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Religion
Hinduism

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Hindusim

Hinduism claims to be the world's oldest religion. It's also a very complicated one - so complicated that it defies breaking down into the bite-sized chunks of information that we quizzers love.

The first issue is how many gods there are in Hinduism. Some sources say it's a monotheistic religion, with only one God. If this were true, to talk about Hindu gods of this, that and the other (as we do in respect of the ancient European mythologies) would be nonsense. Other sources, however, describe Hinduism as polytheistic. This page on the BBC website goes one better, by contradicting itself in its own introduction:

"Contrary to popular understanding, Hindus recognise one God, Brahman, the eternal origin who is the cause and foundation of all existence.

"The gods of the Hindu faith represent different expressions of Brahman.

"Different Hindu communities may have their own divinities whom they worship, but these are simply different ways of approaching the Ultimate.

"Hindus recognise three principal gods ..."

The "three principal gods" are listed in the following section.

I note that when writing about "one God", 'God' has a capital G; whereas when writing about more than one god, the g's are in lower case. I've got a feeling that's probably as close as I'm going to get to resolving this issue ...

The Hindu Trinity

Creator of the Universe: "the unborn", "the lord of all life" Click to show or hide the answer
"The Preserver": Hindus believe that the Ganges flows from his feet Click to show or hide the answer
God of destruction: "the Destroyer", also "the Restorer" Click to show or hide the answer

Other

Descent of a deity to Earth in bodily form Click to show or hide the answer
Most sacred city of the Hindus: probably India's oldest city, on the banks of the Ganges in Uttar Pradesh. More properly known as Varanasi Click to show or hide the answer
Decoration worn in the centre of the forehead, close to the eyebrows, by women in South Asia - most closely associated with the Hindu religion: traditionally a bright red dot, but can also be of other colours, with a sign or a piece of jewellery; from Sanskrit bindu, meaning a drop, small particle, or dot Click to show or hide the answer
Name used in the Hindu faith for the Ultimate Reality – the essential cause of everything that exists Click to show or hide the answer
The highest caste, representing teachers, scholars and priests Click to show or hide the answer
The Hindu's "duty" to respect and care for all living things Click to show or hide the answer
Festival held in October or November, known as the Festival of Lights Click to show or hide the answer
Sacred animals that support the Earth Click to show or hide the answer
Hindu god with the head of an elephant (also revered by Buddhists) Click to show or hide the answer
Sacred river of the Hindus Click to show or hide the answer
Bird of Hindu mythology – the mount of Vishnu; gave its name to Indonesia's national airline Click to show or hide the answer
Popular conception of devotion to God, often appearing as a monkey Click to show or hide the answer
Festival where Hindus spray each other with coloured water Click to show or hide the answer
Ruler of the gods, and king of heaven Click to show or hide the answer
Incarnation of Vishnu beneath whose car Hindus were believed by Europeans to immolate themselves Click to show or hide the answer
Goddess of time and change; name means 'black'; consort of Shiva, on whose body she is often seen standing. Originally associated with death and war Click to show or hide the answer
The concept of "action" or "deed", the sum of everything a person does; often associated with destiny; summarised as "as you sow, so shall you reap" Click to show or hide the answer
Sanskrit epic, dating to the 8th century BC, said to be the longest epic poem ever written; tells the story of Krishna (among other things) (cf. Ramayana) Click to show or hide the answer
Festival whose name literally means "nine nights" in Sanskrit: held five times a year (the most important being in September or October), to celebrate the nine forms of the mother goddess Shakti (synonymous with Devi) Click to show or hide the answer
Town in Rajasthan where Brahma is said to have fallen to earth on a lotus flower: one of the five sacred Hindu pilgrimage sites – often said to be the principal one Click to show or hide the answer
Sanskrit epic of the 1st century BC, telling the story of Rama, "an ideal man", who is the seventh of the ten avatars of Vishnu (cf. Mahabharata) Click to show or hide the answer
Custom of a widow immolating herself on her husband's funeral pyre (illegal in India since 1829) Click to show or hide the answer
Mandir(a) Click to show or hide the answer

© Haydn Thompson 2017