Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fast Facts on 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."
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 (see Is Hinduism Polytheistic?)
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.

No comments: