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The most interesting facts about Hinduism that you probably don't know
Hinduism is the oldest religion known to man, dating back as far as 5000 BC. It's also one of the most influential relgions in the world, coming third in terms of followers behind Christianity and Islam. Despite its long and rich history and its worldwide popularity, there are still many fascinating and little-known facts relating to Hinduism that you might not be aware of.
Here is a closer look at some of the most interesting and unusual facts about this prominent religion.
Hinduism isn't actually called Hinduism
What we call Hinduism was actually known by another word, Sanatana Dharma, which translates to “eternal way of salvation”. The word Hindu comes from the Sanskrit language and means a large area of water or a river. Sanskrit is thought to be the oldest and most prominent of languages, with linguists suggesting that it was the starting point for almost all languages in the world.
There is no founder or prophet of Hinduism
While Christians have Jesus and Muslims have Mohammed, there is no founder of the Hindu religion. It isn't a religion based on a person, which means that it is tricky to ascertain its true time of origin. It also has no concept of conversion, so Hindus believe that you either embrace the religion or are born into it. Perhaps this could be because it is less focused on worshipping a singular prophet. Because of this, it is one of the more peaceful religions; Hindus do not fight or try to force others to convert to their beliefs, and they believe in peace over power.
Yoga originates from Hinduism
Even if you're not big on religion, the chances are that you will have tried or at least heard of yoga. Yoga is an integral part of Hinduism as Hindus believe that the breathing techniques and gentle exercise involved with it brings them closer to their god, Brahman. It is a connecting and spiritual endeavor that is thought to bring peace and guidance. Many practicing yogis hold that belief today, even if they do not practice the religion itself.
The River Ganges and its helpful bacteria
You may already know that the River Ganges is an incredibly sacred river in Hinduism. In fact, it is thought that the 1500-mile river through Asia is the most holy body of water in the world. Hindus believe that it is embodied by the goddess Ganga and that rituals that take place on the banks of the Ganges will bring good luck and wash away impurity. The river still remains one of the most polluted on Earth, yet despite this, it is packed with a unique bacteria that attacks and kills other harmful bacteria. It is seen as a protective form of bacteria that acts almost like a bodyguard to the goddess Ganga and her holy river.
The importance of OM
You may have heard the familiar chanting of OM or AUM, but have you ever considered what it means? Its significance is huge in Hinduism. The chant is a prefix to most sacred mantras in Hinduism and is thought to have the same vibrational frequency of everything within the universe. This Blue Aum T-Shirt displays a beautifully intricate Aum symbol.
Karma, rebirth and time
Hindus believe in a circular rather than linear concept of time and that life is lived through four main phases before restarting. It is the only religion that advocates the concept of karma and rebirth (or reincarnation) with the premise that what you do in this life will determine your next life.
108 is an important number
Do you have a lucky number? Hindus consider 108 to be important. It is viewed as the most holy of numbers because it is the ratio of distance from the sun to Earth. Celestial bodies hold a lot of relevance in the religion. Prayer beads will often have 108 beads to reflect the significance of this special number.
Gender equality is alive and well in Hinduism. Every male god in the religion has a female counterpart (with the exception of the “celibate” gods). Hinduism is also thought to be the first religion to advocate marriage - the equal union and lifelong commitment between a man and a woman.
Hinduism is about happiness
Hinduism is about peace and happiness. It encourages followers to embrace and celebrate life. Although there are rules to follow in the religion, they are less restrictive and won't compromise quality of life. It is one of the only religions that has no mourning festivals.