Hinduism is one of the world’s major religions and holds the distinction of being the most ancient of the world’s religion. It is known as Sanatan Dharma (Eternal Religion). The Everlasting Religion, Hinduism was founded, exists and flourishes in India. There are over one billion Hindus today. Most are in India, but Hindus live all over the world. Sizable Hindu populations live in Nepal, Mauritius, Fiji, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Guyana, Indonesia, Australia, America, Canada, England, New Zealand and some other countries. Australian census 2000 indicates that with more than 100,000 Hindu families in Australia, Hindu religion is rapidly on the increase in the country.
What is Hinduism? Is it a religion or is it a culture? The truth is – it is both a religion and a way of life. Hinduism is a way of life, a philosophy on life. Hinduism asks each one of us to search for Divine within us. In their homes most Hindus maintain a little shrine set aside for devotional worship or puja. We are all divine and each one of us has the capacity to realise divinity within us; therefore each one of us is a Hindu by birth. It is through ignorance we do not know our divinity. Under the umbrella of Hinduism, today one finds numerous religious denominations promoting and practicing the Hindu philosophies throughout the world.
India gave to the world the original, oldest and most profound philosophy of life. The brilliant ancestors of present-day Indians explored the Truth behind our existence and gave several philosophies and theories to define the Truth. The ultimate truth aims to reach Moksha when one goes beyond the cycle of birth and death. At the same time, they created a set of rules for “good living” on this earth.. However, the rules for good or “Dharmic” living that they lay down constitute the Hindu religion. That the Supreme can be worshipped in any form is a concept unique to Hinduism. Hinduism gives form and shape to these “works” of the Infinite with the Hindu Trinity – Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. “Brahma” creates, “Vishnu” sustains, and “Shiva” destroys or consummates everything in the Universe.
At different periods of time, many genuine Rishis, Saints and Sages born in India have cleansed, reformed and revitalised Hinduism and made it relevant to their times. The Saints and Sages were called Rishis because they had seen truth with their purified minds. A Sage or a Saint, in the context of Hinduism, is one who has directly experienced god. The Revealed Divine Truths are called Vedas. The ‘Vedas’ are the primary scriptures of Sanatan Dharma. The Vedas shaped ancient Indian society and governed ethics and morality. The Vedas can be identified in terms of their origin into “Shruti” (verbal) and “Smriti”(written). A Sage named Krishna Dvaipayana ( Ved Vyasa) recorded and documented them as Yajur Veda which was the original Veda. Due to its voluminous content it was classified into four categories:
- Yajur Veda (sacrifice)
- Rig Veda (Chanting)
- Sama Veda (music)
- Atharva Veda (modern science)
The sages who shaped the Hindu religion merely reiterated the knowledge of the Vedas.
The majority of the Hindu population lives in Asia.
If percentage is taken into account, then Nepal has the highest population of Hindus at 81.3 per cent. This is followed by India at 79.8 per cent and Mauritius at 48.5 per cent.
In terms of numbers, India has the largest number of Hindus in the world. Out of a population of 1,285,000,000, according to the 2011 census, the Hindu population of the country stands at 1,025,430,000.
It has been estimated that less than 1 per cent of the Hindu population reside outside of Asia and the Pacific.
Apart from India and Nepal, the other eight countries that have the largest Hindu population in the world, include Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, United States, Philippines, and South Africa. However, countries that have 500,000 Hindu residents and citizens also include – United Kingdom, Mauritius, Fiji, and Canada.
Here is a list of the main countries where the most Hindu population lives.
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