This temple in Prambanan on the Indonesian island of Java is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.
© picture-alliance / dpa
Hinduism is the most important religion in India. It began around 2000 BC. Today, there are some 800 million Hindus living in India. Hindus believe that every person (Hindu translates as “person”) belongs to a particular “caste”. A caste is a particular social class that is strictly separated from all other classes in society. The highest caste consists of priests (Brahmans). Then come warriors, farmers and craftsmen and, finally, servants. People outside the castes are called “pariahs”; they have no rights and are ostracised by society. As in Buddhism
, according to Hindu teachings people have to go through a long cycle of rebirth and death before being redeemed. It is possible for a person to be reborn as an animal, which is why many Hindus do not eat meat. Although Hindus do not worship a god or the founder of their religion, as is the case with the other world religions (Christianity
and Buddhism), there is a large number of Hindu deities to whom they pray and make sacrificial offerings. The most important of these are the god Brahma, who created the world, the god Vishnu, who preserves life, and the god Shiva, who stands for the transience of life, and death. Ganesha, the god of wisdom, is very popular with Hindus, because he always helps.
Gerd Schneider / Christiane Toyka-Seid