“I am a Hindu because it is Hinduism which makes the world worth living. I am a Hindu hence I love not only human beings, but all living beings.” -Mahatma Gandhi
Atman. Dharma. Varna. Purushartha. Brahman. Guru.
What do the previously mentioned words signify?
To understand the words at the outset, we must take a trip around the world to discover more about one of humanity’s most practised religions: Hinduism.
Hinduism is believed to have started in a region known as the Indus Valley which is situated in modern-day Pakistan. (Source: Unsplash)
After considering the world’s top two largest religions, Christianity and Islam, it is entirely logical to complete an examination and gain further knowledge about the world’s third: Hinduism. With over 1 billion believers across the planet, individuals who practise Hinduism make up over 15-16% of the world’s population.
One in every six inhabitants of planet earth claim to be Hindu.
Also, it is essential to state that the Hindu people can truthfully boast that they are followers of the world’s most ancient religion with origins and customs dating back more than 4000 years.
The exact origins and history of Hinduism are quite challenging to trace back and explain since it does not have any specific founder. What makes Hinduism unique is the fact that it is not a single religion but rather a compilation of many traditions and philosophies.
Although no specific dates can be easily uncovered, many scholars believe that Hindu faith started approximately between 2300 and 1500 BC.
Academics assume that Hinduism beliefs and customs were founded in the Indus Valley or modern-day Pakistan. Nevertheless, many devout Hindus argue the origin since they believe that their traditions have always existed and cannot be traced back to a specific date. Therefore, this is the reason many identify Hinduism as the Sanātana Dharma or “the eternal tradition.”
Since Hinduism is believed to have originated in Pakistan, it comes as no surprise that it is widely professed in nearby Asian countries such as India, Nepal, and Mauritius.
Therefore, why do historians believe that Hinduism originated in the Indus Valley?
Around the years of 1500 BC, the Indo-Aryan people immigrated to the Indus Valley and their language and custom mixed with the indigenous people living in the land now known as Pakistan.
An essential part of history occurred from 1500 to 500 BC, known as the “Vedic Period.” During this crucial period, the Vedas, ancient Hindu texts, were written for the benefit of all.
It is essential to state that each period of Hinduism is marked by something different.
The Vedic Period can be recognised in history as a time of constant chanting and sacrifices. However, on the other hand, the more modern periods of Epic, Puranic, and Classic are marked by the influence of worshipping deities such as Vishnu, Shiva, and Devi.
There are many distinct denominations of Hinduism, yet the four most prevalent that are practised today include Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism and Smartism.
By learning more about distinct religions such as Hinduism, people develop tolerance and compassion; qualities that are needed to promote unity in today’s broken world.
When studying about a new religion, it is essential to keep an open mind and remember that even though their customs are different from our own, it does not mean that we should be ignorant.
Noteworthy information such as places of worship, holy books or ancient writings, prominent figures, and distinct symbols make the major religions practised today unique from one another. Therefore, these will be considered in the following subheadings.
People who practise Hinduism meet together in places known as temples. (Source: Unsplash)
While Muslims have mosques and Christians have churches, where do Hindus worship their deities?
Since there are so many denominations of Hinduism, there are various sacred spaces or places of worship that are used frequently by those of the Hindu faith. The following are the most popular places of worship for Hindus:
In comparison to other major religions, the usage of sacred books is quite different in Hinduism. How’s that? Well, Christians, for example, use the Holy Bible as their primary text and Muslims predominantly use the Qur’an whereas Hindus have more than one ancient book.
Hindus holy writings are known as Vedas and were composed around 1500 BC; they are a collection of sacred verses and hymns written in Sanskrit and contains revelations received by ancient saints and sages.
Therefore, without further ado, the following are different types of holy writings such as Vedas used by those who practise the Hindu faith:
Since Hinduism is a polytheistic religion with belief in more than one god, we could include a massive list of gods and influential figures in today’s article; however, for lack of time we will consider some of the indispensable beings that we cannot forget to include such as the following:
Hinduism has many symbols that are unique. (Source: pixabay)
Similar to all major religions, Hinduism has many symbols that are quite iconic and unique. The following are the most popular and recognisable:
Is Hinduism closely linked to Buddhism? Learn more by reading our article.
A religion becomes different and unique from the rest due to its core beliefs and fundamental doctrines. When followers stay true to the principles established, they benefit and are known as devout practitioners.
What are the basic beliefs of Hinduism?
Hindus stick close to what is right in their eyes and follow the subsequent beliefs that truthfully identify Hinduism:
While the previously mentioned aspects are a few Hindu beliefs, other core doctrines such as meditation, moksha, and viewing Vedas as the ultimate authority are essential to all Hindu people.
Learning more about Hinduism is a brilliant idea to understand more about Hindu people before travelling to popular tourist destinations such as Bali, Indonesia, India, or Nepal; you definitely won’t regret learning about other cultures and traditions!
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