Karma is the universal principle of cause and effect. For a Hindu this means there are consequences for both good and bad actions.

"The meaning of Karma is in the intention. The intention behind action is what matters" - Bhagavad Gita

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Samsara and Moksha

Samsara is the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. All living things go through the cycle of reincarnation. The atman is reborn into another living thing and this cycle can be repeated numerous times.

Moksha is the liberation from samsara. The atman is released during moksha and will merge with Brahman. Moksha is achieved when the person has no karmic energy which can be done when the egoistic self is abandoned

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An important idea in Hinduism is that dharma refers to a person's responsiblity reguarding class (varna) and stage of life (ashrama).

Varna is the concept of different classes or castes in Indian society. There is no social mobility. The caste system was established during the second millenium when the Aryans invaded India. The rig veda poem says that different groups are required to make a society - Bhramin (Priests, Academics), Kshatryia (Warriors, Kings), Vaishya (Merchants, Landowners) and Suda (Commoners, Servants). A Dalit (or untouchable) is someone born beyond the class system.

Dalits can be subject to discrimination because of their lower status. More than 40,000 crimes against lower castes were reported in 2016. Gandhi has called the dalits Harijans meaning "children of God"

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Ashrama means the stage of life.

The first stage is Brahmachari (the celibate student). This stage lasts up until the age of 25. During this time a Hindu would leave home and stay with a guru or teacher. This is in preperation for their professional life.

The second stage is Grhastha (the householder). This stage begins when a man gets married and usually lasts until the age of 50. During this time a Hindu is expected to persue wealth and support a family.

The third stage is Vanaprastha (the hermit in retreat). This stage begins when the householder duty comes to an end; when children leave home. This is when Hindus should renounce all physical, material and sexual pleasures. They should live in a forest hut with little contact with family.

The final stage is Sannyasin (the wandering recluse). This stage is optional and very few Hindus reach this stage. It occurs after all family duties are done when all worldly ties are broken and a person becomes totally devoted to God.

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ISKCON is the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Krishna is a major deity in Hinduism. He is the God of love and is worshipped as the eighth avatar of Vishnu.

The Hare Krishna movement aims to "promote the well being of society by teaching the science of Krishna consciousness according to the Bhagavad Gita and other ancient Vedic scriptures of India".

ISKCON requires that all devotees strictly follow the four principles: no meat eating, no intoxication, no gambling and no illicit sex.

The purpose of ISKCON is to bring people closer together for the purpose of teaching a simpler, more natural way of life. ISKCON believe they can bring together all religions into one universal religion as they believe no matter who you worship, you are worshipping different aspects of Krishna.

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The Festival of Diwali

Diwali is a festival of light thet lasts 5 days during October/November. During this time, homes and temples are decorated with colourful lights. The festival is where people try to turn over a new leaf so the house is cleaned, new clothes are worn and accounts are settled. It is believed that the goddess Lashmi vists the brightly lit houses and will bring gifts and success during the coming year. People light lamps to remember the story of Ramayana which says lamps were lit to guide Rama and Sita home. In India, dancing groups tour the towns/cities, presents will be exchanged and Diwali cards sent to friends and family.

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The Festival of Holi

Holi is one of the oldest religious festivals. It celebrates the story of Krishna and Radha and signifies the victory of good over evil. People have parties and perform religious rituals in front of a bonfire. They pray that evil will be destroyed. Holi is a harvest festival and festival of colour. The holiday is associated with social restrictions being loosened and bridges are built across the social gaps. People smear each other with coloured paint. A common saying heard is "don't feel offended, it's Holi". The festival reminds Hindus of the importance of faith. 

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How do Hindus treat the Environment?

Hindus are taught to treat the world unselfishly because is the Bhadavad Gita it says "who so enjoy their gift, yet gives nothing is a thief, no more or less". This tells Hindus that they are only allowed to enjoy the benefits of nature if they give something back.

Hindus also believe in Ahimsa which is the principle of non-violence to all living things. Many Hindus believe Ahimsa means you should show respect for all life.

The River Ganges is considered to be a sacred river by Hindus. However, it is also one of the most polluted rivers in the world. Domestic waste and sewage is dumped in the river killing aquatic life- this doesn't seem to follow Ahimsa. Some Hindus believe the river self-purifies and so they do not try to clean it up.

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