According to the latest estimates there are over 4200 religions in the world, out of which “Christianity” is the largest one in the world, followed by “Islam”. But, surprisingly, “Christianity” is not the oldest religion existing. Which is the oldest? It is the third religion by its expansion: “Hinduism”.
The religion dates back about 4000 years and today has more than 900 million followers, 95% of which live in India. The religion doesn’t have any specific founder as it is, and that’s why it’s difficult to trace its roots. Though some scholars claim that this religion started between 2300 B. C. and 1500 B. C. in the Indus valley, near Pakistan. But Hindus actually claim that their belief existed always. The uniqueness of this religion lies in the fact that it is not a single religion, but a compilation of many moral philosophies and traditions. After I would like to present the symbols of this religion and some basic beliefs.
There are two basic symbols of Hinduism: “the om” and “the swastika”. The latter means ‘good fortune’ in Sanskrit, and thus the symbol represents ‘good luck’.
“The om” symbol is composed of three Sanskrit letters and represents three sounds – a, u, m. These sounds present a sacred sound when combined. The symbol is quite often found in Hindu temples.
Now about basic beliefs. This religion embraces many religious ideas, that’s why it is sometimes referred to as “A way of life”. Hindus believe in the doctrines of “samsara” (continuous cycle of life and death) and “karma” (the law of cause and effect). One of the key beliefs of Hinduism is “atman”: the basic idea of which is that all living creatures have a soul and they are all part of the ‘supreme’ soul. Another interesting fundamental principle is the idea that people’s actions and thoughts determine their present life and future. Hindus consider food an important part of life, though most don’t eat beef or pork. Hinduism is closely related to other Indian religions: “Buddhism”, “Sikhism”, “Jainism”.
Hindus worship many gods, most prominent ones are:
Brahma – the god who created the whole world and all living things
Vishnu – the god that protects the universe
Shiva – the god who destroys the universe to recreate it
Krishna – the god of compassion and love
Saraswati – the goddess of learning
As you can see there is a bunch of colors in this religion, let’s find out the importance of some of them. Red symbolizes positive concepts, so at wedding ceremonies (you should have seen such scenes in Indian movies) brides wear red dress, put red dye on their hands, as it is a sign of purity. It also symbolizes passion, strength, sensuality, but this meaning is spread in many cultures. White symbolizes rebirth, new beginning, it is also a symbol of death. Widows wear white while mourning to detach themselves from society. Blue represents bravery, protectiveness, determination, peacefulness. The skin of some Hindu gods (Vishnu, Krishna, Shiva) are depicted in blue. Yellow is the color of light, warmth, happiness, new beginning. The clothes of Krishna, Vishnu are depicted in this color.
So, each religion of the world is unique by its history and moral ideas. That’s quite interesting to dive deeper into this world and find new and new things that are ubiquitous and surprising for us.