mythology is rich, multifarious, and inclusive. It portrays
the terrible alongside the benevolent, the trivial alongside
the cosmic, and the grotesque alongside the sublime. The
earliest source of Hindu mythology is the Vedic literature,
the oldest texts of which are the four Vedas, or "Books of
Knowledge": Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda, and Atharvaveda.
These books are the oldest Indian documents and represent
the religion of the Aryan invaders of the subcontinent over
the period from 1400 to 500 BC.
Because it integrates a variety of heterogeneous elements,
Hinduism constitutes a complex but largely continuous whole;
and, because it covers the whole of life, it has religious,
social, economic, literary, and artistic aspects. Hinduism
thus resists a precise definition, but a common core of
characteristics most Hindus share can be identified.
Religion with Various Gods and
According to Hinduism, three Gods rule the world. Brahma:
the creator; Vishnu: the preserver and Shiva: the destroyer.
These three Lords have consorts and they are goddesses too.
Consort of Brahma is Sarasvati; goddess of learning.
Vishnu's consort is Lakshmi; goddess of wealth and
prosperity. Shiva's consort is Parvati who is worshipped as
Kali or Durga.
Besides these there are a number of other Gods and
Goddesses. To name a few, there is Ganesh, who has an
elephant's head and he is also a son of Shiva and Parvati;
Hanuman, who is an ape; Surya Lord of sun; Ganga Ma, Goddess
of river Ganges; Samundra, Lord of the sea; Indra, king of
the Gods; Prithvi, Goddess of earth; Shakti, Goddess of
Hindu Mythology and the Living Gods
Heroes of epics like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana are
immortalized and are still alive in the day-to-day existence
of the common people. The gods of Hinduism are at once
super-human and human and there is distinct feeling of
warmth and familiarity towards them.
Rama, the hero of the Ramayana, represents qualities such as
honour, courage and valour and is held up as a model of
manliness. His wife Sita is the prototypal Indian wife who
is carried off by Ravana, the king of Lanka, while Rama and
Sita are on exile. Sita's eventual rescue by Rama, his
brother Lakshmana, and Rama's faithful monkey-general
Hanuman are all woven into this engrossing tale. Stories
from this epic have been passed down orally from one
generation to the next. Religious fairs, festivals and
rituals have kept these legends alive, and there is never an
occasion that does not offer an opportunity to retell the
The stirring verses of the Mahabharata tell the story of the
dynastic struggle between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, who
were close cousins. Lord Krishna plays a very important role
in this Great Epic. He is a friend, philosopher and guide to
Arjuna, one of the Pandavas, and he helps Arjuna overcome
his hesitation to kill his close relatives in the
battlefield. The wise philosophy of Krishna and his
teachings have been embodied in the Bhagwad Gita. Although
the popular image of Krishna is that of a god who steals
butter as a child, and who, as a youth, plays the flute and
entices cows and cowherd girls alike; in his mature years he
is depicted as the wise philosopher with a more serious side
to his nature.
One God, Many Names
Some gods have more than one name. Shiva is also known as
Shankar, Mahadev, Natraj, Mahesh amongst others. His
worshippers also worship images of bull called Nandi, who
was Shiva's carrier and a unique stone design connected to
Shiva called the Shiva-Lingham. Ganesh is also called
Ganpati. Lord Vishnu went about preserving the world by
incarnating 10 times in human forms in times of crisis, and
in his every appearance he had a different form which are
also worshipped as Gods. Among his appearances, he appeared
as Rama, Krishna, Narsimha, Parsuram and Buddha. Krishna
also has different names, Gopal; Kishan; Shyam and other
names. There are also Gods who can change their forms, such
as Parvati who can change into Kali or Durga.
Not all of these Gods are worshipped by all Hindus, with
some Hindus worshipping specific Gods or Goddesses, and some
of these have predominance in some regions. Hindus also
worship Gods according to their personal needs; those
engaged in wrestling, body building and other physical
sports worship Hanuman, who in Hindu legends was an ape with
lot of physical strength; and those in business worship
Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth.
Though these Hindus worship different idols, there are many
Hindus who believe in one God and perceive in these
different Gods and Goddesses as different images of the same
one God. According to their beliefs, idolatry is the wrong
interpretation of Hinduism.
Unique and Encompassing Religion -
A unique and all-encompassing characteristic of Hinduism is
that one devotee may be worshipping Ganesha while a friend
worships Siva or Vishnu or Kali, yet both honor the other's
choice and feel no sense of conflict. The Hindu religion
brings us the gift of tolerance that allows for different
stages of worship, different and personal expressions of
devotion and even different Gods to guide our life on this
earth. You will thus find Hindu temples for different Gods
and Goddesses in near proximity to each other. Indeed, you
will find places of worship for many different faiths in
close proximity to each other. About 80% of the population
are Hindus, thus by far the most common religion in India.
The literal meaning of Islam is peace; surrender of one's
will i.e. losing oneself for the sake of God and
surrendering one's own pleasure for the pleasure of God. The
message of Islam was revealed to the Holy Prophet Muhammad
(peace and blessings on him) 1, 400 years ago. It was
revealed through angel Gabriel (on whom be peace) and was
thus preserved in the Holy Quran. The Holy Quran carries a
Divine guarantee of safeguard from interpolation and it
claims that it combines the best features of the earlier
The prime message of Islam is the Unity of God, that the
Creator of the world is One and He alone is worthy of
worship and that Muhammad (peace and blessings on him) is
His Messenger and Servant. The follower of this belief is
thus a Muslim - a Muslim's other beliefs are: God's angels,
previously revealed Books of God, all the prophets, from
Adam to Jesus (peace be on them both), the Day of Judgement
and indeed the Decree of God. A Muslim has five main duties
to perform, namely; bearing witness to the Unity of God and
Muhammad (peace and blessings on him) as His Messenger,
observing the prescribed prayer, payment of Zakat, keeping
the fasts of Ramadhan and performing the pilgrimage to
Islam believes that each person is born pure. The Holy Quran
tells us that God has given human beings a choice between
good and evil and to seek God's pleasure through faith,
prayer and charity. Islam believes that God created mankind
in His image and by imbuing the attributes of God on a human
level mankind can attain His nearness. Islam's main message
is to worship God and to treat all God's creation with
kindness and compassion. Rights of parents in old age,
orphans and the needy are clearly stated. Women's rights
were safeguarded 1,400 years ago when the rest of the world
was in total darkness about emancipation. Islamic teachings
encompass every imaginable situation and its rules and
principles are truly universal and have stood the test of
In Islam virtue does not connote forsaking the bounties of
nature that are lawful. On the contrary one is encouraged to
lead a healthy, active life with the qualities of kindness,
chastity, honesty, mercy, courage patience and politeness.
In short, Islam has a perfect and complete code for the
guidance of individuals and communities alike. As the entire
message of Islam is derived from the Holy Quran and indeed
the Sunnah and Hadith (the traditions and practices of the
Holy Prophet, peace and blessings on him) it is immutable in
the face of change in time and place. It may appear rigid to
the casual eye, in actual fact it is most certainly an
adaptable way of life regardless of human changes.
Islam teaches that the path to spiritual development is open
to all. Any individual who searches the One Creator can seek
nearness to God through sincere and earnest worship; it is
central to establishing a relationship with the Almighty.
This positive message for humanity fills hearts with hope
Sikhism is one of the youngest world religion. It is a
strictly monotheistic faith, preaching the existence of only
one God, and teaching universally acceptable ideals of
honesty, compassion, humility, piety, social commitment, and
above all tolerance for other religions.
The word 'Sikh' is derived from the Sanskrit word 'shishya'
which means a disciple, a learner, a seeker of truth. A Sikh
believes in One God and the teachings of the Ten Gurus,
embodied in the Eternal Shabad Guru, Sri Guru Granth Sahib
ji. The Basic beliefs must be followed in Sikhism.
Additionally, a Sikh must also partake Amrit, the Sikh
Baptism. Every sikh is supposed to follow the Sikh Code of
Discipline. Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak Dev Ji in the
beginning of the sixteenth century. The succeeding nine
Gurus nurtured, developed and preached his ideas and
teachings. The pontificates of the nine successors of Guru
nanak were only the extensions of Guru nanak's work. It is
significant to note that five of the successors of Guru
Nanak also composed under the name 'Nanak' implying thereby
that there is no difference between the compositions of the
successor and the founder.
Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Guru installed,in 1708, Guru
Granth Sahib ji as his successor and the permanent Guru of
the Sikhs and brought to an end to the line of human Gurus.
Earlier, on Baisakhi day of 29th March,1699 The Birth of The
Khalsa took place.
The Sikh Gurus provided guidance for about 240 years. They
taught the basic values of freedom, brotherhood, charity,
obedience, understanding, sympathy, patience, humility,
simplicity, and piety, and outlined the path to spirituality
in life. The Gurus themselves said that they were human
beings and were not to be worshipped as God. They considered
themselves to be mere servants of God.
The Sikh religion was founded by Guru Nanak, who was born in
1469 CE in the village of Talwandi, now called 'Nankana
Sahib' near Lahore (Pakistan). Right from his childhood his
keen mind would not accept all the groundless rituals,
superstitions and dogmas which passed for religion in those
Guru Nanak and the nine Gurus, who succeeded him, set a
wonderful example of living spiritually, while yet taking an
active part in the world. The tenth Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh
(1666-1708 CE) evolved the Sikh initiation ceremony in 1699
CE; and thus gave a distinctive identity to the Sikhs. The
first Five Initiated Sikhs were named Panj Piaré (Five
Beloved Ones), who in turn initiated the Guru on his request
- an event hitherto unknown in the history of mankind.
Shortly before passing away the Guru ordained that Guru
Granth Sahib, the Sikh Scripture, would be the ultimate
spiritual authority for the Sikhs and the temporal authority
would vest in the Khalsa Panth - the Sikh Commonwealth. Guru
Granth Sahib was compiled and edited by the fifth Nanak,
Guru Arjan in 1604 CE. This is the only scripture in the
world, which has been compiled by the founders of a faith
during their own lifetime.