In the continuing series of religious facts, here are 35 Interesting Facts About Hinduism.
1. Each of our time cycles has 4 main periods – the Satya yuga (golden age of innocence), Tretha yuga, Dwapara yuga and Kali yuga. In the last stage, people get so filthy that whole thing is cleaned up and the cycle starts all over again.
2. If you ask a religious Hindu when exactly did Krishna or Rama existed, the answer will be millions of years ago or some other random number. Actually, it doesn’t matter. Because, Hindus believe in a circular time (rather than the linear time concept in the Western world).
3. Hinduism is the world’s 3rd largest religion closely following Christianity and Islam. However, unlike the top 2 religions, 95% of Hindus live in a single nation!
4. Hinduism is the oldest of the major extant religions. Its fundamental book – Rig Veda was written over 3800 years ago.
5. Rig Veda was orally passed for 3500+ years in parallel. And yet, its current form has no major discrepancies. It is indeed a stupendous achievement that a major body of work can be orally passed between people in such a large nation with no loss in quality/content.
6. Unlike other major religions, Hinduism doesn’t consider the pursuit of wealth as a sin. In fact, we celebrate wealth in the form of many gods such as Lakshmi, Kubera and Vishnu. Hinduism has a 4 level hierarchy – Kama (pursuit of pleasures including sexual/sensual), Artha (pursuit of livelihood , wealth and power), Dharma (pursuit of philosophy, religion and doing duties to society) and Moksha (liberation) and we progress from the top to bottom. This is very close to Maslow’s hierarchy and thus Hindus are natural capitalists.
7. Hinduism is the parent religion for two of the other major religions of South Asia – Buddhism and Sikhism. It is also closely associated with its sister religion – Jainism.
8. Beyond India, Hinduism is the dominant religion of many exotic regions such as Nepal, Mauritius, Bali, second biggest religion of Fiji & Sri Lanka and at one point covered most of South east Asia – including Indonesia, Cambodia and Malaysia.
9. The holiest number for Hindus is 108. This is the ratio of Sun’s distance (from earth)/Sun’s diameter or Moon’s distance (from earth)/Moon’s diameter. Thus, most of our prayer beads have 108 beads.
10. The Hindu epic of Mahabharatha – that is often used to teach the principles of Hinduism – is written in 1.8 million words long poem (10X the combined length of the Illiad and Odyssey).
11. The largest religious structures in the world – Ankor Vat in Cambodia were built by the Hindu kings of South East Asia
12. Unlike all other major religions, Hinduism has no founder or a prophet (like Moses, Abraham, Jesus, Mohammad or Buddha). According to Hindus, the religion has no origin.
13. The four holiest animals for Hindus are the cow, elephant, snake and peacock.
14. Hinduism has no formal Institution – no Pope, no Bible and no central body.
15. Hindu scriptures are organized into Vedas (poems that written in multiple levels from abstract rural level and going deeper into cosmic universe), Upanishads (scientific discourses and arguments about the world), Brahmanas (manuals for ritual performances), Aranyakas (experiments done on human mind and nature in the forests), Puranas (mythologies about Hindu gods) and Itihasas (notebooks on “historical” events”).
16. Hindus hold big chariot processions to carry gods during special occasions. Some of these chariots can be huge and marauding – sometimes killing people in their path when they lose control. The biggest one of all – Jagannath – gave the English dictionary term Juggernaut -meaning the unstoppable one.
17. Hinduism’s holiest body of works – Rig Veda – talks of 33 main gods. Although most Hindus consider the Vedas as the holiest, none of those 33 gods are in mainstream worship now.
18. Astiks (believers) and nastiks (atheists) have known to exist together in Hinduism since time immemorial. It was the tolerance for the non-believers and the underlying theme to encompass new thoughts that allowed other religions such as Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism to offshoot peacefully from Hinduism.
19. Hinduism has no concept of forced conversions. All the people following the faith have either willingly embraced it or acquired it by birth.
20. Saree, a dress worn by females even in modern India, dates its origin to the Indus Valley Civilization (2000 BC).
21. Snakes and Ladders was originally created to teach children Hinduism.
22. Hinduism is a diverse system of thought with beliefs spanning monotheism, polytheism, panentheism, pantheism, monism, and atheism. Concept of God depends on each individual
23. Eating Beef is acceptable in Hinduism.
24. Jews have been living in India since 500 BCE without any anti-Semitism from Hindus. In fact, the only Jews who suffered in India were under the Portuguese rule in the 20th century Goa.
25. According to Vedas, God might have been created after the world was created and he might even be ignorant of the mystery of creation.
26. It is worth noting that the idol worship (and physical temples) are a relatively new phenomenon. For instance, in Ramayana and Mahabharatha – two of the oldest epics, transmitted orally for centuries, there is no mention of characters going to visit temples. They only visited holy sites, like the origins of rivers, or rivers/forests themselves.
27. There was nothing called ‘Hinduism’ for many centuries when it was being ‘practiced’. The name originated from Ancient Greeks who called the people Hindus, after the river Sindhu, and the customs and beliefs automatically came to be known as Hinduism to the West. The closest name that the people had was Dharma (Duty).
28. No (hindu) scripture uses the word ‘hindu’ – the ‘religion/practices/beliefs’ were preached as a way of life for ‘mankind’. Anyone and everyone can and is supposed to derive knowledge from them.
29. The Day of Brahma is 4.32 Billion Years.
30. We are in the 1st day of the 51st Year of Brahma (who is supposed to live for 100 years). The time elapsed so far is 155.52 trillion years.
31. Hinduism and Sanskrit is the major part Indonesia’s, a country with the highest Muslim population in the world. The logo on Indonesia’s most elite engineering college(Institut Teknologi Bandung) is of the Hindu god Ganesha.
32. The national airline of Indonesia is called Garuda, the mythical bird from the Ramayana.
33. Philosophy of Indonesian constitution is called Pancha Sila, meaning Five Principles in Sanskrit.
34. According to ancient Hindu scriptures, a woman can marry upto 4 husbands at a time. Because of the same reason, during marriage rituals she is married to Agni, Vayu and Surya first and then to her husband. So that she cannot marry more.
35. Draupadi was considered immoral because of the same reason as she shared bed with 5 Pandavas, so peole considered her as a whore (public property) and this reason was given by Dushashan during her cheer-haran when she exclaimed how he has the right to disrobe her.