What It Means to Be a Human Being in the Hindu Tradition

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In the early text of the Hindu tradition, the Veda, everything evolved around sacrifice. As a means of acquiring something, the elite class would make sacrifices to their gods in order to obtain the things they so desperately needed. An example of this would be the slaughtering of an animal to the gods in exchange for a sufficient rainy season during harvest time. The essence of what it is to be a human being in the Hindu tradition comes from a later text known as the Upanishads. This text did not focus on sacrifice rituals, but instead focused on the quest for knowledge. In the Upanishads the life of the Hindu is a spiritual pursuit that prepares one for the cycle of rebirth known as samsara. Hindus consider the body to be only a place to keep the soul. After watching Professor Anne Monius lecture on Hinduism and reading the book Hinduism A Very Short Introduction by Kim Knott, in the Hindu tradition, to be a “human being” means living one’s life according to a moral tradition which is based on the persons social and religious duty, known as dharma (Knott, 1998). This notion of sacrifice is rejected completely in the Upanishads. This is partly because of the way Hindus began to look at the human being. In the Upanishads texts the human being is seen as the most pure thing in the world and the goal is to enhance the purity of the soul by acting in an ethical manner in every aspect of life. As explained by professor Anne Monius, “every human being has an internal, immutable, and undying aspect to themselves, which is known as the atman” (Monius 2009). In the Upanishads, what the Hindus focus on is the quest for knowledge; this is the ‘new’ activity that human beings should pursue during their lifetime. This knowledge refers to th... ... middle of paper ... ...ual life where he enriches its soul constantly he will be reborn in a higher caste with a better life situation; which means he will be closer to the liberation of his soul. The human being has no right to self pity. Why? Because the life and body they have now is the consequence of their actions in a past life, karma. Essentially, what one has now is what one deserves because of how they lived previously. This is why the Hindu tradition focuses so much on the way the human being should live their life, because it will have a repercussion in the next one. The human being needs to be in physical and spiritual harmony to properly end the cycle of karma and be reborn in a more fortunate body and have a better life. The journey through this earth is a learning experience which the human being can benefit from by acting ethically and enhancing the purity of its soul.

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