What Do Hindus Believe?

Hinduism has no founder. There is no figure like Buddha, Jesus, Confucius or Muhammad. Hinduism is inseparable from the Indian subcontinent, though it has spread far beyond India and is now the third largest religion in the world. The word “Hindu” was originally a geographical term, used by the Persians for the people of the Indus River region. Later Muslim invaders called it Hindustan, the country of the people of Hind/Sind. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the term “Hinduism” was coined to describe the religion, customs, culture and way of life of the peoples of India.

Hinduism contains many strands, developed over long periods in different regions. The Aryans are believed by many to have occupied the Indus Valley area around 1500 BC. They had beliefs and practices similar to those of other peoples of the Middle East and the Mediterranean. They composed the hymns of the Rig Veda, the earliest scriptures of Hinduism. While they contained signs of belief in one creator God, the hymns reflect many gods, representing forces of nature. Over time there was a gradual fusion of the beliefs and culture of the Aryans with that of the indigenous peoples.

Hinduism has developed into a complex system of varied ideas and beliefs. Because of its continued assimilation of local traditions and views, it is difficult to define the common beliefs and practices accepted by all Hindus. It could be said there are as many forms of Hinduism as there are Hindus. Below is a summary of some of Hinduism’s central beliefs:

  •  God is at the center of life for Hindus, believed to be incarnated and to be worshiped in many different forms.
  • Suffering and justice All life is caught in a cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth. One central Hindu answer to the problem of suffering is the law of karma—cause and effect. Whatever you do in this life, you will reap the consequences in your next reincarnation. To have a chance that your next life will turn out better, you must accept your duty to fully embrace and accept your current one.
  • Duty and a way of life For the average Hindu the most important thing is to fulfill your duty—to the gods, your guru and your family—according to your unique place in the social structure. This duty is called dharma, a word which can also be translated “religion”. Fulfilling your dharma could be the best summary of the Hindu way of life.
  • Family and society Every Hindu is born into a network of relationships within the family and caste group. It is this social structure that has held together all the diverse beliefs and practices of Hinduism.
  • The goal of life There are different goals according to one’s stage of life and place in society. But the ultimate goal is moksha, liberation from both maya (the illusion that our lives are real) and samsara (the cycle of reincarnation). For many Hindus the hope of moksha is of course quite distant, and the search for peace and protection is much more immediate.

Today the influence of Hinduism has spread far beyond India through the teachings of modern gurus, the scattering of Hindus around the world, and the New Age movement.

From The Hindu World Prayer Guide

Hinduism Worldwide

Globally, the number of Hindus is around 1.1 billion (compared to 2.5 billion Christians and 1.9 billion Muslims) and is expected to rise to nearly 1.4 billion in mid-century (remaining fairly stable at 15 percent of the world’s total population, which is about 7.8 billion in 2020 and projected to be about 9.8 billion in 2050).

The five countries with most Hindus

Of the five countries that are home to the largest number of Hindus, only the first two (India and Nepal) have a Hindu-majority population.

INDIA is the world’s second most populous country and is expected to surpass China within the next decade. Of India’s population of 1.4 billion, 80 percent is Hindu. Muslims, who number 195 million, make up 14 percent, thus making India the world’s second-ranking Muslim country.

NEPAL is the only other country in the world with a majority Hindu population. About 81 percent (or 24 million) of Nepal’s total population of 29 million is Hindu.

BANGLADESH has a Hindu population of about 15 million (9 percent of the total population of 165 million).

INDONESIA, with more Muslims than any other country, also has a Hindu population of about 4.5 million or 1.7 percent of the total population of 274 million; most of the Hindus live on the island of Bali.

PAKISTAN, which ranks third in the list of countries with the most Muslims, has a Hindu population of about 3.4 million (1.6 percent of the total population of 221 million).

Countries with a significant percentage of Hindus

48% Mauritius 28% Guyana 22% Trinidad & Tobago

30% Fiji 22% Bhutan 20% Suriname

Hindus in North America

The number of Hindus in North America is close to 3 million and is expected to nearly double by mid-century. By then:

• CANADA The country’s nearly half a million Hindus will increase to one million.

USA The number of the USA’s nearly 2.3 million Hindus will rise to 4.8 million. Based on US Census data 2013–2017, India is reported to be the most common non-USA country of birth (excluding Mexico) in 21 US states.

From The Hindu World Prayer Guide

They Had Plans but God Had Better Plans . . .

Natalie* and Sue hosted an online prayer time with local believers. Amil and Zara, a husband and wife, joined them. They chatted for a few minutes before turning to prayer. After several minutes, Zara and Amil indicated that another man, Hami, was with them when they asked the ladies to pray for his daughter. They did so, then invited Hami to pray as well.

At this point, Natalie and Sue discovered that Hami was not a follower and had no idea what they had been talking about or praying for. He began to ask questions about the Word, saying he needed to understand everything about their faith! They talked for about an hour. Natalie and Sue mentioned several passages for them to read together.

The next day Zara texted them about what had happened. Zara, Amil, and Hami had continued discussing spiritual things, and Hami took home a copy of the Word. He had read until 6 am, unable to put it down. 

Natalie and Sue had plans for an evening of prayer, but let their plans go. God had better plans in store! Pray for Hami as he absorbs the Word of God. Pray God opens his mind to understand the Scriptures. (Luke 24:45)

*pseudonyms

Prayer for the Hindu World

Join us we set aside time to learn about and pray for our world’s Hindu neighbors. The 15 Days of Prayer for the Hindu World occurs annually around the five-day festival of Diwali, one of Hinduism’s most popular holidays.

Due to lunar calendar calculations for those Diwali dates, the 15-day periods also vary each year. This year Diwali is celebrated on Sunday, November 14. Diwali is known as the festival of light, celebrating the victory of good over evil, light over darkness. It is a joyous time that brings families together and encourages reflection to also banish darkness and impurity from one’s own life. It is a five-day festival, with the third day being the most important one.

Our intention during these focused days of prayer is not to disparage either India or Hinduism in any way. Our aim with these days of focused prayer is to shed light on some of the mystifying diversity of our world’s Hindu neighbors and to motivate Christian prayer for (and respectful engagement with) them.

As Christians we understand that we have been blessed so we can be a blessing to the nations (Galatians 3:8). Thank you for joining us as we learn more about Hindu neighbors and how to pray for them. May the Holy Spirit guide you and speak to you as you pray.

Pray that during these holy days of Diwali that Jesus would reveal himself to Hindus around the world as the one true God of the universe. Visit our blog each day for the next 15 days and learn how you can pray for the Hindu world.

From The Hindu World Prayer Guide

 

Unable to Breathe, He was Turning White . . .

Two months into COVID-19, *Asad’s 7-year-old nephew got sick. He had a high fever and difficulty breathing. Asad and his extended family went to support his brother’s family. They decided to take the boy to the hospital but were denied access at the first COVID check-point. They had to return home.

The boy got worse. Unable to breathe, he was turning white. Everyone feared for his life. 

Asad, a follower of Isa al Masih (Jesus the Messiah), knew God was in control and had a plan for the whole situation, including his Muslim family. Through the Spirit’s strength and in front of everyone, Asad prayed, asking God to heal the boy in the name of Isa al Masih

Right away, Asad felt “a ‘tension’ leave the boy’s body,” and within a few hours his nephew asked for food. The following day, he was out playing with his friends! 

God is in the business of reaching people through His Word, His healing power, and His Spirit — all within the difficult contexts of our lives! Asad’s family witnessed the grace and power of God. Pray that as Asad follows up with them, they will also choose to become followers of Jesus.


*pseudonyms

Are You Quick to Obey?

*Joel has been leading a disciple-making training in the Tibetan Himalayas. One of its critical components is reproducibility. The participants are immediately released to practice the principles and train others to do likewise. Out of all the groups Joel has trained, this one has been the quickest to obey Scripture. They are all eager to see God’s kingdom come in their communities. 

In lesson two, they looked at the Great Commandment from Mark 12 and at Deuteronomy 6. Based on these passages, Joel trains people to do and say intentional things in their daily lives that show others they are followers of Jesus. 

The following week, they discussed the results. Several had had spiritual conversations with people they had known for years but with whom they had never before shared their faith. One woman was able to share what it means to be a follower of Jesus after someone saw the way she handled a disagreement with a coworker. Another person shared how he led two people to the Lord that week by following God’s commands in Deuteronomy 6!

Pray for this group to continue their exuberant obedience to God’s teachings. Pray they would see abundant and lasting fruit.

*pseudonym

A Crippled Girl Walks

Rindu* was eight years old and had never walked. A team prayed diligently with her and her family while seeking the help of a physical therapist. Soon Rindu became able to stand for a short time. Then she took her first unsteady steps.

Her family witnessed the power of God! When asked if they would like to learn about him through stories of the prophets and Jesus, they readily said yes. Today, Rindu and her mother, father, and older sister have all come to faith. They have been baptized and gather regularly to worship the Lord in a house church format. 

While the family is very poor and lacks self-confidence, the transforming power of the gospel has convinced them that God can use them. Rindu’s mother and sister are sharing with others in the hopes of starting new groups of followers.

Please pray for An*, who is mentoring this family: for spiritual growth for each member, and for their house church to multiply through the birth of new groups.

*pseudonym

Convicted to Clean Out the Weeds

As part of their discipleship training in an East Asian country, four women read the familiar parable of the sower in Mark 4. After multiple readings, they talked about what they learned about God and humans from the parable. Then, wanting to obey the truths from the story, they turned to the Holy Spirit to speak to them about personal application. 

*Jean realized that she needs to change the reflexive, habitual way she thinks about what church means. Ellie saw that she should learn Disciple-Making principles so she could more easily flex with what worked within the society and the diverse individuals in it. Abby became convicted to clean out some “weeds” in her own life. Finally, Deb was struck by the need to sow seeds generously so there would be a plentiful harvest from the seeds that fell on good soil.

What a beautiful picture of how God teaches his children to listen to his voice and obey him!

As the facilitator, Deb did not craft a message that she wanted the others to receive. Instead, she trusted the Holy Spirit to speak directly into each individual’s situation. And Deb expects these women will learn from the experience and lead others to do the same!

*pseudonyms

We Can Plant Seeds but God Grows Them

Olive* had to leave Asia and return home unexpectedly, but she stays in touch with friends via social media. One day she received a text from Celia* saying she had started a Discovery Bible Study(DBS) and had a question. In the DBS, an unbeliever had asked something not covered in the passage. “I remembered you said not to ‘teach’ in the group. What should we do when someone asks a question like that?” 

Olive was surprised and delighted. Celia had attended a DBS she had facilitated seven or eight years prior, but they had only met a few times since. Olive joyfully answered that asking questions was best. Sometimes a facilitator will guide the group to another Bible study that allows the group to find the answer themselves with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. 

Celia had watched Olive do a DBS all those years ago. Now Olive assists and watches over Celia’s DBS from afar, answering questions and encouraging her as she helps others discover the truth about Jesus. “How amazing it seems to me that she remembered lessons from long ago and felt led to begin a group!” Olive says. “We can plant seeds, but God makes them grow.”

*pseudonyms

Ten Characteristics of a Book of Acts Church

Roh’s* parents came to faith and were baptized, but Roh wasn’t around when her parents studied the Bible. She is 15 years old and had been spending lots of time at a friend’s house. In Indonesia, girls her age often get married, so Anisa,* a national colleague of Beyond’s field leaders, met with Roh to express her concerns. She invited Roh to study the Bible with her. 

God used his Word to open Roh’s heart. She became a follower of Jesus and was baptized.

Pray for Anisa as she disciples this household to apply the ten characteristics of a healthy house church, as seen in the early church in Acts. A group covenants to follow Jesus together. They are baptized and study and obey God’s word together. They fellowship together and care for one another in many ways, including through the giving of offerings. They celebrate the Lord’s Supper, worship, and pray as a group. They live out a commitment to share the gospel with non-believers. As the church develops, caring leaders are raised up from among the group.

Pray this family would be joined by others and become a church that would birth similar churches for God’s glory. 

*pseudonyms