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 HinduismMeaning of nameHinduism, 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 foundedEarliest forms date to 1500 BC or earlier (See Hinduism history here)Place foundedIndia (See Hinduism beliefs here)Foundernone (See Hinduism symbols here)Adherents900 million (See Hinduism holidays here)Size rankthird largest in the world (See Hinduism timeline here)Main locationIndia, also United Kingdom and United StatesMajor sectsSaivism, Vaisnavism, Saktism (See Hinduism sects here)Sacred textsVedas, Upanishads, Sutras, Bhagavad Gita (See Hinduism texts here)Original languageSanskrit (See Hinduism history here)Spiritual leaderguru or sage (See Namaste in Hinduism here)Place of worshiptemple or home shrine (See Hinduism temples here)Theismpantheism with polytheistic elements (See Is Hinduism Polytheistic?)Ultimate realityBrahman (See more about Brahman)Human naturein bondage to ignorance and illusion, but able to escape (See more about the Karma in Hinduism)Purpose of lifeto attain liberation (moksa) from the cycle of reincarnation (See more about the purpose of life in Hinduism)How to liveorder life according to the dharma (See more about the Karma in Hinduism; also see Cows in Hinduism)Afterlifeif karma unresolved, soul is born into a new body; if karma resolved, attain moksa (liberation) (See more about the Brahman in Hinduism)Major holidaysMahashivarati (mid-February) Holi (Spring) Diwali (mid-November)Sources
- "Hinduism." Oxford Concise Dictionary of World Religions.
- "Hinduism." Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Premium Service. 2004.
- Huston Smith, The World's Religions.
- Linda Johnsen, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Hinduism, pp. 222-24.
||Reincarnation until gain enlightenment.
||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.
||Indigenous religion of India as developed to present day.
||Yoga, meditation, worship (puja), devotion to a god or goddess, pilgrimage to holy cities, live according to one's dharma (purpose/ role).
||The Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana, etc.
||One Supreme Reality (Brahman) manifested in many gods and goddesses
||Incarnation of God akin to Krishna, or wise man.
|divinity of Jesus
|resurrection of Jesus
||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.
||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.