Study the role and impact of Hinduism on society and culture with free online classes.
What Is Hinduism?
Hinduism is the name given to the non-Abrahamic religious and spiritual practices of the people of India. The name comes from the Sindhu, the Sanskrit name of the local Indus river, and by the early 1900s had become the preferred moniker of religions from India. It's considered to be the oldest religion in the world and is known as Sanatana Dharma by its Indian followers. The religion is a collection of practices and philosophies and is not attributed to any single founder. It does have common themes running throughout the collection of beliefs, including belief in karma, the cycle of rebirth, the idea that living things have souls (atman), and striving for righteous living (dharma). Hindu religion is a way of life for many Hindus rather than a strict set of religious orders. Many believe the truth can be reached in many ways and the idea of one supreme being is short-sighted. Instead, Hindu deities take on many forms.
Why Learn About Hinduism
Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world, coming in behind Christianity and Islam. 95% of Hindus living in India, currently a country on its way to becoming the largest economy in the world. It's on the brink of becoming a world economic power, and companies looking to forge partnerships will need to understand the history and culture of its people to be successful. Companies developing relationships with both the people and organizations of India need a firm understanding of the worldviews and cultural practices that make up the Hindu family of religions. Building this understanding takes time, but awareness of a vast history that informs modern methods goes a long way to standing out from a trove of companies looking to capitalize on India's potential.
Harvard, in partnership with edX.org, offers a course on Hinduism, giving students the foundations of both history and belief. Participants will learn about the texts that have informed Hindu practitioners for generations (Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, The Ramayana, and Mahabharata), the Hindu gods that commonly appear regardless of the area of practice (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva). Students will examine Hindu scriptures and make connections between the Vedic tradition and modern world thinkers. Harvard also offers a course on Religion, Conflict, and Peace that examines the roles spiritual traditions play in conflicts and peace efforts. Hinduism is part of the context of the course, along with other world religions, including Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. The course examines the ways western and eastern philosophies have mingled, and cause and effects of those philosophies on conflicts. Participants can also explore world architecture with MIT, examining how traditional architecture has influenced more famous architecture from places like Europe. It includes traditional and spiritual influences from the Vedic period.
Hinduism and the World Economy
Indian history and philosophy will take more of the world's stage as India continues on its way to economic power. As countries begin investing in this country and the workforce increases, organizations with an understanding of its cultural practices will have a much better success forming partnerships and building long term business relationships. The concepts of the religion are unlike anything in western beliefs, so build that knowledge with courses from edX.