By James M. Rochford

Hinduism comes from the Sankrit name for the Indus River: Sindhu. Nigosian writes, “The Persians, who found it difficult to pronounce an initial s, called it Hindu.”[1] According to a 2012 Pew Research Study, there are roughly one billion Hindus on Earth today—roughly 15% of the population.

Halverson writes, “The vast majority of Hindus—some 700 million—live in India, where they account for 82% of the population.”[2] While Hinduism is a very popular religion, many are unclear as to what Hinduism teaches. In writing this article, we appealed primarily to three secular sources: Nigosian’s World Religions, Hopfe’s Religions of the World, and Carmody’s Ways to the Center.

History of Hinduism We cover the origin of Hinduism from its Aryan roots, as well as its reformation from animal sacrifice to pantheistic meditation.

Hindu Scriptures We explain the different Hindu holy books including the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the Bhagavad-Gita.

Comparing Hinduism with Christianity How does Christianity compare to Hinduism? We explore the theological, rational, and moral differences between the two views.

Communication Guidelines We do not suggest blasting your Hindu friend with all of this material in conversation, because it would most likely be overwhelming. We would compare this to waking someone up from a deep sleep by dumping a bucket of ice water on their lap. While this might work in waking them up, it will also alienate the person in the process. A more tactful approach is in order. For this reason, consider these guidelines in dialoguing with Hindu friends and family.


[1] Nigosian, World Religions: A Historical Approach. Third Edition. Boston: Bedford/St.Martin’s, 2000. 21.

[2] Halverson, Dean C. The Compact Guide to World Religions. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1996. 87.