Hinduism in India

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Indian Hindus
Om symbol.svg
Total population
1,056,360,000 (2016)[citation needed]
Regions with significant populations
Majority in all Indian states except Jammu and Kashmir, Lakshadweep Islands, Punjab, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland. Large concentrations in Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Tripura. Large populations in Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra and Uttarakhand.
Indian languages · Indian English

Hinduism is the largest religion in India, with 80% of the population identifying themselves as Hindus, that accounts for 1.2 billion Hindus in India[1] as of National Census of India, while 14% of the population follow Islam and the remaining 6% adhere to other religions (such as Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, various indigenous ethnically-bound faiths, Atheism and Irreligion).[2][3][4] The vast majority of Hindus in India belong to Shaivite and Vaishnavite denominations.[5] India is one of the three countries in the world (Nepal and Mauritius being the other two) where Hinduism is the majority.

History of Hinduism[edit]

The Vedic culture developed in India between 1500 BCE and 500 BC.[6] As a consequence, Hinduism, considered to be the successor of Vedic religion,[7] has had a profound impact on India's history, culture and philosophy. The name India itself is derived from Greek Ἰνδία for Indus, which is derived from the Old Persian word Hindu, from Sanskrit Sindhu, the historic local appellation for the Indus River.[8] Another popular alternative name of India is Hindustān, meaning the "land of Hindus".[9]

India saw the rule of both Hindu and Muslim rulers from c. 1200 to 1750 CE.[10] The fall of Vijayanagar Empire to Muslim rulers had marked the end of Hindu dominance in the Deccan. Hinduism once again rose to political prestige, under the Maratha Empire.[11][12]

Reform movements[edit]

In response to the high rate of self authorised religious conversions by Hindus during the Muslim Mughal and Christian British rule, Hinduism in India and abroad (such as Fiji, Mauritius, Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Suriname) underwent a series of reforms, the spearheading organisations being Brahmo Samaj, Arya Samaj. Religious leaders like Swami Vivekananda, Dayananda Saraswati, Ram Mohan Roy, Sri Aurobindo and political leaders like Gandhi called for reform and complete turnover of the social structuring.[citation needed] One example of such reform is when the Hindu body began in 1915.[citation needed] This led to a launch of the shuddhi and sangathan on a large scale in 1923.At this time, the Hindu population was the creation of urban, educated, middle-class leaders. Thus, the sense of religious caste and community identity was far more widespread than ever. The Shuddhi movement stated that anyone who was not Hindu was to convert, and through the Shuddhi movement came the Sangathan movement, a purity movement, which took action against those who were non-Hindu. As northern India was becoming more colonial, the British image of masculinity was projected throughout the different Indian communities. Hinduism was in between what it once was and what others were trying to transform it to be, the new Hindu image was intended to portray a man who could add strength to the community. The Shuddhi and Sangathan programs were launched in 1923 by Arya Samaj and the Hindu Mahasabha, and was intended to combat the growing Muslim population who were trying to remove the Hindus. There were many fights between the Hindus and Muslims as well as abuse toward the Hindu women. These are some of the drivers of the Hindu campaign to "reclaim the victims and protect the faithful" (Gupta). With this new system, the Muslims who were to be converted to Hindus would be put in the same caste system as before with no way of moving up, this caused a struggle between groups. This movement grew quickly for it emphasised the ideal of Hindu masculinity. Through this campaign, the Hindu people were feared and respected and no longer seen as cowardly or helpless. Shuddhi and Sangathan represented the idea that masculinity was restored, and Hinduism would thrive with Shuddhi practices and return power to the Hindu male. Although the Hindu males were gaining more power, they were also illustrating more negative male violence.[13] In 1923, multiple Hindu-Muslim riots broke out to gain the province of India. After the riots broke out, Hindu organizations attained a new importance and conversions were then challenged in an organised manner.[14] Tulsidas, Sant Kabeer Das, Raidas, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu etc. were pioneer of the bhakti movement for the social reformation.

India saw Muslim and later European rule; yet the country remains dominated by Hindus. This religion varies from Monotheism, Polytheism, Pantheism, Atheism and other tendencies, so considering another conception of God another form or avatar of the ultimate reality or creator is certainly possible.

Another reason could be like Buddhism, Hinduism is an ancient religion (the most ancient religion in the world, as a matter of fact) with well-established traditions that cut deeply into Indian daily life. Unlike indigenous American or African religions, which vary from tribe to tribe, these Indian religions spread across the vast entity that was the Indian subcontinent, generally accepted by a majority of Indian ethnic and tribal groups. Hindu civilisation had a long history on its own, with well developed scriptures and traditions. It would be much more difficult to convert members of a religion that was accredited with defining a civilisation than would be tribal peoples.

Hindu nationalism[edit]

Hindu nationalism was promoted by Hindus like:

  1. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar - for the formation of Akhand Bharat
  2. Purushottam Das Tandon - promoted Hindi as the Official language of India
  3. Syama Prasad Mukherjee - founder of Bharatiya Jana Sangh, a Hindu nationalist political party
  4. K. B. Hedgewar - founder of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu nationalist volunteer organisation

The 1947 Partition of India gave rise to bloody rioting and indiscriminate inter-communal killing of Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs. Around 7.5 million Muslims were forced out and left for West Pakistan and East Pakistan (now known as Bangladesh) and 7.2 million Hindus moved to India. This was a major factor in fueling Hindu-Muslim animosity. What followed over the years was the laying of secular principles in the Indian Constitution. The last 60 years have been seemingly peaceful in most parts of the country except with the notable exception of communal riots in 1992 Bombay riots following the demolition of Babri mosque by extremists and 2002 Gujarat riots and the wars fought against Pakistan.

Christian missionary groups from the West seek to convert the populace, Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu, to Christianity, often combined with external aid, education and medical care which Hindu nationalists have seen as an inducement or bribe, and thus have been at loggerheads with right wing Hindu groups.

Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and the Northeast of India are some of the regions where conversion is prevalent. In response to the activities of Christian missionaries in India, the hardline Hindu groups like Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) have aggressively started reconversion of converted Christians as well as Muslims back to Hinduism. The Hindus still form the majority community in most states and territories of the country. Most of the northern and north-western India, especially Gujarat remains the stronghold of Hinduism. There is even reason to believe that Hinduism is growing through the incorporation of tribal belief-systems in specific areas of the northeast. However, in the Kashmir Valley, the Hindu population has plummeted as an outcome of the terrorism when more than 550,000 members of Kashmiri Pandits (Hindus) were forced to leave the valley (mass exodus) by Pakistani militants. Pakistan sponsored the militants attempt to overtake Kashmir from Indian rule in line with presumably the majority Muslim population's desire for independence, which was expressed at independence but overruled by the ruling Hindu Maharajah and the British during partition. In Punjab, the Sikhs form the majority population.


Year Percent Increase
1951 84.1% -
1961 83.45% -0.65%
1971 82.73% -0.72%
1981 82.30% -0.43%
1991 81.53% -0.77%
2001 80.46% -1.07%
2011 79.80% -0.66%

The Hindu percentage has steadily decrease from 84.1% in 1951 to 79.8% in 2011 respectively. After India got independence Hindu percentage in the country stands at 85% approximately during 1947. India around that time have 350 million population out of which 300 million are Hindus. Today, in 2011 India has around 1.02 billion Hindus out of 1.2 billion people.

Hindu population in India[edit]

Hindus as percentage of total population in different states of India (Census 2001).[15]

The Hindu population of India according to the official 2011 census[16] is given below. Most drastic decrease in 1991-2001 period is observed in Manipur, from 57% to 52%, where there has been a resurgence of the indigenous Sanamahi religion. Of the one billion Hindus in India, it is estimated that Hindu Forward caste comprises 26%, Other Backward Class comprises 43%, Hindu Scheduled Castes (Dalits) comprises 22% and Hindu Scheduled Tribes (Adivasis) comprises 9%.[17] Except for Punjab (Sikh majority), Kashmir (Muslim majority), parts of North-East India and Lakshadweep (UT), the other 24 Indian states and 6 union territories have an overwhelming majority of Hindus. Out of the 8 states of Northeast India, Tripura, Sikkim, Assam, Manipur are Hindu majority while the rest four have Hindus in minority. For more detailed figures from 2011 census, see this table.[18]

Region Hindus Total % Hindus
India 966,378,868 1,210,910,328 79.8%
Himachal Pradesh 6,532,765 6,864,602 95.17%
Dadra and Nagar Haveli 322,857 343,709 93.93%
Odisha 39,300,341 41,974,218 93.63%
Chhattisgarh 23,819,789 25,545,198 93.25%
Madhya Pradesh 66,007,121 72,626,809 90.89%
Daman and Diu 220,150 243,247 90.50%
Gujarat 53,533,988 60,439,692 88.57%
Rajasthan 60,657,103 68,548,437 88.49%
Andhra Pradesh 74,824,149 84,580,777 88.46%
Tamil Nadu 63,188,168 72,147,030 87.58%
Haryana 22,171,128 25,351,462 87.46%
Puducherry 1,089,409 1,247,953 87.30%
Karnataka 51,317,472 61,095,297 84.00%
Tripura 3,063,903 3,673,917 83.40%
Uttarakhand 8,368,636 10,086,292 82.97%
Bihar 86,078,686 104,099,452 82.69%
Delhi 13,712,100 16,787,941 81.68%
Chandigarh 852,574 1,055,450 80.78%
Maharashtra 89,703,056 112,374,333 79.83%
Uttar Pradesh 159,312,654 199,812,341 79.73%
West Bengal 64,385,546 91,276,115 70.54%
Andaman and Nicobar Islands 264,296 380,581 69.45%
Jharkhand 22,376,051 32,988,134 67.83%
Goa 963,877 1,458,545 66.08%
Assam 19,180,759 31,205,576 61.47%
Sikkim 352,662 610,577 57.76%
Kerala 18,282,492 33,406,061 54.73%
Manipur 1,181,876 2,855,794 41.39%
Punjab 10,678,138 27,743,338 38.49%
Arunachal Pradesh 401,876 1,383,727 29.04%
Jammu and Kashmir 3,566,674 12,541,302 28.43%
Meghalaya 342,078 2,966,889 11.53%
Nagaland 173,054 1,978,502 8.75%
Lakshadweep 1,788 64,473 2.77%
Mizoram 30,136 1,097,206 2.75%

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Shourie, Arun (1979). Hinduism, essence and consequence: A study of the Upanishads, the Gita, and the Brahma-Sutras. Sahibabad, Distt. Ghaziabad: Vikas. ISBN 9780706908343
  • Ram Swarup, The Word as Revelation: Names of Gods (1980), (1982, revised 1992)
  • Ram Swarup, On Hinduism : reviews and reflections (2000)
  • Ram Swarup, Hinduism and monotheistic religions (2015)
  • Ram Swarup, Meditations : Yogas, Gods, religions (2000)
  • Rajiv Malhotra (2011), Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism (Publisher: HarperCollins India; ISBN 978-9-350-29190-0)
  • Rajiv Malhotra (2014), Indra's Net: Defending Hinduism's Philosophical Unity (Publisher: HarperCollins India; ISBN 978-9-351-36244-9)


  1. ^ "India's religions by numbers".
  2. ^ "Religion Data - Population of Hindu / Muslim / Sikh / Christian - Census 2011 India". www.census2011.co.in. Retrieved 2017-08-13.
  3. ^ "Census 2011: Hindus dip to below 80 per cent of population; Muslim share up, slows down". The Indian Express. 2015-08-26. Retrieved 2017-08-13.
  4. ^ "Muslim population growth slows". The Hindu. Retrieved 2017-08-13.
  5. ^ "Major Branches of Religions". www.adherents.com. Retrieved 2017-08-13.
  6. ^ N. Siegel, Paul. The meek and the militant: religion and power across the world. Zed Books, 1987. ISBN 9780862323493.
  7. ^ Hoiberg, Dale. Students' Britannica India. Popular Prakashan, 2000. ISBN 9780852297605.
  8. ^ "India", Oxford English Dictionary, second edition, 2100a.d. Oxford University Press.
  9. ^ "Hindustan definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary". www.collinsdictionary.com. Retrieved 2017-08-13.
  10. ^ Neusner, Jacob (2009-10-07). World Religions in America, Fourth Edition. Westminster John Knox Press. p. 189. ISBN 9781611640472.
  11. ^ Tinker, Hugh (1966). South Asia: A Short History. University of Hawaii Press. p. 18. ISBN 9780824812874.
  12. ^ Ganesha on the Dashboard p. 176, V. Raghunathan, M. A. Eswaran, Penguin
  13. ^ Gupta, Charu (2 October 2014). "Anxious Hindu masculinities in colonial North India: Shuddhi and Sangathan movements". ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials: 441–454.
  14. ^ Gupta, Charu (1 January 2011). "Anxious Hindu masculinities in colonial North India: Shuddhi and Sangathan movements". ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials: 441–454.
  15. ^ Population by religious communities Census of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt of India
  16. ^ "Indian Census". Censusindia.gov.in. 14 May 2012. Archived from the original on 12 May 2008. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
  17. ^ Sachar, Rajinder (2006). "Sachar Committee Report (2004–2005)" (PDF). Government of India. p. 6. Retrieved 27 September 2008.
  18. ^ "C-1 Population By Religious Community". Census of India. Retrieved 2016-06-23.