Hindu Of Universe

“God’s light is within you, It never leaves you.”

Who Are the Hindu Gods?

Hindus believe in one supreme god, but have many deities (gods and goddesses). Hindus worship one or more of the deities – it doesn’t matter which, as they are all seen as different aspects of the one supreme god.

Hindus believe that there are three great gods (Māhadevas) also called the Trimurti (the three aspects of the universal supreme God). These three gods are:

• Vishnu – The god of preservation and protection. Hindus believe that he returns to earth during troubled times to restore the balance between good and evil.

• Brahma – The god of creation. He has four arms and four faces, looking in the four directions.

• Shiva –  Shiva is the god of destruction. His role is to destroy the universe in order to recreate it. He is often shown with a third eye (which represents wisdom and insight).

The Tridevi are goddesses who are equally important. These three goddesses are:

• Saraswati – Saraswati is the goddess (Devi) of knowledge and the arts. She is often shown with a swan or peacock.

• Lakshmi – Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and purity. Hindus believe that she can bless them with fortune and success.

• Shakti – Shakti is the mother goddess and is the source of all energy, power and creativity in the universe.

Other Hindu deities (gods and goddesses) include:

• Ganesha – Ganesha is the son of Parvati and Shiva. Hindus believe he can bless them with wisdom and good fortune. He has an elephant’s head and a human body.

• Vayu – Vayu is the god of air/wind. He is also considered the god of life.

• Indra – Indra is the God of Heaven. He is often shown carrying a lightning bolt.

What Are Some Hindu Celebrations and Festivals?

Hindus celebrate many special days and festivals throughout the year including:

• Holi – Holi is also known as the festival of colours. Hindus often celebrate in the streets by throwing colourful powders. Each colour has a different meaning, for example, green represents love. Holi marks the beginning of spring, usually in March and celebrates new life.

• Navaratri – Navaratri means ‘nine nights’ because this festival has nine nights of feasts and special dances. Navaratri is celebrated in late September or early October. Hindus worship and pray to the Goddess Durga as they believe that she will bless, protect and take care of those who worship her.

• Diwali – Diwali is known as the ‘festival of lights’ and celebrates the new year. It is celebrated in late October or early November. Diwali is a time for celebrating good over evil and happiness. Hindus celebrate by enjoying special meals with their families, exchanging gifts, lighting diva lamps and having huge firework displays.

Where Are the Hindu Holy Places?

Where do Hindus worship?

This chapter will help you to answer that question and explain why these places are so important to the Hindu faith.

Where do Hindus worship?

A mandir is a Hindu place of worship. Mandirs are seen as a place where heaven meets the earth, so many mandirs are tall buildings, reaching up into the sky. Inside the mandir is the main shrine and the Vedas (ancient Hindu texts).

Hindus also have special places that they travel to on a pilgrimage.

 A pilgrimage is a special religious journey.

• Ganges River – 40 million Hindus travel to the Ganges on a pilgrimage every year. Hindus believe that performing special rituals in the Ganges will end the cycle of birth, death and rebirth.

• Varanasi – Varanasi is on the banks of the sacred River Ganges. Hindus travel on a pilgrimage to the river to bathe in it. It is believed that washing in the river cleans a person’s sins. There are about 23,000 Hindu temples in Varanasi.

• Kumbh Mela – Once every 12 years, millions of people bathe at the Kumbh Mela festival where the Ganges and Jamuna rivers combine.

Hinduism Story of Rama and Sita

The story of Rama and Sita is sometimes called The Diwali Story. Diwali is a special festival, full of brightness and colour that is held in the autumn. The story is very old and was written about 500 years before Jesus was born. It is written in the Ramayana in an ancient language called Sanskrit.

What is the story of Rama and Sita?

Long ago, there was a brave warrior, Prince Rama, who had a beautiful wife called Sita.

One day, Rama and Sita were banished from their home by the King.

The king had promised one of his wives two wishes and because she wanted her young son to be on the throne instead of Prince Rama, she made one of her wishes for her younger son to be king.

The king was not happy but he had to keep his promise.

So Prince Rama, his wife, Sita, and Rama’s brother, Lakshmana, were sent away into exile for 14 years.

They lived in the forest as they had been told but nearby was a terrible demon king, Ravana.

He had 10 heads and 20 arms and was feared throughout the land.

One day, the evil Ravana kidnapped Sita and took her away in his chariot. Clever Sita left a trail of her jewellery for Rama to follow.

Rama and his brother, Lakshmana, followed the trail of glittering jewellery until they met the monkey king, Hanuman, who became their friend and agreed to help them to find Sita. Messages were sent to all the monkeys in the world who set out to find Sita.

After a very long search, Hanuman found Sita imprisoned on an island. Rama sent his army to fight a mighty battle army.

The army of monkeys couldn’t reach the island so they began to build a bridge.

Soon, all the animals of the world, large and small, came to help. When the bridge was built, they rushed across it and fought a mighty battle. Rama’s fighters and Hanuman’s army fought well and bravely.

Rama killed the evil Ravana with a magic arrow and the whole world rejoiced. Rama and Sita were reunited and they began their long journey back to their land. Everybody lit lamps to guide them on their way and welcome them back.

The story of Rama and Sita is one of the most well-known and popular stories in the Hindu religion.

Why is the story of Rama and Sita important?

The Rama and Sita story is so important because it teaches us about how good is more important than evil. There are also lessons of perseverance and commitment to those we care about. The story is also important because it features Rama, one of the avatars of Vishnu.

To this day, Hindus celebrate Diwali each autumn and light lamps to remember that light triumphs over darkness as good wins over evil.

What Are the Main Beliefs of Hinduism?

Hinduism embraces many different traditions and practices. It has many beliefs and ideas and there is no one way to be a Hindu. However, there are four main beliefs that all Hindus share:

1.       Truth is eternal – Hindus believe there is only one eternal truth when it comes to existence and reality.

2.       Dharma – Dharma is quite complicated. It means that a Hindu must follow the moral law (and not just what you feel like doing) and take their duties seriously.

3.       Reincarnation – Reincarnation is the belief that a soul exists in the body and when a living thing dies it enters a new living thing.

Hindus also believe that Karma (good and bad actions committed during your life) will affect which living thing the soul will be reborn into.

For example, if you have bad Karma during your life you will be reborn as an animal rather than a human.

4.       Moksha – Moksha means that the soul will be released from the cycle of death and rebirth. The ultimate goal for all Hindus is Moksha.

When and Where Did Hinduism Begin?

When did Hinduism begin?

Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world, and it is believed that Hinduism began as far back as 1500 BC!

There are signs of important Hindu figures and deities such as Vishnu, Shiva and Devi in artefacts and architecture uncovered from between 500 BC and 500 AD, so we know some form of Hinduism was around at this time.

Today, it’s believed over 900 million people follow Hinduism, most of these people live in India.

Where did Hinduism begin?

Although its origins are unclear, it seems to be a mix of different beliefs, cultures and traditions of the people who lived along the Indus River in South East Asia, near modern-day Pakistan.

Hinduism is sometimes referred to as a way of life as it combines many different traditions and religious beliefs. Where Hinduism began is of little importance to Hindus, who believe that their faith is timeless.

The Hinduism Creation Story

For Hindus, there are periodic cycles of creation rather than one creation, this means that Hinduism has many creation stories.

One story is that before time began, there was no heaven, no earth and no space in between. In this nothingness, a cobra floated with Vishnu asleep wrapped in its coils.

 A magnificent lotus flower grew from his navel. In the middle of the lotus flower sat Brahma.

Vishnu commanded that Brahma create the world. Brahma split the lotus flower into three: the earth, the sky and the heavens. He then created the plants and animals.

Hinduism is a super interesting religion to learn about, there’s certainly no end of interesting facts about Hinduism! If you’re hungry for even more Hindu facts

20 Facts About Hinduism for Kids

What are some interesting facts about Hinduism?

If you’ve enjoyed reading about Hinduism, why not use this handy Hinduism fact file to learn some fun facts about Hinduism? See how many Hindu facts you can memorize and impress your family and friends!

1. To kick off our Hinduism fun facts, did you know Hinduism is the world’s third-largest religion after Christianity and Islam?

2. Another interesting fact about Hinduism, 90% of Hindus live in India!

3. Two other religions have originated from Hinduism: Sikhism and Buddhism.

4. Worldwide, there are over 1.1 billion Hindus – that’s around 16% of the global population!

5. Nature is very important to Hindus and many believe that some rivers are sacred and can help you wash away sins. The River Ganges is a river in India that many Hindus believe is sacred.

6. Most Hindus are vegetarian because it minimizes the harm caused to other life forms. Some Hindus also believed a vegetarian diet purifies the body and mind.

7. While there are Hindu temples, many Hindu households have an area of their house that they also use to worship; this is known as a ‘shrine’. Hindu places of worship are called mandir.

8. In 2013, 30 million Hindus celebrated Kumbh Mela, which is a special pilgrimage that only happens every 12 years. This meant it was the largest gathering of humans ever witnessed!

9. Unlike Christianity and Islam, Hinduism doesn’t have a singular holy book but instead has many ancient texts and scriptures.

10. Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world – some Hindu traditions started over 3000 years ago!

11. In Hinduism the supreme God is called ‘Brahman’. All other gods worshipped by Hindus are believed to be a different part of Brahman.

12. A mooo-st know fun fact about Hinduism – cows are considered sacred by Hindus.

13. Hindu temples around the world always have an orange flag outside, even if they look slightly different.

14. In Hinduism, worship is called Puja.

15. The god Ganesh is a good luck symbol for Hindus; he is a god with the body of a man and the head of an elephant. Many Hindus will pray to Ganesh when they’re starting something new!

16. Because the Hindu religion is so old, people aren’t sure of its origins or who started it!

17. Many Hindus believe in something called karma. This is the belief that everything a person experiences in their current life is because of their actions in a past life.

18. An important symbol in Hinduism is the ‘Om’ or ‘Aum’. It is also said by some Hindus three times before chanting prayers.

19. Only a few Hindusim facts left! Hindus refer to their religion as Sanātana Dharma which means ‘the eternal law’ or ‘eternal teaching’.

20. During Diwali, Hindus draw beautiful patterns called ‘rangoli’. Rangoli are made using powders made from colourful flowers and Hindus place them at the entrance of their homes to welcome gods and bring good luck. Take a look at this fun colouring activity where you can use your new knowledge of Hinduism fun facts to create and colour in your own rangoli:

We also have some fun Hinduism-themed activities that can help you learn more about this fascinating religion and even more Hinduism facts. This word search can help you practise your Hinduism vocabulary – can you spot all the words?

10 Facts About Hinduism’s Gods and Goddesses

1.       Brahma, the Creator. Brahma is the first of three gods known as the Hindu Trinity. He is also known as ‘the Creator’ because Hindus believed he creates everything in the universe.

2.       The second member of the Hindu Trinity is Vishnu is the second member of the Hindu Trinity. Vishnu keeps harmony in the universe between Brahma and Shiva.

3.       Shiva is the third member of the Hindu Trinity. He is also known as ‘the Destroyer’, which sounds worrying but this part of the cycle of regeneration that Hindu’s believe in. Shiva must destroy in order for things to renew or grow. As Brahma creates, Shiva destroys, and vice versa, in a cycle that Vishnu keeps harmony over.

4.       Another name Hindus have for gods and goddesses is deva, meaning “heavenly” or “divine”.  In fact, deva is the masculine name, the feminine name is devi.

5.       What about some fun facts about Hindu goddesses? Saraswati is the wife or Brahma and goddess of many wonderful things such as knowledge, wisdom, music and art. How does she have the time for all of these things? She has four arms to help her!

6.       Another famous Hindu goddess is Lakshmi. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth, power, beauty and general prosperity. She is married to Vishnu.

7.       Lakshmi’s image has been found across many remains of ancient civilizations, on coins and in the form of statues, supporting the idea that Hinduism is an ancient religion even if we don’t know exactly how old!

8.       A third Hindu goddess is Parvati, goddess of harmony, devotion and also motherhood. She is married to Shiva and is the mother of Ganesh.

9.       Along with Lakshmi and Sarawati, Parvati is part of another Hindu trinity called the ‘Tridevi’, similar to the Hindu Trinity of their husbands, Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu.

10.     It might take you a long time to learn about all the Hindu gods and goddesses – there are approximately 33 million in total! For now, if you’re interested in learning more about the more well-known deities, check out these illustrated Hindu Gods Fact Files!

Hinduism Fast Facts


There is no single founder or founding incident of Hinduism. It grew out of cultural and religious changes in India.

The Hindu belief is that gods or divinities can take many forms, but all form one universal spirit called Brahman. The three most important representations of Brahman are Brahma, the creator of the universe, Vishnu, the preserver of the universe and Shiva, the destroyer of the universe.

The Hindu belief involves reincarnation of the soul, which is rebirth after death.

Hindus believe the conditions of one’s present life are due to karma, or accumulated good or bad behavior in past lives.

One improves one’s conditions through good behavior and creates suffering for oneself through bad behavior.

Eventually the soul will achieve moksha, or salvation, and stop the cycle of rebirths to become a part of the absolute soul.

Paths to salvation are called the margas or yogas.

Karma Marga – performing social obligations and offering selfless service.

nana Marga – studying and cultivating an intellectual understanding into one’s identity with Brahman.

Bhakti Marga – devotion to one’s personal god.

Raja or Dhyana Marga – not as widely recognized as the three outlined in the Bhagavad Gita, this path uses meditation to gain insight into the absolute soul that resides within one’s self.

There are multiple sects, theologies, and beliefs in Hinduism, and there is no single book of doctrine. It is an inclusive religious group, allowing for a lot of diversity.

The Vedas are the primary literary works, containing sacred verses and hymns composed in Sanskrit. The Rig Veda was the first of the four Vedas. The Samaveda, Yajurveda and Atharvaveda followed later.

Two other important texts are the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita.

Pilgrimages and festivals are common in Hinduism. Diwali, the New Year’s celebration, features gift-giving and lighting of ceremonial lamps. Holi, the Festival of Colors, marks the arrival of spring each year.

India’s Caste System

Indian society has traditionally been divided into a hierarchical system called caste or jati, which is not limited to Hindus, but which most Hindus have observed throughout history. It is hereditary, and each caste has its own set of values, rules, dietary beliefs, etc. Many do not marry outside their castes.

There are four major varnas or social classes most caste members fall into:

Brahmans – the priests and other educated professionals.

Kshatriyas – warriors and those who own a lot of land.

Vaishyas – formerly the farmers, now those involved in commerce.

Shudras (some sources say Sudra) – the lowest of the social classes. Made up of laborers, artisans and other servants.

There are some that do not fall into any of these categories, and they are now considered part of the Scheduled Caste. They are lower than the Shudras on the hierarchy, and they are people who perform “unclean” work, such as leather working and street cleaning. They have been called untouchables, Dalits, Harijans or backward castes. Although Hinduism teaches that discrimination and prejudice go against the idea of the divinity of all beings, both sometimes exist within the caste system.

20 Interesting Facts About Hinduism

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 worshiped 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.

25 Interesting Facts about Hinduism

Want to know more about Hinduism? Here are 25 Interesting Facts about Hinduism that you probably didn’t know before reading this!

To make this even more fun, I want to challenge you as well. How many of these Hinduism facts did you know before reading this? Share your result in the comment section!

1. The Rig Veda is the oldest known book in the world

The Rig Veda is an ancient text written in Sanskrit. The date is uncertain, but most experts date it back to 1500 years B.C. It’s the oldest book known in the world, and therefore, Hinduism is also sometimes referred to as the oldest religion.

2. 108 is considered a sacred number

So-called Malas or Garlands of prayer beads come as a string of 108 beads. Mathematicians of Vedic culture saw this number as a wholeness of existence, and that it connects the Sun, Moon, and Earth.

108 has long been a sacred number for Hindus.

3. It’s the third largest religion in the world

Only Christianity and Islam have more followers than Hinduism, which makes it the third largest religion in the world!

4. Hindu belief says that gods can take many forms

There is only one eternal energy, but it can take form as many gods and goddesses. It is also believed that a part of the Brahman lives in every single being in the Universe.

One of the many interesting facts about Hinduism since the other major religions are monotheistic.

5. Sanskrit is the most commonly used language in Hindu texts

Sanskrit is the ancient language of which most of the sacred text is written in and the language’s history goes back to at least 3500 years in time.

6. Hinduism believes in a circular concept of time

The Western world follows a linear concept of time, but Hindus rather believe that time is a manifestation of God, and that it is never-ending.

They see life in cycles that begin to end and ends to begin. God is timeless and the past, the present and the future coexist simultaneously.

7. There is no single founder of Hinduism

Most religions and belief systems in the world have a founder, such as Jesus for Christianity, Muhammad for Islam, or Buddha for Buddhism and so on.

Hinduism, however, has no such founder and there is no exact date when it originated. This is because it grew out of cultural and religious changes in India.

8. The real name is Sanātana Dharma

The original name in Sanskrit for Hinduism is Sanātana Dharma. The word Hindu or Indu was used by Greeks to describe the people living around the Indus River.

By the 13th century, Hindustan became a popular alternative name for India. And in the 19th century, it is believed that English writers added ism to Hindu and that it was later adopted by the Hindus themselves.

9. Hinduism encourages a vegetarian diet

Ahimsa is a moral principle which can be found in the Hindu faith as well as Buddhism and Jainism. It is a Sanskrit word which means “not to injure” and compassion.

That is why many Hindus eat a vegetarian diet because if you eat meat on purpose it is believed that you cause harm to the animals. However, some Hindus just refrain from eating pork and beef.

10. Hindus believe in Karma

A person who does good in life is believed to receive good karma. For every good or bad action in life, the karma will be affected, and if you have good karma at the end of this life, Hindus believe that your next life will be better.

11. There are 4 life goals for Hindus

These are Dharma (righteousness), Artha (means of money), Kama (right desire), and Moksha (salvation).

This is another one of the interesting Hinduism facts, and especially since the goal isn’t to please God in order to allowed into heaven or sent to hell. Hinduism has totally different goals and the ultimate goal is to become one with the Brahman and leave the cycle of reincarnation.

12. Om represents the sound of the universe

Om, also Aum is the most sacred syllable, symbol or mantra in Hinduism. It is often chanted before a mantra or independently. It is thought to be the sound of the Universe or Brahman as sound. It is also used in Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism.

It’s a spiritual sound that you will hear frequently while practicing yoga or visiting a temple. It is also used for meditation.

13. Yoga is a vital part of Hinduism

The original meaning of Yoga was “Union with God” but in recent years it has moved closer to Western society. But the term yoga is also quite loose as the original term actually refers to various Hindu practices.

There are various forms of yoga, although the most common one today is Hatha yoga.

14. Anyone can attain salvation

There is no saying that people from other religions can’t attain salvation or enlightenment.

15. The Kumbh Mela is the largest spiritual gathering in the world

The Kumbh Mela festival has been awarded the status as a cultural heritage by UNESCO, and on 10 February in 2013, more than 30 million people participated in just one single day.

5 x Random Facts about Hinduism

•        Million of Hindus worship cows

•        There are three major sects in Hinduism: Shaiva, Shakti, and Vaishnava

•        There are more than 1 billion Hindus in the world, but most of them are from India

•        Ayurveda is a science of medicine that is part of the sacred Vedas

•        Diwali, Gudhipadawa, Vijayadashami, Ganesh festival, Navratri are some of the important Hindu festivals

5 x Hinduism Facts for Kids

•        It originated at least 4000 years ago, but its history can be traced back to 5000-10,000 B.C

•        There is an elephant god known as Ganesha

•        Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva are the main deities in Hinduism

•        Brahman is the eternal origin, who is responsible for the creation of the universe

•        Hindus believe in reincarnation, which means that the soul is eternal and is constantly reborn in one form or another

General Facts about Hinduism

Below is some general information about Hinduism that might be interesting to know.

Total number of Hindus: 1.08 billion people

Original name: Sanātana Dharma

Place of Origin: India

Sacred text: Vedas and Upanishads

Original language: Sanskrit

Hindu Gods

Brahma               Ganesha

Shiva         Vishnu

Krishna               Shakti

Yamuna       Hanuman

Ayyapan     Kartikeya

Hinduism beliefs

Hindus believe in a universal soul or God called Brahman. It is thought to be eternal energy that is timeless and the cause of the creation of the universe and everything that comes with it.

The Brahman is neither a he or she and can take forms on Earth in many ways, which is why Hindus believe in various gods and goddesses.


This is the concept of being reborn in a different physical form or body. The Vedas does not mention the doctrine of Karma and rebirth.

The Vedas only mention the belief in an afterlife, so reincarnation is something that has grown into the religion, and it was first mentioned in the early Upanishads.

However, in modern times, reincarnation plays a big role within Hinduism, and what physical form or body your soul will enter depends on your karma.


This is the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence. For every good deed that you do, the better the karma you will receive as long as the intention was pure.

And the opposite will happen if you do something wrongfully. Karma decides the fate for your soul during reincarnation.

Hinduism Symbols

The Aum symbol and Swastika are two ancient Hindu symbols.

Hindu Festivals

•        Diwali

•        Holi

•        Onam

•        Maha Shivaratri

•        Krishna Janmashtami

•        Makar Sankranti

•        Ganesh Chaturthi

•        Rama Navami

•        Ugadi

•        Kumbh Mela

What is Hinduism?

Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma is the collective name for Indian traditions, religious- and philosophical beliefs. It’s the major belief system in India and has more than 1 billion followers. It is unique since it has no founder, but rather grew out of Vedic religions.

The followers of Hinduism are known as Hindus and it is known as the oldest religion in the world.

Founder of Hinduism

There is no single founder of Hinduism. It was created out of cultural and religious changes in India, and its history goes back to at least 5000-10,000 B.C.

Why it matters

No matter what you believe in yourself it’s important to educate yourself about world religions and belief systems. In order to accept others and stop judgemental actions, we need to understand each other.

Now you know the basics of Hinduism, and despite if you agree with it or not, at least now you don’t have to make assumptions, and you can go ahead and become inspired by it or the very least accept Hindus and their beliefs.

We only have 1 planet that we live on, and we need to be open towards other cultures. We need acceptance and respect to maintain peace and make Earth a prosperous place to live for every living being, no matter background.

Also, if you travel to India or any other country with many Hindus, it’s a good idea to learn a thing or two beforehand to show respect and appreciation of their culture.

How many of these Hinduism Facts did you know beforehand

9 More Things You Should Know About Hinduism

Despite being born in a practicing Hindu family, and despite being brought up in the tradition of idols, temples, and sacrifices, and despite living in the land of Kumari, the living goddess of Nepal, I never understood Hinduism. It was too complex and diverse.

Hinduism is an ancient polytheistic, pantheistic, henotheistic, and animistic religion, which is mystically syncretized with peculiar beliefs and practices. That sentence alone is confusing!

In recent years, Hinduism has enthralled many Westerners. Some adopt Hinduism as a philosophy or find its mysticism and yoga alluring, while others devoutly follow its religious practices. Because of this, I believe Christians in the West need to know more about this religion and its core concepts. Here are nine things you should know about Hinduism

1. Hindus believe in an impersonal god.

Mainstream Hinduism understands god as one, yet it asserts this god can manifest itself in multiple names and forms. A supreme god, popularly known as Brahman, is believed to be the infinite abstract principle, not a person—the absolute reality, the source of consciousness, and the pure existence and knowledge. Brahman doesn’t exist per se but is existence itself. This god is an assembly of superlative attributes rather than a being. It’s an impersonal essence and force. This essence or force isn’t all knowing. Instead, it’s knowledge itself that is Brahman.

2. Hinduism lacks a unified source of authority.

Hinduism is claimed to be the most ancient religion in the world. However, it has no founder, no single sacred scripture, and no unified creed or confession. Hindus revere many authoritative scriptures, such as Vedas, Vedanta, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavata Purana, and Ramayana. These scriptures’ claims are confusing and self-contradictory in many places. They have an elaborate creation narrative of mankind and the cosmos, as well as narratives of how gods and goddesses came into being. These scriptures are read primarily by Hindu scholars and priests, not by laypeople or everyday adherents.

3. Hindus believe in karma and reincarnation.

Hinduism is seen by some to be a fatalistic religion. Its sacred scriptures claim the doctrines of karma and reincarnation are inseparably interwoven. Karma is the law of cause and effect that determines a person’s unalterable fate, and that fate is perpetuated in reincarnation. Hindu scholars argue that either Brahman operates this process or natural laws of causation are accountable for its effects. Hinduism teaches that karma isn’t only the fate of humans. Deities and devils also experience this fatalistic process as predetermined by Brahman.

4. Hindus believe gods can be created.

Hindus believe in a hierarchy of gods. Superior deities have the power and privilege to form a vassal god and to grant a “right of worship” to them as well. Ganesh, an elephant god, is a popular example. He’s said to have been created by his mother, Parvati, from dirt rubbed off while bathing. His father, Shiva, chopped off Ganesh’s head because he provoked Shiva to wage war against him. Shiva did this without realizing Ganesh was his recently created son. Eventually, Shiva provided Ganesh an elephant head and simultaneously granted him the gift of divinity.

5. Hindu gods took various avatars to kill sinners.

The Hindu scriptures have many polished narratives of gods taking various human and animal forms in order to restore cosmic order. These forms are called avatars. The most popular one is likely Vishnu’s avatar of Krishna (who murdered his own evil uncle). Krishna declared this in Bhagavad Gita, chapter 4:7–8:

Whenever there is decay in righteousness, O Bharata,

And there is exaltation of unrighteousness, then I Myself come forth;

For the protection of the good, for the destruction of evil-doers,

For the sake of firmly establishing righteousness, I am born from age to age.

Altogether, Vishnu is said to have taken 10 incarnations. Through those avatars he claims to have restored the cosmic order of righteousness by destroying the unrighteous. Interestingly, some Hindus have deified Buddha by recognizing him as Vishnu’s final avatar.

6. Hindus believe sin involves killing a god.

Hindu scriptures claim that all living being possess an atman (spirit), and killing them, knowingly or unknowingly, is a sin. This includes not just humans but birds, beasts, reptiles, mosquitos, lice, worms, and flies. In addition, the monistic school of Hinduism argues that every spirit—from tiny living and non-living things to enormous living and non-living things in the universe—incorporates into Brahman (Monism). Since atman and Brahman are identified with one another, killing anything implies the killing of Brahman itself.

7. Hinduism is pluralistic and inclusive.

Mainstream Hindus claim that all religions of the world lead to the supreme, impersonal god. This concept is often depicted in a dazzling circle surrounded by the symbols of all religions, and in its epicenter dwells the glorious spirit out of which emanates light to all the world religions. Additionally, some Hindus claim that god sends mahatma (“a great spirit”) in every age to lead the world into the righteous path that ultimately leads to Brahman. Jesus Christ is viewed as one of the greatest lights along with Buddha, Moses, Muhammad, Guru Nanak, and Confucius.

8. Hindus practice pilgrimage.

For Hindus, tirtha (pilgrimage) is a holy ritual that pleases the gods. Hindus make pilgrimage to sacred temples, such as Banaras Kashi, Badrinath, and Kedarnath, which mostly venerate Vishnu and Shiva. As in many other religions, Hindus also make pilgrimage to sacred burial shrines where they worship and pray to their dead gods and gurus (religious teachers). These acts produce good karma and are regarded as a dharma (religious act) that might merit reward in the next reincarnation.

9. Salvation by grace is foreign to Hindus.

It’s written in Hindu scriptures that the soul is immortal. However, the soul takes a new body in every reincarnation because of the cycle of birth and death (samsara). According to Hindu belief, it takes 84,000 incarnations for a person to cycle through all living beings (i.e., insects, animals, fish, birds, etc.) and eventually obtain another reincarnation. Salvation (moksya) is the completion of and removal from this cursed process. The person is then assimilated into the infinite ocean of Brahman’s divinity, uniting with it eternally. At this point, only the spirit is liberated, because it leaves the body forever, a concept similar to Gnosticism. Earthly life is believed to be an illusion or shadow (maya), and its reality is a spiritual life in heaven, a concept similar to Platonism.

Strict spiritual practices are the only way to attain this blissful deliverance, because god is only satisfied by the perfect karma, obedient life, and worship (sadhana). Solely based on this perfection, Brahman grants salvation. Salvation by faith alone in God through grace apart from karma is unimaginable in Hinduism.

15 Interesting Facts About Hinduism That Might Surprise You

Hinduism is one of the most influential religions in the world and the oldest that goes back as far as 5,000-10,000 BC. It comes at No. 3 after Christianity and Islam in terms of followers. Regardless of which religion you practice, most of the major religions preach peace and non-violence, so does Hinduism. Here are some interesting and lesser-known facts about Hinduism. Let’s have a look.

Hinduism Isn’t The Accurate Name Of The Religion

Hinduism or what we call Hindu dharma isn’t the actual name for this religion. Its actual name is Santana Dharma, which means the Eternal way of Salvation. The word Hindu or Indu comes from the Sanskrit word Sindhu, meaning a large body of water or River. The people who lived beside the Indus valley were called Hindus by the Greeks.

Sanskrit, Mother Of Many Languages

Sanskrit is one of the oldest languages in the world having a history of more than 3500 years. Many linguists consider it to be the mother of many (almost all) languages, It belongs to the language family of Proto-Indo-Aryan, Proto-Indo-Iranian and Proto-Indo-Europian Languages. It is also been proven that Sanskrit is the most suitable language for computers. Pretty cool, isn’t it!

Holy River Ganga Has Her Bodyguard!

Yes, you read it right. The holy river Ganga has its bacteria called Bacteriophage. It infects and kills other harmful bacteria invading the river. That’s the reason river Ganga water doesn’t go bad if being kept for a long time. University of Roorkee’s D.S. Bhargava, an environmental engineer, stated that the Ganga is the only river in the world that decomposes organic wastes at a rate 15 to 20 times faster than any other river in the entire world.

The English Word Juggernaut Is Named After A Hindu Deity

The English word Juggernaut, which means huge or powerful, is named after the Hindu deity Lord Jagannath. Every year, a cart festival is held in Puri, a city of Odisha, named The Holy Rath Yatra. The carts used for Lord Jagannath along with his brother Lord Balavadra and sister Goddess Suvadra are huge and the devotees would crush themselves under the wheels of the carts to attain salvation. That’s where the word came from.

Hinduism States That Gods Have Many Forms

In Hinduism, it is believed that God is one eternal energy, who can take any form or Avatars according to the situation and in the favour of mankind and it’s also believed that a part of Brahman lives inside every single being in the universe or multiverse.

There Is No Founder OF Hinduism

Most religions have a founder such as Prophet Muhammad for Islam, Jesus for Christianity, Buddha for Buddhism, Mahavir for Jainism and so on. Hinduism, however, has no single founder and no one knows the exact timeline for when it originated.

Hinduism Follows A Vegetarian Diet

Hinduism believes in Ahimsa or non-violence. They don’t want to hurt any living being. That is why many, if not all, Hindus prefer a vegetarian diet as they don’t want to hurt animals.

“OM”, The Sound Of The Universe

OM or AUM is the most sacred symbol or syllable in Hinduism. It’s often chanted as a prefix of any mantra. Its also been suggested that when chanted the vibration of OM is said to be 432HZ which is the vibrational frequency of everything in this universe.

“Yoga”, The Face Of Hinduism To The World

Yoga is a vital part of Hinduism. Even if you don’t know Hinduism or India still you know what yoga is. That much influence yoga has created into this world. The original meaning of yoga is ‘Union with God’ for Hindus. But in recent years it has been adopted by western society as well. Lord Shiva is said to be the lord of Yoga often mentioned as Adi Yogi or the First teacher as he is the first person to describe the secret of yoga to the Sapta Rishis or the seven saints.

The Only Religion That Doesn’t Have A Conversion Rule

Hinduism is the only religion that never invaded any country or other religion to convert them into Hindus. Hinduism has no rule or ritual for conversion. But it will not be going to restrict you if you want to practice Hinduism. You can practice it and attain salvation even being into your religion.

“The Kumbh Mela”, A Gathering That Can Be Seen From Space

The Kumbh Mela, a spiritual gathering of Hinduism held on the banks of Holy river Ganga every 12 years. Millions of people gather there to bathe in the holy river. The gathering is so massive that it can be seen from space and on 10th February in 2013, more than 30 million people gathered in a single day! It has also been awarded the status as a cultural heritage by UNESCO.

“Vedas”, The Oldest Known Scripture In The World

The Vedas are a large body of text originated in ancient India. Composed in Sanskrit around 1700-1100 BCE making them the oldest religious scripture in the world. They had a great influence over Hinduism and Indians. There are 4 Vedas Rig Ved, Sama Ved, Yajur Ved and Atharva Ved. Vedas are also called ‘Sruti’, as knowledge of the Vedas were passed orally thousand of years ago from generation to generation.

The House Of Incredible Knowledge And Innovation

Indians, the followers of Hinduism offered this world some great knowledge and innovations. Yoga, Astrology, Decimal system, Infinity, Pi, Meditation, Vastu, Navigation system, Shampoo allegedly have their origins in Hinduism. The Mathematics Society will always bow down to Aryabhatta as the greatest mathematician as he invented ‘Zero’. Can you Imagine number system without zero? The first man to perform plastic surgery was Sushruta back in 600 BC, often regarded as the father of surgery and medicine, he was the son of Rishi Viswamitra.

Hinduism Believes In The Circular Concept Of Time

Hinduism believes in a circular concept of the timeline rather than a linear concept. According to Hinduism, time is divided into four Yugas such as Satya-Yuga, Treta-Yuga, Dwapara-Yuga and Kali Yuga. Right now we are in Kali-yuga. At the end of Kali Yuga, an apocalypse will come to destruct anything and everything for the recreation of the Universe and Multiverse.

Hanuman Chalisa Predicted The Distance Between Sun And Earth

Hanuman Chalisa is a prayer offering to Lord Hanuman written by Santh Tulsidas in the 16th century. In a verse of this prayer, it’s written as follows

“Yuga-Sahasra-yojana para Bhanu

Leeloo Tahi Madhura Phala Janu”

According to the above verse, the distance between the Sun and Earth is Yuga-Sahasra-yojana. As said by Hinduism, 1 yuga is 12000 divine years, Sahasra means one thousand and Yojana means 8 miles. Now Equating this calculation we get 12000 x 1000 x 8 = 96million miles, which is 154.4 million km approximately, much closer to the 20th-century calculation of 152 million km at Aphelion (Longest distance between the Sun and the Earth). Just WOW!

Hinduism Facts

1.       01 Beliefs: Reincarnation, karma

2.       02 Founder: None

3.       03 Definition: A major religious and culture tradition, developed from Vedic religion

4.       04 Origin: Indigenous religion of India

5.       05 Holidays: Maashivarati, Holi, Diwali

6.       06 History: Oldest surviving religious tradition, found throughout history

7.       07 Monotheistic: Yes, but God has many forms

8.       08 Followers: 950 million

9.       09 Date: Founded around 1500 BC

10.     10 Gods: One Supreme Reality (Brahman)

Hinduism Is Very Different from Other Religions

The word “Hindu” comes from the name of the river Indus, according to Hinduism facts. The religion differs from other faiths because it has no founder, no single teacher, and no prophets. It is technically not a single religion, but rather embraces the practices of a variety of different religious groups that come out of India.

Hinduism Is a Religion of Practice Rather Than Beliefs

Unlike most other major religions, Hinduism is more concerned with practice than a specific belief system. It focuses more on the actions of individuals. Hindus do believe in a universal God named Brahman, but Brahman takes on many forms that may be worshiped by Hindus. It is also believed that Brahman is in everyone.

Hinduism Focuses on Reincarnation

Hindus believe in reincarnation, which is when the soul is eternal and lives several lifetimes, entering a new body after the previous body has passed. The soul may be reborn in a human body, animal body or even a plant. Therefore, Hindus believe that every living creature has a soul.

Karma Determines Your Body

Reincarnation is not random, according to Hinduism facts. Hindus believe in karma, and that this is what determines how your body will come back. Any setbacks in your current life are a result from bad actions in a past life. Therefore, Hindus live their current lives in a manner that will guarantee them a better life once their soul is reborn.

Hindus Have a Spiritual Goal

Hindus believe that their soul will continually be reincarnated until their beliefs are fully realized, being that only Brahman exists and nothing else. The freedom that they achieve once reaching this goal is called Moksha. There are four different paths that a Hindu can take to achieve this, including the path of knowledge, the path of meditation, the path of devotion and the path of good works.

Hindus Have 4 Goals for Human Life

Hindus work towards four goals that make up their way of life. These include Moksha, which is the final release of the soul from reincarnation. The second is Dharma, which is the life code, involving respect for elders and marriage. The third is Artha, the pursuit of material gain by lawful means. The final goal is Karma, which is gaining the opportunity to reincarnate to a higher level through pure acts, knowledge and devotion.

Hindus Have Many Gods in One

Hindus only believe in one god, Brahman. He is the cause and foundation of all existence. However, there are gods of faith that represent different forms of Brahman. Some of the most popular include Vishnu (the Preserver), Shiva (the Destroyer), Saraswathi (Goddess of Wisdom) and Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth).

Hindus Worship Daily at Shrines

Hinduism facts tell us that daily worship is a large part of the religion. Hindus worship every day at home, typically to a shrine. A shrine can be anything, such as a special room or a simple altar. Even pictures and statues can work as a shrine. Families often worship together and make offerings. There are Mandirs, which are Hindu temples where people gather on the weekends for worship.

Hindu Scripture Has 6 Main Works

There are six main works that make up Hindu Scripture. They include the Vedas, which are the oldest religious texts in Hinduism. The Upanishads are the earliest texts to reference reincarnation. The Smrutis was written in 250 BC and is known as the Laws of Manu. The Ramayana focuses on marriage through the story of Rama and his wife Sita. It is a poem that serves as a guide for married Hindu couples.

Mahabharata is a poem that tells the story of a war within a family, and serves as a guide for how families should function. The Puranas is a collection of tales that tell about different incarnations and lives of saints. Together, these texts give Hinduism its beliefs, practices and faith.

Hinduism Focuses on 3 Main Practices

Hinduism practices focus on three main rights and ceremonies, centering on birth, marriage and death. According to Hinduism facts, the first is worship, and involves small offerings to representations of the gods. The second is cremation. Bodies are to be burned, not buried. The last focuses on the caste system, which is a division of society to preserve society. It closely relates to ancient Egyptian practices. By dividing society up into groups based on occupation, each group knows their purpose and responsibilities, but no group is considered superior to another.

108 is a Holy Number in Hinduism

The holiest number in Hinduism is 108. This is the ratio of the Sun’s distance (from Earth) to the Sun’s diameter. Therefore, Hindu prayer beads usually have 108 beads.

Hinduism Was Nameless for Centuries

The name Hinduism was not used until the Ancient Greeks started calling the people of India Hindus, after the river Sindhu. Their religious customs were automatically associated with the name by the Western world. Before, there was no name for the religion. Hindu or Hinduism is not mentioned in any religious text.

Animals Are Holy to Hindus

Animals in general are treated with great respect by those who practice Hinduism, but there are some animals that are treated with the utmost respect and honor. They include the cow, elephant, snake and peacock. Contrary to popular belief, Hindus are allowed to consume beef.

Hinduism Is the World’s Third Largest Religion

Hinduism facts tell us that nearly 80% of India’s population consider themselves to be Hindus. A further 30 million Hindus live outside of India in neighboring countries. Worldwide, there are 950 million Hindus, equivalent to about 15% of the world’s population.

Hinduism Is a Growing Religion

While most religions tend to remain in their original countries of origin, Hinduism is spreading throughout the globe. Many people in Western countries have embraced the religion’s tolerance for diversity and peaceful practices.

Hinduism Facts – Facts about Hinduism Summary

Hinduism facts explain this unique religion’s beliefs, practices and history. They focus on the origins of the religion and the Hindus’ belief in one god which takes multiple forms. The facts also cover some of the main beliefs of Hinduism, including karma and reincarnation.

Hinduism – 9 Interesting Facts You Should Know

Hinduism is a complex and old religion that shaped the India we know today. Wherever you go, you will find traces of its beliefs and symbolism: in the many temples and sculptures that adorn the cities; in the daily practices of the Hindus; in the amazing festivals that are sprinkled all across the year.

In this article, we have tried to explain the most important concept of Hinduism to help you have a guide in your exploration. You will find information about its history, practices, deities, festivals and temples. You will have an amazing experience exploring its legacy firsthand during your next trip to India.


Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world, and its complexity is astonishing

Hinduism can be considered more like a “way of life”, and leading a righteous existence is one of the most important goals one can pursue

There is one Supreme Being, whose qualities are embodied in the hundreds of minor deities.

1. History and origin of Hinduism

It is widely accepted that Hinduism started about 2000 years before Christ, in what is now Pakistan. Hindus believe that their faith has always existed: in fact, there is no one founder, but it is instead a fusion of various beliefs.

Everything started when the culture of the Indo-Aryan people, who came from elsewhere, blended with the indigenous one – even if it is not clear who influenced who the most.

The Vedic Period, during which the Vedas were composed, lasted from 1500 BCE to 500 BCE. We also distinguish the Epic, the Puranic and the Classic Period, during which the worshipping of the deities became increasingly important – especially for Vishnu, Shiva, and Devi.

The Medieval Period lasted from 500 to 1500 CE. When Muslim Arabs invaded India during the 7th Century, Hindus were not allowed to worship their deities, and sadly some temples were destroyed.

2. Fundamental beliefs of Hinduism

Hinduism is as fascinating as it is complex. It embraces many different ideas and would be better referred to it as a “way of life” than a religion. The major beliefs of this faith and lifestyle include the cycle of death and rebirth, virtuous behaviors, the pursuit of one’s true calling, nonviolence, and vegetarianism.

Hinduism is considered a henotheistic religion, which means that Hindus worship a single deity, Brahman, but still recognizes the existence of other minor gods.

Hindus believe that every religion is true, as it is just another way to try to reach the truth. Most Hindu traditions revere the Vedas, a sacred scripture that forms the basis of Indian philosophy.

Two fundamental beliefs of Hinduism are samsara (the cycle of life, death, and reincarnation) and karma (the law of cause and effect).

The concept of samsara is that a person continues to be born and reborn, as the soul will continue its journey even after the body dies. This eternal soul is called atman (the inner self or spirit). Samsara can be ended when someone reaches “moksha” (or salvation) and becomes part of the absolute soul.

Karma explains an individual’s present circumstances as a consequence of his or her action in the past. Good actions and intents create good karma, while bad actions result in bad consequences.

These actions and consequences may come from a person’s current life or past lives, as it’s believed that reincarnation is based on your karma in previous lives.

Moksha is the ultimate goal of Hindu life in which one can attain the perfect mental peace and achieve the unity of all existence. It also liberates the soul from samsara, and this liberation can be attained by the practice of detachment, to withdraw oneself from the outer world.

Another pivotal concept is dharma, which indicates that all the actions are in harmony. It means that every Hindu must live an honest and moral life.

In the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Krishna defines dharma as upholding both this-worldly and other-worldly affairs and asks Arjuna to fulfill his warrior duty to uphold the dharma.

3. Hinduism holy books

All the ancient scriptures of Hinduism are written in Sanskrit. We can divide the scriptures into two groups: Shruti and Smriti. Shruti refers to the Vedas, the earliest Hindu scriptures, which are regarded as the eternal truths.

The Vedas have been categorized into four major themes: the Samhitas’ texts about mantras and benedictions, the Aranyakas’ texts about sacrifices and ceremonies, the Brahmanas ‘commentaries on sacrifices and ceremonies, and the Upanishads’ texts about philosophy and meditation which have founded Hindu philosophical thought.

The Smritis includes the Hindu epics and the Puranas, which use vivid narratives to illustrate the common themes of Hinduism. The main epics consist of the Mahabharata and Ramayana, and their stories have inspired a great deal of art, dance, and theater.

The Mahabharata is the longest epic poem in the world. This epic narrates the rivalry between two families, the Pandavas and the Kauravas, and ends with the great battle of Kurukshetra, which the Pandavas eventually win.

The integral part of the Mahabharata is known as the Bhagavad Gita, one of the most popular sacred texts in Hinduism. The Bhagavad Gita contains a plethora of wisdom about human behavior, emotions, and moral dilemmas that guide the daily lives of millions of Indians.

The Ramayana narrates the life of Rama, the ideal hero, who is sent into exile with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman. During their exile in the forest, Sita was abducted by the demon-king Ravana. With the help of the monkey army, Rama rescued Sita and returned to the Kingdom of Ayodhya.

Like the Mahabharata, the Ramayana doesn’t simply tell a story but presents teachings of Hinduism. Rama’s victory over evil is celebrated during the festival of Dussehra, which commemorates the fact that truth and righteousness will always win.

4. Hindu mythology

When we talk about Hindu mythology, we refer to Hindu Itihasa, a series of tales that includes the Vedic literature, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and, the Puranas.

The same facts can appear in many different texts and are often represented in different ways. However, they always have a symbolic meaning that is open to a wide range of interpretations.

Hindu mythology celebrates the fact that everything happens at the same time and that all possibilities may exist without excluding each other. The tales are ambiguous, elusive and can be considered “living organisms that change constantly”.

Some of the most recurring topics are:

          The nature of existence

          The human condition

          Good vs evil

          Miracles, magic and divine intervention

The stories revolve around how the cosmos was created, how humans were born, the battle between gods and demons, how to resolve disagreements, the meaning of existence, etc.

One of the collections is related to the avatars of Vishnu ‘C with the most famous stories being the one narrating a great flood, similar to the one found in the bible and many other traditions.

5. Gods and deities in Hinduism

With one Supreme Being that all the Hindus worship, there are also thousands of other deities. It can be said that the deities personify different aspects of the one true God so that believers can worship their deities according to their family, regional traditions and practices.

Brahman, the Supreme Being

In Hinduism, there is one Supreme Being called Brahman ‘C even if, due to the cultural and linguistic diversity of India, this Supreme Being has been seen and called in many different ways.

When He is formless, most Hindu will call him Brahman. When He does have a form, He will be indicated by the word Paramatma, in which are included the three forms of the almighty: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.

To Hindus, God lives inside each person’s soul, awaiting to be discovered. So, the ultimate goal is to know God in this intimate way.

Hinduism is often called a “polytheistic religion” but this is incorrect. It is more appropriate to refer to Hinduism as being both monotheistic and henotheistic: the latter means that Hindus worship one God but don’t deny the existence of other Gods.

Everyone is encouraged to approach God in their favorite way, following many different paths. God demands no allegiance, doesn’t punish anyone for not believing and provides wisdom, comfort, compassion and freedom.


Shiva, part of the Trimurti along with Brahma and Vishnu, is also known as “The Destroyer”. He is one of the supreme beings that create, protects and transform the universe.

He can be depicted as both being benevolent and malevolent. When he is depicted as benevolent, he is a Yogi who conducts an ascetic life on Mount Kailash. When he is malevolent, he is viewed while slaying demons.

He is considered to be the patron of yoga, meditation, and arts; and its iconography always includes the serpent that surrounds his neck, the crescent moon, the river Ganga that flows out of his hair, the third eye on his forehead, the trident.


In the triage, he is the Preserver, who always protects the world every time there is a danger or a threat. His most known avatars are Rama, the protagonist of the epic Ramayana, and Krishna, present in the Mahabharata.

He is usually depicted with a pale or dark blue skin and with four arms. He has a lotus flower in the lower left hand; a mace in his lower right hand; a conch in his upper left hand and a discus in his upper right hand.

A common depiction sees Vishnu, along with his wife Lakshmi, reclining on the coils of the serpent Shesha while he dreams the universe into reality.


Ganesh (or Ganesha) is one of the most famous Hindu deities. He is worshipped in India, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Thailand, Bangladesh and Nepal; and also many Buddhists are his devotees.

His most distinguishing feature is the elephant’s head, and he is revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva (another term to indicate a supernatural being) of wisdom.

Other major deities

Some of the most important Hindu deities are:

Devi: the goddess that fights to restore dharma

Krishna: the god of compassion, tenderness, and love

Lakshmi: the goddess of wealth and purity

Saraswati: the goddess of learning

6. Daily practices of Hindu

An important part of every Hindu’s day is the puja, or worship, that usually takes place inside a temple (mandir). Hindus can also practice puja at home and many worshippers have a family shrine dedicated to the gods and the goddesses that they adore.

One of the crucial parts of the puja is the giving of offerings. Besides praying, Hindus worship their gods or goddesses by giving them gifts: mostly flowers, oils, or food. Hindus usually light oil lamps, offer incense, and create rangoli (also known as pookkalam) or floral decorations placed on the ground in front of homes to welcome the deities.

Some devotees perform daily rituals like worshiping at dawn after bathing to pay respect, reciting religious scriptures, chanting mantras, and performing yoga asanas. They will also conduct spiritual activities to refine their state of mind by internalizing the gods.

Pilgrimage is another important part of Hindu life and is thought to be a way to rejuvenate, overcome the sorrow of the loss, address remorse, perform penance, and gain spiritual merit. Pilgrimages are also performed in memory of a loved person after he or she has passed away, to disperse one’s ashes in a river.

Pilgrimage sites are called Tirtha and consist of Jangam Tirtha (a movable place such as a sadhu and a guru), Sthawar Tirtha (an immovable place such as Mount Kailash, The Ganges, Varanasi, and Haridwar), and Manas Tirtha (a state of mind).

Varanasi, India’s holiest Hindu city, is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites. Situated on the west bank of the Ganges, Varanasi is lined with temples and witnesses an endless cycle of Hindu religious practice. Thousands of pilgrims come to Varanasi every day and bathe in the Ganges to cleanse all earthly sins.

As with many other religions, purification plays a vital role in Hinduism. Water is thus fundamental as it washes the bodies of worshippers and helps them to get rid of impurity and symbolically wash away their sins.

7. Most important Hindu festivals

There are many different Hindu traditions that on any day of the year, there are observing a holiday. This is mostly due to the high number of deities, and to the fact that everything, both animate and inanimate things are considered sacred.

Many of these holidays are based on the cycles of nature marking the transition of the seasons (such as the Pongal festival), celebrating the harvest (such as the Onam festival), and so on.

Many others are dedicated to specific deities and gods such as Ganesh Chaturthi (honors the elephant god Ganesh), Durga Puja (celebrates the victory of the goddess Durga), Janmashtami (marks the birth of Krishna), and Mahashivratri (dedicated to Lord Shiva).

However, there are two holidays that is extremely important: Holi and Diwali.


Holi celebrates the beginning of spring, and its religious importance has its roots in Hindu mythology. Nowadays it is a fun festival, with devotees that throw colored powders and scented water to each other to celebrate the colorful spring.

During this holiday, Hindus will enjoy life and disregard their social norms. Everyone is equal, and the celebration of the colors is meant to break barriers and celebrate unity and brotherhood.


Also known as “The Festival of Lights”, Diwali is usually observed for 5 days during autumn. It marks the end of the harvest season: farmers give thanks for the past year and pray for a good harvest during the following year. The most important god of this holiday is Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity.

The name “Festival of Lights” derives from the many candles, lamps and firecrackers lit to signify the victory of light over darkness, good over evil. The light also symbolizes the awareness of a person’s inner light.

8. Hindu architecture

The science behind Hindu architecture is explained in some Hindu texts that talk about the formation of sculptures, temples, icons, etc.

The most important representation of Hindu architecture is of course the temples (“mandir” in Hindi). Every temple has an inner sanctum that hosts the primary image of a deity. Around this room, there are several others.

Outside, the structure is crowned by a tower. The building with the shrine often offers a congregation hall, a place where one can stroll, and sometimes an antechamber.

Of the thousands of Hindu temples to be found all over India, there are some that we believe you truly cannot miss.

Badrinath Temple

This temple, located near the Alaknanda River, contains the holy shrine of Vishnu, which is part of the four holiest sites of Hinduism, called Char Dam.

The ancient adobe can be visited from April and November, the rest of the time, the weather is too harsh to undertake the pilgrimage.

Sun Temple

Located in Konard, the Sun Temple is a marvelous architecture dedicated to the Lord Sun. The structure has the shape of a chariot, with twelve wheels and dragged by seven horses.

The temple is mentioned in many scriptures, and, as Rabindranath Tagore said: “Here the language of stone surpasses the language of man”.

Brihadeeswarara Temple

The temple was built during the 11th century and is dedicated to Shiva. It is the biggest temple in India and is made entirely of granite stone. When observed at noon it does not cast any shadow on the ground.

Somnath Temple

This temple represents one of the oldest pilgrimage sites of all India. Somnath means “Guardian of the Moon God”. The legend says that Som built the temple to honor Shiva, who cured him when he was sick. It is believed that Krishna left his earthly body.

Kashi Vishwanath Temple

It is one of the holiest temples of the country. It can be found in the ancient city of Varanasi and is dedicated to Shiva. Millions of worshippers visit the temple every year to look at the jyotirlingas, one of the 12 devotional representations of Shiva.

It is believed that seeing the jyotirlingas can cleanse the soul of the worshipper and can lead to wisdom.

9. Hinduism vs. Buddhism

Hinduism and Buddhism share the same overall goal, which is to attain the moksha or nirvana and overcome the samsara, the cycle of death and rebirth. They also share the same views on karma the belief that the intents and actions of an individual influence one’s future. Both religions also believe in reincarnation and that the soul continues its journey to rebirth when the body dies.

The key difference between Hinduism and Buddhism is that Hinduism admits atman, the eternal self, which is similar to the Christian idea of the soul. The atman is reincarnated in the cycle of death and rebirth. The cycle ends only when the person realizes that everything is the self and in oneness with Brahman.

On the other hand, Buddhism teaches anatman that there is no self in the sense of a permanent being and the self is just an ephemeral experience. To reach nirvana, a state of emptiness, one must understand that there is no self and no more becoming. It’s more like a state of “stopped consciousness”.

Explore India with Asia Highlights

Without Hinduism, India would have been a different country, with a different culture. Don’t miss the chance to witness the long-lasting influence of Hinduism and start planning your next trip to India!

Our staff will take care of everything, ensuring you and your family a hassle-free adventure that you will never forget.

15 Facts About Hinduism

Hinduism, one of the oldest religions in the world, is a complex and diverse religious and philosophical system that originated in the Indian subcontinent.

With roots dating back over 4,000 years, Hinduism encompasses a wide range of beliefs, practices, rituals, and traditions.

Unlike many other religions, Hinduism does not have a single founder or a central religious authority.

Instead, it has evolved and developed through the contributions of numerous sages, saints, philosophers, and spiritual leaders over the centuries.

As a diverse and complex religion, Hinduism continues to evolve and adapt to the changing times while maintaining its core principles and beliefs. It serves as a source of spiritual guidance, cultural identity, and philosophical exploration for millions of people around the world.

Hinduism Facts

1. Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world

Hinduism has a rich historical lineage that stretches back over 4,000 years. It evolved from the religious and cultural practices of the people who lived in the Indus Valley civilization, which flourished around 2500 BCE.

The religious traditions and beliefs of this civilization, as well as the influence of Aryan tribes who migrated into the region, contributed to the formation of Hinduism.

2. It is the third largest religion in the world

While Hinduism is predominantly practiced in India and Nepal, it has followers and communities worldwide.

Significant populations of Hindus can be found in countries such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Fiji, Mauritius, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and various Western nations where Indian diaspora communities have settled.

3. Hinduism is a complex and diverse religion with no single founder or central religious authority

Hinduism differs from some other major religions in that it does not have a single founder or a central religious authority.

Instead, it developed over centuries through the contributions of numerous sages, saints, philosophers, and spiritual leaders.

This decentralized nature has allowed for a diverse range of beliefs, practices, and traditions to flourish within Hinduism.

4. The Vedas, a collection of ancient scriptures, form the foundation of Hindu religious and philosophical teachings

The Vedas are a collection of ancient scriptures that hold great importance in Hinduism. These texts are considered the oldest sacred literature in the Hindu tradition and are written in Sanskrit. The Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda, and Atharvaveda are the four main Vedic texts.

They contain hymns, prayers, rituals, and philosophical teachings. The Vedas serve as a foundation for Hindu religious and spiritual thought and are studied and interpreted by scholars and priests.

5. Hinduism is a polytheistic religion, with a belief in many gods and goddesses

Hinduism is often characterized as a polytheistic religion due to its belief in multiple gods and goddesses. The Hindu pantheon consists of a vast array of deities, each associated with different aspects of the cosmos, nature, and human life.

Some of the most widely worshiped deities include:

•        Brahma – the creator

•        Vishnu – the preserver

•        Shiva – the destroyer and transformer

•        Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth and prosperity

•        Saraswati – the goddess of knowledge and learning

•        Durga – the goddess of power and protection

However, it is important to note that Hindu philosophy also recognizes the ultimate reality as Brahman, a formless, all-pervading cosmic consciousness that transcends any specific deity.

This aspect of Hinduism aligns with the concept of monism or non-dualism, known as Advaita Vedanta.

6. At the core of Hinduism is the concept of dharma

Dharma is a central concept in Hinduism, referring to the moral and ethical duties and responsibilities that individuals must fulfill in order to live a righteous and virtuous life.

Dharma encompasses various aspects, including personal duties, social obligations, and spiritual practices. It is believed that living in accordance with dharma leads to personal well-being and contributes to the harmony of society and the cosmos.

7. The belief in karma is another fundamental aspect of Hinduism

Karma is a fundamental belief in Hinduism. It is the law of cause and effect, suggesting that every action has consequences. According to this concept, individuals accumulate karma based on their actions, intentions, and thoughts.

Positive actions lead to positive karma, while negative actions lead to negative karma. The accumulated karma shapes one’s present circumstances and influences future rebirths.

The ultimate goal is to attain liberation from the cycle of rebirth by purifying one’s karma and achieving spiritual liberation.

8. Hinduism places a strong emphasis on reincarnation or the cycle of birth and death

Hinduism teaches that the soul is eternal and undergoes a cycle of birth and death known as samsara. Reincarnation is the belief that after death, the soul is reborn into a new body. The specific circumstances of the next birth are determined by the accumulated karma.

Reincarnation continues until the soul achieves moksha, liberation from the cycle of rebirth. The process of reincarnation provides opportunities for spiritual growth, learning, and the resolution of karmic debts.

9. Yoga and meditation are important practices in Hinduism

Yoga and meditation are integral practices within Hinduism. Yoga encompasses a variety of physical, mental, and spiritual disciplines aimed at achieving self-realization and union with the divine.

It involves physical postures (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama), ethical guidelines (yamas and niyamas), concentration practices (dharana), meditation (dhyana), and ultimately, a state of complete absorption (samadhi).

Meditation plays a crucial role in quieting the mind, cultivating self-awareness, and attaining spiritual insights.

10. Hindu temples are places of worship and spiritual reflection

Hindu temples are sacred places of worship and spiritual connection. They serve as abodes for the deities and as spaces for devotees to engage in religious rituals, prayers, and offerings.

Hindu temples vary in size and architectural style, ranging from small shrines to large complexes. They often feature ornate carvings, intricate artwork, and colorful decorations.

Temples are not only places of religious practice but also centers for cultural and social gatherings, where festivals, ceremonies, and community events take place. They are considered gateways to the divine and provide a sense of spiritual solace and upliftment for devotees.

11. The cow is considered a sacred animal in Hinduism and is revered as a symbol of life and abundance

Cows hold a special place in Hinduism and are considered sacred animals. They are revered as a symbol of life, fertility, and abundance. The cow is often associated with the goddess Kamadhenu, who is believed to fulfill all desires.

In Hindu mythology, cows are associated with various deities, such as Krishna, who is depicted as a cowherd. Many Hindus refrain from consuming beef and consider cow protection as a moral duty. Cow worship and the practice of gifting cows to priests or the needy are considered virtuous acts.

12. Festivals play a significant role in Hinduism

Hinduism is marked by a multitude of festivals celebrated throughout the year. Festivals play a significant role in religious and cultural life, bringing communities together and fostering a sense of unity and devotion.

Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is one of the most widely celebrated Hindu festivals. It symbolizes the victory of light over darkness and good over evil.

Other major festivals include:

•        Holi (the festival of colors)

•        Navaratri (celebrating the goddess Durga)

•        Raksha Bandhan (celebrating the bond between siblings)

•        Janmashtami (commemorating the birth of Lord Krishna).

Each festival has its unique customs, rituals, and significance.

13. The caste system has had a historical influence on Hindu society

The caste system has been an influential social structure in Hindu society, although its significance and impact have evolved over time. Traditionally, the caste system categorized people into distinct social groups based on occupation, birth, and hereditary roles.

The system was hierarchical, with Brahmins (priests and scholars) at the top, followed by Kshatriyas (warriors and rulers), Vaishyas (merchants and farmers), and Shudras (laborers and servants).

Below the caste system were the Dalits (formerly known as untouchables) who were considered outside of the caste hierarchy. The caste system has faced criticism for its potential for social discrimination and inequality, and efforts have been made to promote social equality and inclusivity.

14. Hinduism has a rich mythology with numerous gods, goddesses, and epic stories

Hinduism is rich in mythology, folklore, and epic stories that shape the religious and cultural imagination. The two most famous Hindu epics are the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.

The Mahabharata narrates the story of the Kurukshetra War between two sets of cousins, the Pandavas and the Kauravas, and explores complex themes of duty, righteousness, and moral dilemmas.

The Ramayana depicts the adventures of Prince Rama, his wife Sita, and his loyal devotee Hanuman.

It teaches lessons about honor, loyalty, and the triumph of good over evil. These epics have not only influenced Hindu religious beliefs but also shaped art, literature, theater, and cultural expressions across various societies in Asia.

15. Hinduism has had a profound influence on art, literature, music, dance, and architecture in India and beyond

Hinduism has profoundly influenced various forms of cultural expressions, including art, literature, music, dance, and architecture.

Hindu art and sculpture are characterized by intricate carvings, statues of deities, and vibrant symbolism. Literature in the form of religious scriptures, philosophical treatises, and epic poems has flourished within the Hindu tradition.

Indian classical music, with its melodic and rhythmic intricacies, draws inspiration from Hindu devotional music.

Classical dance forms like Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Odissi, and Kathakali often depict Hindu mythological stories and spiritual themes.

Hindu architecture is exemplified by magnificent temple complexes, such as the temples of Khajuraho, Konark, and Meenakshi Amman.

These cultural expressions not only preserve the religious heritage but also showcase the aesthetic and spiritual dimensions of Hinduism.

Hinduism Facts & Worksheets

Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world, which is believed to have started 4,000 years ago in Northern India. It is the 3rd largest religion in the world, with more than 900 million followers. Hindus praise Brahman as the supreme god along with his many forms.

•        Many scholars believe that Hinduism started way back, between 2300 BCE to 1500 BCE in the Indus Valley. As the Indo-Aryan people migrated to the Indus Valley, their culture blended with the natives.

•        The era between 1500 BCE to 500 BCE is known as the Vedic Period. It was the time when Vedas were composed. The term Vedah means “knowledge” and is the oldest sacred text of Hinduism. These include the Rig Veda, Yajur-Veda, Sama-Veda, and Atharva-Veda.

•        Most of the ancient sacred texts got written in Sanskrit. Vedas guide Hindus’ belief system and daily life principles. In about 250 BCE, the Hindu Holy scriptures that contain the Law of Manu, known as Smritis, were created. Also, Upanishads contain scriptures about the individual and universal soul as well as the concept of reincarnation.

•        Ramayana is a Hindu Holy scripture that told the epic of Rama and Sita as they triumph over evil. Their love story depicts the perfect life of married couples.

•        On the other hand, Mahabharata contains poems about the war in the family. Furthermore, Hindus are guided by the 18 Puranas, depicting ancient stories about the life of saints and incarnations.

•        In general, Hindu philosophy is divided into 6 Darshanas, namely; Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Vedanta, and Mimamsa. Aside from these, they also believe in the concept of karma and reincarnation. Karma is about the law of cause and effect, while reincarnation believes that the human soul is immortal; thus, the cycle of rebirth is continuous.

•        Like Buddhists, Hindus aim to achieve Nirvana or Moksha as part of the soul’s salvation. To attain this, one must follow the Samskaras or the rituals. They are not allowed to harm other people (Ahimsa), not to steal (Asteya), not to utter promiscuous words or thoughts (Brahmacharya), and to possess virtues like Satya or truthfulness, forgiveness (Kshama), steadfastness (Dhriti), compassion (Daya), and honesty (Arjaya).

•        Several festivals are marking the Hindu calendar. These include Diwali (festival of lights), Navaratri (celebration of fertility and harvest), Holi (spring festival), Janmashtami (birthday of Krishna), Mahashivaratri (festival for Shiva), Gudi Padwa (Hindu New Year), Ramnavami (Lord Rama’s birthday), and Ganesh Festival.

•        Hindus also practice a rigid social hierarchy. It is based on people’s dharma and karma. The primary caste system includes the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, Sudras, and Pariah. For many centuries, the caste system was strictly followed. It determines the Hindus’ social and religious life.

•        When India became an independent nation, its constitution banned any form of discrimination through the caste system, but the old customs of marrying by social class are still observed.

•        Some Hindus revere the Trinity: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, in which all other deities are their manifestation.

•        Hindus worship many gods and goddesses. Some of their known deities are Brahma, the creator of all things, Vishnu, the protector of the universe, Shiva the destroyer, Devi who restores the dharma, Krishna the god of love, Lakshmi goddess of wealth, and Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom. They worship in temples called Mandir.

•        Most Hindus do not eat beef and pork. They see all living things as sacred, especially cows. The majority of Hindus are vegetarian, and wasting food is considered a terrible habit.

•        During the British colonial period in India, reformers and activists like Mahatma Gandhi emerged. He pushed for India’s independence. In 1947, the British Indian territory was divided into now India and Pakistan. After a year, Gandhi was assassinated. Hinduism became India’s state religion.

Hinduism Worksheets

This bundle contains 11 ready-to-use Hinduism Worksheets that are perfect for students who want to learn more about Hinduism which is the oldest religion in the world, which is believed to have started 4,000 years ago in Northern India. It is the 3rd largest religion in the world, with more than 900 million followers.

25 Interesting Facts about Hinduism

Hinduism is the oldest practiced religion and has the third largest following in the world today. Despite its universal appeal, Hinduism is easily misunderstood mainly due to incorrect interpretations of the scriptures written in Sanskrit, and the oral tradition of literature. This article is a small attempt to share some of the larger facts of the Hindu practices and beliefs.

Hinduism fact 1

Hinduism is the largest ancient religion in India. This religion has 330 million gods and 108 scared numbers odd numbers are auspicious for the Hindu religion.

Hinduism fact 2

Hindus believe that souls reincarnate, undergoing a rebirth cycle. In Hindu mythology, people believe the soul considers as space (empty) invisible one.

Hinduism fact 3

Hindus hold the belief of the four Vedas in their minds. This considers the most ancient book in the world. Hindus believe the myth book of ‘Bhagavat Gita’ and it quotes also Four Vedas of Rig, yajir, Sama and Adharvana are ancient scripture of Hindu religion.

Hinduism fact 4

Hindus believe that the soul can undergo a variety of physical endurance in the body. All past life you’ve led contributed to the person you are today, nevertheless the soul reincarnates for the physical body.

Hinduism fact 5

Hinduism follows the creation concept of practices of Yoga, Ayurveda, Astrology, Vastu, Jyotish, Yajna, Puja, Tantra, Vedanta, and Karma. Hindus believe these four types of kama, Artha, Dharma, and Moksha is important to live in the human life. This four-level of life to reach a good karma life.

Hinduism fact 6

Karma is the universal principle of cause and effect, karma calculates based on our activity, our actions, good, and bad come back to us in the future, helping us to learn from the lessons of life and become a better person. Karma only decides the future life of the human.

Hinduism fact 7

There is no concept of Creation and the Creator. World come from God, is in God and will return to God, like a wave arising from the sea, there are at sea and eased back into the sea. However, Hindu religion believes three Major Trimurti Gods of Lord Bhrama (creator) Lord Vishnu (preserver) and Lord Shiva (Destroyer).

Hinduism fact 8

Reincarnation is a phenomenon in which the immortal soul continuously born and reborn in one of the 8.4 million forms of life-to achieve moksha. Moksha is the final liberation. But the soul is roaming of conscious only, not memory and also an inevitable one.

Hinduism fact 9

Hindus believe that all living things have a soul or Atman. Each timeless – never created and never will perish. Atma is characterized as an unchanging truth, consciousness, and happiness.

Hinduism fact 10

The last facts about Hinduism are not a religion but a way of life of tradition and culture. Hinduism gives you a healthy lifestyle. Hindu practices such as bathing in the morning, do Yoga, avoid meat, etc. promote health and hygiene, this is the most interesting Hinduism fact. Dharma lifestyle will give Moksha to complete the circle of rebirth.

Hinduism practices of one person taken bath from the holy river of Ganga such as bathing in the Ganga river firmly, reach Moksha or soul purifies.

Hinduism fact 11

Hinduism is an exonym, a name given to those who were residing across the River Sindu by those of other geographic origins. Believed to have originated in Central Asia and the Indus Valley the adherants of this faith know it as ‘Sanatana Dharma’ or ‘Eternal Dharma’. This way of life practiced in the Indian subcontinent over time became Hinduism denoting the native religious, philosophical, and cultural traditions practised in India.

Hinduism fact 12

The concept of God is as simple as it is complex in Hinduism. Hindus are not Idol Worshippers. In Hinduism the idols ‘murthi’ serve as reminders of godly virtues and are not worshiped believing it to be gods. These physical representations are only manifestations of the Omnipotent or ‘Bhraman’ as the Hindu belief is that any object is worthy of being worshiped as it contains a facet of divine energy

Hinduism Fact 13

Hinduism has 33 primary gods. The Vedas mention ‘trayastrimsati koti’ devi-devta or 33 kotis gods which was incorrectly translated to 33 million gods by foreign scholars. The word Koti in Sanskrit has 2 meanings one means ‘types’ & the other ‘Crore’. Dev here means ‘that which is divine and useful to the universe’ and not an individual. The worship therefore extends to every aspect that contributes to maintain an order in the universe. Sun, moon, planets, and other elements of nature are thanked and respected for their invaluable benevolence to mankind.

Hinduism Fact 14

There is no concept of Creation and the Creator. World comes from God, is in God and will return to God, like a wave arising from the sea, exisits in the sea and eases back into the sea. However, Hindu religion believes three major Trimurti Gods – Lord Bhrama (creator) Lord Vishnu (preserver) and Lord Shiva (Destroyer).

Hinduism Fact 15

Hinduism does not believe in only one way to experience or realize God. There is no only one path but many paths to reach God.

Hinduism Fact 16

Hinduism follows the creation concept of practices of Yoga, Ayurveda, Astrology, Vastu, Jyotish, Yajna, Puja, Tantra, Vedanta, and Karma. Hindus believe the four tenets of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha are important to undergo the human existance.

Hinduism Fact 17

Dharma and Karma are two important principles of Hinduism. Dharma refers to good ethics and the path of righteous living. Karma in Hinduism is not fate. It is the law of Action and Reaction which governs life. It describes the principles of ‘cause and effect’. Karma is the totality of our actions and its resulting reactions across all our lives impacting our present and future lives.  Karma calculates based on our activity, our actions, good, and bad come back to us in the future, helping us to learn from the lessons of life and evolve to a better person.

Hinduism Fact 18

Hindus believe in the human cycle of death – rebirth called ‘samsara’. Life does not end when the physical form ceases to exist. The soul ‘athman’ is reborn after a person dies and takes on another physical body. This is a process that allows the soul to evolve to  certain state of perfection similar to how a caterpillar sheds one form to metamorphose into a magnificent butterfly.

Hinduism Fact 19

The ultimate aim of the Hindu way of life is to attain ‘moksha’ or reach the state of blissful union with the Eternal divine. There is no terrifying concept of ‘Eternal damnation’ instead the focus is on God-realization. The state of moksha ends all pain and suffering linked with physical existence.

Hinduism Fact 20

Hindus believe that all living things have a soul or Atman. The atman is timeless – never created and never will perish. The ultimate goal of the atman is to become one with the Supreme Soul or “Parmatma”

Hinduism Fact 21

In Hindu parlance Maya refers to ’that which exists but is not real’. Maya in Sanskrit means ‘Illusion’. One could often hear Hindus say “everything is maya”. This refers to the limitation of human nature to perceive truth. The perfect example is the blue sky, the sky exists though it in reality it has no color however we see it as blue.

Hinduism Fact 22

108 scared numbers odd numbers are auspicious for the Hindu religion. Numbers offer a means to meditate and realize a hidden symbolic significance. The ancient mathematicians of India identified the number 108 to be the product of a precise mathematical calculation. Other important numbers are 0,1,2,3,7,9…and each of them have multiple symbolic significance.

Hinduism Fact 23

Hindus believe in the horoscope or the birth chart which indicates that there are predestined events that would shape our lives. In the horoscope or the ‘janam-kundli’ the position of the Nine planets, Stars and Moon influence our behaviour and set in motion certain events. Marriages are fixed only after consulting and matching the horoscope of the bride and groom to be.

Hinduism Fact 24

The belief that ‘we are what we eat’ is a strong principle of Hinduism. Hindus do not eat pork or beef. On auspicious days Hindus consume only vegetarian food and on certain days they observe complete abstinence from eating or fast. Food is classified as ‘satvic’, Tamasic, or Rajasic’ based on the impact it creates. Wastage of food is strictly looked down upon in Hindu practices.

Hinduism Fact 25

Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life of tradition and culture. Hinduism allows a healthy lifestyle that resonate with the environment. Hindu practices such as bathing in the morning, do Yoga, avoid meat, etc. promote health and hygiene, and are the most interesting Hinduism aspect of a religion practiced from ancient times. The concept of Hinduism is a set of doctrines and instructions that tell us what is good for the body and the soul while being in tandem with the universe.

Hinduism Facts

Despite being the third-largest and the oldest religion in the world, lots of people are unaware of many Hinduism facts. There are also several misconceptions about Hinduism, which need to be explained. Therefore, in this article, I have tried to put forth all the Hinduism facts in brief before the world, so that everybody would have an idea about what Hinduism is.

In the history of mankind, many cultures have come and gone but Hinduism has withstood many challenges posed by time and has spread all over the world. The secret of this success of the Hindu religion lies in the fact in its practical approach towards human life, belief in eternal truths, and modifications made from time to time without changing the basic beliefs.

Fast Hinduism Facts:

Existence Since: Hinduism is the world’s oldest religion. The history of Hinduism can be traced back to 5000-10,000 B.C.

Facts about size and Rank: It is the third-largest religion in the world with approximately 1.2 billion followers. It is about 15% of the world population. In India, there are about 1.03 billion Hindus in 2020. The Hindu growth rate is 1.55% annually in India.

Location: Most Hindus live in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka with a considerable presence in all other parts of the world. About 85% of Hindus live in India. Therefore, India is also called “Hindustan.”

Known as: People who follow Hinduism are called “Hindus.”  Hinduism is also known as “Hindu Dharma” (हिंदू धर्म), ” Hindu Religion, “Sanatan Dharma (Eternal Religion),” “Vedic Religion,” or Vedic Dharma.

Founder: Hinduism has no single founder. It has been evolving over the thousands of years and will continue to.

Origin: Hinduism originated in the Indian subcontinent. Hinduism is largely based on the teachings from Vedas.

Meaning of the word: The word “Hinduism” actually has no real meaning because Hinduism was not founded as a religion. The name “Hindu” is given by the people outside of India, especially Greeks and Arabs, to those living in the vicinity of the “Sindhu” river. So, the way of life those people were following is called “Hinduism”.

What do they worship: Hindus believe in one God named as “Brahman” but view other gods and goddesses as manifestations of Him. Therefore, in practice, they worship more than one God.

Most Hindus worship God in the form of an idol. Hindus rever rivers, mountains, trees, animals, and natural things that are useful for human beings.

Place of Worship: The place of worship of Hindus is called a temple.

Main Deities: Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva are the creator, protector, and destroyer respectively. These are the three main deities in Hinduism. Besides them, Lord Ganesha, Lord Krishna, Lord Hanuman, Lord Rama, and goddess Parvati are the most popular deities in Hinduism.

Yugas: According to Hinduism, as there are four seasons in a year, there are four Yugas namely Satya-Yuga, Treta-Yuga, Dvapara-Yuga, Kali-Yuga. At the end of a full cycle of four Yugas, life on the earth comes to an end (though not completely) and a new era starts. Humanity enters into a new era. The present era is Kali-Yuga, i.e., Dark Age.

Facts about sects in Hinduism: Hinduism consists of different sects like Shaivism, Vaishnavism, and Shaktism. The common people follow all the three sects collectively worshiping Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, and Devi.

Aims of life: Dharma (righteousness), Artha (wealth), Kama (desire), and Moksha (salvation) are the four objectives of a Hindu’s life.

Goal: Salvation is the ultimate goal of a Hindu’s life.

Stages of life: According to Hinduism, four stages of life are Brahmcharyashram (Student phase), Grihastahshram (Living with wife and children), Vanprasthashram (leaving the home and pray to God, may keep contact with family), and Sanyasashram (discard everything in life including wife, children, and material things).

Contribution: Yoga, Pranayama, meditation, Ayurveda, vegetarianism, and meditation are the best gifts of Hinduism to the world.

Tantra, palmistry, acupressure, acupuncture, Jyotish Shastra (astrology), martial art, and many other ancient wonders originated in India and are parts of the Hinduism Religion.

Hinduism is the source of inspiration for three other major religions of the world viz. Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism.

The Zero, point system and the decimal system were invented in India, based on which modern science exists.

Symbols: AUM and Swastika are the main symbols of Hinduism. Besides those, Kalash, Trishul, Tilak, Lingam, Shri, and Yantra are other popular Hindu symbols. The saffron is the official color of Hinduism and the saffron flag is the official flag of Hindus.

Sacred Books or Scriptures: Four Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavadgita, 18 Puranas, Ramayana, and Mahabharata are the sacred books of Hindus.

Language: Most of the Hindu scriptures are written in Sanskrit. Sanskrit is considered to be the mother of all the languages. Sanskrit is considered to be the language of demi-gods.

The languages Hindus use vary according to regions. They speak all the Indian languages like Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Malayalam, Gujarati, Kashmiri, etc. Outside India, the languages spoken by Hindus are English, Sinhali, Indonesian, etc.

Eating Habits: Most of the Hindus do not eat beef and/or pork. They also do not eat non-vegetarian food on auspicious days. Hinduism strongly advocates vegetarianism. Food is highly revered and wasting food is considered a very bad habit.

Important Hindu Festivals:

1. Diwali – The festival of lights.

2. Vijayadashami – Celebrating the victory of good over evil.

3. Gudhipadawa – Hindu New Year.

4. Mahashivratri – The day on which the universe was created.

5. Makar Sankranti – Transmigration of Sun into Makar Rashi.

6. Navratri – Mother goddess is worshiped for nine days.

7. Ramnavami – Birthday of Lord Rama.

8. Ganesh Festival – Festival of Lord Ganesha.

Vedic restraints for Hindus are (mentioned in Sandilya Upanishad):

1. Ahimsa (not to harm others).

2. Satya (truthfulness).

3. Asteya (Nonstealing).

4. Brahmacharya (Avoiding promiscuity in thoughts, word, and deed).

5. Kshama (Forgiveness).

6. Dhriti (Steadfastness).

7. Daya (Compassion).

8. Arjaya (Honesty).

9. Aparigraha (non-possessiveness).

10. Mitahara (moderate food).

Sixteen Samskaras in a Hindu’s life:

Samskaras are rituals that are performed at different stages of human life. According to Gautama Dharmasutra, there are 40 Samskaras of which 16 are referred to as Shodasha Samskaras.

1. Garbhadhana (pregnancy).

2. Pumsavana (quickening the fetus).

3. Simanatonnayana (parting of pregnant woman’s hair in 8th month).

4. Jatakarman (rite celebrating the birth).

5. Namakarana (naming the child).

6. Nishkramana (first outing).

7. Annaprashana (baby’s first feeding of solid food).

8. Chudakarana (first haircut of the baby).

9. Karnavedha (ear piercing).

10. Upanayana  (entry into school).

11. Vidyarambha (initiation of knowledge).

12. Samavartana (rite of passage in the ancient texts of Hinduism).

13. Vivaha (marriage).

14. Vanaprastha (retirement from worldly life).

15. Sanyasa (renunciation of worldly life).

16. Antyeshti (last rites).

Hindu Philosophy:

Hindu philosophy is divided broadly into six different parts called as Darshanas.

1. Samkhya.

2. Yoga.

3. Nyaya or Logic.

4. Vaisheshika.

5. Mimamsa.

6. Vedanta.

Karma: Karma means your deeds. Hindus believe that our fate depends upon our Karma i.e., as you sow so shall you reap. If you do bad Karma, you have to compensate for it in this as well as your next life. Your next life depends upon your Karma.

Reincarnation: A soul dwells in every living thing. The body is mortal but the soul is immortal. When we die, our soul enters a new body, and the cycle continues until we get salvation.

Caste System:

Originally, there were no castes in Hinduism, but there were four Varnas, viz:

1. Brahmin (priests).

2. Kshatriya (warriors).

3. Vaishya (Businessmen).

4. Shudra (laborers).

These Varnas were further divided into castes and sub-castes. Originally, the caste system was not based upon birth. Nowadays, caste is determined by birth. During the medieval period, the persons belonging to a particular caste were supposed to do the same business as of their ancestors. This type of caste system no longer exists. People are free to do whatever they want. Castes come into play mainly during marriages. In arranged marriages, people prefer to marry a person from the same caste.

Five Biggest Sins (mahapataka):

1. Murder of a Brahmin (The word brahmin here means a scholarly person).

2. Stealing gold (Gold refers to valuable items).

3. Drinking intoxicating drinks (e.g. alcohol).

4. An illicit relationship with the teacher’s wife.

5. Being associated with the above-mentioned sinners.

(Chandogya Upanishad 5.10.9)


According to Bhagavad-Gita, whenever Dharma weakens or the sins on the earth increase to the limit, Lord Vishnu incarnates on the earth and removes the sinners and protects the earth. So far, Vishnu has incarnated nine times and the tenth incarnation is yet to come. Following are the 10 incarnations of Vishnu known as Dashavataram:

1. Matsyavatar.

2. Kurmavatar.

3. Varaha avatar.

4. Narsimhavatar.

5. Vamanavatar.

6. Lord Parshurama.

7. Lord Rama.

8. Lord Krishna.

9. Lord Buddha.

10. Kalki Avatar.

The Basic Concept of Hinduism:

It will be easier to understand the basic concept of Hinduism if you know the Law of Conservation of Energy. For those who have a science background or have some interest in science know the Law of Conservation of Energy very well. It is like this:

“Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Only one form of energy can be transformed into another. The sum of all the energies in the universe remains the same.”

According to Hinduism, the human body is perishable but the soul is immortal and is subjected to the continuous cycle of birth and rebirth. The soul changes bodies as a living person change his/her clothes. So, the thing we call death is just a transformation of the soul from one body to another as the energy changes from one form to another. This cycle continues births after births, and the soul is subjected to sufferings endlessly.

So, the ultimate goal of a Hindu’s life is to attend salvation (Moksha or Nirvana), i.e., freedom from the cycle of birth and rebirth. One can attend salvation when a person’s soul fully becomes one with the supreme spirit called “Brahman” (or God) who is eternal, genderless, omnipotent, and omniscient.

Interesting Hinduism Facts:

So far, we have seen some common Hinduism facts, but now we will have a look at some interesting Hinduism facts.

1. The institution of marriage was founded and put forth in practice by Hindus.

2. The first lawmaker, Manu, was a Hindu and Manu Smriti was the first book on law in the world.

3. Rigveda is the oldest book.

4. Hindus believe that the Vedas are written by gods.

5. According to Vedas, lending money on interest is a bad Karma.

6. Acupuncture and acupressure are vital parts of Hindu customs.

7. Vedas were preserved for more than 5000 years without the help of printing technology. This was done by reciting and memorizing all the hymns and through the Teacher-Disciple tradition (Guru-Shishya Parampara).

8. India is the home of four great religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism.

9. Sanskrit is the oldest language in the world.

10. The concepts of the decimal system, zero, point, pi, and many others were used first by Hindus.

11. According to Vedas, Om is the sound that was present at the time of the creation of the universe and it is the only symbol, which represents God (Brahman).

12. Parents, teachers, and food are considered next to God.

13. Wasting food is considered a very bad habit in Hinduism.

14. There is no officially declared Hindu country in the world as there are Islamic and Christian countries. Nepal was the only Hindu country, but it has now become a republic.

15. Hindu community is the second most tortured community in the world after the Jews.

16. Hindus do not wear footwear inside the temples or homes.

17. Because of the usefulness of rivers, they are highly revered in Hinduism. People call them the mother.

18. Kashi Vishwanath Temple is the holiest temple for Hindus. It is located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

19. Kashi is situated along the banks of the river Ganges. It is the holiest place for Hindus. Some Hindus believe that if you die in Kashi, you would attend salvation. Some people prefer to spend the last days of their lives in Kashi.

20. There have been substantial pieces of evidence that Hinduism had spread all over the world including Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, the USA, Italy, and many other parts of the world.

21. Hindu population constitutes about 14% of the world population.

22. Hindus believe that we get the human body when our soul passes through 8,400,000 species (Yonis).

23. A few decades back, Yoga, Ayurveda, Vedic Maths, and Hypnotism were considered superstitions and/or rubbish, but with the advent of modern science, it is proved that these things are very helpful for us.

24. Hindus do not worship Lord Brahma individually. They worship him only in the form of the trinity, i.e., Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh together. There is only one temple of Brahma in the world, which is in Pushkar, Rajasthan. The same thing applies to Indra. Indra and Brahma are both cursed because of their weak characters.

Some people use this thing against Hinduism but they should understand that Hinduism is bold enough to punish every culprit whoever he/she may be. This also proves that Hindu mythology is not a fairy tale but a history as no culture would abandon its gods.

25. The Ganges is the holiest river for Hindus. She is a goddess for them. They believe that all of a person’s sins are washed when he/she bathes in the Ganges. Ganges water contains more oxygen than any other river in the world, and the water remains fresh for a longer time.

According to a program broadcasted on Discovery, the Ganges water contains bacteriophage, which eats up harmful bacteria. Hence, despite being over-polluted, there are fewer harmful bacteria in it.

26. Most of the Hindus cremate dead bodies. The practice of burial is also observed in a small number of castes.

27. Since ancient times, Hindus know that there are nine planets in our solar system.

28. Hinduism believes in a circular rather than a linear concept of time.

29. The 108 is a sacred number for Hindus.

30. The cow is the holiest animal for Hindus.

If you know more interesting Hinduism facts, please share them in the comment section below.

13 Lesser-Known Facts About The Hindu Religion

The more you know about something, the better, especially in the case of religion. Regardless of which faith you belong to (atheism included), most of the major religions actually preach non violence, though that’s not always noticed by a number of ‘blind’ devotees. If you take a closer look, you’ll find that there’s a number of things that may surprise you about different religions, including Hinduism.

Here are some facts about Hinduism you may not have known!

1. The goal of life in Hinduism is to attain salvation, or moksha

Self realisation and freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth is the final goal.

2. Hinduism actually believes in only one god, but in many forms

The people choose which form they want to follow.

3. Hinduism is the 3rd largest religion in the world, after Christianity and Islam

In fact, 90% of Hindus live in India.

4. Hinduism believes in a circular rather than a linear concept of time

Time is divided into four ages – the Satya yuga (golden age of innocence), Tretha yuga, Dwapara yuga and Kali yuga.

5. The Rig Veda was written more than 3800 years ago, making Hinduism one of, if not the oldest religion in the world

6. 108 is a sacred number in Hinduism and it is considered auspicious

This is why malas and garlands have 108 beads. 108 is actually the ratio of the sun and the moon’s distance from the Earth.

7. It is one of the few religions that does not consider the pursuit of wealth a sin.

Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth (both material and spiritual), is testament to that fact.

8. The word ‘Juggernaut’ is actually derived from Lord Jagannath.

It was originally used to denote the Rath Yatra temple car, which was so massive it would crush devotees under the wheels.

9. Both male and female deities are worshipped with equal reverence in Hinduism

This is also because in Hinduism, god is considered both male and female, or as the one who has no sex or both.

10. Om is actually believed to be the manifestation of consciousness in sound form

11. Buddhism and Sikhism were both derived from Hinduism

12. According to Hindus, the religion has no founder or origin

13. Angkor Wat, Cambodia’s defining temple complex, was originally a Hindu temple

It was built by Suryavarman II in the 12th century and originally dedicated to Vishnu, before it transformed into a Buddhist temple.

10 Mind Blowing Facts About Hinduism!!

1. The religion is so ancient that its founder or historical time frame is unknown. It’s developed over time taking influences, changes and evolution from many different sources. Through archeological research, some scientist gather the religion can be as old as 5000-10000 b.c

2. Hinduism is not the name of the religion. It’s become that only because Greeks and Arabs saw a different civilization of people that lived by the Sindhu River. The real name for Hinduism is Sanatana Dharma which means eternal truth.

3. Hinduism is the world’s 3rd largest religion. 15.1% of the world population, 80% of India’s and close to 1% of the U.S

4. Hinduism is NOT monotheistic. To the contrary of popular belief, Hinduism believes that one god comes in many forms, and worship is the choice of the benefactor.

5. The number 108 is important to Hindus. Malas and Garlands contain 108 beads. This number is said to first come from the calculation of the ratio in diameters of the Earth and Sun – with the Sun being 108 times the size of Earth.

6. Men and Woman are worshipped in Hinduism with equal reverence. In fact Lord Shiva is often represented by a statue called the Lingam where male and female reproductive parts are present thus evoking the unifying force of all creation.

7 The symbol OM that has been popularized by the Yoga movement represent the cosmic sound of the universe. Everything is born and will die out of this cosmic sound. If you’re quiet enough and the mind is unencumbered with thoughts you can actually hear it.

8. Angkor Wat in Cambodia is a temple that the king of the time of its inception dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Today you can see symbols and scenes from Hindu Scripture carved in stone throughout the palace.

9. The ultimate goal of Hinduism is to attain salvation or moksha. It’s the release from the cycle of birth and death also called samsara and the end of karma which is the actions of good and bad that can aid or dismiss the pursuit to enlightenment.

5 Facts You Didn’t Know About Hinduism

Hinduism is the world’s third largest religion with more than 900 million followers worldwide, with a vast majority in India and Nepal.

Hinduism is the world’s third largest religion with more than 900 million followers worldwide. The largest population of Hindus reside in India and Nepal. Despite this vast following, a lot of people have misconceptions about the religion, such as assuming all Hindus worship cows. The following are a few things you might not know about what is considered to be one of the oldest religions in the world

1. Pray When You Want, Where You Want

Hindu temples do not have set days or times for you to visit—anyone can come pray anytime. There aren’t chairs or pews to sit on. People sit on the floor, pray, receive blessed food from a priest and then leave when they feel like they’ve finished their prayers.

Hinduism is more of a home-based, individual faith. Most people have a shrine with idols in their home that is dedicated to the gods and goddess they pray to. There are preferred days to pray to certain gods and goddesses. Another fun fact, you can pray anytime, anywhere.

Each home has a personal deity they pray to. Find out to whom your friend prays to by asking them, but mainly ask why! For example, Maharashtrians pray to Ganpati (Ganesh), who is known as the remover of obstacles. Gods and Goddesses can have anything they want, except your free will, so when you pray, they are pleased you chose to pray!

2. Gender Power

Hinduism is the only major religion that has nearly an equal number of female and male deities. Both female and male deities are revered and worshipped throughout the year. A fun fact: Hindu mythology has several stories of gender fluidity—with a male god taking a female form and vice versa—to teach lessons to people on Earth.

3. Sacred Numbers

The number 108 is considered a holy number to Hindus, especially on prayer beads called malas. Hindus will chant the names of their beloved divine 108 times while praying. Another reason people believe the number to be holy is that there are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet, and each has masculine and feminine designations—so, 54 times 2 is 108. For more reasons why the number is considered holy

4. Piercings

Both males and females will have their ears pierced as children. The piercing is believed to have acupuncture benefits, even for males who may not wear earrings.

5. Yoga, Math, and Other Religions

Yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda all came from Hinduism and are widely practiced not only by Hindus but by people of all religions throughout the world.

Additionally, did you know that zero (yes, the number) came from India? The decimal system also came from India and can be found in early Hindu texts.

Lastly, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism are offshoots of Hinduism. Cool, isn’t it?

41 Transcendental Hinduism Facts

Dating back to over 4,000 years ago, Hinduism is the world’s oldest religion.

With approximately 900 million followers, Hinduism is the world’s third largest religion, after Christianity and Islam.

Nearly 95% of of the world’s Hindus live in India.

Hindus believe in the doctrine of samsara, which is the continuous cycle of life, death, and incarnation, as well as karma.

Because there is no one founder of Hinduism, and because it embraces many religious ideas, Hinduism is often called the “way of life” or a “family of religions.”

The word “Hinduism” is from a Sanskrit word that means “dwellers by the Indus River.”

There are approximately 33 million Hindu gods and demigods.

Over 15% of the world’s population is Hindu.

Approximately 0.7% of Americans practice Hinduism.

While there are many gods in Hinduism, they all form one universal spirit called Brahman. Brahman takes three important forms: Brahma (the creator of the universe), Vishnu (the preserver of the universe), and Shiva (the destroyer of the universe).

While there is not a singular book of doctrine in Hinduism, the Vedas are some of the most important. Composed in Sanskrit around 1500 BC, they contain sacred verses and hymns.

There are six seasons in the Hindu calendar: spring, summer, monsoon, autumn, pre-winter, and winter. Springtime is considered the king of seasons for its pleasant weather.

The longest poem in the world is the Mahabharata. Incorporating 1.8 million words, it is 10 times longer than the Odyssey and the Iliad combined. This celebrated epic poem contains Hindu philosophy and devotional material.

 Most Hindus do not believe in euthanasia because they believe it will cause the soul and body to be separated at an unnatural time, damaging the karma of both doctor and patient.

According to Hinduism, prayopavesa, or fasting to death, is an acceptable way for a Hindu to end their life, depending on the circumstance.

Because so many Hindus live in India, the country is also called “Hindustan.”

Hinduism is one of the four “Dharmic” or “Indic” traditions. The other religions are Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism. The Dharma religions share many spiritual concepts, such as dharma, karma, samsara, and moksha, though they are interpreted differently.[

Hinduism has at its heart the metaphor of Indra’s net. Indra’s net is an infinitely large net of cords that holds multi-faceted jewels at each vertex, and each jewel is reflected in all of the jewels to describe the interconnectedness of the universe.

The largest religious structure in the world is Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Initially built to the Hindu god Vishnu in the early 12th century, it is made from 5 million tons of sandstone.

Hindus worship both male and female deities.

Scholars note that the movie Star Wars helped mainstream America become more receptive to Hindu and Indian mysticism than any other other cultural factor.

Famous Hindus include J.D. Salinger, M. Night Shyamalan, and Ben Kingsley.

Hindus believe in yuga, which is a large unit or epoch of time. There are four yugas, with the apocalypse end of the fourth. We are currently living in the second half of the final yuga.[

The largest human gathering on earth is the Kumbh Mela. A spiritual gathering held every three years, this Hindu festival attracts over 100 million people.

Hindus were the first to use basic concepts of mathematics, such as zero, the decimal system, infinity, and pi.

The number 108 is considered to be the most sacred number in Hinduism. It is sacred because it is the ratio of the sun’s distance from earth to the sun’s diameter and the ratio of the moon’s distance from earth to the moon’s diameter.

In Hinduism, rivers are considered sacred. The most sacred river in India is the Ganges River, which is supposed to wash away a person’s sins.

Hollywood movies have incorporated some important Hindu concepts. For example, movies such as Interstellar, The Matrix, Batman, and Star Wars include themes of a transcendental force and the reality/illusion paradox

Sanskrit is the most common language in Hindu scriptures; it is also the oldest language in the world.

While most Hindus live in India, Indian diaspora has helped spread the religion around the globe. Sizable Hindu populations outside of India reside in the UK, Canada, the United States, East Africa, and the island of Bali in Indonesia.

One core belief of Hinduism is that karma is essentially the law of cause and effect. What you do in this life will affect you in the next. Karma is not determined by a conscious god but by an automatic process or the nature of the universe.

The earliest text in Sanskrit is a collection of texts called “Vedas,” which is related to “wisdom,” “vision,” and the Latin videre, “to see.”

One of the most important terms in Hinduism is “dharma,” which is from the root dhr, meaning “to found, maintain, uphold.”

Recent polls show that approximately 40% of Americans believe in the Hindu concept of reincarnation.

In Hinduism, the endless cycles of karma and incarnation are curses. The ultimate goal of a Hindu is to avoid both and achieve moksha, a “state of oneness with ultimate reality.”

The Beatles became interested in Hinduism through the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Their trip to India resulted in one of their most creative periods. However, their stay in India was cut short following sexual misconduct allegations against the Maharishi.

The Hindu concept of Brahman is sometimes referred to as God; Brahman is impersonal, indefinable, unknowable, unmanifested, without attributes, and the sum of everything that exists. In Hinduism, we are all Brahman, but the belief that we have our individual identity is what keeps us chained to the wheel of reincarnation.

While Hindus worship over 330 million gods, they are all facets of Brahman. So, Hinduism is both monistic and polytheistic.

Adolf Hitler appropriated the swastika from Hinduism (where it symbolizes reincarnation) and used it as a symbol of terror (not because he believed in reincarnation)

A Hindu man in Minnesota owns several Burger King franchises, even though Hindus traditionally avoid eating beef. When asked how he could run a business centered on eating beef, he replied, “religion has its dharma, and business has its dharma.”[

The largest Hindu temple in the United States is in Maple Grove, Minnesota. It has seven distinct sections, so devotees of different gods can worship in the same building

6 Hinduism Beliefs

Hinduism is not an organized religion and has no single, systematic approach to teaching its value system. Nor do Hindus have a simple set of rules to follow like the Ten Commandments. Local, regional, caste, and community-driven practices influence the interpretation and practice of beliefs throughout the Hindu world.

Yet a common thread among all these variations is belief in a Supreme Being and adherence to certain concepts such as Truth, dharma, and karma. And belief in the authority of the Vedas (sacred scriptures) serves, to a large extent, as the very definition of a Hindu, even though how the Vedas are interpreted may vary greatly.

Here are some of the key beliefs shared among Hindus:

Truth is eternal.

Hindus pursue knowledge and understanding of the Truth: the very essence of the universe and the only Reality. According to the Vedas, Truth is One, but the wise express it in a variety of ways.

Brahman is Truth and Reality.

Hindus believe in Brahman as the one true God who is formless, limitless, all-inclusive, and eternal. Brahman is not an abstract concept; it is a real entity that encompasses everything (seen and unseen) in the universe.

The Vedas are the ultimate authority.

The Vedas are Hindu scriptures that contain revelations received by ancient saints and sages. Hindus believe that the Vedas are without beginning and without end; when everything else in the universe is destroyed (at the end of a cycle of time), the Vedas remain.

Everyone should strive to achieve dharma.

Understanding the concept of dharma helps you understand the Hindu faith. Unfortunately, no single English word adequately covers its meaning. Dharma can be described as right conduct, righteousness, moral law, and duty. Anyone who makes dharma central to one’s life strives to do the right thing, according to one’s duty and abilities, at all times.

Individual souls are immortal.

A Hindu believes that the individual soul (atman) is neither created nor destroyed; it has been, it is, and it will be. Actions of the soul while residing in a body require that it reap the consequences of those actions in the next life — the same soul in a different body.

The process of movement of the atman from one body to another is known as transmigration. The kind of body the soul inhabits next is determined by karma (actions accumulated in previous lives). Learn more about Hindu funeral customs.

The goal of the individual soul is moksha.

Moksha is liberation: the soul’s release from the cycle of death and rebirth. It occurs when the soul unites with Brahman by realizing its true nature. Several paths can lead to this realization and unity: the path of duty, the path of knowledge, and the path of devotion (unconditional surrender to God).

Hindu Beliefs

Teaching your children about Hindu beliefs? Learn about the Hindu faith and the concepts of dharma, atman, moksha, karma and Brahman in Hinduism.

Hindu Beliefs

Hinduism is a world religion that has fused together various traditions and beliefs of the cultures of India throughout history. Starting in ancient history, the Hindu faith developed a series of sacred texts.

These sacred texts are known as the Vedas, and they are made up of:

The Rig Veda

The Samaveda



Hindu people also have a series of fundamental concepts that are laid out in the sacred texts and show believers how to live their lives. These concepts are:

Dharma (the overarching moral law of Hinduism)

Purushartha (the main goals for life)

Varna (the Hindu social classes)

Atman (the soul)

Karma (cause and effect of your actions)

Samsara (reincarnation)

Moksha (becoming one with the Brahma)

Brahman (the ultimate power in the universe)

A Brief History of Hindu Religion

Hinduism is one of the oldest surviving world religion and has been worshipped in India uninterrupted for more than 4,000 years. The roots, customs and traditions of the Hindu faith developed at different periods during those 4 millennia and created what we know as modern Hinduism.

Unlike other religions, Hinduism has no single founder (such as Jesus Christ for Christianity). It is instead the fusion of many schools of thought from many cultures.

Around 1500 BC, the Indo-Aryan people migrated into the Indus Valley, and their language and culture blended with that of the indigenous people living in the region. It is believed that the blend of culture was effective for both cultures.

This early period, from 1500 BC to 500 BC, is the period when the sacred texts – Vedas – were first composed. It is now know as the ‘Vedic Period’ for modern Hindu people. Rituals such as sacrifices, chanting and dancing were common in the Vedic Period.

Throughout the following centuries, more eras and periods added new information, and traditions to the Hindu faith. The Epic, Puranic, and Classic Periods took place between 500 BC and 500 AD. During these periods, Hindus began to emphasize the worship of deities, especially Vishnu, Shiva, and Devi.

What is Dharma in Hinduism?

Dharma means duty, virtue, truth and morality. It outlines a moral law of right and wrong that Hindus follow in everyday life, behaving correctly and taking their duties seriously. This Hindu belief brings stability to a person’s life. Dharma is a universal concept, but outlines a slightly different law for everyone depending on their age, gender and social position. For example, a child’s dharma is to work hard at school. The dharma of a parent, is to raise their children and support their family.

Every person’s dharma is called sva-dharma. To act against your dharma is known as adharma.

All Hindu beliefs and concepts are founded on living in accordance to dharma. Dharma is also an important concept in Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism.


Purushartha refers to the four main goals of life within Hinduism. These are:

•        Dharma – moral values;

•        Artha – economic values;

•        Kama – pleasure;

•        Moksha – liberation.

Using the Purushartha to provide structure to your life will allow a person to live a meaningful life. Working with the Purushartha allows a person to make good decisions and live a meaningful life.

Artha refers to having the materials you need to support yourself and your family. It’s the basis for dharma and kama.

Kama relates to pleasure in general. To practice kama, a person’s pleasures, such as art, music or kindness, must align with that person’s life purpose and duty.

Moksha is a liberation achieved when dharma is lived by and artha and kama are practised correctly.


Varna refers to social classes within Hinduism. A part of Dharma, Hindu’s also believe in Varna, which outlines the different social classes, and their duties. The Four Varnas are:

•        Shudras – workers;

•        Vaishyas – merchants;

•        Kshatriyas – protectors or society;

•        Brahmanas – provide education and leadership.

Related to Varna is Ashrama – the four stages of life stated in ancient Indian texts. People in the top three classes, Vaishyas, Kshatriyas and Brahmanas, are known as ‘twice-born’. This refers to them being born once, then born again when males receive a sacred thread as a symbol of their status. They will go through the Ashramas, these are:

•        Brahmacarya – student;

•        Grihastha – householder;

•        Vanaprastha – retired;

•        Samsara – reincarnate.


Atman refers to a person’s ‘soul’ or ‘spirit’. Hindus believe that atman is part of the spirit of Brahman, their ultimate God. Hindus also believe the atman is eternal, meaning it never dies.


Karma means ‘action’, and refers to the Hindu law of cause and effect. This is where the actions of a person, influence the future of that person. Within Hinduism, Hindu’s believe that good behaviour that corresponds with dharma will have positive outcomes. Poor behaviour, against dharma, will result in bad outcomes.

Karma has also become an important spiritual concept to many people, regardless of what religion they belong to.


Karma is central to samsara, which means ‘reincarnation’. This is a core Hindu belief and is defined as a continuing cycle where the soul (atman) is reborn and life renews over and over as a result of karma. If you behave in accordance with dharma, this will result in positive outcomes that allow your soul to be reborn. A soul can be reborn into a physical body, or an animal.


Moksha is the ultimate goal within Hinduism, to leave this cycle of rebirth (samsara) and become one with the god Brahma. Hindu’s believe that in order to achieve moksha, Hindus must follow one of the three paths, the path of duty, the path of knowledge, or the path of devotion.


Brahman is a Sanskrit word meaning transcendent power. The Hindu belief in Brahman is the belief in a power that upholds the world. Particular Hindu deities are manifestations of Brahman. Brahma is the Hindu creator god and creator of the Vedas.

Key Points

Hinduism is diverse; no single doctrine (or set of beliefs) can represent its numerous traditions.

Nonetheless, the various schools share several basic concepts, which help us to understand how most Hindus see and respond to the world.

The concepts we discuss here are largely based on Vedanta, and accepted by most modern traditions (but, keep in mind, not all!).

Hinduism begins simply by differentiating between matter and spirit. Spirit is understood within two main categories, namely

the individual self, or soul (the atman)

the Supreme Self, or God (the paramatman).

Hence, there are these three main truths (see below), which form the basis for theological discussion.

These three truths have been expanded in this section into twelve concepts. These twelve are interwoven into a useful overview of Hindu thought (given below).

Two Main Schools of Vedanta

Within Vedanta there are several doctrines. The main contention is about the nature of the Supreme, and in defining the relationship between God and the soul.

1.       The advaita (monist) schools entirely equate the soul with God.

2.       The dvaita (monotheistic) schools tend to emphasise the distinction.

Many theologies synthesise these two elements. In this section, where relevant, we present the opinions of both these schools.

Overview of Hindu Theology

Almost all Hindus believe that the real self (atman) is distinct from the temporary body made of matter (prakriti).

The eternal soul identifies with matter and is entrapped by maya (illusion). Impelled by lust, greed, anger, etc., he undergoes samsara (the cycle of repeated birth and death).

Each soul creates its unique destiny according to the law of karma (the universal law of action and reaction). Under the influence of eternal time and the three gunas (material qualities) he moves throughout the creation, sometimes going to higher planets, sometimes moving in human society, and at other times entering the lower species.

The goal of most Hindus is moksha, liberation from this perpetual cycle, through re-identification with the eternal brahman (Supreme).

Hinduism accepts different paths towards this common goal (union with God). Nonetheless, it stresses strict adherence to universal principles through the practice of one’s dharma (ordained duty) as revealed through authorised holy books and usually received through the guru (spiritual mentor).

How did Sindhu become Hindu and Hindu became India?

Hindu and India even come for the same word.

Sanskrit was the ancient language of the Hindus, and the Sanskrit name for the Indus River is Sindhu.

The Ancient Persians who sat across the Indus tended to switch S’s to H’s. So Sindhu became Hindu.

So people living across the river became Hindus. The Persians told the Greeks who dropped that not very Greek-like H, stuck a very Greek-like “a” to the end and boom, India.

Hinduism has a long long history. But today we’ll be focusing just on the core beliefs of Hindus because I don’t have the willpower to write complete Hinduism. Hinduism is like a sea.

Hindus are a diverse group. Some are strict, dedicating their lives to prayer. While others don’t believe in any gods but follow Hindu philosophy.

To make things easier to understand let’s break Hinduism down into 7 core beliefs.

So here’s my rap about the 7 Hindu beliefs…

7 Hindu beliefs.

Here’s the regular Hinduism beliefs version…

1. Belief in a One Universal Soul: Hindus believe in a Universal Soul know as Brahman. A formless, genderless, source of all reality. Brahman is the universe and the material that makes up the universe. It’s a trippy concept. Think of Brahman as an ocean and everything else as drops propelling out of that ocean. Separate for a time, but still the same thing.

2. Belief in an immortal individual soul. In Hinduism, souls are known as Atman. Actions of the soul while in a body have effects on that soul’s next life. When you die your soul moves to another new body. This is called transmigration. The kind of body the soul inhabits next is determined by karma.

3. Belief in karma: Karma is action, usually good or bad actions that affect society. For Hindus karmic actions in the past affect us today and our actions today affect our soul’s future.

4. Belief in Moksha: The goal in Hindu life is to somehow get back to Brahman. If Hindus can do this they will be freed from the cycle of life and death. This is called moksha. You can achieve moksha by realising your oneness with Brahman. How you realize this is up to you. For this reason, Hindus pray “Lead me from the unreal to the real.”

5. Belief in the Vedas: The Vedas are Hindu sacred books of knowledge. There are four Vedas. Hindus believe that all four were divinely revealed to ancient Hindu sages. We’ll take a look at them in a while.

6. Belief in cyclical time: For Hindus, there are no beginnings or endings. Time is series of cycles. With each cycle containing four ages or yugas: Krita, Treta, Dwapara, and Kali. Added together, the four yugas total about 4.32 million years. At the end of each cycle, declining human morality lead to total destruction of reality. Hindus believe were are in the 4th and final yuga, Kali.

7. Belief in dharma: Dharma is a difficult word to translate to English. “Proper Behavior” is the best I could come up with. Dharma maintains balance in the universe. As long as everything in the universe like animals, plants, and humans follows their dharma, then everything will be fine. If they break from their dharma, things will to super not fine. Each being has its own dharma. A lion’s dharma is to kill and eat antelope. A King’s dharma is to rule well.  For humans, their specific dharma is usually based on their age and caste. An old priest will have different dharma than a young merchant for example.

So those are the 7 core beliefs of Hinduism. With them, you can understand the Hindu mindset.

Unlike Christianity or Islam, Hinduism is a non-prophet organization. There is no Jesus or Mohammed for Hindus.

There is no Bible, Koran, or Torah. Instead, they have a bunch and I mean a bunch of sacred texts.

The 4 Vedas form the basis of the Hindu faith. So let’s take a look at them.

1.       Rig Veda:

The Rig Veda is a collection of songs that praise the gods and discusses ideas like Truth, Reality, and The Universe. Along with the discussion on war, weddings, and rituals.

1.       Yajur Veda:

The Yajur Veda covers stuff such as sacrificial rites and rituals.

3. The Sama Veda:

Sama literally means “the sweet song that destroys sorrow.” It is mostly songs dedicated to praising gods. It’s different than the rest because it is set to music.

1.       Atharva Veda:

The Atharva Veda is my favorite one! Do you want to curse your enemies and charm that special someone?

Maybe learn to invoke rain or discover herbal medicine along with tips on warfare. Like how to make poison arrows!.

Along with a bunch of charms and curses.

It even has a curse against cursers: “Avoid us, O curse, as a burning fire avoids a lake! Strike here him that curses us, as the lightning of heaven the tree!”

A link to the Atharva Veda is in the description just in case you need a spell to get a wife or another to banish pigeons from your presence.

7 REAL teachings of Hinduism  (Excerpts from the Gita)

1. Core philosophy

The god you believe in is not half as big as the REAL god – Your actions (Your occupation as well as your karma)

2. Detachment

Work hard without giving ANY importance to the reward you will receive. If your intentions are good and if you work hard constantly, THAT state of being is greater than any reward in the world.

3. Cyclic Nature of Life

Life will always be a mix of good times and bad times. If you’re sad, you’re living in the past. If you’re nervous, you’re living in the future. If you want to be happy, only live in the present moment


4. Faith is strength.

Irrespective of what you experience in life, always have blind faith in the universe. The firestorms that you go through, eventually create the armour you’ll carry through your life.

Have faith that everything will fall into place one day.

5. Dhyaan

Meditation is one of the main purposes of life. Your body, your mind and your soul are genetically wired to benefit from the power of meditation.

Over the years, this practice has been lost.

The more you meditate, the more peace you will achieve. The more peace you achieve, the closer you get to hitting the target you were born to hit.

6. Karma

The purpose of life is to achieve peace. But the purpose of living is to be kind. Help those weaker than yourself and always stand up in the face of wrong doings. Sinning is a sin, witnessing a sin is an even bigger sin.

Good karma brings you closer to peace.

7. Dynamism

Religious and spiritual rules are only guidelines. You are always free to break them, if your gut instinct contradicts what you’ve been told all your life. Focus on being the best version of yourself. If someone doesn’t believe in your beliefs, that is not your problem. Live to spread happiness.

Before expressing your opinions, always ask yourself 3 questions – Is it necessary? Is it true? Is it kind?

A Hindu who spreads even an ounce of negativity in someone else’s life, is no Hindu at all. Hinduism is NOT a religion, it is a THOUGHT PROCESS.

Accept all, respect all…

But above all : Keep learning.

7 Pillars of Hinduism

Hinduism, the world’s oldest religion, has no beginning-it precedes recorded history. It has no human founder. It is a mystical religion, leading the devotee to personally experience the Truth within, finally reaching the pinnacle of consciousness where man and God are one.

Our beliefs determine our thoughts and attitudes about life, which in turn direct our actions. By our actions, we create our destiny. Beliefs about sacred matters-God, soul and cosmos-are essential to one’s approach to life.

Humans live their life based on the deep seated beliefs they hold.

There are religious beliefs, financial beliefs, health beliefs, beliefs for every part of life. These beliefs are formed due to a variety of factors. Your parents’ behavior with you and with the society at large, your education, your social milieu, your own experiences with life and so on. Almost all of these factors are out of our hands. We can hardly do anything about them.

It’s difficult to do anything in life contrary to the belief we hold in that field. So if you have a belief that “Money is the root of all evil”, you will probably never be rich because you will never undertake any action that makes you rich.

If your parents had ridiculed you often when you were a kid, you will have a damaged self esteem. You will never believe in yourself, feel unworthy of anything and consequently will find success eluding you.

If you had a school teacher who had praised you, especially in front of your class, about some activity, say your elocution, and in subsequent years others reinforced that belief in you that you speak well then, as a grown up you will undoubtedly become an excellent public speaker and success will follow you. Thus, the beliefs we hold in our mind about ourselves dictate our life.

Hindus believe many diverse things, but there are a few bedrock concepts on which most Hindus concur.

The 7 Pillars

1. Hindus believe in a one, all-pervasive Supreme Being who is both immanent and transcendent, both Creator and Destroyer of reality

2. 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 Sanatana Dharma, the eternal religion

3. Hindus believe that the universe undergoes endless cycles of creation, preservation and dissolution. 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

4. Hindus believe in karma, the law of cause and effect by which each individual creates his own destiny by his thoughts, words and deeds

5. Hindus believe that divine beings exist in unseen worlds and that temple worship, rituals, sacraments and personal devotionals create a communion with these devas and Gods

6. Hinduism recommends timeless obligations, like trustworthiness, ceasing from harming living creatures (Ahiṃsā), persistence, avoidance, patience, temperance, and sympathy, among others. Hindu practices incorporate ceremonies, for example, puja (love) and recitations, Japa, reflection (dhyāna), family-situated transitional experiences, yearly celebrations, and periodic journeys.

7. Hindus believe that an enlightened master, or Satguru, is essential to know the Transcendent Absolute, as are personal discipline, good conduct, purification, pilgrimage, self-inquiry, meditation and surrender in God

Most importantly 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.

कर्मण्ये वाधिका रस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।

मा कर्म फल हेतु र्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्व कर्मणि॥

You have a right to do “Karma” (actions) but never to any of the Fruits thereof. You should never be motivated by the results of your actions, nor should there be any attachment in not doing your prescribed activities.


As we addressed in our post ‘The Hindu Spiritual Path’, Hinduism is a faith that defies the defintion of religion as it has been constructed by the Abrahamic faiths. It is host to a library of scriptures so vast it would take multiple lifetimes to read them all once, let alone understand them. It rejects universal truth claims and instead promotes a path of spiritual evolution in which one aims to have a first-hand experience of the Truth.

As a result, the potential philosophies and theologies are many and varied. It leads one to wonder what, if anything, is shared between the many Hindu paths.

There are seven shared tenents or principles that Hindus all tend to abide by. To be clear, they all accept these concepts and accept that they have a relationship to each other. What that means principally and how that shows up in practice differ widely.

1 Atma

‘An eternal fragment of Myself becomes embodied as the living beings – jīvas – within this mortal world. It acquires the five senses, and the mind, which is the sixth, all of which reside in this material nature.’ Bhagavad Gita, 15.7

The atma, or soul, is the very divinity of the Self. It is such a central point to all Hindu philosophy that much of that exploration has been in pursuit of that Truth. It is the very core of who we are.

Within the Vaisishtaadvaita philosophy, the atma is an infitismal part of God. It is the same as God in quality but not in quantity. It it pure, unadulturated Love that exists in an eternal, enduring, ever-growing love-relationship with God. Whereas in the Advaita philosophy, the atma is seen as equal to God both in quality and quantity and to merge back into complete awareness of that reality.

2 Samsara

‘Arjuna, whatever state one remembers when leaving the body, that state one will certainly attain after death. For a person’s condition is the inevitable result of what has been dwelt upon throughout one’s life.’ – Bhagavad Gita, 8.6Samsara, or reincarnation, is the cycle of birth and death. We are born to live out certain aspects of our karma, we die, and our soul takes up a new body. This cycle is repeated adnauseum but it is not eternal. There is an end that is found in moksha, or liberation. According to Understanding Hinduism, ‘Each incarnation is one story, one episode in a much grander cosmic journey. As we move through this jorueny, we learn and achieve higher states of consicousness. Life therefore is not a test to see if we can choose the right belief system, it is an experience; a long process of growth and evolution.’

3 Karma

‘Giving up the fruits of action, the yogī attains everlasting peace. But the one who is attached to the results of action, impelled by desire, is subject to bondage.’ – Bhagavad Gita, 5.12

Karma is the cosmic law of action and reaction. It’s the governing law of samsara, and the momentum that makes life happen and allows us to go on having experiences in the world until we become free of our karma through spiritual practices and attain liberation.

4 Moksha

‘Having reached the highest perfection and attaining Me, the great ones never again take rebirth in this world which is transient and full of misery.’ – Bhagavad Gita, 8.15

Moksha means liberation. It’s specifically liberation from samsara or the cycle of birth and death. We liberate ourselves, or are liberated through grace, from the material existence and we reach the only eternal state or abode. The methodolgy for this changes between paths and traditions. For some, moksha is only obtained by the act of surrender and the loving grace of God. For others, it is about inquriy and contemplation. Regardless, these methods both require the seeker to detach from the world and move beyond the influence of karma.

5 Dharma

But behind the idea of dharma is the understanding that everyone is equal, because we all have the divine atma within, but not everybody is the same. We are all unique and have a specific indidivudal purpose. The challenge of life is to stay aligned with this purpose at all times. This requires insight, acceptance, and concious awareness of our soul.’ – Understanding Hinduism, pg 16

Dharma is a bit of a strange word as it holds many meanings. In its most literal translation, it means the right way, path or purpose. The principal is built on the understanding the everything in the universe as a set rhyme and reason for its existence. There are three types of dharma:

1.       Dharma of the soul – this is to attain moksha

2.       Dharma of the individual – the notion that every person as their own role and purpose to fulfill in this world

3.       Dharma of action – the twelve pillars or tenents of action that support us in how we live.

6 Brahman

‘One should meditate on the all-knowing Supreme Person. The one who is the oldest and supreme Controller of all. His Form is inconceivable, more subtle than an atom, and the maintainer of everything. He is brilliant like the Sun and beyond all darkness.’ Bhagavad Gita, 8.9

Think of Brahman as the reality that underpins all things. He is the creator, foundation, and sustainer of all that exists. Brahman is the absolute Truth one aims to experience as a result of moksha. In some traditions, Brahman is impersonal and formless. There are no qualities or characteristics that can be ascribed to this Brahman. In other traditions, Brahman is personal and has a form and even a name like Narayana or Krishna. This Brahman is the well-wisher and grace-granter of the world and actively intervenes on behalf of those who worship Him.

7 Srishiti (and Pralaya)

‘At the beginning of a Day of Brahmā all beings come forth from the unmanifest, and when the Night comes, they are dissolved back into the unmanifested state.’ Bhagavad Gita, 8.18

In Hinduism, time is cyclical, not linear. Think of it like a spiral, rather than a circle. The cycles repeat but there may be variation in them. Srishti is the act of projection – the moment where all of creation is brough into a manifested world. As the cycle completes, pralaya, or dissolution, takes place. When this happens, all of creation is withdrawn into a dormant, condensed state.

A Verse to Unite Them All

These seven tenents make up the common concepts shared within the Hindu faith. As stated, the concepts may be shared but what that means practically varies widely. The Rig Veda contains a specific verse that provides support to this diversity in unity. It states, ‘The Truth is one but the wise speak of it in many ways.’

There are many ways to interpret the Truth and the path to unravel it can be understood in the analogy of the five blindfolded men and the elephant. As the story goes, five men were taken to an elephant, given the opportunity to touch it, and then identify what it was. One found the tail and insisted it was a rope. Another found its leg and said it was a tree trunk. And so on. Eventually, they were granted sight and saw the elephant. Nonetheless, they each described it differently. Through direct-first hand experience, they found the Truth (in the elephant) but spoke of it in the various ways that made understanding it accessible.

Gods – Understanding The Supreme Power

God is considered as a supreme creator of the universe. The ancient indian gods are considered as the oldest form of divine source. According to Hindu belief, every soul is eternal and goes through a cycle of birth and rebirth, with the ultimate goal of reaching moksha or liberation from the cycle of samsara. Therefore, the gods and goddesses of Hinduism are seen as manifestations of the divine that can help individuals on their spiritual journey towards moksha.

Each God or Goddess is associated with specific qualities, such as love, compassion, selflessness, power, knowledge, and wisdom. Hindus believe that by worshipping these deities, they can attain the qualities they embody. For example, honouring the Goddess Durga, associated with strength and courage, can help one develop those qualities in their own life.

The worship of Hindu mythology gods takes many forms, including prayer, offerings, and performing rituals and ceremonies. These practices are designed to create a connection between the individual and the divine and to invite the blessings and guidance of the gods and goddesses into one’s life.

In addition to their spiritual significance, the Hindu gods and their powers also play an important role in the cultural and social life of Hindus. Festivals and celebrations dedicated to various gods and goddesses are a vital part of the Hindu calendar, and they bring people together in a spirit of community and devotion.

The Pantheon of Hindu Deities

Lord Brahma,Now that we are familiar with the significance of the divine in our lives, let’s reach into the importance of the main Hindu gods from the Hindu gods list, what they signify and how they are represented. The Hindu gods and goddesses play a significant role in the lives of Hindus and are worshipped in various ways. Scroll down to explore some of the most well-known and widely worshipped gods and goddesses from the Hindu trinity, beginning with 3 Hindu gods revered worldwide for being the creator, preservers and destroyers.

the curator of the universe, is also known as the creator Hindu devta. Brahma is often depicted with four faces and is associated with the creation of the universe.

He is typically not worshipped as widely as other Hindu gods, but he is still an important part of Hindu mythology.

Another important Hindu god is Vishnu, the preserver god. Vishnu is often depicted with blue skin and four arms associated with preserving the universe. His divine forms are said to exist in the versions of various gods, including Rama and Krishna.

Shiva is another important Hindu god known as the destroyer and transformer god. He is often depicted with a third eye, representing his ability to see beyond the physical world. Shiva is also associated with a dance known as Tandava and is depicted dancing in a circle of flames.

Ganesha is the god of remover of obstacles and new commencement of anything new. The depiction of Lord Ganesha is shown to be four arms, elephant headed and a tusk. Weddings and new ventures are complete with Ganesh pujan or Ganesh Sthapana.

Krishna is the god of love, compassion, and joy, known for his role in the epic Mahabharata. He is often depicted with a flute, and his teachings in the Bhagavad Gita are essential to Hindu philosophy.

Rama is the prince and hero of the epic Ramayana, known for his devotion to dharma and his wife, Sita. His disciple of truth and dharma are ideals that every devoted Hindu wishes to inculcate within and around themselves. He is usually represented with a bow and arrow, and his story is integral to Hindu mythology.

Hanuman is one of the main characters in Ramayana, who is devoted to Lord Rama. He is known for carrying a mountain on his back to help Lord Rama’s brother, Lakshmana. He is worshipped for his power and dedication.

Durga is the warrior goddess, created to kill demon Mahishasura. She is worshipped as a symbol of strength and courage and known by different names like Devi, Shakti, Mahishasurvardhani, etc.

Kali is the fierce goddess of death and time, often depicted with a necklace of skulls and a tongue hanging out. She is worshipped as a symbol of power and transformation.

In addition to these gods and goddesses, many others are worshipped in Hinduism, including Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and arts, and Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity.

The Hindu gods and goddesses play a significant role in Hinduism and are worshipped in various ways. They are seen as symbols of different aspects of the universe and human experience and revered for their various powers and qualities.

Special Weapons adorned by Gods

Hindu mythology includes numerous gods and goddesses with unique powers and special weapons. Here are some of the most famous special weapons of Hindu gods and goddesses:

1.       Trishul (Trident) of Lord Shiva: The trishul is a three-pronged spear representing the three aspects of Lord Shiva – creator, preserver, and destroyer. It is believed to be a symbol of his power to destroy evil.

2.       Sudarshana Chakra of Lord Vishnu: The Sudarshana Chakra is a spinning, disc-like weapon representing Lord Vishnu’s power to control the universe. It is said to have the ability to destroy evil and protect the righteous.

3.       Gada (Mace) of Lord Hanuman: The gada is a large and powerful weapon shown as a source of strength and therefore worshipped by wrestlers in India. It is said to have the power to crush any obstacle or enemy.

4.       Sharanga Bow of Lord Vishnu: The Sharanga Bow is another powerful weapon used by Lord Vishnu. The belief lies that it is so powerful that it can destroy entire worlds.

5.       Chakram (Discus) of Lord Krishna: The Chakram is a circular, disc-like weapon representing Lord Krishna’s power and ability to protect his devotees. It is said to have the power to destroy any enemy.

6.       Pashupatastra of Lord Shiva: The Pashupatastra is a powerful weapon that can create destruction and can be discharged through eyes, mind or a bow. It is said to have the power to destroy the entire universe.

7.       Vajra of Lord Indra: The Vajra is a lightning bolt representing Lord Indra’s power over the skies and the elements. It is said to be invincible.

8.       Sword of Goddess Durga: The sword symbolises the power and courage of Goddess Durga, who is often depicted wielding it in battle. It is believed to consist of such a powerful force that it can destroy evil and protect the righteous.

These are just a few examples of the special weapons of Hindu gods and goddesses. There are many more in Hindu mythology, each with its unique power and significance.

Who are the top 10 most powerful Hindu gods?

The following is a list of the names of top 10 Hindu gods:

1.       Lord Vishnu

2.       Lord Shiva

3.       Goddess Durga

4.       Lord Ganesha

5.       Lord Hanuman

6.       Goddess Kali

7.       Lord Rama

8.       Lord Krishna

9.       Goddess Saraswati

10.     Lord Brahma

Name the various Hindu gods days of the week.

1.       Sunday: Sunday is associated with Lord Surya or the Sun god. Worshipping Lord Surya on Sundays is believed to bring good health and positivity.

2.       Monday: Monday is associated with Lord Shiva. It is believed that worshipping Lord Shiva on Mondays helps overcome obstacles and troubles.

3.       Tuesday: Tuesday is associated with Lord Hanuman. Wishing Lord Hanuman on Tuesdays helps overcome fear, anxiety, and negativity.

4.       Wednesday: Wednesday is associated with Lord Ganesha. Worshipping Lord Ganesha on Wednesdays is believed to bring success, prosperity, and good fortune.

5.       Thursday: Thursday is associated with Lord Vishnu or his avatar Lord Krishna. Worshipping Lord Vishnu or Lord Krishna on Thursdays is believed to bring good luck and happiness.

6.       Friday: Friday is associated with Goddess Lakshmi. Worshipping Goddess Lakshmi on Fridays is believed to bring wealth, prosperity, and good fortune.

7.       Saturday: Saturday is associated with Lord Shani or the planet Saturn. It is believed that worshipping Lord Shani on Saturdays helps overcome challenges and difficulties in life.

6 Surprising Facts About Hindu Culture and Hinduism

Hinduism is a unique faith, and not really a religion at all–at least not in the same way as other religions. To be precise, Hinduism is a way of life, a dharma. Dharma does not mean religion, but rather it is the law that governs all action. Thus, contrary to popular perception, Hinduism is not a religion in the traditional sense of the term.

Out of this mistaken idea has come most of the misconceptions about Hinduism. The following six facts will set the record straight.

Hinduism’ Is Not a Term Used in the Scriptures

Words like Hindu or Hinduism are anachronisms–convenient terms coined to suit various needs at different points in history. These terms do not exist in the natural Indian cultural lexicon, and nowhere in the scriptures is there any reference to ‘Hindu’ or ‘Hinduism.’

Hinduism Is a Culture More Than a Religion

Hinduism does not have anyone founder and it does not have a Bible or a Koran to which controversies can be referred for resolution. Consequently, it does not require its adherents to accept any one idea. It is thus cultural, not creedal, with a history contemporaneous with the people with which it is associated.

Hinduism Encompasses Much More Than Spirituality

Writings we now categorize as Hindu scriptures include not just books relating to spirituality, but also secular pursuits such as science, medicine, and engineering. This is another reason why Hinduism defies classification as a religion per se. Further, it cannot be claimed to be essentially a school of metaphysics. Nor can it be described as ‘otherworldly.’ In fact, one could almost equate Hinduism with broad human civilization itself as it now exists

Hinduism Is the Dominant Faith of the Indian Subcontinent

The Aryan Invasion Theory, once popular, has now been largely discredited. It cannot be assumed that Hinduism was the pagan faith of invaders belonging to a race called Aryans who imposed it on the Indian subcontinent. Rather, it was the common metafaith of people of various races, including Harappans.

Hinduism Is Much Older than We Believe

Evidence that Hinduism must have existed even circa 10000 BCE. is available–the importance attached to the river Saraswati and the numerous references to it in the Vedas indicates that the Rig Veda was being composed well before 6500 BCE. The first vernal equinox recorded in the Rig Veda is that of the star Ashwini, which is now known to have occurred around 10000 BCE. Subhash Kak, a computer engineer and a reputed Indologist, ‘decoded’ the Rig Veda and found many advanced astronomical concepts within it.

The technological sophistication required to even anticipate such concepts is unlikely to have been acquired by a nomadic people, as the Invasionists would like us to believe. In his book Gods, Sages and Kings, David Frawley provide compelling evidence to substantiate this claim.

Hinduism Is Not Really Polytheistic

Many believe that multiplicity of deities makes Hinduism polytheistic. Such a belief is nothing short of mistaking the wood for the tree. The bewildering diversity of Hindu belief–theistic, atheistic and agnostic –rests on a solid unity. “Ekam sath, Vipraah bahudhaa vadanti,” says the Rig Veda: The Truth (God, Brahman, etc) is one, scholars simply call it by various names.

What the multiplicity of deities does indicate is Hinduism’s spiritual hospitality, as evidenced by two characteristically Hindu doctrines: The Doctrine of Spiritual Competence (Adhikaara) and the Doctrine of The Chosen Deity (Ishhta Devata).

The doctrine of spiritual competence requires that the spiritual practices prescribed to a person should correspond to his or her spiritual competence. The doctrine of the chosen deity gives a person the freedom to choose (or invent) a form of Brahman that satisfies his spiritual cravings and to make it the object of his worship. It is notable that both doctrines are consistent with Hinduism’s assertion that the unchanging reality is present in everything, even the transient.

15 Major Facts of Hinduism

Since we are all aware of the fact that Hinduism is a religion in which some people so much belief in and worship as God. It as become imparative to know that there are some facts that are associated with this religion and it is important that everyone should be familiar with these facts, therefore, we are here in this article to tell us those facts and those facts are listed below.

1. The Rig Veda is One of the Oldest Books Known in the World.

The Rig Veda is a Sanskrit-written ancient book. The date is unknown, but most specialists dated it back to 1500 years B.C. It is the world’s oldest known text, and so Hinduism is often referred to as the oldest religion based on this fact.

2. 108 is Regarded to be a Sacred Number.

As a string of 108 beads, so-called Malas or Garlands of prayer beads come along. Vedic culture mathematicians believe that this number is a totality of life and that it connects the Sun, the Moon, and the Earth. For Hindus, 108 has been a sacred number for a long time.

3. Hinduism is the World’s Third Biggest Religion.

Based on the number of worshipers and the number of those that believed in the religion, only Christianity and Islam have more supporters than Hinduism, this makes Hinduism the world’s third largest religion.

4. Hindu Conviction Indicates that gods Will Take Many Forms.

There is only one everlasting force, but like many gods and goddesses, it can take shape. It is also believed that in every single being in the World, a portion of the Brahman lives. One of the many fascinating facts about Hinduism is monotheistic.

5. Sanskrit is the Language Most Widely Used in Hindu Texts.

Sanskrit is the ancient language in which much of the holy text is written and the history of the language goes back in time to at least 3,500 years.

6. In a Circular Notion of time,  there is the Believe of Hinduism.

A linear notion of time is practised by the Western world, but Hindus believe that time is a manifestation of God and that it is never-ending. In cycles that begin to end and end to begin, they see life. God is eternal and, simultaneously, the past, the present and the future coexist.

7. No Single Founder of Hinduism Exists.

Most of the world’s religions and belief systems have a creator, such as Jesus for Christianity, Muhammad for Islam, or Buddha for Buddhism, and so on like that. However, Hinduism has no such founder and when it originated there is no exact date. This is because of the cultural and religious changes in India that have increased.

8. Sanātana Dharma is the Actual Name.

Sanātana Dharma is the original name for Hinduism in Sanskrit. The Greeks used the words Hindu or Indu to describe the people living around the Indus River. Hindustan became a common alternative name for India in the 13th century. And it is believed in the 19th century that English writers added ism to the Hindu, and later it was embraced by the Hindus themselves and that changed the name from Sanātana Dharma to Hinduism and that as been the name since then.

9. Hinduism Prompts and Allows Vegetables as Diet

Ahimsa is a spiritual concept that can be found in Buddhism and Jainism as well as in the Hindu religion. It is a word in Sanskrit which means “not to hurt” and compassion. That is why many Hindus follow a vegetarian diet because it is assumed that you are causing harm to the animals because you eat meat on purpose. Some Hindus, however, only refrain from consuming pork and beef.

10. Hindus Have Faith in Karma

It is believed that an individual who does good in life receives good karma. Karma will be influenced for every good or bad action in life, and if at the end of this life you have good karma, Hindus has the faith that once next life will be a better one than the first life.

11. For Hindus, we Have Four Major Life Goals.

The goals are; Dharma (righteousness), Kama (right desire), Artha (means of money), and Moksha (salvation). This is another of the interesting facts of Hinduism, particularly when the purpose is not to please God in order to make him go to heaven or to take him to hell. Hinduism has entirely different objectives, and the ultimate purpose is to become one with the Brahman and leave the reincarnation loop.

12. The Sound of the Universe is Represented by “Om”

Om, Aum is also Hinduism’s most sacred syllable, sign or mantra. Sometimes, it is repeated separately before a mantra. It is believed to be the rhythm of the world, or the sound of Brahman. In Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, it is used as well. When practising yoga or visiting a temple, it is a spiritual sound that you can hear sometimes. It is used for meditation as well.

13. A Critical Part of Hinduism is Yoga.

Yoga’s original definition was “Connection with God,” but it has moved closer to Western culture in recent years. But the word yoga is also very loose, as different Hindu rituals are actually referred to in the original term. There are different types of yoga, but Hatha yoga is the most common one today.

14. Every One Will Achieve Salvation.

Hinduism does not belief that people can’t achieve redemption or enlightenment from other religions.

15. Kumbh Mela is the World’s Largest Spiritual Meeting.

The Kumbh Mela Festival was granted UNESCO Cultural Heritage status and more than 30 million people took part in the festival on a single day which was held on the 10th of February in the year 2013.

 The 5 times Random Facts about Hinduism

We have millions of Hindus that are worshipping cows.

In Hinduism, there are three main sects, the sects are the Shaiva, Sha and Vaishnava.

In the world, there are more than 1 billion Hindus, but most of the Hindus are from India. Ayurveda is a medical science that is part of the holy Vedas. Some of the important Hindu festivals are Diwali, Gudhipadawa, Vijayadashami, Ganesh festival, Navratri.

Surprising Facts About Hindu Mythology

“You are what you believe in. You become that which you believe you can become.”

Bhagavad Gita

The Hindu religion is the oldest, the roots of which can be traced back to ancient times around 5000 to 10,000 BC. So here, in this blog, you’ll find each and every line as facts only (We may not pinpoint before each sentence that this is the fact). So, take this blog filled with loads of wisdom and facts about ‘Hindu Mythology’ accordingly. We would also like to give you a task. Surprise! Just keep in mind how many facts you knew about Hindu Mythology from the below points.

Indian mythology has always been a subject of absolute curiosity among people. The best thing about Hindu Mythology Facts is, Mysterious ideas of the universe and its nature are phenomenally portrayed in our Vedas and Scriptures. It also resembles a lot of modern-day science. Hence, be ready for a knowledgeable ride of ‘Unknown facts about Hindu mythology’, on your marks, get set, ready, Go…

1. Creation of the Universe

According to Hindu mythology, many myths describe the foundation of the universe. Out of all of them, the most widely accepted approach is that the world was discovered when the holy word OM was expressed. So, it all started with ‘OM’.

Before that, there was nothing but the endless dark ocean. However, other scriptures and Vedas in Hindu mythology state that Brahma, the divine soul, formed the universe along with two other gods: Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. And yes, as we all might know that these three are the main deities in Hinduism.

2. The Connection Between Modern Science & Vedas

The holy Vedas of Hinduism is one of the oldest written scriptures in the world. Our modern science is surprised to discover that around 1500 BC old Vedas have a profound knowledge of the cosmos and universe that scientists are still discovering. How cool is that! Are you thinking about old-school thoughts? No, such books are very scientific and practical compared to the modern world. This is why it goes without saying that Hindu mythology and astrology are super popular across the globe.

3. ‘Earth is the Final Destination’

It is widely recognized that the Earth is the ultimate path for the soul to attain nirvana. The soul is immortal and moves through different worlds and dimensions on its path of existence, moving from body to body. The body must be hygiene enough ( T&C Apply), jokes spat. Based on karma chakra, a human soul may get the ultimate Moksha or sent back to another life. God must be having so many account books in his place.

4. Hinduism Has More Epics!

There are too many epics to observe in India compared to any other religion in the world. The list of Gods itself is endless. Each of these has many tales and fables that directly or indirectly guide people to lead a life in the best way. Out of all, Ramayana and Bhagavad Gita are treated as the most sacred, holy, and but obviously popular. The best part about Indian mythology is, the more you go in-depth, you’ll realize its pure knowledge and richness.

5. Tells About the Life Of Creatures Belonging To Other Planets

After reading the headline, don’t assume a picture of an Alien. Coming back to Hindu mythology, there are instances of other kinds of beings, such as Gandharava, Kinnaras, Nagas, and Apsaras. These are not ordinary human beings, but they belong to other universes (loks). Surprise! If you have enough time, just read about them, and you may thank us later.

6. The Story Of 12 battles Between Gods & Demons

According to Hindu mythology, to conquer the Trilok (heaven, earth, and underworld), the twelve wars were fought between demons and gods. Few of them were Hiranyakashipu, Narasimha, Varaha,Vamana, Kolahala, Adibaka and Andhaka-vadha. Wanna know who won at last? Of course, in all of them, the gods conquered the devils. Don’t stop that drum of celebration!

7. Divine weapons to kill Evil Asuras

Interestingly, several divine arms used in the past have been listed in the holy texts. If you look for unknown Hindu Mythology Facts, you’ll find that every god has unique spiritual abilities. Don’t you dare underestimate the power of Gods; after all, they are ‘Gods’. You’ll always find some special weapons used in wars in Hindu mythology like; Brahmastra, Trishul, Shiva Dhanush, Garudastra & Varunastra, Chakram.

8. Lord Shiva – The God of destruction

In Tridev, Lord Shiva is considered the God of destruction. We bet no one has that much capability of ultimate destruction than Lord Shiva. Devon Ke Dev Mahadev… God of all Gods, now just sense how great he is. Shiva, being humble and simpler than all the gods in Hindu mythology, has the power to destroy everything in just a blink of his third eye. His anger will put an end to the whole universe in a few seconds.

To all the kids reading this, no need to worry as of now! After all, he still lives like a yogi and dwells like a sage. Lord Shiva is also known as Maha Yogi and worshipped in every part of India.

9. 330 Million Gods and Goddesses

One of the most interesting Hindu Mythology Facts about Hindu Gods is that they are incredibly larger in number, with a whopping number of 330 million. This may sound unreal, but there is a reality, and we can’t deny that. According to the Vedas, there are just 33 major deities, and others are only their avatars and their reincarnations. Most Hindu families worship the main Gods daily in their houses. The way they place Murtis and other holy stuff gives our eyes; peace and bliss. Hey photographers, you can create your collage from those mini home temples.


On a serious note, we must tell you that no matter what you believe in, it’s quite important for everyone to be educated about world religions. We just have one life; why not know about the traditions and cultures of religion. Celebrate each day as Diwali & spread colours of happiness like Holi. Hey folks, this was ‘Hindu Mythology Facts’ or as we say, ‘Interesting facts about Hindu mythology’ for you. See ya!

10 Interesting Facts About Hinduism

Hinduism is the world’s oldest religion and has the third largest following of all modern organised religions. Although, Hinduism originated in India, its presence can be felt all over the world and over the centuries has been a major influence in modern thinking.

Ancient Hindus texts are the foundations of moral codes, laws, philosophical viewpoints and a precursor of modern science. Much of the knowledge founded by the ancient Indians which gave rise to Hinduism has been lost. But here are 10 interesting facts that are not widely known outside India and Hinduism.

Hindus are not original Hindus

The word Hindu was given to people of Indian origin by travelers, possibly the Aryans that entered northern India through Pakistan and encountered the tribes that lived along the Sindhu River. Sindhu became Hindu and their religion was given the name Hinduism. The first records of people being called Hindus are found in Persian and Greek writing.

Hindus believe in a circular time rather than linear

The concept of time in Hinduism is cyclical and divided into four ages or yugas; satya yuga, treta yuga, dwapar yuga, kali yuga. This idea also gives rise to reincarnation, the death and rebirth of the soul that returns to Earth as another life form once we die.

But the life cycles are also aspects of the cyclical nature of energy. Hindus believe that time is a manifestation of God. Time begins when primordial energy becomes active and ends when the energy returns to the source of absolute consciousness where it is transformed to new energy and the cycle of time starts again.

The sacred number of 108 is found in nature

Ancient wisdom is based around the principles of nature which in turn are the building blocks of creation. Everything we see is the result of the five sacred shapes we know today as Platonic solids although these shapes were understood thousands of years before Plato.

The mathematical equation phi (1.618) is found throughout nature and is closely linked with the number 108. Hindus and Muslims both refer to Gods using the number 108 to highlight its importance throughout creation.

The angles of the upper arms of a pentagon are 108 degrees. In ancient symbolism, the pentagon or five pointed star represents man, two legs, two arms and the head. Because phi can be found throughout the entire human body, 108 degrees is considered a sacred number.

Hindus do not consider the pursuit of wealth a sin

This is perhaps a contentious argument as most people do not consider the pursuit of wealth a sin, but rather a necessity of survival and a comfortable way of life. But wealth in Hinduism does not mean material possession like other religions want us to believe.

In Hinduism, wealth is wisdom and experience. There are four categories of wealth; Kama – the pursuit of sexual and sensual pleasure that can give rise to spiritual experience; Artha – the pursuit of a comfortable livelihood; dharma – the pursuit of knowledge and teaching; moksha – the pursuit of liberating the mind.

All living creatures have a soul trying to connect to spirit

One of the most difficult concepts for non-Hindus to grasp is the difference between soul and spirit. Hinduism classes soul and spirit as two separate energies that in essence are one and the same energy.

They explain the concept through the descriptions of Brahman and Atman. Ancient Sanskrit texts explain that Atman is the soul of all living things, and Brahman is the zero-point from whence all creation originates.

The overriding goal for Hindus is to reconnect atman with brahman and liberate the mind from bondage. This is how we understand more about life, grow in consciousness and improve ourselves as individuals whether on a moral or a spiritual level.

Ancient Hindu Texts Explain The Big Bang

The explanation given for the creation of the Universe in Vedic literature is not far removed from discoveries in modern science. The Nasadiya hymn od Rig Veda X.129 for example, alludes to the theory of the primeval zero-volume atom proposed by George Lemaitre.

1. THEN was not non-existent nor existent: there was no realm of air, no sky beyond it.

What covered in, and where? and what gave shelter? Was water there, unfathomed depth of water?

2 Death was not then, nor was there aught immortal: no sign was there, the day’s and night’s divider.

That One Thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature: apart from it was nothing whatsoever.

3 Darkness there was: at first concealed in darkness this All was indiscriminated chaos.

All that existed then was void and form less: by the great power of Warmth was born that Unit.

4 Thereafter rose Desire in the beginning, Desire, the primal seed and germ of Spirit.

Sages who searched with their heart’s thought discovered the existent’s kinship in the non-existent.

5 Transversely was their severing line extended: what was above it then, and what below it?

There were begetters, there were mighty forces, free action here and energy up yonder

6 Who verily knows and who can here declare it, whence it was born and whence comes this creation?

The Gods are later than this world’s production. Who knows then whence it first came into being?

7 He, the first origin of this creation, whether he formed it all or did not form it,

Whose eye controls this world in highest heaven, he verily knows it, or perhaps he knows not.

Hindus are travellers

The Roma people of Europe, commonly known as gypsies, have common ancestors that date back to ancient India. They still use Sanskrit words in their language.

The discovery was made several years ago in a joint research study by Indian and Estonian academics which confirmed the Roma people originate from the Indian sub-continent.

Anaesthetics were used by ancient Indians

The ancient text known as Sushruta Samhita is an account of countless treatments and medical procedures including various forms of surgery that were used in India over 2600 years ago.

It is believed the text was written by an Indian physician called Sushruta, known by Hindus as the ‘father of surgery.’ The book demonstrates ancient physicians used anesthesia and conducted surgical procedures such as caesarean births, cataract and the removal of urinary stones.

Hinduism have the biggest pilgrimage site in the world

Hinduism may rank as the third largest religion in the world, but it boasts the largest pilgrimage site. Sri Venkateshwara Temple also called as Balaji Temple in Tirupath attracts over 60,000 visitors a day and receives donations of some US$2bn a year.

Hinduism influenced all other world religions

Hinduism is the world’s oldest known religion although was influenced by earlier pagan religions. Other world religions also have pagan influences and the stories in the Koran, the Bible, and the Torah all share similarities with Hinduism. It is also common knowledge that Hinduism heavily influenced Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism.

Top 10 Interesting Facts About Hindu Mythology

The Hindu religion is the oldest religion whose origin can be traced back to prehistoric times around 5000 to 10,000 BC. So it is no wonder that many of the myths, beliefs, and mythologies surrounding the religion are just as old. In fact, given this timeline, many of these mythologies may have gone through a number of retellings over the years.

Hindu mythology has rich history, enigmatic characters, resounding stories, and a surprisingly innate association with modern science. There are also cyclical periods of time that repeat themselves after a certain interval. There also are epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana, the former being the longest known epic in history.

Here is a list of the top 10 most interesting facts about ancient Hindu mythology:

10. The Hindu Epics

The Hindu epics were written to create moral ideals for followers to aspire to. These epics were written in Sanskrit and in their essence described the power of the Hindu gods in poetic verse.

The most popular of these poetic epics are the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The Ramayana is a magnificent narration of the story of Rama. It chronicles the life of Rama from his birth in the kingdom of Ayodhya to his decisive victory over his evil nemesis Ravana. The epic speaks volumes on the virtue of true brotherhood, love, and the nature of sacrifice one has to make to defeat evil.

The Mahabharata is the longest epic ever written and gives an in-depth insight into the rise of Hinduism between 400 BC and 200 AD. In fact, its entire narration is seven times the length of the Illiad and the Odyssey combined.

Apart from its glorious narration of the fight between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, it also details the scripts of the Bhagavat Gita. From beginning to end, it describes the great battle that pit brother against brother. In time, the Bhagavat Gita went on to become the epitome of Hinduism’s sacred scripture.

9. Treta Yuga

This represents the second age in the cycle of Maha Yuga. The Hindu scripts state that Treta Yuga spans a period of 1,296,000 human years. By the advent of Treta Yuga, the presence of sattva or goodness in human nature had slowly started to diminish.

Whatever goodness or virtue that remained in people was now accompanied by an ever-increasing amount of tamas and rajas. Tamas represented the darkness in human nature and rajas constituted all the passion a human could conjure. By now, people had nurtured an acute level of intellect, but they had also lost a good deal of control over their body and its physiology.

People’s stature was now smaller than during the Satya Yuga, with the average human being around 14 cubits tall, but there were some exceptional beings who had attained a godly build and divine persona such as the characters Rama, Laxamana, Ravana, and Hanumana who were considered godlike for their extraordinary strength and inimitable intellect.

8. Dwapar Yuga

Dwapar Yuga represents the third age right after Treta Yuga. Also known as the Bronze Age, the Dwapar Yuga is said to have lasted for 864,000 human years. It represents an age where goodness and evil in human nature are neck and neck.

As the human body loses satva or purity, people attain a far greater control over their body than their intellect. By the time Dwapar Yuga was at its peak, man had already lost control over his innermost body and knowledge. He became more attracted to the materialistic aspects of the world, succumbing to his ever-increasing desires.

Only intellectuals like Bhisma, Dharmaraja, and Vidura were able to escape this fate. Eventually, there was a gradual decline in the moral fiber of society in general. People with enormous physicality became increasingly offensive in their thirst for desire and power. The average human lifespan had also come down to 1,000 years.

7. Kali Yuga

The last age in the ever-repeating cycle of Maha Yuga is the Kali Yuga. It is also the shortest, lasting for 432,000 human years. The current time period falls under Kali Yuga, and it is also referred to as the Iron Age. The Kali Yuga represents hypocrisy and instability like never before. Human nature is significantly corrupted by the temptations of sin and only a little conscience remains.

The human body is at its lowest in terms of physicality and intellect. An average man is only 3.5 cubits tall and lives for around 100 to 120 years. Citing the ancient Hindu scripts, it is estimated that around 5,000 years of Kali Yuga have already passed by.

It is also predicted that when Kali Yuga reaches its dying years, the lifespan of man will be no more than 20 years. This age has been highlighted by man’s unprecedented longing for materialism. In a stark contrast to previous ages, human lives have been corrupted by ignorance and the connection to one’s inner self has been lost.

6. The Curses

Curses have a long and intriguing history in many different mythologies. The Hindu gods rarely cursed for they wielded power mighty enough to inflict whatever suffering they wished upon others. But still, there have been many instances of unique curses within Hindu mythology that are worth mentioning.

In the epic Mahabharata, the Pandavas were hit by immense sorrow on realizing Karna was their half-brother all along. They had just killed him in battle. An enraged Yudhisthara could not believe their mother Kunti would keep such personal information from them, so he made a curse that no woman from then on should be able to keep a secret from others. Then, there is the curse on the character Pandu that if he ever approached a woman with feelings of desire, he would die on the spot.

However, probably the most notable curse of all is when Gandhari cursed Lord Krishna in the aftermath of the Mahabharata. After defeating the Kauravas and killing all 100 sons of Gandhari, Krishna went to console a distraught mother. On seeing Krishna, Gandhari cursed that no one in Krishna’s bloodline would live to see future generations. And just as the Kauravas bloodline had been terminated, all of Krishna’s family killed each other in due course. Krishna died an untimely death with no one left to continue his bloodline.

5. The Vedas and Modern Science

The Vedas represent a collection of hymns and religious texts that were formulated somewhere between 1500 and 1000 BC. These sacred verses were written in the Indus region where it is believed Hinduism originated. The scripture used in the Vedas is Sanskrit. Even though the Vedas were composed thousands of years ago, scientists have found a strong connection between their messages and modern science.

For instance, modern scientists put forward the idea of the existence of multiple universes in string theory. It states we live in a multiverse – there are many universes that exist in parallel. The Hindu Vedas clearly echo this “modern” concept by mentioning the existence of cyclical infinite worlds in the ancient Hindu cosmology.

The sacred texts in the Vedas and the Bhagavad Gita were perfect in their understanding of the universe. In fact, Albert Einstein once said: “When I read the Bhagavad Gita and reflect about how God created this universe everything else seems superfluous.”

4. Foundation of Hinduism

Hinduism is quite unlike other traditional religions. It did not originate from a single founder or sacred scripture or at a particular point in time. Hinduism is an amalgamation of different beliefs, traditions, and philosophies. These different viewpoints are usually at odds with each other. So naturally, there are different theories on the origin of the world’s oldest religion.

Its first mention can be traced back to the earliest writings of ancient Hindu sages or Rishis. But again, even these sacred writings were originally enunciated orally.

The earliest traces of practices that resembled Hindu traditions can be traced back to ancient India around 5500 BC. It is unclear if these traditions had any specific nomenclature back then.

The term “Hindu” originated only during the Mughal era in contemporary India. Hinduism became a popular reference only during the 19th and 20th centuries, when English colonial rule saw rapid expansion in India.

Evidence also shows that an ascetic god named Siva was popularly worshiped by the Indus Valley civilization around 3000 BC. The greatest of all epics, the Mahabharata, was written somewhere between 400 BC and 200 AD, and it gave an immense insight into Hindu mythology in the form of the Bhagavad Gita along with other historically important texts.

3. Satya Yuga

Hindu mythology clearly states that all living beings pass through a continuous cycle of creation and destruction, the Maha Yuga. This cycle repeats itself over four different epochs or Yugas.

The first of these Yugas is the Satya Yuga, which spans a period of 1,728,000 years. The Satya Yuga is said to be the golden age of truth and enlightenment. In this age, people attained an ideal state of mind and their actions were always reasoned and virtuous. The sacred texts further state that there was a surplus flow of ideas and thoughts between people.

Everyone led an honest life and adhered to the truth. Everyone had acquired the answer to the ultimate question – the origin of everything. And since there was virtually nothing to conceal, even the tiniest thread of thought was accessible to everyone without verbal communication.

Human physiology also significantly differed from the one that we exhibit today. People used to be around 31.5 feet (21 cubits or 80cm) tall. They also had a lifespan that stretched over hundreds of thousands of years.

2. Gods and Goddesses

Hinduism follows a polytheistic tradition. Hindus worship multiple deities, and these gods and goddesses usually belong to a certain pantheon of divinities. In fact, citing certain lines in the sacred Hindu scripts, many believe that there are around 330 million gods in Hindu mythology. Each of these gods and goddesses symbolize a certain aspect of life.

For example, the goddess Saraswati is the source of all knowledge and wisdom and the god Brahma is the creator of reality as we know it. In fact, the divine trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva is seen as a basis for the whole of Hindu mythology.

However, the Vedas clearly state there are only 33 major deities. The transition into 300 million gods came during the Upanishadic age in an attempt to reflect the infinite nature of the universe. Despite such large numbers of gods and goddesses, Hindus are primarily devoted to a single god. All the other gods are taken as different avatars (facets) of their primary deity. In terms of age, all the primary divinities are as old as time and creation itself.

1. Theory of Creation

Hindu mythology provides several accounts of how exactly the creation of the universe took place. The answers themselves go into varying degrees of complexity since there have been different approaches at different times. Perhaps the most popular approach states that the highest deities were oblivious to their own presence before the existence of time itself. Before creation, there was no time, no heaven or earth, or space in between. There was only the dark ocean that washed into the shores of nothingness.

In another depiction, it all started with the enunciation of a sacred sound, oom (aum).

Ancient Hindu scriptures state that the ultimate reality (Brahman) has three main functions. These three characteristics are seen in the trinity of gods: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. That is why we can see images where the heads of the trinity are merged together into a single body called the Trimurti.

In the Trimurti, Brahma is the creator of everything, Vishnu is the preserver of nature, and Shiva is the ultimate destroyer who brings about change whenever it becomes necessary.


Hinduism is considered to be the oldest religion in the world. But it is much more than that.

Hindu mythology has been tolerant of other religions and traditions since its inception. In terms of scripture, it is a delightful concoction of epic stories of morality and righteousness. These stories give us ideal characters like Rama, Laxamana, and the Pandavas.

The Vedas give us an insight into ancient science and astronomy. Epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana narrate divine stories of the never-ending battle between good and evil. These are the reasons that the rich history of Hindu mythology is fascinating for both Hindus and non-Hindus.

Top 10 Hindu Goddesses

Hinduism has both masculine and feminine deities representing the supreme power of the universe, and all the major deities have both male and female counterparts.

Hindu goddesses are the representation of Shakti, the feminine source of power in the universe. They are highly revered and powerful and play a central role in the creation, protection, and destruction of the universe.

Here is a list of 10 Hindu goddesses who are the source of this power:

10. Radha

Radha is almost always portrayed alongside Krishna. She is also known as Radhika or Radharani. It is believed that Radha and Krishna are incomplete without each other, and Radha is the companion and friend of Krishna, who represents his own divine power and the Shakti.

Radha is considered to be higher than Rukmini (the wife of Krishna, and the incarnation of the goddess Lakshmi) and not the incarnation of Lakshmi (the consort of Vishnu) herself. Radha is known for her immense devotion towards Krishna, which reflects the longing of each devotee to be united with the supreme.

It was through the power of her devotion that she was able to achieve the status of goddess and become worshiped by a large number of devotees.

9. Kamadhenu

Kamadhenu is the mother of all cows and the goddess of plenty. She is capable of fulfilling the deepest wishes of her devotees.

Her iconography describes her as a cow with the head of a woman and breasts, or as the cow with various deities inside her. Kamadhenu emerged in the process of the great samudra manthan, which was the churning and mixing of the great oceans by the deities Asuras and Devas. Cows are revered in Hinduism because of the goddess Kamadhenu.

Each part of Kamadhenu’s body carries symbolic importance. For example, her four legs represent the four Vedas, the horns symbolize the gods, and the humps stand for the Himalayas. The cow is also worshiped as the mother of the earth as her milk nourishes human life.

8. Tulsi

Tulsi is the goddess worshiped and revered in the form of a basil plant. The herb has medicinal as well as mythological importance in Hinduism.

The story of Tulsi is often associated with Vrinda and Jalandhar. Jalandhar, who was born through the third eye of Lord Shiva, became very powerful and threatened the existence of the gods. His power was also a result of the devotion and fidelity of his wife Vrinda, who was an ardent devotee of Vishnu.

In order to kill Jalandhar and save the world and the gods from his wrath, Vishnu decided to take the form of Jalandhar and approach Vrinda, thus leading her to commit infidelity. This deprived Jalandhar of his powers achieved through the devotion of his wife.

After realizing that it was Vishnu, Vrinda cursed him to be born as a stone which is called the Shaligram. She eventually threw herself into a pyre and was reborn as Tulsi.

7. Ganga

Ganga is the personification of the River Ganga and is a popular goddess in Hindu mythology. She is the daughter of Parvat Raj Himalaya or Himavan and sister to the goddess Parvati.

She ascended to heaven to cleanse the sins spread by Tarkasur, one of the demon kings. She descended back to Earth to rinse away the sins of humankind at the request of Shiva. During her descent, Ganga was held up by the hair of Shiva to prevent the destruction of Bhumi Devi (Mother Earth) as Bhumi Devi would not be able to bear the waters falling from heaven.

The River Ganga flows through the Himalayas and down to the plains of India. Devotees strongly believe that bathing in the holy river will wash away sin and negativity.

6. Sita

Sita, also known as Janaki, is the incarnation of Lakshmi. She is the daughter of Janak, the king of Janakpur.

Her name Janaki comes from her birthplace, Janaki Mandir, which is located at Janakpur in Nepal and is dedicated to Sita. She is believed to have evolved from Bhumi and is also the daughter of Mother Earth.

She is the consort of Ram and a central character in the epic Ramayana. Sita follows Ram in his 14-year exile from Ayodhya during which she is abducted by the demon king of Lanka, Ravana. It is this act that leads to the battle where Ram kills Ravana and saves Sita.

She is also remembered and revered for the Agni Parikchya, or trial by fire, that she holds on Ram’s orders to prove her chastity. Sita is the representation of feminine power and virtue.

5. Kali

Kali is the fierce representation of Shakti. She is also known as the destroyer or the one who liberates the soul and provides moksha or enlightenment. She is an incarnation of Parvati/Durga.

Kali was born to defeat the demon Raktabeech, who it was believed could create new, powerful demons from every drop of his blood that touched the ground. Thus Kali is seen as a fierce and angry goddess with a garland of skulls, a knife and a bowl in her hands. During the battle she had to cut Raktabeech, fill her bowl with his blood and drink it. She continued doing so and as a result became aggressive and destructive.

To protect the world from her anger, Shiva, her husband, lay down under her feet to calm her. As a result, she bit her tongue from embarrassment after realizing her mistake. Thus, her iconography also shows Lord Shiva lying beneath her feet and Kali biting her tongue.

4. Saraswati

Saraswati is the goddess of wisdom, music, and learning. She is also known as Sharada. She is the wife of Brahma.

Saraswati is one of the goddesses of the Hindu Tridevi, which is the feminine counterpart of the Tridevs. Her vahana or vehicle is the swan or goose.

Her iconography shows her with four hands, two of which hold the veena, a musical instrument. Saraswati Puja is observed on the day of Basant Panchami, which is also the first day of spring. Devotees wake up early in the morning and pay homage at her temples hoping to be blessed with wisdom and knowledge.

3. Lakshmi

Lakshmi is the famous goddess of wealth, abundance, and fertility. She is worshiped during the festival of Deepawali, or the festival of light. It is believed that the cleanest and the most beautiful house will be chosen by Lakshmi on the night of the festival. Thus, devotees clean and decorate their houses with lights and garlands of flowers during the festival.

She is also one of the goddesses of the Tridevi. She is the wife of Vishnu and reincarnates alongside her consort on Earth. Lakshmi does not only represent materialistic wealth but also glory, joy, and honor. Her vahana is the owl and also the white elephant, Airawat.

2. Parvati

Parvati is one of the goddesses of the Tridevi. She is also known as Gauri. She is the wife of Shiva and the mother of Kumar and Ganesh.

Parvati is the reincarnation of Sati, who was once the wife of Shiva but was plunged into the fire due to her father’s insulting behavior towards her husband. Parvati was born as a mortal to Parvat Raj Himalaya.

It was through constant penance and devotion that she was able to attain the full power of Shakti and become one of the most revered goddesses and also the rightful wife of Shiva. Parvati is the caring and motherly representation of Shakti. Her vahana is the lion or tiger.

1. Durga

Durga is perhaps one of the most well-known manifestations of Shakti. She is one of the principal deities worshiped during the festivals of Dashain/Navaratri, one of the most important Hindu festivals. The festival also celebrates the death of Mahisasur, one of the most powerful demon gods.

Mahisasur was made famous by being killed by a female deity, Durga. The demon king believed it to be impossible for a goddess to be powerful enough to kill him. Durga is thus also known as Mahisasur Mardini, or the slayer of Mahisasur.

She is also the representation of feminine power in the universe. Her iconography shows her riding a lion or tiger and holding the trishul or trident. She is also portrayed with multiple hands and accompanied by the body of Mahisasur being stabbed by her trishul.


Goddesses in Hinduism are the divine representation of the cosmos and they are complementary to their male counterparts. Both the masculine and the feminine deities complete the divinity of the universe.

Female deities are functional deities with each goddess representing a part of Shakti and the cosmos. Different deities are worshiped by different devotees on the basis of their philosophy and ideology.

Top 10 Hindu Gods

Religion is an expression of humankind’s search for a complete picture of the universe. The inherent desire to understand the world, karma, existence, and time is a major reason behind religion and a person’s worship of a supreme being.

Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world and also the third largest. There are many gods and goddesses in Hinduism; their exact number cannot be ascertained. While different forms of deities are worshiped, it is believed that all devotees are actually worshiping one supreme being.

10. Indra

Indra is the king of heaven and the leader of the Devas. He is the god of rain. Airavat, an auspicious white elephant, is his vehicle or vahan.

Another of his vehicles is a chariot drawn by 10,000 horses. His weapon, representing both a diamond and a thunderbolt, is called the vajra.

He is the son of Aditi and the sage Kashyap. Indra is one of the most important deities, often shown as a cunning god, sending obstacles in the way of devotees, especially the Asuras with the aim of ruining people’s efforts to please the gods. Indra stands for strength and courage.

9. Hanuman

Hanuman, also known as the monkey god, is the son of the air deity, Pawan or Vayu. He is also one of the eight immortals known as the Astachiranjiwi.

It is believed that a young Hanuman once tried to swallow the sun. Due to his mischievous nature, his powers were restricted until he met Ram. After meeting Ram, Hanuman became a faithful devotee playing a central role in the epic Ramayana. He was one of Ram’s strongest allies who burned down Lanka (the great king Ravan’s kingdom).

Hanuman is famously remembered for saving Ram’s brother Lakshman by carrying an entire mountain of sanjiwani buti, a life-saving herb. For all these reasons, he is the symbol of the power of devotion.

8. Harihara

Harihara is the combined embodiment of two supreme Hindu deities. Hari stands for Vishnu and Hara stands for Shiva. Because of this fusion, Harihara is followed by both devotees of Vishnu and Shiva as the form of the supreme god.

Harihara therefore shows the importance of all gods as the ultimate power in the universe. The iconography of Harihara is split into two halves. One half represents Shiva holding the trishul, a drum, and a deer. The other half representing Vishnu has the conch shell and chakra.

7. Kumar Kartikeya

Kumar is a Hindu warrior god. He is also known by the names Kumar Kartikeya or Kartikeya. He is the first son of Shiva and Parvati.

One of the major objectives of his birth was to kill the demon Tarkasur. Because of this, he was raised by the Kirtikas, far away from his parents to protect him from Tarkasur’s attempts to kill him. After achieving his powers, Kumar was appointed as the commander-in-chief of the Devas in the battle against Tarkasur. Due to his courage and skill, Kumar was offered the position of the king of heaven, but he turned this down as he considered his role as the commander-in-chief to be more important. His vehicle is the peacock.

6. Krishna

Krishna, also known by the names Shri Krishna, Vasudeva, Govinda, Gopal, and Madhusudan, is the eighth incarnation of Vishnu and one of the most celebrated philosophers and warriors in Hinduism.

He was the son of Basudev and Devaki. He was destined to kill his cruel uncle Kansa, King of Mathura. He was raised by his foster parents Yashoda and Nanda in Gokul to keep him safe from his uncle’s murderous attempts.

The festival Krishna Janmastami is celebrated to mark his birth. Krishna is also one of the central figures in the epic Mahabharata. In the Battle of Kurukshetra, he vowed not to use any weapon, but offered to be Arjuna’s chariot rider.

It was during this battle that Arjuna was faced with the dilemma of fighting against his kinsmen, and Krishna gave him the knowledge of the Gita to help.

5. Ram

Ram, the eldest son of Kaushalya and Dasharatha and ruler of the Ayodhya kingdom, is the seventh incarnation of Vishnu. He is also known as Ramchandra/Rama. The festival of Ram Nawami is celebrated to mark his birth.

Ram is the central protagonist of the epic Ramayana. Kaikeyi, one of his stepmothers, wanted him exiled so that her son could be the next king, so Ram was sent into exile with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman for 14 years. Consumed by evil desires and lust, Ravan, the King of Lanka, abducted Sita during their exile. This eventually led to the war during which Ram defeated Ravan.

4. Ganesh

Ganesh, the elephant god, is one of the most important Hindu deities. He is the second son of Shiva and Parvati, and Kumar’s younger brother.

While performing any puja or ritual, he is the first god to be worshiped. Due to a misunderstanding where Shiva did not know that Ganesh was his son, he cut off Ganesh’s head in anger. Later, an elephant’s head was placed on Ganesh and he was revived, also being granted the power of the first god in order of importance. Mushak, the mouse, is his vehicle. Ganesh is often associated with Mangal or Mars, and good luck.

3. Vishnu

Vishnu, the protector of the universe, is one of the trinity gods of Hinduism along with Brahma and Mahesh. He is also known as Narayan and Hari.

Before the universe was created, Vishnu is believed to have been asleep in a vast sea of nothingness. Vishnu is famous for his incarnations known as avatars. Being the protector of the universe, his incarnations are responsible for protecting the world from evil powers and keeping peace and order.

Vishnu has incarnated nine times. People believe that his 10th incarnation, Kalki, will come close to the end of the world. Garuda, the mythological bird, is his vehicle. Vishnu resides in Vishnuloka.

2. Brahma

Brahma, also one of the trinity gods of Hinduism, is the creator of the universe. He is often portrayed as the four-headed god, representing four directions.

It is believed that Brahma in fact had five heads. Because of the pride of the fifth head, it was cut off by Shiva. While Brahma himself is the creator of the universe, he evolved from the lotus flower in the navel of Vishnu. The swan or goose is his vehicle. Brahma resides in Brahmaloka.

1. Mahesh (Shiva)

Mahesh, the destroyer of the universe, is also one of the trinity gods of Hinduism. He is popularly known as Shiva, Ashutosh, and Mahadev. He is the only god in the trinity who resides on Earth at Kailash.

Mahesh is shown as a loving husband and father, and a yogi in his benign forms, while in his ferocious embodiments he is seen as the destroyer, slaying demons and Asurs. Shiva, also the guardian god of meditation, yoga, and art, is decorated with the sacred river, the Ganga and the serene moon, the Chandra, on his head. He is regarded as a very simple god worshiped in the form of Lingam.


Gods in Hinduism can be analyzed as a set of functional deities, the trinity being the most popular.

Each god holds a specific purpose and power. For example, Indra is the rain god; Kumar is the commander-in-chief; the trinity gods are the creator, protector, and destroyer; and others represent different functional aspects of the gods.

Depending on the time and place, the popularity of the deities may vary. While their faces and powers may be different, all of them play an important role in the creation, protection, destruction, and continuation of the universe.

Hinduism Facts and Beliefs

Hinduism is the oldest living religion in the world, enduring today as a healthy, spirited and colourful group of traditions.

With almost a billion followers, it is also the world’s third largest religion : Hindus comprise about one-seventh of the world’s entire population. Its origins lie in the vast Indian subcontinent. While it remains the majority religion in India, with over 800 million adherents, its spiritual, cultural, social and linguistic influences extend across the globe; over 60 million Hindus live outside of India in 150 different countries, including in the UK (around 700,000) and North America (over 2 million).

Hinduism is, however, unique in itself and the unique facts have been pointed out in this article.

Ways to attain self-realization/ ways of yoga in Hinduism

Hinduism believes that the main goal in life is self realization. All beings have a soul and advanced souls take bodies with higher abilities like that of humans. All souls evolve up the ladder and they adopt different ways through which they could climb and attain self realization. The different Yoga Philosophies in Hinduism are

1.       Bhakti Yoga: The path of devotion.

2.       Jnana yoga: The path of wisdom, where logic and rationality are considered the means to attain realization.

3.       Karma yoga: The path of right action, where dharmic actions are considered the means on self realization.

4.       Raja Yoga: As explained by its proponent Patanjali, attaining self realization is possible by directing mind and senses towards God through the practice of Yama, Niyama, Asana (right posture/ sitting position), Pranayama (control of life energy), Pratyahara (directing senses inward), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi.

Three important aspects of the Supreme God in Hinduism

1.       Brahma: The creator, the creating aspect.

2.       Vishnu: The preserver, the preserving aspect.

3.       Maheshwara: The destroyer, the destroying aspect.

The three letters of the word ‘AUM’ are considered to represent them.

Three important schools of Vedanta

1.       Advaita: Shankaracharya the proponent of Advaita explains there is non-duality between the individual  soul and the supreme soul.

2.       Dvaita: Madhvacharya the proponent of Dvaita explains that the soul and supreme soul are separate though the soul is from the supreme soul.

3.       Vishishtadvaita: Ramanujacharya the proponent of Vishishtadvaita explains soul to be the individual entity

Though there are slight differences in different schools of Vedanta Philosophy, these are agreed upon as three different views of the same truth rather than three different truths (they all agree upon soul, karma, reincarnation and supreme soul concepts. primary difference is in the relationship between soul and supreme soul and in their oneness) by Hinduism.

Trigunas or Three modes of Nature in Hinduism

1.       Sattva: Pure and good nature.

2.       Rajas: Passion and activating nature.

3.       Tamas: Inertia, indifference and darkness.

According to Hinduism, every person has these three qualities to different degrees.

Four objectives of life in Hinduism – Purusharthas

Hinduism believes that an individual has 4 main objectives in life. They are :

1.       Dharma: adherence to righteousness.

2.       Artha: to gain prosperity (through righteous means).

3.       Kama: to quench passions (through righteous means).

4.       Moksha: To attain liberation from rebirth.

Of all the four mentioned above Moksha is considered the highest and final goal. Every one (who is also into acquiring wealth and objects of passion) is suggested to follow Dharma, because Dharma is believed to be the highest way to free oneself from bondage.

Four Varnas or Four classes in Hinduism

People are classified into four classes in Hinduism according to their natural mental inclinations and abilities which in recent years has been misunderstood and people are classified by their birth. These are :

1.       Brahmana: (predominantly Sattva) Those who are naturally inclined towards attaining self-realization and in helping others towards God. It comprises of saints, sages, yogis and all those who are strongly adherent to dharma

2.       Kshatriya: (predominantly Rajas) Those who are naturally into action and passions. It comprises of kings, soldiers (sports persons, athletes can be grouped into this.)

3.       Vaishyas: (predominantly both Rajas and tamas) Those whose primary inclination is towards attaining wealth. Comprises of farmers, merchants, and businessmen.

4.       Shudras: (predominantly tamas) Those who undertake hard labor for living. Comprises of servants and labourers.

It is hard to classify a person as entirely belonging to one class, but every person has a dominant tendency according to which he is classified into any one of the above and this was done purely on the basis of one’s capacity and not by birth. Although this system got corrupted at a later stage.

Four Ashramas or Four stages of life in Hinduism

According to Hinduism, there are 4 stages of life namely :

1.       Brahmacharya: Early stage of life which is spent in learning arts of life and spirituality.

2.       Grihastha: Householder life, where earning for livelihood, taking care of children and parents are of primary importance.

3.       Vanaprastha: Retirement stage, where transfer of responsibilities and duties to younger generation is advised.

4.       Sanyasa: Renunciation stage, in which one renounces all worldly attachments and moves to a quiet place to practice spirituality very seriously until death.

Four ages or Four Yugas in Hinduism

In Hinduism, according to the distance of the planet from the Center of the creation (Vishnu Nabhi) time is divided into four yugas or ages. Inhabitants of the planet will have higher abilities and life span when the planet is closer to the center of creation.

1.       Satya Yuga/ Krita yuga (Golden age) : People in this age are predominantly righteous and, hence, world will be 100% righteous in this age. Humans would have very high life span as well.

2.       Treta Yuga: World will be 75% righteous in this age. Life span of humans would still be high.

3.       Dwapara Yuga: World will be 50% righteous, life span would considerably be decreased but still remain high.

4.       Kali Yuga: World in this age will be 25% righteous. Life span of humans would be 120 years.

It is said that in higher ages advanced souls prefer to incarnate, and vice versa.

Reincarnation in Hinduism

According to Hinduism, beings after they die enter astral world, they enter the physical body according to their past tendencies. Those souls which have burnt all tendencies do not have to take rebirth. Those who intentionally take birth to help other souls to advance spiritually are called ‘avatars’. Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus can be considered avatars.

Karma in Hinduism

Karma is the accumulation of fruits of actions. Among different types of karma psychological Karma can be easily understood. Hinduism particularly says that Psychological Karma is essentially ‘the way we train our mind to act is how it is going to act’. Karma has bigger effect on our decisions.

16 Samskaras in Hinduism

There are forty samskaras prescribed in the Vedas of which sixteen, called the Shodasha samskaras, are in practice today. These 16 samskaras have to be performed by or for an individual beginning with conception and continuing up to the last rites performed after death. They are done in the five different stages of a human life i.e. –

1.       The prenatal years,

2.       The childhood years,

3.       The student years,

4.       The adulthood years and

5.       The old age or wisdom years.

These 16 samskaras in Hinduism are meant to cultivate positive qualities which help purify the soul and ultimately lead it to Realization, or union with God.

Other Interesting Hinduism Facts


There is no specific higher authority or governing body which is responsible for the religion, i.e there has been no known founder of Hinduism and Hinduism derives its practices from ancient sages to today’s saints. There has been a tradition of sages and saints from thousands of years (at least for last 10,000 years).

2.       Hinduism is the oldest known religion in the world with it’s root going back to as far as 10000 years and Hindu literature dating back to 7000 BC.

3.       The word Hindu was coined to refer to people from Indus (Sindhu) Valley civilization. The civilization flourished on the bank of river  Sindhu. People from Mesopotamian civilization/present middle east couldn’t pronounce the ‘S’  voice of the word, so “Sindhu” became “Hindu”.

4.       Hinduism is the world’s 3rd largest followed religion after Christianity and Islam.

5.       Hinduism believes in one God who is manifested in many forms. People choose the form through which they wanted to seek god, thus there are so many gods. Shiva, Krishna, Rama, Durga, Kali are among the most worshiped forms of God.

6.       God is considered both male and female, or as the one who has no sex or both. One can worship God through idols/images in Hinduism. Temples are the places where Hindus worship the deities. Many people have altars/ rooms in their houses for worship.

7.       In Hinduism, God is called SatChidAnanda: Ever existing, Ever conscious, Ever new bliss.

8.       The largest Hindu temple is in Cambodia – the Angkor Wat.

9.       Scriptures are divided into Shrutis (those which were heard by sages in deep meditation) and smritis (those which were recorded or memorized). Vedas are the known ancient Hindu scriptures. Other famous scriptures are Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Agamas, puranas. Among them, Bhagavad Gita is considered by most as the holy book of Hindus. However, we can see that it is not considered as the only book.

10.     Contrary to most religious beliefs of God creating life, Vedic Vishnu Purana  deciphered evolution thousands of years ago in the form of Dashavataram. It starts with Matsya (Fish), and next came the Tortoise (Kurma) – the  amphibian. The next avatar is the Boar (Varaha) – symbolising the first Mammal.  The next is Narasimha (Man-lion) – the being in between the humanoid and the  mammal. Next comes Vamana (dwarf) – the primal short man, and then Parashurama  (man with an axe) – representing the first hunter-gatherers creating the first tools. Much before Darwin.

11.     Manu smriti is the first religious book of Hinduism written on Codes of good conduct. Some of the codes from this are followed even today (mostly because they are relevant even today and good codes are often relevant all the time).

12.     Hindu Gods Rama and Krishna (both reincarnations of Vishnu) are the most celebrated historic persons who are well known for their adherence to dharma even at difficult times. Ramayana and Mahabharata are considered as the documentation of the history of India during the times of Rama and Krishna

13.     Popular festivals are: Diwali, Maha Shivaratri, Holi, Ram Navami, Krishna Janmastami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Ugadi. Different groups of Hinduism give importance to different festivals.

14.     There are three sects in Hinduism: Shaiva, Vaishnava and shakti. But they are not definite sects, person of one sect may follow the philosophy of the other sect. Though all sects worship all Gods primary importance is mostly given to one’s own sect.

15.     Buddhism, Jainism, Sikkhism originated from Hinduism, all these religions share lots of common philosophies.

16.     Yoga, Pranayama, Meditation, Vastu, Jyotish, Tantra, Astrology are the main contributions of Hindu system to the modern world.

17.     The word AUM is the main symbol of Hinduism. AUM is considered as the holy sound, because it is believed that consciousness manifested itself as form through the sound AUM.

18.     Monogamy is the most practiced way in Hinduism. Polygamy and polyandry are also practiced though rarely. Vedas suggest that one may marry as many as one can satisfy (materially, providing all necessities) and equal to other spouses.

19.     Kumbhamela (spiritual gathering of both householders and renunciates) which occurs every 3 years is the largest gathering of humans on the earth.

20.     Number 12 is considered special, Poorna Kumbha Mela is celebrated every 12 years, it is believed that spiritual progress happens in practitioners in the cycle of 12 years. i.e it takes 12 years of disciplined practice to change a habit. Mantras, Japas and pranayama’s are practiced in multiples of 12.

21.     Cow, elephant, snake and peacock are closely associated with the religion of Hinduism.


Facts about Diwali

1) Diwali is an important religious festival originating in India. People often think of Diwali as a Hindu festival, but it is also celebrated by Sikhs and Jains.*

2) Diwali takes place annually and lasts for five days, marking the start of the Hindu New Year. The exact dates change each year and are determined by the position of the moon – but it usually falls between October and November.

3) The word Diwali (or Deepavali as it’s sometimes called) means “row of lights” in an Ancient language of India, called Sanskrit. During this festival, people decorate their homes with lights and oil lamps, called diyas.

4) For many people, Diwali honours the Hindu goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. The lights and lamps are said to help Lakshmi find her way into peoples’ homes, bringing prosperity in the year to come!

5) It’s also a celebration of good triumphing over evil, and different legends based on this theme are associated with Diwali. In northern India, Hindus celebrate the return of the deities (gods) Rama and Sita to the city of Ayodhya, after defeating the evil king Ravana!

6) In the region of Bengal people worship the goddess Kali, the destroyer of evil forces, during Diwali. And in Nepal (a country bordering north-east India), people celebrate Lord Krishna’s victory over the wicked king Narakaasura.

7) But it’s not just about lights and legends –– Diwali is a time to have fun with friends and family! People exchange gifts and sweets, enjoy delicious feasts, watch firework displays and wear new clothes. It’s a time to clean and decorate your home, too.

8) Rangoli is a popular Diwali tradition –– beautiful patterns made using colourful powders and flowers. People draw rangoli on the floor by the entrance of their homes to welcome the gods and bring good luck!

9) Today, this fascinating festival is celebrated by thousands of people in countries all around the world. During Diwali, Hindus living outside India gather at places of worship called mandirs to leave offerings to deities, watch firework displays and eat yummy food together!

10) The city of Leicester, in the United Kingdom, holds the largest Diwali celebrations outside of India. Every year, tens of thousands of people gather in the streets to enjoy vibrant shows of light, music and dancing!

Hindu Beliefs Affecting

health care Most Hindu holy days are based on the lunar calendar and the dates can vary from year to year. Some festivals can occur over an extended period with celebrations lasting for days or weeks.

1 Food beliefs

Hindu dietary practices can vary depending on the individual’s beliefs and customs

Most Hindus do not eat beef or pork and many follow a vegetarian diet. Fasting is common among Hindus, but there are no set rules and the decision to fast is up to the individual.

Many Hindus follow Ayurvedic dietary practices. Under this system certain foods are classified as hot or cold and can adversely or positively affect health conditions and emotions.

The classification of foods as hot or cold is unrelated to temperature. Hot foods are generally those foods which are salty, sour or high in animal protein, while cold foods are generally sweet or bitter

Some strict Hindus do not consume garlic or onion as the properties of these foods disturb spiritual practices such as meditation.

Refer to section three for a table of foods suitable for vegetarian Hindus

2  Karma

• A central belief of Hinduism is the doctrine of karma, the law of cause and effect.

• Hindus believe that every thought, word and action accumulates karma, which can affect current and future lives. Hindus believe in reincarnation

• Actions from a past life can affect events in the current life, including health and wellbeing • Health care providers should be aware that a strong belief in karma can affect decision-making regarding health care.

3 Holy days

Hindus do not observe a specific day of worship, although some days of the week may be associated with particular deities.

Hindus do observe a number of holy days and festivals which can have an impact on health care due to associated fasts.

Most Hindu holy days are based on the lunar calendar and the dates can vary from year to year. Some festivals can occur over an extended period with celebrations lasting for days or weeks.

4 Fasting

Fasting is an integral part of Hinduism and is seen as a means of purifying the body and the soul, encouraging self-discipline, and gaining emotional balance .

Fasting may be practiced on specific days of the week, during festivals or on holy days, or in conjunction with special prayers.

It is not considered obligatory for a Hindu patient to fast during hospitalisation.

However, some patients may wish to fast while in hospital. There is no specified way to fast, but individuals may choose to abstain completely from all food and drink or only abstain from certain foods.

5 Dress

While there is no religious requirement for modest dress, many Hindus choose to dress modestly and may be reluctant to be examined by health care providers of the opposite sex.

Hindu women may wear a sacred thread or gold chain around their necks and Hindu men and boys may wear a sacred thread across the chest.

These items should not be removed during examination. If it is necessary to remove an item, permission should be sought prior to removal .

Hare Krishna followers, and some other Hindus, may wear sacred tulsi beads around the neck.

If it is necessary to remove these beads, they should be retied around the wrist (preferably right).

In addition, some jewellery worn by Hindus may have a sacred meaning and patients should be consulted before removal.

6 . Mental health and/or cognitive dysfunction

Hindus believe that all illnesses, whether physical or mental, have a biological, psychological and spiritual element.

Treatments which do not address all three causes may not be considered effective by a Hindu patient.

 Many Hindus attach a stigma to mental illness and cognitive dysfunction.

Many Hindus have a strong belief in the concept of the evil eye and may believe this to be a cause of mental illness .

In addition, all illness, including mental illness, may be seen as the result of karma from this, or a previous life.

7. Transplants and organ donation

Hinduism supports the donation and transplantation of organs. The decision to donate or receive organs is left to the individual.

8. Sexual and reproductive health


There is no official Hindu position on contraception


Beliefs about abortion may vary depending on cultural or religious interpretations.

Many Hindus believe that the moment of conception marks the rebirth of an individual, which may make abortion unacceptable, except in emergencies4 .

Do You Know the Basics of Hinduism?

What Do Hindus Believe about God?

Hinduism has traditionally been considered polytheistic—the worship of many gods—but may better be described as henotheistic—the worship of one particular god without disbelieving in the existence of others. Hinduism recognizes up to 333 million gods, but many Hindus believe this vast number represents the infinite forms of god—god is in everyone, god is in everything.

Many Hindus believe in and worship three gods that make up the Hindu “trinity”: Brahma the creator of the universe, Vishnu the preserver of the universe, and Shiva the destroyer of the universe. These gods, along with the other millions of deities, are considered manifestations of either one supreme god or a single, transcendent power called Brahman (not to be confused with Brahmins, the priestly social class). Many Hindus would even say Jesus was a manifestation of one of their gods.

No matter what form of Hinduism they follow, most Hindus are also active animists. They attempt to appease good and bad spirits by worshiping at auspicious times, studying horoscopes, and wearing amulets to guard against diseases and evil.

Hindu Holy Texts

Many Hindu practices today somewhat rely on the spiritual literature and authority of the Vedas—texts of sacred truth revealed from an absolute power to the inhabitants of northern India. The Sanskrit texts that make up the Vedas were composed and orally transmitted by ancient poets and sages as early as 1700 BC. However, many people neither read, adhere to, nor know how to interpret these holy texts. High-caste Brahmins—members of the priestly social class by birth—have closely guarded knowledge of the Vedas to preserve their dominant position in society. Therefore, many Hindus instead choose to follow family traditions and guidance provided by their spiritual teachers, called gurus.

Salvation According to Hindus

Hindus believe in the soul, or true self, called atman. According to Hindus, the soul goes through reincarnation—a rebirth of the soul into a new body after death. Life, birth, death, and rebirth is an endless cycle called samsara. Rebirth is affected by karma—the result of deeds or actions—in the present life.

There is no concept of sin in Hinduism as it is perceived in Western thought. Instead, there is the law of karma that says every good thought, word, or deed affects the next life favorably while every bad thought, word, or deed leads to suffering in the next life. The law of karma does not allow for the possibility of forgiveness but only the accumulation of inescapable consequences—good or bad, according to right or wrong action. Karma does not affect a Hindu’s relationship with the universal power, Brahman. Whether a person’s karma is good or bad has no impact on their intrinsic oneness with Brahman.

Individuals are born into a particular caste depending on their actions in the previous life. Good karma leads to rebirth in a higher caste and bad karma to a lower caste. One can only become a member of a different caste through death and rebirth. Eventually, the soul will attain moksha—alternately called salvation, enlightenment, or liberation from rebirth—and become one with the universal power, Brahman.

What Is the Purpose of Life for a Hindu?

Hindus have four specific goals in human life.

1.       Dharma: pursuing virtuous behavior and fulfilling one’s duty in life

2.       Artha: pursuing and acquiring success and wealth

3.       Kama: pursuing pleasure in all its forms

4.       Moksha: pursuing salvation

The first three goals of human life deal mainly with the quality of life and are very important to Hindus. But moksha is arguably the most significant goal. Hinduism offers at least three paths to pursue moksha: the way of ritual and action, the way of knowledge and meditation, and the way of devotion. Hindus usually prioritize or adopt one path over the others.

The way of ritual and action claims that performing one’s duty in this life is the sacred and moral responsibility of the individual. Each caste has a duty or function that helps to sustain society as a whole. If someone deviates from fulfilling his or her function, it is interpreted as bringing disaster to both the individual and to society. Similar to Buddhism, the way of ritual and action focuses on detachment from desire in order to attain salvation. This path is primarily followed by high-caste Hindus, such as Brahmins.

The way of knowledge and meditation says that humans are trapped in an illusion that keeps us from realizing we are a part of god. When this illusion is dispelled, we will reach salvation by becoming one with the ultimate reality. Followers of this path practice yoga, meditation, and are also encouraged to study philosophy in their pursuit to dispel illusion. Modern-day gurus of this path claim they are god and suggest all of us can be god too. This path is followed mainly by the intellectual elite, and its philosophy has been widely embraced by non-Hindus with New Age beliefs.

The way of devotion is characterized by acts of devotion to one’s personal god in the hopes of receiving mercy and instant salvation. These acts range from ascetic practices, singing hymns, and repeating the name of god (the word om), to pilgrimages and sacrifices. This path is open to all—even low-castes, outcasts, women, and children.

Holy Cows, Vegetarianism, and Yoga

Despite the broad spectrum of faith and practice, Hinduism has several common cultural elements: the veneration of cows, vegetarianism, and yoga.

During the Vedic Period of northern India, the cow was a symbol of wealth and prosperity, as well as one of the animals offered in ritual religious sacrifices. But over time, possibly through the influence of Buddhism and Jainism, animal sacrifices waned, and the cow emerged as a sacred symbol to Hindus. The five products of the cow—milk, curds, butter, urine, and dung—are used in purifying and healing rituals. One popular Hindu god, Krishna, spent his early life as a cowherd, further elevating the status of the cow. In some states of India, there are bans and strict regulations concerning the slaughter of cows and eating of beef.

Many rules concerning food govern a Hindu’s life—when to eat, what to eat, and who can prepare food for whom. The preparation and consumption of food are central to a Hindu’s notion of ritual purity and, ultimately, their liberation from rebirth. Not all Hindus are vegetarians, but vegetarianism is seen as an indicator of purity. Many high-caste Hindus are vegetarians.

In Hinduism, yoga is a discipline to transform the individual and become one with the universal power. It takes many different forms according to the traditions or methods under which it is practiced. At its most basic, yoga consists of a particular set of techniques, usually including meditation, to control the body, the breath, and the mind. The practice of using yoga to alter one’s conscious state and suppress the senses has roots going back to the Vedic Period. By contrast, yoga has become popular in the West as a way to achieve physical and mental fitness.

What are Symbols in Hinduism?

Hinduism is one of the world’s oldest religions, beginning in India about 4,000 years ago. It remains one of the world’s largest religions, with over a billion Hindus today. Hinduism and Hindu practices and beliefs vary depending on region, culture, and other factors, but all forms of Hinduism find their roots in the four Vedas. The four Vedas are ancient Sanskrit texts which document the mythological systems of Hinduism, tell stories of the various deities of Hinduism, and describe rituals and beliefs of the ancient religion.

Religious scholars believe that all religions, including Hinduism, have particular myths, symbols, and rituals that help convey the core beliefs and ideas of the religion. Symbols can represent specific elements or values of core myths, and they aid in communicating these ideas across languages, cultures, and time. What is a symbol of Hinduism? Some of the primary symbols in Hinduism include the Om, the peace symbol (i.e., a swastika), the Trishula (trident), the lotus flower, the lingam, the Shanka, and the lamp.

Specific Hindu Symbols

Since Hinduism is such an old religion, many Hindu symbols have been adopted into other religious traditions that have come into contact with Hinduism over the past several centuries. The lotus, for example, is seen just as often in Buddhist traditions as in Hindu practices. The trident, too, has spread from Hinduism into religions such as Sikhism. Other symbols, such as the swastika, have been found independent of Hindu influence in places like North America, though the Nazi party also appropriated the swastika.

Some symbols, however, remain unique to Hinduism. Hindu symbols can be divided into mudras and murtis. Mudras are specific body positions and hand gestures (also used in traditions like Buddhism and Jainism, as well as in secular versions of some yoga practices) that have spiritual significance. The symbols discussed in this article fall more in line with murtis, which are statues, icons, calligraphy, and other types of imagery that have spiritual meaning for Hindus.

Om Symbol

Often written in Latin script as ”Om,” or as ”Aum,” this symbol for Hinduism is a series of Sanskrit letters that are, according to Hinduism, representative of the sound made at the creation of the universe. It is a core Hindu mantra (note: ”mantra,” in this context, has a different meaning than in common usage. In Hinduism and many other related Indian religions, a mantra is a series of sounds that may or may not have meaning in terms of spoken language, but they are considered spiritually significant. They are meant to bring about particular spiritual states.). ”Om” is used to start and end many Hindu texts, meditations, prayers, and other mantras.

As a symbol, ”Om” not only represents the initial sound of the universe, but it references a great number of significant triads in Hinduism. These triads include the three gunas — sattva (harmoniousness), rajas (passion), and tamas (chaos) — and the Trimurti (three central gods): Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma.

Hindu Peace Symbol

This symbol, often called the swastika, but also referred to as manji, has been used by various cultures for thousands of years, including diverse Native populations in North America and even ancient versions of Christianity and Judaism. The word ”swastika” itself means ”well-being” in Sanskrit, the language of the Hindu traditional texts. The swastika holds essential meaning for Hindus, representing prosperity and good fortune.

Many Hindus widely used it for centuries, but fewer use it now due to its appropriation by Nazi Germany and the Nazi’s horrific actions. The appropriation was rooted in a mistaken connection between Hitler’s ideas of the Aryan race and the Aryan people of India. These Indian Aryans were a geographical group in the Aryavarta region. It was also an ethnic label for the people of India when the Vedas were written. In Sanskrit, Aryan refers to noble people. The Nazis drew on this idea of nobility and power, along with some implied colorism (i.e., a prejudice that tends to favor light-skinned people, similar to racism but not the same) in Sanskrit texts. They did this to assume their conception of Aryan people was like the white Germans that they saw as the truest form of humanity.

Even though the Hindu use of the swastika is visually different from that of the Nazi swastika, some Hindus, especially those living in Western countries, may refrain from using the symbol in public ways to avoid being associated with the Nazis and Nazism. However, it is crucial to recognize that the symbol used by Hindus is entirely separate in terms of its meaning. Many Hindus will continue to utilize the symbol to try and reclaim its original meaning and to practice their faith regardless of how others have abused its imagery.

Why are Hinduism Symbols Significant?

As in all religions, the symbols used by Hindus are a key element. Symbols help communicate religious beliefs and values despite language, culture, context, and time barriers. Symbols can also represent specific parts of religious myths and thus facilitate the recollection and retelling of these stories.

Lesson Summary

Hinduism is an ancient religion that began in India several thousand years ago. Over those centuries, many symbols in Hinduism have developed, including many murtis (statues, icons, calligraphy, and other imagery with spiritual meaning). The most well-known is the ”Om,” a combination of Sanskrit letters believed to be the first sound of creation. The ritual conch shell, shankha, is also used to evoke this same sound and is connected to the god Vishnu. The lotus flower also represents Vishnu. This symbol also is present in other Indian religions, such as Buddhism, and suggests growth and (spiritual) beauty regardless of surrounding circumstances. One of the other Trimurti (trinity) gods, Shiva, is represented by his trident, the trishula. Shiva is also evoked through an aniconic cylindrical fountain called a lingam, which is intentionally phallic as it is connected to Shiva’s phallus and the male role in creation. (Aniconic images are special symbols meant to stand in for something without depicting it directly.) During worship, one may find diyas (clay lamps) lit at Hindu altars of all kinds).

Unfortunately, another symbol connected to Hinduism, the swastika, was appropriated by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Given its use as a symbol for genocide during that time, some Hindus are cautious of its use today despite its profound importance in many cultures, including ones not associated with Hinduism. For Hindus, the swastika traditionally symbolizes well-being. It was also found in indigenous cultures of North America and various other groups. Despite its misuse, some Hindus and others who have used this symbol have reclaimed its original meaning and use.

What are two Hindu symbols, and what do they represent?

The “Om” (or “Aum”) and the lotus flower are two significant Hindu symbols. The om is a combination of Sanskrit letters believed to be the first sound of creation; it is integrated into many mantras. The lotus flower also represents the creation myth, as it is intimately tied to water. The lotus can also symbolize spiritual beauty despite the circumstances one is found in.

What is the most common symbol of Hinduism?

The most common Hinduism symbol is likely the “Om” (“Aum”) symbol. This is a combination of Sanskrit letters representing the initial sound of creation. It is part of many Hindu mantras.

Hinduism Glossary Terms


Abhishekam is the Hindu “ritual shower” of water, milk, honey, yogurt, and sandalwood paste that is poured over a murti (sacred image) as part of daily, weekly, or festival rites. The term was used in ancient India to mean the ritual anointing of a king and these royal meanings still attend the abhisheka rites as they are offered to the Divine.

Advaita Vedanta

Advaita Vedanta is a school of Hindu philosophy based on the doctrine of non-dualism associated with Shankara. That doctrine attests that Brahman is the only reality.


Ananthapadmanabha is a name of Vishnu as the Infinite Lord, in the Hindu tradition, from whose body or navel the lotus of the whole created world arises.


Andal was a Tamil woman saint and poet of the 9th century, beloved for her poetry called the Tiruppavai. She is honored as one so filled with the love of Vishnu that she is said to have merged into his image as his bride at the great temple of Sri Rangam.


In the Hindu tradition, arati is the circling of oil lamp-lights before the murti (image) of the deity so as to illumine each part of its face and body. This is often the final act of puja (worship). So important is this lamp offering that the term arati is often used to describe the entire sequence of honor-offerings made to the deity.


Archana is a short form of puja (worship) offered on behalf of a individual or family, in the Hindu tradition. It often involves the chanting of the names of the deity.


Arya is a Sanskrit term meaning “noble,” used to designate the people whose religious insights and ritual life are recorded in the Vedas.

Arya Samaj

The Arya Samaj is a Hindu reform movement launched in the late 19th century by Swami Dayananda Sarasvati, who advocated a return to what he believed to be the monotheism of the Vedas, rejecting image-worship.


In the religious traditions of India, an ashram is a retreat center, where the cultivation of religious life takes place under the guidance of a teacher or guru.


In Hinduism, an avatara is the “descent” of a deity upon earth, an incarnation, especially of Vishnu, whose avataras include Krishna and Rama.


In the Hindu tradition, Ayyappa is popular pilgrimage deity of the mountain-top shrine of Sabarimalai Kerala, said to be a son of Vishnu and Shiva.

Bal Vihar

A Bal Vihar or Bal Vikas is a program or center for the religious education of Hindu children.

Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gita or “Song of the Lord” forms part of the sixth book of the epic Mahabharata and contains Lord Krishna’s teachings to the warrior Arjuna. The Gita is beloved by Hindus for its message of selfless action and devotion to God.


Bhagavan means venerable, illustrious, honored. In some contexts, i. may be the epithet of both the Supreme and personal God. It may also describe a scripture, such as the Bhagavad Gita, or it may be an honorific applied to a person, such as one of the Jain Tirthankaras.

Bhagavata Purana

The Bhagavata Purana, also called the Srimad Bhagavatam, is one of the most widely cherished of the 18 Hindu Puranas, the scriptural traditions which are filled with myth, legend, and ritual. The Bhagavata Purana is famous for its stories of Lord Krishna.

Bhajan, Yogi

In 1968 Harbhajan Singh (1929-2004) popularly known as Yogi Bhajan, brought the message of the Guru Granth Sahib to the West. He soon attracted many young American followers with the universalism of the Sikh message, the practice of yoga and meditation, and the emphasis on a natural and healthy lifestyle. In 1969, he formed the movement called 3HO, (Happy, Healthy, and Holy Organization), which later became known as Sikh Dharma.


In the Hindu tradition, a bhakta is a devotee of God, one whose heart is filled with devotion or love (bhakti).


Bhakti is devotion to or love of God. The term is derived from a Sanskrit root meaning “to share.” Hence, it conveys the sense of a personal relationship with the Lord, expressed in such forms as chanting, singing, dancing, and temple worship.

Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada, A.C.

Following the instructions of his teacher in India to carry the message of Krishna to the West, Swami A.C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada (1896-1977) arrived in New York in 1965 and launched the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), one of the most visible forms of devotion to Krishna in the West.

Bochasanwasi Swaminarayan Sanstha (BSS)

Bochasanwasi Swaminarayan Sanstha is a worldwide organization under the leadership of Shri Pramukh Swami Maharaj. It is one of the two major branches of the Hindu Swaminarayan movement, honoring Swaminarayan, a 19th century Gujarati teacher who is seen to be the human manifestation of the highest Divine reality.

Brahma Kumari

The Brahma Kumari movement is a worldwide spiritual movement founded in India in 1936 by Prajapita Brahma, with its international headquarters at Mount Abu and over 3,700 branches worldwide. Under the leadership of its present head, Dadi Prakashmani, the Brahma Kumaris have been active in interfaith cooperation throughout the world.


Brahman is a term used in the Hindu tradition to refer to the Supreme Reality that is the source of all being and all knowing, pervading and yet transcending all that is. Brahman is said to be one with Atman, the inner reality of the self or soul.


A brahmin is a member of the priestly class, charged with the duties of learning the Vedas, teaching the Vedas, and performing rituals. It is the highest of the four general castes of Hindu society.


Caste comes from a Portuguese word “casta” which was used by early traders to describe India’s complex class structure of varnas. The four major inherited varnas are the Brahmins (priests), Kshatriyas (kings, warriors), vaishyas (merchants), and shudras (craftsmen and servants). The term caste was also used to describe hundreds of sub-castes called jatis, literally birth-groups. The caste system distinctive to India governs religious, social, and economic interactions. This social structure, while hierarchical, is not inflexible; it has changed through time and continues to change today.


Chaitanya is a 16th century charismatic Hindu saint; a devotee of Krishna, who urged the simple chanting of the Lord’s name as a powerful form of devotion. The ISKCON or “Hare Krishna” movement is one of several devotional movements that look to Chaitanya for inspiration.

Chidvilasananda, Gurumayi

Gurumayi is the spiritual successor to Swami Muktananda (1908-1982), the founder of Siddha Yoga Dham Associates (SYDA), a worldwide meditation movement.

Chinmayananda, Swami

Swami Chinmayananda (1916-1993) was a Vedanta teacher and disciple of the influential guru Swami Sivananda. He founded the Chinmaya Mission in India in 1953 and the Chinmaya Mission West in 1975 to teach the wisdom of the Vedanta tradition in the context of Western culture. Today there are some twenty-five Chinmaya Mission centers in the United States and Canada.


In the Hindu tradition, darshan is the “auspicious sight” of a deity or even a holy person. Darshan includes both beholding the deity and receiving the gaze of the deity.


Devi is a common term for goddess. It is used in the Hindu and Jain traditions to refer to female divinites, many of them localized goddesses. In the Hindu tradition, Devi also refers to the Goddess as the Supreme Being.

Devi, Sarada

Sarada Devi was the wife of Sri Ramakrishna, the 19th century mystic of Calcutta. She was originally a village woman, who became worshipped by Ramakrishna not as his earthly wife, but as the divine Holy Mother. Her special place in the Ramakrishna movement in India and the Vedanta Societies in America is perhaps second only to Ramakrishna himself. Her image is invariably present in Vedanta Society sanctuaries. She lived three decades after Ramakrishna’s death, dying only in 1920.


Dharma means religion, religious duty, religious teaching. The word dharma comes from a Sanskrit root meaning “to uphold, support, bear,” thus dharma is that order of things which informs the whole world, from the laws of nature to the inner workings of conscience. For the Buddhist tradition, the Dharma (or Dhamma in Pali) refers especially to the teachings of the Buddha. This body of teachings constitutes one element of the “Three Jewels” in which Buddhists take refuge: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha (the community). For Hindus, dharma means righteous conduct, religious obligation, or religious duty—either the eternal obligations (sanatana dharma) incumbent upon all humankind, or the obligations specific to one’s caste and stage of life (varnashrama dharma).


Durga is one of the names of the Devi as consort of Shiva. Both a mother and a warrior, she is especially known for slaying the buffalo demon, Mahisha. Her autumn festival Durga puja or Navaratri is one of North India’s great celebrations.

fire altar

Fire altars have played a central role in both Hindu and Zoroastrian religious rituals. In the Hindu tradition, fire altars were central to ancient Vedic religious life as the place where many yajnas or rituals were performed. The kindling of sacred fire at a fire altar continues to be central for many Hindu domestic rites, including marriage, and for public rites such as the consecration of a temple. In the ancient Zoroastrian tradition, the central rites called yasna were and are still performed in the presence of the purifying fire. In a fire temple the Afargan or fire vase rests upon the altar and contains the eternal fire in the presence of which Zoroastrians pray.

Gandhi, Mohandas

M.K. Gandhi (1869-1948) was one of the great religious leaders and social reformers of the 20th century. He came to be called Mahatma, the “Great Soul.” Born in western India in Gujarat, he studied law in London and then spent twenty years with the Indian diaspora community in South Africa, where he began his work of non-violent social change. Returning to India, he was a leader in the movement for independence from England, again resorting to non-violence, which he called satyagraha, “holding fast to Truth.” His ashrams included people of all religions and castes, including untouchables, and were models of a society where such divisions could be overcome.


Ganesha is the elephant-headed son of Shiva and Parvati and the keeper of the thresholds of space and time, to be honored at the doorway and at the outset of any venture. He is both the “lord of beginnings” and the “remover of obstacles.”

Ganesha Chaturthi

Ganesha Chaturthi is the year’s great festival of Ganesha, celebrated most commonly on the fourth day (chaturthi) of the waning fortnight of the lunar month of August/September. At the Ganesha Temple in Queens, the day includes a procession of the festival image of Ganesha through the streets of Flushing. Many American temples observe Ganesha Chaturthi.


Goddess is a term used to refer to the female deity, either in the singular as the supreme divine reality, or in the plural as one of many particular or localized feminine deities. In the Hindu tradition, the Goddess refers to the very powerful, even supreme Goddess known variously as Durga, Kali, or simply Devi. In today’s Pagan traditions, the Goddess may refer to one of the ancient female deities such as Diana or Isis, or to the universal and supreme Goddess known under many names.

guru puja

Guru puja is the honoring of the guru or teacher with puja, or ritual devotion.

Guru Purnima

Guru Purnima is a yearly observance honoring the guru or teacher. It falls on the full moon day (purnima) of the lunar month of July/August.


A gurukulam is a residential school or training center where a guru teaches; literally, it means the family (kulam) of the guru.


Hanuman is Lord Rama’s foremost devotee and servant. In the epic Ramayana, Hanuman plays a key role in the rescue of Rama’s wife, Sita, after she had been abducted by the demon-king, Ravana. In Hindu temples Hanuman is always present, on bended knee, at Rama’s altar. He is, in many ways, worshipped more widely than Rama, for it is common to worship Rama through his closest servant.

Hatha yoga

Hatha yoga is a form of yoga or spiritual/physical discipline giving special attention to the postures and breathing exercises that release and control the energies of the body. The term is often used in the West to refer to the physical-fitness aspects of yoga.


A haveli is a stately house or palace, a Pushti Marga temple. In this devotional sect founded by the teacher (acharya) Vallabha, Krishna dwells in the household of the teachers. In the Swaminarayan tradition, a haveli is the residence for female ascetics.


“Hindu” was originally a word given by the Greeks, then the Persians, to the land and peoples beyond the Indus or “Sindhu” River. The term “Hinduism” came into common use only in the 19th century to describe a complex and dynamic pattern of life and practice. The Hindu tradition is more an ethos than a set of beliefs. It includes three major streams of Hindu devotion—Vaishnava, Shaiva, and Shakta—and a number of distinctive philosophical traditions. Despite great sectarian diversity, there are Hindu assumptions about life that do have common, although not universal, currency. the universe is permeated with the Divine, a reality often described as Brahman; the Divine can be known in many names and forms; this reality is deeply and fully present within the human soul; the soul’s journey to full self-realization is not accomplished in a single lifetime, but takes many lifetimes; one’s course through life after life is shaped by one’s deeds.


Holi is a Hindu springtime festival, marked by rituals of revelry including “playing” with colored powder which celebrants throw on one another. In some temples Krishna participates by throwing the colors on his devotees. Holi falls on the first day of the waning fortnight of the lunar month of March/April.

International Society for Krishna Consciousness

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), often referred to as the Hare Krishna movement, was founded by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977) who brought his tradition of devotion to Krishna to the United States in 1965. This form of devotion emphasizes the powerful simplicity of chanting the Lord’s name to express and realize love of God. ISKCON communities are strictly vegetarian and observe a rigorous daily schedule of worship and chanting.


Jagannatha is Krishna as “Lord of the Universe,” especially as he is present in the simple, saucer-eyed wooden form worshipped in the pilgrimage town of Puri in the Indian state of Orissa and beloved by worshippers of Krishna both in India and the West. The images of Krishna Jagannatha, his sister Subhadra, and his brother Balarama, are pulled through the streets of American cities in ISKCON’s annual Chariot Festivals.


Krishna Janmashtami is the Hindu festival celebrating the birth (janma) of Lord Krishna on the eighth day (ashtami) of the waning fortnight of the lunar month of August/September.


Japa is the devotional repetition of a sacred syllable, mantra, or divine name, either aloud or to oneself. Some devotees count each repetition on a mala or rosary.


Jnana is wisdom, transforming knowledge, especially the knowledge of the identity of the atman or soul and the ultimate reality of Brahman. It is this inner realization to which the teachings of the Upanishads point, and it is this wisdom which is explicated in philosophical systems such as Advaita Vedanta.


Kabir was a late 15th and early 16th century poet-saint of North India who glimpsed and praised the one, formless God who could not be confined within the religious establishments of either the Hindus or the Muslims. Kabir’s songs are still widely known and loved and some of them are included among the songs of the saints in the Sikh scripture, the Adi Granth.

karma yoga

Karma yoga means the spiritual discipline (yoga) of action (karma): active engagement with the concerns and affairs of the world, but with a spirit of detachment or renunciation, action without any ego-attachment to its fruits or results. In the Bhagavad Gita karma yoga is placed alongside inner realization (jnana) and expressive devotion (bhakti) as one of the main spiritual paths.

Kashmir Shaivism

Kashmir Shaivism is a non-dualist philosophical and ritual tradition, beginning in about the 10th century in Kashmir.


In the religious traditions of India the term kirtan refers to singing the praises of God in communal worship.


Krishna is one of the most beloved of Hindu Gods, sometimes called an avatara of Vishnu, but widely worshipped in his own right as the Supreme Lord. The stories of Krishna gather together the ancient and heroic cowherd god of India, the adviser to Arjuna and teacher of the Bhagavad Gita, the divine child, and the playful lover of the milkmaids of Vraj.


Kumbhabhishekam means the “sprinkling” (abhishekam) of the temple with sacred waters carried in a “water-pot” (kumbha). This consecration rite is the most important ritual in the life of a newly built Hindu temple. The main rites ordinarily take place in a large tent erected adjacent to the new temple. There brick fire altars are constructed so that offerings may be made into the fire by priests as they chant mantras and sacred texts. The Divine is invoked into the fire, into the water, and then the consecrated waters are sprinkled over the temple cupolas and towers, making the entire temple a dwelling of the Divine.

kundalini yoga

Kundalini is a powerful spiritual energy, understood to be concentrated at the base of the spine like a coiled serpent. The discipline of releasing and raising that energy to the head where it transforms one’s consciousness is called kundalini yoga, a spiritual regimen common to some Hindu and Buddhist traditions, as well as to the Sikh Dharma taught by Yogi Bhajan.


Lakshmi is the goddess who embodies auspiciousness, wealth, and good fortune. She is often regarded as a wife of Vishnu or Narayana and is worshipped especially in the fall festival of lights called Divali.

Lakshmi Narayana

The Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu, also called Narayana, are worshipped together as the Divine couple.

Laws of Manu

The Laws of Manu constitute one of the classic sources of teaching about Dharma in the Hindu tradition. Dating to the period from about 200 BCE to 200 CE, this articulation of law or dharma begins with the story of creation and then covers such subjects as the duties and responsibilities of each of the castes (varnas) and each of the stages of life (ashramas), the special responsibilities of kings and of women, and the consequences of infractions against dharma.


Lokayata is school of philosophical thought that defined itself against Hinduism by emphasizing that matter and sense data derived from it is the only source of knowing and that physical forces were active in the world although not alive.


The Mahabharata is the great epic of India, comprising some 18 sections. It tells the tale of the great battle between the Pandavas, understood to be sons of the gods, and the Kauravas, their cousins, who conspire to deprive the Pandavas of their kingdom. Within the epic of family rivalry and battle are included countless myths, legends, and teachings about Dharma, such as the Bhagavad Gita, which is told by the incarnate Krishna to the warrior Arjuna just as the battle is about to begin. The Mahabharata is a treasury of the culture and lore of Hindu India. Emerging over the centuries from traditions of oral epic transmission, the Mahabharata gained its present form by about 400 CE.


The Sanskrit word mandala means circle and, by extension, the whole world. It is used in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions to refer to the symbolic circles that represent the entire world, with all its divine energies, in a microcosm. Especially in the Tibetan Vajrayana tradition, visualizing the world created in the mandala (called kyinkor) with all its color and detail becomes a powerful and finely-tuned meditation practice.


A Hindu temple will be called a mandir in northern parts of India or a koyil in the south. There are many styles of temples and temple-complexes, but most temples are laid out according to precise dimensions and proportions and erected to be the symbolic embodiments of the Divine on earth. The murti (image) of the deity for whom the temple is built is housed in a smaller sanctuary or garbha griha (womb-chamber) at the very heart of the temple.


(also: Minakshi) The material form of Goddess Meenakshi is best known as the reigning goddess of the popular South Indian temple town of Madurai, where her large temple complex is at center of town built in concentric square processional streets around the temple. She is the bride of Shiva called Sundareshvara, the “beautiful Lord,” but is also worshipped in her own right. In the U.S., her first and largest temple is in Houston.


Moksha means freedom or liberation; freedom from the constant round of birth and death called samsara. Many Hindu schools of thought insist that jnana, profound self-knowledge or knowledge of atman, is the prerequisite of moksha. In the Jain tradition the attainment of kevalajnana, the supreme, omniscient knowledge of the nature of the universe, brings moksha.


A monastery is the residence of monks, or monastics; the term is commonly used in both the Christian and Buddhist traditions. Monasticism refers to the life of work, study, and discipline led by monks and nuns.


A monk is a man who renounces worldly life and is ordinarily a member of a monastic order or community, thereby undertaking a special commitment to study, service, asceticism, prayer, or disciplined spiritual practice. In the Buddhist tradition, fully ordained monks are called bhikkhus, those who beg alms, depending upon the laity for their food and support. In the Jain tradition, ordained monks are called sadhus or holy ones; they traditionally live in close interaction with Jain laity, depending upon them for food and sustenance. In the Hindu tradition, a sannyasi is one who renounces worldly life, but such renunciation has often been an individual matter, without a monastic community. However, the 8th or 9th-century sage Shankara is credited with organizing many sannyasis, though by no means all, into monastic orders. In the Christian tradition, there have been both individual monks (hermits) and monks who live in orders or communities following a specific rule of life, such as the Franciscans or Benedictines.

Muktananda, Swami

Swami Muktananda (1908-1982) founded the Siddha Yoga Dham Associates (SYDA) in 1974. By 1976, he had established eighty meditation centers and five ashrams, and claimed some 20,000 followers in the United States. Swami Muktananda also traveled to other parts of the world, spreading the teachings of Siddha Yoga Meditation.


Both Hindus and Jains honor sacred images called murtis. The term murti means form or likeness, referring to the material form of a deity or divine being as a focus for worship. These images may be temporary or permanently installed, as in a temple. Through rites of consecration, Hindus understand the image as a dwelling of the Divine, whom worshippers honor with a daily round of hospitality rites. Jains understand their images of the Tirthankaras quite differently: the Tirthankaras are not gods and do not dwell in the image. By worshipping the murti of the Tirthankara, Jains emulate his qualities, purify themselves, and turn the mind toward liberation.


Murugan is the divine son of Shiva, also known as Skanda or Karttikeya. There are six popular Hindu temples of Murugan in South India, including Palani. In the U.S., Murugan is present as Palaniswami in Concord, California. There are Murugan temples in such places as Yuma, Arizona; Richville, New York; and Lanham, Maryland.


Nammalvar was a 9th century Tamil poet-saint whose poems, called the Tiruvaymoli, are considered by the Shri Vaishnavas to be “the Tamil Veda.” The image of Nammalvar as a great devotee of Vishnu is often found in South Indian Vaishnava temples.


Narasimha is the “Man-Lion” avatara, (divine descent), of Vishnu. According to myth, he became manifest in this form in order to rescue his devotee from an evil king who had a boon that he could not be killed by man or beast. By becoming neither fully man nor beast, Vishnu killed him and retrieved the world from the reign of the godless king.


Narayana is a name commonly used to refer to Vishnu, especially in the form in which he lies sleeping on the waters, resting on the serpent called Ananta, the “eternal.”


The fall festival Navaratri (literally, “Nine Nights”) is also called Durga Puja, the worship of the Goddess Durga. Over the course of the first nine nights of the waxing half of this lunar cycle, beautiful images of the goddess are made and worshipped. American Hindus observe Navaratri in a variety of ways, including large public celebrations with the popular stick-dancing called the garba.

North Indian Bhakti

North Indian Bhakti began in about the 12th century with the Sanskrit poet Jayadeva, when a variety of poet-saints of northern India began to create a new devotional climate. This culminated in the 15th and 16th centuries with spirited devotional movements and vernacular poetry and song associated with Chaitanya, Kabir, Mira Bai, Vallabha, Tulsi Das, and Surdas.


A nun is a woman who renounces worldly life and is ordinarily a member of a monastic order or community, thereby undertaking a special commitment to study, service, asceticism, prayer, or disciplined spiritual practice. In the Buddhist tradition, fully ordained nuns are called bhikkhunis, those who beg alms, depending upon the laity for their food and support. The early lineage of bhikkhunis died out long ago in the Theravada traditions of South Asia, but was preserved in the Mahayana traditions of East Asia where nuns outnumber monks today in Hong Kong and Taiwan. In the Jain tradition, ordained nuns are called sadhvis or holy ones; they have preserved monastic life for many centuries and their orders flourish in contemporary India. In the Christian tradition, there have been nuns since the 4th century, some communities living cloistered lives entirely apart from the world and others involved in the world in vocations of service and education.


The sacred syllable Om, also Aum, is regarded as the supreme mantra, the seed and source of all wisdom. The term “Omkara” also refers to this great seed and source of all.

Onam Festival

Onam is the most popular festival of the Kerala region of India, falling at the lush time of harvest and welcoming back to Kerala the ancient legendary king Bali, who was a virtuous king, even though he was defeated by Vishnu in the form of his Vamana (dwarf) avatara. The famous snake boat races on Kerala’s waterways are an important part of this festival. Onam is also observed in immigrant communities from Kerala in the U.S.


A pandit is a teacher, a scholar, a learned person.


Parvati is the “mountain born” goddess, daughter of the Himalayas, the spouse of Shiva.


Prana-pratishtha, “establishing the breath,” is the name of a particular rite of sanctification that establishes the divine breath of life in a murti or image. After this rite, the image must be honored daily as a divine embodiment, the divine guest in the temple.


For the religious traditions of India, prashad or prasadam refers to God’s “grace,” especially as received in return for the gifts that have been offered in puja. In the Hindu tradition, after the offerings of water, fruit, flowers, and the oil lamp have been presented to the deity, the officiating priest then distributes them among the worshippers as forms of prashad. In the Sikh tradition, prashad is most commonly a sweet of wheat flour, sugar, and butter that is distributed in communal worship as the divine gift of the Guru.


For the religious traditions of India, the term puja simply means “worship.. For Hindus, puja is the sequence of hospitality rites through which worshippers honor a deity with offerings such as water, fruit, a coconut, cloth, incense, and an oil lamp, and receive the “grace” of God in return. For Jains, especially Murtipujak Jains, puja may be offered before an image of a Tirthankara or Jina, but Jains do not believe that the beings represented by the images actually receive the offerings made. Instead, the acts of worship are among the ways in which those who perform them purify themselves, emulate the qualities embodied in the Jina, and turn the mind toward liberation.


A pujari is a brahmin Hindu priest responsible for the daily worship (puja) and care of the deities in the temple


The Puranas are eighteen collections of “ancient stories” which preserve traditions of myth, legend, and ritual, especially those concerning the Hindu deities Vishnu, Shiva, Krishna, and Devi. Beginning in about the 5th century, the Puranas continued to be composed and expanded as late as the 15th century.

Pushti Margiya Vaishnava

The Pushti Marga is the “Path of Grace,” a Hindu tradition of Krishna worship focused on the child Krishna especially known as Shri Nathji. It was launched by Vallabhacharya (1479-1531) and includes lineages of teachers called goswamis, who continue his tradition to the present day. Its most important Indian haveli (palace-temple) is at Nathdvara in Rajasthan. In the U.S. there are Pushti Marga temples or havelis in Vraj, Pennsylvania and Sayreville, New Jersey.


Radha is the beloved consort of Lord Krishna, his favoirte among the milkmaids or gopis whom he loved and with whom he danced. Radha is seen by some Hindus as Krishna’s lover, by others as his spouse.


The “royal gateway” of a temple is called a rajagopuram. In South Indian temple styles, the tallest tower or spire is over the gateway of the temple, not over its inner sanctum. Many large temples have a series of gopurams that rise over a successive series of gateways. The rajagopuram is the tallest, standing at the outermost gateway of the temple. It is usually highly ornamented with images of divine beings and auspicious protective guardians. In U.S. temples, the rajagopuram is often the last part of the temple to be completed and the consecration of the rajagopuram is a great festive occasion.


Rama is the virtuous king and hero of the Hindu epic Ramayana. He is also considered the seventh avatara of Vishnu. He is often worshipped flanked by his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana, with the faithful monkey Hanuman kneeling before him.

Rama Navami

Rama Navami is the annual festival celebrating the birth of Rama and his marriage to Sita. It is observed on the ninth day (navami) of the waxing fortnight of the lunar month of March/April.


Ramakrishna (1836-86) was a Bengali mystic, a devotee of the Goddess Kali, who also venerated his wife, Sarada Devi, as Holy Mother. In his spiritual experience, he claimed to have had the supreme mystical “God-realization” of many religious traditions and affirmed their unity. His disciple Vivekananda (1863-1902) was very different in temperament, more an activist and intellectual. After Vivekananda’s success at the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions, he founded both the Ramakrishna Vedanta Society in America and the Ramakrishna Mission in India in the name of his spiritual master.

Ramakrishna Mission

The Ramakrishna Mission, headquartered at Belur Math in Calcutta, was founded by Swami Vivekananda in 1897. Named after Vivekananda’s mystic teacher, Ramakrishna (1836-86), its “mission” has been to revitalize the Hindu tradition for the task of service, education, and nation-building. Monks of the Ramakrishna Mission have also supplied direct leadership of America’s Vedanta Societies for nearly a century.


The Ramayana is a Hindu epic telling the story of Rama, the heir-apparent to the throne of Ayodhya who was forced into exile by a court rivalry. Obedient to dharma, Rama left for life in the forest with his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana. After Sita was abducted by the Demon-King Ravana, Rama, with the aid of the loyal monkey Hanuman, rescued Sita and slew Ravana. His fourteen years of exile over, he returned to Ayodhya to reign as king. The Sanskrit Ramayana attributed to Valmiki is dated between about 200 B.C.E. and 200 C.E. There are also regional Ramayanas, the most popular being the Hindi Ramayana of the poet Tulsi Das in the 16th-17th centuries.

Ratha Yatra

The Ratha Yatra is a “Chariot Pilgrimage,” a festive celebration during which the image of one of the Gods is taken out of the temple and into the streets for a procession. The images consecrated for this purpose are special festival images or processional images, duplicates of the Gods established in the temple. The ratha or “chariot” is decorated like a portable temple for a trip through the streets. Devotees by the hundreds lend a hand to pull the deity’s chariot by its long ropes. There is dancing, chanting, and the singing of devotional bhajans all along the parade route. Both Krishna and Ganesha have their Ratha Yatras in the United States.


Ravidas was a 16th century poet and singer, an outcaste or untouchable whose vision of bhakti, the devotional love of the Supreme, leveled all caste distinctions. His songs are loved by many, especially those who have been considered untouchables. The Ravidas movement continues in India and now has a temple in New York. Some of the songs of Ravidas were also included in the Sikh scripture, the Adi Granth.

Rig Veda

The Rig Veda is a collection of more than 1,000 hymns dating in its oral form to at least 1,200 B.C.E. The hymns are addressed to a variety of Vedic gods, with many invoking Agni, the sacred fire. It is the oldest of the four samhitas, “collections,” which also include the Yajur, Sama, and Atharva Vedas.


Sabha is a general term for an assembly, a council, or the hall in which such an assembly meets.


In the religious traditions of India, a sadhu is a holy man, an ascetic who has renounced the world. In the Jain tradition monks (sadhus) and nuns (sadhvis) are also called munis, literally the “silent” holy ones. Traditionally, they are supposed to move from village to village, accepting only what food someone offers them along the way. They go by foot, for travel by vehicles is seen to be much more damaging to the multitude of tiny life-forms. During the four months of the monsoon season, the monks and nuns settle down in various villages in order to avoid harming the many organisms that emerge in the rain. It is especially during this time that they perform various services, such as teaching, for the lay community.


Sarasvati is the Goddess of learning, arts, and music, often depicted seated on a white swan and holding a vina, a stringed musical instrument. She is honored by many Hindus during the days of Navaratri, the “Nine Nights” of the Goddess. Students will bring school books to her altar for her blessings.


Satsang literally means the “community of the good,” and refers to those who gather together in a religious community for chanting, singing devotional songs called bhajans, study, or community worship.

Satyanarayana Vratam

Satyanarayana Vratam is one of the most popular of today’s vratas, which are religious observances done in fulfillment of a vow. Vratas are usually rites of well-being, which involve fasting, ritual, and the recitation of the paradigmatic story. They are done with particular aims in mind, such as health or family well-being. The Satyanarayana Vratam is today gaining much popularity in America’s Hindu temples.


(also: Saiva; Shaivite) Shaivism is the name for the tradition of those who worship Shiva, one of the great Gods of the Hindu tradition. Shaiva is an adjective describing that tradition or form of worship. A Shaivite is one who follows Shiva. There are several streams of Shaivism, such as Shaiva Siddhanta and Kashmir Shaivism.


Shakta is an adjective which means relating to the Goddess or the worship of the Goddess, also known as Shakti, a term which means power or energy. As a noun, a Shakta is a person who worships the Goddess.


Shankara was the 9th century philosopher who was one of the premier exponents of non-dualistic Vedanta, Advaita Vedanta. His commentaries on the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Brahma Sutras are well known. He is also credited with organizing Hindu sannyasis (renouncers) into monastic orders.


Shiva is one of the great Gods of the Hindu tradition. The name Shiva means the “Auspicious One,” although Shiva deliberately embraces and transcends what is considered inauspicious as well. He is also called Mahadeva, the “Great Lord,” or Vishvanatha, the “Lord of the Universe.” Shiva is seen as both creator and destroyer, the one who pours forth the universe from himself and draws it within, once again, at the end of time. As a Divine dancer, Shiva is Nataraja, the “Lord of the Dance,” whose energy and balance of his dance are a perfect emblem of Shiva’s relentless activity. Shiva is also imaged as both male and female, sometimes in an anthropomorphic image: the right half of the body male and the left half female. In abstract form as well, the simple stone shaft called the linga is sometimes seen as a male/female symbol of cosmic wholeness.

Shiva Ratri

Shivaratri or Maha Shivaratri is the “Great Night of Shiva,” the year’s most important celebration of Shiva. It was on this night, they say, that Shiva burst forth from the earth as a shaft of sheer light so that the gods and people could worship the Divine radiance in the form of the linga. According to legend, those who stay awake through the night to worship Shiva are released from many lifetimes of sin. Shivaratri is observed in most American Hindu temples, falling on the 14th day of the waning fortnight of the lunar month of February/March.


Shrinathji is the form of Lord Krishna enshrined at the great temple of the Pushti Marga tradition at Nathdvara in Rajasthan. Shrinathji is beloved especially as the divine child Krishna, but is also understood as the Supreme Lord who has entrusted himself to human care in the palace households, called havelis, which are the temples of this tradition.

Siddha Yoga Dham

Siddha Yoga Dham Associates (SYDA) was launched by Swami Muktananda (1908-1982) in 1974. Siddha Yoga teaches that each individual has an inner transformative energy, or shakti, that is dormant within. The Siddha Guru can awaken this spiritual energy through an initiation called shaktipat, which enables the seeker to enter deep and joyful states of meditation that have a transforming effect on one’s life. The Siddha Yoga movement continues today under the leadership of Muktananda’s spiritual successor, Gurumayi, an Indian-born woman who leads the SYDA central ashram in South Fallsburg, New York.


Sita is the faithful wife of Rama, the hero of the Ramayana. Sita followed him into exile in the forest and was abducted by the demon Ravana. Rama’s search for Sita and his battle to retrieve her form much of the epic story of the Ramayana. She is worshipped along with Lord Rama and is significant as the model of a faithful wife in the Hindu tradition.


A stotra is a hymn of praise to one of the Gods, usually sung or chanted in Sanskrit.


Swami means “master” or “lord.” In the Hindu and Jain traditions of India it is used as a title of respect for deities, gurus (spiritual teachers), and sadhus (ascetics).

Swami, Pramukh

Since 1971, Pramukh Swami has been the spiritual leader of the worldwide Bochanasanwasi Swaminarayan Sanstha. He is the spiritual successor in a divine lineage that extends back to Swaminarayan in the 19th century. He is also the administrative leader of the worldwide BSS community.


The Swaminarayan Hindu movement began in early 19th century Gujarat with a religious and social reformer named Sahajanand Swami. It is a devotional bhakti movement, focusing on Vishnu in the form of Krishna and Radha and also on Sahajanand Swami himself, who became known to his followers as Swaminarayan, a human form of the highest divine reality. In the last two centuries, the Swaminarayan movement has become known for its emphasis on social reform and social action, as well as its deep devotionalism. The two main branches of the movement are the International Swaminarayan Satsang Organization and the Bochasanwasi Swaminarayan Sanstha.


The hilltop temple of Sri Venkatesvara at Tirupati in southern Andhra Pradesh is one of the most popular of all Hindu pilgrimage destinations. Several million Hindus come to Tirupati every year and the Tirupati Tirumalai Devasthanams has lent its support to some of the temple-building societies in America


In the religious traditions of India, an upadhyaya is a teacher or preceptor.


The upanayana is the rite of passage in which one “draws near” the guru (teacher) to begin learning the sacred Vedas. During the ceremony, each boy has his head shaved, receives the sacred Gayatri Mantra, and receives the “sacred thread,” a cord worn across the chest signifying one’s qualification for studying the Veda and performing the many rituals. The upanayana is reserved only for the upper three varnas or castes, which are sometimes called “twice-born” because of their eligibility for this rite of rebirth. In ancient India and to a modest degree in modern America, girls are also eligible for this rite.


The Upanishads, dating largely from the 8th to the 6th centuries BCE, are the “wisdom literature” of the Vedas. Most Upanishads take the form of dialogues between teachers and students. They turn from the rites of the fire altar that had been the main focus of discussion in the earlier Vedic literature to the question of the deeper, inner meanings of ritual, especially as it can give insight into the origin, basis, and support of the universe. The Upanishads and their interpretations are sometimes called Vedanta, literally the “end of the Vedas.”


A Vaishnava or Vaishnavite is a worshipper of Vishnu or one of Vishnu’s many forms, such as Krishna or Rama, as Supreme Lord. Vaishnava is also used to name the Hindu traditions of Vishnu worship, such as the Sri Vaishnava and the Gaudiya Vaishnava traditions. Collectively, they might be called Vaishnavism.


Vallabha or Vallabhacharya (1479-1531) was the Hindu philosopher and devotee of Krishna who is seen as the founder of Pushti Marga movement, the path of grace.


Veda means “wisdom” and specifically refers to the sacred wisdom of the four Vedic collections: Rig, Sama, Yajur, and Atharva Vedas. Associated with each of these Vedas is literature called Brahmanas, which are concerned especially with rituals, and Upanishads, which explore a deeper philosophical understanding of the universe. In its broadest sense, the term Veda refers to the wisdom and authority to which Hindus turn.


Vedanta means the “end of the Veda” and refers to the Upanishads, those teachings which investigate the nature of the soul and ultimate reality and which are the last part of the Vedic corpus. The term also designates the philosophical system of classical Hindu thought that has been primarily based on the exegesis of the Upanishads (along with the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita). Most adherents of Vedanta share the following assumptions: Brahman is the underlying Reality pervading the universe; the transmigration of the soul; and the possibility of moksha or liberation from this cycle of transmigration, through deep insight. Vedantists do not, however, agree upon the relationship between Brahman and Atman (the soul). Some, following Shankara (c. 9th century C.E.), insist upon the ultimate nonduality of the two; others agree with qualified nondualism of Ramanuja (11th century) or with the radical dualism of Madhva (13th century).

Vedanta Society

The Vedanta Society is affiliated with the Ramakrishna Order, headquartered at Belur Math in Calcutta. The first Vedanta Society in the United States was founded in New York in 1894 by Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902). Vivekananda emphasized both Vedanta philosophy and the practice of yoga. Although the Vedanta Society has remained small, it has played an important role as the earliest organization to introduce Americans to Hinduism and yoga.


Venkateshvara, also known as Balaji, is a form of Vishnu or Krishna. The hilltop temple dedicated to him at Tirupati in southern Andhra Pradesh is one of the most popular of all Hindu pilgrimage destinations and the stories of powerful blessings received by pilgrims to this site abound.


Vishnu is one of the great Gods of the Hindu tradition. He is known in the Vedas and comes to be famous as the Lord who pervades the entire universe. He is Supreme but wholly auspicious, only occasionally displaying the dark side that is embraced by Shiva. Through his divine “descents” or avataras, Vishnu rescues the world again and again from the rise of powerful counter-forces sometimes called demons. Krishna is the most widely worshipped of the avataras, assuming the role of Supreme Lord as well. Vishnu also has many specific localized manifestations, such as Sri Venkateshvara at Tirupati or Padmanabhaswamy in Trivandrum.


Vivekananda (1863-1902) was the foremost disciple of the great mystic Ramakrishna. Well educated and articulate in English, he spoke at the World’s Parliament of Religion in Chicago in 1893, describing Vedanta as a rational, spiritual, and universal tradition. He established Ramakrishna Vedanta Societies in the United States and the more socially-activist Ramakrishna Mission in India before his death at thirty-nine years of age.


Yoga is a Sanskrit word, deriving from a verb meaning “to yoke” or “to join.” Body and consciousness are joined together in the discipline of yoga. Yoga practice involves ethical restraints, the mastery of bodily postures (called asanas), the control and direction of the breath (called pranayama) and the cultivation of mental concentration. The common image of the yogi (i.e. practitioner of yoga) seated in a lotus posture or standing in a posture of reverence, embodies this one-pointed stillness and concentration of both body and mind. There are many kinds of yoga that emphasize particular forms of spiritual discipline.


Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) was the first Hindu teacher of yoga to settle in the United States for an extended period, some 30 years. Soon after he came to the United States in 1920, he began teaching yoga to Americans. He launched th. Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) in 1925. Yogananda saw yoga as uniting science and religion through realization of the unity of their underlying principles; he was among the first to emphasize the “mind-body” relation, especially for health and healing. The popularity of the movement and of Yogananda was enhanced with the publication of his book, The Autobiography of a Yogi (l946).

Yogoda Satsang Society

Yogoda Satsang Society was founded in India by Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952). During the 1920s when Yogananda settled in Los Angeles, the American organization became known as the Self-Realization Fellowship. Yogananda was the first Hindu teacher of yoga to settle in the United States for an extended period. The organization he founded has more than 400 centers in 44 countries. Since 1925, the organization’s international headquarters has been atop Mt. Washington, five miles from downtown Los Angeles.


A Yuvakendra is a center or program for young people affiliated with a Hindu temple.

Significance of Yagya and Saffron Flag in Hindu Dharma

Usually what comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘flag’ or ‘dhwaj? Victory, dominance, patriotism? We have often seen a ‘bhagwa dhawj’ or saffron flag being adorned on top of most Hindu temples or ashrams; it has almost become an eternal symbol for the Hindu culture. Who chose this color orange to denote the vast spiritual and cultural nuances?

A person or any of the Hindu Gods, scriptures, or some guru? The answer is none. Saffron flag took its color from the fire and its flames. The brilliance of fire has enormous significance in Hindu dharma. Hindu culture evolved out of a very natural set of conditions, where certain people living in a certain geographical area i.e. on the bank of river Sindhu, chose a certain way of life because of their in depth, indigenous understanding of life and the wisdom they had acquired while living harmoniously with the nature. Hindu dharma evolved out of such state of living where it was understood that everything that surrounds us is made of five basic elements- air, water, fire, earth and ether. Each of these element was glorified by the culture in its own way. Agni or fire being one of the five elements, took precedence in lot of other rituals and beliefs of those who shared the culture.

This article explores how from the understanding of agni as a basic element for life, of concept yagya evolved which later on was passed on from generation to generation and later was also symbolically represented as saffron color flag to denote Hindu dharma. Even today fire is considered as part of several Hindu rituals like any Hindu wedding ceremony takes place in the presence of the sacred flames of fire, during the harvesting season people stand around fire to celebrate, yagya is performed on religious functions like Satya Narayan Katha, Bhagvat Katha, Ramayan Parayan, etc. and even in the last rites of Hindus, the dead body is given to fire.

A variety of yagyas are described in the scriptures. The yagya done with a desire to have a son was called Putrakameshti Yagya, the Ashwamedha Yagna was performed to attain sovereignty over states, Rajsooy Yagya was performed during the coronations of kings. Yagya literally means “sacrifice, devotion, offering”, and is done in front of a sacred fire, often with mantras, as a ritual. This ‘yagya’ is synonymous to havan where we offer ingredients like ghee, milk, grains, fruits, and flowers etc. in fire, chant mantras and says ‘swaha’. With each offering to the fire the mantra is chanted- “Agnaye Swaahaa, Agnaye idam na mama”, through which we constantly remind ourselves that ‘this does not belong to me’.

However, the meaning of yagya is not confined merely to this sacrificial ritual. It has a much wider and deeper meaning. The fire is a great purifier, the eternal witness of all yagyas, of all the offerings. It inspires the greatest of all human values i.e. sacrifice which is the very essence of Hindu Dharma. The philosophy of yagya teaches a way of living in the society, which promotes serving others and sacrificing. Hindu culture abounds with the concept of giving; it glorifies the idea of giving more significance to others than to self.

Not many cultures in the world consider ‘sacrifice’ as a virtue and encourage inculcating it in humans. This is the essence of Sanatan Dharma, appeals man to forsake his self-centeredness and offer himself to the service of others. The color also reminds us of the orange hue around the rising Sun, that dispels darkness and radiates light all around. Sun is the symbol of selfless service because it shines brilliantly giving energy and life without demanding anything in return. The Sun burns throughout the day, silently sacrificing itself, giving life to all creatures on this planet. It teaches us to have no expectations, but ceaselessly render service to all creatures. Sanãtan Dharma’s lofty yagya and the saffron flag both conveys all historical ethos of the culture.

Therefore, Bhagwa dhwaj which has the color of fire and burning sun reminds us of our great heritage, it defines our identity. The Bhagwa has been the silent witness of our long history. It is inspiring us forever to live the life full of virtues based on sacrifice, dedication, purity and service. The Hindu monks wear Bhagwa colored robes to signify that they have renounced everything and put themselves on the path of salvation and have dedicated their life in the service of Dharma.

The saffron color of Dharma dhwaj symbolizes the ever illuminating sun and fire; it denotes sacrifice which has inspired many to devote their lives for others. In brief, Bhagwa Dhwaj is a symbol of sacrifice; selfless service and righteousness. It stands for sustained effort to uphold dharma through self-sacrifice. It reminds us of our duty towards the Hindu community and the society as a whole. The color exhorts that man should forsake his self-centeredness, by offering himself in the service of others, performing the true yagna, sacrificing body, mind and atmã in the service of mankind. One has to lives not for oneself but to give. Each second of his life is a yagna. Such is our culture!

What is being Hindu?

According to the VHPA, Hindus are all those who believe, practice, or respect the spiritual and religious principles and practices having roots in Bharat. Thus Hindu includes Jains, Buddhas, Sikhs and Dharmic people, worldwide, of many different sects within the Hindu ethos.

The word Hindu is a civilizational term expressed as Hindu culture or “Sanskriti.” And the word Dharma includes religious practices only as a subset. The parishad welcomes and respects people of non-Indian origin who consider themselves Hindus as defined above.

Bhagwa Dhwaj (Saffron Flag of the Hindus)

Bhagwa Dhwaj, one of the great Hindu symbols, signifies sacrifice, knowledge, purity and service.

The Bhagwa Dhwaj is the eternal symbol of Hindu culture and Dharma. It adorns every ashram, every temple, the army of Chatrapati Shivaji, Guru Gobind Singh, and the chariots of Sri Ram, Sri Krishna and Arjuna. It stands for Dharma, wealth, advancement, glory, knowledge and detachment. The combination of these six aspirations is “Bhagwa.”

The color of the flag is Saffron. It is the color of FIRE – its flames. The fire is a great purifier, the eternal witness of all Yagnas, of all the offerings. It inspires the greatest of all human values, sacrifice, the very essence of Hindu Dharma. The the color reminds us of the orange hue around the rising Sun, that dispels darkness and radiates light all around. It beckon us to shake of our lethargy (Arise, Awake!), and get down to our duty. The Sun burns throughout the day, silently sacrificing itself, thereby, giving life to all creatures on this planet, without demanding anything in return. And as it sets, it teaches us to have no expectations, no regrets; just ceaselessly (nitya and akhand) render service to all creatures.

Its shape consists of two triangles: the upper being shorter than the lower one. The triangles represent the rising flames of the burning fire. The flames rise upwards only – those rising from the bottom being the longest. They teach us to “rise above and become better always.”

The shape of the Bhagwa has another significance: diversity, acceptance, harmony and mutual respect. The small and the large portions remind us that duality, contrast, inequality, diversity are inevitable. For harmonious existence there must be sharing, respect and cooperation – the burden must always be on the big to support the small.

The Bhagwa has been the silent witness of our long history. In its folds resides the images, the memories, the tapas of our ancestors, our Rishis, our Mothers. It is our greatest Guru, our Guide, inspiring us forever to live the life full of sublime virtues based on sacrifice, dedication, purity and service.

Vat Vrikhsha – The Glory of Hindu Sanskriti (Heritage)

A beautiful poem in Hindi that captures so succinctly the core of Hindu Sanskriti – symbolized here as a Vat-Vriksha (the Banyan tree).

Hindu Sanskriti Ke Vat Vishaal

Teri Choti Nabh Chooti Hai, Teri Jad Pahunch Rahi Paataal.

Hindu Sanskriti Ke Vat Vishaal. (1)

Jaane Kitne Hi Surya-yodaya, Madhyanh Asta Se Tu Khela

Jaane Kitne Toofano Ko, Tune Nij Jeevan Mein Jhela

Kitnee Kirnoan Se Lipati Hai, Teri Shakhayein Daal Daal.

Hindu Sanskriti Ke Vat Vishaal. (2)

Jane Kitne Priya Jeevoan Ne, Tujhme Nij Needa Basaya Hai

Jane Kitne Yaatri-Ganda Ne, Aa Rain Basera Paaya Hai

Kitne Sharnagat Pooj Rahe, Tera Udaartam Antaraal.

Hindu Sanskriti Ke Vat Vishaal. (3)

Kucch Dushtoan Ne Jad Bhi Khodi, Shakha Todi, Patte Kheenche

Phir Kayee Vidheshi Tattvoan Ke, Visha Se Jad Ke Tukade Seenche

Par Saphal Aaj Tak Nahin Hui, Un Moodh Janoan Ki Kutil Chaal.

Hindu Sanskriti Ke Vat Vishaal. (4)

An-Gin Shakhayen Badhati Hain, Dharti Me Mool Pakadti Hain

Ho Antar-vishta Samashti Sama, Ve Tera Poshan Karti Hain

Tujhme Aisee Hee Mil Jaati, Jaise Sagar Mein

Sarit Maal Hindu Sanskriti Ke Vat Vishaal. (5)

Unmukta Hua, Laharata Rah, Chaaya Amrit Barsata Rah

O, Jag Ke Priya Vat-vriksha Sada, Santaano Ko Sar Saata Rah

Jag Me Sab Se Unchaa Deekhe, Shraddha-spad, Tera Bhavya Bhal

Hindu Sanskriti Ke Vat Vishaal. (6)

Importance of Saffron colour (Bhagwa/Kesari) in Hinduism

In Sanatan Dharma, the dark saffron colour indicates sacrifice, religious abstinence, the quest for light and salvation. Bhagwa is the most sacred colour for the Hindus and is often worn by sadhus who have left their home in search of the ultimate truth and serving the society before self.

It is to be said, in the earlier times Hindu saints were always fond of nature. One of the biggest components of Vedas is the “Aranyakas” – experiments with nature. Two of the most impressive things that Hindu saints found were – Sandhya (time of sunset/sunrise) and Agni (fire). A big part of Vedas is about extolling the virtues of the Sun and Fire. Thus these three predominant colours of sunset and Agni are yellow, orange/saffron and red became the holiest colours of Hinduism.

Hindu saints and spiritual stalwarts have always been saying things based on their experiences. As per legend, we experience saffron colour when we reach to Samadhi. When your energy flows from Muladhara (Root Chakra) to Sahasrara Chakra (Crown Chakra), and you awaken the entire Kundalini, the colour which you experience is Saffron.

We have seen Bhagwan Rama, Bhagwan Laxaman and Mata Seeta wore saffron during their exile and also saints they met during their journey. Saints wear saffron and it isn’t just an unreasonable choice. There is science behind the choice of the colour and it is, in fact, the colour of the most spiritual chakra, one which has unimaginable healing powers.

Our proud Indian national flag, Tiranga has saffron colour in it with white and green. The saffron in the Tiranga represents sacrifice, valour, courage, renunciation and disinterestedness. Independence means self-dependent or dependency on our true inner selves which can only be achieved by the Sadhnas and self-examination. We all need to awaken our chakras and reach our own Bhagwa.

Significance of Saffron Flag in Sanatan Dharm

Have you ever visited temple? If yes, then you might have noticed a saffron flag on the top of the temple. But you never tried to find out that why this flag is common in all temples. Every single thing associated with temple has a significant reason.

In Hindi, Saffron Flag is known as Bhagwa Dhwaja, which is seen in every temple s Gumbad. It is the symbol of Sanatan Dharm or Hindu Culture. The Word Bhagwa means Bhagwan (God). It stands for wealth, dharm, knowledge, wisdom, peace, joy, contentment, stability. Another importance is that the flag is in orange color which shows the rising of Sun that eliminates darkness and spreads light all around. A Flag is look like a two tilted triangles meting each other in the mid. It has also been used as an official flag by many Hindu Kingdoms with different epitome like Sun, Wheel, and Om printed on it. But in the temples a flag is printed with a symbol of Om.

Bhagwa Dhwaj is one of the most important symbols for Hindus. The saffron flag symbolizes sacrifice. The sacrifice has also a great importance in Hinduism. The saffron color is the color of the fire and flames and the fire is considered to be the great purifier and all sacrifices are also offered to the fire. Thus, it stands for the principle of sacrifice. The sacrifice has been made for nation, family, religion, righteousness, truth etc. Saffron is a symbol of purity, it represents religious value. It is also a color of saints, who have renounced the world. Wearing saffron color signifies the quest of knowledge of Godhead. Saffron is the color of fire and fire burns away the darkness and brings light and it is symbolic of knowledge. Fire also shows the spirit of Yag (hawan) which is important to self knowledge. And thus, a flag occupies an important place in our religion and temple is the only place which has the actual right to host a Bhagwa Dhwaj.

The flag has existed and teach us the vedic right from its origin. The fire is also regarded as a symbol of ancient vedic rights. In ancient times, the warriors used to put on saffron robes and fight in the battlefield. It was an honorable status for a kingdom to host a flag in the victory. The people in the ancient times used to worship the sun because it was the source of energy, light and heat without which a human cannot live on this Earth. The Bhagwa Dhwaj inspires us to live the life full of sublime virtues based on sacrifice, establishment and service.

The shape of the flag consist two tilted triangles, the upper triangle being shorter than the lower one. The triangle signifies the rising flames of burning fire. The flames rise in the upward direction which teaches us to rise like it above and always become better than before. Your competition is only with you and you have to beat yourself this perspective would help you to rise like a flag in the upward direction.

Significance of the Saffron flag

The Bhagwa Dhwaja (Saffron Flag) is the symbol of Sanatana Dharma or Hindu culture from times immemorial. The word ‘Bhagwa’ connotes that it comes from ‘Bhagavan’ meaning God. It stands for wealth, dharma, advancement, glory, knowledge, and detachment. The combination of these six is ‘Bhagwa’. The flag also embodies the glorious orange hue of the rising sun that dispels darkness and sheds light all around.

The saffron (orange) color of the flag is the color of the fire and its flames. The fire is the great purifier and all sacrifices are offered to the fire. It stands for the principle of sacrifice. The color of the flag is the same as the color at sunrise and sunset. When the day dawns the sun rises and reminds everyone to shake off ones lethargy and do one’s duty. The sun burns throughout the day giving life to one and all and without demanding anything in return. The time of sunset teaches us to give everything for the society without any expectation.

The shape of the Dhwaja consists of two triangles, the upper triangle being shorter than the lower one. The triangles represent the rising flames of burning fire. The flames rise in the upward direction, only those rising from the bottom being the longest. They teach us to rise above and become better always.

The Bhagwa flag has existed and guided the Vedic society right from its origin. It has inspired and has been honored by the Vedic Saints and heroes. In ancient times, the warriors used to put on saffron robes and go to the battlefield. If they are victorious, they will rule and if vanquished, they might die on the battlefield and thus go to heaven–such was the motivating force for the heroes.

The people in the ancient times worshipped the Sun because it was the source of energy, light and heat without which life can’t exist. The Bhagwa flag inspires us to live the life full of sublime virtues based on sacrifice, renunciation and service.

The Saffron Flag

The saffron flag (Bhagawa Dhwaja in Hindi) is the official flag of Hinduism. It looks like two tilted triangles meeting each other in the mid. Sometimes, it is embossed in a golden border though not necessarily. It is fixed at the top of a wooden or metal stick. It is also called Jaripataka in Marathi. The flag was used as an official flag of the Maratha Kingdom in India. It has also been used as an official flag in many Hindu kingdoms with different emblems like sun, wheel, om, or images of Hindu gods printed on it.

The saffron flag is one of the most important symbols for Hindus. The saffron color symbolizes sacrifice and/or denouncement. The sacrifice is of great importance in Hinduism. The sacrifice for your nation, family, religion, humanity is a necessary virtue in a man’s life. Hence, the saffron-colored flag might have been used by ancient Hindus.

Hindus hoist it during many religious processions. Some Hindus hoist it on the top of their homes.

The one more reason behind it might be that as India was once inhabited by a large number of jungles and lush green trees, the saffron-colored flag could be recognized from a far distance also. Every Hindu temple has a saffron flag on its apex or a nearby tree. Therefore, it helps recognize the human presence nearby from a distance. The red color is also recognized from a distance but red attracts danger also. Therefore, it is wiser to use saffron color in the jungle.

It is also the official flag of Sikhs. The background color of the flag on which the Sikh emblem is printed is saffron.

Famous Gurus from Hindu Mythology

Gurus are an integral part of Hindu mythology and have always been revered as spiritual leaders and mentors. In Hindu mythology, gurus are considered to be the embodiment of divine knowledge and wisdom, and they play a vital role in guiding their disciples towards the path of enlightenment and self-realization. There are many famous gurus from Hindu mythology, but some of the most well-known are Guru Dronacharya, Guru Vashistha, Guru Vishwamitra, Guru Brihaspati, Guru Shukracharya and Guru Shukracharya. These gurus are revered in Hindu mythology for their wisdom and knowledge, and are often depicted as spiritual teachers and mentors.

One of the most prominent examples of a guru in Hindu mythology is Lord Shiva, who is considered to be the guru of all gurus. He is known for his deep knowledge and wisdom, and is said to have imparted his knowledge to his disciples, who in turn became gurus themselves.

Another important guru in Hindu mythology is Dattatreya, who was a guru to many sages and saints, and is considered to be an incarnation of the divine Trinity – Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh. He is known for his teachings on the importance of detachment, devotion, and surrender to the divine.

Gurus are also mentioned in Hindu scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita, where they are revered as spiritual guides and mentors who help their disciples in their spiritual journey. They are seen as the source of divine knowledge and wisdom, and are revered for their ability to impart this knowledge to their disciples.

In Hindu mythology, gurus are considered to be the spiritual guides who help their disciples in their journey towards enlightenment and self-realization. They are revered for their wisdom and knowledge, and are seen as the embodiment of divine knowledge and wisdom.

Lord Shiva – Guru of All Gurus

In Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva is considered to be the guru of all gurus. He is known for his deep knowledge and wisdom, and is said to have imparted his knowledge to his disciples, who in turn became gurus themselves.

Lord Shiva is also known as Adi Guru or the first guru, as he is believed to have been the first to impart spiritual knowledge to his disciples. He is considered to be the source of all knowledge and wisdom, and is revered for his ability to guide his disciples towards the path of enlightenment and self-realization.

Lord Shiva is also known as a teacher of yoga and meditation, and is said to have imparted the knowledge of these practices to his disciples. He is known for his ability to impart knowledge in a clear and concise manner, and is revered for his deep understanding of the spiritual path.

In Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva is considered to be the supreme guru, and is revered for his wisdom and knowledge. He is seen as the embodiment of divine knowledge and wisdom, and is revered for his ability to guide his disciples towards the path of enlightenment and self-realization.

Guru Dronacharya – the royal guru of the Kauravas and Pandavas in the epic Mahabharata, known for his skill in archery

Guru Dronacharya, also known as Drona or Dronacharya, is a well-known character from the epic Indian poem, the Mahabharata. He is the royal guru (teacher) of the Kauravas and Pandavas, who are the main protagonists of the Mahabharata. Dronacharya is known for his skill in the art of archery, and he teaches the Pandavas and Kauravas the use of weapons and warfare.

According to the Mahabharata, Dronacharya was born into a Brahmin family and was the son of sage Bharadwaja. He was trained in the art of warfare and archery by the gods themselves, and he became renowned as one of the greatest archers in the world. Despite his reputation as a warrior and archer, Dronacharya was known for his humility and devotion to his students. He is often depicted as a wise and noble teacher, who is respected and revered by his students.

In the Mahabharata, Dronacharya plays a key role in the great war between the Pandavas and Kauravas. Despite his loyalty to the Kauravas, he remains impartial and treats the Pandavas with the same level of respect and devotion as his other students. In the end, however, Dronacharya is killed by Ashwatthama, one of his own students, in a tragic turn of events. His death is seen as a great loss to the Kauravas and Pandavas, and he is remembered as one of the greatest gurus in Indian mythology.

Guru Vashistha – one of the seven celestial rishis (sages) in Hindu mythology and the guru of Lord Rama in the Ramayana

Guru Vashistha, also known as Vashishtha, is one of the seven celestial rishis (sages) in Hindu mythology. He is the guru (teacher) of Lord Rama, the hero of the Hindu epic, the Ramayana. In the Ramayana, Vashistha is depicted as a wise and powerful sage, who is known for his knowledge of the Vedas (sacred texts of Hinduism) and his ability to perform powerful spells and rituals.

According to Hindu mythology, Vashistha was the son of Brahma, the creator god, and was born from the god’s mind. He is said to have been the first person to recite the hymns of the Rigveda, one of the four sacred texts of Hinduism. Vashistha is also said to have been the royal guru of the solar dynasty, and he was instrumental in the education and upbringing of Lord Rama.

In the Ramayana, Vashistha is depicted as a wise and compassionate guru, who imparts valuable lessons and wisdom to Lord Rama. He is also known for his ability to solve complex problems and offer guidance to those who seek his counsel. Vashistha is revered as one of the greatest gurus in Hindu mythology, and is often depicted as a wise and noble teacher.

Guru Vishwamitra – a powerful rishi who was the guru of Lord Rama and was instrumental in helping Rama defeat the demon king, Ravana

Guru Vishwamitra is a powerful rishi (sage) in Hindu mythology. He is the guru (teacher) of Lord Rama, the hero of the Hindu epic, the Ramayana. In the Ramayana, Vishwamitra is depicted as a great warrior and a master of the Vedas (sacred texts of Hinduism). He is known for his wisdom and knowledge, as well as his ability to perform powerful spells and rituals.

According to Hindu mythology, Vishwamitra was originally a king named Kaushika. He was known for his bravery and wisdom, and was considered to be one of the greatest rulers of his time. However, after a series of events, Vishwamitra renounced his kingdom and became a rishi. He spent many years in meditation and contemplation, and eventually attained great spiritual power.

In the Ramayana, Vishwamitra is instrumental in helping Lord Rama defeat the demon king, Ravana. He imparts valuable lessons and wisdom to Rama, and helps him develop his skills as a warrior. Vishwamitra is revered as one of the greatest gurus in Hindu mythology, and is often depicted as a wise and noble teacher.

Guru Brihaspati – the guru of the gods, known for his wisdom and knowledge of the Vedas (sacred texts of Hinduism)

Guru Brihaspati, also known as Brihaspati or Brihaspathi, is the guru (teacher) of the gods in Hindu mythology. He is known for his wisdom and knowledge of the Vedas (sacred texts of Hinduism), and is often depicted as a wise and noble teacher.

According to Hindu mythology, Brihaspati was born from the mind of Brahma, the creator god. He is said to be the first person to recite the hymns of the Rigveda, one of the four sacred texts of Hinduism. Brihaspati is also said to be the son of Angiras, another famous rishi (sage), and is considered to be one of the seven celestial rishis.

In Hindu mythology, Brihaspati is known for his wisdom and knowledge of the Vedas. He is often depicted as a wise and noble teacher, who imparts valuable lessons and wisdom to his students. Brihaspati is revered as one of the greatest gurus in Hindu mythology, and is often invoked in prayers and rituals for wisdom and knowledge.

Guru Shukracharya – the guru of the demons, known for his knowledge of the occult and his ability to bring the dead back to life

Guru Shukracharya, also known as Shukra or Shukracharya, is the guru (teacher) of the demons in Hindu mythology. He is known for his knowledge of the occult and his ability to bring the dead back to life.

According to Hindu mythology, Shukracharya was born from the mind of Brahma, the creator god. He was the son of Bhrigu, a famous rishi (sage), and was considered to be one of the seven celestial rishis. Shukracharya was also the guru of the asuras (demons), and was known for his knowledge of the occult and his ability to bring the dead back to life.

In Hindu mythology, Shukracharya is often depicted as a wise and noble teacher, who imparts valuable lessons and wisdom to his students. However, he is also known for his association with the asuras and his knowledge of the occult, which is often seen as a negative trait. Despite this, Shukracharya is still revered as one of the greatest gurus in Hindu mythology.


Dattatreya is a prominent figure in Hindu mythology, and is considered to be an incarnation of the divine Trinity – Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh. He is known for his wisdom and knowledge, and is revered as a guru to many sages and saints.

According to legend, Dattatreya was born to the sage Atri and his wife Anasuya, who were known for their devotion and purity of heart. Dattatreya was born as a result of their intense devotion and spiritual practices, and was said to be an embodiment of the divine knowledge and wisdom.

As a guru, Dattatreya is known for his teachings on the importance of detachment, devotion, and surrender to the divine. He is also known for his teachings on the importance of self-realization and the attainment of spiritual enlightenment.

In Hindu mythology, Dattatreya is considered to be one of the greatest gurus, and is revered for his wisdom and knowledge. He is seen as a mentor and guide to many sages and saints, and is considered to be an embodiment of the divine knowledge and wisdom.


In time, Hinduism, clearly outlined in the Vedas, the Upanishads and other Scriptures including the famous Bhagavad-gita, has survived strong religious, cultural and political pressures that have characterized the history of India and its people. In this ability to regenerate and reinterpret itself, molding itself to different conditions, sages, saints and Gurus of high spiritual stature have played a central role. Coming from all walks of life – from the priest, to the king, to the low-class person, from the scholar to the illiterate – these men and women have in common the eager search and realization of God.

Hinduism has always emphasized respect for all living beings, and even more for realized souls. The Master, Guru, the monk, samnyasin, the ascetic, the yogi enjoys, at least in traditional society, great veneration as “beacon” that illuminates the world with divine Knowledge and indicates the path of emancipation from the suffering generated by ignorance.

The concept of Guru

The Guru has a very high position, just as the relationship between Master and disciple, Guru-shisha, is the heart of every Hindu’s life. This relationship is established through initiation and is indispensable for the disciple to tread the spiritual path.

The term “guru” also means “heavy” indicating the decisive weight the Guru has in the life of the disciple. This is also expressed by the very meaning of the term “guru”, “one who dispels darkness and brings the Light of Knowledge” (from the roots “gu”, darkness, and “ru” “light”).

As parents give biological life to their children, so the Guru leads the disciple to a spiritual birth. The latter must be qualified and have specific characteristics that are accurately described in the Scriptures.

The Guru is the living expression of God, not as a physical person but as a Principle of Knowledge.

Once this aspect is understood, any personality cult, we may witness today, can only turn out to be a deviation from the original conception.

Unfortunately, in the present era of kali-yuga, the world has plenty charlatans and false gurus who steal these titles for selfish reasons: power or money.

A true Guru is one who has realized God, mukti and has no other purpose than the emancipation of his disciples. A true Guru does not need disciples, nor does he have personal aims of any kind. The Mundaka-upanishad says that the Guru must be stotriya, he must know the Scriptures and the Brahmanastha, he abides permanently in the Absolute, Brahman.

A spiritual Guru always belongs to an authentic lineage of Gurus, paramparaya, from which he draws a direct transmission of knowledge, and to which he brings his own experience and realization.

Since he belongs to a tradition, sampradaya, he is the intermediary of a heritage of knowledge handed down over time through an initiatory teaching.

Some figures of sages, saints and Gurus

The list of sages and saints of India is extensive. Here only a few are mentioned. Starting with the seven rishis, (the list varies according to the texts) Kashyapa, Atri, Vashista, Vishvamitra, Gautama Maharishi, Jamadagni and Bharadvaja. Figures of women rishi mentioned in the Vedas: Ghoshsha, Godha, Vishwawra, Apala; Gargi and Maitreyi, in the Upanishads.


Adi Shankara



The multiple philosophical and theological visions of Reality are associated with these figures.

The Tradition of Sat Guru in Hinduism

Meditate on the Guru as seated in the crown of the head, surrounded by the sacred mantras, ham and sah, which abide in all beings and that are the cause of the universe.The Guru, the source of the universe, freely chooses to appear in a living form on earth. – Guru Gita

Gurus occupy a prominent place in Hinduism. Almost all the prominent deities of Hinduism act as gurus to reveal divine knowledge or teach specific skills. There is no other tradition in the world where gurus are treated with such respect. It is also true that in today’s world, teachers in the academia do not enjoy as much respect or maintain the same ethical standards, while the spiritual teachers who propagate Hinduism or Hindu spirituality have to deal with a lot of public scrutiny and negative publicity.

The tradition of gurus played an important role in the preservation and continuity of various schools of Hinduism. Without them, the tradition would have been lost forever. In the following paragraphs we will discuss the meaning and significance of gurus in Hinduism.

Guru means

Literally speaking “guru” means large, weighty, long, extended, important, prominent. It also means arduous, difficult, intense, venerable, best, excellent, etc. Indeed, all these meanings apply to a spiritual master, a venerable person, a religious teacher or spiritual guide who is known in the religious and spiritual traditions of India as guru.

In the Vedic tradition, a guru was a reputed priest (brahmana) who performed purification ceremonies and initiated young students into the study of the Vedas. In ancient India, spiritual teachers who taught the higher knowledge of the Vedas (brahma vidyas) and liberation (moksha) commanded utmost respect. They came from all castes and backgrounds, and gave instruction in the secret knowledge of liberation as an obligatory duty and a selfless service. Some of them visited the royal courts of kings and engaged in public discussions on religious and spiritual matters.

However, not all gurus were spiritual teachers. There were teachers for other professions and vocations, who charged fees (guru artha). They excelled in various subjects, arts, crafts, and professions. Their reputation and status depended upon their knowledge as well their virtue and integrity. They taught medicine, metallurgy, weapon making, martial arts, taming of wild elephants, wild animals and poisonous snakes, spying, making various types of poisons and deadly potions, hypnotism, casting spells, witchcraft, fine arts, gambling, architecture, sculpting, hunting, lovemaking and so on. Most gurus were men, but some were women also.

Guru symbolism

In Hinduism a guru symbolizes greatness, excellence, size, importance, status, responsibility, etc. The words of a guru (guru vac) are like the words of God (brahma vac). The teaching of a guru (upadesam) is similar to a verbal testimony (pramana). The mantra given by a guru during initiation is known as guru mantram, which has the power to cleanse the mind and body and is believed to act like a boat by which a disciple can pass the ocean of samsara and reach the shore of liberation.

Among the planets, Jupiter (angaraka) is known as the guru. In Hindu astrology an auspicious and favorable period in the life of a human being is known as guru mahadasa. Even the gods and demons have their own gurus. Brihaspati is the teacher of the gods while Shukracharya is of the Asuras. In ancient Indian polity the guru was also an institution. Kings employed royal gurus (rajgurus) who not only helped the children of the royal family learn various arts and crafts but also gave advice to the kings during crucial moments. If necessary, such gurus had to fight on behalf of the kings against their enemies, especially if the guru happened to be a Kshatriya or excelled in warfare.

The importance of Guru in ancient Hindu texts

The importance of a guru is extolled in the ancient texts of Hinduism. The Svetasvatara Upanishad (6.23) emphasizes the importance of reverence for a guru stating that the teachings will illuminate those great souls who have reverence for God as well as for a guru. In the Taittiriya Upanishad (1.11.2), students are urged to treat their teacher a god himself (acharya devobhava). The Guru Gita from the Skanda Purana equates a guru to Shiva himself. In a conversation with Parvathi, Shiva, who is the universal Guru, declares thus, “Apart from the Guru, there is no other Brahman. O Beautiful One, what I say is true, it is the truth.” In the same text he further states, “A Guru is Shiva himself, manifested as a human.” A popular Hindu prayer declares, “The Guru is Brahma, the Guru is Vishnu, the Guru is Siva. Indeed, the Guru is the Supreme Absolute. To that Guru I offer my reverent salutations. “

The qualities of a satguru, the true guru

According to the Katha Upanishad (1.2.8), a guru is indispensable to acquire the knowledge of Brahman, and that guru must know Brahman as himself (ananya prokta). Without him there is no going further (gatir atra nasti). In the invocations and prayers found in the Taittiriya Upanishad, a teacher seeks the following from God or gods. They can be considered the desirable qualities one may look for in a guru, a teacher or an adept.

          Fame (yasah)

          Radiance of Brahman (brahmavarchas)

          Intelligence (medha)

          Immortality (amritasya)

          Vigorous body (vicarsanam)

          Sweetness in the tongue (madhumattama)

          Good hearing capacity

          Knowledge of the Vedas (sruti)

          Prosperity and material abundance

          Students of chaste conduct

          Pure mind

          Wealth of knowledge

          Right wisdom (sumedha)

A spiritual guru should be knowledgeable, self-realized, liberated (jivanmukta), chaste, virtuous, austere, truthful, detached, free from lust and delusion, and dedicated and devoted to God. He should be wise, absorbed in God, selfless, egoless, humble, indifferent, but firm in enforcing discipline through personal example. A true guru practices renunciation in word and deed and remains the same to all the dualities of life. He shuns fame, name, wealth, ownership, publicity, worldly pleasures, luxuries and public attention.

True gurus who have achieved liberation are drawn to teaching and guiding out of compassion or as a service to God rather than to fill their own coffers. Most importantly, they do not promote themselves or attract attention to them or charge money to give you an audience. A true guru, the liberated one, has no interest of his own, no selfishness, no ego and no desire for name or fame. Only that guru should be considered God in human form, who is egoless and whose identity is fully merged into that of Brahman.

In his book, Guru Tattva, Swami Sivananda declares, “Mere study of books cannot make one a Guru. One who has studied the Vedas and who has direct knowledge of Atman through Anubhava can only be enrolled as a Guru. A Jivanmukta or a liberated sage is the real Guru or spiritual preceptor. He is the Satguru. He is identical with Brahman or the Supreme Self. He is a Knower of Brahman.”

He also states, “Possession of Siddhis is not the test to declare the greatness of a sage or to prove he has attained Self-realisation. Satgurus do not exhibit any miracles or Siddhis. Sometimes they may exhibit them in order to convince the aspirants of the existence of super physical things, give them encouragement, and instil faith in their hearts. A Satguru is endowed with countless Siddhis. He possesses all divine Aisvarya, all the wealth of the Lord. The Satguru is Brahman Himself. He is an ocean of bliss, knowledge and mercy. He is the captain of your soul. He is the fountain of joy. He removes all your troubles, sorrows and obstacles. He shows you the right divine path. He tears your veil of ignorance. He makes you immortal and divine. He transmutes your lower, diabolical nature. He gives you the rope of knowledge and saves you when you are drowning in this ocean of Samsara. Do not consider him to be only a man. If you take him as a man, you are a beast. Worship your Guru and bow to him with reverence.”

Frankly, nowadays you will not find many gurus who fit into this description. It is therefore better to consider your personal God your guru and seek his grace and guidance rather than taking risks and waste your whole life in the service of a charlatan, unless you know certainly that the guru whom you have chosen is really a self-realized yogi and perfectly fits into the traditional descriptions of a satguru.

Prominent gurus

India has a very long tradition of gurus which may be 5000 years old or more. In a few cases fathers and grandfathers acted as gurus to their own children and family members and transmitted to them the knowledge of the Vedas or of the Self. Often husbands acted as gurus to their wives and taught them the secrets of lilberation. Some of the most prominent teachers of ancient India were Vyasa, Vashista, Bharadwaja, Parasara, Vishwamitra, Ashtavakra, Uddalaka Aruni, Yajnavalkya, Satyakama Jabala, Angirasa, etc.

Many divinities also acted as teachers. Brahma was the most prominent among them, as the original teacher and transmitter of all the Vedas. The Tantra tradition recognizes Shiva as a great teacher and world teacher. He is the teacher of Parvathi, who in turn transmits the secrets of transcendental knowledge to chosen disciples. Vishnu, Krishna also are considered universal teachers.

Many saints and scholars of ancient India were also great teachers. For example, Makandeya, Shankaracharya, Abhinavagupta, Gorakhnath, Ramanuja, Madhava, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Basaveswara, Raghavendra, etc., were well-known spiritual teachers of their times, besides being great devotees and men of wisdom. In modern times, Veerabrahmendra Swami, Shirdi Baba, Ramana Maharshi, Swami Narayan, Lahari Mahasaya, Yogananda, Ramakrishna, Sri Aurobindo initiated numerous aspirants into their paths and contributed to the revival of Hinduism.

Gurus who left this world are commemorated both on their birth and death anniversaries. Guru Purnima is a popular Hindu festival, during which God is worshipped as a guru, or gurus are worshipped as God.

Guru in Hindu spiritual tradition

Etymologically, a guru (gu + ru) is the one who brings light and wisdom (ru) into the dark, cavern hearts (gu) of the bound souls. He is the liberator, who illuminates the minds and hearts of the ignorant. In many Hindu traditions a guru is equated to God himself. The Hindu ethical system insists that gurus should be treated with utmost respect, after parents.

A guru’s word is inviolable. He is the door keeper of the secret knowledge, which is hidden in the scriptures. He has the right to choose his students and initiate them into the transcendental knowledge according to his discretion. No one can benefit from his teachings without paying him their dues (guru dakshina).

Paying respects to a guru, touching the feet of a guru, serving the guru and taking care of his personal needs, praising and appreciating a guru, seeking the blessings of a guru, remembering and meditating on the name of a guru are part of Hindu spiritual tradition. Some guru traditions hold that their gurus have the power to wash away sins, neutralize past karma, pass on spiritual energy to chosen disciples, or grant them liberation. Meditating upon a guru’s name or guru’s image are encouraged in many traditions to seek the guru’s blessings (guru anugraha).

Just as in today’s world the reputation of professionals depends upon the school or the university where they study, in ancient India the reputation of students depended upon the gurus who initiated them into the study of the scriptures. No one would become a guru, unless they were chosen by their teachers and given the permission to teach on their behalf. The order in which the instruction of a spiritual teacher passed from one teacher to another through success generations is known as gurukrama. The initiation process and strict discipline among the initiates ensured the purity and continuity of the teachings.

Do you require a guru for your spiritual practice?

This is a difficult question. The answer to it depends upon which sect of Hinduism you follow. In some Shaiva traditions, for example, individual effort (anavopaya) is considered inferior to the grace of Shiva (sambavopaya). Since a guru is considered an embodiment of Shiva, the grace of a guru is equal to the grace of Shiva. In such traditions, the guidance of a guru is considered necessary. In Vira Shaivism emphasis is placed both on individual effort and reverence to a guru and a high priest (jangama).

Thus, in Hindusim the relationship between a guru and his students varies from tradition to tradition. Overtime, the role of a guru has also changed. In olden days, there were no printed texts. If students had to learn anything about liberation or their Dharma or about the hidden teachings of a sacred text, they had to seek the help and instruction of a teacher. Nowadays most of the texts with numerous commentaries are available in public domain and within easy reach. Therefore, to acquire the knowledge of the scriptures, you may not need the assistance of a guru.

However, if you are intent upon liberation or if you lack conviction in your own methods of spirituality, you may need a guru. In that case, you have to find one who is reliable, truthful and a self-realized yogi. Finding such a person in today’s world is a difficult task. Even if you find one, you may not find enough opportunities to meet him personally or receive instruction or initiation from him because he may be surrounded by too many envious people who do not want anyone else to enter his inner circle, or he may be too busy to take care of your spiritual needs.

Your primary goal should be liberation. If you are intent upon it and serious about it, a solution will happen on its own. Instead, if your primary goal is to find a guru so that you will have mental peace, or a psychological crtuch to feel secure, loved and supported, or if you look for a guru to know your future or fulfil your worldly desires, you may run into trouble or may not find what you are looking for.

Therefore, unless a guru manifests in your life, you may consider alternatives and focus your effort on self-purification. You should also remember that if a guru is God in human form, so are you. You are also an aspect of Brahman and possess the same soul and the same potential to achieve the highest wisdom. Hence, your satguru (Shiva) is already in you as your very Self (Isvara). To see him you do not have to cross the oceans or stand in a long queue or pay an entrace feese to listen to his speech. If you learn to contemplate upon him and establish your mind in him, you may not require any external guru.

The tradition says that it is better to have a guru for your spiritual journey, but does not insist that you should have one in physical form. In Hinduism, there is a provision to consider a sacred scripture, a deity or your very Self as your guide and guru and develop a mental and intuitive connection with them. With the help of contemplation, austerities, and self-purification, you can strengthen your faith in your personal guru of the subtle realm and seek his help either to introduce you to a satguru or lead you towards light, knowledge and immortalty. It is also possible that if you have accumulated enough merit in your past lives, you will begin your journey from where you left, as the Bhagavadgita declares that there is no loss in the effort.

Understanding the role and purpose of Guru in Hinduism

The word “guru” in general means a teacher in Sanskrit. In the generic sense any teacher, whether the one who teaches worldly knowledge or the one who teaches spiritual wisdom, is a guru. But normally, from the point of Hindu religion, a guru is one who teaches you spiritual knowledge, who initiates you into a spiritual path or who guides you along the path of a spiritual quest. A highly learned Guru with deep knowledge of the scriptures is also called an Acharya.

Great spiritual masters of Hinduism are of the firm opinion that the human birth is rare and the purpose of the human birth is to attain God or realize one’s atman, which are one and the same, viewed from two different perspectives.

This is the ultimate goal to be attained and it is varyingly termed as God realization, self-realization, attaining the knowledge of Brahman, attaining birthlessness/deathlessness (“Moksha” “Mukthi” “samadhi” “nirvana” “sakshatkar,” etc. in Sanskrit).

Hinduism emphatically states that a guru is a must for learning and experiencing spirituals truths.

The following points will help you to understand the role of a guru in Hinduism.

Satguru” – The guru of the highest order

Purely from the spiritual point of view, worldly knowledge is considered a lower level of knowledge and even such a “lower” knowledge requires teachers to make students comprehend the subjects clearly. Obviously, the ultimate spiritual knowledge, which is the very goal of life to be attained, requires qualified spiritual masters to teach and guide the earnest spiritual seekers.

Ideally, only a God-realized (or self-realized) soul, who is truly a knower by personal experience, could be the perfect guru. Such a guru is called a “Satguru.” A Satguru is none other than God himself descended in human form or a human who has attained the highest level of spiritual knowledge – who has “obtained” the divine authority to transmit his knowledge to the earnest seekers who surrender to him. According to Sri Ramakrishna, a great religious master, a Satguru is like a huge steamer that can safely carry a lot of people across a turbulent river.

Hinduism advocates the concept of “Avatar” – God descending to earth in human form from time to time to establish righteousness in the world, to satisfy the longing of earnest worshipers and to provide appropriate spiritual guidance to people in a way most suited to the period and circumstances of the descent.

The Avatar and his immediate and handpicked lieutenants who fully imbibe his teachings, who are empowered to carry forward his teachings function as Satgurus. However, it need not be interpreted to mean that Satgurus are always associated with the arrival of avatars.

Multiple gurus may also guide at different levels

But practically, not all spiritual seekers are really keen enough to reach the ultimate goal or fit enough to reach it. But spiritual attainment being the goal of human life, people at different levels of spiritual inclination have to be guided to the path at varying degrees of “capacity of intake” and “capacity of assimilation.”

Reincarnation (rebirth after death) is one of the fundamental concepts of faith in Hinduism. Accordingly, Hinduism recognizes that it may take several births for a seeker to attain the ultimate goal. Bhagavat Gita, one of the greatest books of essential Hindu spiritual knowledge recognizes this fact by stating that hardly one in a thousand strives to attain the highest and even among such earnest seekers, hardly a few are capable of reaching the goal.

It also leads to the fact that availability of Satgurus at all points of time and at all approachable geographic locations may not be practical. Naturally, people need to be guided by “less than perfect” masters who are quite good enough to guide the majority.

Hinduism is a very vast religion with scope for worshiping innumerable God-forms (who represent the ONE ultimate truth). There exist several major schools of philosophies, several sects and sub-sects that are suited to various tastes, traditions and preferences of religious followers. This naturally leads to a multifaceted system of availability of gurus.

The best starting point for seeking the guidance of a guru is to follow the culture and tradition of the family and in Hinduism, the traditional “family guru” serves this purpose. Generally, a “family guru” is a guru, most normally (but not too strictly) a “Sanyasi” (a monk who has relinquished worldly life) who comes in the Master-disciple lineage of a Satguru or a great spiritual master of yesteryears. These gurus are adept in the particular God they worship and the particular school of philosophy they profess. They initiate the seeker in the worship of the specific “personal God” of their sect and guide him in the fundamentals of religious disciplines to follow.

To avoid distraction and to ensure a better focus for an orderly religious progress, it is normally recommended that the seeker remains steadfast in his trust towards his guru, to the chosen personal God and to the school of philosophy he is instructed about.

But for a more curious and capable seeker, such guidelines are not too binding. Hinduism allows the freedom for one to choose his guru based on his temperament, taste and inclination. Hinduism also permits an earnest seeker to seek “higher guidance” from more than one guru based on his true progress. All the same, it is also emphasized that one should not be running behind one guru after another just because of one’s egotism that refuses to surrender to any form of discipline.

While it is important that one remains ever-devoted to his main guru, one can approach other gurus (called ‘upa gurus’ – i.e. supportive gurus) with due reverence and get specific guidance in some specific techniques of spiritual practice, to learn about alternative schools of philosophies or religious scriptures, to get doubts clarified and get advice on any hurdles faced in the path of progress.

At an exalted level, for the most avid seeker, even animals, birds and inanimate objects can teach a lesson or two in his spiritual quest (which he grasps by keen observation) and all of them are virtually his upa-gurus.

Faith and surrender to the guru are essential

Surrendering unquestioningly to one guru and attaining progress based on this very surrender and trust – this is on one side. Questioning and evaluating a guru and then surrendering to him and, at the same time, providing room for the guru to evaluate him so as to accept or reject him – this is on another side. Both are acceptable in Hinduism.

However, where the disciple is lucky enough (or destined) to end up or surrender at the feet of a Satguru, the Satguru, who transcends names, forms and schools of philosophies, will guide the disciple to the most appropriate “personal god” and school of philosophy best suited to him. What the disciple needs to do afterwards is to surrender his ego at the feet of his guru and remain steadfast in his faith, goal and commitment. It is also said that, in reality, it is the guru who seeks and gets the disciple. An earnest seeker may ultimately end up with a Satguru, though he may have had his initiation earlier from another guru.

Understanding initiation (“Diksha”) by a guru

Getting initiation (“Diksha”) from the guru is an essential element of the guru-disciple relationship. In general, “Diksha” is done by the guru by giving a mantra (a sacred phrase containing the name of a specific God beginning with “seed sounds” like “Om” and ending with “namah”). Gurus of a specific sect give a mantra suited to the specific sect.

For example, worshipers of Lord Shiva generally give a mantra associated with Lord Shiva. A worshiper of Vishnu will normally get initiated with Narayana mantra (or Krishna / Rama mantras).

Even though we are familiar with several mantras like Om Namah Shivaya or Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya etc, Mantras are normally communicated in secrecy by the Guru to the disciple. A disciple is expected to keep his mantra a secret and not to reveal it to any other person.

According to Satguru Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma), a sadguru while initiating a disciple with a mantra, transmits a little of his Prana shakti (vital force). It is like adding a little butter milk to milk to create curd. Chanting of mantra subsequently by the disciple is like churning the curd to obtain butter (realizing God).

A mantra is like a seed sown by the guru into the disciple. It is up to the disciple to nurture the seed to get the sapling, water it and protect it as it grows to a tree till it bears fruits. Likewise, it is the sacred duty of the disciple to repeat the mantra with devotion as many times as possible, follow the disciplines and practices specified by the guru, meditate on the God of the mantra and reap the spiritual benefits.

As for Satgurus, their way of initiation (by giving ‘diksha’ to someone) may take place in several forms. A Satguru is capable of gauging the spiritual capacity, taste and capability of a person and make an initiation best suited to the person. The initiation could be done by a Satguru by a mere touch of hand (“Hasta Diksha”); he may give the mantra in the disciple’s dreams (“Swapna Diksha”); he may initiate the disciple by a mere eye-to-eye contact (“Nayana Diksha”); he may initiate by an embrace (“Alingana Diksha”).

A Satguru is capable of judging which God form is best suited or best liked by the disciple and initiate him with the mantra of that God. He may initiate the disciple in worship of God with form or without form; he may simply initiate a capable follower in the path of self-inquiry.

A Satguru bears the burden of a disciple

Unlike a guru whose responsibility ends with initiating the disciple in the religious path, a Satguru bears the responsibility of the disciple who surrenders to him wholeheartedly. It is said that at the time of giving Diksha, a Satguru transmits a small portion of his vital energy (“Prana”) into the disciple. It is also said that the Satguru absorbs the accumulated karmas (good and bad effects of the disciples’ actions in the past) and makes him a “clean slate” to start his religious quest with full vigor. While the need for “self-effort” to be done by the disciple to attain the ultimate goal can’t be wished away, the Satguru makes the path much easier for the disciple to tread, by removing the obstacles coming out of his past deeds.

It is also said that a Satguru never forsakes his disciple, even if he tends to slacken his spiritual efforts or gets distracted away from his ideal; Satguru’s watchful eyes are always on him to goad him back to his track at the appropriate time.

The guidance from the “inner Guru”

Any religious discipline done by an earnest seeker is to realize God or Atman or Brahman who essentially dwells in the heart of every being. In the point of view of “Gyana marga” (path of Knowledge in Hinduism), everyone is essentially God and what the guru does is to remove the false coverings and sheaths that make one wrongly identify oneself with the body, mind intellect, etc. and ultimately to make one understand “you are that” (“Tatwamasi”).

It may not be practical for everyone to be physically with the guru always, take regular instructions from him and keep getting doubts cleared. It is said that an earnest disciple who lives away from a guru/Satguru, depending on his steadfastness and sincerity in his spiritual efforts, gets his guidance and course-correction right from his inner heart/sub-conscience. This inner voice or guidance is called the Inner Guru (“Anthra Guru”).

Sri Ramana Maharishi, the great sage of Tiruvennamalai used to say that the external guru pushes the disciple’s mental leanings (which tend to wander outwards) towards inside and the Indwelling Guru drags them inwards. It is ultimately the one and the same “Sachidananda” (Existence-knowledge-bliss i.e. Godliness) that works through both as the external guru and the internal guru.

Importance of the Guru and the qualities required in the Disciple

Importance of the Guru

Once the importance of the Guru is understood, the emancipation from man to God does not take time; because, the Guru is the sagun (Materialised) form of God and the one who has been accepted by the Guru gets accepted by the Deities too and emancipation of the individual takes place automatically. This Text written by Paratpar Guru (Dr) Athavale gives the benevolent message that the real goal of human life should be to follow the emancipating Path of the Guru’s grace.

Types of Guru and Gurumantra

Importance of the Guru is exceptional in the life of the disciple, because he cannot realise God without the Guru. What is the difference between a Guru, a Sadguru and a Paratpar Guru ? How to recognise a fake Guru ? What are the attributes of a true Guru ? What are the misconceptions about the Gurumantra ? Which is the true Gurumantra ? etc. Such issues have been dealt with in this Text.

The Disciple

Disciple is one who performs spiritual practice as explained and expected by the Guru. Why should we not go in search for a Guru, why should we not test the Guru, why should we not consider oneself as someone’s disciple, what should we do for the Guru to come into our life, have been dealt with in this Text.


This is a brief essay on the meaning of the term guru in the Hindu Tradition Guru in addition to its common meaning of teacher, also means “heavy” in Sanskrit. The role of the guru is therefore weighty or important because it is a crucial one for a disciple. Choosing the right guru can strongly affect a disciple’s spiritual destiny. The tradition of seeking, evaluating, accepting, and following a guru is deeply rooted in Hindu society from the time of the earliest Hindu writings. However, not all disciples maintain a close outer connection with their guru.

While some disciples spend years with their guru, others meet the guru only once in their lifetime. Some see the guru only in visions and dreams. In other cases, the only contact is through written material or pictures of the guru.

In Hinduism, it is believed that certain individuals have developed spiritually to the point where they can lead others to liberation (moksha), or give them access to spiritual states either in this life, or after death. These teachers are believed to have special abilities, such as the capacity to give darshan (a transfer of blessings or spiritual power from guru to disciple via glance or mantra).

In addition, some Gurus are said to be able to enter a disciple’s dreams to give teachings or initiation. Sometimes the guru’s gaze can cause a profound spiritual experience. Many students claim to sense a spiritual atmosphere around their teacher which affects their moods and perceptions in positive ways.

Some of the pictures of gurus presented here can be found on public and private altars throughout India. The images may be accompanied by one or more Hindu gods in such situations. In rare cases, the guru is considered to be an avatar, which means incarnation of a god. Human gurus sometimes attain a degree of honor and respect that approaches that of a god.

This is because like a god, the true guru has the power and wisdom to help the disciple cross the ocean of suffering to reach a state of spiritual freedom, or a heavenly paradise.

The biographies that follow are intended to show the different kinds of gurus that exist, and how they relate to students. In addition, special emphasis is placed on descriptions of the spiritual experiences of these teachers. The degree of respect given to a teacher is largely based upon the perceived depth of his or her spiritual realization.

The guru may attain the status of a living saint, and therefore embodies the highest ideals of the individual and culture. He or she demonstrates the reality of spiritual awareness, and shows how it can appear in any individual who provides the right conditions through mental discipline, spiritual practice, devotion, and positive actions in previous lives.

Famous Saints of Hinduism From Maharashtra

Human urge is to be with the source of urge. Propensity is the seed, devotion, the sapling, divine inspiration, the plant, spirituality, the flower and realization, the fruit of effortless effort. Mysticism is the way and the goal. It is a path without a road. It is an objective without motive. It is a quest without any meaning. Mysticism is the awareness of oneself as a part of existence; the awareness of the Supreme Being as the envelope of existence; the awareness of existence as the cause of existence itself. Mysticism is a happening. It occurs without noise. It is a dawn which never sets. It lights up the being without an instrument. It becomes itself in the process of becoming.

The mystic eternally is. His timeless existence transcends human time in such categories as present, past and future. He knows the Knower which He himself is. He sees the Seer who is his own Self. The mystic knows not the ways of the world. He is untainted by hypocrisy, untouched by artificiality and unconcerned about social norms. He may not know manners and etiquette but he knows himself. He may be ignorant of the human laws but understands the laws of existence, being in Divine consciousness always. He does not please or displease anyone. Misfortune is his normal fate, poverty his forte and patience his property. He does not fear nor is the cause of it. He lives silently and in utter humility, like the fruit-bearing tree with its branches bent downwards.

In a mystic experience of union with the Divine, God himself becomes the devotee; destination becomes the path and speech becomes the deepest silence. Who meets whom? asks Sant Jnaneshvara (1275-1296), the first saint-prophet of Maharashtra, in his mystical treatise Amritanubhava (‘Experiencing the nectar’) : How can the eye be opened when the unity between the individual Self and the Universal Self is dissolved? The sun sees everything. But is it possible for him to witness the beauty of his own rising and setting? If the moon tried to gather the moonlight then who has gathered what? How can words describe the Reality when the Supreme Speech itself disappears and no trace is found of any sound?

The mystic is a witness to the play of the Pure Intelligence all over the universe and is possessed by the Truth he has experienced. Nothing can deter him from the path or disturb his inner poise. He smiles when ordinary mortals curse their fate and laughs when tortured as the 17th Century mystic, Sarmad.

Filled with the Light Eternal, the mystic dances in ecstasy. The melody of the un-struck sound (anahat-nada) provides rhythm to his movements. He dies to the world of phenomena and comes to see God in everything and everything in God. He finds all objects, animate as well as inanimate, resplendent in His glory. Sant Ekanatha (1533-1599) wrote : ‘I am the singer as well as the hearer. I am my song. I alone exist in this world. There is no trace of duality to be met with’

The sense of I and myness burns as incense before a mystic’s own being. Love breeds in him equanimity and fellow-feeling and he serves all as he discovers his own self in others. According to popular tradition, when Lord Vishnu, assuming the form of a dog, snatched a loaf of bread from Sant Namadeva (C1270-C1350 CE), he ran after him with the bowl of ghee shouting ‘Please, do not eat without it’. Before chopping a tree, Namadeva gave himself a blow with the axe to know how he felt.

According to ancient Hindu scriptures, the ecstatic marks of a mystical experience may assume one or more of these forms – eyelids are half-opened and looks become stationery, body shivers or perspires, the hair stand on end, throat holds back feelings, breathing becomes extremely slow or fast, a sense of levitation comes and the heart is laden with joy.

The tears of a mystic flow with liquid majesty – they are pearls of spiritual fervour descending from the depth of his soul. There is poetry in his eyes, music in his words and speech in his silence. What he utters is scripture. What he does not utter is truth waiting for discovery. Philosophy comes to him naturally. His company invokes purity in thought and transforms a person, as in the case of Narendranath who became Swami Vivekananda under the influence of Sri Ramakrishna.

The medieval saints of Maharashtra, notably Nivrittinatha, Jnaneshvara, Sopandeva, Muktabai, Visoba Khechar, Namadeva, Chokhamela, Narahari, Sena, Samvata, Gora, Kanhopatra, Ekanatha and Tukarama were mystics of the highest order. They saw god as one would perceive the world of phenomena. They stressed the efficacy of God’s name, professed love and brotherhood, worshipped Viṭ̣ṭhala, the presiding deity of Pandharpur whom they identified with Lord Krishna, and poured out mystical verses (abhangas) in torrents.

Janabai, the female attendant of Namadeva was so madly in love with the image of Viṭ̣ṭhala that she called him scornfully as ‘Vithya’, ‘Vithya’ when he did not respond to the calls of her heart.

Of God my meat and drink I make,

God is the bed on which I lie,

God is whatever I give or take,

God’s constant fellowship have I,

For God is here and God is there,

No place that is empty of him.

Gora, the eldest among 14th – 15th Century Maharashtra saints claimed to have danced on mud with the Lord. Kanhopatra (C. 15th Century), the dancing damsel of Mangalvedha (district Solapur) thought that she was eternally wedded to god Viṭ̣ṭhala and refused the overtures of the Muslim King of Bidar. She left her mortal coil as one would leave one’s belongings.

Mystical insights transcend the orbit of the mind and cannot be a matter of ratiocination. When Chokha, the pariah saint claimed that God had visited his house and took meals; when Sena, the barber- saint, challenged to show God in a mirror even to a cynic and a sceptic; when Samvata, the gardener- saint, saw God all around him, even in chilly and garlic; when Janabai caught him picking up dust while she was cleaning the floor in Namdeva’s house or when Tukaram experienced the miracle of a wonderful crop after the grain-field he was guarding had been eaten up by a flock of birds, they were speaking from a supramental state which far from being hallucinatory, denoted an experience surpassing the sensory level of perception. In such a supreme state, one may see without eyes, hear without ears, talk without words, walk without feet and die while living. Says Sant Tukaram, the greatest mystic saint of Maharashtra,

Before my eyes my dead self lies;

O, bliss beyond compare!

Joy fills the worlds and I rejoice,

The soul of all things there.

My selfish bonds are loosed, and now

I reach forth far and free.

Gone is the soil of birth and death

The petty sense of ‘Me’.

How To Choose Your Spiritual Guru?

According to Hindu tradition, a guru is an enlightened master, a perfect being who appears among people, out of unconditional love, to help them return to their source. He is like a bodhisattva, who sets aside his own priorities for the welfare of the world. Those who come into contact with an enlightened master are deemed ripe for salvation, because he gives them a unique opportunity to hasten their liberation partly through their efforts and partly through his blessings.

A true master comes to this world rarely. He becomes a guru after prolonged practice over several lives. His mere presence in the world electrifies the atmosphere and inspires millions of people to turn to spiritualism. Slowly but surely he transforms the people who come into contact with him through his teachings and techniques. Hinduism survived over the centuries because of the selfless service of several teacher traditions and ascetic movements. They protected the tradition and preserved its practices through carefully guarded conventions in which the master passed on the right knowledge to a few chosen disciples who in turn continued the practice down the line. Without their commitment and continued effort over these centuries, Hinduism would have been extinct by now.

There is so much controversy surrounding the tradition of gurus that when we hear about a guru we don’t know whether he or she is a really enlightened person, a genuine master, a miracle worker, a charlatan, a magician or an imposter. The problem is complicated further by the activities of a few controversial people and the scandals erupting occasionally over the news channels about their alleged misconduct and corrupt practices. Hindu society is now matured enough to understand the risks involved in following spiritual masters blindly. The connection between a spiritual guru and their disciples is emotional, personal and spiritual. It is based on trust, faith, innocence and the promise of liberation. In the following sections we will try to explore the mystery and the aura associated with spiritual masters and their relevance and significance in the spiritual progress of the world.


Those who believe in their spiritual masters and follow them sincerely defend the institutions of gurus. They speak positively about their life altering experiences, miraculous events and their association with their gurus and uphold their value and importance in the spiritual progress of the mankind. Some well known arguments put forward by them in favor of the institution of gurus are listed below.

1. Gurus are dispellers of darkness. They play an important role in the spiritual advancement of people by providing them with right knowledge and right direction.

2. Gurus have extraordinary powers. They can transform people through their teachings, and sometimes with a mere glance or touch.

3. Gurus play a vital role in the continuation of Hindu tradition. They uphold its tenets and act as its protectors and spokesmen.

4. An enlightened guru is God in human form. He has the permission from God to speak and act on His behalf. He has no ego because his ego is filled with the presence of God. Serving him is therefore equal to serving God.

5. Gurus have miraculous powers. Because they have emptied themselves, they can easily enter other people’s consciousness and know what is happening there. They can read other people’s minds, travel astrally to remote places and heal the sick and the disabled with their powerful thoughts and vibrations.

6. It is said that a true spiritual master has the ability to neutralize the ill effects of karma, transfer their spiritual energy to others or hasten a disciple’s spiritual progress.

7. Gurus often indulge in erratic, outrageous and abnormal behavior to discourage people coming to them. One should never judge them on the basis of their appearance or behavior.


Those who are opposed to the gurus for religious or ideological reasons or who had unpleasant experiences and encounters with them develop a deep distrust in the very institution of gurus and do not support the tradition. They cite the examples of how gurus dupe gullible people and do irreparable damage to society and the humanity in the name of God and religion. People who argue in this manner are not necessarily atheistic or irreligious. They may be very religious people who do not believe in the need for gurus or in the intervention of middle men between them and God. Some of the arguments put forward by those who do not believe in the tradition of gurus are listed below.

1. There are many bogus gurus who do immense harm to the public through fraud and deception.

2. The bogus gurus misuse their status and identity in society to collect money, abuse children or exploit women purely for sexual activity.

3. The deceptive gurus indulge in self-promotion, criminal activities and anti- social behavior. Cases of murder, land grabbing and accounting fraud are not uncommon against them.

4. Some become gurus on account of heredity, family status or connection with the original guru. Once they succeed, they misuse their power and position.

5. There is nothing new in what most gurus teach. The information is already there in the scriptures. They just add their personal touch and a brand name and pass it on as their own.

6. Many gurus encourage personality cult and blind following. They do not clarify rumors and stories about their miraculous powers or clear people’s doubt. They deliberately distort their past achievements and allow people to engage in rumors and gossip to let their past remain a mystery.

7. Many gurus seek wealth and political power to promote themselves and their interests, showing undue favors to questionable characters and giving them private audience, while the common people are simply waved at and kept at distance. They also take undue interest in people coming from abroad and travel frequently to foreign countries to extend their power base and promote their own institutions.

8. The movement initiated by the gurus usually degenerate after their death. Their followers quarrel among themselves and start their own movements, each claiming close proximity to the departed gurus. Such power struggle among the close confidents of gurus shows lack of discretion and personal failure on their part in choosing their disciples and transforming them.

Gurus and their significance

The spiritual gurus come in all sizes and shapes. There are some who are really genuine and enlightened and some who are false and mischievous. It is not easy to distinguish one from another by their teachings or their appearance because outwardly they follow the same traditions and speak more or less the same language. With some training and preparation, it is not difficult for an intellectually active person to pass himself or herself as a spiritual master. Therefore people ought to be careful in selecting their spiritual mentors. Choosing a wrong guru can seriously diminish one’s chances of salvation. Having trust in God is always helpful, but taking certain precautions about one’s own spiritual life is prudence, especially in a world where truth is not what it seems to be. Spiritual journey is far more risky and arduous than crossing the Himalayas. Much depends upon whom you select as your guru and what is your equation with him or her. There is no apparent advantage in going to a capable guru if he or she is too busy to pay you any attention. You should know what to look for and what to avoid in selecting your spiritual guru, using the faculties of reason and common sense and keeping your emotions and your sense of dependence under control.

God comes to us in many forms, but He comes especially in the form of spiritually enlightened masters to show us the way. He speaks to us through them to address our need for spiritual guidance and inspiration. When you are empty, God fills in the vacuum. Gurus are such because they are empty in themselves and are filled with the presence of God. In Kashmiri Saivism, a guru is considered to be the primary source of liberation. Abhinavagupta, one of the chief proponents of the sect, suggested that of the three means available for liberation, the grace of Siva in the form of a spiritual guru (sambavopaya) was the most effective. He considered it to be more important than the other two means, namely the use of spiritual energy such as kundalini (saktopaya) and the use of egoistic effort (anavopaya) in the service of God such as serving godly people or religious institutions or doing menial work inside a temple. There is also a widespread belief among certain traditions of Hinduism that gurus have the ability to transfer their spiritual energy (shakti) to their followers and enlighten them instantly, using a special technique called shaktipatha. There are some gurus in India who claim to have the ability to awaken the kundalini en masse in groups of people by holding a group meditation session or by gently touching them each on the forehead or the back. Since gurus enjoy such high regard in our tradition, it is very easy for people to fall into the trap of bogus gurus. Therefore, when we are looking for a guru, we have to make sure that we are making the right decision and not falling into a self-induced trap.

The importance of discernment (buddhi)

Our world presents to us a complex and ever changing reality, where it is difficult to discern truth behind a facade of appearances. Just as there is falsehood lurking behind truth, there are fake gurus in the guise of genuine masters. Sometimes we come into their grip because of our previous karmas. The false gurus interfere with our spiritual progress. They create confusion in our minds and lead us astray. In this world things are not what they appear to be and not what they are. The world is created to cause distraction and so we cannot expect it to be different. With our limited knowledge and faculties, it is difficult to know who is who. It is not difficult for charlatans and impostors to pose as virtuous gurus, especially when we have such stereotypic images of gurus and sadhus in our minds. Outwardly they all look the same, except for minor differences in their appearance and demeanor such as the color of their dress or the manner in which they grow their hair. The diversity of Hinduism and its antiquity, coupled with the absence of a centralized religious authority, provide ample opportunities to the pretentious and the dubious people to pose as spiritual gurus, claiming connection with an ancient master or a forgotten tradition.

A guru should be chosen with caution, just as you would select a lawyer, doctor or tax consultant. In case of a guru you may have to be even more careful because of the consequences and their lasting effect. A fake doctor may endanger your life or health, but a pretentious guru will delay your salvation for many lives to come. Many lives are wasted by fake gurus, playing upon others’ religious sentiments and misleading them into total submission. Imagine spending your whole life with a spiritual master only to realize in the end that all the while you were chasing a mirage! Many who surrender to the whims of false gurus are destroyed forever. Some persist on the path even after they come to know about them. They refuse to acknowledge truth even after seeing inconsistencies and disturbing signs in the conduct of their masters. As if propelled by fate, they willingly follow a perilous path that culminates in their self-destruction.

Finding a genuine guru is vital

Salvation follows a difficult process of self-transformation. It demands many personal sacrifices on the part of the aspirants, both physically and mentally to undergo a vigorous self-cleansing process without any guarantees and promise of solace. It is a journey through a treacherous course of unknown risks and destabilizing forces, in which the path appears and disappears as you move forward, filled with snares of distraction and demons of deception, which is why we need a guru in the first place. Only a guru can show us the way through the dense forest of delusion and protect us from harm by taking responsibility for our lives and actions. He neutralizes our karma and saves us from evil. A fake guru does the opposite. He throws us to the demons of doubt and despair and leaves us to our fate. With his ignorance and incompetence, he compounds our problems and leads us into the dark caverns of ignorance and intemperance. According to Hindu beliefs, a guru comes to us by the grace of God, according to our preparation, readiness, aspiration, karma and faith. Just as the aspirants are eager to find their gurus, the gurus are also eager to find their followers. Their coming together is said to be an event of great significance for both of them and also the world in general, as it happened in case of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda, because their association has the potential to elevate the entire earth consciousness by suffusing it with powerful vibrations and the promise of great progress.

The difference between a guru and a teacher

In ancient India there was a clear distinction between a spiritual master (guru) and an ordinary teacher (adhyapak). A guru commanded more respect in society than a teacher because he selected students on merit and assumed responsibility for their lives for the duration of their stay with him. They lived in his household, receiving knowledge from him directly, mastering the scriptures, while he took care of them, without expecting or insisting any monetary benefit or rewards in return. He taught them as he pleased, provided they stood up to his standards and expectations. A teacher on the other hand, taught the students by charging them money, without taking responsibility for their personal care. A guru, in ancient India, was not an ordinary person. He was an enlightened master, who lived in a forest, while a teacher was a mere professional, who lived amidst people and helped his students excel in their chosen fields of study. At the end of their education, it was customary for the students to reward their gurus with a gift (dakshina), without their asking, while the teacher received remuneration regularly for his services. The teachers were mostly this worldly, while the gurus were other worldly. The teachers taught the way to live in the world and succeed, while the gurus helped their students to transcend themselves and become self-aware. The teachers focused on the knowledge of rituals (karmakanda) while the gurus on the knowledge of the Self (atma-jnanam). As is evident from the Isa Upanishad, in ancient India both the approaches were deemed necessary for the continuation of dharma and education of people. The lower knowledge helped people in their worldly pursuits, while the higher knowledge led them to liberation.

Over the centuries the traditional roles of both the gurus and teachers underwent considerable change. The gurus now act more as spokesmen of dharma and messengers of faith, wielding considerable power and authority, while the teachers have become degraded into mere working class with a limited role and diminished prestige. The gurus now show no discomfort in accepting money and donations from their followers and prefer to live amidst people rather than in the forests. This development has the potential to corrupt and disrupt the very institutions and ideals they establish and promote. At the height of their popularity, some gurus become embroiled in controversies and court cases because of the petty jalousies and rivalries among his own followers. At the same time it also gives them the freedom to translate their ideals and vision in the desired direction and establish viable institutions to serve the poor and the needier sections of society.

Surrendering to God

You can either let things happen to you or make things happen. One is the way of the spirit and the other is the way of the world. In spiritual matters, the first one is the recommended option. So choose your guru passively, with faith in God, lighting up the interiors of your heart and mind. Let him come to you through the will of God, according to your deepest aspiration. Often in our eagerness and out of impatience, we try to regulate our lives. It may not always be the best course, since we have many limitations.

We solve our problems more effectively, when we seek the help of the higher intelligence that resides in us. Place your trust in God and allow Him to introduce you to a right master. If you do not believe in God, seek the help of your inner self. If you do not believe in it either, follow your deepest and most genuine aspiration and let it create the right conditions for you. In any case wait for a master to manifest in your life and help you reach the other shore. Until it happens, keep your faith and aspiration alive, reading the scriptures, practicing yoga and meditation and cultivating virtues.

A guru will not be interested in helping you, unless you are ready for the journey and willing to make necessary sacrifices and adjustments in your life for your self-transformation. So seeking the guidance and help of gurus may not be a good idea, if you are not mentally and physically prepared for spiritual life. If material spiritualism is what you are after, you should not blame anyone when you come under the influence of a materialistic spiritual guru who is more interested in your wealth and your status than in your spiritual merit.

Know why you need a guru

People seek gurus for various reasons, ranging from purely selfish and materialistic to highly spiritual. You should check your motives in seeking a guru and know why you need him in the first place. Is it because you are looking for a mental crutch or to fill a vacuum in your life? A guru is not a substitute for your parents, children or spouse. You should not seek a guru because you are trying to fill some emptiness in your life. You should seek him because you want to be liberated and because you want to escape from the consequences of your actions to find stability in yourself. You do it because you want to be free from all the distracting and disturbing events in your life.

You should not look for a guru unless you are seeking liberation (moksha) or have a serious aspiration for it. A guru is not a replacement for a shrink or a life coach. You will not go to him because you have problems in your life and you want him to use his powers to resolve them for you. You should not seek his help because you are bored with your life and looking for some excitement. A guru may do all this on his own, but it is not why people should seek a guru. Spiritual practice is a serious endeavor. It demands a certain state of mind and uncompromising discipline. Unless you are serious about it, you should remain confined to worldly activities, pursuing the other three aims: religious duty (dharma), wealth (artha) and worldly pleasures (kama).

There should be no illusions in your mind about your relationship with your guru and what you can expect from him. A true guru is detached from the world. He is free from all desires (vasanas) and latent impressions (samskaras). He is not interested in anyone or anything in particular, because he is not bound to the world or its ways. In his enlightened mind he treats everyone equally as an aspect of God. Otherwise he would not be qualified for the responsibility of a guru. True masters may at times show annoyance and deference, but they do so mostly to discipline their students. An enlightened master has no personality of his own. It is replaced either by his higher self or by the presence of God. Although he lives amidst the world, he is not part of it.

When you seek a guru, examine your own intentions and try to be honest with yourself. There is nothing wrong with seeking your guru’s help to resolve some personal problems in your life. People do it all the time. But it should not be the only reason why one should go to him. A guru is a dispeller of illusions, not their perpetuator. He may help you in resolving some worldly matters, not because he wants you to remain this worldly but because he knows that his involvement is part of the divine plan and it is critical to your life and further progress on the path. If you are not serious about your spiritual life, you will eventually become disappointed with your guru and leave him or go to another master to repeat the same story. We often hear stories about people, who turn against their own gurus and become their bitter enemies and the worst critics. It happens because either the gurus are dishonest or their disciples are deluded.

A guru is not a substitute for virtue and purity

Spiritual life is not for those who are not willing to practice virtue and morality or control their fickle minds. You cannot be insincere and impure in your thoughts and actions and expect your guru to take care of the difficulties that arise because of them. Spiritual practice demands a serious commitment on your part. There is a reason why in the classical (ashtanga) yoga the rules and restrictions (yamas and niyamas) come first, while the practice of transcendental states (samadhi) comes in the end. There is also a reason why dharma (religious observances) is placed before the other three aims of human life (purusharthas). Virtue or righteous conduct is the foundation of spiritual life. Without it the doors of enlightenment remain shut. One should cultivate the divine qualities and stay clear of the demonic qualities mentioned in the Bhagavadgita.

Many entertain the false notion that if you worship (pooja) the divinities and pay them some respect, they would be highly pleased and help you in your spiritual effort. But it is not sufficient. Without virtue the gates of enlightenment do not open for you. You might have heard that with simple devotion (bhakti) one can please God and become liberated. It is a fallacious belief. You can practice true devotion to God (iswara pranidhana) only when your heart and mind are filled with the illumination of purity (sattva). Also, please do not assume that as a rule your guru will overlook your impurities and take care of your sins because he has taken particular liking for you and given you an approving look. Sometimes he may help people, for reasons completely beyond our grasp. But he would not encourage anyone to stray from the path. A guru looks for people who are sincere and pure and who are willing to go through the hardships to overcome their imperfections. He prefers them to the millions, who are caught in the web of worldly pursuits and go to a guru to assuage their fears and feelings of guilt.

Know the distinction between God and guru

God is the highest guru, but the person of a guru is not God. If you don’t know the distinction, very likely you will get involved with personality worship and begin to venerate your guru as God incarnate. In Hinduism there is a clear distinction between an incarnation and a manifestation of God. Every animate and inanimate object in the universe is a manifestation. God is present in them as the inmost self, in a state of duality and passivity. An incarnation is different. In an incarnation God is directly and actively involved. An incarnation is a dynamic and conscious manifestation of God. We have only a few major incarnations and their number is said to be predetermined. We should not therefore equate a guru as an incarnation of God and worship him as such.

You may see God in your guru and treat him like one, but you do so only for spiritual reasons. A truly enlightened spiritual master has no ego or no personality of his own. Since he undergoes self-purification, he lets the radiance and the consciousness of his self shine through him. When an enlightened master speaks to you, he lets his awakened self communicate with you directly. Since his thoughts and actions are not colored by his egoism, he lets the wisdom, the awesome power and brilliance of his inmost self shine through him. If there is a reason why we should equate a guru with God it is this. So you may worship the self in the guru because it has become free, but not the personality of the guru, or his physical form, which will wither and fall away eventually. A television or a radio set is just a communication tool. You are not going to worship it because it has delivered a very enlightening spiritual message. So is the case with a guru. A guru brings you in contact with the awakened self which is present in him. He allows the power of the self speak through him and touch all those who come into its presence. In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Yajnavalkya says to his wife Maitreyi very aptly, “It is not for the love of a wife that wife is dear but for the love of the soul in wife that wife is dear.” And he extends the same concepts to several things. It as well applies to the spiritual teachers whom we love and respect. We should respect them not because they are great masters but because of the the presence of awakened souls in them.

Find a guru who can guide you personally

In the seventh chapter of the Bhagavadgita, LordKrishna describes four types of people who worship him: men in pain, seekers of knowledge, seekers of wealth and seekers of enlightenment. Of them he says the last kind, the men of wisdom are dearest to him because they identify themselves with him and are forever established in him. Lord Krishna does not demean the first three. He calls them noble (udara), but considers the last group of men as the noblest. We can use the same analogy to categorize the people who seek a guru. The first kind go to him because they have some problem, an incurable disease, financial problems, domestic disputes or some disability and they want their guru to help them with his blessings, knowledge, advice, suggestion or some supernatural ability. A few people go to him because they are interested in gaining knowledge. They are curious about spiritual subjects and want to dabble with them intellectually, without being serius. They approach him to listen to his discourses, read his books, talk to him about some religious or spiritual matter, clarify their doubts or learn some techniques of spiritual practice such as yoga or ritual worship. People in the third category go to him for some material gain. They want him to help them get a job, a coveted position, success in some venture, victory in elections or similar gains. Finally there are those who go to him because they want him to guide them on the path of liberation. The first three types of people come under the category of lay practitioners and the last ones under the category of advanced practitioners.

If you approach a guru purely for material or personal gains or resolve some family problem, it doesn’t matter whether you see him regularly or only once in a while. In the ancient times the gurus used to live in secluded places, away from the general public and guide a few people on the path of liberation. They were difficult to be pleased and they took long time before they admitted new students into their presence and imparted them the secret knowledge. They met worldly people occasionally, but whenever they were approached for help by worthy people, they helped them generously. Nowadays most of the gurus live amidst society and travel constantly organizing meetings, satsangs, initiation ceremonies and special yoga classes. They are very busy travelling around the world and meeting people from various backgrounds. So for many who want to seek some personal gain or benefit out of their association with their gurus, it does not matter, whether they can meet their gurus everyday or once in a while. They can either meet them in person, or over phone or through an email to get the answers they seek. But if you seek a guru for enlightenment or liberation and if you want him to initiate you in a proper manner into spiritual life, you have to choose your guru carefully, making sure that he or she is available to you on a regular basis and respond to you promptly. If you cannot reach him or if he is inaccessible, you may have problems dealing with your difficulties on the path and you may not be able to seek the guidance when you need it most. If you think your guru can communicate with you supernaturally or clairvoyantly across the oceans and continents, first check your convictions with him before you delude yourself. It is also true that sometimes the gurus deliberately ignore their most sincere followers to teach them some lessons or remove the sense of dependency and attachment. Whatever may be the nature of your relationship with your guru, you must have unflinching faith in him


In line with the teachings of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, it is not for the love of a guru that a guru is dear but for the love of self in the guru that a guru is dear. We live in an uncertain world. Our lives are unpredictable. We have limited abilities in coping with the problems of our lives. So is the case with using our perceptions, knowledge, intelligence and discretion. We also live under many illusions about ourselves, others and the world in general. We do not know clearly what we know and what we can do. We are a mystery to ourselves and others. Under these circumstances it is prudent to seek the wisdom of gurus, who seem to have all answers to our problems and who can unravel the mysteries surrounding our existence. It is comforting to know that we have people amidst us who can provide us with some wisdom and direction in an uncertain world and watch our backs, while we are engaged in our daily battles. We should not misuse our connection with them for selfish or worldly reason. We should not try to seek their attention for egoistic satisfaction or drag them into our materialistic spiritualism. They are here to disentangle us from worldly activities and provide guidance to those who are serious about their liberation. If you are not serious about it, you should better do something else and be happy with your worldly pursuits. But if you are serious, you should better focus on their teachings rather on how you can get closer to them so that you can show off to the world how important you are or how spiritual you think you are. If you are not careful and if you are not serious, your ego will use the very spiritualism to pull you deeper and deeper into the worldly life under the pretext of spiritualizing your life and your actions. You may escape from the world, but to escape from your own delusions you need the guidance of a truly enlightened spiritual master in whose discernment there is a true reflection of God’s eternal wisdom.

Hinduism and Its Intellectual Appeal

Hinduism appeals to the educated minds because it offers them a lot of freedom to practice it. Many scientists and educated elite in India are devout Hindus. They are drawn to it, despite their rationality and scientific background, because they find in it a greater synthesis and integration of human aspirations with the highest of spiritual values. Hinduism offers them a lot of flexibility to pursue their faith according to their vision and understanding, without suffering from conflicts, guilt and fear. In the following discussion, we list a few strong reasons why many educated Hindus prefer following Hinduism in today’s world. They also explain why Hinduism is popular in many countries despite the fact that it has no central authority and no designated missionaries to spread its message.

1. In Hinduism you have a wider choice

Hinduism is not a dogmatic faith. It is well known that Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life. Hinduism is a name we have given to a number of independent faiths, philosophies, beliefs, and practices. Although for various historical reasons we have reduced and degraded Hinduism into a religion, until a few centuries ago there was never a religion called Hinduism in the history of the world. Every philosophy and religious tradition that originated in India formed part of a great exploration in which the scholars of Indian subcontinent participated in their quest for answers to the riddles of human existence. The same spirit of enquiry and freedom of choice prevails in Hinduism even today. In Hinduism, you can choose your path, beliefs and practices.

If you do not believe in God or if you want to follow your own spiritual path that does not recognize God, no one has the exclusive authority to sit in judgment and label you as a heretic or atheist. You may be still labeled, but they can do so only as individuals. As a Hindu, you do not have to believe in any particular religion or dogma, but choose what you want to believe and incorporate them into your way of life. You can choose both material and spiritual goals, and in pursuit of your chosen goals, you can practice your faith according to your inherent nature. You have the freedom because you are responsible for the consequences of whatever you do or choose. If you believe in rituals, you can practice rituals. If you are spiritual by nature, you can practice yoga and meditation and stabilize your mind. If you have distaste for worldly life, you can renounce the world and become a monk. Hinduism thus offers you a wider choice. You can pursue the path of knowledge, the path of action, the path of renunciation, the path of devotion, or a combination of some or all of them.

2. In Hinduism you are not oppressed by dogma

Hinduism recognizes the limitations of the human mind and intellect in understanding and affirming existential truths. As a Hindu, you have the freedom to explore truths on your own, or challenge those who claim to know them. You can discard the scriptures or choose whatever you like. The Vedas are considered the highest, but those who practice Tantra do not necessarily recognize them. Even among those who accept the Vedas, some follow the ritual portion of the Vedas and some the Upanishads. Many people also follow the particular teachings of their spiritual masters, whose knowledge may be derived from any number of sources, including those of the Buddhists and Jains. Debates and discussions have been part of the history of Hinduism. They are recognized in the tradition as the convenient and recognized means by which people may arrive at truths or question those with which they disagree. While different standards may be applied to validate truths, the authority to determine transcendental truths rests solely with those who experience them because transcendental truths cannot be validated objectively or intellectually, but only subjectively through personal experience. In other words, a statement does not become true because simply a spiritual teacher has said so. It becomes true only when you experience it. You may know about the truth from the scriptures, but at some point you must be able to experience it. Since Hinduism does not recognize any dogma as final, but only a set of principles, it does not have any founders, but many spiritual masters and enlightened beings, who have explored truth and left their experiences and observations in various scriptures as statements, hymns and verses. You do not even know some of their names, because they did not leave any record of them and did not feel the need to do so.

3. In Hinduism you can customize your faith and choose your path

As stated before, in Hinduism there are many paths to liberation. You can choose any of them, or if you want you can even customize your own faith based upon your preferences, inclinations, and convictions. You can mix the old and traditional beliefs with newer ones. You can combine one or more religions to create your own. Ultimately, it is your choice and your actions which determine your life and your future. Hindu scriptures affirm that a person’s faith is according to his or her inherent nature, which is determined by the triple gunas, past births and karma. The freedom comes with responsiblity. Whatever paths and methods you may choose, you will be responsible for their consequences. If you worship demigods or gods of lesser divinity, you will attain them. If you choose the highest God, you will attain Him. If you believe in the nonexistence of God, you will enter the non-Being. If you follow the demonic way of life and indulge in sins, you will fall into the darkest hells. You are thus the center of your universe. You can choose your faith or even invent one of your own, but you must take responsiblity for your choices. Your religion does not necessarily elevate you or ennoble you. It depends upon the purity of your faith, resolve and your actions. The scriptures may give you direction, but what you intend to do in life and what you do determine your destiny. This is the central theme of Hinduism.

4. In Hinduism you can attain the highest freedom

The highest goal or the goal of goals in Hinduism is achieving absolute freedom or moksha. In a simple sense, moksha means freedom from the limitations that life imposes upon you. For a human being, the world is like a prison. Everyone who enters it lives in chains, subject to birth and death, delusion, ignorance, sin, karma, and bondage. For a human being, who is endowed with knowledge, self-awareness, and intelligence, there is no better endeavor than to find an escape from this predicament. That escape is called liberation. Liberation does not have to be an earth shattering abstract experience. You can achieve it at various levels. In a practical sense, liberation means freedom from desire, want, fear, expectations, dependence, attachments, ignorance, delusions, relationships, pride, selfishness, egoism, individuality, religion, nationality, caste, race, ownership, etc. In the mortal world, true freedom is freedom from all these. You arrive at it by gradually severing all the bonds that you form with the world, by practicing detachment and renunciation. Hinduism teaches that freedom does not come by having but by becoming free from the compulsion to be anything or become anything. You have to unburden yourself, unwind yourself, and leave everything which holds you back or controls you.

Freedom from everything that binds you and bothers you is the ultimate freedom, which you can attain only by renouncing all your desires, attachments, and likes and dislikes. If you are anxious, guilty, sad, angry, afraid, or moved by any of the emotions, it means you are not free. It also includes freedom from the authority of institutions, dogma and society. The ultimate purpose of freedom is to enjoy life, not to shun it. As a liberated person you have the freedom to enjoy whatever life offers, even sexual pleasure, without preference and choice, and perform actions not for your personal enjoyment but as a representative of God upon earth. Whatever you do upon earth, is part of God’s creation and part of His eternal duty. If you acknowledge that you are His projection upon earth and your life is an extension of His own, you will be free from all the consequences of your actions and earn the right to live freely without any cares and anxieties.

Hinduism – Sex and Gurus

The purpose of this discussion is not to support the alleged sexual activities of any spiritual master, but to examine the sexual mores that are applicable to those who practice Hinduism and those who follow an ascetic path. It is important to remember that there is a big difference between Hinduism and Christianity as far as sex is concerned.

Both religions emphasize the importance of self-control and celibacy in religious practice. However, Hinduism does not condemn sexual acts as sinful except those that are deemed deviant or socially unacceptable such as incest, rape, adultery, and unnatural sex. In Hinduism, sex is divine. It is an obligatory duty because it is responsible for procreation and the orderly progression of creation. Without sex, there is no possibility of rebirth or liberation or continuation of God’s eternal duties.

As with other things in creation, sex is also of three types, sattvic, rajasic and tamasic. Of these sattvic sex is the best because it leads to pleasure and happiness and orderliness of society, without causing pain and suffering or breaching the social and religious norms. Sattvic sex is dutiful and moral and within the bounds of religious norms and obligatory duties; rajasic sex is selfish and lustful and motivated by egoistic considerations; and tamasic sex is coercive, lustful and painful, and against social norms.

Sex and householders

Hence, Hinduism rightly recognizes sexual pleasure (kama) as one of the chief aims of human life. However, as with other things, sex must fit into the overall scheme of an orderly and disciplined life that leads to liberation and upholding of dharma. In other words, one must indulge in sex in the larger interests of life and existence, as a part of one’s duty and obligation to God and his aims, not otherwise. While students are expected to practice celibacy until they are married, householders are allowed to indulge in sex both within marriage, and in some instances outside marriage also.

In Hinduism, polygamy was an accepted practice until modern times. Until the Hindu Marriage Act was passed, there was no law that prohibited Hindu men from doing so. Men were allowed to marry multiple women. They also enjoyed the freedom to indulge in sex with willing women outside their marriage such as the maids who worked in their households or those who provided sexual pleasures for money, power, love, protection, or some other reason.

However, sex with women who were under the protection of their fathers or other male members of their families was strictly prohibited. Women were sold and bought in some parts of ancient India. Most of the restrictions with regard to sexual norms as stipulated in the law books applied to women of higher castes. In case of others, local customs and practices and community norms determined their sexual freedom and moral or social obligation.

Prostitution was prevalent in ancient India, and pleasing desirable men through enticing acts was considered an art. Women of pleasure often enjoyed royal patronage. Some of them were employed for entertainment, pleasure or spying. Unmarried women who chose to live freely had the privilege to sleep with the men of their choice. The story of Jabala, the mother of Satyakama, is an example in this regard.

If a widow had no children, she had the permission from the law books to choose a brother or cousin of her deceased husband for procreation. If a couple had no children for long, law books gave permission to the couples to choose a suitable person to impregnate the wife. Hindu scriptures draw a clear distinction between sex and lust. While sex is divine, lust is one of the five chief evils (pancha mahapatakas), and those who succumb to it fall down to the lowest worlds.

Sex and Hindu gods

The gods of Hinduism are pleasure loving, while the goddesses are mostly chaste and pure. The Puranas depict most of the Hindu gods as libidinous and not immune to the charms of the opposite sex. They enjoy having sex with heavenly maidens and beautiful earthly women. According to the Vedas, the Puranas, and the Upanishads when a person departs from here to the immortal world, on his way thousands of maidens come forward with perfumes and garlands to greet him and entertain him. It is one of the passing pleasures of a pure soul that has attained liberation and ready to be anointed by the Lord Himself in the highest world.

Indra is as fickle as the human mind and susceptible to sexual desire. He is particularly jealous of anyone trying to practice celibacy or asceticism. If they progress far on the path, he would dispatch beautiful nymphs from heaven to entice them and disturb their austerities. Vedic gods such as Indra and Agni were often captivated by the beauty of earthly women, and even the wives of rishis. Indra ruined the reputation of many chaste women, such as Ahalya, by tempting them with his guiles and indulging in sexual conjugation with them. Among other gods, notable was Lord Krishna who had numerous wives and consorts. Even Shiva, an epitome of self-control and asceticism, fell for the beauty of Mohini, a manifestation of Lord Vishnu and legend has it that they had a child out of that engagement. Brahma, the creator god, was captivated by the beauty of Saraswathi, his own creation, and made her his consort.

Sex and Hindu ascetics

Celibacy is a central part of Hindu asceticism. Hindu ascetics are expected to shun sexual intercourse by all means as a part of their spiritual transformation. Brahmacharya is one of the chief restraints. However, it is not a universal norm, because sexual intercourse is permitted in certain Hindu traditions, such as Tantra, as a part of one’s spiritual practice to achieve liberation.

Most of our ancient seers, including the seven seers, were married. They had one or more wives and had children through them. They also often enjoyed sex with other women and celestial nymphs. The progenitor of Indian people, Bharata, was born from a relationship between sage Viswamitra and the heavenly beauty Menaka, who was sent by Indra to entice him and disturb his austerity.

Satyavati, wife of Santanu, had a son named Krsna Dvaipayana, also known as Vyasa, before her marriage. She bore him through sage Parasara, who saw her alone one day, when she was ferrying passengers across a river. She had a bad body odor. Sage Parasara promised to remove her bad odor, if only she would consent to sleep with him. Afraid that he would curse her if she refused, she agreed to satisfy his lust. As promised, Parasara removed her bad body odor. A son was also born to her from that union. When Vicitravirya, her second son through her husband, Santanu, died without children, sage Vyasa helped both the widows, to conceive sons and continue the Bharata race. He also slept with one of the servant girls sent by Satyavati, to whom Vidura was born. Even the Pandavas and Kauravas were born under strange circumstances outside marriage. In the Ramayana, we have the story of Bali forcibly taking away Tara, the wife of his brother Sugriva and keeping her in his palace. When Bali was killed by Lord Rama, she returned to her husband. In the same epic, we see Rama subjecting his wife who was in captivity until then to a fire test before accepting her chastity and purity. Later in the story, when a commoner doubted her chastity, he banished her to forests.

Sex in the Upanishads

There are few verses in the Chandogya and Brihadaranyaka Upanishads which are explicitly sexual in nature. They suggest how a man can make a woman agreeable for sexual intercourse for procreation, by performing certain rituals, and how force can be used if necessary to make the woman agree for the intercourse. They also suggest how a husband can harm the secret lover of his wife with the help of sacrificial rituals, invoking destructive powers. These Upanishads compare sexual intercourse to a sacrifice and the various organs used in the intercourse to the tools and materials used in the sacrifice.


From the above, it is clear that in Hinduism sex is not a taboo, while lust is. We may also draw the following conclusions.

1. In Hinduism sex is not considered sinful but divine and an essential part of creation and procreation. It facilitates continuity, preservation of family lineage, social order, rebirth and opportunity for the souls to work for their salvation.

2. Both men and women have the permission to indulge in sexual acts as a part of their obligatory duties, subject to the norms prescribed for them.

3. As a rule, students are not allowed to indulge in sexual intercourse or even the thought of it before the completion of their education.

4. Householders have the freedom to engage in sex within as well outside their marriage, as a part of their obligatory duties to maintain the order and regularity of the world.

5. As a rule ascetic people are not allowed to engage in sexual intercourse, except in tantric traditions. However, in some traditions, ascetic people and spiritual masters are allowed to marry and lead their lives as householders, without ignoring their spiritual duties. In exceptional circumstances they are also allowed to perform special services to help childless women procreate.

5. Hindu tradition acknowledges the vulnerability of the human mind to sexual passion. Ascetic people are human too. If ascetic people indulge in sexual acts out of lust, it dissipates their spiritual energy (ojas) and leads to their spiritual downfall. However, through austerities and spiritual practices, they can regain their lost power and spiritual purity.

It is important to remember in this discussion that Hinduism is a fluid religion. It is neither rigid nor dogmatic nor judgmental. The freedom that we enjoy in Hinduism is meant not to disregard the prevailing norms of society, but to cultivate tolerance and remain indifferent to the practices with which we may not agree. A spiritual guru may engage in sex or may not. Whether he is right or wrong depends upon what he preaches and practices. If he preaches celibacy but indulges in sexual acts clandestinely, you can consider him deceptive and avoid him. If he preaches tantra and advocates the use of sexual energy in self-transformation, he is well within his right to practice his tradition.

If you have fallen prey to a deceptive guru, please do not lose heart. You may consider it a part of your past karma, without losing faith in your spiritual aims. You are not responsible for your guru’s karma, unless you have aided and abetted or unless you go on blindly supporting him or her in the face of mounting evidence. If your own resolve and faith are strong and if you practice your spiritual goals sincerely, you do not have to worry much about the moral conduct of your spiritual guru or mentor. In spiritual life, it is not your guru’s knowledge and chastity, but your faith and resolve which matter most. Your guru can be a living person, a dead person or an image you hold in your mind as God. The image which you build in your mind of a guru and the thoughts you entertain about him create your reality, rather than the reality of the guru himself. Therefore, what is more important is how bring out your own inner Guru and Guide through your faith, in whatever image you may choose, and follow that ideal to reach your goal.

The Meaning of Nirvana

What is Nirvana?

To understand what Nirvana is or what Nirvana means, you should have some knowledge of eastern religions or philosophies, especially Sanatana Dharma, known as Hinduism, Buddha Dharma known as Buddhism, and Jain Dharma known as Jainism.

The word “Nirvana is commonly used in all the three religions to denotes the state of liberation, the end of suffering, in the mortal world. However, its interpretation and methods or paths or approaches to achieve it may vary according to the basic tenets of each.

Before we begin the discussion, let us look at the literal meaning of Nirvana, which is a Sanskrit word. Literally speaking, Nirvana means blowing out or putting out or extinguishing a lamp or fire. It was the tradition in ancient India to put out the domestic fires before one began the journey of renunciation and asceticism (sanyasa). It signaled the end of worldly life and the beginning of a life of renunciation, non-seeking and non-striving.

Nirvana also means extinction, the absolute and final extinction or annihilation of all desires, individuality and attachment. Nirvana was thus an appropriate word to described the existence of an ascetic who stopped cooking food, keeping fire and subsisted on what Nature provided as a discarded material, until he extinguished his body through slow starvation and, in the end, life itself.

In philosophical or spiritual terms, Nirvana signifies the end of such an austere effort. It refers to the state of non-existence, non-becoming and non-beingness resulting from the annihilation of beingness and individuality at the end of a long and arduous spiritual effort.

Everyone who is familiar with these three traditions, agrees that Nirvana is an indescribable state. So, whatever I am going to say will have exceptions and objections. Since, we can only speculate about Nirvana, and no one who enters into the state of Nirvana can really come back and tell us what it is, I would not find fault with those who speak differently about this state.

At the most fundamental and universal level, there are primarily two phenomena: existence and non-existence. They are also called real and unreal, the manifested and the unmanifested, beingness and non-beingness. These expressions are not the same, although fundamentally they refer to the same states of duality.

The three traditions, which I have named before, namely Sanatana Dharma, Buddha Dharma and Jain Dharma, view them differently because of their unique views on the nature of existence, creation, God and soul.

According to Buddhism, as the Buddha preached it originally in India, beings come into existence from nowhere, due to the aggregation of things and elements. No one creates them. They just happen to fall into place through a mysterious binding process and lo you have a phenomenal universe full of animate and inanimate objects. Thus existence, beingness, personality manifests from a state of emptiness (sunya) or non-existence or nothingness through a process of aggregations.

Once they come into existence, beings begin to desire for things and indulge in seeking and striving which results in further aggregation, accumulation, karma, bondage, delusion, births and deaths. Through desires beings are subjected to the process of becoming, being, change and further becoming.

Thus, beingness, desires, becoming, bondage, these are the states of existence. All these are impermanent states. Existence itself is impermanent. There is no soul, but a state of beingness which goes through birth and rebirths. This goes on, until the aggregates are dispersed through purification, detachment and renunciation. What happens at the end of this journey is returning to the state of non-becoming, non-beingness, non-existence or emptiness, which is Nirvana.

Thus existence is more or less like a bubble. Nirvana is the bursting of it. The bubble appears from nowhere and then disappears into nowhere. What you see in the middle is a mere drama, a mirage, a mere illusion, a temporary flux of seeking, striving and suffering.

According to Sanatana Dharma, Nirvana is a state of liberation, an indescribable, indestructible and eternal state of bliss.

The scriptures of Hinduism also speak about existence, non-existence, beingness and non-beingness, becoming and non-becoming. But their interpretation is different. They view these as the dualities of one eternal principle called Brahman, who is extolled in the Vedas as the highest, universal Supreme Self.

This Brahman, largely remains unmanifested. Then, a part of Him wakes up or comes into existence and become subject to becoming and being. The Vedas hint that this happens because of the stirring of a primal desire, the desire to be, to have, to become and to enjoy.

In other words, existence does not spring from emptiness or nothingness but from an eternal God who is both Being and Non-Being, Manifested and Unmanifested, Existence and Non-existence. He manifests Himself and the entire creation through aggregation of things and elements only and perpetuates them through desires, attachments, bondage, delusion, births and rebirths.

Thus, according to Sanatana Dharma, beingness and becoming happen by design and according to the will of Creator God. They come to an end only when the beings strive to overcome their desires and karma and achieve liberation.

Thus, in Hinduism, Nirvana signals the end of becoming and beingness and return to the pristine and eternal state of pure existence, characterized by non-becoming and non-beingness.

Jain Dharma also recognizes the dual states of existence, non-existence, beingness and non-beingness, becoming and non-becoming, but view the entire process in individual terms as the states of individual souls in varying states of bondage and liberation.

This is again because Jainism does not recognize a universal creator God, but only the eternal existence of individual souls, who during every cycle of creation become subject to desires, delusion, becoming and being, which results in their karma, bondage and the cycle of births and deaths. When beings manage to arrest these processes, through self-purification and intense austerities, they return to their original, pristine eternal state of aloneness and remain in the highest sphere of the universe as pure souls.

Thus, Nirvana in Jainism signifies the state of aloneness (kaivalya), awareness, liberation and purity.

Thus, we have three fundamental views of Nirvana.

1.       Nirvana – Emptiness, nothingness, a state of non-becoming and non-beingness.

2.       Nirvana – An eternal and independent state of non-becoming and non-beingness.

3.       Nirvana – An independent, lonely and liberated state of non-becoming and non-beingness.

The Buddha wanted his followers to experience Nirvana rather than debate and speculate about it. He largely remained silent about its nature. Therefore we do not know whether the state of Nirvana is also a state pure consciousness and all knowing awareness.

However, according to Hinduism and Jainism, the state of liberation is characterized by both these also, namely pure consciousness and all knowing awareness.

What is Your Notion of God?

There are two types of faiths, one that tells you in what you should believe, and the other in what you may believe. When you practice the faith of the first kind, there is little freedom and little value for any personal experience you may have that does not confirm to the doctrines of the faith. If you are bold enough to declare such experiences to others, you may be punished or excommunicated or declared a heretic or lunatic. History is the evidence that many people were tortured, killed, maimed, and silenced for their religious beliefs that seemed to threaten the stability of the establishment. Such faiths are mostly like the authoritarian regimes that severely restrict people’s freedom to express themselves and practice what they believe in.

Fortunately, Hinduism falls in the other kind. It offers you an abundance of knowledge and a diversity of choices, just as creation itself. You may worship God as an idol, consecrating the idol as his living incarnation (arca), or you may meditate upon him as the highest supreme Brahman, who is eternal, infinite, indestructible, and formless. You may envision him in any of the numerous manifestations that you find in creation, or in any of the divinities who are extolled in the scriptures as forms of God, and worship him as either a personal or an impersonal god. You may understand him as existent or nonexistent, indifferent, disinterested, detached, passive, witness, and non-interfering, or as an actively virulent, emotional, living deity who responds with love and compassion to the calls of his devotees.

Just as there are numerous solutions to any problem and numerous paths to the same destination, in Hinduism there are many paths and approaches to God and liberation. If you have traveled on a path in your previous lives, you do not have to start all over again, but can continue from where you left. If you find a path difficult, you may choose a new one again. You may wonder why anyone should have such a wide choice. It is because diversity is the central feature of all existence, and all individuals are not the same because of the play of the gunas. Hence, the problem of their liberation which is part of this existence and part of this diversity, cannot be resolved by just one approach. It has to be as diverse as the beings and as existence itself.

The illusion of God

While Hinduism offers you a lot of freedom to know God or pursue your liberation according to your faith, it can also potentially create confusion and indecision in your mind. It is especially true if your faith is weak or your knowledge is superficial. Many Hindus are lay followers and do not know much about their faith. Without right knowledge, they may wonder what to believe and what not to believe, whom to worship and how to avoid making mistakes.

Since the world is an illusion, our notions of God are also part of the illusion only. We are not expected to possess right knowledge, but remain deluded and ignorant to facilitate the normal continuance of life. From Nature’s perspective, liberation is an aberration, same like a prisoner trying to jump the walls and escape.

Therefore, it is difficult to overcome our ignorance and delusion to cultivate right attitude to the knowledge of God or to the possibility of liberation. The following guidelines are meant to help them to clear their minds and find some direction.

1. No one who is currently living on earth has ever seen God. If they tell you that they have seen him, know that they are either delusional or dishonest. God cannot be seen, because he is the seer, the one who sees. In a world of duality, both the subject and the object cannot be the same at the same time. You may see a vision of him, a form of him, or an illusion of him, but not him.

2. God is indefinable and indescribable. Hence, if anyone says that this and this alone is God, know again that the person is either delusional, dishonest, ignorant, or plain wrong.

3. If you believe that God and his creation are distinct, you will never be able to experience him As long as you perceive him through your mind and senses, with the duality of subject and object, you will remain separated from him. On the other hand, if you believe that God and his creation are the same, you will have an opportunity to feel his presence around you and within you.

4. For the mind, God is a concept, an idea, a philosophy, or a notion. Since they are products of your mind and since your mind cannot grasp the truths that are beyond its reach, for you they will remain the illusions of your mind. Since, the world we create upon earth is also an expression of the same mind, the same holds true for all who live here upon earth. Their notions of God are either borrowed, false, delusional, wrong, incomplete, imperfect, or incorrect.

5. Intellectually, your God is your creation. It may have no correlation to the reality of God in an absolute state. Your knowledge and understanding of God are relative to your knowledge, reason, mental development, maturity, desires, interests and expectations. The same holds true for every individual. In other words, you should be open-minded, tolerant and humble about your faith.

6. God is like any of the five elements that we know, namely the earth, water, fire, air, and ether, except that he has a will. He becomes what you want him to become, and assumes any shape and form that you intend to give him. If you think that God does not exist, he will not exist for you. If you think that he exists everywhere, he exists everywhere for you. If you think he exists only in the heaven, for you he will exist only in heaven, and you may not find him at all upon earth.

This may look confusing, but let us take the example of water. One person may see water in a pot and argue that water has the form of the pot. Another person may put it in a glass and argue that the water is of the form of the glass. One may add salt to the water and argue that water is salty, and another may add sugar and say that it is sweet. Such contradictions happen when people do not look at the water (essence) but at the form that holds it. In this analogy, the pot, the glass, the salt, and the sugar are the illusions (forms) that humans create about the reality of God (water) and consider them true. In truth, it is what we do with regard to our notions of God. We focus upon the names and forms or the outer aspects and ignore the essence that is hidden beneath them.

The truth regarding God

What does this mean? It means that you should have an open mind about God and begin with what you have, in what you believe or disbelieve, without being dogmatic, fanatical, or definitive. Just as the great Buddha did centuries ago, do not try to define God for the whole world, and do not argue with others about your notions of God. Let people practice their faith in their individual ways and believe in whatever God they choose to believe.

As far as you are concerned, begin with what comes to you naturally, as a starting point, and remain open and flexible. If you want to see him in a statue and worship, you may do so. If you want to see him in the infinite universe as a formless, infinite God, you have the freedom to do it. However, it does not give you the right to denigrate those who may see him in a tree, river, mountain, plant, or symbol

In all these cases, God is the essence of all things. He becomes whatever his devotees want. For them he becomes their thoughts and plays along according to their illusions and expectations. If you love anyone unconditionally, you will do the same. God molds himself according to your beliefs. He will not enter your mind or your life, if you shut your mind and heart and do not let him in. He will not enter your heart until you empty your mind of all desires for other things. You can also open your heart with abundant love and let him in. In both cases, you choose how you want God to be part of your life and consciousness.

The rewards of unconditional love

Do you know who the most endearing person in the world is? It is the one who gets along with everyone. The endearing person is gentle, humble, open, and unassuming. He just fits in. If you serve him food, he will eat. He will not complain that the food is cold or you served him non-vegetarian food. He will eat whatever you serve him. He will not demand a bed but sleep where you ask him to sleep. If you ask him to get out, he will go out and wait outside at the entrance of your house. If you ask him to come in, he will come in. If you starve him, he will remain hungry, but will not curse or complain. In fact it is how the monks and the ascetics are explected to live. They are supposed to emulate God upon earth and be like him so that they earn a right to enter his world.

God is the most endearing person you will ever find in the depths of your own heart and in the highest vision to which you can reach. God just fits into your vision and prayers. It is what it means when we read that God is formless, indefinable and indescribable. He is formless so that you can give him a form of your own, he is indefinable so that you can define him according to your knowledge and understanding, and he is indescribable so that you can relate to him by your own descriptions.

As the pervading spirit of all, God fits in into every form, shape, process, and condition, without choice, preference or condition. He complements, completes, perfects, improves, joins, or disappears according to your wish to complete your equation of a relationship or your vision of life or reality. If you understand this profound truth, your doubts regarding God will disappear, and your mind will settle in the faith that you practice. If a father has five children, they love him in different ways. One or two may even hate him and wish he were dead or gone forever. As the Creator of all, God has numerous children. Some love him and some hate him, while he does not have expectations from them. Instead out of his abundant love, he becomes what they want him to become.

This is the reality. God becomes the reality that you wish to see in your life. All life that happens to you is God happening to you. God is you and your creation in the mirror of existence. You may mistake it for reality, but know that someday you have to break that mirror of illusion to find a different truth that is not presently known or visible. By birth and by nature, human beings are given a tunnel vision. They cannot see much through the tunnel like senses. To see things as they are, you have to open them wide, or completely silence them to go even beyond.

These are individual differences that no one can resolve. You have to take personal responsibility for your life and relate to the God of your highest vision. You have even the permission to be him in all states of your consciousness. Therefore, let him become the forms when you see him with your eyes, and let him become the sounds when you listen to him with your ears. Let him become the words when you recite a sacred scripture, or transform into your devotion when you feel him in your heart. In the silence of your heart, when you transcend your mind and senses, let him become your very essence. Since he is unconditional in his love and expression, let him fit into your vision according to your dreams, hopes and expectations, rather than allowing yourself to suffer from doubt and guilt.

Three Myths about Hinduism

The construction of Hinduism

Today, we have many myths about Hinduism. Some of them are positive and some negative. In this essay we will confine our discussion to just three well known ones that are currently associated with Hinduism. They are stated below.

1.       Tolerance: Hinduism is a tolerant religion, and Hindus are tolerant people.

2.       Vegetarianism: Hindus prefer vegetarian food.

3.       Nonviolence: Hinduism is a nonviolent religion, and Hindus are nonviolent and peace loving.

There are many educated and good intending Hindus who hold these views and believe them to be true. There is some truth in them, but they are not entirely true. History is the proof that human beings can create beautiful myths and incorporate them into their racial memory. They can invent an idea and then find enough evidence to uphold it. When evidence is lacking they can bring their beliefs into play and confuse them for facts. Alternatively, if necessary, they can oppose the same ideas with contrary evidence.

Imagination played a great role in the progress of our civilization. Our inventive nature arises mostly from our ability to imagine and weave false narratives seamlessly into the fabric of our memories. We have a wonderful ability to embellish our experiences and perceptions with imagination, exaggeration and even fantasy. We can create wonderful illusions, destroying or distorting truths, in which heroes may become villains, untruth may become truth, and vice versa. People show these attitudes not only in speculative subjects like philosophy and metaphysics but also even in science. There are as many scientific hoaxes in human history as there are in religions, if not more. Human history is largely a history of made up heroes, false prophets, and distorted narratives. It represents but a minute and insignificant portion of what might have actually happened. It is not the history of the masses, but the history of selected classes, themes, events and people who forced their way into our collective memory.

In truth, Hinduism is neither exclusively peace loving and tolerant nor exclusively violent and intolerant. The truth lies somewhere in between. In Hindu community, you all find kinds of people, as anywhere else. You have both religious and irreligious people. You will find morally righteous ones, and highly corrupt and evil ones. You will find Hindus who want to transcend religious divisions, and some who are so angry that they want to show no compassion to anyone who is opposed to the tradition. They even attack good natured Hindus who disagree with them. None of these categories truly represent Hinduism or the community. In Hinduism itself you can find striking contradictions. The Bhagavadgita is a spiritual discourse about duty and liberation which was delivered in the middle of a battlefield. If Hindu asceticism is all about cultivating virtues such as non-violence and truthfulness, most of the deities who are worshipped in Hinduism, including the female deities, act more like guardians of the world. They carry weapons and do not hesitate to destroy evil people even if they are their devotees. While celibacy is an important virtue for students and ascetics alike, in tantric rituals sexual intercourse is used for spiritual practice.


Hinduism is an inclusive religion, and compared to dogmatic religions it is much more open, tolerant and less aggressive. However, it is not true that Hindus always practice religious tolerance. Before the advent of Islam into India, Hinduism coexisted with Jainism and Buddhism for a long time. Literary evidence suggests that their relationship was not entirely without animosity and intolerance. Hinduism suffered from many internal conflicts due to the intolerance of one class of people against another. For example, the Shaivas were as opposed to Vaishnavas and Shaktas as they were opposed to Buddhists and Jains. The priestly class showed even greater intolerance towards the lower castes, whom they equated with cattle. It was perhaps the worst case of intolerance in human history because the Brahmanas were not even inclined to allow the lower castes to touch their shadows, much less visit their homes or share their food

Hinduism earned the reputation of being a tolerant and all inclusive religion only in recent times, due to the teachings of its spiritual masters and their increasing emphasis upon the practice of yoga and spirituality. The development was not by accident but due to an increasing awareness of its deeper values and the need for a change in the direction of Hinduism so that it can thrive in a world of plurality and diversity. For devout Hindus, who are spiritually inclined, tolerance is an expression of its central theme, which is absolute and total liberation of the beings from all conditioning, enslavement and attachments. The idea of liberation implies total and absolute freedom from all external authority. It also means freedom from likes and dislikes and emotions such as anger, fear and intolerance. Since God does not control anyone’s destiny, each has to work for his or her liberation by cultivating purity and practicing virtue. Therefore, in deference to the teachings of the scriptures, the more educated and serious practitioners of Hinduism exemplify harmony and religious amity and do not harbor any resentment or negativity in their minds towards other communities.


There is no exaggeration in saying that Hindus’ preference for vegetarian food is rather exaggerated in the west. It is not clear how this idea gained ground. It is also probably due to the teachings of the spiritual gurus like Swami Vivekananda, Mahesh Yogi and others who became popular in the USA and Europe and who encouraged eating of sattvic food for spiritual transformation and cleansing of the mind and body. There is no evidence that historically Hindus preferred only vegetarian food. It was true only in case of certain classes of people who were traditionally prohibited from eating meat and indulging in violence. Since the earliest times, non-vegetarian food was allowed in Hinduism and most people ate meat. There are references to meat eating even in the Upanishads. In some tantric rituals, meat is offered to the deities as an offering, and later consumed. The Hindu law books allowed eating of certain types of meat.

Even now, a majority of Hindus eat meat regularly. They may voluntarily abstain from it either completely or partially for any reason, but tradition does not restrict them or censure them if they do not. The restriction applied mainly to beef eating which was completely prohibited. Unlike in the USA, meat is very expensive in India. Hence, poor people simply cannot afford to buy and eat meat, but if they have money they will buy it. Meat is sold publicly in open markets, and served in numerous restaurants all over the country. As in case of tolerance, vegetarianism is also a recent development among the general public. It is fast catching up even among those castes that were traditionally allowed to eat meat, mainly due to the increasing influence of yoga, spirituality, religious awareness, and love for animals.


There is also little evidence to suggest that the Hindu kings practiced nonviolence, or lacked ambition and drive to fight due to their preference for nonviolence, or were dragged into wars against their will. Most of the wars they fought were initiated by them to settle scores or extend their rule. So compelling was their ambition that some of them even crossed the seas and established kingdoms in the far east. Indian kings led large campaigns that lasted for months and years, and marched thousands of miles in extreme conditions to establish their sway. Chandragupta Maurya, Bimbisara, Ashoka, Pushyamitra Sunga, Chandra Gupta, Harshavardhana, Pulakesi, Rajaraja Chola, Srikrishna Devaraya, and Shivaji were great warriors, and second to none in their military strategy, valor, or leadership in the history of the world. They were deeply religious and even peace loving, but were practical enough to wage wars for their political ends.

Hinduism emerged through many phases and challenges in its long history of nearly 7000 years which spanned over 500-600 generations. In those millenniums it witnessed numerous wars. While the scholars and monks indulged in debates, discussions and exploration of existential truths, kings and warriors indulged in most gruesome wars and violence, and showed little remorse towards their enemies. Those who study Indian history know that some of the bloodiest battles in the history of mankind were fought on Indian soil and the Indian warriors personified valor and courage in the face of imminent death.

Hindu armies marched into the battlefields as if they were death squads or as if they were personification of the god of Death himself. , unafraid of death and unwilling to surrender. Alexander had a bloody taste of that. So did many who tried to invade the country. Even the Buddha was unable to completely prevent wars and bloodshed during his time. The British were able to rule India because of the valor and loyalty of Indian soldiers only. Non-violence as a virtue and moral principle in public life gained ground during India’s struggle for independence, largely due to the campaign started by Mahatma Gandhi. Although he used non-violence most non-traditionally for political ends, people understood its importance because non-violence was considered the highest virtue in the ascetic and spiritual practices of Hinduism. Spiritually, it is regarded as the virtue of virtues. The idea has a great appeal to most educated Hindus. As people increasingly turn to spirituality and yoga, it is bound to gain further acceptance. As of now, it is practiced only in a limited sense by common people. Most villages in India are ridden with faction violence between rival gangs. Until we see a radical change in society and people’s attitude towards violence, we cannot claim that nonviolence is a way of life among presentday Hindus.

Self-knowledge, Difficulties in Knowing Yourself

One cannot describe or give to another the fullness of an experience. Each one must live it for himself. (Jiddu Krishnamurthy – ALPINO, ITALY 1ST PUBLIC TALK 1ST JULY, 1933)

Do you have an experience which is not recognized? Do you understand what it means? Because that is after all God, that is the Truth, that is the Eternal or what you will. The moment you have a measure with which to measure, that is not Truth. Our Gods are measurable; we know them previously. Our scriptures, our friends and our religious teachers have so conditioned us that we know what every thing is. All that we are doing is merely this process of recognition. (Jiddu Krishnamurthy, MADRAS 1ST PUBLIC TALK 5TH JANUARY 1952)

One of the most distinguishing features of Hinduism, which is as ancient as the Vedas, is its emphasis upon the quest for self-knowledge as the means to mental and spiritual liberation. Liberation of the mind from its duality, habitual behavior and mental chains is the means by which one can gain true knowledge, mental clarity, peace, stability, and clear perception. Modern psychology also prescribes a similar approach to free our minds from cognitive distortions and perceptual errors.

The basis of true knowledge

The Upanishadic seers of Vedic India believed that true knowledge of the Self, and for that matter true knowledge of anything could be gained only when the mind was free from the illusions, distractions, and delusions to which it was subject. Any experience, in which the subject remained fully immersed in the object without any duality, produced the transcendental state of direct awareness, complete experience and true understanding. In this regard they came out with some startling revelations which are listed below.

1. Direct experience (pratyaksha) is the basis of true knowledge.

2. True experience means either you enter the essential state of the object or become one with it.

3. The quality of your knowledge depends upon the quality of your experience. If your experience is complete without duality, your knowledge will be complete.

4. To gain complete knowledge of anything, you must embrace the dualities to which it is subject. It means you must overcome your preferences, likes and dislikes, and cultivate sameness towards whole existence. You must be ready to merge with anything, associate with anything and enter anything. It is the perfect state of sanyasa (renunciation).

5. You are limited in your knowledge and awareness to the extent you avoid or attract the dualities of life, propelled by your desires and preferences. For example if you have never visited the house of a poor person because you dislike poor people, you will never directly know what a life of poverty means.

6. In your quest for true knowledge your mind and senses are the major obstacles. When you use them to know the world, you will not have a direct experience of the reality of things, but the reality which they construct for you according to their own nature. It will be almost like formulating opinions about nations and people purely based upon what you see in movies or hear from others.

True experience means to become fully absorbed in the experience

The Vedic seers were clear in their fundamentals. Direct experience (pratyaksha) is the best means to arrive at the truth of anything. To know anything you must either become it, unite with it, enter it, or experience it without any duality. For example, if you want to know true suffering, you must experience it in its totality and become immersed in it. If you avoid it or suppress it you may escape from it, but you will not know what suffering truly means and what role it plays in your life. The same is true for any emotion or reality, including sexual pleasure. You must surrender to the object of knowing, and experientially become one with it. Otherwise, your knowledge will be a mere accumulation of notions and beliefs rather than truths.

When you unconditionally embrace the different experiences and phenomena that life introduces to you, there is the risk of you becoming disturbed and distracted by them. Hence, it is essential to practice austerities and learn to control your mind and body. With your senses and mind firmly under your control, renouncing all likes and dislikes, you must embrace the world unconditionally in its totality to let it teach you the ultimate knowledge hidden in the diversity of creation and show the essence of things.

Throughout the history of Hinduism, such fundamentals to ascertain the ultimate truth and essence of things remained constant. Hindu yogis and spiritual masters are not merely interested in exploring truth as an investigative or experimental process to formulate a mental construct or scratch the surface of things. They experiment with their own minds and bodies and with different emotional states within themselves to experience the phenomena of life and develop immunity from them. They go deeper into the diversity of life to experience their essence, which is Brahman, the Universal Self. Their goal is to embrace life in its totality, without preference or choice and let it show them the truth that is hidden in all manifestation.

Overcoming duality is the key to true knowledge

A major obstacle to know anything is the duality of the knower and the known. Because of that you perceive things as if they are separate and distant from you. The duality arises because your mind stands between you and the field of your observation. Your senses, mind, ego and other limitations create that separation, which interfere with your experience of things. As a result, you develop a distorted and a limited view of the world. For example, to understand a person you must be in harmony with that person. You must empathize with him or her and feel the feelings and emotions. Otherwise, your knowledge of that person remains incomplete, notional, assumptive, and imperfect. The incomplete knowledge that you gain in the process may help you deal with the person, but it does not set you free from ignorance and the delusions of your mind.

The Upanishads clearly recognize the mind as a major obstacle to our knowledge and direct experience. Hence, they show a clear disdain and distrust for any knowledge that purely arises from the activity of the mind and senses and remains confined to the field of memory and the framework of intellect. You may depend upon them to make sense of the world. However, since they are influenced by desires and susceptible to modifications, any experience they create in your mind remains colored by their preferences and perceptions.

In the silence of the mind truths becomes self-evident

Therefore, to know any truth, you must silence your mind and senses and remove the dualities that stand between you and the object of your perception. You must become like a seer who sees truth of things in the total silence of his mind and body. In that complete silence, everything that appears in the field of his vision shines in its own bright light. For an ordinary person, it is a huge challenge because you cannot easily create that silence in you and establish choiceless awareness without undergoing years of transformative effort. Hence, most people remain on the surface of the things they experience and know little about themselves or the world.

At the mental level, every experience is a mental construct. It does not necessarily correlate with the actual event or stimulus that triggers it. When you perceive an object, you construct a replica of it in your mind based upon what you thought happened rather than what happened. The disparity between the two results in many distortions in your thinking and understanding. The Upanishads offer a way out of this predicament. They suggest the imperative to rise above the dualities and mental constructs of the mind to accomplish the almost impossible task of becoming both the object and the subject, the knower and the known, and the seer and the seen. In that experience, you remove the barriers that stand between you and your experience itself. With all the formations of your mind in rest, you become an adept in the effortless seeing of the Seer without the interference of your mind, senses and their modifications. You become absorbed in that seeing, as a passive witness without becoming involved with it.

In conclusion, we may say that for the totality of any experience, you must rise above the dualities, stop of all mental modifications, silence your senses, mind, and ego, and see the truth in front of you, without casting upon it your shadow of thoughts, beliefs and perceptions. You must experience truths and objects without being disturbed by them or attracted to them. Each time you look at yourself or at the diversity of life, you must bring freshness into your perception and emptiness into your mind. Only then, your self-knowledge will be illuminated by its own truth rather than the truth that your mind and perceptual world build for you.

In the history of mankind only a few people achieved such distinction. The most recent example is Jiddu Krishnamurthy. His approach was the closest to what the Upanishads suggest. His teachings affirm the need to break free from the constructs of the mind and the authority of institutions, religions and self-induced beliefs.

Solving the Hindu Caste System

Hinduism teaches universal brotherhood. It recognizes all existence as the sacred manifestation of God and all beings, including animals, as the embodiment of God Himself. Yet, followers of the same religion, even the most educated ones, even those who live abroad, habitually practice caste system. Their words may not betray their caste loyalties, but their actions, decisions and choices certainly show how much pride they have for their castes and how attached they are to their castes and caste distinctions.

A keen observer of human behavior will notice instantly how pervasive caste system is in Hindu society and how closely it shapes the destiny of each individual. In politics, sports , and almost in every profession and institution, you can trace the influence of caste system. Even educational institutions are not free from this malady. Teachers and students alike align themselves into caste based groups and indulge in campus politics.

Undoubtedly, caste system is one of the weakest aspects of Hinduism, if not the weakest. In terms of the damage it causes to the foundation of Hinduism and its future prospects, it is perhaps the worst of the ills plaguing the tradition. Caste system divides the community into groups and subgroups and puts them against one another. It weakens their resolve for unity and solidarity and to stand united against common causes. It allows vested interests to take advantage of them by appealing to their baser emotions and keeping them divided and distracted. It creates social and economic disparities among people based not upon individual merits and demerits but upon the castes to which they belong. Caste system was originally meant to facilitate division of labor and ensure the order and regularity of society. It became an evil practice when it degenerated into a birth based caste system which ensured privileges for a few and suffering for a vast majority.

The caste system was largely responsible for the subjugation of the Indian subcontinent by foreign invaders as the native armies were formed based upon castes rather than the valor and strength of the individuals. In the past, as now, the system excluded a vast majority of people from socioeconomic sphere and relegated them to an inferior status . Even today, if Indian society is largely divided and is in disarray, it is because caste system still rules the minds of people. We may even trace many social evils like dowry system, conversions and gender bias to castes and caste based discrimination.

The caste system is the largest threat to Hinduism. If there is one factor that can destabilize Hinduism and destroy its foundation, it would be caste system. Since the earliest times, caste system drove many people into desperation and prompted them to convert to other religions. It happened during the time of the Buddha. Then in medieval India. Then in British India. And it continues to be responsible for the conversion of many Hindus to other religions.

It is true that in many villages of India, lower castes are still not allowed to enter the local temples and worship the gods. As a result, many villages in the country now have predominantly Christian population and more churches than temples. Some overzealous Hindus blame the missionaries for the conversions, but ignore their own complicity. How can we blame anyone, if we collectively allow the caste system to perpetuate social and religious inequalities and injustices? For a brief time, put yourself in the place of a person who belongs to a deprived caste and think what justification any one can have to practice a religion that does not make one feel good about oneself.

As Hindus, we take pride in our ancient religion. We proudly proclaim it as Sanatana Dharma, the eternal religion. But what about those, whose pride and self-esteem it takes away because they belong to a lower caste? If we love our religion, if we want it to flourish and continue, we must not allow caste discrimination to continue any further. It is important to know that caste system, as such, is not the problem, but caste discrimination is. We may allow the castes to prevail, but not the discrimination.

To appreciate the value of human birth and the equality of all beings, which is actually the foremost ideal of Hinduism, we do not have to look far. We have ample examples and illustrations within our own religion. We have many sects in our own religion that detest caste system and preach social equality and the sanctity of life itself. Many saints and seers in the past fought against caste system and preached universal love, tolerance and compassion towards one and all.

In this regard, Saivism stands out prominently as a tradition that opposes casted based discrimination. Saivism is undoubtedly the most ancient sect of Hinduism. Probably, it is even more ancient than the Vedic tradition itself. From the earliest times, the followers of Lord Siva refused to acknowledge caste discrimination. They preached against empty ritualism, pretentious worship and caste based privileges for a few. They emphasized the importance of inner purity, social equality and equality of all beings. Lord Siva Himself embodied within Him all that the Vedic religion detested as impure, unclean and irreligious. He encouraged His devotees to follow unconventional methods of religious worship and spiritual practice. Even now, the temples of Siva do not follow caste based restrictions. Anyone can walk into a Siva temple, make offerings of water and milk and worship the deity directly, even without the intervention of a priest.

We should draw inspiration from Saivism, the teachings of Saiva saints and the scriptures of Saivism, to deal with the problem of caste system. We should build more temples for Lord Siva in the villages and encourage people from all castes to come and worship Him according to their convenience with or without the aid of priests. We must also encourage people from all castes to act as priests in those temples. Only then we can stop the bleeding that is presently going on in Hindu society.

The Future of Hinduism

Hinduism is the name we have given collectively to a group of religious traditions that originated and developed in the Indian subcontinent for the last 6000 years or so. The most dominant of these traditions are Saivism, Vaishnavisim, Shaktism, Vedism, Tantricism, and several ascetic and folk traditions, which are now part of Hinduism and whose identity is difficult to establish separately. In addition to these, several schools of philosophy became part of Hindu tradition, the most popular of them being Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshkia, Mimansa and Vedanta, which are presently designated as the Darshanas or view points.

It is a fact that in the west many books and educational programs on world philosophy ignore these six schools of Indian philosophy and focus more on Greek philosophies, which is an unfortunate trend, because by not knowing about them, the western world has been overlooking a vital link in the development of human knowledge and religious thought. This is not because these schools have any demerits compared to the Greek philosophies, but because they are rooted in Hindu religion and to teach them one has to include the basic concepts of Hinduism in the academic curriculum.

For many academicians in the western world, doing so is worse than teaching evolution. In a world dominated mostly by Christian institutions and funded by Christians, it would require immense courage on the part of academicians to rewrite their books of philosophy and glorify the so called pagan religions, without incurring the displeasure of the conservative people, who want their children to be brought up only on Christian values.

To suppress all forms of opposition, either by force or by condemnation has been the way of the western eclectic world, since earlier times. Since the earliest times, the Church has rarely been kind to any notion of insubordination or heresy. It happened in the Roman period to Gnostics and others who opposed the distortion of original Christian teachings or deviated from the official version approved by the Roman authority. It happened again in the medieval period to the so called witches and scientific thinkers, who were burnt on the stakes, on the grounds of religious blasphemy; and it has been happening right now, in a more civilized way, to philosophies that are based on religions like Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, and scientific research and theories like evolution that seem to challenge the Biblical notions of creation. Of these six schools only one, Yoga, has become popular in the western world, unfortunately, not as an aspect of Hinduism or Buddhism or the means to achieve self-control and self-realization, but as a set of mere physical and mental exercises to enhance one’s well being and energies, devoid of its true philosophy, intent and purpose.


Hinduism is the oldest surviving religion, currently followed by over a billion people in the world, with a universal appeal that is too difficult to ignore. To understand the future of Hinduism, we have to understand its strengths and weaknesses and identify the threats and opportunities to which it is exposed. Such a study would help us understand what forces are at work and how Hinduism can meet various challenges in order to survive and continue. Its chief strengths are:

1. It is a very flexible, assimilative and adaptive religion, with a broader outlook and many divergent traditions. It is not dogmatic, because it is not based on a particular set of teachings, scriptures or a founder. Its flexibility gives it the special ability to adapts itself to the changing times, without losing its vitality, core values or focus. Hinduism acknowledges that the world is unstable, human mind is fickle, our beliefs and circumstances can change, but Truth is permanent and unchangeable, and it is this Truth it encourages its followers to seek by whatever means they consider appropriate.

2. There is no centralized authority in Hinduism. So any one can be a Hindu, without the need for approval from any one. There are no compulsions to observe any code of conduct, as long as one can find their basis in some scripture, school of thought or the teachings of a guru, saint or seer. One can be even an atheist and still a Hindu.

3. It is not opposed to scientific exploration nor the technological progress of mankind as long as such an activity is not an end by itself, but part of our divine centered search for Truth. It has the ability and flexibility to align itself to both science and spiritualism as two different tools of knowledge.

4. There are many layers within Hinduism. It has something for every one and every strata of society and offers a broad spectrum of solutions to the problems of human life. From the most ignorant to the most knowledgeable, every one can find solace in Hinduism through ever lasting solutions to their existential, spiritual and personal problems.

5. Hinduism is a peaceful and tolerant religion. Because it is a composite religion, it has no issues with dogmatic religions which are based on the teachings of a founder or prophet. Its broader religious and philosophical base allows it to find parallels within other religions and coexist with them without feeling threatened or the compulsion to establish its superiority. Hindus are perhaps the only people in the world who have never launched an aggression on other nations on religious grounds. And Hinduism is perhaps the only religion in the world that survived over 700 years of Islamic oppression and 400 years of Christian propaganda.


Because Hinduism has been an organic religion, which evolved in all directions without proper regulation and assimilated divergent traditions, beliefs and practices, it has both the best and the worst elements. It is wrong to believe and accept that everything that is part of Hindu Dharma is inviolable and unquestionable. To do so would tantamount to fanaticism and dogmatism, neither of which have a place in Hinduism. If Hinduism has to survive and continue as a world religion, it is the duty of every Hindu to recognize its weaknesses and address them sincerely so that we can preserve and protect its vitality and ensure its future. Its main weaknesses are:

1. Hinduism is caste based. Castes in Hinduism are part of Vedic tradition, which is but one aspect of Hinduism. There are other traditions in Hinduism, which do not acknowledge castes. The castes might have served their purpose in ancient India. But today it is one of the chief weaknesses of Hinduism. Birth based caste system is responsible for disunity and discontentment within Hindu society and exodus of many people to other religions. It is also a great hindrance in assimilating many people from other parts of the world, who want to be part of Hindu society.

2. Besides caste, there are many other divisive forces at work within Hindu society, such as region, language, sects, gurus and even color and race. They keep the society divided, weak and vulnerable. This division runs so deep that even those who migrate to other countries or who have been living there for decades, form caste based, region based or language based associations and try to keep their caste and linguistic identities intact.

2. Hindu dharmashastras or law books have a particular bias against women and their role in family and society. Currently Hindu women are subject to many social and religious disabilities.

3. If absence of a centralized authority enables Hindus to practice their religion with greater freedom, it also make a vast majority of them irreligious, irresponsible and vulnerable to decadent ideas and practices. The most unfortunate part is many are not serious about their religion, have little understanding of traditions or scriptures and hold on to erroneous ideas and beliefs. Justification of violence, vulgarity in films, unbridled materialism, lack of sincerity and personal integrity are some of the dominant features of Hindu society in India today.

When children notice inconsistency in the religious attitude and moral behavior of their parents, they would not develop respect or admiration for the religion in which they are born or the morality it upholds. If parents are ignorant of their religion, they cannot make their children religious. They easily take to western ways and ignore their own traditions as empty rituals bereft of merit or distinction.

4. Diversity of Hinduism is both a strength and weakness. It creates a lot of confusion in the minds of people, as to which path to follow, whom to worship and what to practice. We have many scriptures and teachings of countless gurus and traditions and do not know what to study and what to ignore. A vast majority of Hindus therefore practice popular religion because it is easier to do. They go to temples, follow a religious guru or his or her teachings, do some pooja at home, believe in some practices and superstitions, but are hardly well versed in our scriptures, traditions and practices. So there is a great disconnect between what they practice and what they should ideally do.

5. Decay of traditional institutions. While Hinduism does not have a centralized authority to regulate its affairs, over these centuries it survived on the strength of some of its traditional institutions, recognized in Hinduism as the upholders of Dharma. These are the institutions of family, gurus or spiritual teachers and king or the political authority.

These institutions are now in grave danger and unless we find some effective remedies, Hinduism will be a thing of the past. Hindu families used to be joint families, in which children had a great opportunity to learn about their religion, religious practices and family occupation from their elders. Through the practice of dharma, parents used to serve as the role models for their children. The Hindu family as a social unit underwent a great transformation in recent times. Joint family system is almost extinct. In the family structure that we have now, parents are no more performing their obligatory duty as the role models of dharma for their children.

They are too busy to worry about the religious knowledge of their children or the values religion can teach them. They believe that it is the responsibility of the education system, which is in itself defective and narrow in its scope and function. Financial solvency not individual salvation is the current mantra of many Hindu parents. Their main concern is how to educate their sons successfully so that they would get a good job and lots of dowry and how to get rid of their daughters as early as possible with as little dowry by finding a suitable match!. No wonder, when they reach these goals, most of them remain neglected by their children and live unhappily.

The institution of religious teachers is also on the wane, with so many dubious characters, claiming themselves as enlightened beings, or confining their teachings to particular sampradayas or some mumbo jumbo yoga practices. Regarding the political authority in India, the less said the better. Now a days it is easier in India for a dacoit or a criminal to become a legislative member or even minister rather than a religious teacher or a temple priest or a brave soldier.

5. Superstition and obscurantism. There are many superstitious and obscurantist practices of Hinduism, which degrade the religion and make it vulnerable to criticism from within and without.

The Threats

The gravest threat to Hinduism in India today are political, social and religious in nature. The political threats are mainly caused by the parochial and opportunistic politics played by the political parties in India and the so called secularism in which criminals with a track record of police complaints and leftists with atheistic inclinations are welcome, but religious people with social and political aims are viewed with grave suspicion and dubbed as Nazi.

In the lexicon of Indian politics, secularism means not to speak for Hindus as a religious group and keep a distance from them on any national or social issue. Probably this trend will likely continue indefinitely, unless Hindus themselves become a minority and prove useful in the factional politics of exploitative political parties.

The social threats are mainly in the form of growing western influences and the dilution of religious activities in the day to day life of individuals. Children in schools, and people outside, who are serious about their religious or moral values, are ridiculed by their friends as traditional and orthodox stereotypes, while those who follow western values and life styles, which are themselves considered decadent in the west, are considered hip hop and progressive.

The religious threats come from the activities of violent religious groups both within and without, religion based political parties and social institutions opposed to Hinduism and the organizations that use money and material for conversion of Hindus into other religions.

The Solutions

Hinduism can become a dominant and vibrant religion of the world, through the strengthening of its traditional institutions, namely the institutions of family, of gurus or spiritual teachers and of private organizations, filling in the void left by the political authority, supporting a wide range of activities that are aimed at inculcating the values, knowledge, teachings and activities upheld by the religion and its scriptures.

We should also aim to develop either a casteless Hindu society or a society that is structured not on birth based castes but profession based ones, which was probably the ideal of the original Vedic people and part of their cosmic vision.

This will be possible only when we are willing to teach the Vedas and other scriptures to qualified people from the so called lower castes and appoint them in our temples and religious institutions as priests and religious heads. It is not that this is going to be a new tradition. It has been practiced in Saivism for the last several centuries.

It has the approval of the scriptures and many gurus. We need to make it more universal.


In the absence of traditional family structure and when the education of children is not rooted in religious and moral values, it becomes the sole responsibility of parents and grand parents to become role models for their own children.

The best way to do this is through self example, by practicing religion and maintaining integrity in way that would strengthen children’s faith in their religion and respect for their parents. If parents are religious and show consistency in their thought and action, children would believe in them and imbibe their religious values.

But if parents are irreligious or if children are not convinced of their parents’ religious beliefs and moral values, they would develop skepticism and disbelief and become alienated not only from their parents but also from what they believe in and stand for.

Lack of moral and religious integrity is a major social issue in Hindu society today, and if parents do not address this problem seriously in their individual ways, they will become victims of their own actions and suffer from the irreligious behavior of their own children, which is what we are already seeing happening in various families.

You cannot expect your children to be religious and carryout their obligatory duties as your children, if you do not undertake your own traditional responsibility as a parent and educate your children. Parents should take this matter seriously to save themselves and their children lot of trouble.

Spiritual Teachers

The institution of religious teachers is somewhat vibrant today. Our religious teachers seem to be doing a great service to the cause of Hinduism.

Many of them are well known world personalities. They participate in international conferences, travel all over the world, receive honors from governments and world bodies for their meritorious work, set up spiritual centers in various parts of the world and provide spiritual guidance and mentoring to millions of seekers.

While this is a positive development for Hinduism, most of the institutions and movements initiated by the religious gurus, somehow, degenerate into mere sectarian movements over a period of time or lose their direction somewhere, following the demise of the original founder or due to the petty politics of his followers in their struggle for leadership, money, power or position.

Secondly, most of these teachers preach their own brand of Hinduism, which is like a concoction brewed out of existing Hindu scriptures, and give it a brand identity of their own, just as the way commercial institutions in the west brand their products to distinguish them from similar products of other companies.

Some are even hesitant to call their teachings Hindu, in the hope of drawing followers from other religions, and try to come out with a synthetic philosophy that is neither convincing to the followers of Hinduism nor other religions.

Thirdly, the gurus are worshipped by their followers as divinities, instead of as spiritual teachers. They do not see God in their gurus and respect them for that, bur rather the physical body of guru only as God. Hinduism has already thousands of divinities. So one wonders why we need more!

If we want to protect and preserve Hinduism, we need spiritual teachers of different kind, teachers whose sole purpose would be to preserve the core knowledge of Hindu dharma and help capable people achieve self-realization through spiritual practices. In ancient India serious students of spirituality had to take enormous risks to find their way to a spiritual teacher, who often lived in inaccessible areas for a purpose. This is in contrast to most of today’s gurus who rarely stay in their ashrams, helping their serious students. They travel far and wide to reach out to people who are less than half serious or who look for gurus for material benefits.

What we need today are gurus who can open the doors of enlightenment for people who are worthy of higher knowledge and who in turn can preserve and continue the tradition of their masters through their own enlightenment.

We have to accept and respect gurus for what they are, teachers who can show us the way and connect us with ourselves. In the process of teaching detachment if gurus succeed only in creating a new attachment between themselves and their followers, the whole purpose is defeated. It is like breeding illusion of another kind.

We should therefore learn to respect our gurus and look to them for spiritual guidance, provided if they have time and energy to meet you, know about you and help you personally, as a teacher does to his students, not once in a year or two, not when you can manage to push your way through a frenzied mass of people to the front row, not when you are standing or sitting in an unending queue, but regularly, in person, whenever you need guidance or advice.

It is better to wait for such a guru, even if takes long, rather than developing some illusory attachment and sense of dependency on a remote guru who is globally active, has a mass following, addresses a crowd, but does not have time for you or does not even know or vaguely knows that you exist and that you are fit enough for self-realization.

Till you find one, prepare yourself, study the scriptures, practice religious discipline and fill your heart with a genuine aspiration for the right kind of guru, someone who can truly show you the self that is hidden behind the golden lid and connect you with your source. The prescription for today’s spiritual dilemmas about gurus and their confusing ways is svadhyaya or self-study. When you are conversant with your own religion and its values, you will find a suitable guru with your buddhi (discriminating intellect) and save yourself and your family from problems. Remember the importance of svadhyaya is recommended by none other than Patanjali, the master of yoga himself.


Compared to organized religions, Hinduism is at a great disadvantage because it does not have established patrons. Most of the philanthropic support goes to the temples, gurus and the institutions they create and uphold, not to Hinduism as a religion or a body of eternal knowledge. While such a parochial approach may help some sects and aspects of Hinduism, in the absence of political authority who used to be the upholder of dharma in previous times, the fate of Hinduism today is more or less like that of an orphan, seriously in need of commitment from dedicated people and institutions that can address the problems of Hinduism objectively and sincerely, without any hidden agenda, without any allegiance to any particular movement or ideology or ism or guru or even a divinity. This can be possible only if good people come forward and establish institutions both in India and elsewhere that are not affiliated to any political party or religious group or school of philosophy and which can serve purely as institutions and organizations of Hinduism.

The Unfolding Divine Plan

If anytime in the history of the world there is an opportunity for Hinduism to spread out to various parts of the world and establish itself as a truly world religion it is now.

This has become possible for two obvious reasons, the growing wealth of Hindus and their immigration to various parts of the world in recent times. Hinduism is not a missionary religion and will never spread to other parts of the world through acts of conversion. Religious teachers may establish various spiritual centers in different parts of the world and spread their own brand of Hinduism.

But as it happened in the past, most of these sectarian movements will raise like flashes of individual brilliance and degenerate into smoke of confusion due to leadership or ethical issues. Hinduism will spread to other parts of the world, just the way vedic religion spread in India millenniums before, peacefully, through individual families and their religious activities and contributions.

If Hinduism is going to establish its roots in different countries, it would be mainly through waves of immigrant Indian families and their religious practices. Knowingly or unknowingly, willingly or unwillingly, in their own limited and ignorant ways, these people would spread the awareness of Hinduism in the communities they live and gradually attract the attention of others.

The souls who will be born in these countries and who are destined to become Hindus as a part of their spiritual salvation, will be attracted to their gatherings and become receptive to the ideals, beliefs and values of Hinduism. This is how Hinduism will become a beacon of eternal divine wisdom for the generations to come in different nations of the world.

This is God’s plan to take the Sanatana Dharma (eternal religion) beyond the shores of India, a process that is already in motion, which no force on earth can stop, unless the Divine wills otherwise, and which is the reason why India is shaping itself into an economic giant.


Hinduism is a continuously evolving religion, with a lot of flexibility already built into it.

There is a comprehensive scope and opportunity for Hinduism to mould itself according to the demands and aspirations of the modern world. Since Hinduism is not afraid of scientific explorations, nor the technological progress of mankind, it has the ability to align itself with both science and spiritualism in a balanced manner. Because of its emphasis on self exploration of Truth, without any allegiance to any particular dogma or prophet, Hinduism does not have to force the theories of Darwin or Mendel out of school rooms in order to justify itself, nor suffer from the compulsions of suppressing the freedom of human thought on medieval values in order to continue itself.

A Hindu has the freedom to superimpose modern knowledge on his ancient theories and reinforce his own beliefs.

He has the freedom to criticize certain aspects of his own religion, but still remain within its boundaries practicing a philosophy of his own that has its basis in its core values.

What better example can there be than the fact that Internet, the world wide web, or the quantum physics all can serve as models to explain the basic concepts of Hinduism such as maya or the illusory nature of our existence or the theory of atoms propounded by the Vaisheshikas some 2500 – 3000 years ago?

The Essential Reality of God and Self (Brahman and Atman)

In Hinduism, God and Self are used interchangeably. In many scriptures and Upanishadic verses, they refer to the same eternal, infinite and absolute reality. However, some schools of Hinduism not only draw a clear distinction between God and Self but also describe different types of individual selves such as the bound selves (baddha), the eternally free selves (nitya-mukta), the liberate selves (baddha), the eternally bound selves, and so on. In the following discussion, we present a few important views and philosophical notions regarding the essential reality of God and Self (Brahman and Atman) in Hinduism.

God (Brahman)

The highest and absolute God of Hinduism goes by many personal and impersonal names.

However, in the Vedas he is mostly described as Self (atma or atman) or Supre me Self (paramatma) or Lord (Isvara) or Brahman.

He has numerous manifestations, forms and functions. The Vedic Supreme God or Being who is without a beginning and without an end contains within himself all possibilities and realities. While his absolute reality is stable and permanent, his projected realities are impermanent and subject to modifications.

Although for convenience we may consider him male, in reality he is without any specific gender and without any distinguishable form or feature, and usually mentioned as That (Tat).

The Upanishads affirm that he is indescribable, incomprehensible, indestructible, and beyond the mind and the senses, whose nature is bliss, who represents indivisible oneness, who is perfection, completeness and fulfilment personified and who exists in all beings as their very Self, and in whom all exist.

He is the paramatman (the transcendental Supreme self), the source and creator of all.

For the mortal beings who seek liberation, he is also the highest goal (paranadhama).

As the material and efficient cause of creation, he brings forth all the worlds and beings from himself, using his own materiality and dynamic energy (Prakriti).

In his purest state, as Nirguna Brahman, he is without qualities (lakshanas), modes (gunas), dualities (dvanda), names and forms (nama rupa).

However, in his manifested state as Isvara (Lord) or Saguna Brahman, he assumes numerous names and forms, qualities, colors, divisions and dualities.

As the creator, he becomes all the diversity and objectivity which become manifested in the higher and lower worlds.

Although we may see him as other than us or different from us due to our egoism, delusion and ignorance, in his absolute reality everything is Self or a projection of Self.

His creation arises from him as a temporary projection or formation, just as the reflection of the sun or the sky in the water or the appearance of a film upon a screen.

The Vedas describe how Brahman manifested our world by assuming a form of cosmic proportions, known as Purusha (person).

This Purusha is the Self of the world as well as the Self in all beings. In the beginning of creation, he performed a cosmic sacrifice using parts of his own body as an offering, for his own pleasure, and manifested worlds and beings, dharma and divine order.

As the subjective reality, the Supreme Self is present in all beings (jivas) as their very observer and enjoyer, hidden behind all happenings and beyond all notions of duality, change and objectivity. In the body, he is said to reside in the heart until death.

As the lord of the breaths he is responsible for the functioning of the body, digestion of food, perception, thought, speech, awareness, discernment, intelligence and so on. As the supreme being, he moves the worlds, ensuring their order and regularity and their orderly progression from one division of time to another

The complexity of knowing the reality of Brahman

The concept of God, which is one of the most distinguishing features of Hinduism is so complex in its very conception, formulation and ideation that it makes God both determinate and indeterminate, existent and nonexistent, known and unknown, and with form and without form in the same breath. By presenting an all-inclusive and all-encompassing, multifaceted and multidimensional reality of God, the Vedas and Tantras makes any debate about his existence or proof of it a futile and facetious exercise.

The scriptures confirm it.

They present him as an indeterminate reality, about which nothing can be said in certain terms.

You can make sense of him relatively in the context of something, in comparison to something or from a particular perspective, but none can fathom his beginning or end.

All that exists here and elsewhere is but a fraction of his infinite reality, which he supports by a fraction of his infinite power.

As one of the Upanishads affirms, if you think you know him, you probably do not know him, and if you think you do not know him, you may probably know him (because you understand his infinite nature and your own limitations).

Therefore, truly enlightened masters of Hinduism do not engage in frivolous debates about God, nor do they try to explain or confuse those who have different notions of God.

They prefer silence because they know that the observed reality of our minds and senses cannot truly fathom the true nature of the observer who uses them to witness the drama of life.

Besides, his reality is such that he becomes and manifests in whatever way you worship him with your heart and soul.

God is subjective reality. The world which we perceive through our senses is the objective reality.

We can grasp objects, but we cannot grasp that (the subject), which grasps. For example, you can hear the words of someone, but you cannot hear the hearer.

You can see an image, but you cannot see the seer.

Objective reality is dependent, whereas subjective reality is independent.

All objects depend upon a subject to become known, whereas the subject does not depend upon any object to be known.

It is known by itself.

Further, objective reality can be perceived in a state of duality, whereas subjective reality can only be experienced in a state of unity or in the absence of duality.

One can say the same about effects. An effect cannot exist without its cause, but cause can exist without producing any effect.

Until you understand these nuances, you cannot easily grasp the correlation between God and his creation.

Knowing the subject of all as the subject of one’s own reality and as one’s very Self, dissolving all notions of separation and distinction, is the essence of liberation and self-realization.

According to the expansive vision of the Hindu seers who composed the Upanishads in their exalted and expansive mental states, God is not to be found in the temples or on the tops of mountains or in sacred places, but within oneself as oneself.

Brahman becomes self-evident when you restrain your mind and senses and withdraw into yourself to become the subject, the pure witness or the observer.

In that pure state, you become the witness Self who is neither the eye nor the ear nor the nose nor

the mind nor speech nor breath, but the one reality for whom and because of whom they all function. This is the truth. The logic is very fundamental and inherent in the core aspects of liberation theology.

It goes like this. If you are present, God is not known.

If you are absent, God becomes known or self-evident. It is as if you (the ego) are the major obstacle to your liberation.

Hence, as the Upanishads vouch, the only way or the easiest way to know Brahman or experience his reality is to become Brahman himself without any duality, objectivity or separation.

It is why renunciation is prescribed in all the ascetic traditions of Hinduism as a way to weaken and silence the ego and purify the mind and body to attain the pure consciousness of Brahman.

For the same reason, the debate between the proponents of “Is” and “Is Not,” or the Asitik and Nastika vada, is never fully settled.

For the atheists, who are full of themselves, God is not known.

For the devotees who empty themselves, God becomes known by becoming their very selves.

However, although we know that Brahman represents the all-inclusive and all-encompassing reality, we cannot purely rely upon abstract and transcendental notions to pursue our spiritual goals or achieve liberation.

To sustain our faith and persevere in our effort, and to understand the essential reality of God, we need concrete symbols, ideas, forms and concepts which will help us ground the mind in spiritual thoughts and the goal of liberation.

Even if we know that God is subjective reality, free from all entanglements and relationships, we still need to consider his objective forms and manifestations within the realm of our own minds to establish a conceptual relationship and engage our minds in his contemplation.

Hence, in Hinduism devotees and spiritual aspirants turn their attention to objectified Brahman and his numerous manifestations and forms rather than the abstract Brahman.

Focusing their minds upon the objectified Brahman, having established a direct and personal relationship with him, they gradually transcend their duality and objectivity and enter the transcendental realm of pure consciousness through self-absorption.

Hinduism offers many spiritual solutions and large body of literature to accomplish this noble goal.

They are extremely useful to elevate the external forms of ritual worship into internal contemplative practices so that once can engage in a continuous spiritual sacrifice (antaryajna).

The Self (atman)

The self or the soul is called Atman, which literally means the breathing one.

It refers to the person in the personality or consciousness of a being.

It is essentially the pure and unadulterated subjective state, free from the influence of the mind, the senses and the ego.

It is the witness to all that happens in the mind and body.

Atman represents the same essential reality as Brahman.

In their purest state there is hardly any difference between the two.

As the school of nondualism affirms, the existence of Atman as a distinct, individual entity is an illusion.

It is but Brahman residing in the body of a being as its support.

In many respects, it is the microcosmic aspect of Brahman, smaller than an atom and infinitely larger than the world, with the same pure consciousness.

However, in the field of Prakriti, it becomes subject to illusion, bondage and the laws of karma.

When it achieves liberation, it regains its true nature and returns to its purest state.

The Chandogya Upanishad equates Brahman with the all-pervading Self in the following words.

Truly what is called Brahman

is the same as that space outside a person

Truly that space which is outside a person is

the same as that which is inside the person

and that space which is inside a person is

the same which is inside the heart.

That is fullness. That is the unchanging.

One who knows this

invariably gains full prosperity and

unwavering happiness

Different schools of Hinduism differently interpret the relationship between Brahman and Atman. They can broadly be divided into three schools, namely those who believe that they are the same (Advaita), those who believe that they are different (Advaita) and those who believe that they are somewhat different (Vishishtadvaita).

According to the first school, the individual soul is in reality an illusion. It has no existence of basis of its own.

The same Brahman appears in the field of Prakriti and in the bodies of beings as an individual Self and as a temporary illusion, which disappears when the beings awaken to the indivisible and all-pervading reality of Brahman through liberation.

The dualistic schools (dvaita) hold that the individual souls represent the subtle body of God, while the materiality of the entire creation represents his gross body.

Beyond them is the Supreme Self or the purest consciousness of God, which is entirely free from all relationships and formations.

The duality between Brahman and Atman continues even after souls attain liberation.

Their consciousness also differs in some respects.

The third school holds that individual souls are the same as Brahman in some respects, but not the same in some other.

Upon liberation they attain the consciousness of Brahman, but do not become dissolved in him.

They continue to enjoy an existence of their own in the presence of God, having established sameness and nearness, which enables them to experience God as their very Self.

Unity in diversity

Hindus also worship several gods and goddesses.

They are not different entities but different aspects of the same highest Brahman. In their deepest essence, they are the same as Brahman.

They also have some features, qualities and energies, which distinguish them from other divinities and which are essential to perform their ordained duties to uphold Dharma and ensure order and regularity.

Devout Hindus worship them as their personal gods and goddesses representing the highest Truth.

Some scriptures allude to the fact gods were once ordinary souls.

They attained divinity or godliness through pure deeds or good karma.

This is true with regard to all the gods and goddesses, including the three highest gods namely Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

It also means that different gods may appear in each timecycle.

The gods are not different from Brahman.

They are Brahman only in their purest and highest aspect. As a Sanskrit verse declares, “ekam sat viptra bahuda vadanti.” It means that truth is one but perceived and spoken in different forms.

If God has many forms and if they are all the same in the final essence, it logically follows that he can be worshipped in many ways, and we can reach Him through any of his forms and manifestations.

This is stated in the following verse.

Akasat patitam toyam yatha gacchati saagaram,

Sarva deva namaskara kesavam pratigacchati

It means that just as the rain water finally flows into the ocean, wherever it may fall, so also the worship offered to any god will ultimately reach the supreme God only.

According to Hinduism, life in all its aspects and forms is sacred, and every being is an aspect of God in a latent form.

God creates the worlds and populates them with different beings for his own pleasure or enjoyment.

A knower of the Self or a self-realized person (atma jnani) is but God in human form.

He is worthy of veneration, especially so when his or her identity is fully merged in him.

God resides in beings as their very selves in different states of purity, awareness and ignorance.

These impurities do not exist in him, but around him as a cloud or obstruction.

At times, God also incarnates upon earth as an obligatory duty to destroy evil and restore order.

The idea that the numerous divinities of Hinduism are but aspects of the same supreme reality is well described in the answer given by Yajnavalkya in the following verse from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.

Then Vidagdha Sakalya asked him: ‘How many gods are there, O Yagnavalkya?’

He replied thus according to the offerings (nivid) made to them.

As many as are mentioned in the hymn of praise addressed to the Visvedevas,

namely three and three hundred, three and three thousand.’

‘Yes,’ he said, and asked again: ‘How many gods are there really, O Yagnavalkya?’

‘Thirty-three,’ he said.

‘Yes,’ he said, and asked again How many gods are there really, O Yagnavalkya?’

‘Six,’ he said.

‘Yes,’ he said, and asked again:’ How many gods are there really, O Yagnavalkya?’

‘Three,’ he said.

‘Yes,’ he said, and asked again: ‘How many gods are there really, O Yagnavalkya?’

‘Two,’ he said.

‘Yes,’ he said, and asked again: ‘How many gods are there really, O Yagnavalkya?’

‘One and a half (adhyardha),’ he said.

‘Yes,’ he said, and asked again: ‘How many gods are there really, O Yagnavalkya?’

‘One,’ he said.