The Human Truth Foundation


By Vexen Crabtree 2015

#atheism #christianity #hinduism #india #islam #jainism #monotheism #polytheism #vedic_faiths

Links: Pages on Hinduism, Other Religions
The symbol of Hinduism
God(s)Atheist / Monotheist / Polytheist / Other
AfterlifeReincarnation until escape
Area of OriginIndia
Numbers in the UK (Census results)
2001552 4212011817 000
Hindus Worldwide (Pew & WM)
World: 13.1%. Nepal (80.7%), India (79.5%), Mauritius (56.4%), Fiji (27.9%), Guyana (24.9%), Trinidad & Tobago (22.7%), Bhutan (22.6%), Suriname (19.8%), Qatar (13.8%), Sri Lanka (13.6%) 1

Hinduism is the name given to the cultural religions2 of India and encompasses a wide variety of beliefs and practices3 which are similar to those of other Vedic Faiths. It is polytheist, with many gods taking many forms3, and represented by many names in a kaleidoscope of symbolism and meaning. All living creatures embody a spark of the divine ('atman') which is carried into a new body after death3. There are many shrines, points of pilgrimage and places of reverence, such as the river Ganges, "especially where it flows through the city of Varanasi (Benares)"3. There are also many texts and scripts that are considered sacred, mostly written in Sanskrit3, one of the oldest written languages of mankind. In fact, most things about Indian religion are sourced from pre-history, and thus it represents one of the oldest traditions of belief that humanity possesses. Hinduism is counted as one of the great world religions4,5,6.

Historically, religion in India was decentralized and disparate rather than a single belief system, with no differential between cultural practices and 'religious' ones7. A process of cultural homogenisation had already centered along trade and pilgrimage routes8 but real change came under the influence of Western categorisers from the 18th century, who simplified all of India's culture under the single title of "Hinduism", an identity which Hindus now accept9. During the period of colonial rule Christian powers at first tolerated Hinduism but over time used harsher and harsher language towards it, labelling it as heretical10. Over the last decade or two a "Hindu-ness" movement, Hindutva, has seen a rise in intolerance of non-Hindu culture10 including physical attacks on Muslims and Christians11,12,13.

1. Numbers of Hindus Around the World, by Country


Pos.Pew Forum (2010)14Worldmapper (2005)15
6Trinidad & Tobago22.7%24.3%
10Sri Lanka13.6%11.4%
19St Vincent & Grenadines3.4%3.4%
20New Zealand2.1%1.2%
24Myanmar (Burma)1.7%2.0%
26French Guiana1.6%
27St Kitts & Nevis1.5%1.5%
31British Virgin Islands1.2%
32S. Africa1.1%2.4%
33Saudi Arabia1.1%1.1%
34Cayman Islands0.9%

The population of 3 countries are half (or mostly) Hindu (2011)1. Comparing those 3 country(ies) to the rest of the world:

Counting the numbers of Hindus in each country is not actually as simple as you might think. There are so many related belief systems, especially given that Indian religious practices date from prehistory, that Hindus might call themselves by a wide number of names. It is up to statisticians merely to assume that these categories should also be counted amongst "Hindus". And the opposite problem occurs sometimes, as some members of more widely recognized groups, such as Jains, call themselves Hindus20.

2. Calendar (2024)


Jan 12nd


Birthday of Swami Vivekananda

Jan 13rd

(2 days)

Makar Sankranti / Lohri / Pongal

Dispute resolution and almsgiving. The eating of pancakes, rice sugar, halva and chapattis around a fire. Held on the 15th on Leap Years.

Oct 2nd


Gandhi Jayanti

For the birthday of Mahatma Gandi who bears much responsibility for creating India.

Oct 31st

(5 days)
(this year)

Divali / Diwali

A seasonal harvest festival and the festival of light. In some Indian states, it starts a day later.

3. Denominations

#hinduism #india #raja_yoga #ravidassia #USA

4. The Formation of Hinduism as a World Religion21

#hinduism #india #india_history #india_religion #islam

The cultural practices and beliefs of ancient India were historically decentralized and disparate rather than comprising a single belief system, with no differentiation between cultural practices and religious ones, and "no sharp dividing lines between religion, social structure, and political power"7. Before Western powers arrived on the scene, a gradual process of homogenisation had began due to the development of "shrines and pilgrimage centers [which] created a continent-wide network of transport and communication, over which people, goods, and ideas continuously flowed"22. Also, Muslim encroachment had already stimulated a more self-organized approach especially for military defence23. But real change came under the influence of Western categorisers from the 18th century, who simplified all of India's culture under the single title of "Hinduism", an identity which Hindus now accept9.

5. Hindutva and Modern Violent Hinduism21

#christianity #extremism #fundamentalism #hindu_extremism #hindu_fundamentalism #hindu_violence #hinduism #india #islam #nationalism #religion #religious_violence #violence

Hindu extremism has somewhat increased over the past few decades24 by right-wing Hindu nationalists12, with the popularist Hindutva movement wanting to make India a more exclusively Hindu nation10. There are thousands of attacks against religious minorities every year. Violence nearly always involves anti-Muslim attacks, in India, with any reaction by their victims then stimulating Hindu mobs to enact further property damage and murder. For example, when the Babri Masjid mosque was destroyed by Hindu activists in 1992, thousands of protesting Muslims lost their lives in a very one-sided series of mob fights13,25. Hindu nationalists also sometimes target Christians11,26,27, for example, over Christmas 2007 in one state, a hundred churches were damaged and 700 Christian homes destroyed28.

Complicit in the discord are political parties that use race and religion to divide people and stoke hatred; since 1999 the most popular of these are the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who have orchestrated and encouraged some of the worst scenes of violence and destruction29, and are most involved in states where persecution by Hindus is highest28, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP)30 and Shiv Sena29. Hindu extremism has become "an impediment to the exercise and enjoyment of internationally recognized human rights"12.

The Bhagavad Gita can easily be searched for content that condones the righteous murder of enemies, right from its second chapter31. Despite all this, a common argument of Hindu academics is to point out, quite correctly, that Hinduism has a per-capital rate of violence far lower than Christianity or Islam, and that polytheism is more naturally inclined to be tolerant and accepting of others' beliefs32.

For more, see:

6. Karma33

#afterlife #buddhism #hinduism #india #jainism #karma #new_age #reincarnation #sikhism #taoism #vedic_religions

Karma is an important concept in a range of Vedic religions and cultures, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism34,35, all stemming from Indian beliefs. Karma is a universal principal and cosmic law, like the Tao of Taoism36. Unlike Taoism, individual beings (and the entire universe) go through a large number of incarnations. It is closely linked to the concept of continual rebirth (reincarnation)37. Although belief in Karma is a good tool for improving motivation to treat others well, it also has a worrying implication: Karma creates blames on those suffering from disabilities and other ailments, unfairly insinuating that they deserve their problems.

Original Jain beliefs had it that all actions had negative karma and only complete serenity and detachment could help the situation38. Later Jain beliefs came closer Hindu and Buddhist ideas: Acts of merit such as pilgrimages and worship can improve your next fate39. Eventually, beings can break free from the cycle and scape the evil world in which we all are trapped. In Hinduism and Jainism this liberation is called moksha and in Buddhism the result is the attainment of enlightenment and nirvana. Western New Age movements have also taken on the concept "though sometimes with a degree of misunderstanding"39. All in all, more people on Earth believe in Karma through a series of rebirths than in any other religious principle.37,38,39,3,40,41

Hindus believe that very action, good or bad, hurtful or compassionate, has an effect on this life and on future lives. This is called karma. By accumulating positive karma Hindus can eventually break free from the cycles of birth and death to achieve liberation or moksha, which is complete union with God.

"Religions of the World" by Breuilly, O'Brien & Palmer (1997)3

Some held that karma was so strict a scorecard that all action caused accumulation that had to be overcome and then removing all desire was the only recourse. Some believe that beings undergoing the cycle of rebirth make automatic progress (more or less) towards Moksha (liberation) but that this is a very, very slow process.

[Often] there is a belief that the incarnated being automatically makes progress towards liberati(Moksha) through learning the lessons of rebirth in different bodies. Indian thinkers either reject this idea, or regard such a process as impossibly slow: the way to liberation for them involves swimming upstream, against the current of karma. [...] Although Hindu texts such as the Puranas seem to describe the law of karma in terms of strict cause and effect [...] in practice their views are less fatalistic. [...] Acts of merit, such as pilgrimages (Tirtha-Yatra) or acts of worship (Puja), [can] wipe out the effects of bad karma.

"The Penguin Dictionary of Religions" by John R. Hinnells (1997)39

Over time, opinions changed. Hindu scribes told stories of Krishna lightening the mood, and arguing that in order to progress, ...

... it is the results of actions that have to be renounced, not action itself - one should not desire particular rewards, nor think proudly of oneself as the doer of great deeds. One should be satisfied in the self, offering action and its fruits as a sacrifice... [t]his is the discipline of karma yoga. Krishna goes on to explain other worthy paths which, pursued steadfastly, will bring a seeker to equanimity and, finally, liberation. Jnana yoga, the path of knowledge, and bhakti yoga, the way of devotion. [...] The Bhagavad-gita transforms the earlier pessimistic notion - that the results of action lead to continual rebirth and transmigration of the self - into a positive discipline for personal transformation.

"Hinduism: A Very Short Introduction" by Kim Knott (1998)42

More modern Hindu philosophers have argued for a clearer way of understanding karma:

Arvind Sharma's contemporary solution goes as follows. To think fatalistically about karma is unhelpful when, in fact, as human beings we have the power at any moment co change our own behaviour, and thus its consequences for our future. Free will rather than fatalism characterizes the operation of karma.

"Hinduism: A Very Short Introduction" by Kim Knott (1998)42

For more, see: