday. The second is to perform the salat, which is prayer, five times a day.

It’s done during the morning, noon, mid-afternoon, after sunset and just before sleeping. The third is to donate through the zakat, which is a 2. 5 percent charity tax. The fourth is to fast during the month of Ramadan. The fifth and final is if physically and financially able, to make one pilgrimage to Mecca. The Muslim’s are strictly monotheistic, there is one true God that is merciful. They believe that Satan drives people to sin and they also believe that Jesus was only a prophet, nothing more. They also believe that Jesus was not executed on the cross and the Christian concept of Jesus is blasphemous.

There are three main types of Muslims. The Sunni Muslims are 90 percent of the Muslim believers and main stream traditionalists. The Shi’ite Muslims split from the Sunnis over a quarrel over Muhammad. They have their own translation of the Qur’an which they enforce. The final group is Sufism they took ideas from Christianity and Buddhism but they are more of a different style rather than a different school. The Muslim religion has about 1,126,325,000 members. They represent about 22 percent of the world’s population and are the econd largest religion. The largest concentrations of Muslims are in Africa and Asia.

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