#1 Is Hinduism The Oldest Religion?
Yes, Hinduism is referred to as the oldest religion; however, practitioners of the religion/dharma feel that its origin commenced long before the birth of mankind, making it a history that lies beyond earth’s metric of time. Emergency around 2300 B.C. – Hindus would state that Hinduism is the ‘eternal way.’
Scholars project that Hinduism has roots dating back to more than 4,000 years ago, finding traces of it’s culture in the Indus Valley area, near modern-day Pakistan.
The oldest religions on record are:
- Hinduism (founded between 15th-5th century BCE)
- Zoroastrianism (founded between 10th-5th century BCE)
- Judaism (founded between 9th-5th century BCE)
- Jainism (founded between 8th-2nd century BCE)
- Confucianism (founded between 6th-5th century BCE)
- Buddhism (founded between 6th-5th century BCE)
- Taoism (founded between 6th-4th century BCE)
- Shintoism (founded between 3rd BCE and 8th century C.E.)
- The Vedas – Ancient Sanskrit Text Dating Back to c. 1500 BCE – Ancient.eu; Published June 9th, 2020.
- Hinduism – The World’s Oldest Religion Explained; Published August 5th, 2016.
#2 Is Hinduism A Religion?
Yes, Hinduism is the world’s oldest religion, but is sometimes referred to as more of a:
- Way of life
Debatably all of these things, Hinduism encapsulates a code of behavior that is reflected in the day-to-day living of the 1.2-billion current followers.
Nonetheless, across the world, people refer to Hinduism as a classifiable ‘Eastern Religion.’
80% of India’s population considers themselves Hindi.
Considered a process of truth-seeking, Hindus believe the soul is not bound by this earth, sentenced to cycle through it in reincarnation until samsara is achieved, and the freedom of your soul into Moksha. Only through disconnecting to the world’s pleasures and pains can one truly be free of it, and reach deep spiritual peace.
- BerkleyCenter.edu – Hindu Scriptures: Hinduism boasts a diverse collection of sacred writings. Hindu sacred texts are classified as either Shruti (“heard,” meaning revelation) or Smriti (“remembered,” meaning tradition). The former is comprised of the Vedas, the oldest and most authoritative of Hindu scriptures, which deal largely with rituals; the Brahmanas, commentaries on the Vedas; and the Upanishads, philosophical and metaphysical texts that have been central to the spiritual development of the tradition. Together, the Shrutis form the corpus of Vedic thought and literature. The Smritis are the epics, like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata; mythological texts known as Puranas; theological treatises called Agamas; and philosophical texts called Darshanas. Despite being a part of the larger Mahabharata, the Bhagavad Gita is widely considered Smriti, as it is believed to be the tradition’s most powerful condensation of the broad spectrum of Vedic thought.
- University Center Research – Eastern Religions: Hinduism; Updated June 11th, 2020.
#3 Why Hindus Celebrate Holi?
The Holi festival is an effervescent and lively celebration in the Hindu denomination and culture that celebrates:
- The arrival of spring
- The triumph of good over evil
- The beauty of life
- The beauty of color
For these reasons and more, Hindus take to the streets in late February through March and splash colors on one another, throwing dyes made of flowers, and enjoying the fluorescent themes behind fun and celebration.
Additional reasons that Hindus celebrate Holi are:
- They believe it is linked to games the Gods would play
- Lord Krishna would play this sort of sport
- It represents the flirtatiousness of Gods
- It represents the seasons and disconnects one from the material world
As disconnecting from the material world is one of the main pillars of Hinduism, this celebration is a revered and treasured time for union and commemoration.
- The Smithsonian: “If blue is the spiritually complex color of the gods, green is the color of nature and happiness. It’s the color of another manifestation of Vishnu, Prince Rama, who spent most of his life in exile in the forest. In Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh in central India, married women often wear green bangles and a green sari in Rama’s honor; a widow, however, never wears green.
Yellow is also associated with the third caste, of Vaisyas, or merchants. The 3,500-year-old Rig Veda book of sacred hymns refers to Lord Vishnu as tantuvardhan, or weaver, because he is said to have woven the rays of the sun into a garment for himself. He and Krishna are almost always shown dressed in yellow. In paintings of these deities, artists in India sometimes used one of the stranger pigments in history: Indian yellow.
“Color is a physical thing: It’s not just a surface,” said the British artist Anish Kapoor in a BBC interview, in explaining his bold use of primary colors. “… It’s that sort of interplay between the ‘stuffness’ of color and its illusory, somewhat evasive, ‘other’ qualities that much of the work is about.”
- What is Holi – When is The Hindu Festival of Colours and How is it Celebrated? – Indepdent.co; Published March 9th, 2020.
#4 Why Hindus Don’t Eat Beef?
The majority of Hindus do not consume beef because the cow is considered a sacred animal that represents prosperity in life and their ancient history. Referenced in The Vedas, the oldest spiritual text in Sanskrit, the cow is considered to be akin to ‘mother earth.’
With a large population of Hindus favoring the consumption of milk, cheese, and other dairy-byproducts, this is seen as generally acceptable.
Despite this, the consumption of cow meat is seen as taboo. Nearly a third of all Hindus are vegetarian, and around 80% do not consume meat (according to data sourced from the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutions of Health).
The Hinduism spirituality surrounding cows could lead some to argue that they worship the cow to some degree. Yes, Hindus do venerate and honor the cow as a holy symbol of life. The reasons Hindis find cows to be sacred is due to their:
- Ability to nourish the body with milk
- Link in The Vedas (the holy scripture of Hinduism) that referencing a cow as the mother of all Gods.
- Aliveness; intrinsically sacred and deserving of an existence without inflicted harm or ‘murder.’
Nonetheless – Hindus do not worship cows as explicitly or earnestly as their one true God, Brahman. While there are many gods and goddesses in the Hinduism denomination, Brahman is the mandated authority of all.
- Hindu Scriptures – The Vedas on Cow Worship: “This is how we revere the earth as our mother. And finally, the Go matha is the fifth mother according to Indian traditions. The cow nourishes human beings with her milk. She is revered as a mother figure in Indian culture.
Reference in the Scriptures
The various synonyms of the word go or gau given by Vedic dictionary are Aghnya, Aditi, Usriya, Ahee, Mahee, Jagati. The sacred cow was referred to as mother or sister and stood for wealth, prosperity and auspiciousness. The Atharva Veda, 10 (10) hails the sacred cow as verily Vishnu.
The Go Suktham forms part of the Rig Veda and like all other sukthas, is an example of lyrical beauty. This hymn is attributed to Rishi Bharadwaj and it extols the virtues of the cow.”
- Why Hindus Don’t Eat Beef? – Hindu Dietary Practices; March 6th, 2019.
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