The world is vast. So vast, in fact, that there are over one billion Hindus around the world. Most are concentrated in Sri Lanka, Nepal and India.
Since India seems like it’s a world away, there are some misunderstandings about the religion.
For instance, Hinduism is not technically a religion. And did you know Hindus don’t believe in millions of gods?
With that in mind, here are twenty interesting facts about Hinduism.
- Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world. The earliest documents on Hinduism date back to 5,500 BCE.
- No one knows – or cares to know – who started Hinduism. There is no one founder of Hinduism; it’s a way of life. The religion has evolved throughout the years and will continue to do so.
- Time is separated into four yugas. At the end of the fourth yuga, all humans will die in an apocalypse, and a new era will come about. Each yuga lasts thousands of years, with one cycle lasting 4.32 billions years. Right now, we’re living in the second half of the final yuga. But don’t worry – the apocalypse won’t come for another 300 years.
- With the concept of yuga, Hindus believe in a circular concept of time, rather than linear. This explains why reincarnation is a central tenant of Hinduism.
- Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world. More than 1 billion people consider themselves Hindus, and 85% of all Hindus live in India.
- Sanskrit is the oldest language in the world, the “mother of all languages.” Every Hindu book is written in Sanskrit, and it is said that Sanskrit is the language of the demi-Gods.
- Speaking of gods, Hinduism is not a true polytheism. Hindus believe in one god, Brahma, who is manifested in thousands of other gods. It’s up to each Hindu which god they worship.
- Hindus have three main gods named The Trimurti. Brahma is the creator of the universe, Vishnu is the preserver of the universe, and Shiva destroys the world in order for the world to recreate.
- Basic concepts of mathematics, like the number zero, the decimal system, infinity and pi, were first used by Hindus.
- The number 108 is the most sacred number for Hindus. It’s the ratio of the Sun’s distance from earth to the Sun’s diameter, as well as the ratio of the Moon’s distance from Earth to the Moon’s diameter.
- Most Hindus are strict vegetarians. Cows are also viewed as sacred animals. Knowing they will never be eaten by Hindus, cows roam the streets of India.
- Thank your lucky stars for Hinduism – they invented the concept of marriage.
- The word “Hinduism” doesn’t mean anything, since Hinduism did not start out as a religion. It’s a made-up word used by Greeks and Arabs to describe those who are from the “Shindu” river. The way of life these people follow is called Hinduism.
- The ultimate goal for Hindus is to attain salvation.
- Rivers are viewed as sacred. But no other river is worshipped as much as the Ganges River. Every person’s sin is washed away in the river when he/she bathes in the Ganges, who is also considered a goddess.
- Om is considered the first sound from the conscious mind, and the sound that birthed the universe.
- If you go to an acupuncturist, thank the Hindus (and the Chinese) for the invention of acupuncture.
- Saffron is the official color of Hinduism, and the saffron flag is the official flag of Hindus.
- The lotus flower is a special flower for Hindus. It represents “goodwill, peace, prosperity and happiness.”
- Kumbh Mela is a pilgrimage Hindus take to the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers. They go there in order to wash their sins away and help bring salvation. In 2013, 30 million people celebrated Kumbh Mela, making it the largest gathering of human beings in world history.