I love this iconic copper statue of the Hindu deity Shiva, created in 9th century India. Shiva is the destroyer of evil, often depicted as he is here, dancing the cosmos into existence by trampling the Dwarf of Ignorance. The purpose of his dance is “to release the souls of all men from the snare of illusion.” Shiva symbolizes creation and destruction. He destroys in order to create, tearing down to build again.
With roots reaching back into prehistory, Hinduism is the oldest of the world’s religions, and the most diverse. Hinduism grants absolute and complete freedom of belief and worship, including Hindu Atheism. It conceives the whole world as one family, and therefore it accepts all forms of beliefs and dismisses labels. It has no single founder, no single scripture, no single deity, no single prophet, no priesthood, and no single way to reach salvation.
Older than the Western religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and the Eastern religions of Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, which are its offspring, the Hindu mindset believes, “There is one truth – one cosmic consciousness – reached by many paths.”