How Many Adherents Does Hinduism Have

What Is Hinduism?

Hinduism is an ancient philosophy, with an estimated four billion adherents around the world. It is the fourth largest religion in the world after Christianity, Islam and Buddhism, with more than 800 million followers. Founded more than 5,000 years ago, Hinduism is based on several diverse and disparate beliefs and customs. It is amongst the oldest of all existing religions, and many of its core beliefs have been adopted and adapted by other religions over time.
Hinduism has no single founder or scripture. It is an amalgamation of various cultural, religious and philosophical elements, forming a religion that is often viewed as a way of life rather than simply a faith system. This distinction is important. Hindus believe that ultimate truth, Dharma (the cosmic law and order) is transcendent, unknowable and unknowable. Dharma informs the Hindu way of life and presents it as an experience rather than a doctrine.
The Vedas, the ancient Hindu scriptures, are the oldest existing scriptures in the world, believed to have been composed as early as 1500 BC. Over the centuries, other scriptures were added, such as the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and the Laws of Manu. There are also various works of literature, literature, art and architecture that exemplify Hinduism’s beliefs and sense of beauty.
Hinduism does not have a single dogma or a single set of beliefs. This freedom of interpretation allows for a great diversity of traditions and practices. There are a variety of Hindu sects and denominations, from Vedanta to Shaivism to Vaishnavism to Shaktism, each with its own take on theology, ritual and practice.

How Many Adherents Does Hinduism Have?

Hinduism is the world’s fourth largest religion. According to the World Religion Database, it has 1.2 billion adherents all over the world, making up 15% of the global population (United States Department of State 2011). It is the predominant religion in India, with 79% of the population identifying as Hindus, and the second most popular religion in Nepal and Singapore (Hodgkin & Kurian, 2016).
Hinduism is also influential in many countries in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia, and in the Caribbean islands of Trinidad, Tobago and Suriname. It has also experienced a surge in popularity in the United Kingdom, with over 800,000 individuals identifying as Hindu as of the 2011 Census (Our World in Data, 2019).
The large population of Hindus is explained by a number of factors, from the relative ease of conversion to the expansive diaspora of Indian citizens living abroad (Saraswati 2012). It’s also often assumed that Hindus are highly tolerant of other faiths, which has enabled it to spread to a wide range of countries, with varying cultures and world views.

Challenges Facing Modern Hindus

Despite the expansion of Hinduism across the globe, it continues to face several setbacks. In India, there have been claims of widespread discrimination and intolerance towards non-Hindus (Kapadia, 2018). Additionally, in some foreign countries, Hindus continue to be considered outsider communities, and often experience derision and misunderstanding from the majority.
This is compounded by the convoluted and ever-evolving nature of Hinduism, which can make it difficult for foreign adherents to define or identify their beliefs and practices. As a result, many Hindus struggle to find their place within the global community, and are denied access to the same basic rights and freedoms as other citizens in their respective countries.
There is also a great diversity of thoughts and practices amongst the Hindu faithful, which can make it difficult to find consensus on matters of doctrine and rituals. This diversity can often lead to disagreements and disunity, with followers continuing to debate over the interpretation and practice of various aspects of Hinduism.

How Can Hindus Overcome Such Challenges?

Hindus must strive to foster better understanding and acceptance of their unique beliefs and practices. It is important to promote education, both within the Hindu community and in society at large, so that outsiders can understand and appreciate the various aspects of Hinduism.
Hindus should also learn to embrace their differences and unite as a community. This can be encouraged by creating platforms and events that allow Hindu followers to club together and engage in meaningful dialogue about their shared values. Such initiatives will go a long way in promoting greater cohesion and unity among the Hindu faithful.
At the same time, Hindus must actively engage with other religions, cultures and lifestyles. They should break down barriers of ignorance and prejudice, and share the beauty of their faith and its sublime values with the world. They should also take part in interfaith dialogues, where Hindus learn from and share with other faith groups, about the commonalities and differences between them.

What Can Hindus Do To Preserve Their Beliefs?

Hindus should take care to preserve the ancient beliefs and practices of their faith. They should be proactive in documenting, compiling and sharing their faith’s religious texts, folklore and traditional stories. These can be shared among believers, ensuring the continuity and transmission of Hinduism’s rich culture and beliefs.
Additionally, the initiation of the Hindu ritual of Upanayana is crucial in order to pass down the teachings and traditions of Hinduism. Upanayana is the traditional Hindu ceremony in which a boy receives his sacred thread and is formally inducted into his adulthood.
It is also essential for Hindus to be aware of the changing contexts and interpretations of their beliefs. As times and attitudes change, Hinduism has also evolved, and Hindus should remain open to changes and advancements in their faith. This can be achieved through the study of the Vedas, Upanishads and other scriptures, as well as through civic engagement and progressive thought.

How Can Hindus Celebrate Their Faith?

One of the best ways for Hindus to celebrate their faith is by taking part in festivals and rituals. From Diwali and Holi to Jagannath Rath Yatra and Thaipusam, Hindus can take part in religious practices and rituals that will help them appreciate and embrace the multifaceted nature of their faith.
Hindus can also engage with the global Hindu diaspora, connecting and making use of the many cultural and religious elements present in different continents. This provides Hindus the opportunity to recognize their heritage, as well as to forge meaningful interfaith relationships and celebrate commonalities between the two religious traditions.
It is also important for Hindus to promote their faith within their respective communities. This can be done through the establishment of temples, associations or religious schools which will help bring together Hindus from different locations in order to embrace and express their faith.

How Can Hindus Connect With The Wider World?

Hindus should strive to create a space for respectful, meaningful dialogue between their faith and the diverse cultures and religions across the world. They should seek to foster a passion for interfaith understanding, and break down barriers between cultural and religious differences.
Hindus can engage the wider world by highlighting their faith’s cultural and artistic elements, such as texts and stories, sculptures, music and theater. They can educate and inform others about the commonalities and differences between several of the major world religions, as well as point out the challenges that Hindus face in various parts of the world.
By turning to interfaith dialogues, Hindus can show that their religion holds many of the same ethical and moral principles as other faiths, and can be used to provide moral guidance and spiritual sustenance to believers. This can serve to break down prejudices between cultures, as well as demonstrate the diversity of Hindu thought, emphasizing the importance of both universal and localized values.

Jennifer Johnson is an experienced author with a deep passion for exploring the spiritual traditions of different cultures and religions. She has been writing about religion and spirituality for the past ten years in both print and digital platforms, engaging readers in meaningful dialogue about the soul's journey through this life. With degrees in Comparative Religion and English Literature, she brings an insightful perspective to her work that bridges the gap between traditional knowledge and modern theories. A lifelong traveler, Jenn has lived in multiple countries exploring various paths to understanding faith, and her dedication to learning new things is palpable in every piece she creates.

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