Rooted in India, Hinduism is often called the oldest living religious tradition – or, perhaps, more accurately – traditions, in the plural. Dating back to the Vedic religion of Iron Age India, the threads of different philosophies and devotional expression have diverged and crossed and crossed again, creating a tapestry of interwoven practices and beliefs. Consequently, in pursuing the release (moksha) of the self (atman) from the endless cycles of rebirth (samsara), there are multiple paths (yogas) to follow: Bhakti Yoga (the path of love and devotion); Karma Yoga (the path of right action); Rāja Yoga (the path of meditation); Jñāna Yoga (the path of wisdom). While Hindu traditions contain a multiplicity of divine beings within their sacred texts and folklore, there is also a strong sense of an underlying essence of all life, which suggests a philosophical monism (one source), if not monotheism (one god).

To learn more, join us for a screening of “Sacred Journeys: Hinduism,” on Jan. 22 at 11:15 a.m. in the Youth Room. This 55-minute PBS film discusses the sacred Hindu pilgrimage, Kumbh Mela. Every 12 years, tens of millions of men, women, and children gather on the flood plain of the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers in Allahabad, India, for this gathering — the largest for religious purposes on the planet.

And from the Rev. Dr. Stephanie May: I hope you’ll join me in reading one of the most important texts in the Hindu traditions, the Bhagavad Gita, which is readily available online or in libraries. At just over 200 pages in most editions, it can easily be read in an afternoon, or studied for a lifetime. It will be the featured text in our series “Read Along with the Rev.” We’ll discuss this sacred text on Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. on Zoom.