Wednesday, April 16, 2008


After reading about the believers in India I thought I'd post some facts on Hinduism. I'm currently reading the book, Sharing Your Faith with a Hindu by Madasamy Thirumala. The author grew up as a Hindu in a small town in southern India. He believd in idols, gods, witchcraft, etc. His parents devoted their time and money to the Hindu gods and godesses. He speaks of how it was considered shameful and degrading to become a Christian.

The author was given a book "simple looking lady offered me a storybook in my own language" - it happened to be the gospel of Luke. He read it and admired the life of Jesus, yet he wasn't ready to give his life to Christ and become a Christian. He was an educated person and felt shame of being Christian. Yet, God worked in his heart and brought him to Himself.

One interesting fact in his book that he mentioned was that it is estimated that 1.4 million Indian people live in the United States; of those more than 85 percent (1.2. million) are Hindus. Talk about a mission field right here - next door, at work, etc. You don't need to think about always going to a country far away - God might have a plan for you to serve Him in the USA!


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
- 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:
Gaya (Bodhgaya)
Kasi (Varanasi, Benares)
Avantika (Ujjain)

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

"Hinduism." Oxford Concise Dictionary of World Religions.
"Hinduism." Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Premium Service. 2004.
Huston Smith, The World's Religions.
Linda Johnsen, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Hinduism, pp. 222-24.

Probably the most well-known Hindu saying about religion is:
"Truth is one; sages call it by different names."

However, there are some beliefs common to nearly all forms of Hinduism that can be identified, and these basic beliefs are generally regarded as boundaries outside of which lies either heresy or non-Hindu religion.

These fundamental Hindu beliefs include:

  • the authority of the Vedas (the oldest Indian sacred texts)
  • the Brahmans (priests); the existence of an enduring soul that transmigrates from one body to another at death (reincarnation)
  • the law of karma that determines one's destiny both in this life and the next.

    Note that a specific belief about God or gods is not considered one of the essentials, which is a major difference between Hinduism and strictly monotheistic religions like Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Sikhism. Most Hindus are devoted followers of one of the principal gods Shiva, Vishnu or Shakti, and often others besides, yet all these are regarded as manifestations of a single Reality.

    The ultimate goal of all Hindus is release (moksha) from the cycle of rebirth (samsara). For those of a devotional bent, this means being in God's presence, while those of a philosophical persuasion look forward to uniting with God as a drop of rain merges with the sea.

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