Hindu Traditions





Hindu Traditions

In the Indian subcontinent, Hinduism is the most dominant and conspicuous religion. It comprises of four major traditions that include Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism and Smartism. Other minor denominations include Kaumaram, Shrautism, Ganapatism and Saurism. Hinduism is termed as the eternal law by most practitioners while it is regarded as the oldest religion all over the world. Most of the denominations share the same traditions, rituals and beliefs but each of them contains a specific philosophy on how to obtain the ultimate goal of life. Several movements have come up over time, same as many smaller denominations. Hinduism lacks unity in belief and clear stipulated monotheistic guidelines.

Shaktism is elaborate on the belief of the supremacy of the goddess. She is the ultimate source of all the earth’s and universe creation. Mittal and Thursby (26) confirms that she is in control of both the masculine and feminine divinity. It is much associated with a system oriented on the female. The wisdom to live by is extracted through worship and supplication of the Devi or Shakti. When things go wrong, the Devi is responsible for the turn of events. One is needed to embody the divine control of the Devi towards all actions and existence. The essence, source and substance of everything are attributed to Devi. She holds the absolute power on dynamism and energy throughout existence.

This is quite compelling since the human has to believe in a supernatural existence when it comes to religion. The goddess is said to be both male and female as one entity whereby the female is supreme. The existence of such a divine belief is not easy to comprehend coupled with the fact that cosmic forces are also used in the worship of the people. From the ultimate power, there should be one clear dominance and not existence of two forms of gender in one. The female dominates the male. Apart from being a god, she is the embodiment of dynamism and energy.

Smartism or Smartha tradition emphasizes the oneness with God although they worship the six manifestations. The choice on God is independent of the individual. The tradition is open to worship of more than one God. Living the holy life is characterized by following daily routines that are observed consciously and adhered. The wisdom to live by is drawn from the pillars of either God or one of the six manifestations or forms (Mittal and Thursby 31). The belief on the responsibility when things go wrong is centered on touchstone of the tradition. This depends on the performance of rituals. Once thongs go wrong, one of the six manifestations is ritualized to improve the circumstances.

In divine principles, there is only one supreme power with absolute control over all creation and the universe. Living a holy life in the Smartha tradition is not purely concise since is it is based on the daily routines in adherence with the traditions. Nature has a way with how all eventualities and uncertainties take place from time to time under different circumstances. This responsibility cannot be held by a god that has unclear distinctive powers on the fate of events as they occur. Attributes associated with positive or negative eventualities are not clearly stated on the part of divinity.

Shavism enhances self-purification as a means of living a holy life (Smith 124). The primary worship of Shiva is both transcendent and immanent. Shiva is a male supreme god with no equal, although several gods are worshipped. Wisdom to live by is credited to the being one with Siva in a person. He is conspicuously the supreme dancer who has no beginning or end. Monism and dualism determine the turn of events and circumstances; Siva is responsible for everything that goes wrong due to the lack of belief in the individual’s part. When things go wrong, one is expected to supplicate to Bhairava who is the fierce god that has control over everything. This can be through worship in the temple.

Reflecting upon the self-purification, it is evident to note the disparity within the traditions. One cannot make him/herself pure again without intervention of divine power from the overall master. The societal class difference does not hold the eventualities of fate to an individual. The monotheism of worship centered on Shiva is central to the authority on how one should behave when things go wrong. This is a monolithic approach towards divine matters with admonitions on ethical values. Striving to become one with the Shiva is a daunting task as humans are just mortal while divine power is absolute and cannot be equated by the efforts of man’s endeavors. It is practically impossible from human nature.

Vishnavism enhances the worship of Rama and Krishna as the divine supreme power. There is belief of incarnation and true devotion to the tradition (Smith 111-118). Living a holy life is depicted by worshiping of the Vishnu or through his forms. Apart from the Vishnu, a holy life is achieved with devotion to several other deities. The wisdom to live by is contained in the rituals and teaching from the saints and devotion in the temples coupled with performing of rituals. Events of life, either positive or negative, are associated with fate and divine power from beliefs. Once things go wrong, members turn back to divine authority.

Devotion to a supreme power is essential to the Vishnavism tradition, which ideally puts Krishna and Rama as the supreme. Two masters serve the same purpose. This essentially cannot be right through absolute authority. Living a holy life should be based on the divine teachings while sticking to ethical means of behavior and treatment of fellow members of the community. The wisdom to live by also is given through divine means and cannot be obtained through performance of rituals, giving of mantras or meditative practices. This in turn affects the setup of the society. Fate is not determinable by the mere fact of devotion through scriptures and belief in saints.

Hinduism and its traditions have a broad spectrum as concerns to worship, rituals, belief and divine authority. It is one of the oldest religions in the world all over. It has four major denominations with several other denominations that make up the whole religion. Subsequent modernization forms have taken place that has seen liberalization of some of the traditions. From the analysis of the four major traditions, it is evident that there is no clear uniform belief in its different forms. There is conflict in belief of the supreme God while several gods associated with events exist, season, luck, life forms among others. The clear authority on divine matters rests on the individual tradition of the Hindu religion.











Works Cited:

Mittal, Sushil, and Gene R. Thursby. Religions of South Asia: An Introduction. London: Routledge, 2006. Print.

Smith, Huston. The World’s Religions. New York: HarperCollins, 1991. Print.


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