What Are Hinduism Beliefs?

What Are Hinduism Beliefs?

Hinduism is the oldest known spiritual tradition. Thousands of years before anyone was talking about Christ or Buddha, people in India were worshipping a set of Hindu gods and practicing their spiritualism.

Many historians and followers of the religion claim that some form of Hinduism has been practiced on Earth since before recorded history. We know for sure that as long as 6,000 years ago the people of current-day India were practicing Hinduism.

For being the world’s oldest religion Hinduism is a  mystery to most of the Western world. We have stereotypes (lots of gods, incense burning, strange rituals) but we don’t really know what Hinduism is all about. Here’s a breakdown.

The Basics

Hinduism is as varied as Buddhism, meaning that different families practice different forms of the basic religion, but there are some things that unite all Hindus. The main tenent of Hinduism is a belief in Brahman. Brahman is the ultimate force that makes up our existence.

According to Hindu texts, people are trapped in an endless cycle of death and rebirth as long as they are ignorant of the fact that we are all one with Brahman. Much like Buddhism, the goal of Hinduism is to liberate our spirits from this cycle of death and reincarnation. The Buddhists have Nirvana, the Hindus have Moksha.

Sacred Texts

There are many texts held sacred by Hindus, but the most important of these are the “four Vedas”. There’s the Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda.

The Vedas had a serious impact on all religions of Southeast Asia (Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, etc) but is traditionally the realm of Hinduism. Though Hinduism holds that these texts were created at the beginning of time, scholars have worked out that the Rig Veda was written about 1500 BCE  and not printed until around 300 BCE.

The Vedas are a mashup of hymn books, rituals, and even spells recovered from ancient India. The Vedas are easily the most ancient religious texts still in existence.

A Collection of Beliefs

A strong belief in the karmic system means that Hinduism has become part of the structure of the Indian social system. Yes, the caste system of India came out of Hinduism — though it has been abolished,  the caste system still hands out certain advantages to people whose families were of a higher caste .

The tradition of bhakti, which translates roughly to “devotion”, is really a complex expression of criticism against practices like the worship of idols and the caste system itself. Many Hindu people who practice Bhakti will recite long devotional poems and do other things to worship “God” without supporting any doctrine or caste system.

Hinduism is a large and complex religion that just can’t be summed up in a short article. If you’re looking for more info on Hinduism, check out Religious Tolerance’s page on Hinduism right here.

This post is part of a series of articles about Religious Beliefs. The other posts in this series are: