Statistically, there are over 700 million Hindus, mainly in Bharat (India), and Nepal. Hinduism is referred to as Sanatana, Dharma, the eternal faith. Hinduism is not strictly a religion. It is based on the practice of Dharma, the code of life. Detailed explanations of Hindu texts are found in Veda page and the links pointed to from there. Since Hinduism has no founder, anyone who practices Dharma can call himself a Hindu. He can question the authority of any scripture, or even the existence of the Divine.
Hinduism is monotheistic believing in Trinity of the One God - Brahma the creator, Vishnu the sustainer, and Shiva the destroyer and consumer. These three aspects are manifested throughout nature in different forms around us and within us perpetually. That the Supreme Personality can be worshipped in any form is a unique concept in Hinduism. It should be clear from the above that Hinduism worships multiple forms of the one God. Such worship is truly a tribute to His greatness.
Hinduism is also known as "Sanatana Dharma" to Hindus. In Sanskrit, the original language of India, 'Sanatana' means Everlasting and 'Dharma', by a crude translation, means Religion. The Everlasting Religion, Hinduism was founded, exists and flourishes in India.
Hinduism is probably known to most people outside India as a religion. The truth is - it is both a religion and a way of life. 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 defined multiple philosophies and theories that explained this truth. However, they also created a set of rules for "good living" on this earth. The philosophical concepts that Indians gave to mankind are eternal and constitute no religion by themselves. However, the rules for good or "Dharmic" living that they laid down constitute the Hindu religion. Most people mistake the term "Hinduism" to be only a religion.
The message of Sanatana dharma (Hinduism) is perennial and will never become outdated with time. This religion does not have a starting point in history and the sages who shaped it merely reiterated the teachings of the Vedas (Hindu scriptures). The Vedas are believed to have no origin.
Hinduism is henotheistic as it does not deny the existence of others. This is like the First Commandment of the Jewish-Christian faith. "Thou shalt have no other Gods before me." God is to be worshipped first and any other gods come in descending order. Later interpretations gave the meaning that no other gods exist. Judaism and Christianity moved from henotheism to an exclusive belief in one god.
Hinduism believes in Karma. God does not give Karma, each person creates his own bad karma comes from our own bad behavior as good Karma comes from our good behavior. It is the law of cause and effect. We throw out to others good thoughts, words, deeds; it comes back to us (in time) through other people.
Reincarnation means to "reenter the flesh." Hindus believe the soul to be immortal and keeps reentering a fleshy body time and again into to resolve experiences and thereby learn all lessons life which the material world has to offer. It is the manner that a person resolves his Karma for final reunion with the God Brahma.
The symbol is the most important symbol in the Hindu religion. It is pronounced - OM - and signifies God Almighty. Om means "That which hath no Beginning nor End". The chanting of Om and meditation on the symbol are believed to bring health, prosperity, and longevity to the spiritual aspirant.
Beliefs of Hindus are multitudinous. No brief review is adequate. We only hope that this will give a touch of the spirit of a few of the most vital beliefs and spur you on to learn more.