Thursday, April 19, 2012

Categorizing Hinduism

We started the quiz today after I gave students a little bit of time to study.  Well, I gave them a little time to study, and then I gave them a mini-review lesson on Hinduism.  This question appears on the quiz: "How would you define Hinduism, polytheistic, monotheistic, or pantheistic?"  I realize that leaves the door open to students saying, "well I wouldn't define it in the first place..." or some such answer - but I let them know that it's a trick question and that they should give reasons why Hinduism sort of fits all three categories.

I put the following on the board:

I mentioned that it's easy for people from our culture to think of Brahma as the "good" god and Shiva as the "bad" god - since Brahma creates, and Shiva destroys - but that Indians don't think of it like that.  Because their culture believes in reincarnation, the universe is also following a path of birth, life, death, and rebirth.  Shiva destroys in order to allow Brahma to start creating again.

So, we discussed how Hinduism could be viewed as polytheistic - because they obviously worship many gods.  Then I posted these pictures:

I mentioned that the three gods (and really all the Hindu gods) made up Brahman - the eternal spirit/essence/god of everything.  If those gods are actually a part of God - then that would make Hinduism monotheistic right?  Because Hindu worshipers are actually worshiping Brahman - singular.

Then I posted this picture:

I made the point that during creation Brahman becomes part of everything, and everything is part of Brahman.  As such, that would make Hinduism pantheistic - since Brahman is inserted into creation...

I think the point I was getting at was - so often we answer quickly without giving much thought, when oftentimes more thought is necessary.

What is it: polytheistic, monotheistic, or pantheistic?  It's complicated.

If you want the extra credit for reading today's blog entry, discuss the blog with an adult.  When you're finished, write your name, and the two things you discussed on a piece of paper.  Have the adult you discussed it with sign the paper.  Turn it in in the extra credit tray.


  1. my parents refused to discuss social studies with me because it won't help me become a good engineer or a good caboose.

    1. No worries. Don't forget you can get extra credit a number of ways. Don't let your parents hold you back.

      And tell them you never know when it will come in handy. Some of the best engineers in the world come from India. If you have to work with them, it might be good to have some background into what they may believe. And if you go to school at CJHS, you may have come in contact with a caboose or two already.