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10 Common Stereotypes about Hinduism

1. Hindus worship millions of gods.

This is factually incorrect. Hinduism is a pluralistic religion, and these gods are different pathways towards the ultimate Godhead, the Ultimate Reality, often referred to as Brahman.

2. Hindus pray to cows.

To make it clear, Hindus do not worship cows. Cows are just given a high level of respect because they give more than they receive. Cows epitomise mother Earth, they are pure, and are thus respected by Hindus.

3. Hindu women who wear red dots on their foreheads are married.

The red dot is called a chandlo or bindi, symbolising a variety of things. In many cases, it does represent a married woman. In other cases, it could be and has been used to display one’s Indian culture and heritage. Another reason why a woman may be wearing a chandlo is to portray her faith and devotion towards God.

4. Hindus believe idols talk back to them during worship.

This, again, is factually incorrect. Hindus are fully aware that the stone statue isn’t going to talk back to them. Firstly, it is not “idol worship.” The correct term is “murti-puja,” meaning worship of the holy image or statue. These murtis are believed to be the living embodiment of God. This enables Hindus to focus more on God whilst praying and offering devotion.

5. Hindus are vegetarian.

Though it’s true that many Hindus are vegetarian, there are even more that are not. To give an example, Hindus that worship Shakti (Goddess) offer meat to the murti (holy statue) and eat the food afterwards as prasad (sanctified food).

6. Hindus cannot and do not drink alcohol.

Again, there are a number of Hindus who do drink alcohol. Shaktas (followers of Shakti) certainly offer alcohol to the murti of the Goddess and drink it afterwards as prasad.

7. People often get confused between the two types of “Brahman.”

Usually, Brahman refers to the Ultimate God or Ultimate Reality. However, the term Brahman used to signify the member of the highest caste system, a synonym of “Brahmin.”

8. The Bhagwad Gita is the “Hindu Bible”.

It is probably the most well known Hindu scripture, but Hinduism is comprised of thousands of sacred scriptures, each differing in importance according to one’s Hindu Godhead and sect. For example, the Vachanamrut is one of the sacred scriptures in the BAPS Swaminarayan Sampradaya (fellowship). The Bhagwad Gita is most commonly important for Hindus who believe Krishna to be the ultimate Godhead.

9. Bawas (bearded holy people) and sadhus (holy saints) use ‘drugs’ to increase their spiritual experience.

This may be the case for some; however, it is certainly not the case for all bawas or religious saints. Hindu mystics used to use “Soma” to heighten their spiritual experiences years and years ago. Typically, in the present day, Hindus disapprove of drugs irrespective of what they may be used for, unless it is prescribed for pain as a form of medication.

10. Hindus are misogynistic.

Misogyny has been a part of all cultures and societies, and is perhaps still a part of cultures in the present day. However, religions and societies evolve over time, and this can been seen today. Many Hindu women around the world can actively participate within their religious fellowship and achieve the ultimate goal for Hindus (moksha)

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