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Hinduism – A General Summary of the Religion

The majority of Hinduism is classified as a henotheistic “religion”, honoring only one supreme God while viewing other gods as manifestations of the Supreme God however it has been inaccurately viewed as polytheistic (one that worships multiple deities).  It has also been mistaken as Trinitarian due to the triad visualization of one God with three other entities.  These common misconceptions make classifying Hinduism a bit frustrating nevertheless, it is registered as a henotheistic “religion” which makes it a more tolerant “religion”.  Hinduism is not only a religion it’s a way of life. 

Roughly 80% of Hindus are Vaishnavites with the remaining 20% mixed within various other sects such as Hare Krishna, Theosophy, and Sikhism.  Vaishnavites worship Vishnu, their Supreme God.  Vishnu is known as the preserver of the universe, the essence of all beings, the creator, manipulator, and sustainer of all elements within the universe, and the master of time (past, present, and the future).  Vishnu is described to have the following characteristics and representations:

  • Having four arms.
  • Holding a lotus.
  • The Chakra
  • Mace
  • Shankha or Shankh is a conch shell that symbolizes water and female fertility.  The shell is of great significance in both the Hindu and Buddha traditions and is found in the Indian Ocean.

Vishnu has the following characteristics:

  • Omniscience – The ability to know and see all that exists.
  • Shakti – simply put, it’s the ability or power to make anything possible.  What was once impossible can now be easily possible for Vishnu.
  • Bala – Enormous strength and the ability to perform any task without effort.
  • Aishvarya – The sole and unchallenged ruler of all.
  • Virya – A strong man, manliness – in Vedic literature (ancient Indian texts) it refers to heroism.
  • Tejas – Male energy and splendor.

Vishnu, the one Supreme God is known to assume five forms according to the Sri Vaishnavism School.  In Sanskrit the literal meaning of Sri Vaishnavism…

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