Hinduism is the oldest living religion in the world. It is more than 7000 years old, to the prehistoric times. The fundamental book – Rig Veda was written 3800 years ago.
Hinduism is the world’s 3rd largest religion. Most of its followers are from India and Nepal. But it is vastly followed in Cambodia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Bali, Fiji & Sri Lanka.
Interesting facts about Hinduism:
Unlike other religions, it has no founder. More than a religion, it is actually a philosophy. Let us check top 5 interesting and less known facts about Hinduism.
1. Atheism is a part of Hinduism:
No single philosophy binds Hinduism. ‘Freedom of belief’ is the main aspect of Hindu dharma. Here you can be a monotheist (only one god), a polytheist (more than one god), a henotheist (one major God with other secondary Gods) or even an atheist (no belief in God).
Samkhya, Yoga, Mimamsa are one of those old school of Hindu philosophies where the idea of a single creator God was rejected.
As per ‘Samkhya’ philosophy, if the existence of karma is assumed, the proposition of God as a moral governor of the universe is unnecessary.
The Indian Nobel Prize-winner Amartya Sen once stated in the California Magazine, that Sanskrit had a larger atheistic literature than what exists in any other classical language.
Today when blasphemy is evolving as the biggest man made disaster, but since ancient ages, Hinduism integrated atheism and tradition of incredulity in a healthy manner.
2. Shaktism – gender equality in Gods:
Hinduism has always shown respect to the gender equality, even in its ‘Gods’. Shaktism is a form of Hinduism where worshiping the goddess, known as Devi, is being practiced. The Mother Goddess is worshiped in many forms. Some are gentle, some are fierce.
Shakti is considered to be the universe itself – she is the epitome of energy and dynamism, and the moving force behind all action and existence.
Shaktism views the Devi as the source, essence, and substance of virtually everything in creation, seen or unseen. Not only equality, in some philosophies, ‘Goddess’ are given higher divinity. So, Goddess worship is not a ‘cult,’ it’s a religion.
3. Diversity: 3.3 billion gods and goddess
Hinduism is said to have 3.3 billion Gods and Goddess. Literally, every village has its own deity. This is because Hinduism allows every follower to conceptualize ‘God’ as per his own perception. The easiest way to worship divinity is to assume God as one of your own. “Just like many rivers reach the ocean, there are many ways to reach God”. One of the most remarkable reformers of Hinduism, Shri Ramakrishna used to say “As many faiths, so many paths”.
Hinduism has an acceptance to other religions too. Lord Venkateswara (the God with the richest temple, or religious place of worship in any religion, in the world), he is said to have a Muslim wife: Bibi Nanchari.
4. Karma: The spiritual Newton’s third law
Like Newton’s third law, the philosophy of ‘Karma’ also says, every action has its equal and opposite reaction. In simple words, “do good and good things will happen to you”. All your sufferings are a reaction to your own previous bad actions.
In the Mahabharata (Anushasana Parva), Yudhishthira asked Bhishma: “Is the course of a person’s life already destined, or can human effort shape one’s life? The future, replies Bhishma, is both a function of current human effort derived from free will and past human actions that set the circumstances. This is ‘Karma’ theory. That is: intent and action (karma) have consequences; karma lingers and doesn’t disappear; and, all positive or negative experiences in life require effort and intent.
5. The pursuit of wealth is not a sin:
This is another interesting aspect where Hinduism differs from other religions. It doesn’t consider the pursuit of wealth as a sin. In fact, Hinduism celebrates wealth in the form of many gods such as Lakshmi, Kubera, and Vishnu. As per Hinduism, life has 4 levels.
- Kama: When human chases for pleasures –sexual, sensual.
- Artha: Racing for livelihood, wealth, and power.
- Dharma: Search of philosophy, religion and doing duties to society.
- Moksha: Liberation, Freedom from all bonding. The ultimate goal of mankind.
Notably, Hinduism considers ‘Artha’ as an integral part of life and accepts the pursuit of wealth.
Being a diverse religion, Hinduism has several other interesting facts. It has no formal Institution, The largest religious structures in the world – Angkor Wat in Cambodia is a Hindu temple, Mahabharata – the Hindu epic- is written in 1.8 million words long poem which is 10 times the combined length of the Iliad and Odyssey, description of so many mythological weapons and huge variety of rituals.
Hinduism is a natural and spiritual path which depicts tolerance and pro-science. It is actually a way of life.
You may also check Top 5 religions in the world.