Marathi Buddhist Dalits celebrate Gudi Padwa

Hinduism - Hinduism

Indian religion and way of life

Hinduism (/ hɪ n d u ɪ z əm /) is an Indian religion and dharma , or way of life. It is the third largest religion in the world, with over 1.25 billion followers or 15-16% of the world's population known as Hindus. The word Hindu is an exonym, and while Hinduism has been called the world's oldest religion, many practitioners refer to their religion as Sanātana Dharma (Sanskrit: सनातन धर्म, literally "the eternal way"), which refers to the idea that its origins lie beyond human history, as revealed in the Hindu texts. Another, albeit less appropriate, self-designation is Vaidika Dharma , the "Dharma Related to the Vedas".

Hinduism is a diverse system of thought highlighted by a number of philosophies and common concepts, rituals, cosmological systems, place of pilgrimage and shared text sources that discuss theology, metaphysics, mythology, Vedic yajna, yoga, agamic rituals and temple buildings, among other subjects. Prominent themes in Hinduism are the four Puruṣārthas, the ultimate goals of human life; namely Dharma (ethics / duties), Artha (prosperity / work), Kama (desires / passions) and Moksha (liberation / freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth / redemption) as well as Karma (action, intention and consequences) and saṃsāra (cycle of Death and rebirth). Hinduism prescribes, among other things, the eternal duties, such as honesty, omission, living beings ( Ahiṃsā ) to violate , Patience, forbearance, self-control, virtue and compassion. Hindu practices include rituals such as puja (worship) and recitations, japa, meditation (dhyāna), family-oriented rites of passage, annual festivals and occasional pilgrimages. Along with practicing various yogas, some Hindus leave their social world and material possessions and engage in lifelong sannyasa (monasticism) in order to achieve moksha.

Hindu texts are divided into Śruti ("heard") and Smṛti ("remembered"), the main scripts of which are the Vedas , the Upanishads , the Purānas , the Mahābhārata , the Rāmāyana and the Āgamas are . There are six āstika schools of Hindu philosophy that recognize the authority of the Vedas, namely Sānkhya, Yoga, Nyāya, Vaisheshika, Mimāmsā, and Vedānta. While the Puranic chronology represents a geneaology that is thousands of years old, starting with the Vedic Rishis , scholars consider Hinduism to be an amalgamation or synthesis of brahmin orthopraxis with different Indian cultures that have different roots and no particular founder. This Hindu synthesis arose after the Vedic period between c. 500-200 BC Chr. And c. 300 AD During the period of the second urbanization and the early classical period of Hinduism, when the epics and the first Purānas were composed. It flourished in the Middle Ages with the decline of Buddhism in India.

Currently, the four largest denominations of Hinduism are Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism and Smartism. Sources of authority and eternal truths in the Hindu 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. Hinduism is the most widespread belief in India, Nepal, and Mauritius. There are significant numbers of Hindu communities in Southeast Asia, including Bali, Indonesia, the Caribbean, North America, Europe, Oceania, Africa, and other regions. Hinduism is the second fastest growing religion in the world after Islam with a growth of 17%.


Further information: Hindu

The word Hindu derives from the Indo-Aryan / Sanskrit root Exit Sindhu . The proto-Iranian sound change * s > H found according to Asko Parpola between 850 and 600 BC Instead of.

The use of the English term "Hinduism" to describe a collection of practices and beliefs is a relatively recent construction: It was first used by Raja Ram Mohun Roy in 1816-17. The term "Hinduism" was coined around 1830 by those Indians who opposed British colonialism and wanted to stand out from other religious groups. Before the British began categorizing communities strictly by religion, Indians generally did not define themselves solely by their religious beliefs. Instead, identities were largely segmented according to locality, language, Varṇa, Jāti, occupation and sect.

The word "Hindu" is much older and is believed to have been used as the name for the Indus in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent. According to Gavin Flood, "comes the real term." Hindu first as a Persian geographical term for the people who lived across the Indus River (Sanskrit: Sindhu ) ", more precisely in the inscription of Darius I from the 6th century BC (550–486 BC)). The term Hindu in these ancient records is a geographical term and not related to any religion. Among the earliest known records of 'Hindu' with religious connotations are the Chinese text Record of the Western Regions from Xuanzang from the 7th century AD and the Persian text Futuhu's salad from the 14th century by 'Abd al-Malik Isami.

Thapar indicates that the word Hindu in Avesta as Heptahindu occurs - equivalent to Rigvedic sapta sindhu , while hndstn (pronounced Hindustan ) is found in a 3rd century AD Sasan inscription, both of which refer to parts of northwestern South Asia. The Arabic term al-Hind referred to the people who live across the Indus River. This Arabic term itself became the pre-Islamic Persian term Taken from Hindu which relates to all Indians. Developed in the 13th century Hindustan to a popular alternative name of India meaning "land of Hindus".

The term Hindu was later occasionally used in some Sanskrit texts such as the later ones Rajataranginis used by Kashmir (Hinduka, around 1450) and some Bengali Gaudiya Vaishnava texts from the 16th to 18th centuries, including Chaitanya Charitamrita and Chaitanya Bhagavata . These texts used it to distinguish Hindus from Muslims who are called Yavanas (foreigners) or Mlecchas (barbarians), being the Chaitanya Charitamrita- Text from the 16th century and the Bhakta Mala- 17th century text the phrase " Hindu Dharma It wasn't until the late 18th century that European merchants and colonists began to use the followers of Indian religions collectively as Denote Hindus .

The term Hinduism , back then Hinduism , was introduced to English in the 18th century to denote India's religious, philosophical, and cultural traditions.


Hinduism contains a variety of ideas about spirituality and traditions, but has no ecclesiastical order, no indisputable religious authorities, no governing body, no prophets or authoritative holy books; Hindus can choose to be polytheistic, pantheistic, panentheistic, pandeistic, henotheistic, monotheistic, monistic, agnostic, atheistic, or humanistic. According to Doniger, "ideas on all major issues of belief and lifestyle - vegetarianism, nonviolence, belief in rebirth, even caste - are the subject of debate, not dogma."

Because of the variety of traditions and ideas that fall under the term Hinduism, it is difficult to come up with a comprehensive definition. Religion "resists our desire to define and categorize it". Hinduism has been defined as a religion, religious tradition, religious beliefs, and "way of life" in various ways. From a western lexical point of view, like other beliefs, Hinduism is appropriately referred to as a religion. In India the term Dharma preferred, which is broader than the western term religion .

The study of India and its cultures and religions as well as the definition of "Hinduism" were shaped by the interests of colonialism and Western ideas of religion. Since the 1990s, these influences and their outcomes have been the subject of debate among Hindu scholars and have also been adopted by critics of the Western view of India.


Om, a stylized letter from the Devanagari script, used as a religious symbol in Hinduism

Well-known Hinduism can be divided into a number of mainstreams. Of the historical division into six darsanas (philosophies), two schools, Vedanta and Yoga, are currently the most famous. Four mainstreams of Hinduism are Vaishnavism (Vishnu), Shaivism (Shiva), Shaktism (Devi), and Smartism (five deities treated as alike). Hinduism also accepts numerous divine beings, with many Hindus viewing the deities as aspects or manifestations of a single impersonal absolute or ultimate reality or god, while some Hindus claim that a particular deity represents the Supreme and various deities are lower manifestations of that Supreme. Other notable features are belief in the existence of Atman (soul, self), reincarnation of one's Atman and karma, and belief in Dharma (duties, rights, laws, behavior, virtues and right way of life).

McDaniel (2007) classifies Hinduism into six major types and numerous minor types in order to understand the expression of emotions among Hindus. The most important types, according to McDaniel, are folk Hinduism, which is based on local traditions and cults of local deities and is the oldest, uneducated system. Vedic Hinduism based on the earliest layers of the Vedas dating back to the 2nd millennium BC Are traceable; Vedantic Hinduism based on the philosophy of the Upanishads, including Advaita Vedanta, emphasizing knowledge and wisdom; Yogic Hinduism, which follows the text of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and emphasizes introspective awareness; Dharmic Hinduism, or "daily morality" as McDaniel notes, is stereotyped in some books as the "only form of Hindu religion with belief in karma, cows and caste"; and Bhakti, or devotional Hinduism, where intense emotions are drawn into the pursuit of the spiritual.

Michaels distinguishes between three Hindu religions and four forms of Hindu religiosity. The three Hindu religions are "Brahmanic-Sanskrit Hinduism", "Folk and tribal religions" and "Established religions". The four forms of Hindu religiosity are the classic "Karma-Marga", Jnana-Marga, Bhakti-Marga and "Heroism", which are rooted in militaristic traditions. These militaristic traditions include Ramaism (the worship of a hero of epic literature, Rama, who considers him to be an incarnation of Vishnu) and parts of political Hinduism. "Heroism" is also called Virya-Marga. According to Michaels, every ninth Hindu is born to one or both of the Brahmanic-Sanskrit Hindu and folk religion typology, whether practicing or not. He classifies most Hindus as voluntarily belonging to one of the "established religions" such as Vaishnavism and Shaivism, which are aimed at salvation and often belittle the priestly authority of the Brahmins, but incorporate the ritual grammar of Brahmanic-Sanskrit Hinduism. It includes among the "established religions" Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, which are different religions today, syncretistic movements such as Brahmo Samaj and the Theosophical Society, as well as various "guru organisms" and new religious movements such as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and ISKCON.

Inden states that the attempt to classify Hinduism by typology began in the imperial era when missionaries and colonial officials tried to understand and represent Hinduism out of their interests. Hinduism has been construed as originating not from a reason of the mind but from fantasy and creative imagination, not conceptual but symbolic, not ethical but emotional, not rational or spiritual but from cognitive mysticism. This stereotype followed and fit, according to Inden, with the imperial imperatives of the era and provided the moral justification for the colonial project. Everything from tribal animism to Buddhism has been lumped together as part of Hinduism. The early accounts set the tradition and scientific premises for the typology of Hinduism, as well as the main assumptions and flawed premises on which Indology was based. Hinduism, according to Inden, was neither what imperial religionists called stereotypical, nor is it appropriate to equate Hinduism merely as monistic pantheism and the philosophical idealism of Advaita Vedanta.

Hindu views

Sanātana Dharma

Hinduism is a traditional way of life for its followers. Many practitioners refer to the "orthodox" form of Hinduism as Sanātana Dharma , "the eternal law" or the "eternal way". Hindus consider Hinduism to be thousands of years old. The Puranic Chronology, the timeline of events in ancient Indian history as told in the Mahabaratha, Ramayana, and Puranas, provides a chronology of events related to Hinduism that dates well before 3000 BC. Began. The Sanskrit word Dharma has a much broader meaning than that religion and is not synonymous. All aspects of a Hindu life, namely the acquisition of wealth (artha), the fulfillment of desires (kama) and the attainment of liberation (moksha), are part of the Dharma, which summarizes the "right way of life" and eternal harmonious principles in their fulfillment .

According to the editors of the Encyclopædia Britannica, related Sanātana Dharma historically related to the religious in Hinduism prescribed "Eternal" duties, duties like honesty, omission, living beings ( ahiṃsā ) to violate , Purity, benevolence, compassion, patience, forbearance, selfishness, restraint, generosity and asceticism. These duties were independent of the class, caste or sect of a Hindu and were in contrast to Svadharma, "one's own duty", corresponding to the class or caste (varṇa) and the stage of life (puruṣārtha). In recent years the term has been used by Hindu leaders, reformers, and nationalists to refer to Hinduism. Sanatana Dharma has become synonymous with the "eternal" truth and teaching of Hinduism that transcend history and are "immutable, indivisible and ultimately not sectarian".

According to other scholars such as Kim Knott and Brian Hatcher, Sanātana Dharma refers to "timeless, eternal truths," and this is how Hindus see the origins of their religion. It is viewed as those eternal truths and traditions whose origins lie beyond human history, truths divinely revealed (Shruti) in the Vedas - the oldest scripture in the world. For many Hindus, the Western term "religion" to the extent that it means "dogma and an institution traced back to a single founder" is inappropriate for their tradition, Hatcher explains. For them, Hinduism is a tradition that can at least be traced back to the ancient Vedic times.

Vaidika Dharma

Some have considered Hinduism Vaidika called Dharma . The word "Vaidika" in Sanskrit means "derived from the Veda or conforming to the Veda" or "related to the Veda". Traditional scholars used the terms Vaidika and Avaidika, those who accept the Vedas as the source of authoritative knowledge and those who do not, to distinguish various Indian schools from Jainism, Buddhism and Charvaka. According to Klaus Klostermaier, the term Vaidika Dharma is the earliest self-name in Hinduism. According to Arvind Sharma, the historical evidence suggests that "the Hindus began their religion in the 4th century AD using the term vaidika dharma or a variant thereof. "According to Brian K. Smith," [i] t "is at least controversial" as to whether the term Vaidika Dharma with the right concessions to historical, cultural and ideological specificity, it cannot be compared with "Hinduism" and translated as "Hinduism". or 'Hindu Religion'. "

According to Alexis Sanderson, the early Sanskrit texts differentiate between Vaidika, Vaishnava, Shaiva, Shakta, Saura, Buddhist and Jaina traditions. The Indian consensus in the late 1st millennium AD, however, "actually came to the point of conceiving a complex unit which corresponds to Hinduism in contrast to Buddhism and Jainism and which only excludes certain forms of the antinomial Shakta-Shaiva". Some in the Mimamsa school of Hindu philosophy considered this Agamas like the Pancaratrika as invalid because they did not correspond to the Vedas. Some Kashmiri scholars rejected the esoteric tantric traditions of being part of the Vaidika Dharma. The ascetic tradition of Atimarga Shaivism, which could be dated to around AD 500, challenged the Vaidika framework and insisted that its agamas and practices were not only valid but also superior to those of the Vaidikas. However, Sanderson adds that this ascetic Shaiva tradition considered itself to be truly faithful to the Vedic tradition and "was unanimously of the opinion that the Śruti and Smṛti of Brahmanism are universal and unique in their own sphere, and that they as such [Vedas] are man's only means of valid knowledge [...] ".

The term Vaidika Dharma means a code of conduct "based on the Vedas", but it is unclear what "based on the Vedas" really implies, explains Julius Lipner. The Vaidika Dharma or "Vedic way of life", according to Lipner, does not mean "Hinduism is necessarily religious" or that Hindus have a generally accepted "conventional or institutional meaning" for the term. For many it is also a cultural term. Many Hindus have neither a copy of the Vedas nor have they ever seen or read parts of a Veda in person, like a Christian referring to the Bible or a Muslim referring to the Koran. However, Lipner explains: "This does not mean that the orientation of her [Hindu] in all life cannot be traced back to the Vedas or that it is in no way derived from it."

Although many religious Hindus implicitly recognize the authority of the Vedas, this recognition is often "nothing more than a declaration that one considers themselves Hindu" and "most Indians today pay lip service to the Veda and have no regard for it." the content of the text. "Some Hindus question the authority of the Vedas, implicitly recognizing their importance in the history of Hinduism," explains Lipner.

Hindu modernity

Swami Vivekananda was a key figure in introducing Vedanta and Yoga in Europe and the United States to raise interfaith awareness and make Hinduism a world religion.

Beginning in the 19th century, Indian modernists reaffirmed Hinduism as an important asset of Indian civilization while "purifying" Hinduism of its tantric elements and enhancing the Vedic elements. Western stereotypes have been reversed, emphasizing the universal aspects and introducing modern approaches to social problems. This approach had great appeal not only in India but also in the West. The main representatives of "Hindu Modernism" are Raja Rammohan Roy, Vivekananda, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Mahatma Gandhi. Raja Rammohan Roy is known as the father of the Hindu Renaissance