Here are some facts about Hinduism, the main religion of the Indian sub-continent, and one of the most popular religions worldwide.
What is Hinduism?
- It’s probably easier to define what Hinduism isn’t. Hinduism is not based on a strict set of rules, it is not based on a single holy book, and it wasn’t founded by one individual. This sets it apart from other religions and makes it really hard to set down exactly what Hinduism actually is.
- Hinduism has close links with other religions, such as: Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism, and many individuals have contributed their ideas and teachings to Hinduism over thousands of years . In order to reflect this fact, people sometimes refer to Hinduism as a family or group of linked religions or a way of life, rather than one distinct faith.
- Two people who both call themselves Hindus might have very different beliefs and live their lives in very different ways, however, it is possible to identify some things that most Hindus would consider to be important to their religion.
- Many Hindus believe in the existence of a Supreme God – a creator and destroyer of universes – who is represented by a range of different deities.
- Hindus believe in a cycle of reincarnation and believe that the life you lead can affect the form the soul will be housed in during the next life. This process is dictated by Karma – the concept that every action has an equal reaction.
- The key Hindu religious texts are called the Vedas. These do not specifically mention the word Hindu, but they do make reference to dharma (a form of morality upon which workings of the world and society have been constructed).
How Old is Hinduism?
Hinduism, as discussed above, is made up of wide collection of teachings and philosophies. As a result, it is not possible to say with any certainty when Hinduism started or when the religion was founded. The roots of Hinduism can be traced back more than 2000 years before the birth of Christ. The first Veda (holy text), the Rigveda, was thought to have appeared between 1700 and 1100 BCE , and many refer to Hinduism as the oldest living religion.
Where did Hinduism Originate?
Hinduism originated in the Indus Valley region around the River Indus in the country known today as Pakistan. Today, Hinduism is a worldwide religion, although it is still most popular in India and Nepal. The map below shows the percentage of Hindus in different regions of the world.