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During the Indian independence movement, one of its pioneers and a prominent leader was Mahatma Gandhi. Born on 2 October 1869 at porbandar, a coastal town in India, he led his fellow citizens in a mass civil disobedience that was based on a philosophy of non-violence that saw India gain its independence. His father Karamchand Gandhi was an official of porbander state. His mother Putlibai came from Vaishnava community and was the forth wife to Karamchand. Mr. Karamachand's first three wives had died at childbirth.
Gandhi was raised by his dedicated mother and was taught the Jain customs of his community. During this time he was taught values which he would later apply in his life. He learnt to have compassion for fellow human beings, he was taught about vegetarianism and fasting and to have tolerance for different individuals. In 1883, Gandhi married Kasturbai who was one year older than he was. Their parents had arranged the marriage according to the traditions of the region (Brockington, 1984). In 1888, gandi travelled to England and joined university college of India to study law. He returned to India in 1891after successfully completing his studies. He tried unsuccessfully to start a law firm in Bombay.
Gandhi travelled to South Africa in 1893. While in India, he was subjected to the discrimination against Indians in South Africa. He began to employ the tactics of civil disobedience while he was living in South Africa where he fought against oppression on the resident Indians. He utilized the famous non-violent for the first time. He asked Indians in South Africa that it was better to receive the punishments than to react or resist violently. He returned to India in 1915. In 1918 during the last part of First World War, he began to recruit Indians to engage in the war. He knew that if Indians would join the war they would learn the ability to learn and use the arms. His achievements began in 1918 when he organized resistance against oppression by the British.
He organized peasants, laborers and farmers to protest against discrimination and high taxes (Coburn, 1984). In 1921, Gandhi took on the leadership of Indian national congress. He then began to organize national protests against factors that led to poverty, which was so rampant. He desired to build religious and ethnic amity, increase economic opportunities for his fellow citizens and to expand women's rights. His ultimate goal was to release India from colonial chains. He initiated the famous quit India movement that aimed at removing the British from India.
Gandhi organized a march against tax on salt in 1930 in which he marched for more than 300 kilometers. So many other people joined him in the march. This is one of his successful attempts in upsetting British hold in India. The British reacted by imprisoning more than 50,000 Indians. British representative Lord Edward Irwin began negotiating with Gandhi and they signed an agreement in March 1931.The British agreed to release the prisoners if the civil disobedience movement would be suspended.
After this agreement, Gandhi attended the round table conference in London. The conference was unsuccessful. Instead of discussing the main goal, which was to grant independence to India, it focused on minorities. Gandhi began to organize new campaigns again. Three attempts were made on his life in 1934, which were all unsuccessful. While the Indian national congress protested and called for the British to leave India, the Muslim league passed a declaration to partition and leave.
Gandhi did not support the idea of partition. He proposed that the Muslim league should join hands with the National congress. This would make them a formidable force and would enhance their quest for attaining independence. Gandhi was shot three times at close range on 30 January 1948 while in a prayer meeting. Nathuram Godse who assassinated Gandhi w as charged, convicted and executed. The assassination resulted in a series of violent activities in many parts of India.
Hinduism is the world's third largest religion with over a billion followers. It includes philosophical, cultural and religious beliefs and practices that originated from India. Some of its characteristics are the belief in reincarnation, the single complete being of manifold manifestation, the principle of cause and effect and the longing for release from the succession of births and deaths. Hinduism is a lifestyle that governs all actions. With a variety of believes, ethics, rituals, traditions, philosophy and theology. Concepts like Yoga, Karma, Vastu and Puja originate traditions of Hinduism. Its origin dates back to over 10,000 BC.
Some of its earliest scripts like the Rig Veda were composed around 6500 BC. The main themes in Hinduism are Dharma, which explains the ethics and duties of the believers; Samsara which if translated means the rebirth, Karma that defines the right actions that a believer should adopt and Moksha which talks about the liberation from the cycle of Samsara (De Lingen, 1937). Values like truth, honesty, contentment and non-violence are amongst its teachings. The Hinduism scriptures, which are also known as the Shastras, are laws that spiritual leaders have discovered during the long history of Hinduism. Initially the scriptures passed from generation to generation through word of mouth. They were eventually written down in Sanskrit language. The major texts include the Bhagavad gita, Upanishads, the story of Ramayana and Mahabharata.
A Hindu therefore is an individual who obeys and lives by the teachings and guidance of the Vedic scriptures. It is not necessary for one to be in any religious affiliation to receive the teachings of Hindu traditions, but it is good for one to become a Hindu in order to have the connection with its enlightenment. Hinduism believes in the only absolute and supreme one called Brahman. Nevertheless, Hinduism does not support the worship of any one deity. The gods and goddesses that Hindus worship all represent the some aspect of Brahma. Therefore, thousands of deities characterize Hinduism. The most basic of gods is the trinity of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver and Shiva the destroyer. Hinduism also invokes the worship of planets, trees, animals and spirits.
The characteristic of Hinduism that has mostly impressed me is its values like truth, non-violence, celibacy, contentment, perseverance, penance and prayers. Truth as we believe in our religion will set you free. Non-violence as a value breaks even the toughest of oppression as we have seen in the movements that led to the independence of India. Contentment is a virtue that should be emulated by everyone. It leads to having an internal peace that result in good health. Prayer is a key value that exists not only in Hinduism but also in several other religions. These values are familiar to me since we abide by and practice them in Christianity.
What I find repulsive that is not practiced in my religion is the belief in a circle of life and death. The cycle of life and death as taught in Hinduism is complex. It brings out a completely different aspect of life, which is hard to follow. Hindus view life as a self-repeating cycle while westerners have a very different view. This is an idea that is practiced only in Hinduism and its integration in other religions is difficult. Through networking, the world has become a global village, but certain believe and values may take a long time before other religions or communities can accept and adapt them.
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