Hinduism is one of the oldest and the most followed religion in the world. It has the largest number of followers and majority of them live in India and Nepal. The Hindus comprise of about fourteen percent of the population of the world. This religion has been a source of inspiration for many other religions including Buddhism. It has contributed to the world through, yoga, pranayam, astrology, palmistry, meditation and vegetarianism. Besides there are many important facts about Hinduism that many people are unaware of. Take a look.
Hinduism has no founder. It is believed that this religion has evolved over the years and is still evolving. A certain set of beliefs that were first followed by the people who lived on the banks of the Indus river became the fundamentals of the religion. There have been many propagators though.
2. Fundamental Principles
Hinduism evolved in India and it is based on the set of Vedas for its fundamental principles. The Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana are the main religious texts. The Geeta, a sub-part of the Mahabharata is the holy book of the Hindus.
3. Meaning Of Hinduism
The word Hinduism has been derived from the name of the river Indus and the Indus valley civilization. It is also known as the Sindhu. The way of life of the people who lived near the river Indus became the basic culture of Hinduism.
4. Supreme Power- Paramatma
Hindus believe in one supreme power who has manifested itself in different forms. This power is known as Brahma. It means the Supreme and the most fundamental being of the universe. Brahma is also known as the Paramatma. All its followers are atmas or the spirits and he is the param-atma, which means the supreme soul. Ultimately all the atmas get assimilated into this supreme atma.
Hindus believe that the nature is another manifestation of God. Prakriti or the nature, represents the supreme Soul. That is why they also worship many animals, plants, the Sun and the Moon.
It is believed in Hinduism that the supreme soul is mainly represented by three Gods, collectively known as the holy trinity. Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh are the Creator, Protector and the Destroyer respectively. They have further taken birth on the earth to protect the life on the earth from various demons that have attacked at times. The other forms of these Gods are worshiped as divine incarnations. These are seen as the idols whom the people should follow.
The holy scriptures of Hinduism mention that the humanity has been divided into four yugas. These four yugas are namely the Satya yuga, the Treta yuga, the Dwapar yuga and the Kali yuga. The time phase that we are living in is the Kali yuga, also known as the dark phase. It is believed that this is the last phase of humanity and after this the humanity would be destroyed though not completely. These yugas have been divided on the basis of the level of Dharma(righteousness) and Adharma(sinfulness). The Dharma or the righteousness was maximum in the Satya yuga, ans is the least in the Kali yuga. It has been degraded because of the increased level of sin.
Unlike many other religions, Hinduism is not divided into any sects. However, there are three traditions of Hinduism which are Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism. While each of the three believes in the other too, the difference is only based on who they worship as the main deity. Those following Shaivism worship Shiva as the main deity, the Vaishnavites worship Vishnu as the main deity and those following Shaktism have Goddess Durga as the main deity.
The lives of all the Gods has been shown as similar to that of the human beings, and the Hindus see them as the idols.
The aim of the followers of Hinduism is salvation also known as Moksha. Every man has to aim for Moksha, liberation from the cycle of birth and death which can be achieved through some rules. These rules are righteousness, truth and justice.
10. Stages Of Life
There are four stages of life as described in Hinduism. The first one is the Brahmacharya or the student life. During his phase of life, the aim of the student must be that of acquiring education and learning the most important lessons of life. At the same time he has to abstain from emotional attachments with the opposite sex.
The next phase is that of the Grihastha - it is that of the householder. During this phase of life a man has to righteously perform all the duties towards his family. This is followed by the Vanaprastha and the Sanyasa. While Vanprastha is the stage when a man starts detachment from the materialistic world though staying in contact with the family.
The Sanyasa is the phase when he finally abandons all form of attachment and contact with the family to achieve the aim of salvation. The incarnation of various fundamental deities are seen as the idols at all these stages of life.