With about 470 million followers, scholars consider Buddhism one … The study of India and its cultures and religions, and the definition of "Hinduism", has been shaped by the interests of colonialism and by Western notions of religion.  In these texts, Varanasi (Benares, Kashi), Rameshwaram, Kanchipuram, Dwarka, Puri, Haridwar, Sri Rangam, Vrindavan, Ayodhya, Tirupati, Mayapur, Nathdwara, twelve Jyotirlinga and Shakti Peetha have been mentioned as particularly holy sites, along with geographies where major rivers meet (sangam) or join the sea. , Hindus believe that all living creatures have a soul. Timeline: Early History of Hinduism .  Kumbhamela is another major pilgrimage on the eve of the solar festival Makar Sankranti. They primarily belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or LDS, which is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, and has more than 16 ...read more, Revered the world over for his nonviolent philosophy of passive resistance, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was known to his many followers as Mahatma, or “the great-souled one.” He began his activism as an Indian immigrant in South Africa in the early 1900s, and in the years ...read more.  Some festivals are found only regionally and they celebrate local traditions, while a few such as Holi and Diwali are pan-Hindu. Buddhism is a faith that was founded by Siddhartha Gautama (“the Buddha”) more than 2,500 years ago in India. , Moksha (Sanskrit: मोक्ष mokṣa) or mukti (Sanskrit: मुक्ति) is the ultimate, most important goal in Hinduism.  According to Michaels, one out of nine Hindu belongs by birth to one or both of the Brahmanic-Sanskritic Hinduism and Folk religion typology, whether practicing or non-practicing.  Some monastics live in monasteries, while others wander from place to place, depending on donated food and charity for their needs. , Bhakti refers to devotion, participation in and the love of a personal god or a representational god by a devotee. The origin was by Lord Brahma when he created humanity. Hindus revere all living creatures and consider the cow a sacred animal. This philosophy holds that living creatures have a soul, and they’re all part of the supreme soul.  The Smarta tradition developed during the (early) Classical Period of Hinduism around the beginning of the Common Era, when Hinduism emerged from the interaction between Brahmanism and local traditions. When India became an independent nation, its constitution banned discrimination based on caste. The origin was by Lord Brahma when he created humanity. , Hindu practices include rituals such as puja (worship) and recitations, japa, meditation (dhyāna), family-oriented rites of passage, annual festivals, and occasional pilgrimages.  The sacrificed animal is eaten as ritual food. , This "Global Hinduism" has a worldwide appeal, transcending national boundaries and, according to Flood, "becoming a world religion alongside Christianity, Islam and Buddhism", both for the Hindu diaspora communities and for westerners who are attracted to non-western cultures and religions. Hindus value many sacred writings as opposed to one holy book. Buddhism, in fact, arose out of Hinduism, and both believe in reincarnation, karma and that a life of devotion and honor is a path to salvation and enlightenment.  All these sects of Hinduism have welcomed new members to their group, while other leaders of Hinduism's diverse schools have stated that given the intensive proselytization activities from missionary Islam and Christianity, this "there is no such thing as proselytism in Hinduism" view must be re-examined. , The definition of Hinduism in Indian Law is: "Acceptance of the Vedas with reverence; recognition of the fact that the means or ways to salvation are diverse; and realization of the truth that the number of gods to be worshipped is large". Each Veda has been subclassified into four major text types – the Samhitas (mantras and benedictions), the Aranyakas (text on rituals, ceremonies, sacrifices and symbolic-sacrifices), the Brahmanas (commentaries on rituals, ceremonies and sacrifices), and the Upanishads (text discussing meditation, philosophy and spiritual knowledge). But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! The early reports set the tradition and scholarly premises for the typology of Hinduism, as well as the major assumptions and flawed presuppositions that have been at the foundation of Indology. Hinduism embraces many religious ideas. , Bhakti is practiced in a number of ways, ranging from reciting mantras, japas (incantations), to individual private prayers in one's home shrine, or in a temple before a murti or sacred image of a deity. They are the Brahmins: Vedic teachers and priests; the Kshatriyas: warriors and kings; the Vaishyas: farmers and merchants; and the Shudras: servants and labourers. Hindu beliefs are vast and diverse, and thus Hinduism is often referred to as a family of religions rather than a single religion. , Hinduism includes a diversity of ideas on spirituality and traditions, but has no ecclesiastical order, no unquestionable religious authorities, no governing body, no prophet(s) nor any binding holy book; Hindus can choose to be polytheistic, pantheistic, panentheistic, pandeistic, henotheistic, monotheistic, monistic, agnostic, atheistic or humanist. Paul Horsch (Translated by Jarrod Whitaker). It is a way of life and nothing more".  Hindu temples and domestic altars, are important elements of worship in contemporary theistic Hinduism. and 1500 B.C. [web 5] Some conservative thinkers of those times questioned whether certain Shaiva, Vaishnava and Shakta texts or practices were consistent with the Vedas, or were invalid in their entirety. Shaivism is related to Shaktism, wherein Shakti is seen as spouse of Shiva.  Lorenzen traces the emergence of a "family resemblance", and what he calls as "beginnings of medieval and modern Hinduism" taking shape, at c. 300–600 CE, with the development of the early Puranas, and continuities with the earlier Vedic religion. McDaniel (2007) classifies Hinduism into six major kinds and numerous minor kinds, in order to understand the expression of emotions among the Hindus. Hinduism is the world's third most popular religion, with around 750 million followers. Devi is depicted as in gentler forms like Parvati, the consort of Shiva; or, as fierce warrior goddesses like Kali and Durga. Hindus strive to achieve dharma, which is a code of living that emphasizes good conduct and morality. This collection of verses and hymns was written in Sanskrit and contains revelations received by ancient saints and sages. Since the 19th-century Indian modernists have re-asserted the 'Aryan origins' of Hinduism, "purifying" Hinduism from its Tantric elements and elevating the Vedic elements. These duties applied regardless of a Hindu's class, caste, or sect, and they contrasted with svadharma, one's "own duty", in accordance with one's class or caste (varṇa) and stage in life (puruṣārtha). J. Bruce Long (1980), "The concepts of human action and rebirth in the Mahabharata", in Wendy D. O'Flaherty. The cow in Hindu society is traditionally identified as a caretaker and a maternal figure, and Hindu society honours the cow as a symbol of unselfish giving.  A temple incorporates all elements of Hindu cosmology, the highest spire or dome representing Mount Meru – reminder of the abode of Brahma and the center of spiritual universe, the carvings and iconography symbolically presenting dharma, kama, artha, moksha and karma. A female renunciate is called a Sanyāsini. , Beginning in the 19th century, Indian modernists re-asserted Hinduism as a major asset of Indian civilisation, meanwhile "purifying" Hinduism from its Tantric elements and elevating the Vedic elements. Between 1757 and 1947, the British controlled India. 5500–2600 BCE).The beliefs and practices of the pre-classical era (ca. Others believe that all the deities are a manifestation of one. The religion of Hinduism originated in Northern India, near the river Indus, about 4000 years ago and is the world's oldest existing religion. The colonial constructions of caste as being part of Hinduism. [note 1] From a Western lexical standpoint, Hinduism like other faiths is appropriately referred to as a religion. Hindu modernists like Vivekananda see the Vedas as the laws of the spiritual world, which would still exist even if they were not revealed to the sages. , Hindus advocate the practice of ahiṃsā (nonviolence) and respect for all life because divinity is believed to permeate all beings, including plants and non-human animals. Get the answers you need, now! He founded the Brahmo Samaj, a reformist society that influenced Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray, among other leading Indian intellectuals and artists, as part of an attempt to turn Hinduism into a rational, monotheistic religion. Because of the wide range of traditions and ideas covered by the term Hinduism, arriving at a comprehensive definition is difficult.  Jayadeva's Gita Govinda presents criticism via the character of Radha. These actions and their consequences may be in a person's current life, or, according to some schools of Hinduism, in past lives.  Pilgrimage sites are called Tirtha, Kshetra, Gopitha or Mahalaya. Islam ...read more, Every year around October and November, Hindus around the world celebrate Diwali, or Deepavali—a festival of lights that stretches back more than 2,500 years. [note 30] The subsequent period, between 800 BCE and 200 BCE, is "a turning point between the Vedic religion and Hindu religions", and a formative period for Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. , According to the Indologist Alexis Sanderson, before Islam arrived in India, the "Sanskrit sources differentiated Vaidika, Vaiṣṇava, Śaiva, Śākta, Saura, Buddhist, and Jaina traditions, but they had no name that denotes the first five of these as a collective entity over and against Buddhism and Jainism". [note 18] Pennington, while concurring that the study of Hinduism as a world religion began in the colonial era, disagrees that Hinduism is a colonial European era invention. , The word "Hindu" is much older, and it is believed that it was used as the name for the Indus River in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent. The history of Hinduism is often divided into periods of development. The Bhagavad Gita links body and mind to food one consumes in verses 17.8 through 17.10. Followers of Shaktism recognize Shakti as the power that underlies the male principle. [web 4], According to other scholars such as Kim Knott and Brian Hatcher, Sanātana Dharma refers to "timeless, eternal set of truths" and this is how Hindus view the origins of their religion. A Pakistani Hindu family offers prayers and light candles as they mark Diwali, the Festival of Lights, in Lahore, 2016. , A Hindu temple is a house of god(s).  Moksha in these schools of Hinduism, suggests Klaus Klostermaier, implies a setting free of hitherto fettered faculties, a removing of obstacles to an unrestricted life, permitting a person to be more truly a person in the full sense; the concept presumes an unused human potential of creativity, compassion and understanding which had been blocked and shut out.  They worship the Supreme Being variously as Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva, or Shakti, depending upon the sect.  The choice is a matter of individual preference, and of regional and family traditions. , Pilgrimage sites of Hinduism are mentioned in the epic Mahabharata and the Puranas.  Of the Shrutis (Vedic corpus), they alone are widely influential among Hindus, considered scriptures par excellence of Hinduism, and their central ideas have continued to influence its thoughts and traditions. The festivals typically celebrate events from Hinduism, connoting spiritual themes and celebrating aspects of human relationships such as the Sister-Brother bond over the Raksha Bandhan (or Bhai Dooj) festival. Hinduism, major world religion originating on the Indian subcontinent and comprising several and varied systems of philosophy, belief, and ritual. [web 24] Other significant populations are found in Nepal (23 million), Bangladesh (15 million) and the Indonesian island of Bali (3.9 million).  The debate on proselytization and religious conversion between Christianity, Islam and Hinduism is more recent, and started in the 19th century.  This Hindu synthesis emerged after the Vedic period, between c. 500–200 BCE and c. 300 CE, in the period of the Second Urbanisation and the early classical period of Hinduism, when the Epics and the first Puranas were composed. Indian statesman and activist Mahatma Gandhi, 1940.  Doubt plays a repeated role in the Mahabharata.  In the post-Gupta period Vedanta developed in southern India, where orthodox Brahmanic culture and the Hindu culture were preserved, building on ancient Vedic traditions while "accommoda[ting] the multiple demands of Hinduism. The answer to this question is that there is no single founder of Hinduism as Hinduism was not founded as a religion. Zoroastrianism was the state religion of three Persian dynasties, until the ...read more, Buddhism is a faith that was founded by Siddhartha Gautama (“the Buddha”) more than 2,500 years ago in India. Roughly 95 percent of the world’s Hindus live in India. The Bhagavad Gita is an integral part of the Mahabharata and one of the most popular sacred texts of Hinduism. [web 4] In recent years, the term has been used by Hindu leaders, reformers, and nationalists to refer to Hinduism. [web 16] Bhakti-marga is considered in Hinduism as one of many possible paths of spirituality and alternative means to moksha.  Theologically, the reincarnation idea is most often associated with the avatars of Hindu god Vishnu, though the idea has been applied to other deities.  The list of sanskaras in Hinduism include both external rituals such as those marking a baby's birth and a baby's name giving ceremony, as well as inner rites of resolutions and ethics such as compassion towards all living beings and positive attitude.  In larger temples, the central space typically is surrounded by an ambulatory for the devotee to walk around and ritually circumambulate the Purusa (Brahman), the universal essence. , Part of the problem with a single definition of the term Hinduism is the fact that Hinduism does not have a founder. Hinduism was followed by around 79.8% of the country's population of 1.21 billion (2011 census) (960 million adherents). Hinduism is the oldest extant religion in the world, so many details of its origins have been lost.  Hindu dharma includes the religious duties, moral rights and duties of each individual, as well as behaviors that enable social order, right conduct, and those that are virtuous. During parts of the Muslim Period, which lasted from about 1200 to 1757, Islamic rulers prevented Hindus from worshipping their deities, and some temples were destroyed. Its beliefs and practices are based on the Vedas, a collection of hymns (thought to refer to actual historical events) that Aryanscholars had completed by about 800 BC. 2300-1500 BC – A very developed civilization dwells in the Indus Valley with its own religion and culture, and is believed to be the beginnings of Hinduism. to 500 B.C.  The goddess is viewed as the heart of the most esoteric Saiva traditions. [web 7] However, adds Sanderson, this Shaiva ascetic tradition viewed themselves as being genuinely true to the Vedic tradition and "held unanimously that the Śruti and Smṛti of Brahmanism are universally and uniquely valid in their own sphere, [...] and that as such they [Vedas] are man's sole means of valid knowledge [...]".  In contemporary times, there is regional variation among Hindus as to which of these sanskaras are observed; in some cases, additional regional rites of passage such as Śrāddha (ritual of feeding people after cremation) are practiced. [web 22][web 23] Other styles include cave, forest and mountain temples.  According to Deutsch, moksha is transcendental consciousness to the latter, the perfect state of being, of self-realization, of freedom and of "realizing the whole universe as the Self". , The term Hinduism was coined in Western ethnography in the 18th century,[note 16] and refers to the fusion[note 5] or synthesis[note 6] of various Indian cultures and traditions, with diverse roots[note 8] and no founder. What are the Basic Beliefs of Hinduism, Smithsonian Institution. This tradition has come down to us from prehistoric times. , Hindu temples come in many styles, diverse locations, deploy different construction methods and are adapted to different deities and regional beliefs. Nobody asks who founded Helenism.. When was Hinduism founded?  The rites of passage are not mandatory, and vary in details by gender, community and regionally. God Lord Shiva who is “Swaymbhu” is the founder of Sanatana Dharma.  Lorenzen states that the establishment of a Hindu self-identity took place "through a process of mutual self-definition with a contrasting Muslim Other".   The theory is a combination of (1) causality that may be ethical or non-ethical; (2) ethicization, that is good or bad actions have consequences; and (3) rebirth.   The avatars of Vishnu are important in Vaishnavism theology. "The precise origins of Hinduism have so far eluded scholars and other investigators. Moderates then, and most orthoprax scholars later, agreed that though there are some variations, the foundation of their beliefs, the ritual grammar, the spiritual premises, and the soteriologies were the same. " The tendency of "a blurring of philosophical distinctions" has also been noted by Burley.  According to Brian K. Smith, "[i]t is 'debatable at the very least' as to whether the term Vaidika Dharma cannot, with the proper concessions to historical, cultural and ideological specificity, be comparable to and translated as 'Hinduism' or 'Hindu religion'. ", The notion of common denominators for several religions and traditions of India further developed from the 12th century CE.  While these stages are typically sequential, any person can enter Sannyasa (ascetic) stage and become an Ascetic at any time after the Brahmacharya stage.  Texts dedicated to yoga include the Yoga Sutras, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the Bhagavad Gita and, as their philosophical and historical basis, the Upanishads. In the goddess-based Shaktism tradition, avatars of the Devi are found and all goddesses are considered to be different aspects of the same metaphysical Brahman and Shakti (energy).  While avatars of other deities such as Ganesha and Shiva are also mentioned in medieval Hindu texts, this is minor and occasional. , Michaels distinguishes three Hindu religions and four forms of Hindu religiosity. , Karma translates literally as action, work, or deed, and also refers to a Vedic theory of "moral law of cause and effect".  The Kena Upanishad repeatedly asks kena, 'by what' power something is the case. [web 5] This complex tradition accepted in its identity almost all of what is currently Hinduism, except certain antinomian tantric movements. Unlike other religions, Hinduism has no one founder but is instead a fusion of various beliefs.  Elaborate Tilaka with lines may also identify a devotee of a particular denomination.  There are 108 Muktikā Upanishads in Hinduism, of which between 10 and 13 are variously counted by scholars as Principal Upanishads. The Hindus believe that this deepens the understanding of the eternal truths and further develops the tradition. Many of the old customs are overlooked, but some traditions, such as only marrying within a specific caste, are still embraced. Prominent themes in Hindu beliefs include (but are not restricted to) Dharma (ethics/duties), saṃsāra (the continuing cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth), Karma (action, intent, and consequences), Moksha (liberation from saṃsāra or liberation in this life), and the various yogas (paths or practices). , While the Puranic chronology presents a geneaology of thousands of years, starting with the Vedic rishis, scholars regard Hinduism as a fusion[note 5] or synthesis[note 6] of Brahmanical orthopraxy[note 7] with various Indian cultures, having diverse roots[note 8] and no specific founder. This seeing divinity in everything, state Buttimer and Wallin, makes the Vedic foundations of Hinduism quite distinct from Animism. [web 19]  These denominations differ primarily in the central deity worshipped, the traditions and the soteriological outlook. [note 21] The multitude of Devas are considered as manifestations of Brahman. , Despite the differences, there is also a sense of unity.  The religion "defies our desire to define and categorize it". It was created by the English colonialists in the 1830′s and the term “ Hinduism ” came into common use only in the 19th century. The Vedic view does not see this competition, rather sees a unifying divinity that connects everyone and everything. The caste system is a social hierarchy in India that divides Hindus based on their karma and dharma.