Today we visited a Hindu Temple in order to learn more about Hinduism, and it was really interesting. The priest said that they do not use the word Hindu or Hinduism to describe themselves, as it is a name that was assigned by other people. He also said that Hinduism is not a religion, but rather a spiritual practice. He also mentioned that Hinduism is not polytheistic but rather monotheistic because they believe in one Supreme God that takes on many different forms. This was hard for me to believe because there are so many forms that this God takes on. Some of the representations of God are metaphorical and some are literal. Some of them were people that actually lived on earth, but others are more of a concept. Plus there are lesser deities that they pray to, so that makes me wonder is that still the one God? The forms that God can take on can be male or female, or they can be an object. It is all pretty confusing.
The priest performs many rituals in Hinduism. The priest performs one ritual in order to have God come live in the statue. They believe that God is housed in the statues after the ceremony. He also performs rituals to bathe the deities, to feed the deities, and to put the deities to sleep. This was pretty surprising to me. He said that people can come and pray or worship however they want. There is no one way to do it, and there is no one text that they follow. It is more a spiritual way of life than anything else. He also said that they do not believe in sin but rather mistakes. This raised a lot of questions for me because does that mean that if someone murders someone else it is just considered a mistake and nothing more?
Overall it was a very interesting trip, and I learned a lot about Hinduism from visiting the temple.
Much love, B