Samsara: The Cycle of Lives
All Hindus believe that the individual soul exists in a cycle of birth into a body, followed by death and then rebirth. The quality of the next life depends on the soul's Karma-the goodness or badness of their deeds in this life.
.Hinduism is about the sort of life one should lead in order to be born into a better life next time and eventually become free from rebirth altogether by attaining Moksha (liberation)
So when someone dies, their soul is reborn into a new body (although not necessarily a human body). The cycle is called Samsara. The process of the soul being reborn into a new body is called Reincarnation.
The ultimate aim of the soul is to be freed from this cyc
le. The quality of a life that the soul is born into depends on the previous life.
Whether one is reborn into a better life, a worse life, or even to live as an animal., depends on Karma, which is the value of a soul's good and bad deeds.
Belief in god:
God or gods?
Contrary to popular understanding, Hindus recognise one God, Brahman, the eternal origin who is the cause and foundation of all existence.
The gods of the Hindu faith represent different expressions of Brahman.
Different Hindu communities may have their own divinities whom they worship, but these are simply different ways of approaching the Ultimate.
Hindus recognise three principal gods:
Brahma, who creates the universe
Vishnu, who preserves the universe
Shiva (right), who destroys the universe.
Brahma is the Creator. However, Brahma is not worshipped in the same way as other gods because it is believed that his work — that of creation — has been done.
Hindus worship other expressions of Brahman (not Brahma), which take a variety of forms.Hindus are often classified into three groups according to which form of Brahman they worship:
--Those who worship Vishnu (the preserver) and Vishnu‘s important incarnations Rama, Krishna and Narasimha;
--Those who worship Shiva (the destroyer)
-- Those who worship the Mother Goddess, Shakti, also called Parvati, Mahalakshmi, Durga or Kali.
Vishnu, the preserver is believed to be linked to a very early sun god and is considered by his worshippers to be the greatest among the gods. He is also referred to as Narayana.
Vishnu preserves and protects the universe and has appeared on the earth through his avatars (incarnations) to save humankind from natural disasters or from tyranny.
The most well-known avatars are Rama (see Ramayana), Krishna, who destroyed the wicked and established a new order, Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, and Kalki.
Vishnu is represented in sculpture and painting in human form, often painted blue. Lakshmi is the consort of Vishnu who has appeared as the wife of each of Vishnu’s incarnations including Sita, wife of Prince Rama, and Rukmini, wife of Krishna. She is the goddess of wealth and good fortune who is offered special worship during the Divali festival.
The god Shiva is part of the Hindu Trinity, along with Vishnu and Brahma.He is considered to be everything by those who worship him: creator, preserver and destroyer. In Shiva, the opposites meet. Shiva the destroyer is a necessary part of the trinity because, without destruction, there can be no recreation.
His city is Varanasi, and any Hindu who dies there is believed to go straight to heaven. Shiva is the source of both good and evil who combines many contradictory elements.
Shiva has many consorts including Kali, often portrayed as wild and violent, Parvati, reknowned for her gentleness, and Durga, a powerful goddess created from the combined forces of the anger of several gods.
Mahadevi, and other Vedic Gods
The Great Goddess (Mahadevi)
The great Goddess appears as a consort of the principal male gods and encompasses the thousands of local goddesses or matas. These can be both beautiful and benign, like Lakshmi, or all-powerful destructive forces like Kali.
Shakti is contrasted with Shiva, whose masculine consciousness is powerless without the creative female energy.
Other Vedic gods
Indra, the god of storms was once the Vedic king of all gods but has, over time, lost some influence.
-- Indra's main function is in leading the warriors (see caste system).
-- Indra fights not only human enemies, but also demons.
Agni is the Vedic god of fire and is one of the supreme gods of the Rig Veda.
-- Agni is believed to take the offerings to the other world through fire.
-- Agni is represented by the ram.
Varuna is the third Vedic god whose influence persists today.
-- Varuna presides over the orderliness of the universe.
--Varuna rules over the night sky.
-- Varuna is believed to know everything.