In its Summer 2004 issue (right), Hinduism Today Magazine featured an article entitled "Ten Questions People Ask About Hinduism... and ten terrific answers." The questions and excerpts of the answers are reprinted below. (You can subscribe to Hinduism Today here.)
1. Why does Hinduism have so many Gods?
Hindus all believe in one Supreme God who created the universe. He is all-pervasive. He created many Gods, highly advanced spiritual beings, to be His helpers.
2. Do Hindus believe in reincarnation?
Yes, we believe the soul is immortal and takes birth time and time again. Through this process, we have experiences, learn lessons and evolve spiritually. Finally we graduate from physical birth.
3. What is karma?
Karma is the universal principle of cause and effect. Our actions, both good and bad, come back to us in the future, helping us to learn from life's lessons and become better people.
4. Why Do Hindus worship the cow?
Hindus don't worship cows. We respect, honor and adore the cow. By honoring this gentle animal, who gives more than she takes, we honor all creatures.
5. Are Hindus idol worshipers?
Hindus do not worship a stone or metal "idol " as God. We worship God through the image. We invoke the presence of God from the higher, unseen worlds, into the image so that we can commune with Him and receive His blessings.
6. Are Hindus forbidden to eat meat?
Hindus teach vegetarianism as a way to live with a minimum of hurt to other beings. But in today's world not all Hindus are vegetarians.
7. Do Hindus have a Bible?
Our "Bible " is called the Veda. The Veda, which means "wisdom, " is comprised of four ancient and holy scriptures which all Hindus revere as the revealed word of God.
8. Why do many Hindus wear a dot near the middle of their forehead?
The dot worn on the forehead is a religious symbol. It represents divine sight and shows that one is a Hindu. For women, it is also a beauty mark.
9. Are the Gods of Hinduism really married?
It is true that God is often depicted with a spouse in our traditional stories. However, on a deeper philosophical level, the Supreme Being and the Gods are neither male nor female and are therefore not married.
10. What about caste and untouchability?
Caste is the hereditary division of Indian society based on occupation. The lowest class, deemed untouchables, suffer from discrimination and mistreatment. It is illegal in India to discriminate against, abuse or insult anyone on the basis of caste.