No, not all Hindus are vegetarian, but a large percentage do favor a vegetarian diet.
There is no specific regulation that commands this of Hindus, but 23%-37% of Indians are vegetarian, with another recent survey finding that as many as 70% of Indians are vegetarian. Being that 80% of the nation identifies as Hindu, there is a discrepancy in the research. Still, the point remains that approximately half of Hindus will opt for a vegetarian diet, typically as a means to avoid hurting other life-forms.
However, even if a Hindu is not vegetarian, they will beforbiddenfrom consuming the two types of meat:
- Beef (as it is a sacred animal that they worship)
- Pork (as it is considered unclean)
This is another reason that Hindus become vegetarian (to avoid confusion).
If a Hindu does eat meat, they will commonly consume:
Some Hindus are Lacto-vegetarian, which means they avoid meat as well as eggs. Others embrace dairy, while some find that to be insulting to the sacred calf. Typically fat or lard consumption is not permitted, but the dairy and animal byproduct exceptions will vary from Hindu to Hindu.
- The Rig Veda (C. 1500 B.C.), the oldest text in Hinduism, states that cow meat was once acceptable, but this is not the case in present day dharma texts. – The Conversation Writes: “Some dharma texts composed in this same period insist that cows should not be eaten. Some Hindus who did eat meat made a special exception and did not eat the meat of cow. Such people may have regarded beef-eating in the light of what the historian Romila Thapar describes as a “matter of status” – the higher the caste, the greater the food restrictions. Various religious sanctions were used to impose prohibition on beef eating, but, as Thapar demonstrates, “only among the upper castes.”
- Why Don’t Hindus Eat Beef? Hindu Dietary Practices; March 6th, 2019.
#2 Are Hindus Monotheistic?
Hinduism has complex views on the notion of God, which causes many to be confused if they are monotheistic or polytheistic. Hindus are simultaneously monotheistic and henotheistic. Believing in one major God, Brahma (the creator), Hindus could be described as Henotheistic.
Henotheism is defined as: “The worship of one God without denying the existence of other gods.
This definition best encapsulates what Hinduism is about – placing the Creator, Brahma, at the forefront of their belief system while still believing in over 33-million other Gods. Since there are millions of Gods – this is where the confusion and case lies for their simultaneous existence of polytheism (as addressed by Oxford University).
Hindus are taught to find their own way in their spirituality and carve their own path, which is allowed to look different for each disciple. The central focus will be to elevate your soul and create good Karma, while worshiping an omnipresent divinity.
Hindus may also consider themselves as being apart of God, or God being apart of them. This is perhaps an abstract notion to some, but Hindus would argue that ‘you are that,’ and ‘that is you,’ which is an English translation of the Sanskrit term, ‘tattvamasi.’
- Is Hinduism Monotheistic or Polytheistic? Hindu Academy; August 23rd, 2018.
#3 Are Hindus Polytheistic?
Yes and no. With over 30 million Gods, this is where some are led to believe that Hindus are innately polytheistic. Despite this, most theology scholars argue that Hindus are not polytheistic, but rather, henotheistic.
You may hear Hindus being described as any of the following:
- Monotheistic – Believing in one true God (because they see Brahma as the Creator)
- Henotheistic – Believing in one true God but not denying the existence of other gods
- Polytheistic – Believing in more than one God
- Pluralistic – Advocating a system of multiple sources of authority that coexist
- Panentheistic – A doctrine that states that God interacts with the universe but has an existence that is still separate from the universe
- Pantheistic – Identifies the belief of a God
- Monistic – A doctrine or the oneness of the universe
- Agnostic – Uncertain about certain Gods
- Humanistic – A philosophical notion that human autonomy and free-will is in existence and valuable
None of these descriptions of Hinduism would be wrong, but you could make stronger cases for some.
- Sacred Texts – The Samaveda Holy Scripture: “The Samaveda, or Veda of Holy Songs, third in the usual order of enumeration of the three Vedas, ranks next in sanctity and liturgical importance to the Rgveda or Veda of Recited praise. Its Sanhita, or metrical portion, consists chiefly of hymns to be chanted by the Udgatar priests at the performance of those important sacrifices in which the juice of the Soma plant, clarified and mixed with milk and other ingredients, was offered in libation to various deities.”
- Hinduism is Pluralistic not Polytheist – Hindu Academy; November 11th, 2015.
- Ancient.eu – Religion in the Ancient World – AHE; February 13th, 2016.
#4 Are Hindu Gods Omnipotent?
Yes, the omnipotent God of unlimited power, force, and authority is that of the God of Creation, Brahma. Hindus believe in more than one omnipotent God, but Brahma is the most powerful of all. Some may argue that Shiva is the most powerful because even the Demons fear him, but Brahma is the creator of the earth and all living things.
With an exceptionally different view of the afterlife than Christians, they do hold a similar notion of the soul someday achieving a higher state of peace, which Hindus refer to as ‘reaching Brahman.’ Reaching this state is achieved after surpassing different levels and karmic challenging that the soul will be placed up against.
There are seven major Gods in Hinduism, converting to seven stages of action for the soul:
- HinduScriptures.in Gods Brahma – “People meditate upon Brahma to attain peace. Brahma Mantra is a crucial part of Brahma meditation. –
Om Namo Rajo Jushei Sristau Sthithou
Sattwa Mayayacha Tamo Mayaya
Sam-Harinei Vishwarupaya Vedhasei
Om Brahmanyei Namaha
(Meaning: Brahma is the creator of the universe. He created the universe with his three nature qualities, positive, negative and dormant. Brahma represents Om, the eternal bliss. Brahma is the supreme God, who brought all things to form. I bow to that divine God Brahma.)”
- 10 Hindu Gods and Goddesses You Need to Know; December 30th, 2019.
#5 Are Hindu Marriages Arranged?
Yes, about 90% of all Indian marriages are arranged, while 80% of all Indians are Hindu.
Divorces are nearly unheard of and the New York Times argues that as many as 95% of Indian marriages are arranged. With a slight discrepancy on the exact figure – It’s clearly an enormous majority.
Prospects have more independence in the choice now than they did historically; however, most Hindus will have their parents select a partner that is:
- Of the same religion
- In a similar class, income-level demographic, or social circle
- Wants children or a similar future as the spouse
It can be a long and drawn-out process that could last for years.
- CBS News – World of Weddings: In India, Arranged Marriages are Stronger than Ever; December 2nd, 2019.
#6 Are Hinduism and Buddhism Similar?
Despite being central to Asia and Africa, the geological connection does not make these two denominations similar in most respects. In fact, these two faiths are incredibly different and should not be conflated.
Hinduism and Buddhism have a similar morality of peace, kindness to living things, and a respect for the soul and self, but the theologies and principles will remain quite distinct.
The primary difference that separates Hinduism from Buddhism is that:
- Hinduism is focused on growing, challenging, and enhancing the self (the soul that is known as Atman, or working within).
- Buddhism is focused on removing earth-bound distractions and attaining a higher self by discarding the egoic nature, ultimately feeling that they are everything and nothing at the same time.
In this respect, Hinduism is about finding the self, while Buddhism is about releasing it.
They do agree on the similarities of:
But they are separated by their differences of:
- View of caste systems
- Approach to authority and priests
You may also keep in mind:
- Hinduism is the oldest religion and the largest (2000 B.C. roughly)
- Buddhism is a new religion (500 B.C.)
- Hindus follow the Vedas and three other primary spiritual texts
- Buddhists follow Buddha and are focused on meditation
This chart from Asian Highlights breaks down these major premises:
- Difference Between Hinduism and Buddhism; Hindu Academy; March 5th, 2020.