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Religious Beliefs

Hindu -

Because of its great age, the early history of Hinduism is unclear. Apart from animism Hindu is one of the world's oldest religions. It is difficult to provide adequate history of Hinduism because it has no specific founder or theology.

India is said to be the birthplace of Hinduism. Hindu is the predominant religion in India and approximately 82% of the population in India currently practices Hindu. In addition Hindu has spread to many countries in South East Asia including Bali, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam. Hinduism can also be found in the West Indies, Caribbean, Fiji, South Africa and Mauritius. There are currently more than 950 million Hindus in the world.

Until the 19th century the term Hindu represented both culture and ethnicity, not just a religion. In many ways Hinduism is a philosophy and a way of life than a religion. Even today many feel that the term Hindu represents more than just a religious faction. Hindu identifies a diverse group of philosophies and traditions. Thus Hinduism is more of a way of life, rather than a religion.

They passed down the teachings of Hinduism through oral stories at first. The orally-preserved tradition and communication makes the records of Hinduism close to the nature of the people of India, and their history.

The main divine principle of Hinduism is that God is one, but his avatars or incarnations are many. Hinduism is not a religion of force. Some moral ideals in Hinduism include nonviolence, truthfulness, friendship, compassion, fortitude, self-control, purity and generosity. These form the basis of the modern history of Hinduism. Each act of Hindu worship reflects some deep spiritual significance.

Since the early days of Hinduism, it has branched and now encompasses a wide variety of religious beliefs and religious organizations. Although a number of factions exist within the Hindu religion. Hindus are known for their religious tolerance and friction is not evident between the various groups. Thus, Hindu thought distinguishes itself by strongly encouraging tolerance for different beliefs since temporal systems cannot claim sole understanding of the one transcendental Truth.

Many Hindus do not eat beef, while many others abstain from eating meat on holy days. A vegetarian diet is encouraged by many Hindus because they believe that all animals have a soul and should not be killed. In fact perhaps the most famous Hindu, Mahatma Gandhi, was a proponent for following a strict a vegan/vegetarian diets. This belief follows absolute nonviolence to all forms of life and stems from the fact that Hindus believe that killing leads to bad karma, and that killing disrupts the individuals close connection to the supreme being.

Fasting is also very common amongst Hindus. Hindus will often fast on certain week days to appease various deities. Certain holy days are also celebrated with fasting. Many Hindus feel that fasting is a form of penance that brings them closer to the Supreme Being.

Baths are an important ritual in the Hindu religion. Baths have been found that may indicate ritual bathing, a component of modern Hinduism. The modern Hindu custom of bathing at the beginning of the day and before the main meals may well have started here.

3 primary factions - Shaivism, Shaktism and Vaishnavism

Hindu Facts:
1. Hindu deity that is nearest in spirit to the Buddha avatar is Jagannath, the god of love and mercy.
2. Hindus do not form congregations and mostly worship at home.
3. Yoga has remained a key part of Hinduism and all its derivatives to this day.