Hinduism is a socio-cultural phenomenon that evolved in the Indian sub-continent and spread to South-East Asia. It does not have a clearly defined God or one dominating philosophy or one holy book or one prophet or one church or one religious hierarchy. The secular and the sacred are not separated. Hence, Hinduism is referred to more as a way-of-life than as a religion.

Some common features of Hinduism are:

  1. Reverence for the Vedas
  2. Belief in God (Bhagawan, Ishvar) who is part of the universe, not distinct from it and who incarnates as innumerable divine beings
  3. Adoration of the mother-goddess (Devi)
  4. Absence of the concept of evil and the Devil; all negative things in life are seen as the products of ignorance and lack of awareness
  5. Ritualism (yagnas, pujas, vratas, samskaras), including idol, plant, animal, ancestor and Nature worship
  6. Belief in reincarnation and the fatalistic acceptance of present situation as a consequence of actions performed in the past life (karma)
  7. Search for liberation from the cycle of existence through guidance of gurus or wise teachers
  8. Balancing righteous conduct (dharma) with material aspirations (artha), sensual pleasures (kama) and spiritual pursuits (moksha)
  9. Acceptance that there are many means (marga) to reach the divine
  10. Caste system (varna, jati)
  11. Belief that Hindus are born and are not products of conversion
  12. Perceiving the environment, the body and the mind as illusion (maya) and only the soul (atma) as the True Self that can be identified with the Supreme Divine Being (brahman)