Other movements in hinduism

23.05.2018 Author: psiholog pavel horoshutin

Each movement in Hinduism has its own idea of the form of the deity, the way of worshiping it and expressing love and respect for it.

Major Hinduism movements such as Shaktism and Smartism practice worshiping many manifestations of God (both in female and male guises). Other popular movements such as Tantra or Shrauta practice esotericism, a means of offering sacrifice and initiations.

Such versatile and somewhat contradictory directions make it possible to form a more comprehensive idea of Hinduism.

Other movements in hinduism

The main trends in Hinduism

There are four main trends in Hinduism: Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism and Smartism. Among them, Shaktism has less traditional views regarding the worship of the feminine divine principle, and Smartism regarding the worship of any manifestation of the God of choice.

Shaktism

Shaktism (“doctrine of power”, “doctrine of the goddess”) is a branch of Hinduism based on worshiping Shakti or Devi (Hindu Mother Goddess). According to adherents, Shakti is the absolute and original form of God. Deification of the woman takes an important place in practice. Supporters of Shaktism in Hinduism are called Shaktas.

Shakti appears in many manifestations including blissful and warlike. There are two main traditions (Sampradaya) of Shaktism that honour Devi in a specific form.

Srikula (or Sri Vidya) worships Shakti in the form of the Tripurasundari goddess (Sri Lalita), originally – Shakti of Brahman. Her blissful image is connected to another manifestation of Shiva’s wife, Parvati. Srikula adheres to the concept that there is only one single reality associated with Tripurasundari (“The Beautiful Goddess of the Three Cities”).

Sri Vidya followers strive to escape the circle of rebirths (Samsara) through attaining oneness with the goddess. The main symbol is Sri Yantra, which consists of nine intersecting triangles in a circle of lotus petals. This symbol corresponds to Sri Chakra, meaning mutual penetration, interaction and unity of the dynamic feminine energy (Shakti) and the passive masculine consciousness (Shiva).

Kalikula (or Kalidivya) worships Shakti through the goddess Kali, one of the most formidable manifestations of Shiva’s wife. Kalikula is symbolised by Kali-Yantra. Kalikula has predominantly the character of left-hand Tantra (Vamachara), which accepts the use of Panchamakara (meat, sexual intercourse) in esoteric rituals.

Smarta tradition

Another key movement in Hinduism, which is a transformed ancient Brahman tradition, is Smarta. Smarta adheres to the philosophical system of Advaita Vedanta. This school insists that this world is unreal and illusory, but shares the idea of the existence of a single Brahman reality where the individual soul and Brahman are one, and thus indistinguishable.

Some Smarta traditions follow other philosophical schools of Bhaskara and Srichand.

The tradition of Smarta is based on religious texts of the Smriti. The founder of Smartism, Shankara, argued that any of the Hindu gods can be worshipped in accordance with the instructions given in the Smriti.

Therefore, most of the smartists worship one of these gods:

  • Shiva,
  • Vishnu,
  • Devi (in the form of Lakshmi, Saraswati, Durga, Kali),
  • Ganesha,
  • Surye,

Smarta adherents believe that every person is free to choose any particular form of God to worship. Most important for them is practicing dharma, mainly carried out through yajnas – ritual sacrifices. Also, Smarta tradition followers conform to a certain daily routine, consisting of five rituals (snana, jap, puja, asana and agnihotra).

Specific hindu movements 

Some Hindu teachings are distinguished by their radical ideas regarding the perception of God, and the expression of reverence and love for him.

The conservative ritualistic tradition of the Vedic religion in Shrauta Hinduism, for example, is currently practiced. This emphasizes rituals which mainly consist of yajnas. There are two categories of yajnas, nitya karma (performed daily or on special occasions) and kamya karma (performed with a specific purpose). Such purposes include to call forth the rain, increase the livestock number and to ask for a son to be born.

A religious movement based on sincere reverence and love for God (bhakti) is called Bauls. This is composed of local mystic musicians who have had a significant impact on the culture of Bengal. Representatives of this group are distinguished by a specific style of clothing and their special musical instruments.

Tantric hinduism

Tantric hinduism

Tantrism (“base, essence”), is a unification of many esoteric Indian traditions and uses special secret practices and initiations. The group promotes liberation and spiritual development, which is why tantra adherents consider themselves to be the most efficient. It is assumed that through various techniques a person can achieve a transpersonal state (merging with Ishvara, the beginning of the world) through the most complete and total living of all temptations of life.

In addition, tantra is a kind of literary and philosophical work in the form of a dialogue between Shiva and Shakti.

Hindu Tantrism is characterised by

  • excessive esotericism of schools and rituals;
  • extensive yoga practice;
  • its regard of the incompatibility of basic rituals with brahmanism;
  • a special relationship between a guru and his disciple, and the transfer of knowledge through special initiation (abhisheka).

The main ideas of Tantrism are distinguished by the combination of ascetic and ritual practices. In addition to yoga, offering food or incense to the deities of the Hindu pantheon is regularly practiced.

Neo-hinduism (reform movements in hinduism)

Neo-Hinduism is a method of teaching characterized by the desire of its followers to include elements of other religions in the religious and philosophical system of Hinduism. In a nutshell, neo-Hinduism bases itself on neo-Vedanta, which includes neoadvaita-Vedanta, non-East Vedantas (Krishnaism) and “universal” Vedantas.

Also, the reform movements, whose supporters desire to clean Hinduism of unnecessary components are referred to as neo-Hindus.   Among them, several groups that emerged in the 19th century, stand out:

  1. Brahmo Samaj (“Community of worshipers of the One True God”). This is a religious and ethic Indian movement. It emerged as an independent branch of Hinduism as a reaction to the absurdity of many Brahmin religious rites. Supporters of Brahmo Samaj called for adherence to a religion free from any rituals and superstitions.

This movement was the beginning of reforms in Hinduism. It is based on ancient traditions of Hinduism and Brahmanism but, at the same time, tries to introduce methods of personal self-improvement instead of rituals. The teaching proclaims the idea of human equality before God (Brahman, the universal absolute and “the soul of the world”), which is contradictory to the caste nature of Indian society.

  1. Arya Samaj (Society of the Aryans, Society of the Enlightened) is a Hindu reform movement founded by Dayananda Saraswati. He believed that it was necessary to return to “true Vedic Hinduism” by cleaning the religion of all influences that penetrated into it during the post-Vedic period. To achieve this goal, Dayananda introduced the Shuddhi purification ritual, after which a person from another religion was brought into the fold of Hinduism.
  2. The Ramakrishna Movement (“Ramakrishna Mission”, “Vedanta Movement”) is a worldwide neo-Hindu neo-Vedantic religious association. Its goal is to spread and apply in practice the teachings of the Indian guru, mystic and preacher Ramakrishna. The Movement includes the Ramakrishna Mission and the Ramakrishna monastic order. Its members are different types of monks who provide assistance to victims of natural disasters and provide medical care to those in need. The Ramakrishna Mission is held in high esteem among many Indian religious organisations.

Each movement in Hinduism has its own idea of the form of the deity, the way of worshiping it and expressing love and respect for it. Major Hinduism movements such as Shaktism and Smartism practice worshiping many manifestations of God (both in female and male guises). Other popular movements such as Tantra or Shrauta practice esotericism, a means of offering sacrifice and initiations.

Such versatile and somewhat contradictory directions make it possible to form a more comprehensive idea of  Hinduism.