What Are Some Facts About the Hinduism Religion?

As the world's oldest known religion, Hinduism stemmed from cultural and religious changes occurring in India as opposed to a single founder or founding incident. As of 2015, 13.8 percent of the world's population is Hindu, and 80.5 percent of India's population practices Hinduism. Approximately 0.7 percent of adults in the United States identify as Hindu, whereas 1.8 percent of Pakistanis do. After Christianity and Islam, Hinduism claims the largest number of followers.

Hinduism supports the idea that there are many forms of gods or divinities, yet all come together to shape a universal spirit named Brahman. Three forms of Brahman carry the most significance: Shiva, the destroyer of the universe; Brahma, the creator of the universe; and Vishnu, the preserver of the universe. With the belief in reincarnation, Hindus consider the circumstances of a person's present life as the result of previously accumulated positive or negative behavior in previous lives.

Treated as Goddesses, women are thought to be equal to men in Hinduism. The religion has reshaped itself numerous times to abolish outdated practices. However, Hindus consistently define the four paths to salvation as being bhakti marga, jnana marga, karma marga, and dhyana marga. Bhakti marga entails a commitment to a personal god; jnana marga means to study and form an intellectual understanding into a person's identity with Brahman; giving selfless serice leads to karma marga; and dhyana marga utilizes meditation to uncover the absolute soul.