Fast Facts on Hinduism


An Overview of Hinduism

Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world. Unlike Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam, it has no known founder. Even the date of its origin has been lost to history. The word "Hindu" comes from the name "India," and in modern usage, it refers to a number of religious expressions.

Because Hinduism has a variety of expressions, some people think that all Hindu beliefs and practices are customized to the individual, and therefore it is impossible to speaks about "facts" of the faith. This is not true. Many facts can be known about its adherents, size, location, and much more. This page, the information and links below, is intended to help people begin learning about about the facts of the Hindu religion.

The Facts of Hinduism

Meaning of name
Hinduism, from the Persian hindu (Sanskrit sindhu), literally "river." Means "of the Indus Valley" or simply "Indian." Hindus call their religion sanatama dharma,"eternal religion" or "eternal truth."
 
Date founded
Earliest forms date to 1500 BC or earlier (See Hinduism history here)
Place founded
India (See Hinduism beliefs here)
Founder
none (See Hinduism symbols here)
Adherents
900 million (See Hinduism holidays here)
Size rank
third largest in the world (See Hinduism timeline here)
Main location
India, also United Kingdom and United States
Major sects
Saivism, Vaisnavism, Saktism (See Hinduism sects here)
Sacred texts
Vedas, Upanishads, Sutras, Bhagavad Gita (See Hinduism texts here)
Original language
Sanskrit (See Hinduism history here)
Spiritual leader
guru or sage (See Namaste in Hinduism here)
Place of worship
temple or home shrine (See Hinduism temples here)
Theism
pantheism with polytheistic elements (See Is Hinduism Polytheistic?)
Ultimate reality
Brahman (See more about Brahman)
Human nature
in bondage to ignorance and illusion, but able to escape (See more about the Karma in Hinduism)
Purpose of life
to attain liberation (moksa) from the cycle of reincarnation (See more about the purpose of life in Hinduism)
How to live
order life according to the dharma (See more about the Karma in Hinduism; also see Cows in Hinduism)
Afterlife
if karma unresolved, soul is born into a new body; if karma resolved, attain moksa (liberation) (See more about the Brahman in Hinduism)
Major holidays
Mahashivarati (mid-February) Holi (Spring) Diwali (mid-November)
Sources
  1. "Hinduism." Oxford Concise Dictionary of World Religions.
  2. "Hinduism." Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Premium Service. 2004.
  3. Huston Smith, The World's Religions.
  4. Linda Johnsen, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Hinduism, pp. 222-24.
afterlife Reincarnation until gain enlightenment.
human life Humans are in bondage to ignorance and illusion, but are able to escape. Purpose is to gain release from rebirth, or at least a better rebirth.
origins Indigenous religion of India as developed to present day.
practices Yoga, meditation, worship (puja), devotion to a god or goddess, pilgrimage to holy cities, live according to one's dharma (purpose/ role).
texts The Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana, etc.
adherents 900 million
god(s) One Supreme Reality (Brahman) manifested in many gods and goddesses
Jesus was Incarnation of God akin to Krishna, or wise man.
divinity of Jesus views vary
Jesus' purpose not addressed
resurrection of Jesus not addressed
homosexual orientation Not generally condemned in itself. Some ancient texts and temples depict it as one of many sexual inclinations, while Vedanta discourages homosexual desires as lustful and/or distracting.
homosexual activity Condemned by most Hindu cultures, though not often for religious reasons. The teachings of Vedanta, which emphasize liberation from the material world to the spiritual, allow only heterosexual sex, within marriage and for purposes of procreation.