FAQs on Hinduism

If we really want to understand a religion, we should read its scriptures first. But in general, we understand a religion by its followers and make certain opinions about it. As Hinduism is a very old religion and is practiced in different ways by people in different regions of the world and especially India, it is obvious that non-Hindus have lots of misunderstandings about it and most of them do not know what the authentic Hinduism is. The same is true for the Hindus themselves also because what one Hindu from a particular region understands what Hinduism is, is different than what others are observing in a different region. Plus, as Hindu scriptures are written in Sanskrit, most of them do not read them and follow what they have been told to since their childhood.

This article encompasses frequently asked questions on Hinduism. We will try to answer each and every question about Hinduism in this article so that it would be easy to understand Hinduism. If you have any question, please feel free to ask it.

1. Are there 330 million Gods in Hinduism?  Why does Hindus have so many Gods?
Answer: It is the biggest misconception about Hinduism that Hindus worship 330 million Gods making Hinduism a polytheistic religion, but in fact, Hinduism believes in only one God but allows its followers to worship the God in many forms such as nature (including trees, sun, idols, animals, etc.) and persons (Lord Krishna, Lord Rama, Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, etc.). These persons are called devas (deities) and are often confused by calling Gods. Devas are celestial beings that control forces of nature such as fire, air, wind, etc., which is same as Christians worship Jesus and Buddhist worship Lord Buddha as messengers of God. They are not to be confused with the One and the Supreme God. The God is a different thing and deity is a different thing. These words should not be confused together. Most of the deities are mainly considered incarnation of Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, and Devi Parvati.

In Vedic Hinduism, there were 33 devas, which later became exaggerated to 330 million devas. In fact, all the devas are themselves regarded as more mundane manifestations of the One and the Supreme Brahman (God) for devotional worship. The Hindus do not literally worship 330 million separate gods. The Sanskrit word for “ten million” also means “group”, and “330 million devas” originally meant “33 types of divine manifestation.

2. What is Sati system? Does Hinduism support Sati system?
Answer: The Sati is a funeral practice among some Hindu communities in which a recently widowed woman would either voluntarily or forcefully immolate herself on her husband’s funeral pyre. That is, if a woman’s husband dies before her, she will have to immolate herself. This practice was stopped in 1829 by British Government because of the valuable efforts by Raja Ram Mohan Roy, a Hindu social activist.

It is to be noted that only a few communities among Hindus used to practice Sati or Suttee system. Sati or Suttee system is not at all supported by the authentic Hinduism. There is no scripture in Hinduism which supports this system.

It is unclear why and how this barbaric tradition emerged but I think it must have been emerged due to prohibition of second marriage for a woman.

3. Is it true that to become a Hindu you have to born as a Hindu only?

Answer: Actually, Hinduism was not founded as a religion. Therefore, the there is no reference to conversions in Hindu scriptures. The philosophy of Hinduism is open to all and you do not need to convert to accept it.

Initially, people did not use to accept those who converted to Hinduism but the conditions have changed now. There are a number of organizations like ISKCON, Arya Samaj, and others who actively preach Hinduism and guide those people who want to become Hindus.

Therefore, it is not true that to become a Hindu you have to born as a Hindu only.

4. Is it necessary to become an ascetic in order to attain salvation?

Answer: No. Becoming an ascetic to attain a salvation is just one of the different ways to attain salvation. One can attain salvation by spending one’s life as a common person. Bhakti Yoga is the easiest way to attain salvation for a common person.