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{{pp|small=yes}}{{Sprotected2}}{{short description|Religion and way of life}}{{Use Indian English|date=October 2014}}{{Use dmy dates|date=May 2019}}{{Hinduism small}}Hinduism is an Indian religion and dharma, or way of life,{{refn|group=note|name="definition"}} widely practised in the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia. Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world,{hide}refn|group=note|See:
  • Fowler: "probably the oldest religion in the world" ({{harvnb|Fowler|1997|p=1{edih})
  • Klostermaier: The "oldest living major religion" in the world ({{harvnb|Klostermaier|2007|p=1}})
  • Kurien: "There are almost a billion Hindus living on Earth. They practice the world's oldest religion..."JOURNAL, Kurien, Prema, Multiculturalism and American Religion: The Case of Hindu Indian Americans, Social Forces, 85, 2, 2006, 723–741, 10.1353/sof.2007.0015,
  • Bakker: "it [Hinduism] is the oldest religion".JOURNAL, F.L., Bakker, Balinese Hinduism and the Indonesian State: Recent Developments, Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, 1997, Deel 153, 1ste Afl., 1, 15–41, 27864809, 10.1163/22134379-90003943,
  • Noble: "Hinduism, the world's oldest surviving religion, continues to provide the framework for daily life in much of South Asia."JOURNAL, Noble, Allen, South Asian Sacred Places, Journal of Cultural Geography, 17, 2, 1998, 1–3, 10.1080/08873639809478317, }} and some practitioners and scholars refer to it as Sanātana Dharma, "the eternal tradition", or the "eternal way", beyond human history.{{sfn|Knott|1998|pp=5, Quote: "Many describe Hinduism as sanatana dharma, the eternal tradition or religion. This refers to the idea that its origins lie beyond human history"}}{{harvnb|Bowker|2000}}; {{harvnb|Harvey|2001|p=xiii}}; Scholars regard Hinduism as a fusion{{refn|group=note|name=Lockard}} or synthesis{{sfn|Samuel|2010|p=193}}{{refn|group=note|name= "Hiltebeitel-synthesis"}} of various Indian cultures and traditions,{{harvnb|Hiltebeitel|2007|p=12}}; {{harvnb|Flood|1996|p=16}}; {{harvnb|Lockard|2007|p=50}}{{refn|group=note|name= fusion}} with diverse roots{{sfn|Narayanan|2009|p=11}}{{refn|group=note| Among its roots are the Vedic religion of the late Vedic period ({{harvnb|Flood|1996|p=16}}) and its emphasis on the status of Brahmans ({{harvnb|Samuel|2010|pp=48–53}}), but also the religions of the Indus Valley Civilisation ({{harvnb|Narayanan| 2009|p=11}}; {{harvnb|Lockard|2007|p=52}}; {{harvnb|Hiltebeitel|2007|p=3}}; {{harvnb|Jones|Ryan|2006|p=xviii}}) the Sramana or renouncer traditions of north-east India ({{harvnb|Flood|1996|p=16}}; {{harvnb|Gomez|2013|p=42}}), with possible roots in a non-Vedic Indo-European culture ({{harvnb|Brokhorst|2007}}), and "popular or local traditions" ({{harvnb|Flood|1996|p=16}}).}} and no founder.{{sfn|Fowler|1997|pp=1, 7}} This "Hindu synthesis" started to develop between 500 BCE and 300 CE,{{sfn|Hiltebeitel|2007|p=12}} after the end of the Vedic period (1500 to 500 BCE),{{sfn|Hiltebeitel|2007|p=12}}{{sfn|Larson|2009}} and flourished in the medieval period, with the decline of Buddhism in India.{{sfn|Larson|1995|p=109–111}}

Although Hinduism contains a broad range of philosophies, it is linked by shared concepts, recognisable rituals, cosmology, shared textual resources, and pilgrimage to sacred sites. Hindu texts are classified into Śruti ("heard") and Smṛti ("remembered"). These texts discuss theology, philosophy, mythology, Vedic yajna, Yoga, agamic rituals, and temple building, among other topics.{{sfn|Michaels|2004}} Major scriptures include the Vedas and the Upanishads, the Puranas, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, and the Āgamas.BOOK, Hindu Scriptures, Zaehner, R. C., Penguin Random House, 1992, 978-0679410782, 1–7, BOOK, A Survey of Hinduism, Klostermaier, Klaus, State University of New York Press, 2007, 978-0791470824, 3rd, 46–52, 76–77, 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.BOOK, Frazier, Jessica, The Continuum companion to Hindu studies, 2011, Continuum, London, 978-0-8264-9966-0, 1–15, Prominent themes in Hindu beliefs include the four Puruṣārthas, the proper goals or aims of human life, namely Dharma (ethics/duties), Artha (prosperity/work), Kama (desires/passions) and Moksha (liberation/freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth/salvation);BOOK, Indian Ethics: Classical Traditions and Contemporary Challenges, 2007, Bilimoria, etal, 103, See also JOURNAL, Koller, John, 1968, Puruṣārtha as Human Aims, Philosophy East and West, 18, 4, 315–319, 10.2307/1398408, 1398408, BOOK, The Bhagavadgītā for Our Times, Flood, Gavin, Oxford University Press, 1997, 978-0195650396, Lipner, Julius J., 11–27, The Meaning and Context of the Puruṣārthas, karma (action, intent and consequences), Saṃsāra (cycle of death and rebirth), and the various Yogas (paths or practices to attain moksha).{{sfn|Brodd|2003}} Hindu practices include rituals such as puja (worship) and recitations, japa, meditation, family-oriented rites of passage, annual festivals, and occasional pilgrimages. Some Hindus leave their social world and material possessions, then engage in lifelong Sannyasa (monastic practices) to achieve Moksha.BOOK, Herbert Ellinger, Hinduism,weblink 1996, Bloomsbury Academic, 978-1-56338-161-4, 69–70, Hinduism prescribes the eternal duties, such as honesty, refraining from injuring living beings (ahimsa), patience, forbearance, self-restraint, and compassion, among others.BOOK, History of Dharmasastra, Dharma, Samanya, Kane, P. V., 2, 4–5, See also JOURNAL, Widgery, Alban, 1930, The Priniciples of Hindu Ethics, International Journal of Ethics, 40, 2, 232–245, 10.1086/intejethi.40.2.2377977, The four largest denominations of Hinduism are the Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism and Smartism.Julius J. Lipner (2009), Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, 2nd Edition, Routledge, {{ISBN|978-0-415-45677-7}}, pages 377, 398Hinduism is the world's third largest religion; its followers, known as Hindus, constitute about 1.15 billion, or 15–16% of the global population.WEB,weblink The Global Religious Landscape – Hinduism, 18 December 2012, Pew Research Foundation, A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Major Religious Groups, 31 March 2013, WEB,weblink Christianity 2015: Religious Diversity and Personal Contact,, January 2015, 29 May 2015,weblink" title="">weblink 25 May 2017, dead, Hinduism is the most widely professed faith in India, Nepal and Mauritius. It is also the predominant religion in Bali, Indonesia.WEB,weblink Peringatan,, Significant numbers of Hindu communities are also found in the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, North America, Europe, Oceania, Africa, and other countries.BOOK, Steven, Vertovec, The Hindu Diaspora: Comparative Patterns,weblink 2013, Routledge, 978-1-136-36705-2, 1–4, 7–8, 63–64, 87–88, 141–143, WEB,weblink Hindus, 18 December 2012, Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project, 14 February 2015, ;WEB,weblink Table: Religious Composition by Country, in Numbers (2010), 18 December 2012, Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project, 14 February 2015,weblink" title="">weblink 1 February 2013, dead, {{TOC limit|limit=3}}


{{further|Hindu}}File:Bratan Bali Indonesia Balinese-family-after-Puja-01.jpg|thumb|A Balinese Hindu family after puja at Bratan temple in Bali, IndonesiaIndonesiaThe word Hindū is derived from Indo-Aryan{{sfn|Flood|2008|p=3}}/Sanskrit{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=6}} root Sindhu.{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=6}}{{sfnp|Parpola, The Roots of Hinduism|2015|loc=Chapter 1}} The Proto-Iranian sound change *s > h occurred between 850–600 BCE, according to Asko Parpola.{{sfnp|Parpola, The Roots of Hinduism|2015|loc=Chapter 9}}The use of the term Hinduism to describe a collection of practices and beliefs is a recent European construction, the term "Hindu" was coined in position to other religions and used to describe those that were not of the other religions. Before the British began to categorise communities strictly by religion, Indians generally did not define themselves exclusively through their religious beliefs; identities were segmented on the basis of locality, language, caste, occupation and sect.BOOK, On Hinduism, Doniger, Wendy., 9780199360079, Oxford, 858660095, March 2014, {{page needed|date=October 2019}}It is believed that Hindu was used as the name for the Indus River in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent (modern day Pakistan and Northern India).{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=6}}{{refn|group=note|The Indo-Aryan word Sindhu means "river", "ocean".{{sfn|Flood|2008|p=3}} It is frequently being used in the Rigveda. The Sindhu-area is part of Āryāvarta, "the land of the Aryans".}} According to Gavin Flood, "The actual term Hindu first occurs as a Persian geographical term for the people who lived beyond the river Indus (Sanskrit: Sindhu)",{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=6}} more specifically in the 6th-century BCE inscription of Darius I (550–486 BCE).JOURNAL, 3270470, On Hindu, Hindustān, Hinduism and Hindutva, Numen, 49, 1, 1–36, Sharma, Arvind, 2002, 10.1163/15685270252772759, The term Hindu in these ancient records is a geographical term and did not refer to a religion.{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=6}} 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 Xuanzang, and 14th-century Persian text Futuhu's-salatin by 'Abd al-Malik Isami.{{refn|group=note|There are several views on the earliest mention of 'Hindu' in the context of religion:
  1. Gavin Flood (1996) states: "In Arabic texts, Al-Hind is a term used for the people of modern-day India and 'Hindu', or 'Hindoo', was used towards the end of the eighteenth century by the British to refer to the people of 'Hindustan', the people of northwest India. Eventually 'Hindu' became virtually equivalent to an 'Indian' who was not a Muslim, Sikh, Jain or Christian, thereby encompassing a range of religious beliefs and practices. The '-ism' was added to Hindu in around 1830 to denote the culture and religion of the high-caste Brahmans in contrast to other religions, and the term was soon appropriated by Indians themselves in the context of building a national identity opposed to colonialism, though the term 'Hindu' was used in Sanskrit and Bengali hagiographic texts in contrast to 'Yavana' or Muslim as early as the sixteenth century".({{harvnb|Flood|1996|p=6}})
  2. Arvind Sharma (2002) and other scholars state that the 7th-century Chinese scholar Xuanzang, whose 17 year travel to India and interactions with its people and religions were recorded and preserved in Chinese language, uses the transliterated term In-tu whose "connotation overflows in the religious". Xuanzang describes Hindu Deva-temples of the early 7th century CE, worship of Sun deity and Shiva, his debates with scholars of Samkhya and Vaisheshika schools of Hindu philosophies, monks and monasteries of Hindus, Jains and Buddhists (both Mahayana and Theravada), and the study of the Vedas along with Buddhist texts at Nalanda.Stephen Gosch and Peter Stearns (2007), Premodern Travel in World History, Routledge, {{ISBN|978-0415229418}}, pages 88–99Arvind Sharma (2011), Hinduism as a Missionary Religion, State University of New York Press, {{ISBN|978-1438432113}}, pages 5–12Bonnie Smith et al. (2012), Crossroads and Cultures, Combined Volume: A History of the World's Peoples, Macmillan, {{ISBN|978-0312410179}}, pages 321–324
  3. Arvind Sharma (2002) also mentions the use of word Hindu in Islamic texts such those relating to 8th-century Arab invasion of Sindh by Muhammad ibn Qasim, Al Biruni's 11th-century text Tarikh Al-Hind, and those of the Delhi Sultanate period, where the term Hindu retains the ambiguities of including all non-Islamic people such as Buddhists and of being "a region or a religion".JOURNAL, 3270470, On Hindu, Hindustān, Hinduism and Hindutva, Numen, 49, 1, 1–36, Sharma, Arvind, 2002, 10.1163/15685270252772759,
  4. David Lorenzen (2006) states, citing Richard Eaton: "one of the earliest occurrences of the word 'Hindu' in Islamic literature appears in 'Abd al-Malik Isami's Persian work, Futuhu's-salatin, composed in the Deccan in 1350. In this text, 'Isami uses the word 'hindi' to mean Indian in the ethno-geographical sense and the word 'hindu' to mean 'Hindu' in the sense of a follower of the Hindu religion".David Lorenzen (2006), Who Invented Hinduism: Essays on Religion in History, Yoda Press, {{ISBN|978-8190227261}}, page 33
  5. David Lorenzen (2006) also mentions other non-Persian texts such as Prithvíráj Ráso by ~12th century Canda Baradai, and epigraphical inscription evidence from Andhra Pradesh kingdoms who battled military expansion of Muslim dynasties in the 14th century, where the word 'Hindu' partly implies a religious identity in contrast to 'Turks' or Islamic religious identity.David Lorenzen (2006), Who Invented Hinduism: Essays on Religion in History, Yoda Press, {{ISBN|978-8190227261}}, pages 32–33 One of the earliest uses of word 'Hindu' in religious context, in a European language (Spanish), was the publication in 1649 by Sebastiao Manrique.David Lorenzen (2006), Who Invented Hinduism: Essays on Religion in History, Yoda Press, {{ISBN|978-8190227261}}, page 15}}
Thapar states that the word Hindu is found as heptahindu in Avesta – equivalent to Rigvedic sapta sindhu, while hndstn (pronounced Hindustan) is found in a Sasanian 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, {{ISBN|978-0520242258}}, page 38 The Arabic term al-Hind referred to the people who live across the River Indus.{{sfn|Thapar|1993|p=77}} This Arabic term was itself taken from the pre-Islamic Persian term Hindū, which refers to all Indians. By the 13th century, Hindustan emerged as a popular alternative name of India, meaning the "land of Hindus".{{sfn|Thompson Platts|1884}}{{refn|group=note|In ancient literature the name Bharata or Bharata Vrasa was being used.({{harvnb|Garg|1992|p=3}})}}The term Hindu was later used occasionally in some Sanskrit texts such as the later Rajataranginis of Kashmir (Hinduka, c. 1450) and some 16th- to 18th-century Bengali Gaudiya Vaishnava texts including Chaitanya Charitamrita and Chaitanya Bhagavata. These texts used it to distinguish Hindus from Muslims who are called Yavanas (foreigners) or Mlecchas (barbarians), with the 16th-century Chaitanya Charitamrita text and the 17th-century Bhakta Mala text using the phrase "Hindu dharma".NEWS, The Word 'Hindu' in Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Texts, O'Conell, Joseph T., Journal of the American Oriental Society, 93, 3, 1973, 340–344, 10.2307/599467, 599467, 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, {{ISBN|3-931479498}}, pages 163, 154–168


Hinduism includes a diversity of ideas on spirituality and traditions, but has no ecclesiastical order, no unquestionable religious authorities, no governing body, no prophet(s) nor any binding holy book; Hindus can choose to be polytheistic, pantheistic, panentheistic, pandeistic, henotheistic, monotheistic, monistic, agnostic, atheistic or humanist.Julius J. Lipner (2009), Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, 2nd Edition, Routledge, {{ISBN|978-0-415-45677-7}}, 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,henotheistic, panentheistic ,pandeistic, even an agnostic, humanist or atheist, and still be considered a Hindu."Lester Kurtz (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace and Conflict, {{ISBN|978-0123695031}}, 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." Ideas about all the major issues of faith and lifestyle including: vegetarianism, nonviolence, belief in rebirth, even caste, are subjects of debate, not dogma.{{page needed|date=October 2019}}Because of the wide range of traditions and ideas covered by the term Hinduism, arriving at a comprehensive definition is difficult.{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=6}} The religion "defies our desire to define and categorize it".BOOK, Hinduism: A Very Short Introduction, Knott, Kim, 1998, Oxford University press, Oxford, 978-0-19-285387-5, 117, Hinduism has been variously defined as a religion, a religious tradition, a set of religious beliefs, and "a way of life".{{sfn|Sharma|2003|p=12-13}}{{refn|group=note|name="definition"|Hinduism is variously defined as a "religion", "set of religious beliefs and practices", "religious tradition", "a way of life" ({{harvnb|Sharma|2003|pp=12–13}}) etc. For a discussion on the topic, see: "Establishing the boundaries" in {{harvnb|Flood|2008|pp=1–17}}}} 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.{{harvnb|Sweetman|2004}}; {{harvnb|King|1999}} Since the 1990s, those influences and its outcomes have been the topic of debate among scholars of Hinduism,{{sfn|Sweetman|2004}}{{Refn|group=note|Sweetman mentions:


File:Aum Om navy blue circle coral.svg|thumb|AUM, a stylised letter of DevanagariDevanagariHinduism as it is commonly known can be subdivided into a number of major currents. Of the historical division into six darsanas (philosophies), two schools, Vedanta and Yoga, are currently the most prominent.BOOK, Development and Religion: Theology and Practice,weblink Matthew Clarke, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2011, 28, 9780857930736, Classified by primary deity or deities, four major Hinduism modern currents are Vaishnavism (Vishnu), Shaivism (Shiva), Shaktism (Devi) and Smartism (five deities treated as same).{{sfn|Nath|2001|p=31}}{{sfn|Flood|1996|pp=113, 154}} 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.{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=14}} Other notable characteristics include a belief in existence of ātman (soul, self), reincarnation 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 {{ISBN|0-19-517021-0}} The major kinds, according to McDaniel are, Folk Hinduism, based on local traditions and cults of local deities 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 Upanishads, including Advaita Vedanta, 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 Bhakti 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.{{sfn|Michaels|2004|p=21}} The three Hindu religions are "Brahmanic-Sanskritic Hinduism", "folk religions and tribal religions", and "founded religions.{{sfn|Michaels|2004|p=22}} The four forms of Hindu religiosity are the classical "karma-marga",{{sfn|Michaels|2004|p=23}} jnana-marga,{{sfn|Michaels|2004|p=24}} bhakti-marga,{{sfn|Michaels|2004|p=24}} and "heroism", which is rooted in militaristic traditions, such as Ramaism and parts of political Hinduism.{{sfn|Michaels|2004|p=23}} This is also called virya-marga.{{sfn|Michaels|2004|p=24}} 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.{{sfn|Michaels|2004|pp=21–22}} He includes among "founded religions" Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism that are now distinct religions, syncretic movements such as Brahmo Samaj and the Theosophical Society, as well as various "Guru-isms" and new religious movements such as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and ISKCON.{{sfn|Michaels|2004|pp=22–23}}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, {{ISBN|978-0253213587}}, pages 117–122, 127–130

Indigenous understanding

{{IAST|Sanātana Dharma}}

{{See also|Sanātanī}}To its adherents, Hinduism is a traditional way of life.BOOK, Insoll, Timothy, Archaeology and world religion, Routledge, 2001,weblink 978-0-415-22155-9, Many practitioners refer to the "orthodox" form of Hinduism as {{IAST|Sanātana Dharma}}, "the eternal law" or the "eternal way".{{harvnb|Bowker|2000}}; {{harvnb|Harvey|2001|p=xiii}}{{sfn|Vivekjivandas|2010|p=1}} The Sanskrit word dharma has a much broader meaning than religion 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.{{harvnb|Knott| 2000| p=111}}Paul Hacker, "Dharma in Hinduism", Journal of Indian Philosophy, Vol. 34, No. 5, pages 479–496According to the editors of the Encyclopædia Britannica, {{IAST|Sanātana Dharma}} historically referred to the "eternal" duties religiously ordained in Hinduism, duties such as honesty, refraining from injuring living beings (ahimsa), 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).BOOK,weblink sanatana dharma {{!, Hinduism|publisher=Encyclopædia Britannica|access-date=17 November 2016}} 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 those eternal truths and tradition with origins beyond human history, truths divinely revealed (Shruti) in the Vedas – the most ancient of the world's scriptures.{{harvnb|Knott|1998|p=3}} 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.BOOK, Brian A. Hatcher, Hinduism in the Modern World,weblink 2015, Routledge, 978-1-135-04631-6, 4–5, 69–71, 150–152, {{refn|group=note|The term sanatana dharma and its Vedic roots had another context in the colonial era, particularly the early 19th-century through movements such as the Brahmo Samaj and the Arya Samaj. These movements, particularly active in British and French colonies outside India, such as in Africa and the Caribbean, interpreted Hinduism to be a monotheistic religion and attempted to demonstrate that it to be similar to Christianity and Islam. Their views were opposed by other Hindus such as the Sanatan Dharma Sabha of 1895.BOOK, Patrick Taylor, Frederick I. Case, The Encyclopedia of Caribbean Religions: Volume 1: A - L; Volume 2: M - Z,weblink 2013, University of Illinois Press, 978-0-252-09433-0, 902–903, }}

Vaidika dharma

Some have referred to Hinduism as the Vaidika dharma.BOOK, Suresh K. Sharma, Usha Sharma, Cultural and Religious Heritage of India: Hinduism,weblink 2004, Mittal Publications, 978-81-7099-956-0, 1–2, The word 'Vaidika' in Sanskrit means 'derived from or conformable to the Veda' or 'relating to the Veda'.WEB,weblink Sanskrit English Dictionary, Monier-Williams, Monier, 1988,, 24 July 2018, 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.BOOK,weblink A Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Klostermaier, Klaus K., 2014, Oneworld Publications, 978-1-7807-4672-2, 2, en, BOOK,weblink Hinduism: A Beginner's Guide, Klostermaier, Klaus K., 1 November 2007, Oneworld Publications, 9781780740263, 7, en, According to Arvind Sharma, 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.JOURNAL, Arvind Sharma, 1985, Did the Hindus have a name for their own religion, The Journal of the Oriental Society of Australia, 17, 1, 95, context: 94–98, According to Brian K. Smith "[i]t is 'debatable at the very least' as to whether the term Vaidika Dharma cannot, with the proper concessions to historical, cultural and ideological specificity, be comparable to and translated as 'Hinduism' or 'Hindu religion'."JOURNAL, Smith, Brian K., 1998, Questioning Authority: Constructions and Deconstructions of Hinduism, International Journal of Hindu Studies, 2, 3, 313–339, 20106612, 10.1007/s11407-998-0001-9, 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 Mimamsa 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 herself] a Hindu." Some Hindus challenge the authority of the Vedas, thereby implicitly acknowledging its importance to the history of Hinduism, states Lipner.BOOK, Julius Lipner, Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices,weblink 2012, Routledge, 978-1-135-24060-8, 15–17,

Hindu modernism

File:Swami Vivekananda-1893-09-signed.jpg|thumb|Feuerstein|2002|p=600}} raising interfaith awareness and making Hinduism a world religion.{{sfn|Clarke|2006|p=209}}{{See also|Hindu reform movements}}Beginning in the 19th century, Indian modernists re-asserted Hinduism as a major asset of Indian civilisation,{{sfn|King|1999}} meanwhile "purifying" Hinduism from its Tantric elements{{sfn|Lorenzen|2002|p=33}} and elevating the Vedic elements. Western stereotypes were reversed, emphasizing the universal aspects, and introducing modern approaches of social problems.{{sfn|King|1999}} This approach had a great appeal, not only in India, but also in the west.{{sfn|King|1999}} Major representatives of "Hindu modernism"{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=258}} are Raja Rammohan Roy, Vivekananda, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Mahatma Gandhi.{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=256–261}}Raja Rammohan Roy is known as the father of the Hindu Renaissance.BOOK, Young, Serinity, Hinduism, Marshall Cavendish, 87,weblink 19 February 2015, 9780761421160, 2007, 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".{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=257}} 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",{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=258}} and that seeing this divine as the essence of others will further love and social harmony.{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=258}} According to Vivekananda, there is an essential unity to Hinduism, which underlies the diversity of its many forms.{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=258}} According to Flood, Vivekananda's vision of Hinduism "is one generally accepted by most English-speaking middle-class Hindus today".{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=259}} Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan sought to reconcile western rationalism with Hinduism, "presenting Hinduism as an essentially rationalistic and humanistic religious experience".{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=249}}This "Global Hinduism"{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=265}} has a worldwide appeal, transcending national boundaries{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=265}} and, according to Flood, "becoming a world religion alongside Christianity, Islam and Buddhism",{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=265}} both for the Hindu diaspora communities and for westerners who are attracted to non-western cultures and religions.{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=265}} It emphasizes universal spiritual values such as social justice, peace and "the spiritual transformation of humanity".{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=265}} It has developed partly due to "re-enculturation",{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=267}} or the Pizza effect,{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=267}} 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.{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=267}} 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".{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=267–268}}

Legal Definitions

The definition of Hinduism in Indian Law is: "Acceptance of the Vedas with reverence; recognition of the fact that the means or ways to salvation are diverse; and realization of the truth that the number of gods to be worshipped is large"BOOK, Dharmaśāstra and juridical literature, Derrett, J. Duncan M., 1922-2012., 1973, Harrassowitz, 3447015195, Wiesbaden, 1130636, {{page needed|date=October 2019}}

Western understanding

The term Hinduism is coined in Western ethnography in the 18th century,Hinduism is derived from Perian hindu- and the (:wikt:-ism|-ism) suffix. It is first recorded in 1786, in the generic sense of "polytheism of India". {{etymonline|Hinduism}} and refers to the fusion{{refn|group=note|name=Lockard|{{harvnb|Lockard|2007|p=50}}: "The encounters that resulted from Aryan migration brought together several very different peoples and cultures, reconfiguring Indian society. Over many centuries a fusion of Aryan and Dravidian occurred, a complex process that historians have labeled the Indo-Aryan synthesis." {{harvnb|Lockard|2007|p=52}}: "Hinduism can be seen historically as a synthesis of Aryan beliefs with Harappan and other Dravidian traditions that developed over many centuries."}} or synthesis{{refn|group=note|name="Hiltebeitel-synthesis"|{{harvnb|Hiltebeitel|2007|p=12}}: "A period of consolidation, sometimes identified as one of 'Hindu synthesis', 'Brahmanic synthesis', or 'orthodox synthesis', takes place between the time of the late Vedic Upanishads (c. 500 BCE) and the period of Gupta imperial ascendency (c. 320–467 CE)."}}{{sfn|Samuel|2010|p=193}} of various Indian cultures and traditions.{{refn|group=note|name=fusion|See also:
  • J.H. Hutton (1931), in BOOK, Ghurye, Govind Sadashiv, 1980, The Scheduled Tribes of India, Transaction Publishers,weblink 3–4, 9781412838856, {{refn|group=subnote|Ghurye: He [Hutton] considers modern Hinduism to be the result of an amalgam between pre-Aryan Indian beliefs of Mediterranean inspiration and the religion of the Rigveda. "The Tribal religions present, as it were, surplus material not yet built into the temple of Hinduism".({{harvnb|Ghurye|1980|p=4}})}}
  • BOOK, Zimmer, Heinrich, 1951, Philosophies of India, Princeton University Press, 218–219,
  • Tyler (1973), India: An Anthropological Perspective, Goodyear Publishing Company. In: {{harvnb|Sjoberg|1990|p=43}}{{refn|group=subnote|Tyler, in India: An Anthropological Perspective(1973), page 68, as quoted by Sjoberg, calls Hinduism a "synthesis" in which the Dravidian elements prevail: "The Hindu synthesis was less the dialectical reduction of orthodoxy and heterodoxy than the resurgence of the ancient, aboriginal Indus civilization. In this process the rude, barbaric Aryan tribes were gradually civilised and eventually merged with the autochthonous Dravidians. Although elements of their domestic cult and ritualism were jealously preserved by Brahman priests, the body of their culture survived only in fragmentary tales and allegories embedded in vast, syncretistic compendia. On the whole, the Aryan contribution to Indian culture is insignificant. The essential pattern of Indian culture was already established in the third millennium B.C., and ... the form of Indian civilization perdured and eventually reasserted itself. ({{harvnb|Sjoberg|1990|p=43}})}}
  • JOURNAL, Sjoberg, Andree F., 1990, The Dravidian Contribution To The Development Of Indian Civilization: A Call For A Reassesment, Comparative Civilizations Review, 23, 40–74,weblink
  • {{Sfn|Flood | 1996 | p=16}}
  • JOURNAL, Nath, Vijay, 2001, From 'Brahmanism' to 'Hinduism': Negotiating the Myth of the Great Tradition, Social Scientist, 29, 3/4, 19–50, 10.2307/3518337, 3518337,
  • BOOK, Yoga And Indian Philosophy (1977, Reprinted in 1998), Werner, Karel, Motilal Banarsidass Publ, 1998, 978-81-208-1609-1,
  • BOOK, Werner, karel, 2005, A Popular Dictionary of Hinduism, Routledge,weblink 8–9, 9781135797539,
  • BOOK, Lockard, Craig A., 2007, Societies, Networks, and Transitions. Volume I: to 1500, Cengage Learning,weblink 50, 978-0618386123,
  • {{Sfn|Hiltebeitel | 2007 | p=frontcover}}
  • BOOK, Hopfe, Lewis M., Woodward, Mark R., 2008, Religions of the World, Pearson Education,weblink 79, 9780136061779, {{refn|group=subnote|name=Hopfe|{{harvnb|Hopfe|Woodward|2008|p=79}}: "The religion that the Aryans brought with them mingled with the religion of the native people, and the culture that developed between them became classical Hinduism." }}
  • BOOK, Samuel, Geoffrey, 2010, The Origins of Yoga and Tantra. Indic Religions to the Thirteenth Century, Cambridge University Press, }} which emerged after the Vedic period, between 500{{sfn|Hiltebeitel|2007|p=12}}–200{{sfn|Larson|2009}} BCE and c. 300 CE,{{sfn|Hiltebeitel|2007|p=12}} the beginning of the "Epic and Puranic" c.q. "Preclassical" period.{{sfn|Hiltebeitel|2007|p=12}}{{sfn|Larson|2009}}
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.{{sfn|Turner|1996-A|p=275}}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


{{See also|Hindu denominations}}File:Ganapati.1..JPG|thumb|Ganesha is one of the best-known and most worshipped deities in the Hindu pantheon ]]Hinduism has been described as a tradition having a "complex, organic, multileveled and sometimes internally inconsistent nature".{{sfn|Doniger|2000|p=434}} Hinduism does not have a "unified system of belief encoded in a declaration of faith or a creed",{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=6}} but is rather an umbrella term comprising the plurality of religious phenomena of India.{{harvnb|Smith|1962|p=65}}; {{harvnb|Halbfass|1991|pp=1–22}} 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.{{harvnb|Flood|1996|pp=1, 7}} It is a synthesis of various traditions,{{harvnb|Lockard|2007|p=50}}; {{harvnb|Hiltebeitel|2007|p=12}} the "Brahmanical orthopraxy, the renouncer traditions and popular or local traditions".{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=16}}Theism is also difficult to use as a unifying doctrine for Hinduism, because while some Hindu philosophies postulate a theistic ontology of creation, other Hindus are or have been atheists.{{citation needed|date=March 2018}}

Sense of unity

Despite the differences, there is also a sense of unity.{{sfn|Halbfass|1991|p=15}} Most Hindu traditions revere a body of religious or sacred literature, the Vedas,{{sfn|Nicholson|2010}} although there are exceptions.{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=35}} 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, {{ISBN|978-0415600293}}, page 80 with Louis Renou 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, {{ISBN|978-0415635035}}, pages 31–32{{sfn|Halbfass|1991|p=1}}Halbfass states that, although Shaivism and Vaishaism may be regarded as "self-contained religious constellations",{{sfn|Halbfass|1991|p=15}} there is a degree of interaction and reference between the "theoreticians and literary representatives"{{sfn|Halbfass|1991|p=15}} of each tradition that 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".{{sfn|Halbfass|1991|p=15}}

Indigenous developments

The notion of common denominators for several religions and traditions of India further developed from the 12th century CE on.{{harvnb|Nicholson|2010|p=2}}; {{harvnb|Lorenzen|2006|pp=1–36}} 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.{{sfn|Lorenzen|2006|p=36}} Lorenzen states that the establishment of a Hindu self-identity took place "through a process of mutual self-definition with a contrasting Muslim Other".{{sfn|Lorenzen|1999|p=648}} According to Lorenzen, this "presence of the Other"{{sfn|Lorenzen|1999|p=648}} is necessary to recognise the "loose family resemblance" among the various traditions and schools,{{sfn|Lorenzen|1999|p=648,655}}According to the Indologist Alexis Sanderson, before Islam arrived in India, the "Sanskrit sources differentiated Vaidika, Vaiṣṇava, Śaiva, Śākta, Saura, Buddhist, and Jaina traditions, but they had no name that denotes the first five of these as a collective entity over and against Buddhism and Jainism." 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.{{sfn|Sanderson|2015}} This complex tradition accepted in its identity almost all of what is currently Hinduism, except certain antinomian tantric movements.{{sfn|Sanderson|2015}} 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".{{sfn|Sanderson|2015}}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."{{sfn|Nicholson|2010|p=2}} The tendency of "a blurring of philosophical distinctions" has also been noted by Burley.{{sfn|Burley|2007|p=34}} Hacker called this "inclusivism"{{sfn|Nicholson|2010}} and Michaels speaks of "the identificatory habit".{{sfn|Michaels|2004}} Lorenzen locates the origins of a distinct Hindu identity in the interaction between Muslims and Hindus,{{sfn|Lorenzen|2006|p=24–33}} and a process of "mutual self-definition with a contrasting Muslim other",{{sfn|Lorenzen|2006|p=27}}{{refn|group=note|See also Arvind Sharma (2002), On Hindu, Hindustān, Hinduism and Hindutva. Numen Vol. 49, Fasc. 1 (2002), pp. 1–36.}} which started well before 1800.{{sfn|Lorenzen|2006|p=26–27}} Michaels notes:}}This inclusivismHackel in {{harvnb|Nicholson|2010}} was further developed in the 19th and 20th centuries by Hindu reform movements and Neo-Vedanta,{{sfn|King|2001}} and has become characteristic of modern Hinduism.{{sfn|Nicholson|2010}}

Colonial influences

{{See also|Orientalism}}The notion and reports on "Hinduism" as a "single world religious tradition"{{sfn|King|1999|pp=100–102}} 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 that the missionary Orientalists presumed was Hinduism.{{sfn|King|1999|pp=100–102}}{{sfn|Sweetman|2004|pp=14–15}} These reports influenced perceptions about Hinduism. Some scholars{{Weasel inline|date=April 2017}} state that the colonial polemical reports led to fabricated stereotypes where Hinduism was mere mystic paganism devoted to the service of devils,{{refn|group=note|PenningtonBrian K. Pennington (2005), Was Hinduism Invented?: Britons, Indians, and the Colonial Construction, Oxford University Press, {{ISBN|978-0195166552}}, pages 76–77 describes the circumstances in which early impressions of Hinduism were reported by colonial era missionaries: "Missionary reports from India also reflected the experience of foreigners in a land whose native inhabitants and British rulers often resented their presence. Their accounts of Hinduism were forged in physically, politically and spiritually hostile surroundings [impoverished, famine prone Bengal – now West Bengal and Bangladesh]. Plagued with anxieties and fears about their own health, regularly reminded of colleagues who had lost their lives or reason, uncertain of their own social location, and preaching to crowds whose reactions ranged from indifference to amusement to hostility, missionaries found expression for their darker misgivings in their production of what is surely part of their speckled legacy: a fabricated Hinduism crazed by blood-lust and 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".{{sfn|King|1999|p=169}}{{refn|group=note|Sweetman identifies several areas in which "there is substantial, if not universal, agreement that colonialism influenced the study of Hinduism, even if the degree of this influence is debated":{{sfn|Sweetman|2004|p=13}}
  1. The wish of European Orientalists "to establish a textual basis for Hinduism", akin to the Protestant culture,{{sfn|Sweetman|2004|p=13}} which was also driven by a preference among the colonial powers for "written authority" rather than "oral authority".{{sfn|Sweetman|2004|p=13}}
  2. The influence of Brahmins on European conceptions of Hinduism.{{sfn|Sweetman|2004|p=13}}
  3. [T]he identification of Vedanta, more specifically Advaita Vedanta, as 'the paradigmatic example of the mystical nature of the Hindu religion'.{{sfn|Sweetman|2004|p=13}}{{refn|group=subnote|Sweetman cites Richard King (1999) p. 128.({{harvnb|King|1999}})}}{{sfn|Sweetman|2004|p=13}} Several factors led to the favouring of Vedanta as the "central philosophy of the Hindus":{{sfn|Sweetman|2004|p=13–14}}
    • According to Niranjan Dhar's theory that Vedanta was favored because British feared French influence, especially the impact of the French Revolution; and Ronald Inden's theory that Advaita Vedanta was portrayed as 'illusionist pantheism' reinforcing the colonial stereotypical construction of Hinduism as indifferent to ethics and life-negating.{{sfn|Sweetman|2004|p=13–14}}
    • "The amenability of Vedantic thought to both Christian and Hindu critics of 'idolatry' in other forms of Hinduism".{{sfn|Sweetman|2004|p=14}}
  4. The colonial constructions of caste as being part of Hinduism.{{sfn|Sweetman|2004|pp=14–16}} According to Nicholas Dirks' theory that, "Caste was refigured as a religious system, organising society in a context where politics and religion had never before been distinct domains of social action.{{refn|group=subnote|Sweetman cites Dirks (2001), Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India, Princeton University Press, p. xxvii}}
  5. "[T]he construction of Hinduism in the image of Christianity"{{sfn|Sweetman|2004|p=15}}
  6. Anti-colonial Hindus{{sfn|Sweetman|2004|pp=15–16}} "looking toward the systematisation of disparate practices as a means of recovering a precolonial, national identity".{{sfn|Sweetman|2004|p=15}}{{refn|group=subnote|Sweetman cites Viswanathan (2003), Colonialism and the Construction of Hinduism, p. 26}}}} 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, {{ISBN|978-0195166552}}, 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.{hide}refn|group=note|Many scholars have presented pre-colonial common denominators and asserted the importance of ancient Hindu textual sources in medieval and pre-colonial times:
  7. Klaus WitzKlaus G Witz (1998), The Supreme Wisdom of the Upaniṣads: An Introduction, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120815735{edih}, pages 10–11 states that Hindu Bhakti movement ideas in the medieval era grew on the foundation of Upanishadic knowledge and Vedanta philosophies.
  8. John HendersonJohn Henderson (2014), Scripture, Canon and Commentary, Princeton University Press, {{ISBN|978-0691601724}}, page 120 states that "Hindus, both in medieval and in modern times, have been particularly drawn to those canonical texts and philosophical schools such as the Bhagavad Gita and Vedanta, which seem to synthesize or reconcile most successfully diverse philosophical teachings and sectarian points of view. Thus, this widely recognized attribute of Indian culture may be traced to the exegetical orientation of medieval Hindu commentarial traditions, especially Vedanta.
  9. Patrick OlivellePatrick Olivelle (2014), The Early Upanisads, Oxford University Press, {{ISBN|978-0195352429}}, 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". and othersWendy Doniger (1990), Textual Sources for the Study of Hinduism, 1st Edition, University of Chicago Press, {{ISBN|978-0226618470}}, 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."Michael McDowell and Nathan Brown (2009), World Religions, Penguin, {{ISBN|978-1592578467}}, pages 208–210Wiman Dissanayake (1993), Self as Body in Asian Theory and Practice (Editors: Thomas P. Kasulis et al), State University of New York Press, {{ISBN|978-0791410806}}, page 39 state that the central ideas of the Upanishads in the Vedic corpus are at the spiritual core of Hindus.}}


File:Halebid3.JPG|thumb|right|upright=0.9| Temple wall panel relief sculpture at the Hoysaleswara temple in Halebidu, representing the Trimurti: Brahma, Shiva and VishnuVishnuProminent themes in Hindu beliefs include (but are not restricted to) Dharma (ethics/duties), {{IAST|Samsāra}} (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).{{sfn|Brodd|2003}}

Purusharthas (objectives of human life)

{{see also|Initiation_in_Hinduism|l1=Initiation|Dharma|l2=Dharma|Artha|l3=Artha|Kama|l4=Kāma|Moksha#Hinduism|l5=Mokṣa}}Classical Hindu thought accepts four proper goals or aims of human life: Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. These are known as the Puruṣārthas:

Dharma (righteousness, ethics)

Dharma is considered the foremost goal of a human being in Hinduism.Gavin Flood (1996), "The meaning and context of the Purusarthas", in Julius Lipner (Editor) – The Fruits of Our Desiring, {{ISBN|978-1896209302}}, pp. 16–21 The concept Dharma includes behaviors that are considered to be in accord with rta, the order that makes life and universe possible,"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, {{ISBN|978-0787650155}} 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 Brihadaranyaka Upanishad states it as:, page 481, for discussion: pages 478–505Paul Horsch (Translated by Jarrod Whitaker), From Creation Myth to World Law: The early history of Dharma, Journal of Indian Philosophy, Vol 32, pages 423–448, (2004)}}In the Mahabharata, Krishna 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.BOOK, Swami Prabhupādā, A. C. Bhaktivedanta, Bhagavad-gītā as it is, 1986, The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 9780892132683, 16,weblink

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, {{ISBN|0-8239-2287-1}}, pp. 55–56Bruce Sullivan (1997), Historical Dictionary of Hinduism, {{ISBN|978-0810833272}}, pp. 29–30

Kāma (sensual pleasure)

Kāma (Sanskrit, Pali; Devanagari: काम) means desire, wish, passion, longing, pleasure of the senses, the aesthetic enjoyment of life, affection, or love, with or without sexual connotations.JOURNAL, Macy, Joanna, 1975, The Dialectics of Desire, Numen, 22, 2, 145–60, 3269765, 10.2307/3269765, 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, {{ISBN|9789993624318}}, 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, {{ISBN|0-415-17281-0}}, Routledge, Article on Purushartha, p. 443

Moká¹£a (liberation, freedom from samsara)

Moksha (Sanskrit: {{IAST|mokṣa}}) or mukti (Sanskrit: ) 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 Moká¹£a 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, "Moká¹£a 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,* BOOK, Apte, Vaman S, 1997, The Student's English-Sanskrit Dictionary, Delhi, New! class="navbox-title"| Indo-Aryan migration and Vedic period|File:IE expansion.png|upright=1.8|thumb|center|Scheme of Indo-European migrations from ca. 4000 to 1000 BCE according to the Kurgan hypothesis. The magenta area corresponds to the assumed Urheimat (Samara culture, Sredny Stog cultureSredny Stog cultureFile:Andronovo culture.png|thumb|center|upright=1.8|Map of the approximate maximal extent of the Andronovo culture. The formative Sintashta-Petrovka culture is shown in darker red. The location of the earliest spoke-wheeled chariot finds is indicated in purple. Adjacent and overlapping cultures (Afanasevo culture, Srubna culture, BMACBMACFile:Indo-Iranian origins.png|thumb|center|upright=1.8|Archaeological cultures associated with Indo-Iranian migrations (after EIEC). The Andronovo, BMAC and Yaz cultures have often been associated with Indo-Iranian migrations. The GGC, Cemetery H, Copper Hoard and PGW cultures are candidates for cultures associated with Indo-Aryan movements.]](File:Early Vedic Culture (1700-1100 BCE).png|thumb|center|upright=1.8|Early Vedic Period)(File:Late Vedic Culture (1100-500 BCE).png|thumb|center|upright=1.8|Late Vedic Period)
isbn=978-81-208-0300-8, and also refers to a Vedic theory of "moral law of cause and effect".{{Harvnb1991Philosophy 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, {{ISBN>978-0520039230}}, 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 the past. These actions and their consequences may be in a person's current life, or, according to some schools of Hinduism, in past lives.Karl Potter (1980), in Karma and Rebirth in Classical Indian Traditions (O'Flaherty, Editor), University of California Press, {{ISBNsamsara. Liberation from samsara through moksha is believed to ensure lasting Ānanda (Hindu philosophy)>happiness and Peace#Hinduism.{{Harvnb>Radhakrishnanp=254}}See VIVEKANANDA>FIRST=SWAMIYEAR=2005PUBLISHER= KESSINGER PUBLISHINGKarma and Creativity, State University of New York Press, {{ISBN>0-88706-251-2}}; pp. 60–64


The ultimate goal of life, referred to as moksha, nirvana 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.{{Harvnb|Rinehart|2004|pp=19–21}}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, {{ISBN|978-0520039230}}, Chapter 2 Due to belief in the indestructibility of the soul,BOOK, Europa Publications Staff, The Far East and Australasia, 2003 – Regional surveys of the world, Routledge, 2003, 39,weblink 978-1-85743-133-9, death is deemed insignificant with respect to the cosmic self.BOOK, Hindu spirituality - Volume 25 of Documenta missionalia, Editrice Pontificia Università Gregoriana, 1999, 1,weblink 978-88-7652-818-7, 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 Dvaita (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 loka (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, {{ISBN|0-8153-3608-X}}, Taylor and Francis, pp. 343–360see:
  • Karl Potter, "Dharma and Moká¹£a 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, "Moká¹£a 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, "Moká¹£a 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, {{ISBN|0-7914-3904-6}}

Concept of God

Hinduism is a diverse system of thought with beliefs spanning monotheism, polytheism, panentheism, pantheism, pandeism, monism, and atheism among others;Julius J. Lipner (2010), Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, 2nd Edition, Routledge, {{ISBN|978-0-415-45677-7}}, 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."BOOK, Chakravarti, Sitansu, Hinduism, a way of life, Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1991, 71,weblink 978-81-208-0899-7, WEB,weblink Polytheism, 5 July 2007, 2007, Ninian Smart, Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica Online, and its concept of God is complex and depends upon each individual and the tradition and philosophy followed. It is sometimes referred to as henotheistic (i.e., involving devotion to a single god while accepting the existence of others), but any such term is an overgeneralization.See {{harvnb|Michaels|2004|p=xiv}} and WEB,weblink Henotheism, 5 July 2007, Gill, N.S,, About, Inc, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 17 March 2007, {{Rquote|left|"Who really knows? Who will here proclaim it? Whence was it produced? Whence is this creation? The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe. Who then knows whence it has arisen?"|Nasadiya Sukta, concerns the origin of the universe, Rig Veda, 10:129–6 BOOK, Kenneth Kramer, World Scriptures: An Introduction to Comparative Religions,weblink January 1986, Paulist Press, 978-0-8091-2781-8, 34–, BOOK, David Christian, Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History,weblink 1 September 2011, University of California Press, 978-0-520-95067-2, 18–, BOOK, Upinder Singh, A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century,weblink 2008, Pearson Education India, 978-81-317-1120-0, 206–, }}The Nasadiya Sukta (Creation Hymn) of the Rig Veda is one of the earliest texts{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=226}} 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.{{harvnb|Flood|1996|p=226}}; {{harvnb|Kramer|1986|pp=20–21}}
  • Original Sanskrit: Rigveda 10.129 Wikisource;
  • Translation 1: BOOK, Max Muller, A History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, 1859, Williams and Norgate, London,weblink 559–565, Max Muller,
  • Translation 2: BOOK, Kenneth Kramer, World Scriptures: An Introduction to Comparative Religions, 1986, Paulist Press, 978-0-8091-2781-8, 21,
  • Translation 3: BOOK, David Christian, Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History, 2011, University of California Press, 978-0-520-95067-2, 17–18, The Rig Veda praises various deities, none superior nor inferior, in a henotheistic manner.Max Muller (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, {{Google books|ZBUHAAAAQAAJ|Hindu Mythology: Vedic and Purānic|page=8}}, 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 {{Webarchive|url= |date=6 February 2015 }}, 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".
{{multiple image|caption_align=center|total_width=250|perrow=2
Deva (Hinduism)>Gods and Goddesses in Hinduism alt1=Shiva | caption1 = Shiva alt2=Durga | caption2 = Durga alt3=Lakshmi | caption3=Lakshmi alt4=Vishnu | caption4=Vishnu}}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.{{Harvnb|Monier-Williams|1974|pp=20–37}} According to the monistic/pantheistic (non-dualist) theologies of Hinduism (such as Advaita Vedanta school), this Atman is indistinct from Brahman, the supreme spirit.{{Harvnb | Bhaskarananda|1994}} 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.{{Harvnb|Vivekananda|1987}}John Koller (2012), Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Religion (Editors: Chad Meister, Paul Copan), Routledge, {{ISBN|978-0415782944}}, 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, {{ISBN|978-0791427064}}, pages 38–39, 59 (footnote 105) Dualistic schools (see Dvaita and Bhakti) 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, {{ISBN|978-8180695957}}, pages 345–347 They worship the Supreme Being variously as Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva, or Shakti, depending upon the sect. God is called Ishvara, Bhagavan, Parameshwara, Deva or Devi, and these terms have different meanings in different schools of Hinduism.Mircea Eliade (2009), Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, Princeton University Press, {{ISBN|978-0691142036}}, pages 73–76Radhakrishnan and Moore (1967, Reprinted 1989), A Source Book in Indian Philosophy, Princeton University Press, {{ISBN|978-0691019581}}, pages 37–39, 401–403, 498–503{{Harvnb|Monier-Williams|2001}}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.BOOK, Maxine Berntsen, The Experience of Hinduism: Essays on Religion in Maharashtra,weblink 1988, State University of New York Press, 978-0-88706-662-7, 18–19, Taittiriya Upanishad Thirteen Principal Upanishads, Robert Hume (Translator), pages 281–282;Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120814684}}, 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 Animism. 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.BOOK, Anne Buttimer, L. Wallin, Nature and Identity in Cross-Cultural Perspective,weblink 1999, Springer, 978-0-7923-5651-6, 64–68, BOOK, John R. Mabry, Noticing the Divine: An Introduction to Interfaith Spiritual Guidance,weblink 2006, New York: Morehouse, 978-0-8192-2238-1, 32–33, BOOK, Larry A. Samovar, Richard E. Porter, Edwin R. McDaniel, etal, Communication Between Cultures,weblink 2016, Cengage, 978-1-305-88806-7, 140–144, The Hindu scriptures refer to celestial entities called Devas (or {{IAST|devī}} in feminine form; {{IAST|devatā}} used synonymously for Deva in Hindi), which may be translated into English as gods or heavenly beings.{{refn|group=note|For translation of deva in singular noun form as "a deity, god", and in plural form as "the gods" or "the heavenly or shining ones", see: {{Harvnb|Monier-Williams|2001|p=492}}. For translation of {{IAST|devatā}} as "godhead, divinity", see: {{Harvnb|Monier-Williams|2001|p=495}}.}} The devas are an integral part of Hindu culture and are depicted in art, architecture and through icons, and stories about them are related in the scriptures, particularly in Indian epic poetry and the Puranas. They are, however, often distinguished from Ishvara, a personal god, with many Hindus worshipping Ishvara in one of its particular manifestations as their {{IAST|iṣṭa devatā}}, or chosen ideal.{{Sfn|Werner|2005|pp=9, 15, 49, 54, 86}}{{Harvnb|Renou|1964|p= 55}} The choice is a matter of individual preference,{{Harvnb |Harman |2004|pp=104–106}} and of regional and family traditions.{{refn|group=note|Among some regional Hindus, such as Rajputs, these are called Kuldevis or Kuldevata.BOOK, Lindsey Harlan, Religion and Rajput Women: The Ethic of Protection in Contemporary Narratives,weblink 1992, University of California Press, 978-0-520-07339-5, 19–20, 48 with footnotes, }} The multitude of Devas are considered as manifestations of Brahman.{{refn|group=note|name=avatars|
  • BOOK, Achieving Cultural Competency, Lisa Hark, Lisa Hark, R.D., Horace DeLisser, MD, John Wiley & Sons, 7 September 2011, Three gods, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, and other deities are considered manifestations of and are worshipped as incarnations of Brahman.,
  • {{harvnb|Toropov|Buckles|2011}}: The members of various Hindu sects worship a dizzying number of specific deities and follow innumerable rituals in honor of specific gods. Because this is Hinduism, however, its practitioners see the profusion of forms and practices as expressions of the same unchanging reality. The panoply of deities are understood by believers as symbols for a single transcendent reality.
  • BOOK, 2007, An Introductory Dictionary of Theology and Religious Studies, Orlando O. Espín, James B. Nickoloff, Liturgical Press, The devas are powerful spiritual beings, somewhat like angels in the West, who have certain functions in the cosmos and live immensely long lives. Certain devas, such as Ganesha, are regularly worshiped by the Hindu faithful. Note that, while Hindus believe in many devas, many are monotheistic to the extent that they will recognise only one Supreme Being, a God or Goddess who is the source and ruler of the devas., }}
The word avatar does not appear in the Vedic literature,BOOK, Daniel E Bassuk, Incarnation in Hinduism and Christianity: The Myth of the God-Man,weblink 1987, Palgrave Macmillan, 978-1-349-08642-9, 2–4, but appears in verb forms in post-Vedic literature, and as a noun particularly in the Puranic literature after the 6th century CE.BOOK, Zur Entwicklung der Avataralehre, Hacker, Paul, German, Schmithausen, Lambert, Otto Harrassowitz, 1978, 978-3447048606, 424, also 405–409, 414–417, Theologically, the reincarnation idea is most often associated with the avatars of Hindu god Vishnu, though the idea has been applied to other deities.BOOK, Kinsley, David, Gale's Encyclopedia of Religion, Lindsay Jones, Thomson Gale, 2005, Second, 2, 707–708, 978-0-02-865735-6, Varying lists of avatars of Vishnu appear in Hindu scriptures, including the ten Dashavatara of the Garuda Purana and the twenty-two avatars in the Bhagavata Purana, though the latter adds that the incarnations of Vishnu are innumerable.BOOK, Bryant, Edwin Francis, Krishna: A Sourcebook, Oxford University Press, 2007, 18, 978-0-19-514891-6,weblink The avatars of Vishnu are important in Vaishnavism theology. In the goddess-based Shaktism tradition of Hinduism, avatars of the Devi are found and all goddesses are considered to be different aspects of the same metaphysical BrahmanBOOK, McDaniel, June, Offering Flowers, Feeding Skulls : Popular Goddess Worship in West Bengal: Popular Goddess Worship in West Bengal,weblink 2004, Oxford University Press, USA, 978-0-19-534713-5, 90–91, and Shakti (energy).BOOK, Hawley, John Stratton, Vasudha Narayanan, The life of Hinduism, University of California Press, 2006, 174, 978-0-520-24914-1,weblink BOOK, David R. Kinsley, Tantric Visions of the Divine Feminine: The Ten Mahāvidyās,weblink 1998, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-1522-3, 115–119, While avatars of other deities such as Ganesha and Shiva 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, {{ISBN|0-8239-2287-1}}, page 635Both theistic and atheistic ideas, for epistemological and metaphysical reasons, are profuse in different schools of Hinduism. The early Nyaya 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, {{ISBN|978-0521126274}}, 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, {{ISBN|81-208-0365-5}}, pages 209–10JOURNAL, Reichenbach, Bruce R., Karma, causation, and divine intervention, Philosophy East and West, 39, 2, 135–149 [145], April 1989,weblink 29 December 2009, 10.2307/1399374, ., 1399374,weblink" title="">weblink 27 October 2009, dead, Other schools disagreed with Nyaya scholars. Samkhya,BOOK, Rajadhyaksha, The six systems of Indian philosophy, 1959, 95, Under the circumstances God becomes an unnecessary metaphysical assumption. Naturally the Sankhyakarikas do not mention God, Vachaspati interprets this as rank atheism.,weblink MimamsaBOOK, The perfectibility of human nature in eastern and western thought, Harold, Coward, Harold Coward,weblink 114, For the Mimamsa the ultimate reality is nothing other than the eternal words of the Vedas. They did not accept the existence of a single supreme creator god, who might have composed the Veda. According to the Mimamsa, gods named in the Vedas have no existence apart from the mantras that speak their names. The power of the gods, then, is nothing other than the power of the mantras that name them., 978-0-7914-7336-8, February 2008, and Carvaka schools of Hinduism, were non-theist/atheist, arguing that "God was an unnecessary metaphysical assumption".{{Harvnb|Sen Gupta|1986|p= viii }}Sāṁkhyapravacana Sūtra I.92.BOOK, Religious truth, Robert, Neville,weblink 51, Mimamsa theorists (theistic and atheistic) decided that the evidence allegedly proving the existence of God was insufficient. They also thought there was no need to postulate a maker for the world, just as there was no need for an author to compose the Veda or an independent God to validate the Vedic rituals., 978-0-7914-4778-9, 2001, Its Vaisheshika 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, {{ISBN|978-0865902787}}, pages 149–151;R Collins (2000), The sociology of philosophies, Harvard University Press, {{ISBN|978-0674001879}}, page 836Klaus Klostermaier (2007), A Survey of Hinduism, Third Edition, State University of New York, {{ISBN|978-0791470824}}, pages 337–338 The Yoga school of Hinduism accepted the concept of a "personal god" and left it to the Hindu to define his or her god.BOOK, Mike Burley, 2012, Classical Samkhya and Yoga – An Indian Metaphysics of Experience, Routledge, 978-0415648875, 39–41, ;BOOK, Lloyd Pflueger, Person Purity and Power in Yogasutra, in Theory and Practice of Yoga, Knut Jacobsen, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-8120832329, 38–39, 2008, ;BOOK, Kovoor T. Behanan, 2002, Yoga: Its Scientific Basis, Dover, 978-0486417929, 56–58, 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, {{ISBN|978-8120832329}}, pages 77–78 Bhakti sub-schools of Vedanta taught a creator God that is distinct from each human being.According to Graham Schweig, Hinduism has the strongest presence of the divine feminine in world religion from ancient times to the present.{{sfn|Bryant|2007|p=441}} 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., {{ISBN|1-4051-3251-5}}, pages 200–203


Authority and eternal truths play an important role in Hinduism.BOOK, Frazier, Jessica, The Continuum companion to Hindu studies, 2011, Continuum, London, 978-0-8264-9966-0, 14–15, 321–325, Religious traditions and truths are believed to be contained in its sacred texts, which are accessed and taught by sages, gurus, saints or avatars. 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 Upanishads present characters questioning persons of authority. The Kena Upanishad repeatedly asks kena, 'by what' power something is the case. The Katha Upanishad and Bhagavad Gita present narratives where the student criticizes the teacher's inferior answers. In the Shiva Purana, Shiva questions Vishnu and Brahma. Doubt plays a repeated role in the Mahabharata. Jayadeva's Gita Govinda presents criticism via the character of Radha.

Main traditions

File:Ganesha pachayatana.jpg|thumb|A Ganesha-centric Panchayatana ("five deities", from the Smarta tradition): Ganesha (centre) with Shiva (top left), Parvati (top right), VishnuVishnuHinduism has no central doctrinal authority and many practising Hindus do not claim to belong to any particular denomination or tradition.{{Harvnb|Werner|2005|pp=13, 45}} 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, {{ISBN|978-0814658567}}, pages 562–563{{Sfn|Flood|1996|p=113, 134, 155–161, 167–168}} These denominations differ primarily in the central deity worshipped, the traditions and the soteriological outlook.SS Kumar (2010), Bhakti – the Yoga of Love, LIT Verlag Münster, {{ISBN|978-3643501301}}, 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, {{ISBN|978-0-415-45677-7}}, pages 371–375Vaishnavism is the devotional religious tradition that worships Vishnusometimes with Lakshmi, 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, {{ISBN|978-0791464168}}, page 65 and Chapter 5 and his avatars, particularly Krishna and Rama.BOOK, Edwin Francis Bryant, Maria Ekstrand, The Hare Krishna Movement: The Postcharismatic Fate of a Religious Transplant,weblink 2013, Columbia University Press, 978-0231508438, 15–17, 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 Kirtans and Bhajans, 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, {{ISBN|978-0231122566}}, pages 38–43 Temple worship and festivals are typically elaborate in Vaishnavism.BOOK, Bruno Nettl, Ruth M. Stone, James Porter, Timothy Rice, The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: South Asia : the Indian subcontinent,weblink 1998, Routledge, 978-0824049461, 246–247, 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, {{ISBN|978-0814658567}}, pages 1441, 376 Philosophically, their beliefs are rooted in the dualism sub-schools of Vedantic Hinduism.BOOK, Edwin Francis Bryant, Maria Ekstrand, The Hare Krishna Movement: The Postcharismatic Fate of a Religious Transplant,weblink 2013, Columbia University Press, 978-0231508438, 40–43, BOOK, Deepak Sarma, Krishna: A Sourcebook, Edwin Francis Bryant,weblink 2007, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-803400-1, 357–358, Shaivism is the tradition that focuses on Shiva. 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 Yoga. Some Shaivas worship in temples, while others emphasize yoga, striving to be one with Shiva within.BOOK, Roshen Dalal, The Religions of India: A Concise Guide to Nine Major Faiths,weblink 2010, Penguin Books, 978-0-14-341517-6, 209, Avatars are uncommon, and some Shaivas visualize god as half male, half female, as a fusion of the male and female principles (Ardhanarishvara). 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 Kumbh Mela.James Lochtefeld (2010), God's Gateway: Identity and Meaning in a Hindu Pilgrimage Place, Oxford University Press, {{ISBN|978-0195386141}} 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, {{ISBN|978-0791424490}}, pages 141–145Shaktism focuses on goddess worship of Shakti or Devi as cosmic mother, and it is particularly common in northeastern and eastern states of India such as Assam and Bengal. Devi is depicted as in gentler forms like Parvati, the consort of Shiva; or, as fierce warrior goddesses like Kali and Durga. Followers of Shaktism recognize Shakti as the power that underlies the male principle. Shaktism is also associated with Tantra practices.JOURNAL, 29753633, The Tantra and the Spirit of the West, East and West, 5, 4, 291–296, Scaligero, Massimo, 1955, 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), {{ISBN|978-0313354656}}, Chapter 2Smartism centers its worship simultaneously on all the major Hindu deities: Shiva, Vishnu, Shakti, Ganesha, Surya and Skanda.{{Sfn|Flood|1996|p=113}} 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.BOOK, Hiltebeitel, Alf, Alf Hiltebeitel, 2013, Hinduism, Kitagawa, Joseph, The Religious Traditions of Asia: Religion, History, and Culture, Routledge,weblink {{sfn|Flood|1996}} The Smarta tradition is aligned with Advaita Vedanta, and regards Adi Shankara as its founder or reformer, who considered worship of God-with-attributes (Saguna Brahman) 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: 17 June 2015)U Murthy (1979), Samskara, Oxford University Press, {{ISBN|978-0195610796}}, 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, {{ISBN|978-0814794500}}, page 89 This Hindu sect practices a philosophical Jnana yoga, scriptural studies, reflection, meditative path seeking an understanding of Self's oneness with God.Murray Milner (1994), Status and Sacredness, Oxford University Press, {{ISBN|978-0195084894}}, pages 194–197There are no census data available on demographic history or trends for the traditions within Hinduism.The global religious landscape: Hindus, Pew Research (2012) Estimates vary on the relative number of adherents in the different traditions of Hinduism. According to a 2010 estimate by Johnson and Grim, the Vaishnavism tradition is the largest group with about 641 million or 67.6% of Hindus, followed by Shaivism with 252 million or 26.6%, Shaktism with 30 million or 3.2% and other traditions including Neo-Hinduism and Reform Hinduism with 25 million or 2.6%.BOOK, Johnson, Todd M, Grim, Brian J, The World's Religions in Figures: An Introduction to International Religious Demography,weblink 2013, John Wiley & Sons, 9781118323038, 400, In contrast, according to Jones and Ryan, Shaivism is the largest tradition of Hinduism.BOOK, Constance Jones, James D. Ryan, Encyclopedia of Hinduism,weblink 2006, Infobase, 978-0-8160-7564-5, 474,


File:Rigveda MS2097.jpg|thumb|The Rigveda is the first and most important VedaRigveda is not only the oldest among the vedas, but is one of the earliest Indo-European texts. and is one of the oldest religious texts. This Rigveda manuscript is in DevanagariDevanagariThe 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., {{ISBN|1-4051-3251-5}}, see Michael Witzel quote on pages 68–69{{Harvnb|Sargeant|Chapple|1984|p=3}} 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){{sfn|Rinehart|2004|p=68}} 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 (rishis).{{sfn|Flood|2008|p=4}} There are four Vedas – Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda and Atharvaveda. Each Veda has been subclassified into four major text types – the Samhitas (mantras and benedictions), the Aranyakas (text on rituals, ceremonies, sacrifices and symbolic-sacrifices), the Brahmanas (commentaries on rituals, ceremonies and sacrifices), and the Upanishads (text discussing meditation, philosophy and spiritual knowledge).Gavin Flood (1996), An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University Press, {{ISBN|978-0521438780}}, pages 35–39A Bhattacharya (2006), Hindu Dharma: Introduction to Scriptures and Theology, {{ISBN|978-0595384556}}, pages 8–14; George M. Williams (2003), Handbook of Hindu Mythology, Oxford University Press, {{ISBN|978-0195332612}}, page 285Jan Gonda (1975), Vedic Literature: (Saṃhitās and Brāhmaṇas), Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, {{ISBN|978-3447016032}} The first two parts of the Vedas were subsequently called the {{IAST|Karmakāṇḍa}} (ritualistic portion), while the last two form the {{IAST|Jñānakāṇḍa}} (knowledge portion, discussing spiritual insight and philosophical teachings).Edward Roer (Translator), {{Google books|3uwDAAAAMAAJ|Shankara's Introduction}} 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."{{Harvnb|Werner|2005|pp=10, 58, 66}}{{Harvnb|Monier-Williams|1974|pp=25–41}}Olivelle, Patrick (1998), Upaniṣads, Oxford University Press, {{ISBN|0-19-282292-6}}, Introduction chapterThe 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, {{ISBN|978-0791410806}}, 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, {{ISBN|978-1592578467}}, 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, {{ISBN|978-0226618470}}, 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."Patrick Olivelle (2014), The Early Upanisads, Oxford University Press, {{ISBN|978-0195352429}}, 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 {{ISBN|978-8172231248}} 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, {{ISBN|978-0199540259}}, 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 Mahabharata and the Ramayana. The Bhagavad Gita 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. {{webarchive |url= |date=1 March 2014 }} 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,{{sfn|Lorenzen|1999|p=655}} contain extensive mythologies, and are central in the distribution of common themes of Hinduism through vivid narratives. The Yoga Sutras is a classical text for the Hindu Yoga tradition, which gained a renewed popularity in the 20th century.BOOK, Michelis, Elizabeth De, A History of Modern Yoga: Patanjali and Western Esotericism,weblink 2005, Continuum, 978-0-8264-8772-8, Since the 19th-century Indian modernists have re-asserted the 'Aryan origins' of Hinduism, "purifying" Hinduism from its Tantric elements{{sfn|Lorenzen|2002|p=33}} 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.{{Harvnb|Vivekananda|1987|loc=Vol I, pp. 6–7}}{{harvnb|Harshananda|1989}} In Tantric tradition, the Agamas refer to authoritative scriptures or the teachings of Shiva to Shakti,{{sfn|Jones|Ryan|2006|p=13}} while Nigamas refers to the Vedas and the teachings of Shakti to Shiva.{{sfn|Jones|Ryan|2006|p=13}} In Agamic schools of Hinduism, the Vedic literature and the Agamas are equally authoritative.Mariasusai Dhavamony (1999), Hindu Spirituality, Gregorian University and Biblical Press, {{ISBN|978-8876528187}}, pages 31–34 with footnotesDavid Smith (1996), The Dance of Siva: Religion, Art and Poetry in South India, Cambridge University Press, {{ISBN|978-0521482349}}, page 116



File:(A) Hindu wedding, Saptapadi ritual before Agni Yajna.jpg|right|thumb|upright=0.9|A wedding is the most extensive personal ritual an adult Hindu undertakes in his or her life. A typical Hindu wedding is solemnized before Vedic (Yajna|fire]] ritual (shown).James G. Lochtefeld (2001), The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A-M, {{ISBN|978-0-8239-3179-8}}, Page 427)Most Hindus observe religious rituals at home.BOOK, Muesse, Mark W., The Hindu Traditions: A Concise Introduction, 2011, Fortress Press, 9780800697907, 216,weblink 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 devotional hymns, yoga, meditation, chanting mantras and others.WEB,weblink Domestic Worship, 19 April 2007, September 1995, Country Studies, The Library of Congress, Vedic rituals of fire-oblation (yajna) 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 mantras.WEB,weblink Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, 25 June 2007, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 5 June 2007,

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, {{ISBN|81-208-0434-1}}David Knipe (2015), Vedic Voices: Intimate Narratives of a Living Andhra Tradition, Oxford University Press, {{ISBN|978-0199397693}}, page 52 The rites of passage are not mandatory, and vary in details by gender, community and regionally. Gautama Dharmasutras 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, {{ISBN|978-0813540689}}, 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, {{ISBN|978-0199555376}}, pages 90–91The 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 Garbhadhana (pregnancy), Pumsavana (rite before the fetus begins moving and kicking in womb), Simantonnayana (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), Upanayana (entry into a school rite),For Vedic school, see: JOURNAL, 3270127, Ritual, Knowledge, and Being: Initiation and Veda Study in Ancient India, Numen, 33, 1, 65–89, Smith, Brian K., 1986, For music school, see: Alison Arnold et al (1999), The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: South Asia, Vol 5, Routledge, {{ISBN|978-0824049461}}, page 459; For sculpture, crafts and other professions, see: Heather Elgood (2000), Hinduism and the religious arts, {{ISBN|978-0304707393}}, Bloomsbury Academic, pages 32–134 Keshanta and Ritusuddhi (first shave for boys, menarche for girls), Samavartana (graduation ceremony), Vivaha (wedding), Vratas (fasting, spiritual studies) and Antyeshti (cremation for an adult, burial for a child).Thomas N. Siqueira, The Vedic Sacraments, Thought, Volume 9, Issue 4, March 1935, pages 598–609, {{doi|10.5840/thought1935945}} In contemporary times, there is regional variation among Hindus as to which of these sanskaras are observed; in some cases, additional regional rites of passage such as Śrāddha (ritual of feeding people after cremation) are practiced.WEB,weblink Life-Cycle Rituals, 19 April 2007, September 1995, Country Studies: India, The Library of Congress,

Bhakti (worship)

{{multiple image| align = right| image1 = Vishu-kani 1.JPG| width1 = 200| alt1 = | caption1 = | image2 = Kumuthavalli AvatharaAthalam.jpg| width2 = 112| alt2 = | caption2 = | footer = A home shrine with offerings at a regional Vishu festival (left); a priest in a temple (right).}}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, {{ISBN|978-0826499660}}, 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, {{ISBN|978-0823922871}}, 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, {{ISBN|978-1482819557}}, page 60KN Tiwari (2009), Comparative Religion, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120802933}}, page 31Bhakti is practiced in a number of ways, ranging from reciting mantras, japas (incantations), to individual private prayers within one's home shrine,BOOK, Stephen Huyler, Meeting God: Elements of Hindu Devotion,weblink 2002, Yale University Press, 978-0-300-08905-9, 10–11, 71, 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{{Sfn|Fowler|1997|pp= 41–50}} Hindu temples 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.BOOK, Lynn Foulston, Denise Cush, etal, Encyclopedia of Hinduism,weblink 2012, Routledge, 978-1-135-18978-5, 21–22, 868, 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.BOOK, Raymond Brady Williams, An Introduction to Swaminarayan Hinduism,weblink 2001, Cambridge University Press, 978-0-521-65422-7, 136–138, BOOK, Paul Bowen, Themes and Issues in Hinduism,weblink 1998, Bloomsbury Academic, 978-0-304-33851-1, 220–221, Bhakti is sometimes private inside household shrines and sometimes practiced as a community. It may include Puja, Aarti,BOOK, James G. Lochtefeld, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A-M,weblink 2002, The Rosen Publishing Group, 978-0-8239-3179-8, 51, musical Kirtan or singing Bhajan, 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, {{ISBN|978-0199940035}}, pages 19–24 While the choice of the deity is at the discretion of the Hindu, the most observed traditions of Hindu devotionalism include Vaishnavism (Vishnu), Shaivism (Shiva) and Shaktism (Shakti).Robin Reinhart, Contemporary Hinduism: ritual, culture, and practice, {{ISBN|978-1-57607-905-8}}, 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 Brahman in Hinduism.Karen Pechilis Prentiss (2014), The Embodiment of Bhakti, Oxford University Press, {{ISBN|978-0195351903}}Arvind Sharma (2000), Classical Hindu Thought: An Introduction, Oxford University Press, {{ISBN|978-0195644418}}, pages 72–75{{refn|group=note|name=avatars}}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, {{ISBN|978-0195351903}}, pages 22–29BOOK, Gale Encyclopedia of Religion, 856–857, Lindsay Jones, Thompson Gale, 2005, Volume 2, 978-0-02-865735-6, 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, {{ISBN|978-1870345392}}, pages 288–295;Hendrick Vroom (1996), No Other Gods, Cambridge: Eerdmans Publishing, {{ISBN|978-0802840974}}, pages 68–69Ninian Smart (2012), The Yogi and the Devotee, Routledge, {{ISBN|978-0415684996}}, 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, {{ISBN|978-1138862647}}, pages 98–99, also ix, 112–113;Helen Mitchell (2014), Roots of Wisdom: A Tapestry of Philosophical Traditions, {{ISBN|978-1285197128}}, pages 188–189SN Bhavasar (2004), in Hindu Spirituality: Postclassical and Modern (Editors: K. R. Sundararajan and Bithika Mukerji), Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120819375}}, pages 28–29


File:Deepawali-festival.jpg|thumb|upright=1.35|right|The festival of lights, DiwaliDiwaliHindu festivals (Sanskrit: 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, {{ISBN|978-0742544635}}, page 234, see also Chapter 18 Hinduism has many festivals throughout the year, where the dates are set by the lunisolar Hindu calendar, 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, {{ISBN|978-0700712670}}, 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, {{ISBN|978-1902210438}}, page 155The festivals typically celebrate events from Hinduism, connoting spiritual themes and celebrating aspects of human relationships such as the Sister-Brother bond over the Raksha Bandhan (or Bhai Dooj) festival.Dale Holberg et al. (2000), "Festival calendar of India", in Students' Britannica India, Volume 2, Encyclopædia Britannica (India), {{ISBN|978-0-85229-760-5}}, 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, {{ISBN|978-0700712670}}, pages 908–912Jessica Frazier (2015), The Bloomsbury Companion to Hindu Studies, Bloomsbury Academic, {{ISBN|978-1472511515}}, pages 255, 271–273Some major regional or pan-Hindu festivals include:{{div col|colwidth=18em}} {{div col end}}


{{See also|Tirtha (Hinduism)|Hindu_pilgrimage_sites_in_India|l2=Tirtha locations|Yatra}}Many adherents undertake pilgrimages, which have historically been an important part of Hinduism and remain so today.{{Sfn|Fuller|2004|pp=204–05}} Pilgrimage sites are called Tirtha, Kshetra, Gopitha or Mahalaya.{{Sfn|James G. Lochtefeld|2002|pp=698–699}}{{Sfn|Knut A. Jacobsen|2013|pp=4, 22, 27, 140–148, 157–158}} The process or journey associated with Tirtha is called Tirtha-yatra.{{Sfn|Bhardwaj|1983|p=2}} According to the Hindu text Skanda Purana, Tirtha are of three kinds: Jangam Tirtha is to a place movable of a sadhu, a rishi, a guru; 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.BOOK, Krishan Sharma, Anil Kishore Sinha, Bijon Gopal Banerjee, Anthropological Dimensions of Pilgrimage,weblink 2009, Northern Book Centre, 978-81-89091-09-5, 3–5, BOOK, harv, Geoffrey Waring Maw, Pilgrims in Hindu Holy Land: Sacred Shrines of the Indian Himalayas,weblink 1997, Sessions Book Trust, 978-1-85072-190-1, 7, 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.{{Sfn|Knut A. Jacobsen|2013|pp=157–158}}{{Sfn|Axel Michaels | Barbara Harshav (Transl)|2004|pp=288–289}}Pilgrimage sites of Hinduism are mentioned in the epic Mahabharata and the Puranas.{{Sfn|Kane|1953|p=561}}{{Sfn|Diana L. Eck|2012|pp=7–9}} Most Puranas include large sections on Tirtha Mahatmya along with tourist guides,BOOK, Ariel Glucklich, The Strides of Vishnu : Hindu Culture in Historical Perspective: Hindu Culture in Historical Perspective,weblink 2008, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-971825-2, 146, Quote: The earliest promotional works aimed at tourists from that era were called mahatmyas [in Puranas]., which describe sacred sites and places to visit.{{Sfn|Kane|1953|pp=559–560}}BOOK, Jean Holm, John Bowker, Sacred Place,weblink 1998, Bloomsbury Academic, 978-0-8264-5303-7, 68, BOOK, Ludo, Rocher, 1986, Ludo Rocher, The Puranas, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 978-3447025225, In these texts, Varanasi (Benares, Kashi), Rameshwaram, Kanchipuram, Dwarka, Puri, Haridwar, Sri Rangam, Vrindavan, Ayodhya, Tirupati, Mayapur, Nathdwara, twelve Jyotirlinga and Shakti Peetha have been mentioned as particularly holy sites, along with geographies where major rivers meet (sangam) or join the sea.{{Sfn|Kane|1953|pp=553–556, 560–561}}{{Sfn|Diana L. Eck|2012|pp=7–9}} Kumbhamela is another major pilgrimage on the eve of the solar festival Makar Sankranti. This pilgrimage rotates at a gap of three years among four sites: Prayag Raj at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, Haridwar near source of the Ganges, Ujjain on the Shipra river and Nasik on the bank of the Godavari river.BOOK, Diana L. Eck, India: A Sacred Geography,weblink 2013, Random House, Diana L. Eck, 978-0-385-53192-4, 152–154, This is one of world's largest mass pilgrimage, with an estimated 40 to 100 million people attending the event.{{Sfn|Klaus K. Klostermaier|2010|p=553 note 55}}"Kumbh Mela: The Largest Gathering on Earth", Alan Taylor, The Atlantic (14 January 2013);Biggest Gathering On Earth' Begins In India; Kumbh Mela May Draw 100 Million, Mark Memmott, NPR, Washington DC (14 January 2013) At this event, they say a prayer to the sun and bathe in the river, a tradition attributed to Adi Shankara.Roshan Dalal (2011), The Religions of India: A Concise Guide to Nine Major Faiths, Penguin, {{ISBN|978-0-14-341517-6}}, see Kumbh Mela entrySome pilgrimages are part of a Vrata (vow), which a Hindu may make for a number of reasons.{{Sfn|Diana L. Eck|2012|pp=9–11}}{{Sfn|Bhardwaj|1983|p=6}} 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.{{Sfn|Diana L. Eck|2012|p=9}}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.{{Sfn|Diana L. Eck|2012|p=9}} An alternative reason for Tirtha, for some Hindus, is to respect wishes or in memory of a beloved person after his or her death.{{Sfn|Diana L. Eck|2012|p=9}} 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.{{Sfn|Diana L. Eck|2012|p=9}}{{refn|group=note|The cremation ashes are called phool (flowers). These are collected from the pyre in a rite-of-passage called asthi sanchayana, then dispersed during asthi visarjana. This signifies redemption of the dead in waters considered to be sacred and a closure for the living. Tirtha locations offer these services.BOOK, Kama Maclean, Pilgrimage and Power: The Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, 1765–1954,weblink 2008, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-971335-6, 228–229, BOOK, James G. Lochtefeld, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A-M,weblink 2002, The Rosen Publishing Group, 978-0-8239-3179-8, 68, }}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.{{Sfn|Bhardwaj|1983|pp=3–5}}BOOK, Laura Amazzone, Goddess Durga and Sacred Female Power,weblink 2012, Rowman & Littlefield, 978-0-7618-5314-5, 43–45, BOOK, Jean Holm, John Bowker, Sacred Place,weblink 2001, Bloomsbury Academic, 978-1-62356-623-4, 69–77, 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.{{Sfn|Robert Lingat|1973|pp=98–99}}{{Sfn|Bhardwaj|1983|p=4}} The proper procedure for a pilgrimage is widely discussed in Hindu texts.{{Sfn|Kane|1953|p=573}} 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.{{Sfn|Kane|1953|pp=576–577}}

Person and society


File:12BCM11.jpg|right|thumb|Brahmins at Bhadrachalam Temple, in TelanganaTelanganaHindu society has been categorised into four classes, called varnas. They are the Brahmins: Vedic teachers and priests; the Kshatriyas: warriors and kings; the Vaishyas: farmers and merchants; and the Shudras: servants and labourers.Arvind Sharma (2000), 'Classical Hindu Thought: An Introduction, Oxford University Press, {{ISBN|978-0195644418}}, pages 132–180The Bhagavad Gītā links the varna to an individual's duty (svadharma), inborn nature (svabhāva), and natural tendencies (guṇa).{{Sfn|Halbfass|1995|p=264}} The Manusmṛiti categorises the different castes.weblink" title="">Manu Smriti Laws of Manu 1.87–1.91Some mobility and flexibility within the varnas challenge allegations of social discrimination in the caste system, as has been pointed out by several sociologists,{{Harvnb|Silverberg|1969|pp=442–443}}{{Harvnb|Smelser|Lipset|2005}} although some other scholars disagree.BOOK, The Illustrated World's Religions, Huston, Smith, 1994, Huston Smith, HarperCollins, New York City, USA, Hinduism: The Stations of Life, 978-0-06-067440-3,weblink Scholars debate whether the so-called caste system is part of Hinduism sanctioned by the scriptures or social custom.{{Harvnb|Michaels|2004|pp=188–197}}WEB, V, Jayaram, The Hindu Caste System,weblink Hinduwebsite, 28 November 2012, {{refn|group=note|Venkataraman and Deshpande: "Caste-based discrimination does exist in many parts of India today.... Caste-based discrimination fundamentally contradicts the essential teaching of Hindu sacred texts that divinity is inherent in all beings."WEB, Venkataraman, Swaminathan, Deshpande, Pawan, Hinduism: Not Cast In Caste,weblink Hindu American Foundation, 28 November 2012, }} And various contemporary scholars have argued that the caste system was constructed by the British colonial regime.JOURNAL, The Logic of Affirmative Action: Caste, Class and Quotas in India, Frank, de Zwart, 10.1177/000169930004300304, Acta Sociologica, July 2000, 43, 3, 235–249, 4201209, A renunciant 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


File:Shiva Bangalore .jpg|thumb|right|upright=0.9|A statue of ShivaShivaIn 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 Yoga Sutras, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the Bhagavad Gita and, as their philosophical and historical basis, the Upanishads. Yoga is means, and the four major marga (paths) discussed in Hinduism are: Bhakti Yoga (the path of love and devotion), Karma Yoga (the path of right action), Rāja Yoga (the path of meditation), Jñāna Yoga (the path of wisdom){{Harvnb|Bhaskarananda|1994}} 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.


(File:Three basic Hindu symbols.jpg|thumb|left|Basic Hindu symbols: Shatkona, Padma, and Swastika.)File:Ganesha-aum.jpg|thumb|upright=0.9|The Hindu deity Ganesha is sometimes linked to the symbol 978-0143031741}}, page 95Hinduism 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 Brahman and Atman) has grown to represent Hinduism itself, while other markings such as the Swastika sign represent auspiciousness,{{Sfn| Doniger|2000|p= 1041}} and Tilaka (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, {{ISBN|978-0520045330}}, 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, {{ISBN|978-1578086801}}, pages 68–70 Elaborate Tilaka with lines may also identify a devotee of a particular denomination. Flowers, birds, animals, instruments, symmetric mandala drawings, objects, idols are all part of symbolic iconography in Hinduism.TA Gopinath Rao (1998), Elements of Hindu iconography, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120808782}}, pages 1–8JN Banerjea, The Development of Hindu Iconography, Kessinger, {{ISBN|978-1417950089}}, pages 247–248, 472–508

Ahimsa, vegetarianism and other food customs

Hindus advocate the practice of {{IAST|ahiṃsā}} (nonviolence) 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 {{IAST|ahiṃsā}} appears in the Upanishads,BOOK, Radhakrishnan, S, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Indian Philosophy, Volume 1, 2nd, Muirhead library of philosophy, 1929, George Allen and Unwin Ltd., London, 148, the epic MahabharataFor {{IAST|ahiṃsā}} as one of the "emerging ethical and religious issues" in the {{IAST|Mahābhārata}} see: Brockington, John, "The Sanskrit Epics", in Flood (2003), p. 125. and {{IAST|ahiṃsā}} is the first of the five Yamas (vows of self-restraint) in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.For text of Y.S. 2.29 and translation of {{IAST|yama}} as "vow of self-restraint", see: BOOK, Taimni, I. K., I. K. Taimni, The Science of Yoga, 1961, The Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, India, 978-81-7059-212-9, 206, File:Gosala in Guntur, India.jpg|left|thumb|upright=0.9|A goshala or cow shelter at GunturGunturIn accordance with {{IAST|ahiṃsā}}, many Hindus embrace vegetarianism to respect higher forms of life. Estimates of strict lacto vegetarians 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." weblink" title="">"Indian consumer patterns" and "Agri reform in India" {{webarchive|url= |date=28 December 2006 }}. 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. WEB,weblink Archived copy, 28 December 2006, bot: unknown,weblink" title="">weblink 26 June 2015, Those who eat meat seek Jhatka (quick death) method of meat production, and dislike Halal (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, {{ISBN|978-1845932152}}, pages 206–208Veena Das (2003), The Oxford India companion to sociology and social anthropology, Volume 1, Oxford University Press, {{ISBN|0-195645820}}, 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, {{ISBN|978-8180690747}}, page 366 Some avoid meat on specific festivals or occasions.Maithily Jagannathan (2005), South Indian Hindu Festivals and Traditions, Abhinav, {{ISBN|978-8170174158}}, pages 53, 69; Pyong Gap Min (2010), Preserving Ethnicity through Religion in America, New York University Press, {{ISBN|978-0814795866}}, page 1 Observant Hindus who do eat meat almost always abstain from beef. The cow 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 1988:272There are many Hindu groups that have continued to abide by a strict vegetarian 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, {{ISBN|978-1164026419}}, Chapter 22, pages 173–176 and SvātmārāmaHatha Yoga Pradipika verse 1.58–63, pages 19–21BOOK, Lorenzen, David, The Kāpālikas and Kālāmukhas, 1972, University of California Press, 978-0520018426, 186–190, recommend Mitahara (eating in moderation) as one of the Yamas (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, {{ISBN|978-1438428420}}, pages 641–643Some Hindus such as those belonging to the Shaktism tradition,BOOK, Harold F., Smith, Outline of Hinduism, 1 January 2007, Read Books, 978-1-4067-8944-7, 12, and Hindus in regions such as Bali and Nepal{{Sfn|Fuller|2004|p=83, Chapter 4}}BOOK, Gouyon Anne, Bumi Kita Yayasan, The natural guide to Bali: enjoy nature, meet the people, make a difference,weblink 12 August 2010, 30 September 2005, Equinox Publishing (Asia) Pte Ltd, 978-979-3780-00-9, 51, The Hidden Life of Bali, practise animal sacrifice.{{Sfn|Fuller|2004|p=83, Chapter 4}} The sacrificed animal is eaten as ritual food.BOOK, Paul Gwynne, World Religions in Practice: A Comparative Introduction,weblink 2011, John Wiley & Sons, 978-1-4443-6005-9, 5 footnote 16, In contrast, the Vaishnava Hindus abhor and vigorously oppose animal sacrifice.BOOK, HS Olcott, The Theosophist,weblink XXVII, 1906, Theosophical Publishing House, 146 with footnote, , 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".{{Sfn|Fuller|2004|pp=101–102, Quote: "Blood sacrifice was a clear case in point, (,,,) sacrifice was a barbarity inconsistent with Hinduism's central tenet of non-violence. [...] Contemporary opposition to animal sacrifice rests on an old foundation, although it also stems from the very widespread influence of reformism, whose antipathy to ritual killing has spread well beyond the self-consciously nationalist political classes".}} The principle of non-violence to animals has been so thoroughly adopted in Hinduism that animal sacrifice is uncommonBOOK, Andrew J. Nicholson, Unifying Hinduism: Philosophy and Identity in Indian Intellectual History,weblink 2010, Columbia University Press, 978-0-231-14986-0, 169, , 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.BOOK, Marc Bekoff, Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare, 2nd Edition,weblink 2009, ABC-CLIO, 978-0-313-35256-0, 482,



A Hindu temple is a house of god(s).George Michell (1988), The Hindu Temple: An Introduction to Its Meaning and Forms, University of Chicago Press, {{ISBN|978-0226532301}}, 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.Stella Kramrisch, The Hindu Temple, Vol 1, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-81-208-0222-3}}, pages 1–16 A temple incorporates all elements of Hindu cosmology, the highest spire or dome representing Mount Meru – reminder of the abode of Brahma and the center of spiritual universe,Stella Kramrisch (1976), The Hindu Temple, Vol 1, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-81-208-0222-3}}, pages 161–169 the carvings and iconography symbolically presenting dharma, kama, artha, moksha and karma.Stella Kramrisch, The Hindu Temple, Vol 2, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-81-208-0222-3}}, pp. 346–357 and 423–424Klaus Klostermaier, "The Divine Presence in Space and Time – Murti, Tirtha, Kala"; in A Survey of Hinduism, {{ISBN|978-0-7914-7082-4}}, 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, {{ISBN|978-0226532301}}, pages 58–65{{multiple image|perrow=2|total_width=300| title = Illustration of Hindu temples in Asia| image1 = | image2 = Natarajartemple1.jpg| image3 = Kolkatatemple.jpg| image4 = Besakih Bali Indonesia Pura-Besakih-02.jpg| image5 = New Delhi Temple.jpg| image6 = }}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, {{ISBN|978-8120807051}}, see Introduction and pp. 36–37. Two major styles of Hindu temples include the Gopuram style found in south India, and Nagara style found in north India.ENCYCLOPEDIA,weblink Gopura, Encyclopædia Britannica, 16 June 2015, ENCYCLOPEDIA,weblink Nagara, Encyclopædia Britannica, 16 June 2015, Other styles include cave, forest and mountain temples.JOURNAL, Meister, Michael W., 1981, Forest and Cave: Temples at Candrabhāgā and Kansuān, Archives of Asian Art, 34, 56–73, 20111117, 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 (murtis). 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, {{ISBN|81-208-0223-3}}, 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 Purusa (Brahman), the universal essence.


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, {{oclc|466428084}}, pages 1–29, 84–111 The four ashramas are: Brahmacharya (student), Grihastha (householder), Vanaprastha (retired) and Sannyasa (renunciation).RK Sharma (1999), Indian Society, Institutions and Change, {{ISBN|978-8171566655}}, page 28Brahmacharya 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.JOURNAL, 2377977, The Principles of Hindu Ethics, International Journal of Ethics, 40, 2, 232–245, Widgery, Alban G., 1930, 10.1086/intejethi.40.2.2377977, 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, {{ISBN|978-9004146013}}, 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, {{ISBN|978-0195383430}}, 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, {{ISBN|978-1-4419-8109-7}}, pages 93–110The Ashramas system has been one facet of the Dharma concept in Hinduism. Combined with four proper goals of human life (Purusartha), 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, {{ISBN|0-415-21527-7}}, 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, {{ISBN|978-0195344783}}


File:Indian sadhu performing namaste.jpg|thumb|upright=0.9|left|A sadhu in MaduraiMaduraiSome Hindus choose to live a monastic 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.{{Harvnb|Bhaskarananda|1994|p=112}} A Hindu monk is called a Sanyāsī, Sādhu, or Swāmi. A female renunciate is called a Sanyāsini. Renunciates receive high respect in Hindu society because of their simple ahimsa-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.{{Harvnb|Michaels|2004|p=316}}



{{History of South Asia}}James Mill (1773–1836), in his The History of British India (1817),{{sfn|Khanna|2007|p=xvii}} distinguished three phases in the history of India, namely Hindu, Muslim and British civilisations.{{sfn|Khanna|2007|p=xvii}}{{sfn|Misra|2004|p=194}} This periodisation has been criticised for the misconceptions it has given rise to.BOOK, Kulke, Hermann, Rothermund, Dietmar, A History of India, 4th, 2004, Routledge, London, 978-0-415-15481-9, 7, Another periodisation is the division into "ancient, classical, medieval and modern periods".{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=21}} An elaborate periodisation may be as follows:{{sfn|Michaels|2004}}
  • Prevedic religions (pre-history and Indus Valley Civilisation; until c. 1500 BCE);
  • Vedic period (c. 1500 – c. 500 BCE);
  • "Second Urbanisation" (c. 500 – c. 200 BCE);
  • Classical Hinduism (c. 200 BCE – c. 1100 CE);{{refn|group=note|Different periods are designated as "classical Hinduism":
  • Smart calls the period between 1000 BCE and 100 CE "pre-classical". It is the formative period for the Upanishads and Brahmanism{{refn|group=subnote|Smart distinguishes "Brahmanism" from the Vedic religion, connecting "Brahmanism" with the Upanishads.{{sfn|Smart|2003|p=52, 83–86}}}} Jainism and Buddhism. For Smart, the "classical period" lasts from 100 to 1000 CE, and coincides with the flowering of "classical Hinduism" and the flowering and deterioration of Mahayana-buddhism in India.{{sfn|Smart|2003|p=52}}
  • For Michaels, the period between 500 BCE and 200 BCE is a time of "Ascetic reformism",{{sfn|Michaels|2004|p=36}} whereas the period between 200 BCE and 1100 CE is the time of "classical Hinduism", since there is "a turning point between the Vedic religion and Hindu religions".{{sfn|Michaels|2004|p=38}}
  • Muesse discerns a longer period of change, namely between 800 BCE and 200 BCE, which he calls the "Classical Period". According to Muesse, some of the fundamental concepts of Hinduism, namely karma, reincarnation and "personal enlightenment and transformation", which did not exist in the Vedic religion, developed in this time.{{sfn|Muesse|2003|p=14}}}}

* Pre-classical Hinduism (c. 200 BCE – c. 300 CE); * "Golden Age" (Gupta Empire) (c. 320 – c. 650 CE); * Late-Classical Hinduism – Puranic Hinduism (c. 650 – c. 1100 CE);
  • Islam and sects of Hinduism (c. 1200 – c. 1700 CE);
  • Modern Hinduism (from c. 1800).


Hinduism is a fusion{{sfn|Lockard|2007|p=50}}{{refn|group=note|name=Lockard}} or synthesis{{sfn|Hiltebeitel|2007|p=12}}{{refn|group=note|name="Hiltebeitel-synthesis"}} of various Indian cultures and traditions.{{sfn|Hiltebeitel|2007|p=12}}{{refn|group=note|name=fusion}} Among the roots of Hinduism are the historical Vedic religion of Iron Age India,{{harvnb|Samuel|2010|pp=41–42}}; {{harvnb|Flood|1996|p=16}} itself already the product of "a composite of the Indo-Aryan and Harappan cultures and civilizations",{{sfn|White|2006|p=28}}{{refn|group=note|name="Vedic composite"}} but also the Sramana{{sfn|Gomez|2013|p=42}} or renouncer traditions{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=16}} of northeast India,{{sfn|Gomez|2013|p=42}} and mesolithic{{sfn|Doniger|2010|p=66}} and neolithic{{sfn|Jones|Ryan|2006|p=xvii}} cultures of India, such as the religions of the Indus Valley Civilisation,{{harvnb|Narayanan|2009|p=11}}; {{harvnb|Lockard|2007|p=52}}; {{harvnb|Hiltebeitel|2007|p=3}}; {{harvnb|Jones|Ryan|2006|p=xviii}} Dravidian traditions,{{harvnb|Tiwari|2002|p=v}}; {{harvnb|Lockard|2007|p=52}}; {{harvnb|Zimmer|1951|pp=218–219}}; {{harvnb|Larson|1995|p=81}} and the local traditions{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=16}} and tribal religions.{{sfn|Tiwari|2002|p=v}}{{refn|group=note|Tiwari mentions the Austric and Mongoloid people.{{sfn|Tiwari|2002|p=v}} See also Peopling of India for the variety of Indian people.}}This "Hindu synthesis" emerged after the Vedic period, between 500{{sfn|Hiltebeitel|2007|p=12}}-200{{sfn|Larson|2009}} BCE and c. 300 CE,{{sfn|Hiltebeitel|2007|p=12}} the beginning of the "Epic and Puranic" c.q. "Preclassical" period,{{sfn|Hiltebeitel|2007|p=12}}{{sfn|Larson|2009}} and incorporated śramaṇic{{sfn|Larson|2009}}{{sfn|Fuller|2004|p=88}} and Buddhist influences{{sfn|Larson|2009}}{{sfn|Cousins|2010}} and the emerging bhakti tradition into the Brahmanical fold via the Smriti literature.{{sfn|Hiltebeitel|2007|p=13}}{{sfn|Larson|2009}} From northern India this "Hindu synthesis", and its societal divisions, spread to southern India and parts of Southeast Asia.{{sfn|Samuel|2010|p=193–228, 339–353, specifically pp. 76–79 and p. 199}}

Prevedic religions (until c. 1500 BCE)

{{See also|History of Hinduism}}File:Shiva Pashupati.jpg|thumb|The Pashupati seal, Indus Valley civilizationIndus Valley civilizationThe 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,{{refn|group=note|{{harvnb|Doniger|2010|p=66}}: "Much of what we now call Hinduism may have had roots in cultures that thrived in South Asia long before the creation of textual evidence that we can decipher with any confidence. Remarkable cave paintings have been preserved from Mesolithic sites dating from c. 30,000 BCE in Bhimbetka, near present-day Bhopal, in the Vindhya Mountains in the province of Madhya Pradesh."}} as well as neolithic times.{{refn|group=note|{{harvnb|Jones|Ryan|2006|p=xvii}}: "Some practices of Hinduism must have originated in Neolithic times (c. 4000 BCE). The worship of certain plants and animals as sacred, for instance, could very likely have very great antiquity. The worship of goddesses, too, a part of Hinduism today, may be a feature that originated in the Neolithic."}} 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 IndiaAccording to anthropologist Possehl, the Indus Valley Civilization "provides a logical, if somewhat arbitrary, starting point for some aspects of the later Hindu tradition".{{sfn|Possehl|2002|p=154}} 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 Shakti. However these links of deities and practices of the Indus religion to later-day Hinduism are subject to both political contention and scholarly dispute.{{sfn|Possehl|2002|p=141–156}}

Vedic period (c. 1500 – c. 500 BCE)

Origins and development

{| class="wikitable collapsible collapsed" style="float:right;margin:0 auto;"
The Vedic period, named after the Vedic religion of the Indo-Aryans,{{sfn|Singh|2008|p=185}}{{refn|group=note|Michaels: "They called themselves arya ("Aryans", literally 'the hospitable', from the Vedic arya, 'homey, the hospitable') but even in the Rgveda, arya denotes a cultural and linguistic boundary and not only a racial one."{{sfn|Michaels|2004|p=33}}}} lasted from c. 1500 to 500 BCE.{{sfn|Michaels|2004|p=32}}{{refn|group=note|There is no exact dating possible for the beginning of the Vedic period. Witzel mentions a range between 1900 and 1400 BCE.{{sfn|Witzel|1995|p=3–4}} Flood mentions 1500 BCE.{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=21}}}} The Indo-Aryans were semi-nomadic pastoralists{{sfn|Witzel|1995}} who migrated into north-western India after the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilization.{{sfn|Michaels|2004|p=33}}{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=30–35}}{{sfn|Hiltebeitel|2007|p=5}}{{refn|group=note|The Aryan migration theory has been challenged by some researchers,{{sfn|Michaels|2004|p=33}}{{sfn|Singh|2008|p=186}} due to a lack of archaeological evidence and signs of cultural continuity,{{sfn|Michaels|2004|p=33}} hypothesizing instead a slow process of acculturation{{sfn|Michaels|2004|p=33}} or transformation.{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=30–35}} Nevertheless, linguistic and archaeological data clearly show a cultural change after 1500 BCE,{{sfn|Michaels|2004|p=33}} with the linguistic and religious data clearly showing links with Indo-European languages and religion.{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=33}} According to Singh, "The dominant view is that the Indo-Aryans came to the subcontinent as immigrants."{{sfn|Singh|2008|p=186}}}}During the early Vedic period (c. 1500 – c. 1100 BCE{{sfn|Witzel|1995}}) Vedic tribes were pastoralists, wandering around in north-west India.{{sfn|Samuel|2010|p=41–48}} After 1100 BCE the Vedic tribes moved into the western Ganges Plain, adapting an agrarian lifestyle.{{sfn|Witzel|1995}}{{sfn|Samuel|2010|p=41–93}}{{sfn|Stein|2010|p=48–49}} Rudimentary state-forms appeared, of which the Kuru-Pañcāla union was the most influential.{{sfn|Witzel|1995|p=6}}{{sfn|Samuel|2010|p=51–53}} It was a tribal union, which developed into the first recorded state-level society in South Asia around 1000 BCE.{{sfn|Witzel|1995}} 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.{{sfn|Witzel|1995|p=11}} In this period, states Samuel, emerged the Brahmana and Aranyaka layers of Vedic texts, which merged into the earliest Upanishads.{{sfn|Samuel|2010|p=25}} These texts began to ask the meaning of a ritual, adding increasing levels of philosophical and metaphysical speculation,{{sfn|Samuel|2010|p=25}} or "Hindu synthesis".{{sfn|Hiltebeitel|2007|p=12}}

Vedic religion

The Indo-Aryans brought with them their language{{sfn|Samuel|2010|p=53-56}} and religion.{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=30}}{{sfn|Hiltebeitel|2007|p=5–7}} The Vedic beliefs and practices of the pre-classical era were closely related to the hypothesised Proto-Indo-European religion,BOOK, Roger D. Woodard, Indo-European Sacred Space: Vedic and Roman Cult,weblink 18 August 2006, University of Illinois Press, 978-0-252-09295-4, 242–, and the Indo-Iranian religion.BOOK, Beckwith, Christopher I., Christopher I. Beckwith, Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present, 2009, Princeton University Press, 978-1-4008-2994-1, 32, {{refn|group=note|According to Anthony, the Old Indic religion probably emerged among Indo-European immigrants in the contact zone between the Zeravshan River (present-day Uzbekistan) and (present-day) Iran.{{sfn|Anthony|2007|p=462}} It was "a syncretic mixture of old Central Asian and new Indo-European elements",{{sfn|Anthony|2007|p=462}} which borrowed "distinctive religious beliefs and practices" from the Bactria–Margiana Culture. At least 383 non-Indo-European words were borrowed from this culture, including the god Indra and the ritual drink Soma.{{sfn|Anthony|2007|p=454–455}} The oldest inscriptions in Old Indic, the language of the Rig Veda, are found not in northwestern India and Pakistan, but in northern Syria, the location of the Mitanni kingdom.{{sfn|Anthony|2007|p=49}} [...] The Old Indic term r'ta, meaning "cosmic order and truth", the central concept of the Rig Veda, was also employed in the mitanni kingdom.{{sfn|Anthony|2007|p=49}} And Old Indic gods, including Indra, were also known in the Mitanni kingdom.{{sfn|Anthony|2007|p=50}}{{sfn|Flood|2008|p=68}}{{sfn|Melton|Baumann|2010|p=1412}}}}The Vedic religion history is unclear and "heavily contested", states Samuel.{{sfn|Samuel|2010|pp=26–27, Quote: "In fact the whole question of the early history of the Indo-Aryan and Indo-Iranian speaking peoples is both heavily contested and, at least at this point in time, largely undecidable."}} In the later Vedic period, it co-existed with local religions, such as the mother goddess worshipping Yaksha cults.{{sfn|Basham|1989|p=74–75}}Encyclopædia Britannica, yaksha The Vedic was itself likely the product of "a composite of the indo-Aryan and Harappan cultures and civilizations".{{sfn|White|2006|p=28}} David Gordon White cites three other mainstream scholars who "have emphatically demonstrated" that Vedic religion is partially derived from the Indus Valley Civilizations.BOOK, White, David Gordon, Kiss of the Yogini, 2003, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 978-0-226-89483-6, 28, {{refn|group=note|name="Vedic composite"|See:
  • David Gordon White: "[T]he religion of the Vedas was already a composite of the indo-Aryan and Harappan cultures and civilizations."{{sfn|White|2006|p=28}}
  • Richard Gombrich: "It is important to bear in mind that the Indo-Aryans did not enter an unhabitated land. For nearly two millennia they and their culture gradually penetrated India, moving east and south from their original seat in the Punjab. They mixed with people who spoke Munda or Dravidian languages, who have left no traces of their culture beyond some archaeological remains; we know as little about them as we would about the Indo-Aryans if they had left no texts. [...] We can also assume that many – perhaps most – of the indigenous population came to be assimilated into Indo-Aryan culture.{{sfn|Gombrich|1996|p=35–36}}}} Their religion was further developed when they migrated into the Ganges Plain after c. 1100 BCE and became settled farmers,{{sfn|Witzel|1995}}{{sfn|Samuel|2010|p=48–51, 61–93}}{{sfn|Hiltebeitel|2007|p=8–10}} further syncretising with the native cultures of northern India.{{sfn|Samuel|2010}}
The composition of the Vedic literature began in the 2nd millennium BCE.{{sfn|Samuel|2010|pp=27–31}}BOOK, Stephen Phillips, Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth: A Brief History and Philosophy,weblink 2009, Columbia University Press, 978-0-231-14485-8, 28–30, The oldest of these Vedic texts is the Rigveda, composed between c. 1500 – 1200 BCE,{{sfn|Flood|1996|p=37}}{{sfn|Witzel|1995|p=4}}{{sfn|Anthony|2007|p=454}} though a wider approximation of c. 1700 – 1100 BCE has also been given.{{Sfn|Oberlies|1998| p=158}}BOOK, Science and Religion: One Planet, Many Possibilities, Lucas F. Johnston, Whitney Bauman, 179, 2014, Routledge, The first half of the 1st millennium BCE was a period of great intellectual and social-cultural ferment in ancient India.BOOK, Abraham Eraly, The First Spring: The Golden Age of India,weblink 2011, Penguin Books, 978-0-670-08478-4, 538, 571, {{Sfn|Gombrich|1988|pp=26–41}}{{Refn|group=note|While some scholars suggest that Buddhism may have developed as a social reform to the Vedic religion, other scholars such as Gombrich suggest that Buddha "should not be seen as a social reformer", because his concern was "to reform individuals, help them to leave society forever, not to reform the world... he never preached against social inequality".BOOK, Christopher S. Queen, Sallie B. King, Engaged Buddhism: Buddhist Liberation Movements in Asia,weblink 1996, State University of New York Press, 978-0-7914-2844-3, 17–18, }} New ideas developed both in the Vedic tradition in the form of the Upanishads, and outside of the Vedic tradition through the Śramaṇa movements.BOOK, Hajime Nakamura, A History of Early Vedānta Philosophy,weblink 1983, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-0651-1, 102–104, 264–269, 294–295, ; 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, ...".BOOK, Klaus G. Witz, The Supreme Wisdom of the Upaniṣads: An Introduction,weblink 1998, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-1573-5, 23, 1–2, ;Quote: "In the Aranyakas 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".BOOK, Christoph Wulf, Exploring Alterity in a Globalized World,weblink 2016, Routledge, 978-1-317-33113-1, 125–126, ; 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,BOOK, Jonathan H. X. Lee, Fumitaka Matsuoka, Edmond Yee, Ronald Y. Nakasone, Asian American Religious Cultures,weblink 2015, ABC-CLIO, 978-1-59884-331-6, 433–434, then internalized and variously reinterpreted the Vedic fire rituals as ethical concepts such as Truth, Rite, Tranquility or Restraint.{{sfn|Shults|2014|p=125-129}} The 9th and 8th centuries BCE witnessed the composition of the earliest Upanishads with such ideas.{{sfn|Shults|2014|p=125-129}}BOOK, Neusner, Jacob, World Religions in America: An Introduction,weblink 2009, Westminster John Knox Press, 978-0-664-23320-4, {{rp|183}} 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.BOOK, Melton, J. Gordon, Baumann, Martin, Religions of the World, Second Edition: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices,weblink 2010, ABC-CLIO, 978-1-59884-204-3, 1324,

"Second Urbanisation" (c. 500 – c. 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 Brahmanism.{{Sfn|Flood|1996||pp=81–82}} These ideas led to Sramana movements, of which Mahavira (c. 549 – 477 BCE), proponent of Jainism, and Buddha (c. 563 – 483), founder of Buddhism, were the most prominent icons.{{rp|184}} 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.{{sfn|Bronkhorst|2007}}{{sfn|Long|2013|p=chapter II}} 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.{{sfn|Samuel|2008|p=ch. 3; p. 61}}The ascetic tradition of Vedic period in part created the foundational theories of samsara and of moksha (liberation from samsara), which became characteristic for Hinduism, along with Buddhism and Jainism.{{refn|group=note|{{harvnb|Flood|2008|pp=273–274}}: "The second half of the first millennium BCE was the period that created many of the ideological and institutional elements that characterise later Indian religions. The renouncer tradition played a central role during this formative period of Indian religious history [...] Some of the fundamental values and beliefs that we generally associate with Indian religions in general and Hinduism in particular were in part the creation of the renouncer tradition. These include the two pillars of Indian theologies: samsara – the belief that life in this world is one of suffering and subject to repeated deaths and births (rebirth); moksa/nirvana – the goal of human existence."}}{{Sfn|Raju|1992|p=42}}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, {{ISBN|978-8120806191}}, 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, {{ISBN|978-0791422175}}, 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), {{Google books|3uwDAAAAMAAJ|Shankara's Introduction|page=2}}, pages 2–4Katie Javanaud (2013), Is The Buddhist 'No-Self' Doctrine Compatible With Pursuing Nirvana?, Philosophy NowJohn C. Plott et al (2000), Global History of Philosophy: The Axial Age, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120801585}}, 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), {{Google books|3uwDAAAAMAAJ|Shankara's Introduction|page=3}} 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, {{ISBN|978-0-7914-2513-8}}, pages 51–58Stephen Phillips (2009), Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth: A Brief History and Philosophy, Columbia University Press, {{ISBN|978-0231144858}}, 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".BOOK, Pratt, James Bissett, The Pilgrimage of Buddhism and a Buddhist Pilgrimage,weblink 1996, Asian Educational Services, 978-81-206-1196-2, 90, {{refn|group=note|[a] According to Richard King, Radhakrishnan was a representative of Neo-Vedanta,{{sfn|King|1999}} which had a specific understanding of Indian religions: "The inclusivist appropriation of other traditions, so characteristic of neo-Vedanta ideology, appears on three basic levels. First, it is apparent in the suggestion that the (Advaita) Vedanta philosophy of Sankara (c. eighth century CE) constitutes the central philosophy of Hinduism. Second, in an Indian context, neo-Vedanta philosophy subsumes Buddhist philosophies in terms of its own Vedantic ideology. The Buddha becomes a member of the Vedanta tradition, merely attempting to reform it from within. Finally, at a global level, neo-Vedanta colonises the religious traditions of the world by arguing for the centrality of a non-dualistic position as the philosophia perennis underlying all cultural differences.";{{sfn|King|1999}}[b] see Anatta for further discussion on "no-self" doctrine of Buddhism and its disagreements with the Upanishads.{{Sfn|Eliot|2003|p= Chapter 11: Rebirth and the Nature of the Soul}}}}

Classical Hinduism (c. 200 BCE – c. 1100 CE)

From about 500 BCE through about 300 CE, the Vedic-Brahmanic synthesis or "Hindu synthesis" continued.{{sfn|Hiltebeitel|2007|p=12}} Classical Hindu and Sramanic (particularly Buddhist) ideas spread within Indian subcontinent, as well outside India such as in Central Asia,BOOK, HJ Klimkeit, R Meserve, EE Karimov, etal, History of Civilizations of Central Asia,weblink 2000, UNESCO, 978-92-3-103654-5, 79–80, and the parts of Southeast Asia (coasts of Indonesia and peninsular Thailand).{{refn|group=note|name="Samuel-northsouth"|{{harvnb|Samuel|2010|pp=193–228, 339–353, specifically pp. 76–79 and 194–199}}}}BOOK, John Guy, Pierre Baptiste, Lawrence Becker, Bérénice Bellina, Robert L. Brown, Federico Carò, Lost Kingdoms: Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia,weblink 2014, Yale University Press, 978-0-300-20437-7, 10–11,
Pre-classical Hinduism (c. 200 BCE – c. 300 CE)
The "Hindu synthesis" or "Brahmanical synthesis"{{sfn|Hiltebeitel|2007|p=12}}{{sfn|Larson|2009}} incorporated Sramanic and Buddhist influences{{sfn|Larson|2009}}{{sfn|Cousins|2010}}{{Which|date=March 2015}} into the "Brahmanical fold" via the Smriti ("remembered") literature.{{sfn|Hiltebeitel|2007|p=13}}{{sfn|Larson|2009}} 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".{{sfn|Embree|1988|p=277}} 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.{{sfn|Hiltebeitel|2007|p=14}}File:Ajay Kumar Kuchipudi by Varsha Bhargavi Kondapalli 06.jpg|thumb|Undavalli cavesUndavalli cavesThe major Sanskrit epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, which belong to the Smriti, were compiled over a protracted period during the late centuries BCE and the early centuries CE.{{sfn|Hiltebeitel|2007|p=13}}WEB, Itihasas,weblink ReligionFacts, 1 October 2011, These are legendary dialogues interspersed with philosophical treatises. The Bhagavad Gita was composed in this period and consolidated diverse philosophies and soteriological ideas.{{sfn|Hiltebeitel|2007|p=20}}During this period, the foundational texts of several schools of Hindu philosophy were formally written down, including Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Purva-Mimamsa and Vedanta.{{harvnb|Radhakrishnan|Moore|1967|p=xviii–xxi}} The Smriti literature of Hinduism, particularly the Sutras, as well as other Hindu texts such as the Arthashastra and Sushruta Samhita were also written or expanded during this period.{{sfn|Hiltebeitel|2007|p=13}}BOOK, A History of Indian Medical Literature, Meulenbeld, Gerrit Jan, Brill (Volume 1A), 1999, 978-9069801247, Groningen, 203–205, Many influential Yoga Upanishads, states Gavin Flood, were composed before the 3rd century CE.{{Sfn|Flood|1996|p=96}}Mircea Eliade (1970), Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, Princeton University Press, {{ISBN|0-691017646}}, 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.BOOK, Patrick, Olivelle, 1992, The Samnyasa Upanisads, Oxford University Press, 978-0195070453, x–xi, 8–18, BOOK, Joachim F, Sprockhoff, 1976, Samnyasa: Quellenstudien zur Askese im Hinduismus, Wiesbaden: Kommissionsverlag Franz Steiner, German, 978-3515019057, 277–294, 319–322, 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.BOOK, Patrick, Olivelle, 1992, The Samnyasa Upanisads, Oxford University Press, 978-0195070453, 17–18, Antonio Rigopoulos (1998), Dattatreya: The Immortal Guru, Yogin, and Avatara, State University of New York Press, {{ISBN|978-0791436967}}, page 81 note 27Stephen H Phillips (1995), Classical Indian Metaphysics, Columbia University Press, {{ISBN|978-0812692983}}, page 332 with note 68 The first version of Natyasastra – a Hindu text on performance arts that integrates Vedic ideology – was also completed before the 2nd century CE.JOURNAL, Natalia Lidova, Oxford University Press, 2014, 10.1093/obo/9780195399318-0071, Natyashastra, BOOK, Tarla Mehta, Sanskrit Play Production in Ancient India,weblink 1995, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-1057-0, xxiv, 19–20,
"Golden Age" (Gupta Empire) (c. 320 – c. 650 CE)
During the Gupta period, the first stone and cave Hindu temples dedicated to Hindu deities were built, some of which have survived into the modern era.{{sfn|Michaels|2004|p=40}}{{refn|group=note|Axel Michaels mentions the Durga temple in Aihole and the Visnu Temple in Deogarh.{{sfn|Michaels|2004|p=40}} George Michell notes that earlier temples were built of timber, brick and plaster, while the first stone temples appeared during the period of Gupta rule.{{sfn|Michell|1977|p=18}}}} Numerous monasteries and universities were also built during the Gupta dynasty era, which supported Vedic and non-Vedic studies, including the famed Nalanda.BOOK, Hartmut Scharfe, Handbook of Oriental Studies,weblink 2002, BRILL Academic, 978-90-04-12556-8, 144–153, BOOK, Craig Lockard, Societies, Networks, and Transitions: Volume I: A Global History,weblink 2007, Houghton Mifflin, 978-0618386123, 188, 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).BOOK, Collins, Charles Dillard, The Iconography and Ritual of Śiva at Elephanta,weblink 1988, State University of New York Press, 978-0-88706-773-0, 36, The Puranas were living texts that were revised over time,Thomas Colburn (2002), Devī-māhātmya: The Crystallization of the Goddess Tradition, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120805576}}, page 27 and Lorenzen suggests these texts may reflect the beginnings of "medieval Hinduism".{{sfn|Lorenzen|2006|p=36}}
Late-Classical Hinduism – Puranic Hinduism (c. 650 – c. 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.{{sfn|Michaels|2004|p=42}} Rural and devotional movements arose within Hinduism, along with Shaivism, Vaisnavism, Bhakti and Tantra,{{sfn|Michaels|2004|p=42}} that competed with each other, as well as with numerous sects of Buddhism and Jainism.{{sfn|Michaels|2004|p=42}}{{sfn|Inden|1978|p=67}} 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,BOOK, George Michell, The Hindu Temple: An Introduction to Its Meaning and Forms,weblink 1977, University of Chicago Press, 978-0-226-53230-1, 100, 127, 143–144, 159–176, while Vajrayana Buddhism literature developed as a result of royal courts sponsoring both Buddhism and Saivism.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 Bhagavata Purana and Vishnu Purana with legends of Krishna,{{Sfn|Rocher|1986|p=138–151}} while Padma Purana and Kurma Purana expressed reverence for Vishnu, Shiva and Shakti with equal enthusiasm;{{Sfn|Rocher|1986|p=185}} all of them included topics such as Yoga practice and pilgrimage tour guides to Hindu holy sites.{{Sfn|Rocher|1986|p=158–160}}BOOK, Ariel Glucklich, The Strides of Vishnu : Hindu Culture in Historical Perspective: Hindu Culture in Historical Perspective,weblink 2008, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-971825-2, 145–162, 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, {{ISBN|978-0812242614}}, 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.{{Sfn|Rocher|1986|p=104–106 with footnotes, Quote: "I want to stress the fact that it would be irresponsible and highly misleading to speak of or pretend to describe the religion of the Puranas."}}Ronald Inden (2000), Querying the Medieval: Texts and the History of Practices in South Asia, Oxford University Press, {{ISBN|978-0195124309}}, pages 95–96Bhakti 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.BOOK, Olson, Carl, The many colors of Hinduism: a thematic-historical introduction, Rutgers University Press, 2007, 231, 978-0-8135-4068-9, Karen Pechilis Prentiss (2014), The Embodiment of Bhakti, Oxford University Press, {{ISBN|978-0195351903}}, pages 17–18 Major Hinduism scholars of this period included Adi Shankara, Maṇḍana-Miśra, Padmapada and Sureśvara of the Advaita schools;{{Sfn|Comans|2000}} Śabara, Vatsyayana and Samkarasvamin of Nyaya-Vaisesika schools; Mathara and Yuktidipika (author unknown) of Samkhya-Yoga; Bhartrhari, Vasugupta and Abhinavagupta of Kashmir Shaivism, and Ramanuja of Vishishtadvaita school of Hinduism (Sri Vaishnavism).BOOK, Isaeva, Natalia, Shankara and Indian Philosophy, 1993, State University of New York Press, 978-0-7914-1281-7, 79–80, ;BOOK, Natalia Isaeva, From Early Vedanta to Kashmir Shaivism: Gaudapada, Bhartrhari, and Abhinavagupta,weblink State University of New York Press, 978-1-4384-0761-6, 1995, 137, 163, 171–178, ;BOOK, C. J. Bartley, The Theology of Ramanuja: Realism and Religion,weblink 2013, Routledge, 978-1-136-85306-7, 1–4, 52–53, 79, "Texts & Manuscripts - 5th to 9th Century Indian philosophies" Karl Potter (2015), University of Washington{{sfn|Nakamura|2004|p=680}}

Islamic rule and Bhakti movement of Hinduism (c. 1200 – c. 1750 CE)

File:Zahir al-Din Muhammad Babur - Babur and His Warriors Visiting a Hindu Temple - Walters W59622B - Full Page.jpg|thumb|left|BaburBaburThe Islamic rule period witnessed Hindu-Muslim confrontation and violence,{{sfn|Gaborieau|1985}}{{sfn|Novetzke|2013|p=138–140}} but "violence did not normally characterize the relations of Muslim and Hindu."{{sfn|Larson|1995|p=110|ps=, quoting Peter Hardy}}{{sfn|Eaton|2000a|p=62 |ps=: "A dangerously plausible picture of fanaticism, vandalism and villainy on the part of the Indo-Muslim conquerors and rulers" has been built up in recent times. "This picture has been based largely on Persian material first translated by the British rulers, and used to create a favourable comparison of the British rule with their Islamic predecessors."}} Enslavement of non-Muslims, especially Hindus in India, was part of the Muslim raids and conquests.{{sfn|Wink|1991|p=14–16, 61–62, 172–174 |ps= (p. 62) Their [slaves who were Sindians and Indians] number can only be guessed but was not large and definitely was dwarfed by the export of slaves from India during the Ghaznavid and Ghurid raids in northern India in the eleventh to thirteenth centuries." "From the Kanauj campaign of 1018 until the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate by Aybak in 1206 a vast stream of perhaps more than several hundred thousands of Indian slaves reached Ghazna, and hence were traced to other parts of the Islamic world. In the thirteenth century Delhi developed into a considerable slave market. [...] Timur's capture of Delhi in 1398-9 provided the last massive haul of Hindu slaves by an invader, and after the fourteenth century slavery in India generally declined in scale."}}{{sfn|Eaton|2006|pp=11–12}} After the 14th century slavery become less common{{sfn|Wink|1991|p=62}} and in 1562 "Akbar abolished the practice of enslaving the families of war captives."{{sfn|Eaton|2006|p=11 |ps=: "In 1562 Akbar abolished the practice of enslaving the families of war captives; his son Jahangir banned sending of slaves from Bengal as tribute in lieu of cash, which had been the custom since the 14th century. These measures notwithstanding, the Mughals actively participated in slave trade with Central Asia, deporting rebels and subjects who had defaulted on revenue payments, following precedents inherited from Delhi Sultanate".}} Akbar recognized Hinduism, protected Hindu temples, and abolished Jizya (head taxes) against Hindus.{{sfn|Eaton|2006|pp=11–12}}{{sfn|Grapperhaus|2009|p=118}} Occasionally, Muslim rulers{{Who|date=October 2018}} of the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire, before and after Akbar, from the 12th century to the 18th century, destroyed Hindu temples,{{Example needed|plural|date=October 2018}}{{sfn|Ayalon|1986|p=271}}{{sfn|Avari|2013|p=115 |ps=: citing a 2000 study, writes "Aurangzeb was perhaps no more culpable than most of the sultans before him; they desecrated the temples associated with Hindu power, not all temples. It is worth noting that, in contrast to the traditional claim of hundreds of Hindu temples having been destroyed by Aurangzeb, a recent study suggests a modest figure of just fifteen destructions."In contrast to Avari, the historian Abraham Eraly estimates Aurangzeb era destruction to be significantly higher; "in 1670, all temples around Ujjain were destroyed"; and later, "300 temples were destroyed in and around Chitor, Udaipur and Jaipur" among other Hindu temples destroyed elsewhere in campaigns through 1705.Abraham Eraly (2000), Emperors of the Peacock Throne: The Saga of the Great Mughals, Penguin Books, {{ISBN|978-0141001432}} pages 398–399The persecution during the Islamic period targeted non-Hindus as well. Avari writes, "Aurangzeb's religious policy caused friction between him and the ninth Sikh guru, Tegh Bahadur. In both Punjab and Kashmir the Sikh leader was roused to action by Aurangzeb's excessively zealous Islamic policies. Seized and taken to Delhi, he was called upon by Aurangzeb to embrace Islam and, on refusal, was tortured for five days and then beheaded in November 1675. Two of the ten Sikh gurus thus died as martyrs at the hands of the Mughals. (Avari (2013), page 155)}}{{refn |group=note |See also "Aurangzeb, as he was according to Mughal Records"; more links at the bottom of that page. For Muslim historian's record on major Hindu temple destruction campaigns, from 1193 to 1729 AD, see Richard Eaton (2000), Temple Desecration and Indo-Muslim States, Journal of Islamic Studies, Vol. 11, Issue 3, pages 283–319}} 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.{{sfn|Basham|1999}}{{sfn|Smith|1999|p=381–384}} During this period Buddhism declined rapidly, and a distinct Indo-Islamic culture emerged.{{sfn|Larson|1995|p=109}} Under Akbar an "intriguing blend of Perso-Islamic and Rajput-Hindu traditions became manifest."{{sfn|Larson|1995|p=111}} Nevertheless, many orthodox ulamas ("learned Islamic jurists") opposed the rapprochement of Hinduism and Islam,{{sfn|Larson|1995|p=111}} and the two merely co-existed,{{sfn|Larson|1995|p=112}} although there was more accommodation at the peasantry level of Indian society.{{sfn|Larson|1995|p=112}}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.{{sfn|Hardy|1977}} 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,{{sfn|Malik|2008|p=183–187}} or freedom from slavery.{{sfn|Avari|2013|pp=66–70 |ps=: "Many Hindu slaves converted to Islam and gained their liberty."}} 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.{{refn|group=note|According to {{harvtxt|Eaton|1993|loc=Chapter 5}}, "in the subcontinent as a whole there is an inverse relationship between the degree of Muslim political penetration and the degree of Islamization." These numbers rule out the possibility of "conversion of the sword". It was the areas which had been least exposed to the Brahmanical fold which showed the largest numbers of Muslims.Forced conversion did happen, though. According to {{harvtxt|Malik|2008|p=186}} forced conversion of tribes occurred between the 10th and the 14th century, and "[f]orced conversions occurred on an even larger scale at the end of the eighteenth century in the context of increased communal conflicts as well as during the Mappila Rebellion (1921/1922)", and according to {{harvtxt|Esposito|2003|p=303}} the orthodox Sufi Islam group Suhrawardiyya "supported the forced conversion of Hindus and Buddhists".}}Between the 14th and 18th century, Hinduism was revived in certain provinces of India under two powerful states, viz. Vijayanagar and Maratha. In the 14th and 15th centuries Southern India 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.WEB,weblink Vijayanagar, Encyclopædia Britannica, Vidyaranya, 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, {{ISBN|978-0195136616}}, 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.{{Sfn|Halbfass|1995|pp=29–30}}R. Blake Michael (1992), The Origins of Vīraśaiva Sects, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120807761}}, pages 60–62 with notes 6, 7 and 8 The Hindu Maratha Confederacy rose to power in the 18th century and ended up overthrowing Muslim power in IndiaWEB,weblink Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Encyclopædia Britannica, India; Political and economic decentralization during the Mughal decline; Encyclopædia BritannicaHinduism underwent profound changes, aided in part by teachers such as Ramanuja, Madhva, and Chaitanya.{{Harvnb|Basham|1999}} Tantra disappeared in northern India, partly due to Muslim rule,{{sfn|Flood|2006|p=34}} while the Bhakti movement grew, with followers engaging in emotional, passionate and community-oriented devotional worship, participating in saguna or nirguna Brahman ideologies.Karen Pechelis (2014), The Embodiment of Bhakti, Oxford University Press, {{ISBN|978-0195351903}}, pages 3–4, 15–28J.T.F. Jordens, "Medieval Hindu Devotionalism" in {{Harvnb||Basham|1999}}Karine Schomer and WH McLeod, (1987), The Sants: Studies in a Devotional Tradition of India, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|9788120802773}}, 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."{{sfn|Nicholson|2010|p=2}}{{refn|group=note|{{harvtxt|Burley|2007|p=34}}: notes the tendency of "a blurring of philosophical distinctions".{{harvtxt|Lorenzen|2006|pp=24–33}} 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" (p. 27), which started well before 1800 (pp. 26–27). {{harvtxt|Nicholson|2010|p=2}} states that both the Indian and the European thinkers who developed the term Hinduism in the 19th century were influenced by these philosophers.}} Michaels notes that a historicization emerged which preceded later nationalism, articulating ideas which glorified Hinduism and the past.{{sfn|Michaels|2004|p=44}}

Modern Hinduism (from circa 1800)

Hindu revivalism

With the onset of the British Raj, 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.{{sfn|King|2002}} Indology 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 John Woodroffe. They brought Vedic, Puranic and Tantric literature and philosophy to Europe and the United States. Western orientalist searched for the "essence" of the Indian religions, discerning this in the Vedas,{{sfn|King|2002|p=118}} and meanwhile creating the notion of "Hinduism" as a unified body of religious praxis{{sfn|King|1999-B}} and the popular picture of 'mystical India'.{{sfn|King|1999-B}}{{sfn|King|2002}} This idea of a Vedic essence was taken over by Hindu reform movements as the Brahmo Samaj, which was supported for a while by the Unitarian Church,{{sfn|Jones|Ryan|2006|p=114}} together with the ideas of Universalism and Perennialism, the idea that all religions share a common mystic ground.{{sfn|King|2002|p=119–120}} This "Hindu modernism", with proponents like Vivekananda, Aurobindo and Radhakrishnan, became central in the popular understanding of Hinduism.{{sfn|King|2002|p=123}}{{sfn|Muesse|2011|p=3–4}}{{sfn|Doniger|2010|p=18}}{{sfn|Jouhki|2006|p=10–11}}{{sfn|King|1999}}

Popularity in the west

Influential 20th-century Hindus were Ramana Maharshi, B.K.S. Iyengar, Paramahansa Yogananda, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Prabhupada (founder of ISKCON), Sri Chinmoy, Swami Rama 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 Neotantra and the Kama Sutra 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. {{webarchive |url= |date=16 October 2013 }} In New Zealand the number is also around 300,000."The Growing Global Interest In Yoga" 16 April 2012 {{webarchive |url= |date=7 February 2013 }}


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 Hindu Mahasabha in the 1910s, the movement grew with the formulation and development of the Hindutva ideology in the following decades; the establishment of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1925; and the entry, and later success, of RSS offshoots Jana Sangha and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in electoral politics in post-independence India.BOOK, Ram-Prasad, C, The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism, 2003, Blackwell Publishing, 978-0-631-21535-6, 526–550, Gavin Flood, Flood, Gavin, Contemporary political Hinduism, Hindu religiosity plays an important role in the nationalist movement.{{sfn|Rinehart|2004|p=196–197}}{{refn|group=note|This conjunction of nationalism and religion is not unique to India. The complexities of Asian nationalism are to be seen and understood in the context of colonialism, modernization and nation-building. See, for example, Anagarika Dharmapala, for the role of Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lankese struggle for independence,{{sfn|McMahan|2008}} and D.T. Suzuki, who conjuncted Zen to Japanese nationalism and militarism, in defense against both western hegemony and the pressure on Japanese Zen during the Meiji Restoration to conform to Shinbutsu Bunri.{{sfn|Sharf|1993}}{{sfn|Sharf|1995}}}}{{refn|group=note|name="neo"|Neo-Vedanta also contributed to Hindutva ideology, Hindu politics and communalism. Yet, Rinehart emphasises that it is "clear that there isn't a neat line of causation that leads from the philosophies of Rammohan Roy, Vivekananda and Radhakrishnan to the agenda of [...] militant Hindus."{{sfn|Rinehart|2004|p=198}}}}


(File:Hinduism percent population in each nation World Map Hindu data by Pew Research.svg|right|upright=1.45|thumb|Hinduism – Percentage by country){{Hinduism by country}}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).WEB,weblink The World Factbook, Other significant populations are found in Nepal (23 million), Bangladesh (15 million) and the Indonesian island of Bali (3.9 million).WEB,weblink Peringatan, The majority of the Vietnamese Cham people also follow Hinduism, with the largest proportion in Ninh Thuận Province.WEB,weblink Vietnam,, 22 October 2002, 17 June 2014, Countries with the greatest proportion of Hindus:
  1. {{flag|Nepal}} 81.3%2011 Nepal Census Report {{webarchive|url= |date=25 May 2013 }}
  2. {{flag|India}} 79.8%WEB,weblink Population of India Today, 5 August 2018,,
  3. {{flag|Mauritius}} 48.5%WEB,weblink Statistics Mauritius, 68, Resident population by religion and sex, 1 November 2012, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 16 October 2013,
  4. {{flag|Guyana}} 28.4%WEB,weblink The World Factbook,
  5. {{flag|Fiji}} 27.9%WEB,weblink The World Factbook,
  6. {{flag|Bhutan}} 22.6%WEB,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink dead, 2009-11-30, Bhutan, U.S. Department of State,
  7. {{flag|Suriname}} 22.3%WEB,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink dead, 2009-11-30, Suriname, U.S. Department of State,
  8. {{flag|Trinidad and Tobago}} 18.2%2011 Demographic Report {{Webarchive|url=|date=19 October 2017}} page 18
  9. {{flag|Qatar}} 13.8%
  10. {{flag|Sri Lanka}} 12.6%Department of Census and Statistics,The Census of Population and Housing of Sri Lanka-2011
  11. {{flag|Bahrain}} 9.8%
  12. {{flag|Bangladesh}} 8.5%WEB,weblink SVRS 2010, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, 176 (Table P–14), 2 September 2012, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 13 November 2012,
  13. {{flag|Réunion}} 6.7%
  14. {{flag|United Arab Emirates}} 6.6%
  15. {{flag|Malaysia}} 6.3%WEB,weblink The World Factbook,
  16. {{flag|Kuwait}} 6%
  17. {{flag|Oman}} 5.5%
  18. {{flag|Singapore}} 5%WEB,weblink Census of population 2010: Statistical Release 1 on Demographic Characteristics, Education, Language and Religion, Singapore Department of Statistics, 12 January 2011, 16 January 2011, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 3 March 2011, File:A day of devotion – Thaipusam in Singapore (4316108409).jpg|thumb|Thaipusam procession in SingaporeSingapore
  19. {{flag|New Zealand}} 2.62%Table 26, 2018 Census Data – Tables
  20. {{flag|Seychelles}} 2.4%WEB,weblink The World Factbook,
Demographically, Hinduism is the world's third largest religion, after Christianity and Islam.Pew Research (2015), "The Future of World Religions" {{Webarchive|url= |date=6 May 2015 }}, Washington DC;John Schwarz (2015), What's Christianity All About?, Wipf and Stock Publishers, {{ISBN|978-1498225373}}, 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, {{ISBN|978-1438432113}}, pages 31–53Religious 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.Jan Gonda, The Indian Religions in Pre-Islamic Indonesia and their survival in Bali, in {{Google books|X7YfAAAAIAAJ|Handbook of Oriental Studies. Section 3 Southeast Asia, Religions}}, pages 1–47Richadiana Kartakusama (2006), Archaeology: Indonesian Perspective (Editors: Truman Simanjuntak et al.), Yayasan Obor Indonesia, {{ISBN|979-2624996}}, pp. 406–419BOOK, Java's Hinduism Revivial, Thomas, Reuter, Hinduism Today, September 2004,weblink 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, {{ISBN|978-1438432120}}, page 84Peter Wick and Volker Rabens (2013), Religions and Trade: Religious Formation, Transformation and Cross-Cultural Exchange Between East and West, Brill Academic, {{ISBN|978-9004255289}}, 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, {{ISBN|978-0791408278}}, pages 93–120Ayesha Jalal (2010), Partisans of Allah: Jihad in South Asia, Harvard University Press, {{ISBN|978-0674047365}}, pages 117–146{{refn|group=note|The controversy started as an intense polemic battle between Christian missionaries and Muslim organizations in the first half of the 19th century, where missionaries such as Karl Gottlieb Pfander tried to convert Muslims and Hindus, by criticizing Qur'an and Hindu scriptures.Martin Parsons (2006), Unveiling God: Contextualising Christology for Islamic Culture, William Carey Press, {{ISBN|978-0878084548}}, pages 4–15, 19–27JOURNAL, 10.1017/S0035869X00133003, Maulānā Raḥmat Allāh Kairānawī and Muslim-Christian Controversy in India in the Mid-19th Century, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland, 108, 42–63, 1976, Powell, A. A., Avril Powell (1995), "Contested gods and prophets: discourse among minorities in late nineteenth‐century Punjab", Renaissance and Modern Studies, Volume 38, Issue 1, pages 38–59 Muslim leaders responded by publishing in Muslim-owned newspapers of Bengal, and through rural campaign, polemics against Christians and Hindus, and by launching "purification and reform movements" within Islam. Hindu leaders joined the proselytization debate, criticized Christianity and Islam, and asserted Hinduism to be a universal, secular religion.}}Religious leaders of some Hindu reform movements such as the Arya Samaj 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, {{ISBN|978-0199995448}}, pages 1–35, 115–168Harold Coward (1987), Modern Indian Responses to Religious Pluralism, State University of New York Press, {{ISBN|978-0887065729}}, pages 49–60 while those such as the Brahmo Samaj 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, {{ISBN|978-0691058993}}, pages 153–176The 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, {{ISBN|978-0195677126}}, pages 1–29Muhammad Khalid Masud (2005), Islamic Legal Interpretation: Muftis and Their Fatwas, Harvard University Press, {{ISBN|978-0195979114}}, pages 193–203Ankur Barua (2015), Debating 'Conversion' in Hinduism and Christianity, Routledge, {{ISBN|978-1138847019}}, Chapters 2 and 8 and in Indonesia.{{Sfn|Ramstedt|2004| pp= 93–108 (Robert Hefner)}}

See also

Hinduism{{div col|colwidth=18em}} {{div col end}}Related systems and religions{{div col|colwidth=22em}} {{div col end}}{{Wikipedia books|1=Hinduism}}






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  • BOOK, Sharma, Arvind, 2003, The Study of Hinduism, University of South Carolina Press, harv,
  • BOOK, Singh, Upinder, Upinder Singh, 2008, A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century, Pearson Education India, 978-81-317-1120-0,weblink harv,
  • JOURNAL, Sjoberg, Andree F., 1990, The Dravidian Contribution to the Development of Indian Civilization: A Call for a Reassesment, Comparative Civilizations Review, 23, 40–74,weblink harv,
  • BOOK, Smart, Ninian, 2003, Godsdiensten van de wereld (The World's Religions), Kampen, Uitgeverij Kok, harv,
  • BOOK, Smelser, Neil J., Neil Smelser, Seymour Martin Lipset, Lipset, Seymour Martin, Social Structure and Mobility in Economic Development, Aldine Transaction, 2005, 978-0-202-30799-2, harv,
  • BOOK, Smith, W. C., 1962, The Meaning and End of Religion, San Francisco, Harper and Row,weblink harv, 9780791403617,
  • BOOK, Smith, Huston, Huston Smith, 1991, The World's Religions: Our Great Wisdom Traditions, San Francisco, HarperSanFrancisco, 978-0-06-250799-0, harv,
  • BOOK, Smith, Vincent A., Vincent Arthur Smith, 1999, The early history of India, 3rd, Oxford University Press, first published 1908, 381–384, harv,
  • BOOK, Stein, Burton, Burton Stein, 2010, A History of India, Second Edition, Wiley-Blackwell,weblink harv, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 14 January 2014, dmy-all,
  • BOOK, Sweetman, Will, 2004, The prehistory of Orientalism: Colonialism and the Textual Basis for Bartholomaus Ziegenbalg's Account of Hinduism, New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies, 6, 2, 12–38,weblink harv,
  • BOOK, Thapar, R., 1993, Interpreting Early India, Delhi, Oxford University Press, harv,
  • BOOK, Thompson Platts, John, 1884, A dictionary of Urdu, classical HindÄ«, and English, W. H. Allen & Co., Oxford University, harv,
  • BOOK, Tiwari, Shiv Kumar, 2002, Tribal Roots Of Hinduism, Sarup & Sons, harv,
  • BOOK, Toropov, Brandon, Buckles, Luke, 2011, The Complete Idiot's Guide to World Religions, Penguin, harv,
  • BOOK, Turner, Bryan S., 1996a, For Weber: Essays on the Sociology of Fate, Bryan S. Turner (sociologist),weblink {{sfnref, Turner, 1996-A, | isbn =9780803976344 }}
  • BOOK, Vivekananda, Swami, Swami Vivekananda, 1987, Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Calcutta, Advaita Ashrama, 978-81-85301-75-4, harv,
  • BOOK, Vivekjivandas, 2010, Hinduism: An Introduction - Part 1, Swaminarayan Aksharpith, Ahmedabad, 978-81-7526-433-5, harv,
  • BOOK, White, David Gordon, 2000, Introduction, David Gordon White, Tantra in Practice, Princeton University Press, harv,
  • BOOK, White, David Gordon, 2006, Kiss of the Yogini: "Tantric Sex" in its South Asian Contexts, University of Chicago Press,weblink harv, 9780226027838,
  • BOOK, Wink, Andre, 1991, Al-Hind: the Making of the Indo-Islamic World, Volume 1, Brill Academic, 978-9004095090, harv,
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Web sources


Further reading

  • BOOK, Fowler, Jeaneane D., 1997, Hinduism: Beliefs and Practices, Sussex Academic Press,weblink 978-1-898723-60-8,
  • BOOK, Flood, Gavin D., Gavin Flood, 1996, An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University Press,
  • BOOK, Parpola, Asko, 2015, The Roots of Hinduism. The Early Aryans and the Indus Civilization, Oxford University Press, {{sfnref, Parpola, The Roots of Hinduism, 2015, }}
  • BOOK, Samuel, Geoffrey, 2010, The Origins of Yoga and Tantra. Indic Religions to the Thirteenth Century, Cambridge University Press, harv,
  • BOOK, Klostermaier, Klaus K., 2007, A Survey of Hinduism: Third Edition, State University of New York Press,weblink harv, 9780791470824,
  • BOOK, Flood, Gavin (Ed), Gavin Flood, 2003, Blackwell companion to Hinduism, Blackwell Publishing, 978-0-631-21535-6,
  • Richards, Glyn, ed. (1985). A Sourcebook of Modern Hinduism. London: Curzon Press. x, 212 p. {{ISBN|0-7007-0173-7}}

External links

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Eastern Philosophy
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