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published: 3/17/04
updated: 11/22/13

Fast Facts on Hinduism



An Overview of Hinduism

lotus flower
Lotus Flower

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. (Also see religion in India)

Because Hinduism has a variety of expressions, some people think that all of its 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 belo, 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."

(See Karma in Hinduism here and Cows in Hinduism here.)
Date founded
Earliest forms date to 1500 BC or earlier

(See Hinduism history here)
Place founded
India

(See Hinduism beliefs here)
Aum symbol
Krishna
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)
krishna
Krishna
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)

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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.