Friday, December 19, 2008

Hinduism: Some Facts

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

place founded





900 million

size rank

third largest in the world

main location

India, also United Kingdom and United States

major sects

Saivism, Vaisnavism, Saktism

sacred texts

Vedas, Upanishads, Sutras, Bhagavad Gita

original language


spiritual leader

guru or sage

place of worship

temple or home shrine


pantheism with polytheistic elements

ultimate reality


human nature

in bondage to ignorance and illusion, but able to escape

purpose of life

to attain liberation (moksa) from the cycle of reincarnation

how to live

order life according to the dharma


if karma unresolved, soul is born into a new body; if karma resolved, attain moksa (liberation)

major holidays

Mahashivarati (mid-February)
Holi (Spring)
Ramnavami (late March)
Dusserah (early November)
Diwali (mid-November)

Hinduism by the Numbers

three paths:

* karmamarga - path of works and action
* jnanamarga - path of knowledge or philosophy
* bhaktimarga - path of devotion to God

three debts:

* debt to God
* debt to sages and saints
* debt to ancestors

four stages of life:

* brahmacharga - school years - grow and learn
* grhastha - marriage, family and career
* vanaprastha - turn attention to spiritual things
* sanrgasu - abandon world to seek spiritual things

four purposes of life:

* dharma - fulfill moral, social and religious duties
* artha - attain financial and worldy success
* kama - satisfy desires and drives in moderation
* moksha - attain freedom from reincarnation

seven sacred cities:

* Ayodhya
* Mathura
* Gaya (Bodhgaya)
* Kasi (Varanasi, Benares)
* Kanci
* Avantika (Ujjain)
* Dvaraka

ten commitments:

1. Ahimsa - do no harm
2. Satya - do not lie
3. Asteya - do not steal
4. Brahmacharya - do not overindulge
5. Aparigraha - do not be greedy
6. Saucha - be clean
7. Santosha - be content
8. Tapas - be self-disciplined
9. Svadhyaya - study
10. Ishvara Pranidhana - surrender to God


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.


Nawin said...

Other countries with large Hindu populations include Nepal, Bangladesh, Mauritius and the island of Bali.