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​Hinduism originated in the land of India and is the world's oldest continuing religion. In this set of beliefs self, nature, and society are temporary manifestations of the ultimate reality which believers seek to reach over several lifetimes.

Hinduism supported the caste system in India (that colonial government banished years later but remnants still remain).  Levels in this system included: Brahmins (teachers and priests), Kshartriyas (warriors, nobles, and kings), Vaishyas (farmers, merchants, and businessmen), Shudras (servants and labourers).

How one performed his prescribed duties and identified with the Supreme Being (and/or his many manifestations) affected which level of the caste system he entered in the next life.  Reincarnation, the Law of Cause and Effect, and Karma, key concepts in Hinduism, thus worked hand in hand in maintaining order in society.  Because the soul never dies, there was a way out of the endless cycle of rebirths.  Individuals, therefore, desired and aimed to develop consciousness for freedom by following one of the four paths of righteousness: Jnana yoga -- path of knowledge, Bhakta yoga -- path of love and devotion, Karma yoga -- path of right action or works, & Raja Yoga -- path of meditation (i.e., psychophysical exercises).

The stage of life a person was in such as student, householder, retiree, or Sannyasin (becoming an ascetic) conditioned the process along each path.

The written sources of inspiration include the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Puranas, the Epics, and other texts.  Bhagavad-Gita has been viewed as a summary of the early Vedas and is a part of the Mahabarata Epic

Most homes have a shrine to a particular deity and show their respect as a family regularly.  Temples have been erected to specific deities for communities to honor.​

Sample verses from the Bhagavad-Gita

"The Supreme Personality of Godhead said:  Fearlessness, purification of one's existence, cultivation of spiritual knowledge, charity, sense control, performance of sacrifice, study of the Vedas, austerity, simplicity, nonviolence, truthfulness, freedom from anger, renunciation, peacefulness, aversion to fault-finding, compassion toward every living entity, freedom from greed, gentleness, shyness, determination, vigor, forgiveness, fortitude, cleanliness, and freedom from both envy and the passion for honor--these are the transcendental qualities, born of the godly atmosphere, O son of Bharata." (16:1-3)

"Charity given to a worthy person, in the proper place and time and as a matter of duty, without consideration of the benefit one might derive for oneself, is said to be in the mode of goodness." (17:20)

"But charity performed with the expectation of some return, with a desire for fruitive results, or in a grudging mood, is said to be charity in the mode of passion." (17:21)

"Charity given in an unpurified place, at an unpurified time, to unsuitable persons, without proper attention and without respect is said to be in the mode of darkness." (17:22)

"Thus the transcendentalists undertake sacrifices, charities and penances, beginning always with om, to attain the Supreme." (17:24)

"One should perform sacrifice, penance and charity with the word tat.  The purpose of such transcendental activities is to get free from material entanglement." (17:25)

"The Absolute Truth, the objective of devotional sacrifice, is indicated by the word sat.  These works of sacrifice, of penance and of charity, true to the absolute nature, are meant to please the Supreme Person, O son of Prtha." (17:26-27)

"Sacrifices, charities and penances performed without faith in the Supreme are nonpermanent.  O son of Prtha, they are useless both in this life and in the next." (17:28) 

Hinduism