Hinduism, also known as Dharma, or "Eternal Way," is our planet's original and oldest living religion, with over one billion adherents.
"Our beliefs determine our thoughts and attitudes about life, which in turn direct our actions.
By our actions, we create our destiny."
The following key beliefs, though not exhaustive, offer a simple summary of Hindu spirituality.
- Hindus believe in a one, all-pervasive Supreme Being, though they call it by many names
- Hindus believe in the divinity of the four Vedas, the world's most ancient scripture, and venerate the Agamas as equally revealed. These primordial hymns are God's word and the bedrock of Hindu Dharma, the eternal religion.
- Hindus believe that the universe undergoes endless cycles of creation, preservation and dissolution. There is no eternal hell, no damnation, in Hinduism, and no intrinsic evil--no satanic force that opposes the will of God.
- Hindus believe in karma, the law of cause and effect by which each individual creates his own destiny by his thoughts, words and deeds.
- Hindus believe that the soul reincarnates, evolving through many births until all karmas have been resolved, and moksha, liberation from the cycle of rebirth, is attained. Not a single soul will be deprived of this destiny.
- Hindus believe that all life is sacred, to be loved and revered, and therefore practice ahimsa, noninjury, in thought, word and deed.
- Hindus believe that no religion teaches the only way to salvation above all others, but that all genuine paths are facets of God's Light, deserving tolerance and understanding.
Hinduism is not just a faith. It is the union of reason and intuition that cannot be defined but is only to be experienced. ― Dr. S. Radhakrishnan (A prominent Hindu scholar and second President of India).
History of Hinduism
Hinduism has no date of origin. The authors and dates of most Hindu sacred texts are unknown, although the oldest text (the Vedas) are estimated to date from as early as 1500 BCE. Scholars describe Hinduism as the product of religious development in India that spans nearly 4,000 years, making it perhaps the oldest surviving world religion. The word “Hindu” essentially comes from the word Sindhu. Anyone who is born in the land of Sindhu is a Hindu.
Hinduism has no human founder. It is a mystical religion, leading the devotee to personally experience and seek the Truth within, finally reaching the pinnacle of consciousness where man and God are one.
There are an estimated 1 billion Hindus worldwide, making Hinduism the third largest religion after Christianity and Islam. About 80 percent of India's population regard themselves as Hindus and 30 million more Hindus live outside of India.
Hindu's view of One God
Hinduism is both monotheistic and henotheistic. Hindus were never polytheistic, in the sense that there are many equal Gods. Henotheism (literally "one God") better defines the Hindu view. It means the worship of one God without denying the existence of other Gods.
- We Hindus believe in the one all-pervasive God who energizes the entire universe. This view of God as existing in and giving life to all things is called panentheism.
- Hindus also believe in many Gods who perform various functions, like executives in a large corporation. They should not be confused with the Supreme God.