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Hindu denominations are traditions within centered on one or more gods or goddesses, such as , , and . Sometimes the term is used for led by a particular with a particular philosophy.Julius J. Lipner (2009), Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, 2nd Edition, Routledge, , pages 377, 398

Hinduism has no central doctrinal authority and many practising Hindus do not claim to belong to any particular denomination or tradition. Four major traditions are, however, used in scholarly studies: , , and .Lance Nelson (2007), An Introductory Dictionary of Theology and Religious Studies (Editors: Orlando O. Espín, James B. Nickoloff), Liturgical Press, , pages 562–563 These are sometimes referred to as the denominations of Hinduism, and they differ in the primary deity at the centre of the tradition.SS Kumar (2010), Bhakti – the Yoga of Love, LIT Verlag Münster, , pages 35–36 A notable feature of Hindu denominations is that they do not deny other concepts of the divine or deity, and often celebrate the other as equivalent.

(2021). 9781452245188, SAGE Publications. .
The denominations of Hinduism, states Lipner, are unlike those found in major religions of the world, because Hindu denominations are fuzzy with individuals practising more than one, and he suggests the term "Hindu polycentrism".Julius J. Lipner (2009), Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, 2nd Edition, Routledge, , pages 371–375

Although Hinduism contains many denominations and philosophies, it is linked by shared concepts, recognisable rituals, , , pilgrimage to sacred sites and the questioning of authority.

(2021). 9780826499660, Continuum.

Hindus subscribe to a diversity of ideas on spirituality and traditions, but have 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, monotheistic, monistic, , or .Julius J. Lipner (2009), Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, 2nd Edition, Routledge, , page 8; Quote: "(...) one need not be religious in the minimal sense described to be accepted as a Hindu by Hindus, or describe oneself perfectly validly as Hindu. One may be polytheistic or monotheistic, monistic or pantheistic, even an agnostic, humanist or atheist, and still be considered a Hindu."Lester Kurtz (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace and Conflict, , Academic Press, 2008MK Gandhi, The Essence of Hinduism, Editor: VB Kher, Navajivan Publishing, see page 3; According to Gandhi, "a man may not believe in God and still call himself a Hindu."

Hinduism as it is commonly known can be subdivided into a number of major currents. Of the historical division into six (philosophies), two schools, and Yoga, are currently the most prominent.

(2021). 9780857930736, Edward Elgar. .
Classified by primary deity or deities, four major Hinduism modern currents are (Vishnu), (Shiva), (Shakti) and (five deities treated as same). These deity-centered denominations feature a synthesis of various such as Samkhya, Yoga and Vedanta, as well as shared spiritual concepts such as , , , , ethical precepts such as , texts (, , , Agamas), ritual grammar and rites of passage.Julius J. Lipner (2010), Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, 2nd Edition, Routledge, , pages 17–18, 81–82, 183–201, 206–215, 330–331, 371–375

Six generic types (McDaniel)
McDaniel (2007) distinguishes six generic types of Hinduism, in an attempt to accommodate a variety of views on a rather complex subject:J. McDaniel Hinduism, in John Corrigan, The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Emotion, (2007) Oxford University Press, 544 pages, pp. 52–53
  • , based on local traditions and cults of local and extending back to prehistoric times, or at least prior to written .
  • or "Vedic" Hinduism as practised by traditionalist ().
  • Hinduism, including (), based on the philosophical approach of the .
  • Hinduism, especially the sect based on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
  • Hinduism or "daily morality", based on and upon societal norms such as Vivāha (Hindu marriage customs).
  • or devotionalist practices

In , a sampradaya ( ) is a denomination.Julius J. Lipner (2009), Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, 2nd Edition, Routledge, , page 398 These are teaching traditions with autonomous practices and monastic centers, with a lineage, with ideas developed and transmitted, redefined and reviewed by each successive generation of followers.Julius J. Lipner (2009), Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, 2nd Edition, Routledge, , pages 375–377, 397–398 A particular lineage is called . By receiving into the parampara of a living guru, one belongs to its proper sampradaya.

Folk Hinduism
McDaniel (2007) classifies into six major kinds and numerous minor kinds, in order to understand expression of emotions among the Hindus.June McDaniel "Hinduism", in John Corrigan, The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Emotion, (2007) Oxford University Press, 544 pages, pp. 52–53 The major kinds, according to McDaniel are, Folk Hinduism, based on local traditions and cults of local and is the oldest, non-literate system. It is pre-vedic tradition extending back to prehistoric times, or before written of Vedas. Folk Hinduism involves worship of deities which are not found in Hindu scriptures. It involves worship of (village deity), (household deity) and local deities. It is folk religion or tribal religion, polytheist, sometimes animistic religion based on locality, community, form of worship with countless local texts in local language. In most cases these religions have their own priest, most worship only regional deities(in villages or among a subcaste- Kuldevta, Gramadevata) whose myth of origin linked to place of worship or their own pantheon which also includes spirits or defied heroes. Human can often be possessed by these gods or spirits. From the perspectives of Brahmanic or Sanskritic Hinduism, the form of worship are considered impure in many cases, so the folk religion is quite often tension with the Brahmanic hinduism. In the so called folk hinduism, folk form of Brahmanic-Sanskritic Hinduism are usually combined with aspects of folk religion.
(2021). 9780691089522 .

Main denominations

is a devotional stream of Hinduism, which worships the god as the Supreme Lord (). As well as Vishnu himself, followers of the sect also worship Vishnu's ten incarnations (the ). The two most-worshipped incarnations of Vishnu are Krishna (especially within ) and Rama, whose stories are told in the and the respectively. The adherents of this sect are generally non-ascetic, monastic and devoted to meditative practice and ecstatic chanting. Vaishnavites are deeply devotional. Their religion is rich in saints, temples and scriptures.

The Vaishnava sampradayas include:

  • (Sri-Vaishnava Sampradaya)//// is associated with . The principal are and . Sri subsampradayas:
    • Thenkalais. Manavala Mamunigal's sect is the oldest Vaishnava sect in India. This sampraday was followed by , , . The lineage of Acharya is , next Lakshmi and then Vishweksenar, Nammalwar, Nathamuni, Uyyakondar, Manakal Nambi, Alavandar, Periya Nambi, and finally as per the Vadagalai sampradaya.
    • Vadakalais
      • Munitraya
  • Ramanandi Sampradaya, also known as the Ramayat Sampradaya or the Ramavat Sampradaya adheres to the teachings of the Advaita scholar . This is the largest monastic group within Hinduism and in Asia, and these Vaishnava monks are known as Ramanandis, Vairagis or Bairagis.Selva Raj and William Harman (2007), Dealing with Deities: The Ritual Vow in South Asia, State University of New York Press, , pages 165–166James G Lochtefeld (2002), The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: N–Z, Rosen Publishing, , pages 553–554Ramdas Lamb (2008), Theory and Practice of Yoga (Editor: Knut A Jacobsen), Motilal Banarsidass, , pages 317–330
  • Brahma Sampradaya is associated with , who is the Para-Brahma (Universal Creator), not to be confused with the deity. The founder of this sampradaya was the philosopher . Its modern form is or .
  • Gaudiya Vaishnavism is associated with Brahma Sampradaya, and is associated with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (Gaurangacharya):
    • International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
    • ISKCON Revival Movement
    • Science of Identity Foundation
    • Sri Sri Radha Govindaji Trust
    • Vaishnavism of Manipur was significantly influenced by Gaudiya Vaishnavism and continues to be followed across Manipur with well-defined traditions and devotional practices.
  • Kumara Sampradaya is the tradition associated with . The principal acharya is , hence Nimbarka Sampradaya.
  • . The principal acharya is , the founder of .
  • Swaminarayan Sampradaya or Swaminarayanism, based on the teachings of :
    • BAPS
    • ISSM
    • ISSO
    • NNDYM.

Other Vaishnavite schools and the principal connected with them are:

Shaivas or Shaivites are those who primarily worship as the supreme god, both and transcendent. Shaivism embraces at the same time (specifically ) and dualism. To Shaivites, Shiva is both with and without form; he is the Supreme Dancer, ; and is , without beginning or end. Shiva is sometimes depicted as the fierce god . Saivists are more attracted to than devotees of other Hindu sects, and may be found wandering India with faces performing self-purification rituals. They worship in the temple and practice yoga, striving to be one with Shiva within.

The major schools of Śaivism include:

Other branches:

  • or is a distinct Shaivite tradition in India, established in the 12th century by the philosopher and social reformer . It makes several departures from mainstream and propounds through worship centered on Lord in the form of or Ishtalinga. It also rejects the authority of the and the caste system.
    (1973). 9780140442700, Penguin India. .
    " Lingayat." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 09 Jul. 2010.
  • Aaiyyanism is a religion claiming to be a form of pure Dravidian Hinduism and identifying as a Shaivite branch. It is incorporated in the Aaiyyan World Forum.
  • Indonesian Shaivism.

Shaktas worship Goddess as Mother , in different forms. These forms may include , /, and . The branch of Hinduism that worships the goddess, known as Devi, is called . Followers of Shaktism recognize as the power that underlies the male principle, and Devi is often depicted as (the consort of Shiva) or as (the consort of Vishnu). She is also depicted in other manifestations, such as the protective or the violent . Shaktism is closely related with Tantric Hinduism, which teaches rituals and practices for purification of the mind and body.

Animal sacrifice of cockerels, goats and to a lesser extent water buffaloes is practiced by Shakti devotees, mainly at temples of Goddesses such as Bhavani or Kali.

(2021). 9780691120485, Princeton University Press.
(2004). 069112048X, Princeton University Press. 069112048X

The main traditions are:

The Goddess-centric traditions within Kashmir Shaivism are and .

Smartas treat all deities as same, and their temples include five deities (Pancopasana) or as personal saguna (divine with form) manifestation of the nirguna (divine without form) Absolute, the . The choice of the nature of God is up to the individual worshiper since different manifestations of God are held to be equivalent. It is nonsectarian as it encourages the worship of any personal god along with others such as Ganesha, Shiva, Shakti, Vishnu, Surya.
(2007). 9781602063365, Cosimo. .

The Smarta Tradition accepts two concepts of Brahman, which are the – the Brahman with attributes, and – the Brahman without attributes.Anantanand Rambachan (2001), Heirarchies in the Nature of God? Questioning The "Saguna-Nirguna" Distinction in Advaita Vedanta, Journal of Hindu–Christian Studies, Vol. 14, No. 7, pages 1–6 The nirguna Brahman is the unchanging Reality, however, the saguna Brahman is posited as a means to realizing this nirguna Brahman. The concept of the saguna Brahman is considered in this tradition to be a useful symbolism and means for those who are still on their spiritual journey, but the saguna concept is abandoned by the fully enlightened once he or she realizes the identity of their own soul with that of the nirguna Brahman.William Wainwright (2012), Concepts of God, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University A Smarta may choose any saguna deity ( istadevata) such as Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti, Surya, Ganesha or any other, and this is viewed in Smarta Tradition as an interim step towards meditating on Om and true nature of supreme reality, thereby realizing the nirguna Brahman and its equivalence to one's own Atman, as in .

The movement is credited to (~8th century CE), who is regarded as the greatest teacher and reformer of the Smartha. According to Hiltebeitel, Shankara established the nondualist interpretation of the Upanishads as the touchstone of a revived smarta tradition. The Sringeri Sharada monastery founded by Acharya in Karnataka is still the centre of the Smarta sect.

Halbfass states that, although traditions such as and may be regarded as "self-contained religious constellations", there is a degree of interaction and reference between the "theoreticians and literary representatives" of each tradition which indicates the presence of "a wider sense of identity, a sense of coherence in a shared context and of inclusion in a common framework and horizon". It is common to find Hindus revering Shiva, Vishnu and Shakti, and celebrating festivals related to them at different times of the year. Temples often feature more than one of them, and Hinduism is better understood as polycentric theosophy that leaves the choice of deity and ideas to the individual.

The key concepts and practises of the four major denominations of Hinduism can be compared as below:

+Comparison of four major traditions of Hinduism
(1999). 9788876528187, Gregorian Press. .
(1970). 9781474280808, Bloomsbury Academic. .
(2021). 9780800699703, Fortress Press. .
(2013). 9781134157747, Routledge. .
(2021). 9789812307545, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore. .
(2021). 9789042015104, Rodopi. .
Stephen H Phillips (1995), Classical Indian Metaphysics, Columbia University Press, , page 332 with note 68
(1992). 9780195070453, Oxford University Press.
(2021). 9781590562819, Lantern. .
(1998). 9780299159047, University of Wisconsin Press. .
John A. Grimes, A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy: Sanskrit Terms Defined in English, State University of New York Press, , page 238Eliott Deutsche (2000), in Philosophy of Religion : Indian Philosophy Vol 4 (Editor: Roy Perrett), Routledge, , pages 245-248
(2021). 9780195347135, Oxford University Press. .
(2021). 9789004152113, Brill. .
(1996). 9780791427064, SUNY Press. .
(2021). 9788180695445, Concept. .

Other denominations

Suryaism / Saurism
The Suryaites or Sauras are followers of a Hindu denomination that started in Vedic tradition, and worship as the main visible form of the . The Saura tradition was influential in South Asia, particularly in the west, north and other regions, with numerous Surya idols and temples built between 800 and 1000 CE.
(2021). 9780391041738, BRILL. .
(1982). 9780391025585, Abhinav Publications. .
The Konark Sun Temple was built in mid 13th century.
(2021). 9780691125947, Princeton University Press. .
During the iconoclasm of Islamic invasions and Hindu–Muslim wars, the temples dedicated to Sun-god were among those desecrated, images smashed and the resident priests of Saura tradition were killed, states André Wink.
(1997). 9789004102361, BRILL Academic. .
(2021). 9780691125947, Princeton University Press. .
The Surya tradition of Hinduism declined in the 12th and 13th century CE and today remains as a very small movement except in Bihar / Jharkhand and Eastern Uttar Pradesh. Sun worship has continued to be a dominant practice in Bihar / Jharkhand and Eastern Uttar Pradesh in the form of Puja which is considered the primary festival of importance in these regions.

Ganapatism is a Hindu denomination in which Lord is worshipped as the main form of the . This sect was widespread and influential in the past and has remained important in .

Indonesian Hinduism
Hinduism dominated the island of Java and until the late 16th century, when a vast majority of the population converted to . Only the who formed a majority on the island of , retained this form of Hinduism over the centuries. Theologically, Balinese or Indonesian Hinduism is closer to Shaivism than to other major sects of Hinduism. The adherents consider the supreme god, and all other gods as his manifestations.

The term "Agama Hindu Dharma", the endonymous Indonesian name for "Indonesian Hinduism" can also refer to the traditional practices in , , and other places in Indonesia, where people have started to identify and accept their agamas as Hinduism or Hindu worship has been revived. The revival of Hinduism in Indonesia has given rise to a national organisation, the Parisada Hindu Dharma.

Shrauta communities are very rare in India, the most well known being the ultra-orthodox Brahmins of . They follow the "Purva-Mimamsa" (earlier portion of Vedas) in contrast to Vedanta followed by other Brahmins. They place importance on the performance of Vedic Sacrifice (). The Nambudiri Brahmins are famous for their preservation of the ancient Somayaagam, Agnicayana rituals which have vanished in other parts of India.

is a sect of Hindus, especially found in South India and Sri Lanka where Lord is the Supreme Godhead. Lord Muruga is considered superior to the Trimurti. The worshippers of Lord Muruga are called Kaumaras.

Newer movements
The new movements that arose in the 19th to 20th century include:Farquhar, John Nicol. Modern Religious Movements in India, Kessinger Publishing (2003), .

Slavic Vedism
Slavic, Russian, Peterburgian Vedism or simply VedismMichael F. Strmiska. Modern Paganism in World Cultures. ABC-CLIO, 2005. p. 222: "In addition to Ukrainian Paganism, Russian and Pan-Slavic varieties of Paganism and "Slavic Vedism" can also be found in Ukraine."Portal "Religion and Law". Монастырь «Собрание тайн» или «Дивья лока»: второе пришествие индуизма в России? . 2013-04-30 are terms used to describe the one of the earliest branch of Slavic Native Faith ("Rodnovery")—contemporary indigenous development of forms of religion in , especially of 's communities, other , and generally all the post-Soviet states. The word "Vedism" comes from the verb "to know" ( vedatʼ)—a semantic root which is shared in and languages alike.
(2021). 9781472460271, Routledge.

Slavic Vedism involves worship Vedic gods, characterised by its use of indigenous Slavic rituals and Slavic names for the deities, distinguishing from other groups which have maintained a stronger bond with modern Hinduism, although groups often identify themselves as "Vedic" too. Also some syncretic groups within Slavic Native Faith (Slavic Neopaganism) use the term "Vedism".Robert A. Saunders, Vlad Strukov. Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, 2010. p. 412.Aitamurto, Kaarina. Russian Rodnoverie: Negotiating Individual Traditionalism. Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, 2007.

There are no census data available on demographic history or trends for the traditions within Hinduism. The global religious landscape: Hindus, Pew Research (2012) Estimates vary on the relative number of adherents in the different traditions of Hinduism. According to a 2010 estimate by Johnson and Grim, the Vaishnavism tradition is the largest group with about 641 million or 67.6% of Hindus, followed by Shaivism with 252 million or 26.6%, Shaktism with 30 million or 3.2% and other traditions including Neo-Hinduism and Reform Hinduism with 25 million or 2.6%.
(2021). 9781118323038, John Wiley & Sons. .
In contrast, according to Jones and Ryan, Shaivism is the largest tradition of Hinduism.

According to Galvin Flood, the Shaivism and Shaktism traditions are difficult to separate, as many Shaiva Hindus revere the goddess Shakti regularly.

(2021). 9780470998687, John Wiley & Sons. .
, Quote: "it is often impossible to meaningfully distinguish between Saiva and Sakta traditions".
The denominations of Hinduism, states Julius Lipner, are unlike those found in major religions of the world, because Hindu denominations are fuzzy with individuals revering gods and goddesses polycentrically, with many Shaiva and Vaishnava adherents recognizing Sri (Lakshmi), Parvati, Saraswati and other aspects of the goddess Devi. Similarly, Shakta Hindus revere Shiva and goddesses such as Parvati (such as Durga, Radha, Sita and others) and Saraswati important in Shaiva and Vaishnava traditions.Julius J. Lipner (2009), Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, 2nd Edition, Routledge, , pages 40–41, 302–315, 371–375

Cross-denominational influences

Atman Jnana
Jñāna is a Sanskrit word that means knowledge. In it means true knowledge, that (atman) is identical with . It is also referred to as Atma Jnana which is frequently translated as .

Bhakti movement
The Bhakti movement was a devotional trend that originated in the seventh-century Tamil south India (now parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala), and spread northwards.Schomer and McLeod (1987), The Sants: Studies in a Devotional Tradition of India, Motilal Banarsidass, , pp. 1–2. It swept over east and north India from the fifteenth-century onwards, reaching its zenith between the 15th and 17th century CE.
(1995). 9780791420256, SUNY Press.
The Bhakti movement regionally developed as Hindu denominations around different gods and goddesses, such as (Vishnu), (Shiva), (Shakti goddesses), and .Wendy Doniger (2009), Bhakti, Encyclopædia Britannica; The Four Denomination of Hinduism Himalayan Academy (2013) The movement was inspired by many poet-saints, who championed a wide range of philosophical positions ranging from of to absolute of Vedanta.Christian Novetzke (2007), Bhakti and Its Public, International Journal of Hindu Studies, Vol. 11, No. 3, page 255–272 Scriptures of the Bhakti movement include the , and .Catherine Robinson (2005), Interpretations of the Bhagavad-Gita and Images of the Hindu Tradition, Routledge, , pages 28–30Karen Pechilis Prentiss (2014), The Embodiment of Bhakti, Oxford University Press, , pages 26–32, 217–218

As part of the legacy of the Alvars, five philosophical traditions (sampradayas) has developed at the later stages.

Philosophical schools
Hindu philosophy is traditionally divided into six (आस्तिक "orthodox") schools of thought,For an overview of the six orthodox schools, with detail on the grouping of schools, see: Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli. Vol. 1-2. Indian Philosophy (1923) Vol. 1, 738 p. (1927) Vol. 2, 807 p. Oxford University Press. or (दर्शनम्, "view"), which accept the as the supreme revealed scriptures. The schools are:
  1. , an atheistic and strongly dualist theoretical exposition of and matter.
  2. Yoga, a school emphasizing meditation, and .
  3. or , explores sources of knowledge. Nyāya Sūtras.
  4. , an school of
  5. Mimāṃsā, an anti-ascetic and anti-mysticist school of
  6. , the last segment of knowledge in the Vedas, or the 'Jnan' (knowledge) 'Kanda' (section).

The nāstika/heterodox schools are (in chronological order):

  1. Cārvāka
  2. Ājīvika

However, medieval philosophers like classified Indian philosophy into sixteen schools, where schools belonging to , Pāṇini and thought are included with others, and the three schools , and (which had emerged as distinct schools by then) are classified separately.Cowell and Gough, p. xii.

In Hindu history, the distinction of the six orthodox schools was current in the "golden age" of Hinduism. With the disappearance of Vaisheshika and Mimamsa, it was obsolete by the later Middle Ages, when the various sub-schools of Vedanta (Achintya Bheda Abheda, , , , , , , ) began to rise to prominence as the main divisions of religious philosophy. Nyaya survived into the 17th century as Navya Nyaya "Neo-Nyaya", while Samkhya gradually lost its status as an independent school, its tenets absorbed into Yoga and Vedanta.

Yoga variaties

See also



External links

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