65 Interesting Facts About Hinduism Every Indian Should Know
Hinduism is the oldest living religion in the world. Hinduism is a very complex religion and it is the only religion that gives complete freedom to its follower to pray God in any form. Two major religions of the world i.e. Christianity and Islam were born after Hinduism and today they have more followers than Hinduism. There are several interesting facts about Hinduism and very few people know about it. Even a number of people following Hinduism do not know these interesting facts about Hinduism. This article we will provide you the interesting facts about Hinduism and what are the unique features of Hinduism. The facts about Hinduism mentioned in this article can be shared among friends as well as for teaching children the greatness of Hindu Religion. In case our readers know some additional facts about Hinduism which are not mentioned here, please let us know via the comment and help us to expand this article as long as possible.
Historical Facts about Hinduism
- Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world. Its origin can be dated back to 10,000 BCE. Various seals and artifacts found at Indus Valley Civilization (Harappa Civilization) prove that the practices of Harappa people were similar to that of Hinduism today. For example mediating figure that resembles Lord Shiva, a discovery of swastika, mother goddess seal and worship of Shiva lingam.
- The word “Hindu” is derived from Sanskrit word “Sindhu” meaning River. Arabic invaders used the word Hindu for the people living on the other side of River Indus.
- “Hinduism” is not the real word for the religion. The real name of Hinduism is “Sanatana Dharma” or the “Vedic Dharma”. Sanatan Dharma means “Eternal Dharma” or “Eternal Truth”.
- “AUM” or “OM” is considered as the holy sound because it is believed that consciousness manifested itself as a form through the sound of AUM.
- The Vedas are the central book in Hinduism. Lord Brahma is credited with the composition of Vedas which were passed down from the great sages to their disciples.
- The Rig Veda (oldest of all Vedas) describes River Sarasvati as the mightiest river on the earth. It proves that the Vedas were composed before 2000 BCE when Sarasvati River dried up. Vedas also mentioned India as “Sapt Sindhu” meaning “the land of seven rivers”.
- The Mahabharata is the longest epic poem in the world and it is also described as “the longest poem ever written“. The longest version Mahabharata consists of over 100,000 shlokas or 200,000 individual verse lines. About 1.8 million words in total the Mahabharata is roughly ten times the length of the Iliad and the Odyssey combined.
- Unlike all the other major religions in the world, Hinduism does not have a founder or a prophet. No one knows who founded Hinduism or exactly when it started.
- An interesting fact about Hinduism is atheists and theist exist together. Since Hinduism gives complete freedom of practice and advocates “there are many ways to reach God, the path may be different”.
- Dharma is a Sanskrit word and there is no single word translation for dharma in western literature. The Dharma includes duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues and ‘‘right way of living’’.
- The concept of Marriage was founded in Hinduism and later it was absorbed by other religions in the world.
- Hinduism promotes organ donation. The first example of organ donation in the world can be found in Hindu Mythology. Sage Dadhichi, who happily donated his bones so that Lord Indra could use them to create a weapon Vajra to kill daemons.
- Takshila and Nalanda are the oldest universities known to mankind which flourished under Hinduism. Today both the university is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. According to British historian Joseph Needham “When the men of Alexander the Great came to Takshila they found a university there the like of which had not been seen in Greece”. Nalanda University was destroyed by Muslim army of Bakhtiyar Khilji.
- Hinduism is the source and inspiration of three major religions of the world i.e. Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. All these religions originated in India and they have many teaching and rituals similar to Hinduism.
- Yoga, Pranayama, Meditation, Vastu, Jyotish, Tantra, Astrology, and Grammar (Vyakaran) are the main contributions of Hinduism to the modern world.
- Varanasi is the oldest city in India and it is also considered as one of the oldest and continuously inhabited cities in the world. The city of Varanasi has many holy places. It is believed, if you die in Varanasi you will attain Moksha (liberation from the cycle of Birth and Death). Goswami Tulsi Das wrote his epic poem on Lord Rama’s life called Ram Charit Manas in Varanasi.
- Hinduism is the only religion in the word that worship female in Goddess form. Shakti sect of Hinduism believes female power as “The Great Divine Mother”. Vaishnov Devi is an important pilgrim site in Hinduism which is dedicated to Goddess Maha Lakshmi. More than 1.5 million visitors visit the holy shrine annually.
Facts about Hinduism in Western World
- Historian A.L Basham in his book “The Wonder That Was India” described the Gupta Period of Hinduism as “the happiest and the most civilized reign of the world“. He also mentioned in his book “A man can escape from “Law of Gravity” as well as “from the passage of Time” but not from his deeds (the concept of Karma in Hinduism).
- French historian and philosopher Voltaire said, “The Vedas were the most precious gift for which the West had ever been indebted to the East”. Rigveda manuscripts were selected for inscription in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register in the year 2007.
- German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer was deeply impressed by the Upanishads and called it “the production of the highest human wisdom“.
- No other religion in the world is science oriented as Hinduism. The Nasadiya Sukta is 129th hymn from 10th Mandala of the Rigveda. It is concerned with cosmology and the origin of the universe and therefore also known as the “Hymn of Creation”.
- Pierre Arnold Bernard was an American yogi and businessman. He traveled to India and founded the Tantrik Order of America in 1905. Bernard is credited with being the first American to introduce the philosophy and practices of yoga and Tantra to the American people. His teachings gave many Westerners their first glimpse into the practices of yoga and Tantra.
- Robert Oppenheimer an American physicist and director of the Manhattan Project learned Sanskrit in 1933 and read the Bhagavad Gita in the original form, citing it later as one of the most influential books to shape his philosophy of life. Upon witnessing the world’s first nuclear test in 1945, he later said he had thought of the quotation “Now I have become Death, the destroyer of worlds“, verse 32 from chapter 11 of the Bhagavad Gita.
- Barak Obama was the first President of USA to celebrate Diwali in White House. He also carries a statue of Lord Hanuman with him.
- Steve Jobs and his friend Daniel Kottke were followers of Neem Karoli Baba. Both visited India in 1974 and made a trek in search of spiritual enlightenment. Steve Jobs had also suggested Mark Zuckerberg to visit Kainchi Dham in Uttarakhand to find inner peace and spirituality.
- Hollywood actress Julia Roberts was also influenced by Neem Karoli Baba. A picture of Neem Karoli Baba drew Roberts to Hinduism. During the shooting of his Movie Eat Pray Love, Swami Daram Dev gave new names to her children. Laxmi for Hazel, Ganesh for Phinnaeus and Krishna Balram for Henry.
- George Harrison, a guitarist, and singer from the rock band “The Beatles” embraced Hinduism in his later life and tried learning Sitar. His most famous song “My Sweet Lord” was in praise of the Hindu God Krishna. According to him:
“Krishna actually was in a body as a person. What makes it complicated is, if he’s God, what’s he doing the fighting on a battlefield? It took me ages to try to figure that out. So the point is – that we’re in these bodies, which is like a kind of chariot, and we’re going through this incarnation. The horses pulling the chariot, and we have to get control over the chariot by getting control over the reins. Arjun, in the end, says, “Please Krishna, you drive the chariot” because unless we bring Christ or Krishna or Buddha or whichever of our spiritual guides. We’re going to crash our chariot and we’re going to get killed in the battlefield. That’s why we say “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna”, asking Krishna to come and take over the chariot.”
Facts about Hinduism related to its Temples
Also Read: 25 Amazing Hindu Temples Outside India
- Tirumala Venkateswara Temple in Andhra Pradesh is considered as the world’s largest religious pilgrim destination. More than 1 Lakh pilgrims visit the temple every day making it the most-visited holy place in the world surpassing Rome and Mecca.
- Padmanabhaswamy Temple is the wealthiest place of worship in the world. An estimated $22 billion worth of gold and jewels are stored in underground vaults of the temple. If the antique and cultural value were taken into account then these assets could be worth ten times the current market price.
- Kailash Nath Temple in Ellora is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The interesting fact about this temple is, it is carved out of a single solid stone using hammers and chisels. It took 100 years to complete the structure. The temple is the largest monolithic sculpture in the world.
- Angkor Wat Temple complex in Cambodia is the largest religious building in the world. At the time of its construction, the temple was dedicated to Lord Vishnu and later transformed into a Buddhist temple.
- The Jagannath Rath Yatra is the largest and most visited Rath Yatra in the world. The English word juggernaut was originated from Jagannath which means massive and unstoppable “Ratha” carrying Lord Jagannath. Another important feature is, the icon of Lord Jagannath is a carved out of wood and not stone or mud as done in case of a usual Hindu deity.
- Kumbhi Mela is world’s largest peaceful gathering. An estimated 120 million people visited Maha Kumbh Mela in 2013 in Allahabad. On the auspicious day of Mauni Amavasya, over 30 million pilgrims gathered on a single day. The vastness of Kumbh Mela can be assumed from the fact that the mela settlement (village) was even visible from space.
- Kumbh Mela holds the record of largest peaceful gathering in the world but you would be surprised to know that the largest gathering of women in history also goes to Hinduism. On 4th March 2007, an estimated 2 million Hindu women gathered at the Attukal Temple in Kerala to worship Goddess Kannaki (Parvathi)
- The Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam is largest functioning Hindu temple of the world. The temple occupies an area of 156 acres with a perimeter of 4,116m making it the largest temple in India and one of the largest religious complexes in the world.
- The Kal Bhairav Temple located in the Ujjain, India is dedicated to Lord Kal Bhairav. One amazing ritual of the temple is that the Liquor is offered to God. It is one of the five tantric ritual offerings known as Panchamakara. The State Government has even set up liquor counters outside the temple and these counters sell both country liquor and foreign liquor.
Facts about Hinduism Related to Hindu Mythology
- Ravan (demon king of Lanka) was a devout follower of Lord Shiva. He was a great scholar, a capable ruler and a maestro of the Veena. His ten heads represent his knowledge of the six Shastras and the four Vedas.
- Parashurama (6th incarnation of Lord Vishnu) and Indrajit (Ravana’s son) are believed to be the only two humans who ever possessed the three ultimate weapons: The Brahmanda Astra, Vaishnava Astra, and Pashupatastra.
- Sage Vishvamitra is said to found the famous Gayatri Mantra. It is a verse from Rigveda (Mandala 3.62.10). Gayatri is the name of the Vedic meter in which the verse is composed.
- Mohini is the only female avatar of the God Vishnu. 4034 Vishnu is an asteroid discovered by American astronomer Eleanor F. Helin.
- 108 is a very auspicious number in Hinduism. It has not only religious significance but also the scientific one. According to belief, during Samudra Manthan the serpent was being pulled back and forth by 108 Gods and Asuras (demons), 54 Gods pulling one way, and 54 Asuras pulling the other. The Sudarshana Chakra (disk-like weapon used by God Vishnu) has 108 serrated edges. 108 Fahrenheit is the internal temperature at which vital organs of human body begin to fail from overheating. The distance of Earth from the Sun is about 108 times the diameter of the Sun.
- According to Hindu Mythology Lord Shiva resides at Mount Kailash (Crystal Mountain) also known as Mount Meru. Humans have climbed on Mount Everest but no one has ever tried climbing on Mount Kailash. Locals say “Only a man entirely free of sin could climb Kailash. And he wouldn’t have to actually scale the sheer walls of ice to do it – he’d just turn himself into a bird and fly to the summit.” Hindu mythology also says “there is a legend of a holy peak, a perfect 4 sided pyramid. From each side, one great river flows and each river carry life to 4 corners of the earth”. In fact, four rivers originate from Mount Kailash they are Indus River, Sutlej River, Brahmaputra River and Karnali River. Mount Kailash is also considered a sacred place in four religions: Bon, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.
- Lotus is a sacred flower in Hinduism. Lotus symbolizes purity and beauty regardless of the good or bad circumstances where it grows. It is a reminder that good and prosperity can bloom and not be affected by evil in one’s surrounding.
Present Day Facts about Hinduism
- Hinduism is third largest religion in the world with more than 1 Billion followers. People following Hinduism are found in more than 150 countries around the world.
- Many scholars define Hinduism, not as a religion but a fusion of various Indian cultures and traditions. According to the Supreme Court of India:
“Unlike other religions in the World, the Hindu religion does not claim anyone Prophet, it does not worship any one God, and it does not believe in any one philosophic concept, it does not follow any one act of religious rites or performances. In fact, it does not satisfy the traditional features of a religion or creed. It is a way of life and nothing more”
- Hinduism has no central organization and no single dogma. No person or institution is in charge. 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.
- In Hinduism God is called Satchitananda. The word is made of three words Sat (Eternity), Chit (Knowledge) and Ananda (Bliss). It also means the Brahman (Eternal Truth), Antaryami (God in Heart) and Bhagwan (Residing Outside).
- There is no sad or mourning festival celebrated in Hinduism.
- Hinduism believe in Supreme God (Brahman or The Ultimate Reality). There are many God and Goddess, the spiritual world, the divinity of the soul, Dharma, Karma, Reincarnation and God realization.
- Many People say there are 33 Crore God and Goddess in Hinduism. This is not 33 crore but 33 Koti. Koti is a Sanskrit word which means Prakar (Types). The Rigveda also speaks of Thirty-three gods called the Tridasha (Three times ten).
- There is no concept of conversation in Hinduism. It is said one became Hindu by will not by force. In fact, Hindu community is the most targeted religious community for conversion to other religion.
- There are many countries in the world with Christianity or Islam as their official religion. But there is no country in the world officially designated as a “Hindu Country”.
- 95% Hindu population of the world lives in India and constitute 79 % population of India. Nepal has the greatest proportion of Hindus with 81.50% of their population professing Hinduism.
- Hinduism is flexible and there are really no hard and fast rules you need to follow. There is more than 10 version of Ramayana and Puran that are available today. People in different places read according to their convenience without challenging the faith.
- There are more than 1 million temples in India. Temples in Hinduism is revered as the home of Gods. The temples are not only a place of worship, they are the hub of the community’s life, of its learning and of its social life.
- In Hinduism you can worship plants and trees, you can worship animals and birds or even stones. Rivers are also worshipped in Hinduism. On the other hand, Arya Samaj sect of Hinduism prohibits idol and image worship.
- Hindu community is the 2nd most tortured community in the world (after Jews). Nearly 20 Million Hindus were killed and millions were converted during the Muslim invasion of India starting from 1000 CE to 17000 CE. During the British rule in India, millions of Hindus were again converted to Christianity.
Miscellaneous Facts about Hinduism
- Bangkok International Airport is also known as Suvarnabhumi Airport has a statue depicting the “Samudra Manthan” which is a very important episode in Hindu Mythology.
- Daikokuten, one of the Seven Lucky Gods in Japan, is considered to be evolved from Lord Shiva. He is considered as God of great darkness. Daikokuten is a household deity in Japan.
- Benzaiten is another Japanese goddess, who originated from the Hindu Goddess Saraswati. As Goddess Saraswati holds Veena, Benzaiten is depicted holding a Biwa (a traditional Japanese lute).
- The logo on Indonesia’s most elite engineering college (Institute Teknologi Bandung) is of Hindu God Ganesh.
- Sri Mariamman Temple, Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, and Sri Thendayuthapani Temple are Hindu Temples situated. Surprisingly these three temples are also listed as National Monuments of Singapore.
- The tallest statue of any Hindu God is surprisingly not situated in India but in Nepal. The Kailashnath Mahadev Statue is the tallest statue of any Hindu God in the world. The statue is 144 feet (44 m) high and it is also the world’s tallest Shiva statue.
Also Read: What is the Greatest Thing About Being Hindu
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