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Hinduism is an and , or way of life, widely practised in the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia. Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world, and some practitioners and scholars refer to it as Sanātana Dharma, "the eternal tradition", or the "eternal way", beyond human history.; ; Scholars regard Hinduism as a fusion or synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions,; ; with diverse roots and no founder. This "Hindu synthesis" started to develop between 500 BCE and 300 CE, after the end of the (1500 BCE to 500 BCE), and flourished in the , with the decline of Buddhism in India.

Although Hinduism contains a broad range of philosophies, it is linked by shared concepts, recognisable rituals, , , and pilgrimage to sacred sites. are classified into Śruti ("heard") and ("remembered"). These texts discuss theology, , , , , agamic , and , among other topics. Major scriptures include the and , the , and the Āgamas.

(1992). 9780679410782, Penguin Random House.
(2019). 9780791470824, State University of New York Press.
Sources of authority and eternal truths in its texts play an important role, but there is also a strong Hindu tradition of questioning authority in order to deepen the understanding of these truths and to further develop the tradition.
(2019). 9780826499660, Continuum.

Prominent themes in Hindu beliefs include the four Puruṣārthas, the proper goals or aims of human life, namely (ethics/duties), (prosperity/work), (desires/passions) and (liberation/freedom from the cycle of death and /salvation); See also

(1997). 9780195650396, Oxford University Press.
(action, intent and consequences), Saṃsāra (cycle of death and rebirth), and the various Yogas (paths or practices to attain moksha). Hindu practices include rituals such as puja (worship) and recitations, , meditation, family-oriented rites of passage, annual festivals, and occasional pilgrimages. Some Hindus leave their social world and material possessions, then engage in lifelong (monastic practices) to achieve Moksha.
(1996). 9781563381614, Bloomsbury Academic. .
Hinduism prescribes the eternal duties, such as honesty, refraining from injuring living beings (), patience, forbearance, self-restraint, and compassion, among others. See also The four largest denominations of Hinduism are the , , and .Julius J. Lipner (2009), Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, 2nd Edition, Routledge, , pages 377, 398

Hinduism is the world's third largest religion; its followers, known as , constitute about 1.15 billion, or 15–16% of the global population. Hinduism is the most widely professed faith in , and . It is also the predominant religion in , . Significant numbers of Hindu communities are also found in the , , , and other countries.

(2019). 9781136367052, Routledge. .
;


Etymology
The word Hindū is derived from Indo-Aryan/ root Sindhu. The Proto-Iranian sound change *s > h occurred between 850–600 BCE, according to .

It is believed that Hindu was used as the name for the in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent (modern day Pakistan and ). According to , "The actual term Hindu first occurs as a geographical term for the people who lived beyond the river Indus (Sanskrit: Sindhu)", more specifically in the 6th-century BCE inscription of (550–486 BCE).Arvind Sharma (2002), On Hindu, Hindustān, Hinduism and Hindutva Numen, Vol. 49, Fasc. 1, pages 2–3 The term Hindu in these ancient records is a geographical term and did not refer to a religion. Among the earliest known records of 'Hindu' with connotations of religion may be in the 7th-century CE Chinese text Record of the Western Regions by , and 14th-century Persian text Futuhu's-salatin by 'Abd al-Malik Isami.

Thapar states that the word Hindu is found as heptahindu in – equivalent to Rigvedic sapta sindhu, while hndstn (pronounced Hindustan) is found in a inscription from the 3rd century CE, both of which refer to parts of northwestern South Asia.Romila Thapar (2004), Early India: From the Origins to A.D. 1300, University of California Press, , page 38 The Arabic term al-Hind referred to the people who live across the River Indus. This Arabic term was itself taken from the pre-Islamic Persian term Hindū, which refers to all Indians. By the 13th century, emerged as a popular alternative name of India, meaning the "land of Hindus".

The term Hindu was later used occasionally in some Sanskrit texts such as the later of Kashmir (Hinduka, c. 1450) and some 16th- to 18th-century Gaudiya Vaishnava texts including Chaitanya Charitamrita and Chaitanya Bhagavata. These texts used it to distinguish Hindus from Muslims who are called Yavanas (foreigners) or (barbarians), with the 16th-century Chaitanya Charitamrita text and the 17th-century Bhakta Mala text using the phrase " Hindu dharma". It was only towards the end of the 18th century that European merchants and colonists began to refer to the followers of Indian religions collectively as Hindus.

The term Hinduism, then spelled Hindooism, was introduced into the English language in the 18th century to denote the religious, philosophical, and cultural traditions native to India.Will Sweetman (2003), Mapping Hinduism: 'Hinduism' and the Study of Indian Religions, 1600–1776, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, , pages 163, 154–168


Definitions
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, monotheistic, monistic, agnostic, atheistic or humanist.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." Because of the wide range of traditions and ideas covered by the term Hinduism, arriving at a comprehensive definition is difficult. The religion "defies our desire to define and categorize it".
(1998). 9780192853875, Oxford University press.
Hinduism has been variously defined as a religion, a religious tradition, a set of religious beliefs, and "a way of life". From a Western lexical standpoint, Hinduism like other faiths is appropriately referred to as a religion. In India the term dharma is preferred, which is broader than the Western term religion.

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.; Since the 1990s, those influences and its outcomes have been the topic of debate among scholars of Hinduism, and have also been taken over by critics of the Western view on India.


Typology
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.
(2019). 9780857930736, Edward Elgar Publishing. .
Classified by primary deity or deities, four major Hinduism modern currents are (Vishnu), (Shiva), (Devi) and (five deities treated as same). Hinduism also accepts numerous divine beings, with many Hindus considering the deities to be aspects or manifestations of a single impersonal absolute or ultimate reality or God, while some Hindus maintain that a specific deity represents the supreme and various deities are lower manifestations of this supreme. Other notable characteristics include a belief in existence of ātman (soul, self), of one's ātman, and karma as well as a belief in dharma (duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues and right way of living).

McDaniel (2007) classifies Hinduism 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, , based on local traditions and cults of local and is the oldest, non-literate system; Vedic Hinduism based on the earliest layers of the Vedas traceable to 2nd millennium BCE; Vedantic Hinduism based on the philosophy of the , including , emphasizing knowledge and wisdom; Yogic Hinduism, following the text of Yoga Sutras of Patanjali emphasizing introspective awareness; Dharmic Hinduism or "daily morality", which McDaniel states is stereotyped in some books as the "only form of Hindu religion with a belief in karma, cows and caste"; and or devotional Hinduism, where intense emotions are elaborately incorporated in the pursuit of the spiritual.

Michaels distinguishes three Hindu religions and four forms of Hindu religiosity. The three Hindu religions are "Brahmanic-Sanskritic Hinduism", "folk religions and tribal religions", and "founded religions. The four forms of Hindu religiosity are the classical "karma-marga", , , and "heroism", which is rooted in militaristic traditions, such as Ramaism and parts of political Hinduism. This is also called virya-marga. 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. He classifies most Hindus as belonging by choice to one of the "founded religions" such as Vaishnavism and Shaivism that are salvation-focussed and often de-emphasize Brahman priestly authority yet incorporate ritual grammar of Brahmanic-Sanskritic Hinduism. He includes among "founded religions" Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism that are now distinct religions, syncretic movements such as and the Theosophical Society, as well as various "Guru-isms" and new religious movements such as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and .

Inden states that the attempt to classify Hinduism by typology started in the imperial times, when proselytizing missionaries and colonial officials sought to understand and portray Hinduism from their interests. Hinduism was construed as emanating not from a reason of spirit but fantasy and creative imagination, not conceptual but symbolical, not ethical but emotive, not rational or spiritual but of cognitive mysticism. This stereotype followed and fit, states Inden, with the imperial imperatives of the era, providing the moral justification for the colonial project. From tribal Animism to Buddhism, everything was subsumed as part of Hinduism. The early reports set the tradition and scholarly premises for typology of Hinduism, as well as the major assumptions and flawed presuppositions that has been at the foundation of Indology. Hinduism, according to Inden, has been neither what imperial religionists stereotyped it to be, nor is it appropriate to equate Hinduism to be merely monist pantheism and philosophical idealism of Advaita Vedanta.Ronald Inden (2001), Imagining India, Indiana University Press, , pages 117–122, 127–130


Indigenous understanding

To its adherents, Hinduism is a traditional way of life. Many practitioners refer to the "orthodox" form of Hinduism as , "the eternal law" or the "eternal way".; The word dharma has a much broader meaning than and is not its equivalent. All aspects of a Hindu life, namely acquiring wealth (artha), fulfillment of desires (kama), and attaining liberation (moksha) are part of dharma which encapsulates the "right way of living" and eternal harmonious principles in their fulfillment.Paul Hacker, Dharma in Hinduism, Journal of Indian Philosophy, Vol. 34, No. 5, pages 479–496

According to the editors of the Encyclopædia Britannica, historically referred to the "eternal" duties religiously ordained in Hinduism, duties such as honesty, refraining from injuring living beings ( ), purity, goodwill, mercy, patience, forbearance, self-restraint, generosity, and asceticism. 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 (varna) and stage in life (puruṣārtha). In recent years, the term has been used by Hindu leaders, reformers, and nationalists to refer to Hinduism. Sanatana dharma has become a synonym for the "eternal" truth and teachings of Hinduism, that transcend history and are "unchanging, indivisible and ultimately nonsectarian".

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. It is viewed as thosee eternal truths and tradition with origins beyond human history, truths divinely revealed () in the – the most ancient of the world's scriptures. To many Hindus, the Western term "religion" to the extent it means "dogma and an institution traceable to a single founder" is inappropriate for their tradition, states Hatcher. Hinduism, to them, is a tradition that can be traced at least to the ancient Vedic era.

(2019). 9781135046316, Routledge. .


Vaidika dharma
Some have referred to Hinduism as the Vaidika dharma.
(2019). 9788170999560, Mittal Publications. .
The word 'Vaidika' in Sanskrit means 'derived from or conformable to the Veda' or 'relating to the Veda'. Traditional scholars employed the terms Vaidika and Avaidika, those who accept the Vedas as a source of authoritative knowledge and those who don't, to differentiate various Indian schools from Jainism, Buddhism and Charvaka. According to Klaus Klostermaier, the term Vaidika dharma is the earliest self-designation of Hinduism.
(2019). 9781780746722, Oneworld Publications. .
(2007). 9781780740263, Oneworld Publications. .
According to , the historical evidence suggests that "the Hindus were referring to their religion by the term vaidika dharma or a variant thereof" by the 4th-century CE. According to Brian K. Smith "it 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'."

According to Alexis Sanderson, the early Sanskrit texts differentiate between Vaidika, Vaishnava, Shaiva, Shakta, Saura, Buddhist and Jaina traditions. However, the late 1st-millennium CE Indic consensus had "indeed come to conceptualize a complex entity corresponding to Hinduism as opposed to Buddhism and Jainism excluding only certain forms of antinomian Shakta-Shaiva" from its fold. Some in the school of Hindu philosophy considered the Agamas such as the Pancaratrika to be invalid because it did not conform to the Vedas. Some Kashmiri scholars rejected the esoteric tantric traditions to be a part of Vaidika dharma.Alexis Sanderson, Tolerance, Exclusivity, Inclusivity, and Persecution in Indian Religion During the Early Mediaeval Period – Part OneAlexis Sanderson, Tolerance, Exclusivity, Inclusivity, and Persecution in Indian Religion During the Early Mediaeval Period – Part Two The Atimarga Shaivism ascetic tradition, datable to about 500 CE, challenged the Vaidika frame and insisted that their Agamas and practices were not only valid, they were superior than those of the Vaidikas.Alexis Sanderson, Tolerance, Exclusivity, Inclusivity, and Persecution in Indian Religion During the Early Mediaeval Period – Part Three 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 ...".

The term Vaidika dharma means a code of practice that is "based on the Vedas", but it is unclear what "based on the Vedas" really implies, states Julius Lipner. The Vaidika dharma or "Vedic way of life", states Lipner, does not mean "Hinduism is necessarily religious" or that Hindus have a universally accepted "conventional or institutional meaning" for that term. To many, it is as much a cultural term. Many Hindus do not have a copy of the Vedas nor have they ever seen or personally read parts of a Veda, like a Christian might relate to the Bible or a Muslim might to the Quran. Yet, states Lipner, "this does not mean that their Hindus whole life's orientation cannot be traced to the Vedas or that it does not in some way derive from it".

Many religious Hindus implicitly acknowledge the authority of the Vedas, this acknowledgment is often "no more than a declaration that someone considers himself or a Hindu." Some Hindus challenge the authority of the Vedas, thereby implicitly acknowledging its importance to the history of Hinduism, states Lipner.

(2019). 9781135240608, Routledge. .


Hindu modernism
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. Western stereotypes were reversed, emphasizing the universal aspects, and introducing modern approaches of social problems. This approach had a great appeal, not only in India, but also in the west. Major representatives of are Raja Rammohan Roy, , Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and .

Raja Rammohan Roy is known as the father of the Hindu Renaissance.

(2019). 9780761421160, Marshall Cavendish. .
He was a major influence on Swami Vivekananda (1863–1902), who, according to Flood, was "a figure of great importance in the development of a modern Hindu self-understanding and in formulating the West's view of Hinduism". Central to his philosophy is the idea that the divine exists in all beings, that all human beings can achieve union with this "innate divinity", and that seeing this divine as the essence of others will further love and social harmony. According to Vivekananda, there is an essential unity to Hinduism, which underlies the diversity of its many forms. According to Flood, Vivekananda's vision of Hinduism "is one generally accepted by most English-speaking middle-class Hindus today". Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan sought to reconcile western rationalism with Hinduism, "presenting Hinduism as an essentially rationalistic and humanistic religious experience".

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. It emphasizes universal spiritual values such as social justice, peace and "the spiritual transformation of humanity". It has developed partly due to "re-enculturation", or the , in which elements of Hindu culture have been exported to the West, gaining popularity there, and as a consequence also gained greater popularity in India. This globalization of Hindu culture brought "to the West teachings which have become an important cultural force in western societies, and which in turn have become an important cultural force in India, their place of origin".


Western understanding
The term Hinduism is coined in Western ethnography in the 18th century, Hinduism is derived from Perian hindu- and the suffix. It is first recorded in 1786, in the generic sense of "polytheism of India". and refers to the fusion or synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions. which emerged after the Vedic period, between 500-200 BCE and c. 300 CE, the beginning of the "Epic and Puranic" c.q. "Preclassical" period.

Hinduism's tolerance to variations in belief and its broad range of traditions make it difficult to define as a religion according to traditional Western conceptions.

Some academics suggest that Hinduism can be seen as a category with "fuzzy edges" rather than as a well-defined and rigid entity. Some forms of religious expression are central to Hinduism and others, while not as central, still remain within the category. Based on this idea Ferro-Luzzi has developed a 'Prototype Theory approach' to the definition of Hinduism.Ferro-Luzzi, (1991) The Polythetic-Prototype Approach to Hinduism in G.D. Sontheimer and H. Kulke (ed.) Hinduism Reconsidered. Delhi: Manohar. pp. 187–95


Diversity and unity

Diversity
Hinduism has been described as a tradition having a "complex, organic, multileveled and sometimes internally inconsistent nature". Hinduism does not have a "unified system of belief encoded in a declaration of faith or a ", but is rather an umbrella term comprising the plurality of religious phenomena of India.; According to the Supreme Court of India,

Part of the problem with a single definition of the term Hinduism is the fact that Hinduism does not have a founder. It is a synthesis of various traditions,; the "Brahmanical orthopraxy, the renouncer traditions and popular or local traditions".

is also difficult to use as a unifying doctrine for Hinduism, because while some Hindu philosophies postulate a of creation, other Hindus are or have been atheists.


Sense of unity
Despite the differences, there is also a sense of unity. Most Hindu traditions revere a body of religious or , the Vedas, although there are exceptions. These texts are a reminder of the ancient cultural heritage and point of pride for Hindus,Jeffrey Haines (2008), Routledge Handbook of Religion and Politics, Routledge, , page 80 with stating that "even in the most orthodox domains, the reverence to the Vedas has come to be a simple raising of the hat".Andrea Pinkney (2014), Routledge Handbook of Religions in Asia (Editors: Bryan Turner and Oscar Salemink), Routledge, , pages 31–32

Halbfass states that, although Shaivism and Vaishaism 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".


Indigenous developments
The notion of common denominators for several religions and traditions of India further developed from the 12th century CE on.; 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. Lorenzen states that the establishment of a Hindu self-identity took place "through a process of mutual self-definition with a contrasting Muslim Other". According to Lorenzen, this "presence of the Other" is necessary to recognise the "loose family resemblance" among the various traditions and schools,

According to the Indologist , 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." This absence of a formal name, states Sanderson, does not mean that the corresponding concept of Hinduism did not exist. By late 1st-millennium CE, the concept of a belief and tradition distinct from Buddhism and Jainism had emerged. This complex tradition accepted in its identity almost all of what is currently Hinduism, except certain antinomian tantric movements. 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. 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 same. "This sense of greater unity", states Sanderson, "came to be called Hinduism".

According to Nicholson, already between the 12th and the 16th centuries "certain thinkers began to treat as a single whole the diverse philosophical teachings of the Upanishads, epics, Puranas, and the schools known retrospectively as the 'six systems' ( saddarsana) of mainstream Hindu philosophy." The tendency of "a blurring of philosophical distinctions" has also been noted by Burley. Hacker called this "inclusivism" and Michaels speaks of "the identificatory habit". Lorenzen locates the origins of a distinct Hindu identity in the interaction between Muslims and Hindus, and a process of "mutual self-definition with a contrasting Muslim other", which started well before 1800. Michaels notes:

This inclusivismHackel in was further developed in the 19th and 20th centuries by Hindu reform movements and , and has become characteristic of modern Hinduism.


Colonial influences
The notion and reports on "Hinduism" as a "single world religious tradition" was popularised by 19th-century proselytizing missionaries and European Indologists, roles sometimes served by the same person, who relied on texts preserved by Brahmins (priests) for their information of Indian religions, and animist observations which the missionary Orientalists presumed was Hinduism. These reports influenced perceptions about Hinduism. Some scholars state that the colonial polemical reports led to fabricated stereotypes where Hinduism was mere mystic paganism devoted to the service of devils, while other scholars state that the colonial constructions influenced the belief that the Vedas, Bhagavad Gita, Manusmriti and such texts were the essence of Hindu religiosity, and in the modern association of 'Hindu doctrine' with the schools of Vedanta (in particular Advaita Vedanta) as paradigmatic example of Hinduism's mystical nature". 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.Brian K. Pennington (2005), Was Hinduism Invented?: Britons, Indians, and the Colonial Construction, Oxford University Press, , pages 4–5 and Chapter 6 He states that the shared theology, common ritual grammar and way of life of those who identify themselves as Hindus is traceable to ancient times.


Beliefs
Prominent themes in Hindu beliefs include (but are not restricted to) Dharma (ethics/duties), (the continuing cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth), Karma (action, intent and consequences), Moksha (liberation from samsara or liberation in this life), and the various Yogas (paths or practices).


Purusharthas (objectives of human life)
Classical Hindu thought accepts four proper goals or aims of human life: , , and . These are known as the Puruṣārthas:


Dharma (righteousness, ethics)
Dharma is considered the foremost goal of a human being in Hinduism. (1996), The meaning and context of the Purusarthas, in Julius Lipner (Editor) – The Fruits of Our Desiring, , pp 16–21 The concept Dharma includes behaviors that are considered to be in accord with , the order that makes life and universe possible, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, Dharma, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions: "In Hinduism, dharma is a fundamental concept, referring to the order and custom which make life and a universe possible, and thus to the behaviours appropriate to the maintenance of that order." and includes duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues and "right way of living".Dharma, The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th Ed. (2013), Columbia University Press, Gale, 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. Dharma, according to Van Buitenen,J. A. B. Van Buitenen, Dharma and Moksa, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 7, No. 1/2 (Apr. – Jul., 1957), pp 33–40 is that which all existing beings must accept and respect to sustain harmony and order in the world. It is, states Van Buitenen, the pursuit and execution of one's nature and true calling, thus playing one's role in cosmic concert. The states it as:

In the , defines dharma as upholding both this-worldly and other-worldly affairs. (Mbh 12.110.11). The word Sanātana means eternal, perennial, or forever; thus, Sanātana Dharma signifies that it is the dharma that has neither beginning nor end.


Artha (livelihood, wealth)
Artha is objective and virtuous pursuit of wealth for livelihood, obligations and economic prosperity. It is inclusive of political life, diplomacy and material well-being. The Artha concept includes all "means of life", activities and resources that enables one to be in a state one wants to be in, wealth, career and financial security.John Koller, Puruṣārtha as Human Aims, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 18, No. 4 (Oct., 1968), pp. 315–319 The proper pursuit of artha is considered an important aim of human life in Hinduism.James Lochtefeld (2002), The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Rosen Publishing, New York, , pp 55–56Bruce Sullivan (1997), Historical Dictionary of Hinduism, , pp 29–30


Kāma (sensual pleasure)
Kāma (, ; : काम) means desire, wish, passion, longing, pleasure of the , the aesthetic enjoyment of life, affection, or love, with or without sexual connotations.Monier Williams, काम, kāma Monier-Williams Sanskrit English Dictionary, pp 271, see 3rd column In Hinduism, Kama is considered an essential and healthy goal of human life when pursued without sacrificing Dharma, Artha and Moksha.See:

  • The Hindu Kama Shastra Society (1925), The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana, University of Toronto Archives, pp. 8;
  • A. Sharma (1982), The Puruṣārthas: a study in Hindu axiology, Michigan State University, , pp 9–12; See review by Frank Whaling in Numen, Vol. 31, 1 (Jul., 1984), pp. 140–142;
  • A. Sharma (1999), The Puruṣārthas: An Axiological Exploration of Hinduism, The Journal of Religious Ethics, Vol. 27, No. 2 (Summer, 1999), pp. 223–256;
  • Chris Bartley (2001), Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy, Editor: Oliver Learman, , Routledge, Article on Purushartha, pp 443


Mokṣa (liberation, freedom from samsara)
Moksha (: मोक्ष ') or mukti''' (: मुक्ति) is the ultimate, most important goal in Hinduism. In one sense, Moksha is a concept associated with liberation from sorrow, suffering and saṃsāra (birth-rebirth cycle). A release from this eschatological cycle, in after life, particularly in theistic schools of Hinduism is called moksha.R.C. Mishra, Moksha and the Hindu Worldview, Psychology & Developing Societies, Vol. 25, Issue 1, pp 23, 27J. A. B. Van Buitenen, Dharma and Moksa, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 7, No. 1/2 (Apr. – Jul., 1957), pp. 33–40 In other schools of Hinduism, such as monistic, moksha is a goal achievable in current life, as a state of bliss through self-realization, of comprehending the nature of one's soul, of freedom and of "realizing the whole universe as the Self".see:

  • Karl Potter, Dharma and Mokṣa from a Conversational Point of View, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 8, No. 1/2 (Apr. – Jul., 1958), pp. 49–63
  • Daniel H. H. Ingalls, Dharma and Moksha, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 7, No. 1/2 (Apr. – Jul., 1957), pp. 41–48;
  • Klaus Klostermaier, Mokṣa and Critical Theory, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 35, No. 1 (Jan., 1985), pp. 61–71


Karma and samsara
Karma translates literally as action, work, or deed,* and also refers to a Vedic theory of "moral law of cause and effect".Karl Potter (1964), The Naturalistic Principle of Karma, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 14, No. 1 (Apr., 1964), pp. 39-49 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.Wendy D. O'Flaherty (1980), Karma and Rebirth in Classical Indian Traditions, University of California Press, , pp xi–xxv (Introduction) and 3–37 Karma theory is interpreted as explaining the present circumstances of an individual with reference to his or her actions in past. These actions may be those in a person's current life, or, in some schools of Hinduism, possibly actions in their past lives; furthermore, the consequences may result in current life, or a person's future lives.Karl Potter (1980), in Karma and Rebirth in Classical Indian Traditions (O'Flaherty, Editor), University of California Press, , pp 241–267 This cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth is called samsara. Liberation from samsara through moksha is believed to ensure lasting happiness and peace.See pages 301-302 (8th Printing 1993) Hindu scriptures teach that the future is both a function of current human effort derived from free will and past human actions that set the circumstances.Christopher Chapple (1986), Karma and creativity, State University of New York Press, ; pp 60–64


Moksha
The ultimate goal of life, referred to as moksha, or samadhi, is understood in several different ways: as the realization of one's union with God; as the realization of one's eternal relationship with God; realization of the unity of all existence; perfect unselfishness and knowledge of the Self; as the attainment of perfect mental peace; and as detachment from worldly desires. Such realization liberates one from samsara, thereby ending the cycle of rebirth, sorrow and suffering.J. Bruce Long (1980), The concepts of human action and rebirth in the Mahabharata, in Wendy D. O'Flaherty, Karma and Rebirth in Classical Indian Traditions, University of California Press, , Chapter 2 Due to belief in the indestructibility of the soul, death is deemed insignificant with respect to the cosmic self.

The meaning of moksha differs among the various Hindu schools of thought. For example, Advaita Vedanta holds that after attaining moksha a person knows their "soul, self" and identifies it as one with Brahman and everyone in all respects. The followers of (dualistic) schools, in moksha state, identify individual "soul, self" as distinct from Brahman but infinitesimally close, and after attaining moksha expect to spend eternity in a (heaven). To theistic schools of Hinduism, moksha is liberation from samsara, while for other schools such as the monistic school, moksha is possible in current life and is a psychological concept. According to Deutsche, 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".E. Deutsch, The self in Advaita Vedanta, in Roy Perrett (Editor), Indian philosophy: metaphysics, Volume 3, , Taylor and Francis, pp 343–360see:

  • Karl Potter, Dharma and Mokṣa from a Conversational Point of View, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 8, No. 1/2 (Apr. – Jul., 1958), pp. 49–63
  • Daniel H. H. Ingalls, Dharma and Moksha, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 7, No. 1/2 (Apr. – Jul., 1957), pp. 41–48 Moksha in these schools of Hinduism, suggests Klaus Klostermaier,Klaus Klostermaier, Mokṣa and Critical Theory, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 35, No. 1 (Jan., 1985), pp. 61–71 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. Moksha is more than liberation from life-rebirth cycle of suffering (samsara); Vedantic school separates this into two: jivanmukti (liberation in this life) and videhamukti (liberation after death).see:
  • M. von Brück (1986), Imitation or Identification?, Indian Theological Studies, Vol. 23, Issue 2, pp 95–105
  • Klaus Klostermaier, Mokṣa and Critical Theory, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 35, No. 1 (Jan., 1985), pp. 61–71Andrew Fort (1998), Jivanmukti in Transformation, State University of New York Press,


Concept of God
Hinduism is a diverse system of thought with beliefs spanning , , , pantheism, , , and atheism among others;Julius J. Lipner (2010), 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." and its concept of God is complex and depends upon each individual and the tradition and philosophy followed. It is sometimes referred to as (i.e., involving devotion to a single god while accepting the existence of others), but any such term is an overgeneralization.See and

The ( Creation Hymn) of the is one of the earliest texts which "demonstrates a sense of metaphysical speculation" about what created the universe, the concept of god(s) and The One, and whether even The One knows how the universe came into being.;

  • Original Sanskrit: Rigveda 10.129 Wikisource;
  • Translation 1:
  • Translation 2:
    (1986). 9780809127818, Paulist Press.
  • Translation 3:
    (2019). 9780520950672, University of California Press.
    The Rig Veda praises various deities, none superior nor inferior, in a henotheistic manner. (1878), Lectures on the Origins and Growth of Religions: As Illustrated by the Religions of India, Longmans Green & Co, pages 260–271;
    William Joseph Wilkins, , London Missionary Society, Calcutta
    The hymns repeatedly refer to One Truth and Reality. The "One Truth" of Vedic literature, in modern era scholarship, has been interpreted as monotheism, monism, as well as a deified Hidden Principles behind the great happenings and processes of nature. HN Raghavendrachar (1944), Monism in the Vedas, The half-yearly journal of the Mysore University: Section A – Arts, Volume 4, Issue 2, pages 137–152;
    K Werner (1982), Men, gods and powers in the Vedic outlook, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland, Volume 114, Issue 01, pages 14–24;
    H Coward (1995), Book Review:" The Limits of Scripture: Vivekananda's Reinterpretation of the Vedas", Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies, Volume 8, Issue 1, pages 45–47, Quote: "There is little doubt that the theo-monistic category is an appropriate one for viewing a wide variety of experiences in the Hindu tradition".

Hindus believe that all living creatures have a soul. This soul – the spirit or true "self" of every person, is called the ātman. The soul is believed to be eternal. According to the monistic/pantheistic () theologies of Hinduism (such as school), this Atman is indistinct from , the supreme spirit. The goal of life, according to the Advaita school, is to realise that one's soul is identical to supreme soul, that the supreme soul is present in everything and everyone, all life is interconnected and there is oneness in all life.John Koller (2012), Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Religion (Editors: Chad Meister, Paul Copan), Routledge, , pages 99–107Lance Nelson (1996), Living liberation in Shankara and classical Advaita, in Living Liberation in Hindu Thought (Editors: Andrew O. Fort, Patricia Y. Mumme), State University of New York Press, , pages 38–39, 59 (footnote 105) Dualistic schools (see and ) understand Brahman as a Supreme Being separate from individual souls.R Prasad (2009), A Historical-developmental Study of Classical Indian Philosophy of Morals, Concept Publishing, , pages 345–347 They worship the Supreme Being variously as , , , or , depending upon the sect. God is called , , Parameshwara, Deva or , and these terms have different meanings in different schools of Hinduism.Mircea Eliade (2009), Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, Princeton University Press, , pages 73–76Radhakrishnan and Moore (1967, Reprinted 1989), A Source Book in Indian Philosophy, Princeton University Press, , pages 37–39, 401–403, 498–503

Hindu texts accept a polytheistic framework, but this is generally conceptualized as the divine essence or luminosity that gives vitality and animation to the inanimate natural substances. There is a divine in everything, human beings, animals, trees and rivers. It is observable in offerings to rivers, trees, tools of one's work, animals and birds, rising sun, friends and guests, teachers and parents.

(1988). 9780887066627, State University of New York Press. .
Taittiriya Upanishad Thirteen Principal Upanishads, Robert Hume (Translator), pages 281-282;
Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, , pages 229–231
It is the divine in these that makes each sacred and worthy of reverence. This seeing divinity in everything, state Buttimer and Wallin, makes the Vedic foundations of Hinduism quite distinct from . The animistic premise sees multiplicity, power differences and competition between man and man, man and animal, as well as man and nature. The Vedic view does not see this competition, rather sees a unifying divinity that connects everyone and everything.
(1999). 9780792356516, Springer. .
(2019). 9780819222381, New York: Morehouse. .
(2019). 9781305888067, Cengage. .

The Hindu scriptures refer to celestial entities called Devas (or in feminine form; used synonymously for Deva in Hindi), which may be translated into English as gods or heavenly beings. The devas are an integral part of Hindu culture and are depicted in art, architecture and through , and stories about them are related in the scriptures, particularly in Indian epic poetry and the . They are, however, often distinguished from , a personal god, with many Hindus worshipping Ishvara in one of its particular manifestations as their , or chosen ideal. The choice is a matter of individual preference, and of regional and family traditions. The multitude of Devas are considered as manifestations of Brahman.

The word does not appear in the Vedic literature,

(1987). 9781349086429, Palgrave Macmillan. .
but appears in verb forms in post-Vedic literature, and as a noun particularly in the literature after the 6th century CE.
(1978). 9783447048606, Otto Harrassowitz.
Theologically, the reincarnation idea is most often associated with the avatars of Hindu god , though the idea has been applied to other deities.
(2019). 9780028657356, Thomson Gale.
Varying lists of avatars of Vishnu appear in Hindu scriptures, including the ten of the and the twenty-two avatars in the , though the latter adds that the incarnations of Vishnu are innumerable.
(2019). 9780195148916, Oxford University Press. .
The avatars of Vishnu are important in theology. In the goddess-based tradition of Hinduism, avatars of the are found and all goddesses are considered to be different aspects of the same metaphysical Brahman
(2019). 9780195347135, Oxford University Press, USA. .
and Shakti (energy).
(2019). 9780520249141, University of California Press. .
(1998). 9788120815223, Motilal Banarsidass. .
While avatars of other deities such as and are also mentioned in medieval Hindu texts, this is minor and occasional.James Lochtefeld (2002), "Shiva" in The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Vol. 2: N-Z, Rosen Publishing, , page 635

Both theistic and atheistic ideas, for epistemological and metaphysical reasons, are profuse in different schools of Hinduism. The early school of Hinduism, for example, was non-theist/atheist,John Clayton (2010), Religions, Reasons and Gods: Essays in Cross-cultural Philosophy of Religion, Cambridge University Press, , page 150 but later Nyaya school scholars argued that God exists and offered proofs using its theory of logic.Sharma, C. (1997). A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, , pages 209–10 Other schools disagreed with Nyaya scholars. ,

(2008). 9780791473368 .
and schools of Hinduism, were non-theist/atheist, arguing that "God was an unnecessary metaphysical assumption". Sāṁkhyapravacana Sūtra I.92. Its school started as another non-theistic tradition relying on naturalism and that all matter is eternal, but it later introduced the concept of a non-creator God.A Goel (1984), Indian philosophy: Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika and modern science, Sterling, , pages 149–151;
R Collins (2000), The sociology of philosophies, Harvard University Press, , page 836
Klaus Klostermaier (2007), A Survey of Hinduism, Third Edition, State University of New York, , pages 337–338 The school of Hinduism accepted the concept of a "personal god" and left it to the Hindu to define his or her god.
(2019). 9780415648875, Routledge.
;
(2019). 9788120832329, Motilal Banarsidass.
;
(2019). 9780486417929, Dover.
Advaita Vedanta taught a monistic, abstract Self and Oneness in everything, with no room for gods or deity, a perspective that Mohanty calls, "spiritual, not religious".Knut Jacobsen (2008), Theory and Practice of Yoga : 'Essays in Honour of Gerald James Larson, Motilal Banarsidass, , pages 77–78 Bhakti sub-schools of Vedanta taught a creator God that is distinct from each human being.

According to , Hinduism has the strongest presence of the divine feminine in world religion from ancient times to the present. The goddess is viewed as the heart of the most esoteric Saiva traditions.Flood, Gavin, ed. (2003), The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism, Blackwell Publishing Ltd., , pages 200–203


Authority
Authority and eternal truths play an important role in Hinduism.
(2019). 9780826499660, Continuum.
Religious traditions and truths are believed to be contained in its sacred texts, which are accessed and taught by sages, , saints or . But there is also a strong tradition of the questioning of authority, internal debate and challenging of religious texts in Hinduism. The Hindus believe that this deepens the understanding of the eternal truths and further develops the tradition. Authority "was mediated through ... an intellectual culture that tended to develop ideas collaboratively, and according to the shared logic of natural reason." Narratives in the present characters questioning persons of authority. The repeatedly asks kena, 'by what' power something is the case. The and present narratives where the student criticizes the teacher's inferior answers. In the , Shiva questions Vishnu and Brahma. Doubt plays a repeated role in the . presents criticism via the character of .


Main traditions
Hinduism has no central doctrinal authority and many practising Hindus do not claim to belong to any particular denomination or tradition. Four major denominations are, however, used in scholarly studies: Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism and Smartism.Lance Nelson (2007), An Introductory Dictionary of Theology and Religious Studies (Editors: Orlando O. Espín, James B. Nickoloff), Liturgical Press, , pages 562–563 These denominations differ primarily in the central deity worshipped, the traditions and the outlook.SS Kumar (2010), Bhakti – the Yoga of Love, LIT Verlag Münster, , pages 35–36 The denominations of Hinduism, states Lipner, are unlike those found in major religions of the world, because Hindu denominations are fuzzy with individuals practicing 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

is the devotional religious tradition that worships sometimes with , the spouse of Vishnu; or, as Narayana and Sri; see: Guy Beck (2006), Alternative Krishnas: Regional and Vernacular Variations on a Hindu Deity, State University of New York Press, , page 65 and Chapter 5 and his avatars, particularly and .

(2019). 9780231508438, Columbia University Press. .
The adherents of this sect are generally non-ascetic, monastic, oriented towards community events and devotionalism practices inspired by "intimate loving, joyous, playful" Krishna and other Vishnu avatars. These practices sometimes include community dancing, singing of and , with sound and music believed by some to have meditative and spiritual powers.Edwin Bryant and Maria Ekstrand (2004), The Hare Krishna Movement, Columbia University Press, , pages 38–43 Temple worship and festivals are typically elaborate in Vaishnavism.
(1998). 9780824049461, Routledge. .
The Bhagavad Gita and the Ramayana, along with Vishnu-oriented Puranas provide its theistic foundations.Lance Nelson (2007), An Introductory Dictionary of Theology and Religious Studies (Editors: Orlando O. Espín, James B. Nickoloff), Liturgical Press, , pages 1441, 376 Philosophically, their beliefs are rooted in the dualism sub-schools of Vedantic Hinduism.
(2019). 9780231508438, Columbia University Press. .
(2019). 9780198034001, Oxford University Press. .

is the tradition that focuses on . Shaivas are more attracted to ascetic individualism, and it has several sub-schools. Their practices include Bhakti-style devotionalism, yet their beliefs lean towards nondual, monistic schools of Hinduism such as Advaita and . Some Shaivas worship in temples, while others emphasize yoga, striving to be one with Shiva within.

(2019). 9780143415176, Penguin Books. .
Avatars are uncommon, and some Shaivas visualize god as half male, half female, as a fusion of the male and female principles (). Shaivism is related to Shaktism, wherein Shakti is seen as spouse of Shiva. Community celebrations include festivals, and participation, with Vaishnavas, in pilgrimages such as the .James Lochtefeld (2010), God's Gateway: Identity and Meaning in a Hindu Pilgrimage Place, Oxford University Press, Shaivism has been more commonly practiced in the Himalayan north from Kashmir to Nepal, and in south India.Natalia Isaeva (1995), From Early Vedanta to Kashmir Shaivism, State University of New York Press, , pages 141–145

focuses on goddess worship of or Devi as cosmic mother, and it is particularly common in northeastern and eastern states of India such as and . Devi is depicted as in gentler forms like , the consort of Shiva; or, as fierce warrior goddesses like and . Followers of Shaktism recognize as the power that underlies the male principle. Shaktism is also associated with practices.Massimo Scaligero (1955), The Tantra and the Spirit of the West, East and West, Vol. 5, No. 4, pages 291–296 Community celebrations include festivals, some of which include processions and idol immersion into sea or other water bodies. History: Hans Koester (1929), The Indian Religion of the Goddess Shakti, Journal of the Siam Society, Vol 23, Part 1, pages 1–18;
Modern practices: June McDaniel (2010), Goddesses in World Culture, Volume 1 (Editor: Patricia Monaghan), , Chapter 2

centers its worship simultaneously on all the major Hindu deities: Shiva, Vishnu, Shakti, , and . 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. The Smarta tradition is aligned with , and regards as its founder or reformer, who considered worship of God-with-attributes () as a journey towards ultimately realizing God-without-attributes (nirguna Brahman, Atman, Self-knowledge).William Wainwright (2012), Concepts of God, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, (Accessed on: June 17, 2015)U Murthy (1979), Samskara, Oxford University Press, , page 150 The term Smartism is derived from Smriti texts of Hinduism, meaning those who remember the traditions in the texts.L Williamson (2010), Transcendent in America: Hindu-inspired Meditation Movements as New Religion, New York University Press, , page 89 This Hindu sect practices a philosophical , scriptural studies, reflection, meditative path seeking an understanding of Self's oneness with God.Murray Milner (1994), Status and Sacredness, Oxford University Press, , pages 194–197


Scriptures
The ancient scriptures of Hinduism are in Sanskrit. These texts are classified into two: Shruti and Smriti. Hindu scriptures were composed, memorized and transmitted verbally, across generations, for many centuries before they were written down.Flood, Gavin, ed. (2003), The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism, Blackwell Publishing Ltd., , see quote on pages 68–69 Over many centuries, sages refined the teachings and expanded the Shruti and Smriti, as well as developed Shastras with epistemological and metaphysical theories of six classical schools of Hinduism.

Shruti (lit. that which is heard) primarily refers to the Vedas, which form the earliest record of the Hindu scriptures, and are regarded as eternal truths revealed to the ancient sages ( ). There are four Vedas, , and . Each Veda has been subclassified into four major text types – the (mantras and benedictions), the (text on rituals, ceremonies, sacrifices and symbolic-sacrifices), the (commentaries on rituals, ceremonies and sacrifices), and the (text discussing meditation, philosophy and spiritual knowledge).Gavin Flood (1996), An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University Press, , pages 35–39A Bhattacharya (2006), Hindu Dharma: Introduction to Scriptures and Theology, , pages 8–14; George M. Williams (2003), Handbook of Hindu Mythology, Oxford University Press, , page 285Jan Gonda (1975), Vedic Literature: (Saṃhitās and Brāhmaṇas), Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, The first two parts of the Vedas were subsequently called the (ritualistic portion), while the last two form the (knowledge portion, discussing spiritual insight and philosophical teachings).Edward Roer (Translator), to Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad at pages 1–5; Quote – "The Vedas are divided in two parts, the first is the karma-kanda, the ceremonial part, also (called) purva-kanda, and treats on ceremonies; the second part is the jnana kanda, the part which contains knowledge, also named uttara-kanda or posterior part, and unfolds the knowledge of Brahma or the universal soul."Olivelle, Patrick (1998), Upaniṣads, Oxford University Press, , Introduction chapter

The Upanishads are the foundation of Hindu philosophical thought, and have profoundly influenced diverse traditions.Wiman Dissanayake (1993), Self as Body in Asian Theory and Practice (Editors: Thomas P. Kasulis et al), State University of New York Press, , page 39; Quote: "The Upanishads form the foundations of Hindu philosophical thought and the central theme of the Upanishads is the identity of Atman and Brahman, or the inner self and the cosmic self.";
Michael McDowell and Nathan Brown (2009), World Religions, Penguin, , pages 208–210
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.Wendy Doniger (1990), Textual Sources for the Study of Hinduism, 1st Edition, University of Chicago Press, , pages 2–3; Quote: "The Upanishads supply the basis of later Hindu philosophy; they alone of the Vedic corpus are widely known and quoted by most well-educated Hindus, and their central ideas have also become a part of the spiritual arsenal of rank-and-file Hindus." (2014), The Early Upanisads, Oxford University Press, , page 3; Quote: "Even though theoretically the whole of vedic corpus is accepted as revealed truth shruti, in reality it is the Upanishads that have continued to influence the life and thought of the various religious traditions that we have come to call Hindu. Upanishads are the scriptures par excellence of Hinduism". Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan states that the Upanishads have played a dominating role ever since their appearance.S Radhakrishnan, The Principal Upanishads George Allen & Co., 1951, pages 17–19, Reprinted as There are 108 Muktikā Upanishads in Hinduism, of which between 10 and 13 are variously counted by scholars as Principal Upanishads.Patrick Olivelle (1998), Upaniṣhads. Oxford University Press, , see Introduction Thirteen Principal Upanishads, Robert Hume (Translator)

The most notable of the Smritis ("remembered") are the Hindu epics and the Puranas. The epics consist of the and the . The is an integral part of the Mahabharata and one of the most popular sacred texts of Hinduism. Sarvopaniṣado gāvo, etc. ( Gītā Māhātmya 6). Gītā Dhyānam, cited in Introduction to Bhagavad-gītā As It Is. It is sometimes called Gitopanishad, then placed in the Shruti ("heard") category, being Upanishadic in content.Thomas B. Coburn, Scripture" in India: Towards a Typology of the Word in Hindu Life, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 52, No. 3 (September, 1984), pp. 435–459 The Puranas, which started to be composed from c. 300 CE onward, contain extensive mythologies, and are central in the distribution of common themes of Hinduism through vivid narratives. The is a classical text for the Hindu Yoga tradition, which gained a renewed popularity in the 20th century.

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. 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. In Tantric tradition, the Agamas refer to authoritative scriptures or the teachings of Shiva to Shakti, while Nigamas refers to the Vedas and the teachings of Shakti to Shiva. In Agamic schools of Hinduism, the Vedic literature and the Agamas are equally authoritative.Mariasusai Dhavamony (1999), Hindu Spirituality, Gregorian University and Biblical Press, , pages 31–34 with footnotesDavid Smith (1996), The Dance of Siva: Religion, Art and Poetry in South India, Cambridge University Press, , page 116


Practices

Rituals
Most Hindus observe religious rituals at home.
(2019). 9780800697907, Fortress Press. .
The rituals vary greatly among regions, villages, and individuals. They are not mandatory in Hinduism. The nature and place of rituals is an individual's choice. Some devout Hindus perform daily rituals such as worshiping at dawn after bathing (usually at a family shrine, and typically includes lighting a lamp and offering foodstuffs before the images of deities), recitation from religious scripts, singing , yoga, , chanting mantras and others.

Vedic rituals of fire-oblation ( ) and chanting of Vedic hymns are observed on special occasions, such as a Hindu wedding.A Sharma (1985), Marriage in the Hindu religious tradition. Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 22(1), pages 69–80 Other major life-stage events, such as rituals after death, include the yajña and chanting of Vedic .


Life-cycle rites of passage
Major life stage milestones are celebrated as sanskara ( saṃskāra, rites of passage) in Hinduism.R Pandey (1969), Hindu Saṁskāras: Socio-Religious Study of the Hindu Sacraments (2nd Ed.), Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, David Knipe (2015), Vedic Voices: Intimate Narratives of a Living Andhra Tradition, Oxford University Press, , page 52 The rites of passage are not mandatory, and vary in details by gender, community and regionally. Gautama composed in about the middle of 1st millennium BCE lists 48 sanskaras, while Gryhasutra and other texts composed centuries later list between 12 and 16 sanskaras.Carl Olson (2007), The Many Colors of Hinduism: A Thematic-historical Introduction, Rutgers University Press, , pages 93–94 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.Patrick Olivelle (2009), Dharmasutras – The Law Codes of Ancient India, Oxford University Press, , pages 90–91

The major traditional rites of passage in Hinduism includePV Kane, Samskara, Chapter VI, History of Dharmasastras, Vol II, Part I, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, pages 190–417 (pregnancy), (rite before the fetus begins moving and kicking in womb), (parting of pregnant woman's hair, baby shower), Jatakarman (rite celebrating the new born baby), Namakarana (naming the child), Nishkramana (baby's first outing from home into the world), Annaprashana (baby's first feeding of solid food), Chudakarana (baby's first haircut, tonsure), Karnavedha (ear piercing), Vidyarambha (baby's start with knowledge), (entry into a school rite),For Vedic school, see: Brian Smith (1986), Ritual, Knowledge, and Being: Initiation and Veda Study in Ancient India, Numen, Vol. 33, Fasc. 1, pages 65–89For music school, see: Alison Arnold et al (1999), The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: South Asia, Vol 5, Routledge, , page 459; For sculpture, crafts and other professions, see: Heather Elgood (2000), Hinduism and the religious arts, , Bloomsbury Academic, pages 32–134 Keshanta and Ritusuddhi (first shave for boys, menarche for girls), (graduation ceremony), Vivaha (wedding), Vratas (fasting, spiritual studies) and (cremation for an adult, burial for a child).Thomas N. Siqueira, The Vedic Sacraments, Thought, Volume 9, Issue 4, March 1935, pages 598–609, 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.


Bhakti (worship)
Bhakti refers to devotion, participation in and the love of a personal god or a representational god by a devotee. Bhakti, Encyclopædia Britannica (2009)Karen Pechelis (2011), Bhakti Traditions, in The Continuum Companion to Hindu Studies (Editors: Jessica Frazier, Gavin Flood), Bloomsbury, , pages 107–121 Bhakti marga is considered in Hinduism as one of many possible paths of spirituality and alternative means to moksha.John Lochtefeld (2014), The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Rosen Publishing New York, , pages 98–100, also see articles on karmamārga and jnanamārga The other paths, left to the choice of a Hindu, are Jnana marga (path of knowledge), Karma marga (path of works), Rāja marga (path of contemplation and meditation).John Martin Sahajananda (2014), Fully Human Fully Divine, Partridge India, , page 60KN Tiwari (2009), Comparative Religion, Motilal Banarsidass, , page 31

Bhakti is practiced in a number of ways, ranging from reciting , (incantations), to individual private prayers within one's home shrine,

(2019). 9780300089059, Yale University Press. .
or in a temple or near a river bank, sometimes in the presence of an idol or image of a deity.Jan Gonda (1963), The Indian Mantra, Oriens, Vol. 16, pages 244-297 and domestic altars, states Lynn Foulston, are important elements of worship in contemporary theistic Hinduism. While many visit a temple on a special occasion, most offer a brief prayer on an everyday basis at the domestic altar. This bhakti is expressed in a domestic shrine which typically is a dedicated part of the home and includes the images of deities or the gurus the Hindu chooses.
(2019). 9781135189785, Routledge. .
Among Vaishnavism sub-traditions such as Swaminarayan, the home shrines can be elaborate with either a room dedicated to it or a dedicated part of the kitchen. The devotee uses this space for daily prayers or meditation, either before breakfast or after day's work.
(2019). 9780521654227, Cambridge University Press. .
(1998). 9780304338511, Bloomsbury Academic. .

Bhakti is sometimes private inside household shrines and sometimes practiced as a community. It may include Puja, ,

(2019). 9780823931798, The Rosen Publishing Group. .
musical or singing , where devotional verses and hymns are read or poems are sung by a group of devotees. Puja Encyclopædia Britannica (2015)Antoinette DeNapoli (2014), Real Sadhus Sing to God, Oxford University Press, , pages 19–24 While the choice of the deity is at the discretion of the Hindu, the most observed traditions of Hindu devotionalism include (Vishnu), (Shiva) and (Shakti).Robin Reinhart, Contemporary Hinduism: ritual, culture, and practice, , pages 35–47 A Hindu may worship multiple deities, all as henotheistic manifestations of the same ultimate reality, cosmic spirit and absolute spiritual concept called in Hinduism.Karen Pechilis Prentiss (2014), The Embodiment of Bhakti, Oxford University Press, Arvind Sharma (2000), Classical Hindu Thought: An Introduction, Oxford University Press, , pages 72–75

Bhakti marga, states Pechelis, is more than ritual devotionalism, it includes practices and spiritual activities aimed at refining one's state of mind, knowing god, participating in god, and internalizing god.Karen Pechilis Prentiss (2014), The Embodiment of Bhakti, Oxford University Press, , pages 22–29

(2019). 9780028657356, Thompson Gale.
While Bhakti practices are popular and easily observable aspect of Hinduism, not all Hindus practice Bhakti, or believe in god-with-attributes ( saguna Brahman).Bob Robinson (2011), Hindus meeting Christians, OCMS, , pages 288–295;
Hendrick Vroom (1996), No Other Gods, Cambridge: Eerdmans Publishing, , pages 68–69
Ninian Smart (2012), The Yogi and the Devotee, Routledge, , pages 52–80 Concurrent Hindu practices include a belief in god-without-attributes, and god within oneself.Jane Ardley (2015), Spirituality and Politics: Gandhian and Tibetan cases, in The Tibetan Independence Movement, Routledge, , pages 98–99, also ix, 112–113;
Helen Mitchell (2014), Roots of Wisdom: A Tapestry of Philosophical Traditions, , pages 188–189
SN Bhavasar (2004), in Hindu Spirituality: Postclassical and Modern (Editors: K. R. Sundararajan and Bithika Mukerji), Motilal Banarsidass, , pages 28–29


Festivals
Hindu festivals (: Utsava; literally: "to lift higher") are ceremonies that weave individual and social life to dharma.Karen-Marie Yust (2005), Sacred Celebrations, in Nurturing Child and Adolescent Spirituality (Editor: Karen-Marie Yust), Rowman & Littlefield, , page 234, see also Chapter 18 Hinduism has many festivals throughout the year, where the dates are set by the lunisolar , many coinciding with either the full moon ( Holi) or the new moon ( Diwali), often with seasonal changes.Sandra Robinson (2007), Encyclopedia of Hinduism (Editors: Denise Cush et al), Routledge, , page 907 Some festivals are found only regionally and they celebrate local traditions, while a few such as Holi and Diwali are pan-Hindu.Lynn Foulston and Stuart Abbott (2009), Hindu Goddesses: Beliefs and Practices, Sussex Academic Press, , page 155

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 ) festival.Dale Holberg et al (2000), Festival calendar of India, in Students' Britannica India, Volume 2, Encyclopædia Britannica (India), , page 120, Quote: "Raksha Bandhan (also called Rakhi), when girls and women tie a rakhi (a symbolic thread) on their brothers' wrists and pray for their prosperity, happiness and goodwill. The brothers, in turn, give their sisters a token gift and promise protection." The same festival sometimes marks different stories depending on the Hindu denomination, and the celebrations incorporate regional themes, traditional agriculture, local arts, family get togethers, Puja rituals and feasts.Sandra Robinson (2007), Encyclopedia of Hinduism (Editors: Denise Cush et al), Routledge, , pages 908–912Jessica Frazier (2015), The Bloomsbury Companion to Hindu Studies, Bloomsbury Academic, , pages 255, 271–273

Some major regional or pan-Hindu festivals include:


Pilgrimage
Many adherents undertake , which have historically been an important part of Hinduism and remain so today. Pilgrimage sites are called Tirtha, Kshetra, Gopitha or Mahalaya. The process or journey associated with Tirtha is called Tirtha-yatra. According to the Hindu text , Tirtha are of three kinds: Jangam Tirtha is to a place movable of a , a , a ; Sthawar Tirtha is to a place immovable, like Benaras, Haridwar, Mount Kailash, holy rivers; while Manas Tirtha is to a place of mind of truth, charity, patience, compassion, soft speech, soul.
(2019). 9788189091095, Northern Book Centre. .
(1997). 9781850721901, Sessions Book Trust. .
Tīrtha-yatra is, states Knut A. Jacobsen, anything that has a salvific value to a Hindu, and includes pilgrimage sites such as mountains or forests or seashore or rivers or ponds, as well as virtues, actions, studies or state of mind.

Pilgrimage sites of Hinduism are mentioned in the epic Mahabharata and the . Most Puranas include large sections on Tirtha Mahatmya along with tourist guides,

(2019). 9780199718252, Oxford University Press. .
which describe sacred sites and places to visit.
(1998). 9780826453037, Bloomsbury Academic. .
(1986). 9783447025225, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag.
In these texts, (Benares, Kashi), , , , , , , , , , , , twelve and have been mentioned as particularly holy sites, along with geographies where major rivers meet ( sangam) or join the sea. is another major pilgrimage on the eve of the solar festival . This pilgrimage rotates at a gap of three years among four sites: at the confluence of the and rivers, near source of the , on the river and on the bank of the river.
(2019). 9780385531924, Random House. .
This is one of world's largest mass pilgrimage, with an estimated 40 to 100 million people attending the event. Kumbh Mela: The Largest Gathering on Earth, Alan Taylor, The Atlantic (January 14, 2013);
Biggest Gathering On Earth' Begins In India; Kumbh Mela May Draw 100 Million, Mark Memmott, NPR, Washington DC (January 14, 2013)
At this event, they say a prayer to the sun and bathe in the river, a tradition attributed to .Roshan Dalal (2011), The Religions of India: A Concise Guide to Nine Major Faiths, Penguin, , see Kumbh Mela entry

Some pilgrimages are part of a Vrata (vow), which a Hindu may make for a number of reasons. It may mark a special occasion, such as the birth of a baby, or as part of a rite of passage such as a baby's first haircut, or after healing from a sickness.Agehananda Bharati (1963), Pilgrimage in the Indian Tradition, History of Religions, Vol. 3, No. 1, pages 135–167 It may, states Eck, also be the result of prayers answered. An alternative reason for Tirtha, for some Hindus, is to respect wishes or in memory of a beloved person after his or her death. This may include dispersing their cremation ashes in a Tirtha region in a stream, river or sea to honor the wishes of the dead. The journey to a Tirtha, assert some Hindu texts, helps one overcome the sorrow of the loss.

Other reasons for a Tirtha in Hinduism is to rejuvenate or gain spiritual merit by traveling to famed temples or bathe in rivers such as the Ganges.

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Tirtha has been one of the recommended means of addressing remorse and to perform penance, for unintentional errors and intentional sins, in the Hindu tradition. The proper procedure for a pilgrimage is widely discussed in Hindu texts. The most accepted view is that the greatest austerity comes from traveling on foot, or part of the journey is on foot, and that the use of a conveyance is only acceptable if the pilgrimage is otherwise impossible.


Person and society

Varnas
Hindu society has been categorised into four classes, called varnas. They are the : Vedic teachers and priests; the : warriors and kings; the : farmers and merchants; and the : servants and labourers.Arvind Sharma (2000), Classical Hindu Thought: An Introduction, Oxford University Press, , pages 132–180

The links the varna to an individual's duty ( svadharma), inborn nature ( svabhāva), and natural tendencies ( guṇa). The categorises the different castes. Manu Smriti Laws of Manu 1.87–1.91

Some mobility and flexibility within the varnas challenge allegations of social discrimination in the caste system, as has been pointed out by several sociologists, although some other scholars disagree.

(1994). 9780060674403, HarperCollins.
Scholars debate whether the so-called caste system is part of Hinduism sanctioned by the scriptures or social custom. And various contemporary scholars have argued that the caste system was constructed by the .

A man of knowledge is usually called Varnatita or "beyond all varnas" in Vedantic works. The bhiksu is advised to not bother about the caste of the family from which he begs his food. Scholars like Adi Sankara affirm that not only is Brahman beyond all varnas, the man who is identified with Him also transcends the distinctions and limitations of caste.P. 143 Aspects of Hindu Morality By Saral Jhingran


Yoga
In whatever way a Hindu defines the goal of life, there are several methods (yogas) that sages have taught for reaching that goal. Yoga is a Hindu discipline which trains the body, mind and consciousness for health, tranquility and spiritual insight. This is done through a system of postures and exercises to practise control of the body and mind.Encyclopaedia of Hindu Gods and Goddesses – Page 178, Suresh Chandra – 1998 Texts dedicated to Yoga include the , the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the and, as their philosophical and historical basis, the Upanishads. Yoga is means, and the four major marga (paths) discussed in Hinduism are: (the path of love and devotion), (the path of right action), Rāja Yoga (the path of meditation), Jñāna Yoga (the path of wisdom) An individual may prefer one or some yogas over others, according to his or her inclination and understanding. Practice of one yoga does not exclude others.


Symbolism
Hinduism has a developed system of symbolism and iconography to represent the sacred in art, architecture, literature and worship. These symbols gain their meaning from the scriptures or cultural traditions. The syllable Om (which represents the and Atman) has grown to represent Hinduism itself, while other markings such as the Swastika sign represent auspiciousness, and (literally, seed) on forehead – considered to be the location of spiritual third eye,A David Napier (1987), Masks, Transformation, and Paradox, University of California Press, , page 186-187 marks ceremonious welcome, blessing or one's participation in a ritual or rite of passage.SD Sharma (2010), Rice: Origin, Antiquity and History, CRC Press, , pages 68–70 Elaborate Tilaka with lines may also identify a devotee of a particular denomination. Flowers, birds, animals, instruments, symmetric drawings, objects, idols are all part of symbolic iconography in Hinduism.TA Gopinath Rao (1998), Elements of Hindu iconography, Motilal Banarsidass, , pages 1–8JN Banerjea, The Development Of Hindu Iconography, Kessinger, , pages 247–248, 472–508


Ahimsa, vegetarianism and other food customs
Hindus advocate the practice of (non-violence) and respect for all life because divinity is believed to permeate all beings, including plants and non-human animals.Monier-Williams, Religious Thought and Life in India (New Delhi, 1974 edition) The term appears in the , the epic For as one of the "emerging ethical and religious issues" in the see: Brockington, John, "The Sanskrit Epics", in Flood (2003), p. 125.
and is the first of the five (vows of self-restraint) in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.For text of Y.S. 2.29 and translation of as "vow of self-restraint", see:

In accordance with , many Hindus embrace vegetarianism to respect higher forms of life. Estimates of strict in India (includes adherents of all religions) who never eat any meat, fish or eggs vary between 20% and 42%, while others are either less strict vegetarians or non-vegetarians.Surveys studying food habits of Indians include: "Diary and poultry sector growth in India", Quote: "An analysis of consumption data originating from National Sample Survey (NSS) shows that 42 percent of households are vegetarian, in that they never eat fish, meat or eggs. The remaining 58 percent of households are less strict vegetarians or non-vegetarians." "Indian consumer patterns" and "Agri reform in India" . Results indicate that Indians who eat meat do so infrequently with less than 30% consuming non-vegetarian foods regularly, although the reasons may be economical. Those who eat meat seek (quick death) method of meat production, and dislike (slow bled death) method, believing that quick death method reduces suffering to the animal.Neville Gregory and Temple Grandin (2007), Animal Welfare and Meat Production, CABI, , pages 206–208Veena Das (2003), The Oxford India companion to sociology and social anthropology, Volume 1, Oxford University Press, , pages 151–152 The food habits vary with region, with Bengali Hindus and Hindus living in Himalayan regions, or river delta regions, regularly eating meat and fish.Neelam Grover and Kashi N. Singh, Cultural Geography, Form and Process, Concept, , page 366 Some avoid meat on specific festivals or occasions.Maithily Jagannathan (2005), South Indian Hindu Festivals and Traditions, Abhinav, , pages 53, 69; Pyong Gap Min (2010), Preserving Ethnicity through Religion in America, New York University Press, , page 1 Observant Hindus who do eat meat almost always abstain from beef. The in Hindu society is traditionally identified as a caretaker and a maternal figure,Walker 1968:257 and Hindu society honours the cow as a symbol of unselfish giving.Richman 1988:272

There are many Hindu groups that have continued to abide by a strict diet in modern times. Some adhere to a diet that is devoid of meat, eggs, and seafood.Williams, Raymond. An Introduction to Swaminarayan Hinduism. 1st. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. 159 Food affects body, mind and spirit in Hindu beliefs.Narayanan, Vasudha. "The Hindu Tradition". In A Concise Introduction to World Religions, ed. Willard G. Oxtoby and Alan F. Segal. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007Rosen, Steven. Essential Hinduism. 1st. Westport: Praeger Publishers, 2006. Page 188 Hindu texts such as Śāṇḍilya UpanishadKN Aiyar (1914), Thirty Minor Upanishads, Kessinger Publishing, , Chapter 22, pages 173–176 and Svātmārāma Hatha Yoga Pradipika verse 1.58–63, pages 19–21

(1972). 9780520018426, University of California Press.
recommend (eating in moderation) as one of the (virtuous self restraints). The Bhagavad Gita links body and mind to food one consumes in verses 17.8 through 17.10.Christopher Key Chapple (2009), The Bhagavad Gita: Twenty-fifth–Anniversary Edition, State University of New York Press, , pages 641–643

Some Hindus such as those belonging to the Shaktism tradition, and Hindus in regions such as Bali and Nepal practise animal sacrifice. The sacrificed animal is eaten as ritual food.

(2019). 9781444360059, John Wiley & Sons. .
In contrast, the Vaishnava Hindus abhor and vigorously oppose animal sacrifice., Quote: "It is well known that Vaishnavas abhor animal sacrifice. In this province, like nearly all Bengalis, they celebrate Durga Puja, but their ceremonies are bloodless". The principle of non-violence to animals has been so thoroughly adopted in Hinduism that animal sacrifice is uncommon
(2019). 9780231149860, Columbia University Press. .
, Quote: "The acceptance of the principle of nonviolence has been so through that animal sacrifice among Hindus today is uncommon, and many Indians are of the opinion that such things as cow slaughter were never practiced in ancient India".
and historically reduced to a vestigial marginal practice.
(2019). 9780313352560, ABC-CLIO. .


Institutions

Temple
A is a house of god(s).George Michell (1988), The Hindu Temple: An Introduction to Its Meaning and Forms, University of Chicago Press, , Chapter 4, pages 61–65 It is a space and structure designed to bring human beings and gods together, infused with symbolism to express the ideas and beliefs of Hinduism., The Hindu Temple, Vol 1, Motilal Banarsidass, , pages 1–16 A temple incorporates all elements of Hindu cosmology, the highest spire or dome representing – reminder of the abode of Brahma and the center of spiritual universe, (1976), The Hindu Temple, Vol 1, Motilal Banarsidass, , pages 161–169 the carvings and iconography symbolically presenting , , , and .Stella Kramrisch, The Hindu Temple, Vol 2, Motilal Banarsidass, , pp. 346–357 and 423–424Klaus Klostermaier, The Divine Presence in Space and Time – Murti, Tirtha, Kala; in A Survey of Hinduism, , State University of New York Press, pp. 268–277. The layout, the motifs, the plan and the building process recite ancient rituals, geometric symbolisms, and reflect beliefs and values innate within various schools of Hinduism. Hindu temples are spiritual destinations for many Hindus (not all), as well as landmarks for arts, annual festivals, rite of passage rituals, and community celebrations.Burton Stein, "The Economic Function of a Medieval South Indian Temple", The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 19 (February 1960), pages 163–176George Michell (1988), The Hindu Temple: An Introduction to Its Meaning and Forms, University of Chicago Press, , pages 58–65

Hindu temples come in many styles, diverse locations, deploy different construction methods and are adapted to different deities and regional beliefs.Alice Boner (1990), Principles of Composition in Hindu Sculpture: Cave Temple Period, , see Introduction and pp. 36–37. Two major styles of Hindu temples include the style found in south India, and style found in north India. Other styles include cave, forest and mountain temples. Yet, despite their differences, almost all Hindu temples share certain common architectural principles, core ideas, symbolism and themes.

Many temples feature one or more idols (). The idol and Grabhgriya in the Brahma-pada (the center of the temple), under the main spire, serves as a focal point ( darsana, a sight) in a Hindu temple.Stella Kramrisch (1976), The Hindu Temple, Vol. 1, , pages 8–9 In larger temples, the central space typically is surrounded by an ambulatory for the devotee to walk around and ritually circumambulate the (), the universal essence.


Ashrama
Traditionally the life of a Hindu is divided into four Āśramas (phases or life stages; another meaning includes monastery).Patrick Olivelle (1993), The Āśrama System: The History and Hermeneutics of a Religious Institution, Oxford University Press, , pages 1–29, 84–111 The four ashramas are: (student), (householder), (retired) and (renunciation).RK Sharma (1999), Indian Society, Institutions and Change, , page 28

Brahmacharya represents the bachelor student stage of life. Grihastha refers to the individual's married life, with the duties of maintaining a household, raising a family, educating one's children, and leading a family-centred and a dharmic social life. Grihastha stage starts with Hindu wedding, and has been considered as the most important of all stages in sociological context, as Hindus in this stage not only pursued a virtuous life, they produced food and wealth that sustained people in other stages of life, as well as the offsprings that continued mankind.Alban Widgery (1930), The Principles of Hindu Ethics, International Journal of Ethics, 40(2): 232–245 Vanaprastha is the retirement stage, where a person hands over household responsibilities to the next generation, took an advisory role, and gradually withdrew from the world.Albertina Nugteren (2005), Belief, Bounty, And Beauty: Rituals Around Sacred Trees in India, Brill Academic, , pages 13–21Saraswathi et al (2010), Reconceptualizing Lifespan Development through a Hindu Perspective, in Bridging Cultural and Developmental Approaches to Psychology (Editor: Lene Arnett Jensen), Oxford University Press, , page 280-286 The Sannyasa stage marks renunciation and a state of disinterest and detachment from material life, generally without any meaningful property or home (ascetic state), and focused on Moksha, peace and simple spiritual life.S. Radhakrishnan (1922), The Hindu Dharma, International Journal of Ethics, 33(1): 1–22DP Bhawuk (2011), The Paths of Bondage and Liberation, in Spirituality and Indian Psychology, Springer, , pages 93–110

The Ashramas system has been one facet of the Dharma concept in Hinduism.Alban Widgery (1930), The Principles of Hindu Ethics, International Journal of Ethics, 40(2): 237–239 Combined with four proper goals of human life (), the Ashramas system traditionally aimed at providing a Hindu with fulfilling life and spiritual liberation. While these stages are typically sequential, any person can enter Sannyasa (ascetic) stage and become an Ascetic at any time after the Brahmacharya stage.Barbara Holdrege (2004), Dharma, in The Hindu World (Editors: Sushil Mittal and Gene Thursby), Routledge, , page 231 Sannyasa is not religiously mandatory in Hinduism, and elderly people are free to live with their families.Patrick Olivelle (1993), The Ashrama System: The History and Hermeneutics of a Religious Institution, Oxford University Press,


Monasticism
Some Hindus choose to live a life (Sannyāsa) in pursuit of liberation (moksha) or another form of spiritual perfection. Monastics commit themselves to a simple and celibate life, detached from material pursuits, of meditation and spiritual contemplation. A Hindu monk is called a , Sādhu, or Swāmi. A female renunciate is called a Sanyāsini. Renunciates receive high respect in Hindu society because of their simple -driven lifestyle and dedication to spiritual liberation (moksha) – believed to be the ultimate goal of life in Hinduism. Some monastics live in monasteries, while others wander from place to place, depending on donated food and charity for their needs.


History

Periodisation
(1773–1836), in his The History of British India (1817), distinguished three phases in the history of India, namely Hindu, Muslim and British civilisations. This periodisation has been criticised for the misconceptions it has given rise to. Another periodisation is the division into "ancient, classical, medieval and modern periods". An elaborate periodisation may be as follows:

  • Prevedic religions (pre-history and Indus Valley Civilisation; until c. 1500 BCE);
  • Vedic period (c. 1500–500 BCE);
  • "Second Urbanisation" (c. 500–200 BCE);
  • Classical Hinduism (c. 200 BCE-1100 CE);
* Pre-classical Hinduism (c. 200 BCE-300 CE);
* "Golden Age" (Gupta Empire) (c. 320–650 CE);
* Late-Classical Hinduism – Puranic Hinduism (c. 650–1100 CE);
  • Islam and sects of Hinduism (c. 1200–1700 CE);
  • Modern Hinduism (from c. 1800).


Origins
Hinduism is a fusion or synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions. Among the roots of Hinduism are the historical Vedic religion of Iron Age India,; itself already the product of "a composite of the Indo-Aryan and Harappan cultures and civilizations", but also the or renouncer traditions of , and mesolithic and neolithic cultures of India, such as the religions of the Indus Valley Civilisation,; ; ; Dravidian traditions,; ; ; and the and tribal religions.

This "Hindu synthesis" emerged after the Vedic period, between 500-200 BCE and c. 300 CE, the beginning of the "Epic and Puranic" c.q. "Preclassical" period, and incorporated śramaṇic and Buddhist influences and the emerging bhakti tradition into the Brahmanical fold via the Smriti literature. From northern India this "Hindu synthesis", and its societal divisions, spread to southern India and parts of .


Prevedic religions (until c. 1500 BCE)
The earliest prehistoric religion in India that may have left its traces in Hinduism comes from mesolithic as observed in the sites such as the rock paintings of Bhimbetka rock shelters dating to a period of 30,000 BCE or older, as well as neolithic times. Some of the religious practices can be considered to have originated in 4000 BCE. Several tribal religions still exist, though their practices may not resemble those of prehistoric religions. PHILTAR, Division of Religion and Philosophy, University of Cumbria, Tribal Religions of India

According to anthropologist , the Indus Valley Civilization "provides a logical, if somewhat arbitrary, starting point for some aspects of the later Hindu tradition". The religion of this period included worship of a Great male god, which is compared to a proto-Shiva, and probably a Mother Goddess, that may prefigure . However these links of deities and practices of the Indus religion to later-day Hinduism are subject to both political contention and scholarly dispute.


Vedic period (c. 1500–500 BCE)

Origins and development

The Vedic period, named after the Vedic religion of the Indo-Aryans, lasted from c. 1500 to 500 BCE. The Indo-Aryans were pastoralists who migrated into north-western India after the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilization.

During the early Vedic period (c. 1500–1100 BCE) Vedic tribes were pastoralists, wandering around in north-west India. After 1100 BCE the Vedic tribes moved into the western Ganges Plain, adapting an agrarical lifestyle. Rudimentary state-forms appeared, of which the -Pañcāla union was the most influential. It was a tribal union, which developed into the first recorded state-level society in around 1000 BCE. This, according to Witzel, decisively changed the Vedic heritage of the early Vedic period, collecting the Vedic hymns into collections, and shifting ritual exchange within a tribe to social exchange within the larger Kuru realm through complicated Srauta rituals. In this period, states Samuel, emerged the Brahmana and Aranyaka layers of Vedic texts, which merged into the earliest Upanishads. These texts began to ask the meaning of a ritual, adding increasing levels of philosophical and metaphysical speculation, or "Hindu synthesis".


Vedic religion
The Indo-Aryans brought with them their language and religion. The Vedic beliefs and practices of the pre-classical era were closely related to the hypothesised Proto-Indo-European religion,
(2006). 9780252092954, University of Illinois Press. .
and the Indo-Iranian religion.
(2019). 9781400829941, Princeton University Press.

The Vedic religion history is unclear and "heavily contested", states Samuel. In the later Vedic period, it co-existed with local religions, such as the mother goddess worshipping cults. Encyclopædia Britannica, yaksha The Vedic was itself likely the product of "a composite of the indo-Aryan and Harappan cultures and civilizations". David Gordon White cites three other mainstream scholars who "have emphatically demonstrated" that Vedic religion is partially derived from the Indus Valley Civilizations.

(2019). 9780226894836, University of Chicago Press.
Their religion was further developed when they migrated into the Ganges Plain after c. 1100 BCE and became settled farmers, further syncretising with the native cultures of northern India.

The composition of the Vedic literature began in the 2nd millennium BCE.

(2019). 9780231144858, Columbia University Press. .
The oldest of these Vedic texts is the , composed between c. 1500-1200 BCE, though a wider approximation of c. 1700–1100 BCE has also been given.

The first half of the 1st millennium BCE was a period of great intellectual and social-cultural ferment in ancient India.

(2019). 9780670084784, Penguin Books. .
New ideas developed both in the Vedic tradition in the form of the Upanishads, and outside of the Vedic tradition through the Śramaṇa movements.
(1983). 9788120806511, Motilal Banarsidass. .
; Quote: "But the Upanishadic ultimate meaning of the Vedas, was, from the viewpoint of the Vedic canon in general, clearly a new idea.."; p.95: The oldest Upanishads in particular were part of the Vedic corpus ... When these various new ideas were brought together and edited, they were added on to the already existing Vedic..."; p.294: "When early Jainism came into existence, various ideas mentioned in the extant older Upanishads were current, ...".
(1998). 9788120815735, Motilal Banarsidass. .
; Quote: "In the therefore, thought and inner spiritual awareness started to separate subtler, deeper aspects from the context of ritual performance and myth with which they had been united up to then. This process was then carried further and brought to completion in the Upanishads. ... The knowledge and attainment of the Highest Goal had been there from the Vedic times. But in the Upanishads inner awareness, aided by major intellectual breakthroughs, arrived at a language in which Highest Goal could be dealt with directly, independent of ritual and sacred lore".
(2019). 9781317331131, Routledge. .
; Quote: "... the simultaneous emergence of a Vedic and a non-Vedic asceticism. ... Thus, the challenge for old Vedic views consisted of a new theology, written down in the early Upanishads like the Brhadaranyaka and the Mundaka Upanishad. The new set of ideas contained the ..."
For example, prior to the birth of the Buddha and the Mahavira, and related Sramana movements, the Brahmanical tradition had questioned the meaning and efficacy of Vedic rituals,
(2019). 9781598843316, ABC-CLIO. .
then internalized and variously reinterpreted the as ethical concepts such as Truth, Rite, Tranquility or Restraint. The 9th and 8th centuries BCE witnessed the composition of the earliest Upanishads with such ideas. Other ancient Principal Upanishads were composed in the centuries that followed, forming the foundation of classical Hinduism and the Vedanta (conclusion of the Veda) literature.


"Second Urbanisation" (c. 500–200 BCE)
Increasing urbanisation of India between 800 and 400 BCE, and possibly the spread of urban diseases, contributed to the rise of ascetic movements and of new ideas which challenged the orthodox . These ideas led to movements, of which Mahavira (c. 549–477 BCE), proponent of , and (c. 563-483), founder of , were the most prominent icons. According to Bronkhorst, the sramana culture arose in "greater Magadha," which was Indo-European, but not Vedic. In this culture, kashtriyas were placed higher than Brahmins, and it rejected Vedic authority and rituals. Geoffrey Samuel, following Tom Hopkins, also argues that the Gangetic plain, which gave rise to Jainism and Buddhism, incorporated a culture which was different form the Brahmanical orthodoxy practiced in the Kuru-Pancala region.

The tradition of Vedic period in part created the foundational theories of and of moksha (liberation from samsara), which became characteristic for Hinduism, along with Buddhism and Jainism.

These ascetic concepts were adopted by schools of Hinduism as well as other major Indian religions, but key differences between their premises defined their further development. Hinduism, for example, developed its ideas with the premise that every human being has a soul ( atman, self), while Buddhism developed with the premise that there is no soul or self.KN Jayatilleke (2010), Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge, , pages 246–249, from note 385 onwards;
Steven Collins (1994), Religion and Practical Reason (Editors: Frank Reynolds, David Tracy), State Univ of New York Press, , page 64; Quote: "Central to Buddhist soteriology is the doctrine of not-self (Pali: anattā, Sanskrit: anātman, the opposed doctrine of ātman is central to Brahmanical thought). Put very briefly, this is the Buddhist doctrine that human beings have no soul, no self, no unchanging essence.";
Edward Roer (Translator), , pages 2–4
Katie Javanaud (2013), Is The Buddhist 'No-Self' Doctrine Compatible With Pursuing Nirvana?, Philosophy Now
John C. Plott et al (2000), Global History of Philosophy: The Axial Age, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, , page 63, Quote: "The Buddhist schools reject any Ātman concept. As we have already observed, this is the basic and ineradicable distinction between Hinduism and Buddhism".For the impact of "soul exists" concept in later Hinduism, see Edward Roer (Translator), to Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad at pages 3–4; Quote – "... Lokayatikas and Bauddhas who assert that the soul does not exist. There are four sects among the followers of Buddha: 1. Madhyamicas who maintain all is void; 2. Yogacharas, who assert except sensation and intelligence all else is void; 3. Sautranticas, who affirm actual existence of external objects no less than of internal sensations; 4. Vaibhashikas, who agree with later (Sautranticas) except that they contend for immediate apprehension of exterior objects through images or forms represented to the intellect."

The chronology of these religious concepts is unclear, and scholars contest which religion affected the other as well as the chronological sequence of the ancient texts.Richard King (1995), Ācārya, Gauḍapāda – Early Advaita Vedānta and Buddhism: the Mahāyāna context of the Gauḍapādīya-kārikā, SUNY Press, , pages 51–58Stephen Phillips (2009), Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth: A Brief History and Philosophy, Columbia University Press, , Chapter 1 Pratt notes that Oldenberg (1854–1920), Neumann (1865–1915) and Radhakrishnan (1888–1975) believed that the Buddhist canon had been influenced by Upanishads, while la Vallee Poussin thinks the influence was nihil, and "Eliot and several others insist that on some points such as the existence of soul or self the Buddha was directly antithetical to the Upanishads".


Classical Hinduism (c. 200 BCE – 1100 CE)
From about 500 BCE through about 300 CE, the Vedic-Brahmanic synthesis or "Hindu synthesis" continued. Classical Hindu and Sramanic (particularly Buddhist) ideas spread within Indian subcontinent, as well outside India such as in ,
(2019). 9789231036545, UNESCO. .
and the (coasts of Indonesia and peninsular Thailand).
(2019). 9780300204377, Yale University Press. .

Pre-classical Hinduism (c. 200 BCE – 300 CE)

The "Hindu synthesis" or "Brahmanical synthesis" incorporated and Buddhist influences into the "Brahmanical fold" via the Smriti ("remembered") literature. According to Embree, several other religious traditions had existed side by side with the Vedic religion. These indigenous religions "eventually found a place under the broad mantle of the Vedic religion". The Smriti texts of the period between 200 BCE-100 CE affirmed the authority of the Vedas. The acceptance of the ideas in the Vedas and Upanishads became a central criterium for defining Hinduism, while the heterodox movements rejected those ideas.

The major Sanskrit epics, and , which belong to the Smriti, were compiled over a protracted period during the late centuries BCE and the early centuries CE. These are legendary dialogues interspersed with philosophical treatises. The was composed in this period and consolidated diverse philosophies and soteriological ideas.

During this period, the foundational texts of several schools of Hindu philosophy were formally written down, including , Yoga, , , and Vedanta. The Smriti literature of Hinduism, particularly the , as well as other Hindu texts such as the and were also written or expanded during this period.

(1999). 9789069801247, Brill (Volume 1A).

Many influential Yoga Upanishads, states Gavin Flood, were composed before the 3rd century CE.Mircea Eliade (1970), Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, Princeton University Press, , pages 128–129 Seven Sannyasa Upanishads of Hinduism were composed between the last centuries of the 1st millennium BCE and before the 3rd century CE.

(1992). 9780195070453, Oxford University Press.
(1976). 9783515019057, Wiesbaden: Kommissionsverlag Franz Steiner.
All these texts describe Hindu renunciation and monastic values, and express strongly Advaita Vedanta tradition ideas. This, state Patrick Olivelle and other scholars, is likely because the monasteries of Advaita tradition of Hinduism had become well established in ancient times.
(1992). 9780195070453, Oxford University Press.
Antonio Rigopoulos (1998), Dattatreya: The Immortal Guru, Yogin, and Avatara, State University of New York Press, , page 81 note 27Stephen H Phillips (1995), Classical Indian Metaphysics, Columbia University Press, , page 332 with note 68 The first version of – a Hindu text on performance arts that integrates Vedic ideology – was also completed before the 2nd century CE.
(1995). 9788120810570, Motilal Banarsidass. .

"Golden Age" (Gupta Empire) (c. 320–650 CE)

During the , the first stone and cave Hindu temples dedicated to were built, some of which have survived into the modern era. Numerous monasteries and universities were also built during the Gupta dynasty era, which supported Vedic and non-Vedic studies, including the famed .

(2019). 9789004125568, BRILL Academic. .
(2019). 9780618386123, Houghton Mifflin. .

The first version of early Puranas, likely composed between 250 and 500 CE, show continuities with the Vedic religion, but also an expanded mythology of Vishnu, Shiva and Devi (goddess).

(1988). 9780887067730, State University of New York Press. .
The Puranas were living texts that were revised over time,Thomas Colburn (2002), Devī-māhātmya: The Crystallization of the Goddess Tradition, Motilal Banarsidass, , page 27 and Lorenzen suggests these texts may reflect the beginnings of "medieval Hinduism".

Late-Classical Hinduism – Puranic Hinduism (c. 650–1100 CE)

After the end of the Gupta Empire, power became decentralised in India. The disintegration of central power also led to regionalisation of religiosity, and religious rivalry. Rural and devotional movements arose within Hinduism, along with , , Bhakti and Tantra, that competed with each other, as well as with numerous sects of and . Buddhism declined, though many of its ideas, and even the Buddha himself, were absorbed into certain Brahmanical traditions. Vinay Lal, Buddhism's Disappearance from India

Srauta rituals declined in India and were replaced with Buddhist and Hindu initiatory rituals for royal courts.Sanderson, Alexis (2009), "The Śaiva Age: The Rise and Dominance of Śaivism during the Early Medieval Period". In: Genesis and Development of Tantrism, edited by Shingo Einoo, Tokyo: Institute of Oriental Culture, University of Tokyo, 2009. Institute of Oriental Culture Special Series, 23, pages 41–43. Over time, some Buddhist practices were integrated into Hinduism, monumental Hindu temples were built in South Asia and Southeast Asia,

(1977). 9780226532301, University of Chicago Press. .
while Vajrayana Buddhism literature developed as a result of royal courts sponsoring both Buddhism and .Sanderson, Alexis. "The Śaiva Age: The Rise and Dominance of Śaivism during the Early Medieval Period". In: Genesis and Development of Tantrism, edited by Shingo Einoo. Tokyo: Institute of Oriental Culture, University of Tokyo, 2009. Institute of Oriental Culture Special Series, 23, pp. 124.

The first edition of many Puranas were composed in this period. Examples include and with legends of Krishna, while and expressed reverence for Vishnu, Shiva and Shakti with equal enthusiasm; all of them included topics such as Yoga practice and pilgrimage tour guides to Hindu holy sites.

(2019). 9780199718252, Oxford University Press. .
Quote (p. 146): The earliest promotional works aimed at tourists from that era were called mahatmyas.
Early colonial era orientalists proposed that the Puranas were religious texts of medieval Hinduism.Urs App (2010), The Birth of Orientalism, University of Pennsylvania Press, , pages 331, 323–334 However, modern era scholars, such as Urs App, Ronald Inden and Ludo Rocher state that this is highly misleading because these texts were continuously revised, exist in numerous very different versions and are too inconsistent to be religious texts.Ronald Inden (2000), Querying the Medieval : Texts and the History of Practices in South Asia, Oxford University Press, , pages 95–96

Bhakti ideas centered around loving devotion to Vishnu and Shiva with songs and music, were pioneered in this period by the Alvars and Nayanars of South India.

(2019). 9780813540689, Rutgers University Press.
Karen Pechilis Prentiss (2014), The Embodiment of Bhakti, Oxford University Press, , pages 17-18 Major Hinduism scholars of this period included , Maṇḍana-Miśra, Padmapada and Sureśvara of the Advaita schools; Sabara, Vatsyayana and Samkarasvamin of -Vaisesika schools; Mathara and Yuktidipika (author unknown) of -Yoga; Bhartrhari, Vasugupta and of Kashmir Shaivism, and of Vishishtadvaita school of Hinduism (Sri Vaishnavism).
(1993). 9780791412817, State University of New York Press.
;
(1995). 9781438407616, State University of New York Press. .
;
(2019). 9781136853067, Routledge. .
Texts & Manuscripts - 5th to 9th Century Indian philosophies Karl Potter (2015), University of Washington


Islamic rule and Bhakti movement of Hinduism (c. 1200–1750 CE)
The Islamic rule period witnessed Hindu-Muslim confrontation and violence, but "violence did not normally characterize the relations of and Hindu." Enslavement of non-Muslims, especially Hindus in , was part of the Muslim raids and conquests. After the 14th century slavery become less common and in 1562 "Akbar abolished the practice of enslaving the families of war captives." recognized Hinduism, protected Hindu temples, and abolished (head taxes) against Hindus. Occasionally, Muslim rulers of the and the , before and after Akbar, from the 12th century to the 18th century, destroyed Hindu temples,This is an example. and persecuted non-Muslims.

Though Islam came to Indian subcontinent in the early 7th century with the advent of Arab traders, it started impacting Indian religions after the 10th century, and particularly after the 12th century with the establishment and then expansion of Islamic rule. During this period Buddhism declined rapidly, and a distinct Indo-Islamic culture emerged. Under Akbar an "intriguing blend of Perso-Islamic and Rajput-Hindu traditions became manifest." Nevertheless, many orthodox ulamas ("learned Islamic jurists") opposed the rapprochement of Hinduism and Islam, and the two merely co-existed, although there was more accommodation at the peasantry level of Indian society.

According to Hardy, the Muslim rulers were not concerned with the number of converts, since the stability and continuity of their regime did not depend on the number of Muslims. In general, religious conversion was a gradual process, with some converts attracted to pious Muslim saints, while others converted to Islam to gain tax relief, land grant, marriage partners, social and economic advancement, or freedom from slavery. In border regions such as the Punjab and eastern Bengal, the share of Muslims grew as large as 70% to 90% of the population, whereas in the heartland of Muslim rule, the upper Gangetic Plain, the Muslims constituted only 10 to 15% of the population.

Between the 14th and 18th century, Hinduism was revived in certain provinces of India under two powerful states, viz. Vijayanagar and . In the 14th and 15th centuries saw the rise of the Hindu Vijayanagar Empire, which served as a barrier against invasion by the Muslim sultanates of the north, and it fostered the reconstruction of Hindu life and administration. , also known as Madhava, who was the 12th Jagadguru of the Śringeri Śarada Pītham from 1380–6,Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Mādhava Āchārya". Encyclopædia Britannica. and a minister in the Vijayanagara Empire,Cynthia Talbot (2001), Precolonial India in Practice: Society, Region, and Identity in Medieval Andhra, Oxford University Press, , pages 185–187, 199–201 helped establish Shankara as a rallying symbol of values, and helped spread historical and cultural influence of Shankara's Vedanta philosophies.R. Blake Michael (1992), The Origins of Vīraśaiva Sects, Motilal Banarsidass, , pages 60–62 with notes 6, 7 and 8 The rose to power in the 18th century and ended up overthrowing Muslim power in India India; Political and economic decentralization during the Mughal decline; Encyclopædia Britannica

Hinduism underwent profound changes, aided in part by teachers such as , , and Chaitanya. Tantra disappeared in northern India, partly due to Muslim rule, while the grew, with followers engaging in emotional, passionate and community-oriented devotional worship, participating in saguna or ideologies.Karen Pechelis (2014), The Embodiment of Bhakti, Oxford University Press, , pages 3–4, 15–28J.T.F. Jordens, "Medieval Hindu Devotionalism" in Karine Schomer and WH McLeod, (1987), The Sants: Studies in a Devotional Tradition of India, Motilal Banarsidass, , pages 1–3 According to Nicholson, already between the 12th and the 16th century, "certain thinkers began to treat as a single whole the diverse philosophical teachings of the Upanishads, epics, Puranas, and the schools known retrospectively as the 'six systems' ( saddarsana) of mainstream Hindu philosophy." Michaels notes that a historicization emerged which preceded later nationalism, articulating ideas which glorified Hinduism and the past.


Modern Hinduism (from circa 1800)

Hindu revivalism
With the onset of the , the colonization of India by the British, there also started a Hindu renaissance in the 19th century, which profoundly changed the understanding of Hinduism in both India and the west. as an academic discipline of studying Indian culture from a European perspective was established in the 19th century, led by scholars such as Max Müller and . They brought Vedic, Puranic and Tantric literature and philosophy to Europe and the United States. Western searched for the "essence" of the Indian religions, discerning this in the Vedas, and meanwhile creating the notion of "Hinduism" as a unified body of religious praxis and the popular picture of 'mystical India'. This idea of a Vedic essence was taken over by Hindu reform movements as the , which was supported for a while by the , together with the ideas of Universalism and Perennialism, the idea that all religions share a common ground. This , with proponents like , and , became central in the popular understanding of Hinduism.


Popularity in the west
Influential 20th-century Hindus were , B.K.S. Iyengar, Paramahansa Yogananda, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Prabhupada (founder of ), , and others who translated, reformulated and presented Hinduism's foundational texts for contemporary audiences in new iterations, raising the profiles of Yoga and Vedanta in the West and attracting followers and attention in India and abroad.

Hindu practices such as Yoga, Ayurvedic health, Tantric sexuality through and the have spread beyond Hindu communities and have been accepted by several non-Hindus:

It is estimated that around 30 million Americans and 5 million Europeans regularly practice some form of Hatha Yoga.P. 250 Educational Opportunities in Integrative Medicine: The a to Z Healing Arts Guide and Professional Resource Directory By Douglas A. Wengell In Australia, the number of practitioners is about 300,000. "Yoga Therapy in Australia" by Leigh Blashki, M.H.Sc. In New Zealand the number is also around 300,000. "The Growing Global Interest In Yoga" Monday 16 April 2012


Hindutva
In the 20th century, Hinduism also gained prominence as a political force and a source for national identity in India. With origins traced back to the establishment of the in the 1910s, the movement grew with the formulation and development of the ideology in the following decades; the establishment of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1925; and the entry, and later success, of RSS offshoots and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in electoral politics in post-independence India.
(2019). 9780631215356, Blackwell Publishing.
Hindu religiosity plays an important role in the nationalist movement.


Demographics
Hinduism is a major religion in India. Hinduism was followed by around 79.8% of the country's population of 1.21 billion (2011 census) (960 million adherents). Other significant populations are found in Nepal (23 million), Bangladesh (15 million) and the Indonesian island of (3.9 million). The majority of the Vietnamese also follow Hinduism, with the largest proportion in Ninh Thuận Province.

Countries with the greatest proportion of Hindus:

  1. 81.3% 2011 Nepal Census Report
  2. 79.8%
  3. 48.5%
  4. 28.4%
  5. 27.9%
  6. 22.6%
  7. 22.3%
  8. 18.2% 2011 Demographic Report page 18
  9. 13.8%
  10. 12.6%Department of Census and Statistics, The Census of Population and Housing of Sri Lanka-2011
  11. 9.8%
  12. 8.5%
  13. 6.7%
  14. 6.6%
  15. 6.3%
  16. 6%
  17. 5.5%
  18. 5% procession in ]]
  19. 2.4%
  20. 2.1%http://archive.stats.govt.nz/Census/2013-census/data-tables/total-by-topic.aspx

Demographically, Hinduism is the world's third largest religion, after and .Pew Research (2015), The Future of World Religions , Washington DC;
John Schwarz (2015), What's Christianity All About?, Wipf and Stock Publishers, , page 176


Conversion debate
In the modern era, religious conversion from and to Hinduism has been a controversial subject. Some state the concept of missionary conversion, either way, is anathema to the precepts of Hinduism.Arvind Sharma (2011), Hinduism as a Missionary Religion, State University of New York Press, , pages 31–53

Religious conversion to Hinduism has a long history outside India. Merchants and traders of India, particularly from the Indian peninsula, carried their religious ideas, which led to religious conversions to Hinduism in southeast Asia., The Indian Religions in Pre-Islamic Indonesia and their survival in Bali, in , pages 1–47Richadiana Kartakusama (2006), Archaeology: Indonesian Perspective (Editors: Truman Simanjuntak et al.), Yayasan Obor Indonesia, , pp. 406–419 Within India, archeological and textual evidence such as the 2nd-century BCE Heliodorus pillar suggest that Greeks and other foreigners converted to Hinduism.A Sharma (2012), Hinduism as a Missionary Religion, State University of New York Press, , page 84Peter Wick and Volker Rabens (2013), Religions and Trade: Religious Formation, Transformation and Cross-Cultural Exchange Between East and West, Brill Academic, , page 70 with footnotes 13 and 14 The debate on proselytization and religious conversion between Christianity, Islam and Hinduism is more recent, and started in the 19th century.Rafiuddin Ahmed (1992), Muslim-Christian Polemics, in Religious Controversy in British India: Dialogues in South Asian Languages (Editor: Kenneth Jones), State University of New York Press, , pages 93–120Ayesha Jalal (2010), Partisans of Allah: Jihad in South Asia, Harvard University Press, , pages 117–146

Religious leaders of some Hindu reform movements such as the launched Shuddhi movement to proselytize and reconvert Muslims and Christians back to Hinduism,CS Adcock (2014), The Limits of Tolerance: Indian Secularism and the Politics of Religious Freedom, Oxford University Press, , pages 1–35, 115–168Harold Coward (1987), Modern Indian Responses to Religious Pluralism, State University of New York Press, , pages 49–60 while those such as the suggested Hinduism to be a non-missionary religion. 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.Gauri Viswanathan (1998), Outside the Fold: Conversion, Modernity, and Belief, Princeton University Press, , pages 153–176

The appropriateness of conversion from major religions to Hinduism, and vice versa, has been and remains an actively debated topic in India,Sebastian Kim (2005), In Search of Identity: Debates on Religious Conversion in India, Oxford University Press, , pages 1–29Muhammad Khalid Masud (2005), Islamic Legal Interpretation: Muftis and Their Fatwas, Harvard University Press, , pages 193–203Ankur Barua (2015), Debating 'Conversion' in Hinduism and Christianity, Routledge, , Chapters 2 and 8 and in Indonesia.


See also
Hinduism

  • History of Hinduism
  • List of Hindu Empires and Dynasties
  • Hinduism in Southeast Asia
  • Balinese Hinduism
  • Atheism in Hinduism
  • Criticism of Hinduism
  • Hindu denominations
  • Hindu reform movements
  • Hinduism by country
  • Puranic chronology
  • List of Hindu temples
  • Lists of Hindus
  • List of converts to Hinduism
  • Outline of Hinduism
  • Persecution of Hindus
  • Tulsi in Hinduism

Related systems and religions


Notes
Subnotes


Sources

Printed sources


Web sources

Further reading
Introductory

Origins

Texts

  • (2019). 9780791470824, State University of New York Press. .
  • (2019). 9780631215356, Blackwell Publishing.
  • Richards, Glyn, ed. (1985). A Sourcebook of Modern Hinduism. London: Curzon Press. x, 212 p.


External links

Research on Hinduism

Audio on Hinduism

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