What is the historical background of Hinduism


This temple in Prambanan on the Indonesian island of Java is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. (& copy picture-alliance / dpa)

World religion

Like Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism, Hinduism belongs to the world religions. It originated around the 2nd millennium BC. Today there are approximately 880 million followers of this religion worldwide. Most of them, around 800 million, live in India.
Hindus in a ritual bath during a Hindu festival month in Kathmandu, Nepal. (& copy picture alliance / Photoshot)

Teachings of religion

"Hindu" translates as "man". Hinduism assumes that every person belongs to a certain "caste". That means that everyone has their designated place in a social class. Society has different classes, each of which has a different value. They are strictly separated from each other. The uppermost caste are priests (Brahmins), then come warriors, peasants and artisans and finally servants. Outside the box are the "parias", the unlawful and outlawed. Similar to Buddhism, according to Hindu teachings, people have to go through a long cycle of rebirth and death before they are redeemed. One can also be born again as an animal, which is why many Hindus do not eat meat.

Lots of deities

The Hindus do not worship a god or founder of their religion, as is the case with the other world religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism). But there are a multitude of Hindu deities who are prayed to and offerings made to. The most important deities are the god Brahma, who created the world, the god Vishnu, who sustains life, and the god Shiva, who stands for transience and death. Ganesha, the god of wisdom, is very popular with the Hindus because he always helps.
Hindu women make offerings at a religious temple festival in India. (& copy dpa)

You can find the number of followers of all major religions in Germany and worldwide under the keyword "Religion".

Source: Gerd Schneider / Christiane Toyka-Seid: The young politics encyclopedia from www.hanisauland.de, Bonn: Federal Agency for Civic Education 2021.