Religion

Distribution of Islam in India

India is a large and very diverse population. India strives for plurality, but as is often the case, harmony can be difficult. Some basic tenets between Hinduism and Islam can be at odds with one another, and conflict has erupted historically and recently.

Analyze the map* below then respond to the prompts that follow.

DISTRIBUTION OF ISLAM IN INDIA BY STATE
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KEY:
Red – 50-100%
Orange – 25-50%
Yellow – 20-25%
Green – 15-20%
Blue – 10-15% – Indian National Average
Indigo – 5-10%
Gray – < 5%

STATES BY NUMBER:
1. Andhra Pradesh
2. Arunachal Pradesh
3. Assam
4. Bihar
5. Chhattisgarh
6. Goa
7. Gujarat
8. Haryana
9. Himachal Pradesh
10. Jammu and Kashmir
11. Jharkhand
12. Karnataka
13. Kerala
14. Madhya Pradesh
15. Maharashtra
16. Manipur
17. Meghalaya
18. Mizoram
19. Nagaland
20. Orissa
21. Punjab
22. Rajasthan
23.Sikkim
23.Tamil Nadu
24.Tripura
25. Uttar Pradesh
26. Uttarakhand
27. West Bengal
(Map courtesy of Rode Idias, Wikimedia Commons)

PROMPT:
1. Using the map showing the distribution of Islam in India, predict where you think the most conflict may occur between the Hindu and Muslims in India. Explain why.
2. Read about the events that happened while Mr. Wright was in India, and about the history of this disputed region here . Was your prediction correct?
3. What can we conclude about the nature of border conflicts from this case study?

FURTHER READING:
For more information about this topic research the topic keywords:
India, Partition, Line of Control, LOC

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Saraswati, Goddess of Knowledge

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My wife and I are educators. As such, we have both come to have a fondness for Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, education, learning, and the arts. Saraswati is the consort of Brahma, and her knowledge brings order out of chaos, a metaphor I appreciate.

Although often depicted riding a swan, playing a musical instrument called a vena, and carrying a book, this early sculpture (above) is one of my favorite representations of her. It can be seen at the City Museum in Jaipur, Rajasthan.

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(Raja Ravi Varma, Goddess Saraswathi, oil on canvas, 1896. Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum, Lakshmi Vilas Palace, Vadodara, Gujarat. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

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Hinduism

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Hindu Temple, Nainital, Uttarakhand.

Wherever one goes in India, a frequently seen thread in the fabric of Indian culture (and neighboring Nepal) is that of Hinduism. It is seen in frequent shrines and temples scatted throughout India, seen in the colorful flower and cloth offerings available to devotees in street-side stands, seen in the bindi dot worn by many on the forehead. Approximately 80% of India’s 1.2 billion population practices Hinduism (BBC).

Despite it prevalence and status as a world religion, Hinduism, I think, is largely misunderstood by westerners. I do not claim to be an expert on Hinduism, but I have had the opportunity to observe and interact with Hindus for weeks. During that time what has struck me as most erroneous is the typical western view of Hindus worshiping multiple gods in what is often characterized as an idolatrous manner. Yes, there are many significant Hindu “gods” that fit into a pantheon and are interwoven into allegorical stories that reach back millennia into the Vedic texts. And yes, these “gods” are depicted as having superhuman and/or animal characteristics to whom reverence is shown and offerings are given. However, to stop there at that superficial level of observation is shortsighted.

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Hanuman, the monkey god, a monumental sculpture seen on the road to Jaipur.

The numerous gods present throughout the Hindu world, though worshipped and part of a complicated stories, are but many manifestations or avatars of a single omnipresent and omnipotent creator. A Hindu practitioner told me, “there are many names but only one God.” Hindus may say that God has taken on a physical form as a man, or as a “god” with anthropomorphized animal characteristics, all are said to be manifestations of the creator of the universe — that which cannot be fully conceived. This supreme entity is also symbolized as Om

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(Om symbol & Shiva, Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

In it’s barest essence, Hinduism believes in the existence of one infinite Supreme Power, or God, worshipped by Hindus in various representative forms, such as of the Father or the Mother and Who is the Creator and progenitor of the Universe. The most fundamental tenet of our religion lays down that doing good to other beings is the highest form or Worship of the the Lord and, conversely, harming them the worst form of sin.
-Birla L.N., Hinduism: A Philosophy of Life
Shri Lakshmi Narain Temple, New Delhi

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