word, it would be ahimsa, nonviolenceto do no harm to any creature.
Mahatma Gandhi is perhaps the best known follower of Jainism and gained
worldwide attention by his practice of nonviolence. Guru Nanak founded
Sikhism (1469-1538). Sikhism combines Hindu and Islamic beliefs. Almost
all of the branches of Hinduism have kept the belief in the doctrine of Karma
and reincarnation of the soul.
In spite of the large number of branches, Hinduism has remained a vital
religion. It has been able to absorb the essential and lasting values of most of
its branches and reform its own thoughts and practices.
Most Hindu branches have an international spiritual leader. Some are
managed by a Board of Directors while others have no national or interna-
tional managerial body or organization.
Each local Hindu temple is self-sufficient and has its own spiritual leader.
The leaders are called ministers or mahatmas.
Congregational worship is almost nonexistent in Hinduism although it
has been introduced in some Hindu reform groups. Religious activity is
chiefly centered in the home. Every orthodox Hindu home usually has at
least one sacred image, picture, or emblem before which worship (puja) is
conducted by praying, singing hymns, offering flowers, and burning incense.
Hindu temples are considered to be primarily the place to house and
honor the Hindu god. Hindus visit the temple either alone or in small family
groups to revere the Deity and then depart.
Although regular worship ceremonies (pujas) are performed by trained
ministers or mahatmas at intervals throughout the day within Hindu temples,
no real parallels exist between these services and those more formal worship
services generally seen within Western religious faith traditions.
The daily meditation may be conducted in any private, quiet room. The
nightly satong (spiritual discourse or service) may be held in the temple or in
Equipment for Worship
Some branches of Hinduism use sacred beaded necklaces. Pilgrims and
visitors to Hindu temples often assume the so-called caste mark. This symbol
(telak), painted upon the wearers forehead, indicates the persons sectarian
affiliation within Hinduism. Two of the notable caste markings may be seen
in figure 2-18.
BASIC BELIEFS OR TEACHINGS
Hinduism teaches that Brahma is the Supreme World-Soul, or Spirit, the
one absolute, infinite eternal being; however, the Hindus worship hundreds
of divinities or divine aspects (gods) as stepping stones to an understanding
of Brahma, Hindus hold the belief that all of the Hindu divinities or gods are
only different aspects of the one Brahma.