Hinduism, at least the modern version, is often called democratic contrasting with the popular Abrahamic religions, whose monotheistic and scriptures based aspects are well known. The nature of the Hindu religion letting people practice any rituals, have faith in any godmen etc is often cited to support the previous statement. Yet, there are many practices of many Hindus that are derided as superstitious by other Hindus. (I use Hindu broadly, and include both nominal and practicing ones.) Even such widespread practices as believing that a priest gets possessed by god and god answers queries through him is considered superstitious and dismissed with disdain. Somehow this looks paradoxical.

To an outsider, or a non practicing Hindu rationalist leaning towards agnosticism or atheism, Hindus worshiping half human half animal entities is no more superstitious than (or as superstitious as) Hindus seeing omen in such things as black cat crossing path, single sneeze, broken mirrors and bangles etc.

That makes me postulate that those activities that don't find any mention in any of the vast corpus of scriptures are considered superstitious. Is this correct? Or does Hinduism actually define superstition in such a way that mainstream practices are excluded?

A related question: Is believing that thunder is due to Indra, rain due to Varuna etc considered superstitious, religious, or amusing and foolishness. I ask this because modern Hinduism is far removed from its Vedic roots when it comes to considering who are gods and which gods can be worshiped.

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    Good question! There's no such thing. Its all just a question of belief. There are four kinds of people practicing Hinduism (inspired by Gita). There are those that seek material benefits. Such people will do anything and everything that the 'pundits' say, so long as they get some material rewards. These people are usually exploited by fake pundits. The second type is those that seek a relief from a problem. Such Hindus run after any and all kind of Hindu rituals and/or superstitions, because they require relief.
    – Sai
    Jul 18, 2016 at 4:14
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    The third are those that seek knowledge. Such people are not satisfied with rituals and/or superstitions. They require more deep logic and reasoning. Such people usually brand everything as superstition and maintain that they are the true Hindus. This is the side which confuses outsiders. However there is a fourth category, who are spiritually mature (ripe). These people know that all three types are Hindus. Each one depending on the goal, practices his own version of the Truth. This is indeed the Highest Hinduism. Ekam Sat Viprah Bahuda Vadanti. All are following Hinduism (in their own way)!!
    – Sai
    Jul 18, 2016 at 4:17
  • @Sai Interesting. Is this your own interpretation or are you paraphrasing a popular Saint or religious leader?
    – vin
    Jul 18, 2016 at 6:36
  • Vin, @Sai is quoting Lord Krishna from Bhagavad Gita. You can read the relevant verse here.
    – Surya
    Jul 18, 2016 at 13:03
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    Indeed as @Surya has kindly cited, its inspired by Gita where Lord Krishna mentions the four kinds of people who come to Him. Good luck!
    – Sai
    Jul 18, 2016 at 14:14

1 Answer 1


Hinduism doesn't define superstition per se. People define supersttion. Just like people, communities, etc. change, so do their beliefs. Superstitons, at least the ones that you have mentioned have come out from the experiences, beliefs, upbringing, culture and societal values of the people of those times. These things keep changing. Yesterday that was a superstition, tomorrow it will be a joke, the day after tomorrow, who knows it will be a valid belief again. Hinduism has no one set of rules. If you read Mahabharat (book 12 Section 2), two consecutive chapters tell different ways of how the world was formed. While the details are different, the basic idea is the same. The same goes with manner of worship or choice of which diety to follow. Everyone must follow their own faith in whichever way they want as long as it does not go against the basic values if humanity and morality ( which everyone knows just by instinct).

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