The principal religious tradition of India, centred upon the sacred texts of the Vedas. Philosophically Indian thought is separated into various darshanas or schools, exhibiting a rich variety of approaches and interests. Central concepts of Indian thought include atman, brahman, karma, moksha, and samsara, and the various Indian schools often anticipate the later topics of western philosophical thought.
English term denoting the mainstream religious tradition of India which regards the ancient scriptures known as the vedas as ultimately authoritative. Recent scholarly usage tends to reserve the term Hinduism for the post-classical or more popular phase of the tradition, commencing around 400 bce, and characterizes the preceding phases as the Br?hmanical (see Br?hmanism) or Vedic periods. The word Hindu is derived from the Persian term for the river Indus and its surrounding region. About 80 per cent of the approximately one billion population of India are Hindus, and there are around another 30 million living abroad. Hinduism is not a unified system of belief and practice, and should at best be regarded as a convenient shorthand for a complex social and cultural phenomenon. Those identified as Hindus do not use this term to refer to themselves or their religion, and instead speak of their beliefs as the ‘eternal truth’ (Sanskrit, san?tana dharma). Since Buddhism originated as an offshoot of Hinduism the two share many basic beliefs about cosmology, karma, and rebirth, as well as identifying the basic soteriological problem as the need to escape from the cycle of sa?s?ra. They differ in that Buddhism rejects the Hindu belief in a supreme being or cosmic power (Brahman), a personal soul (?tman), sacrifice, and the caste system. See also Brahmanism.
Hinduism is the dominant philosophical system of India and of the Indonesian island of Bali. Hindu is a word derived etymologically from the Persian pronunciation of the Sanskrit sindhu, meaning “river” and referring to the Indus River Valley or India itself. Hinduism is more a flow of traditions, practices, and customs than it is a religion in the usual sense of the word. Unlike Buddhism (see Buddhism), Jainism (see Jainism), and Sikhism (see Sikhism), all of which are tributaries of Hinduism, Hinduism can point to no particular founder. If there is a dominant characteristic of Hinduism it is its ability and willingness to absorb all physical and philosophical experience and all gods and goddesses in a happy polytheism (see Hindu Mythology). It is true, however, that in practice, many Hindus tend to concentrate their worship on one of three particular deities—?iva (see ?iva), Vi??u (see Vi??u), or the Goddess (see Dev?). And in a mysterious way, with its all-encompassing absolute Brahman (see Brahman), Hinduism might be said to be ultimately monist, at least to some schools of thought (see Advaita Ved?nta).
The beginning of an understanding of the complexities of Hinduism requires a historical context. Perhaps the earliest source of Hinduism was the religion of the Indus Valley (see Indus Valley Mythology) people of the Neolithic, before the invasion of Aryan (see Aryans) peoples from the north. The Indus Valley culture is sometimes referred to as Dravidian (see Dravidians), after the language probably spoken by the people there, or Harappan after one of the two major cities in the area. Indus Valley archeological evidence suggests a goddess-dominated religion with composite human-animal male figures, a tradition of ritual purification in pools, and a system of ritual sacrifice. Ancient seals depict an ithyphallic yogi-like figure with buffalo horns, a figure mirrored in later Hindu representations of the great god ?iva. The dominance of the Goddess is reflected in later Hinduism’s emphasis on the various forms of Dev?.
The Aryans, who arrived perhaps as early as about 1500 BCE, brought with them an Indo-European religious system and pantheon that bears much resemblance to the patriarchal systems of other Indo-Europeans such as the Greeks and the Iranians. They also brought the beginnings of what would become the characteristic Hindu caste system, a system that would be dominated by the two upper classes—the priestly brahmans (see Brahmans) and the warrior k?triyas. Preclassical Hinduism or Vedism is expressed most fully in the sacred knowledge called Vedas (see Vedas, Vedic entries), characterized as ?ruti or “that which is heard” (see ?ruti). First transmitted orally, the Vedas were eventually transcribed—traditionally by the sage Vy?sa (see Vy?sa), who was also said to have written down the great Hindu epic the Mah?bh?rata (see Mah?bh?rata). The Vedas developed over many centuries and are made up of several kinds of texts. First are the four Sa?hit?s (collections): the ancient ?g Veda or “chant Veda” (see ?g Veda), the S?ma Veda and the Yajur Veda (liturgical Vedas), and the Athara Veda (“Atharavan’s Veda”). Offshoots of the Vedic texts were developed by schools of Vedic priests. These texts are called Br?hma?as (see Br?hma?as), ?ra?yakas (see ?ra?yakas), and Upani?ads (see Upani?ads). The Br?hma?as, the most important of which is the ?atapatha Br?hma?a, are expositions of the absolute Brahman by priests or brahmans (see Brahmans), and are concerned with the proper practice of rituals. In the Br?hma?as the ? g Veda one-time only world-forming sacrifice of the transcendent primal male Puru?a (see Puru?a) is essentially replaced by the cyclical death and resurrection sacrifice of Praj?pati (see Praj?pati), himself the source of the creator god Brahm? (see Brahm?), in a sense, a personification of the absolute Brahman. The original Puru?a would evolve into the person of the god Vi??u. The theology that emerges from the Br?hma?as is called Brahmanism (see Brahmanism).
The ?ra?yakas (“books of the forest”) are more mystical texts, centering on the inner life and the universal Brahman. They precede the Upani?ads (“mystical understandings”), which move away from Brahmanic teachings about proper ritual to a belief that the individual must seek mok?a (see Mok?a), or “release” from the life death continuum or sa?s?ra (see Sa?s?ra). To achieve mok?a the disciple must learn—perhaps from a guru—the connection between the transcendent absolute or Brahman and the inner absolute ?tman (see ?tman). It is important to understand that the concept of life and the universe as developed in Vedic philosophy is the essence of Hinduism.
During the eight or nine hundred years after the late Vedic Upani?ads—that is, from about 500 BCE—the great epics the Mah?bh?rata (see Mah?bh?rata), including and especially its Bhagavadg?t? (see Bhagavadg?t?) section of about 200 BCE, and the R?m?ya?a (see R?m?ya?a) play important roles in the development of a Hinduism dominated by the concepts of bhakti (see bhakti), or “devotion,” and dharma (see Dharma), or “duty.” Much mythical material of this classical Hinduism is also contained in works called Pur??as (see Pur??as), or “ancient stories,” written between 400 and 1200 CE (see Hindu Mythology, Tantrism). The epics and the Pur??as come under the category of sm?ti (see Sm?ti), “that which is remembered,” rather than the more sacred s?uti. If the epics and Pur??as take what might be called mythological liberties, they are, nevertheless, firmly based in Vedic tradition and philosophy. The epics and the Pur??as are, like the Upani?ads, concerned with paths to salvation or mok?a. They are also primary sources for Hindu mythology, which is important for everyday “popular” Hinduism.
Several schools of Hinduism have emerged during the many centuries in which attempts have been made to consolidate the many streams of the overall tradition into one “flow.” Of these schools, two have achieved a certain dominance or orthodoxy. Both base their teachings on the Vedic philosophy, but the M?m??s? school stresses the ritual tradition of the Vedas, while the Ved?nta (see Ved?nta, Advaita Ved?nta) school emphasizes the more mystical understandings of the Upani?ads. It must be emphasized, too, that many Hindus are particularly devoted to one of three deities, ?iva, Vi??u, and Dev?, in their several forms or, in the case of Vi??u, avatars (see Avatars of Vi??u) or even to lesser deities such as Ga?e?a (see Ga?e?Ba).
It is tempting for adherents of monotheistic traditions to see all of the Hindu gods as incarnations of the one Absolute or Brahman, and in a sense they are. But Brahman is not “God” in any personal sense. Still, at the level of creation there is a trim?rti of gods working as one being and as aspects of that one Absolute. Brahm? (see Brahm?) is the creator, ?iva the destroyer, and Vi??u the preserver. These three roles are important at several levels, the most important of which is the Hindu understanding of the cosmic sacrificial cycles or yugas (see yugas), the throws of the cosmic dice of existence, whereby the universe is destroyed and re-created over and over again. It should be noted, too, that even by the last books of the ?g Veda the gods seem to take on the characteristics of each other, depending on the context of the hymn in question. One has the distinct sense in Hinduism that a single supreme Absolute expresses itself in many forms or gods.
Americans learned about Hinduism in the late eighteenth century from European scholars and from missionaries and traders returning from India. Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson incorporated Hindu themes in their transcendental philosophy in the 1830s and 1840s. The first Indian to successfully promote Hinduism in America was Swami Vivekananda, who represented Hinduism at the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago’s 1893 Columbian Exposition. He went on to establish Vedanta Societies in major American cities, teaching a variety of Hinduism that emphasizes social reform, religious tolerance, and the unity of self (atman) and Absolute (Brahman). Swami Paramahansa Yogananda’s Self-Realization Fellowship, established in 1935 to teach kriya yoga, soon surpassed Vedanta in popularity. In the 1960s, transcendental meditation and the International Society of Krishna Consciousness, or Hare Krishna Society, gathered large numbers of followers among Americans seeking spiritual alternatives to mainstream religion, and the civil rights movement drew inspiration from Indian nationalist Mohandas K. Gandhi’s interpretation of the Hindu tradition of ahimsa (nonviolence).
After the passage of less restrictive immigration laws in 1965, a large influx of Asian Indian immigrants brought a new plurality of Hindu practices to the United States. They contributed the first major, Indian-style Hindu temples, built to accommodate immigrant Hindus, to the American landscape. In 2000, there were approximately one million Hindus in the United States.
Jackson, Carl T. The Oriental Religions and American Thought: Nineteenth-Century Explorations. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1981.
———. Vedanta for the West: The Ramakrishna Movement in the United States. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.
Tweed, Thomas A., and Stephen Prothero, eds. Asian Religions in America: A Documentary History. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Post-Vedic Hinduism in all its forms accepts the doctrine of karma, according to which the individual reaps the results of his good and bad actions through a series of lifetimes (see transmigration of souls). Also universally accepted is the goal of moksha or mukti, liberation from suffering and from the compulsion to rebirth, which is attainable through elimination of passions and through knowledge of reality and finally union with God.
Responses to Buddhism and Jainism
In the middle of the first millennium B.C., an ossified Brahmanism was challenged by heterodox, i.e., non-Vedic, systems, notably Buddhism and Jainism. The priestly elite responded by creating a synthesis that accepted yogic practices and their goals, recognized the gods and image worship of popular devotional movements, and adopted greater concern for the daily life of the people. There was an increase in writings, such as the Laws of Manu (see Manu), dealing with dharma, or duty, not only as applied to the sacrifice but to every aspect of life. Their basic principle is varna-ashrama-dharma, or dharma in accordance with varna (class or caste) and ashrama (stage of life). The four classes are the Brahmans, Kshatriyas (warriors), Vaishyas (farmers and merchants), and Shudras (laborers). The four stages of life are brahmacharya or celibate student life (originally for study of the Veda), grihastha or householdership, vanaprastha or forest hermitage, and sannyasa, complete renunciation of all ties with society and pursuit of spiritual liberation. (In practical terms these stages were not strictly adhered to. The two main alternatives have continued to be householdership and the ascetic life.) The entire system was conceived as ideally ensuring both the proper function of society as an integrated whole and the fulfillment of the individual’s needs through his lifetime.
The post-Vedic Puranas deal with these themes. They also elaborate the myths of the popular gods. They describe the universe as undergoing an eternally repeated cycle of creation, preservation, and dissolution, represented by the trinity of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer as aspects of the Supreme.
Medieval and Modern Developments
In medieval times the esoteric ritual and yoga of Tantra and sects of fervent devotion (see bhakti) arose and flourished. The groundswell of devotion produced poet-saints all over India who wrote religious songs and composed versions of the epics in their vernaculars. This literature plays an essential part in present-day Hinduism, as do puja, or worship of enshrined deities, and pilgrimage to sacred places. The most popular deities include Vishnu and his incarnations Rama and Krishna, Shiva, the elephant-headed god Ganesha, and the Mother-Goddess or Devi, who appears as the terrible Kali or Durga but also as Sarasvati, the goddess of music and learning, and as Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. All the gods and goddesses, each of which has numerous aspects, are regarded as different forms of the one Supreme Being. Modern Hindu leaders such as Swami Vivekananda, Mohandas Gandhi, and Aurobindo Ghose, have given voice to a movement away from the traditional ideal of world-renunciation and asceticism and have asserted the necessity of uniting spiritual life with social concerns.
After independence in 1947 the impact of Hinduism on the political life of a country in which more than 80% of the people are adherents was moderated by the long-term rule of the Congress party (see Indian National Congress, which has striven to maintain a secular democracy. Tensions between Hindus and Muslims, however, have long been a fact of life in India, as evidenced in the creation of Pakistan, the conflict over Kashmir, and the subsequent wars between India and Pakistan. There have also been tensions with the Sikh minority, some of whom have sought independence for the Punjab, leading to violence in the 1980s (see Sikhism).
Since the late 1980s there has been increasing popular support for Hindu nationalist parties among the people of India. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which has long rejected the secular state and called for orthodox Hindu religious practice, is influential in the mainstream Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), one of India’s most important political parties. The extremist Shiv Sena and Vishwa Hindu Parishad parties have been relentless in their attacks on Muslims. The 1992 destruction in Ayodhya of a Muslim shrine and anti-Muslim riots in Mumbai in 1993 were sparked by Hindu nationalists and are among the events that have heightened Hindu-Muslim tensions.
See C. N. E. Eliot, Hinduism and Buddhism (3 vol., 1921; repr. 1968); A. B. Keith, The Religion and Philosophy of the Veda and Upanishads (1925, repr. 1971); S. Radhakrishnan, The Hindu View of Life (1927, repr. 1962); L. Renou, Religions of Ancient India (1953, repr. 1968) and Hinduism (1961); R. G. Zaehner, Hinduism (1962); A. T. Embree, ed., The Hindu Tradition (1966, repr. 1972); T. J. Hopkins, The Hindu Religious Tradition (1971); P. H. Ashby, Modern Trends in Hinduism (1974); A. L. Basham, The Origins and Development of Classical Hinduism (1989).
Hinduism is a religion, a philosophy, and a way of life. It guides people along paths that will ultimately lead to the individual soul (Atman) becoming one with the Universal Consciousness.
The religion recognizes that everyone is different and has a unique intellectual and spiritual outlook. Therefore, it allows people to develop and grow at their own pace by making different spiritual paths available to them. It allows various schools of thought under its broad principles. It also allows for freedom of worship so that individuals may be guided by their own spiritual experiences. This freedom of worship permits individuals to worship in any place, be it a church, mosque, or gurudwara. The tolerance shown by this religion to other faiths is unmatched. Hinduism has never been imposed on anyone, whether on a subjugated people through wars, or by offering spiritual or economic benefits to the poor.
The strength of Hinduism lies in its adaptability to the infinite diversity of human nature. It has a highly spiritual and abstract side suited to the philosopher, a practical and concrete side suited to the worldly individual, an aesthetic and ceremonial side suited to the person of poetic feeling and imagination, and a quiescent and contemplative side suited to the lover of peace and seclusion.
Hinduism is also unique in that it has adapted itself to include numerous ideals and precepts of other religions, such as those of Jainism and Buddhism. For instance, among many communities, offerings of rice and ghee (or clarified butter) took the place of animal sacrifice—a compromise with Vedic ritualism. Many of the early Aryans had been meat eaters, but under the influence of Buddhist and Jain ideas, numerous groups of Brahmins and non-Brahmins became vegetarian.
Another feature unique to Hinduism is its belief that liberation or deliverance (moksha) can be achieved in this life itself: one does not have to wait for a heaven after death.
Hindu Beliefs As Reflected in Food
Rebirth or reincarnation. The Hindus believe that one must go through several births and rebirths before attaining liberation. The hardships of the current world are a result of the actions of a previous life that have to be atoned for in the present life.
Karma. The law of karma (or action) also supports the above theory. It suggests that every action has a similar or related reaction. Although it is not possible to change one’s past life, it is possible for one to shape the future and to pave the way for a better life in rebirth through the actions of the present.
Dharma. Dharma refers to duties that have to be performed at different stages of one’s life. These must be completed without a thought of possible rewards or benefits and should also be accomplished to the best of one’s ability. They are responsible for the prevailing social order in the world. There are four stages of Dharma:
- Student or Brahmachari—This first phase involves living and studying with a guru.
- Householder or Grihastha—This next phase starts with marriage.
- Retirees or Vanaprastha—The third phase occurs when the duties of child rearing and work are over.
- Sanyasi—This is the final phase when all worldly desires are renounced and the individual spends all of his or her time in meditation.
Hinduism is based on the Eternal Truth as it has been explicitly defined in the scriptures:
- The Srutis come from the Vedas, of divine origin and unchangeable. They encapsulate the greatest truths.
- The Smritis, referred to as the Dharma Shashtras, are of human composition. They govern the daily conduct of people, including the actions of the individual, the community, and the nation, and may change over time.
- The epics are those stories or fables in which the philosophy of the Vedas is told. The most important epics are the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
- The Puranas are the Hindu scriptures that convey the truths of the Vedas and the Dharma Shashtras in the form of tales. These stories form the basis of religious education for the common man.
- The Agamas record the doctrine for the worship of different deities, including Shiva, Vishnu, and Shakti.
- The Darshanas encompass the six schools of Hindu philosophy; they guide scholars.
Hindu Gods and Goddesses
Hinduism has many gods and goddesses, some of whom were worshipped by early peoples who later came into contact with this faith. The aim of Hinduism is not the worship of any one of these deities, but rather the means with which the individual soul or Atman will become one with the Brahman, or the Universal Soul. Among the most commonly worshipped gods are:
- Nirguna Brahman—The Universal Soul who transcends time and space and is formless.
- Saguna Brahman—The concept of Ichwara, the Great God, with a form upon which the individual mind may fixate during prayer and meditation.
- The Trinity—As personified by the three attributes of Ichwara, including their feminine dimensions: creation (Brahman), preservation (Vishnu), and destruction (Shiva).
There are essentially three paths to attain oneness with the Universal Consciousness:
- Bhakti yoga (the path of devotion)—The vast majority of people choose this path of single-minded devotion to a favorite god.
- Karma yoga (the path of action)—Those who choose this path believe in the dictum “work is worship.” No job is too menial or too low for this devotée, as all work is a means of realizing God.
- Jnana yoga (the path of knowledge)—This is perhaps the most difficult of the three paths and therefore chosen by very few, usually scholars. Knowledge of the Vedas, Upanishads, and Bhagavad Gita is essential.
Khare, R. S., ed. The Eternal Food: Gastronomic Ideas and Experiences of Hindus and Buddhists. SUNY Series in Hinduism. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992.
Morgan, Kenneth William. Asian Religions: An Introduction to theStudy of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Confucianism, and Taoism. New York: Macmillan, 1964.
Ross, Nancy Wilson. Hinduism, Buddhism, Zen: An Introduction to Their Meaning and Their Arts. London: Faber & Faber, 1968.
Toomey, Paul M. Food from the Mouth of Krishna: Feasts and Festivities in a North Indian Pilgrimage Centre. Delhi, India: Hindustan, 1994.
IN BRIEF: n. – A body of religious and philosophical beliefs and cultural practices native to India and characterized by a belief in reincarnation and a supreme being of many forms and natures, by the view that opposing theories are aspects of one eternal truth;
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categories related to ‘Hinduism’
For a list of words related to Hinduism, see:
- World Religions – Hinduism: religion and social system of Hindus of Indian subcontinent, recognizing authority of Vedas and other sacred texts, emphasizing karma and reincarnation and worship of various deities, based on four goals and four stages in human life and socially rooted in four castes
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religion of the Indian subcontinent. Hinduism includes Shaivism, Vaishnavism and ?rauta among numerous other traditions. It also includes historical groups, for example the Kapalikas. Among other practices and philosophies, Hinduism includes a wide spectrum of laws and prescriptions of “daily morality” based on the notion of karma, dharma, and societal norms. Hinduism is a conglomeration of distinct intellectual or philosophical points of view, rather than a rigid common set of beliefs.
Hinduism is formed of diverse traditions and has no single founder. Among its direct roots is the historical Vedic religion of Iron Age India and, as such, Hinduism is often called the “oldest living religion“ or the “oldest living major religion” in the world. Demographically, Hinduism is the world’s third largest religion.
One orthodox classification of Hindu texts is to divide into ?ruti (“revealed”) and Smriti (“remembered”) texts. These texts discuss theology, philosophy, mythology, rituals and temple building among other topics. Major scriptures include the Vedas, Upanishads, Pur??as, Mah?bh?rata, R?m?ya?a, Bhagavad G?t? and ?gamas.
The word Hindu is derived from the Sanskrit word Sindhu’, the historic local appellation for the Indus River in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent and is first mentioned in the Rig Veda.
The word Hindu was first used by Arab invaders and then went further west by the Arabic term al-Hind referring to the land of the people who live across river Indus. and the Persian term Hind? referring to all Indians. By the 13th century, Hindust?n emerged as a popular alternative name of India, meaning the “land of Hindus“.
The term Hinduism also occurs sporadically in Sanskrit texts such as the later Rajataranginis of Kashmir (Hinduka, c. 1450), some 16th-18th century BengaliGaudiya Vaishnava texts, including Chaitanya Charitamrita and Chaitanya Bhagavata, usually to contrast Hindus with Yavanas or Mlecchas. It was only towards the end of the 18th century that the European merchants and colonists referred collectively to the followers of Indian religions as Hindus. The term Hinduism was introduced into the English language in the 19th century to denote the religious, philosophical, and cultural traditions native to India.
The earliest evidence for prehistoric religion in India date back to the late Neolithic in the early Harappan period (5500–2600 BCE). The beliefs and practices of the pre-classical era (1500–500 BCE) are called the “historical Vedic religion“. The Vedic religion shows influence from Proto-Indo-European religion. The oldest Veda is the Rigveda, dated to 1700–1100 BCE. The Vedas center on worship of deities such as Indra, Varuna and Agni, and on the Soma ritual. Fire-sacrifices, called yajña were performed, and Vedic mantras chanted but no temples or idols are known.
The major Sanskrit epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, were compiled over a protracted period during the late centuries BCE and the early centuries CE. They contain mythological stories about the rulers and wars of ancient India, and are interspersed with religious and philosophical treatises. The later Puranas recount tales about devas and devis, their interactions with humans and their battles against rakshasa.
The Brahmanical tradition was paralleled by the non-Vedic Shramana movement. The Buddha was a member of this movement. Shramana also gave rise to Jainism, yoga, the concept of the cycle of birth and death, the concept of samsara, and the concept of liberation. The Brahmanical ashrama system of life was an attempt to institutionalize Shramana ideals within the Brahmanical social structure. The Shramana movement also influenced the Aranyakas and Upanishads in the Brahmanical tradition. Buddhism was promoted by Asoka the Great of the Mauryan Empire, who unified the Indian subcontinent in the 3rd century BCE. After 200 CE several schools of thought were formally codified in Indian philosophy, including Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Purva-Mimamsa and Vedanta.Charvaka, the founder of an atheistic materialist school, came to the fore in North India in the sixth century BCE.
Sanskritic culture went into decline after the end of the Gupta period. The early medieval Puranas helped establish a religious mainstream among the pre-literate tribal societies undergoing acculturation. The tenets of Brahmanic Hinduism and of the Dharmashastras underwent a radical transformation at the hands of the Purana composers, resulting in the rise of a mainstream “Hinduism” that overshadowed all earlier traditions. In eighth century royal circles, the Buddha started to be replaced by Hindu gods in pujas. This also was the same period of time the Buddha was made into an avatar of Vishnu.
Though Islam came to India in the early 7th century with the advent of Arab traders and the conquest of Sindh, it started to become a major religion during the later Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent. During this period Buddhism declined rapidly and many Hindus were forcibly converted to Islam. Numerous Muslim rulers or their army generals such as Aurangzeb and Malik Kafur destroyed Hindu temples and persecuted non-Muslims; however some, such as Akbar, were more tolerant. Hinduism underwent profound changes, in large part due to the influence of the prominent teachers Ramanuja, Madhva, and Chaitanya. Followers of the Bhakti movement moved away from the abstract concept of Brahman, which the philosopher Adi Shankara consolidated a few centuries before, with emotional, passionate devotion towards the more accessible Avatars, especially Krishna and Rama.
The oldest Vedic traditions exhibit strong similarities to the pre-Zoroastrian Proto-Indo-Iranian religion and other Indo-European religions. For example, the ?gvedic deity Dyaus, regarded as the father of the other deities, is linguistically cognate with Zeus—the king of the gods in Greek mythology, Iovis (gen. of Jupiter) —the king of the gods in Roman mythology, and Tiu/Ziu in Germanic mythology. Other Vedic deities also have cognates with those found in other Indo-European speaking peoples’ mythologies; see Proto-Indo-European religion and Comparison of Greek and Hindu Gods.
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. At the same time, societies such as the Brahmo Samaj and the Theosophical Society attempted to reconcile and fuse Abrahamic and Dharmic philosophies, endeavouring to institute societal reform. This period saw the emergence of movements which, while highly innovative, were rooted in indigenous tradition. They were based on the personalities and teachings of individuals, as with Ramakrishna and Ramana Maharshi. Prominent Hindu philosophers, including Aurobindo and Prabhupada (founder of ISKCON), translated, reformulated and presented Hinduism’s foundational texts for contemporary audiences in new iterations, attracting followers and attention in India and abroad. Others such as Vivekananda, Paramahansa Yogananda, B.K.S. Iyengar and Swami Rama have also been instrumental in raising the profiles of Yoga and Vedanta in the West.
Hinduism as it is commonly known can be subdivided into a number of major currents. Of the historical division into six darsanas, only two schools, Vedanta and Yoga, survive. The main divisions of Hinduism today are Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Smartism and Shaktism. Hinduism also recognizes numerous divine beings subordinate to the Supreme Being or regards them as lower manifestations of it. Other notable characteristics include a belief in reincarnation and karma, as well as in personal duty, or dharma.
McDaniel (2007) distinguishes six generic “types” of Hinduism, in an attempt to accommodate a variety of views on a rather complex subject:
- Folk Hinduism, as based on local traditions and cults of local deities at a communal level and spanning back to prehistoric times or at least prior to written Vedas.
- ?rauta or “Vedic” Hinduism as practiced by traditionalist brahmins (?rautins).
- Vedantic Hinduism, for example Advaita Vedanta (Smartism), as based on the philosophical approach of the Upanishads.
- Yogic Hinduism, especially that based on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
- “Dharmic” Hinduism or “daily morality”, based on the notion of Karma, and upon societal norms such as Viv?ha (Hindu marriage customs).
- Bhakti or devotionalist practices
Hinduism does not have a “unified system of belief encoded in declaration of faith or a creed“, but is rather an umbrella term comprising the plurality of religious phenomena originating and based on the Vedic traditions.
The characteristic of comprehensive tolerance to differences in belief, and Hinduism’s openness, makes it difficult to define as a religion according to traditional Western conceptions. To its adherents, Hinduism is the traditional way of life, and because of the wide range of traditions and ideas incorporated within or covered by it, arriving at a comprehensive definition of the term is problematic. While sometimes referred to as a religion, Hinduism is more often defined as a religious tradition. It is therefore described as both the oldest of the world’s religions, and the most diverse. Most Hindu traditions revere a body of religious or sacred literature, the Vedas, although there are exceptions. Some Hindu religious traditions regard particular rituals as essential for salvation, but a variety of views on this co-exist. Some Hindu philosophies postulate a theistic ontology of creation, of sustenance, and of destruction of the universe, yet some Hindus are atheists. Hinduism is sometimes characterized by the belief in reincarnation (samsara), determined by the law of karma, and the idea that salvation is freedom from this cycle of repeated birth and death. However, other religions of the region, such as Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, also believe in karma, outside the scope of Hinduism. Hinduism is therefore viewed as the most complex of all of the living, historical world religions. Despite its complexity, Hinduism is not only one of the numerically largest faiths, but is also the oldest living major tradition on earth, with roots reaching back into prehistory.
A definition of Hinduism, given by the first Vice President of India, who was also a prominent theologian, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, states that Hinduism is not “just a faith”, but in itself is related to the union of reason and intuition. Radhakrishnan explicitly states that Hinduism cannot be defined, but is only to be experienced. Similarly 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, while others are not as central but still remain within the category. Based on this, Ferro-Luzzi has developed a ‘Prototype Theory approach’ to the definition of Hinduism.
Problems with the single definition of what is actually meant by the term ‘Hinduism’ are often attributed to the fact that Hinduism does not have a single or common historical founder. Hinduism, or as some say ‘Hinduisms,’ does not have a single system of salvation and has different goals according to each sect or denomination. The forms of Vedic religion are seen not as an alternative to Hinduism, but as its earliest form, and there is little justification for the divisions found in much western scholarly writing between Vedism, Brahmanism, and Hinduism.
A definition of Hinduism is further complicated by the frequent use of the term “faith” as a synonym for “religion”. Some academics and many practitioners refer to Hinduism using a native definition, as San?tana Dharma, a Sanskrit phrase meaning “the eternal law“, or the “eternal way”.
Hinduism refers to a religious mainstream which evolved organically and spread over a large territory marked by significant ethnic and cultural diversity. This mainstream evolved both by innovation from within, and by assimilation of external traditions or cults into the Hindu fold. The result is an enormous variety of religious traditions, ranging from innumerable small, unsophisticated cults to major religious movements with millions of adherents spread over the entire subcontinent. The identification of Hinduism as an independent religion separate from Buddhism or Jainism consequently hinges on the affirmation of its adherents that it is such.
Hinduism grants absolute and complete freedom of belief and worship. Hinduism conceives the whole world as a single family that deifies the one truth, and therefore it accepts all forms of beliefs and dismisses labels of distinct religions which would imply a division of identity. Hence, Hinduism is devoid of the concepts of apostasy, heresy and blasphemy.
Prominent themes in Hindu beliefs include (but are not restricted to), Dharma (ethics/duties), Sams?ra (The continuing cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth), Karma (action and subsequent reaction), Moksha (liberation from samsara), and the various Yogas (paths or practices).
Concept of God
Hinduism is a diverse system of thought with beliefs spanning monotheism, polytheism, panentheism, pantheism, monism, and atheism among others; 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.
The Rig Veda, the oldest scripture and the mainstay of Hindu philosophy does not take a restrictive view on the fundamental question of God and the creation of universe. It rather lets the individual seek and discover answers in the quest of life. Nasadiya Sukta (Creation Hymn) of the Rig Veda thus says:
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?
Most Hindus believe that the spirit or soul — the true “self” of every person, called the ?tman — is eternal. According to the monistic/pantheistic theologies of Hinduism (such as Advaita Vedanta school), this Atman is ultimately indistinct from Brahman, the supreme spirit. Hence, these schools are called non-dualist. The goal of life, according to the Advaita school, is to realize that one’s ?tman is identical to Brahman, the supreme soul. The Upanishads state that whoever becomes fully aware of the ?tman as the innermost core of one’s own self realizes an identity with Brahman and thereby reaches moksha (liberation or freedom).
The schools of Vedanta and Nyaya states that karma itself proves the existence of God . Nyaya being the school of logic, makes the “logical” inference that the universe is an effect and it ought to have a creator.
Dualistic schools (see Dvaita and Bhakti) understand Brahman as a Supreme Being who possesses personality, and they worship him or her thus, as Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva, or Shakti, depending upon the sect. The ?tman is dependent on God, while moksha depends on love towards God and on God’s grace. When God is viewed as the supreme personal being (rather than as the infinite principle), God is called Ishvara (“The Lord”),Bhagavan (“The Auspicious One”) or Parameshwara (“The Supreme Lord”). However interpretations of Ishvara vary, ranging from non-belief in Ishvara by followers of Mimamsakas, to identifying Brahman and Ishvara as one, as in Advaita. In the majority of traditions of Vaishnavism he is Vishnu, God, and the text of Vaishnava scriptures identify this Being as Krishna, sometimes referred to as svayam bhagavan.
In Bhaagawada Gita, for example, God is the sole repository of Gunas (attributes) also, as
His hands and feet are everywhere, He looks everywhere and all around, His eyes, ears and face point to all directions, and all the three worlds are surrounded by these.
Atheistic doctrines dominate Hindu schools like Samkhya and Mimamsa. The S??khyapravacana S?tra of Samkhya argues that the existence of God (Ishvara) cannot be proved and hence cannot be admitted to exist. Samkhya argue that an unchanging God cannot be the source of an ever changing world. It says God was a necessary metaphysical assumption demanded by circumstances. Proponents of the school of Mimamsa, which is based on rituals and orthopraxy states that the evidence allegedly proving the existence of God was insufficient. They argue that there is no need to postulate a maker for the world, just as there is no need for an author to compose the Vedas or a God to validate the rituals. Mimamsa considers the Gods named in the Vedas have no existence apart from the mantras that speak their names. To that regard, the power of the mantras is what is seen as the power of Gods.
Devas and avatars
The Hindu scriptures refer to celestial entities called Devas (or dev?in feminine form; devat?used synonymously for Deva in Hindi), “the shining ones”, which may be translated into English as “gods” or “heavenly beings”. The devas are an integral part of Hindu culture and are depicted in art, architecture and through icons, and mythological stories about them are related in the scriptures, particularly in Indian epic poetry and the Puranas. They are, however, often distinguished from Ishvara, a supreme personal god, with many Hindus worshiping Ishvara in one of its particular manifestations (ostensibly separate deities) as their i??a devat?, or chosen ideal. The choice is a matter of individual preference, and of regional and family traditions.
Hindu epics and the Puranas relate several episodes of the descent of God to Earth in corporeal form to restore dharma to society and to guide humans to moksha. Such an incarnation is called an Avatar. The most prominent avatars are of Vishnu and include Rama (the protagonist in Ramayana) and Krishna (a central figure in the epic Mahabharata).
Karma and samsara
Karma translates literally as action, work, or deed, and can be described as the “moral law of cause and effect”. According to the Upanishads an individual, known as the jiva-atma, develops sanskaras (impressions) from actions, whether physical or mental. The linga sharira, a body more subtle than the physical one but less subtle than the soul, retains impressions, carrying them over into the next life, establishing a unique trajectory for the individual. Thus, the concept of a universal, neutral, and never-failing karma intrinsically relates to reincarnation as well as to one’s personality, characteristics, and family. Karma binds together the notions of free will and destiny.
This cycle of action, reaction, birth, death and rebirth is a continuum called samsara. The notion of reincarnation and karma is a strong premise in Hindu thought. The Bhagavad Gita states:
|“||As a person puts on new clothes and discards old and torn clothes,similarly an embodied soul enters new material bodies, leaving the old bodies.(B.G. 2:22)||”|
Samsara provides ephemeral pleasures, which lead people to desire rebirth so as to enjoy the pleasures of a perishable body. However, escaping the world of samsara through moksha is believed to ensure lasting happiness and peace. It is thought that after several reincarnations, an atman eventually seeks unity with the cosmic spirit (Brahman/Paramatman).
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 and ends the cycle of rebirth. Due to belief in the indestructibility of the soul, death is deemed insignificant with respect to the cosmic self. Thence, a person who has no desire or ambition left and no responsibilities remaining in life or one affected by a terminal disease may embrace death by Prayopavesa.
The exact conceptualization of moksha differs among the various Hindu schools of thought. For example, Advaita Vedanta holds that after attaining moksha an atman no longer identifies itself with an individual but as identical with Brahman in all respects. The followers of Dvaita (dualistic) schools identify themselves as part of Brahman, and after attaining moksha expect to spend eternity in a loka (heaven), in the company of their chosen form of Ishvara. Thus, it is said that the followers of dvaita wish to “taste sugar”, while the followers of Advaita wish to “become sugar”.
Objectives of human life
Dharma (righteousness, ethikos)
The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad views dharma as the universal principle of law, order, harmony, all in all truth, that sprang first from Brahman. It acts as the regulatory moral principle of the Universe. It is sat (truth), a major tenet of Hinduism. This hearkens back to the conception of the Rig Veda that “Ekam Sat,” (Truth Is One), of the idea that Brahman is “Sacchidananda” (Truth-Consciousness-Bliss). Dharma is not just law, or harmony, it is pure Reality. In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad‘s own words:
Verily, that which is Dharma is truth, Therefore they say of a man who speaks truth, “He speaks the Dharma,”
or of a man who speaks the Dharma, “He speaks the Truth.”, Verily, both these things are the same.—(Brh. Upanishad, 1.4.14) (2)
In the Mahabharata, Krishna defines dharma as upholding both this-worldly and other-worldly affairs. (Mbh 12.110.11). The word San?tana means ‘eternal’, ‘perennial’, or ‘forever’; thus, ‘San?tana Dharma’ signifies that it is the dharma that has neither beginning nor end.
Artha (livelihood, wealth)
Artha is objective & virtuous pursuit of wealth for livelihood, obligations and economic prosperity. It is inclusive of political life, diplomacy and material well-being. The doctrine of Artha is called Arthashastra, amongst the most famous of which is Kautilya Arthashastra.
K?ma (sensual pleasure)
Mok?a (liberation, freedom from samsara)
Moksha (Sanskrit: ????? mok?a) or mukti (Sanskrit: ??????), literally “release” (both from a root muc “to let loose, let go”), is the last goal of life. It is liberation from samsara and the concomitant suffering involved in being subject to the cycle of repeated death and reincarnation.
In whatever way a Hindu defines the goal of life, there are several methods (yogas) that sages have taught for reaching that goal. Texts dedicated to Yoga include the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga Sutras, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, and, as their philosophical and historical basis, the Upanishads. Paths that one can follow to achieve the spiritual goal of life (moksha, samadhi or nirvana) include:
- Bhakti Yoga (the path of love and devotion)
- Karma Yoga (the path of right action)
- R?ja Yoga (the path of meditation)
- Jñ?na Yoga (the path of wisdom)
An individual may prefer one or some yogas over others, according to his or her inclination and understanding. Some devotional schools teach that bhakti is the only practical path to achieve spiritual perfection for most people, based on their belief that the world is currently in the Kali Yuga (one of four epochs which are part of the Yuga cycle). Practice of one yoga does not exclude others. Many schools believe that the different yogas naturally blend into and aid other yogas. For example, the practice of jnana yoga, is thought to inevitably lead to pure love (the goal of bhakti yoga), and vice versa. Someone practicing deep meditation (such as in raja yoga) must embody the core principles of karma yoga, jnana yoga and bhakti yoga, whether directly or indirectly.
Hindu practices generally involve seeking awareness of God and sometimes also seeking blessings from Devas. Therefore, Hinduism has developed numerous practices meant to help one think of divinity in the midst of everyday life. Hindus can engage in p?j? (worship or veneration), either at home or at a temple. At home, Hindus often create a shrine with icons dedicated to their chosen form(s) of God. Temples are usually dedicated to a primary deity along with associated subordinate deities though some commemorate multiple deities. Visiting temples is not obligatory, and many visit temples only during religious festivals. Hindus perform their worship through icons (murtis). The icon serves as a tangible link between the worshiper and God. The image is often considered a manifestation of God, since God is immanent. The Padma Purana states that the m?rti is not to be thought of as mere stone or wood but as a manifest form of the Divinity. A few Hindu sects, such as the ?rya Sam?j, do not believe in worshiping God through icons.
Hinduism has a developed system of symbolism and iconography to represent the sacred in art, architecture, literature and worship. These symbols gain their meaning from the scriptures, mythology, or cultural traditions. The syllable Om (which represents the Parabrahman) and the Swastika sign (which symbolizes auspiciousness) have grown to represent Hinduism itself, while other markings such as tilaka identify a follower of the faith. Hinduism associates many symbols, which include the lotus, chakra and veena, with particular deities.
Mantras are invocations, praise and prayers that through their meaning, sound, and chanting style help a devotee focus the mind on holy thoughts or express devotion to God/the deities. Many devotees perform morning ablutions at the bank of a sacred river while chanting the Gayatri Mantra or Mahamrityunjaya mantras. The epic Mahabharata extols Japa (ritualistic chanting) as the greatest duty in the Kali Yuga (what Hindus believe to be the current age). Many adopt Japa as their primary spiritual practice.
The vast majority of Hindus engage in religious rituals on a daily basis. Most Hindus observe religious rituals at home. but observation of rituals greatly vary among regions, villages, and individuals. Devout Hindus perform daily chores 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, meditation, chanting mantras, reciting scriptures etc. A notable feature in religious ritual is the division between purity and pollution. Religious acts presuppose some degree of impurity or defilement for the practitioner, which must be overcome or neutralised before or during ritual procedures. Purification, usually with water, is thus a typical feature of most religious action. Other characteristics include a belief in the efficacy of sacrifice and concept of merit, gained through the performance of charity or good works, that will accumulate over time and reduce sufferings in the next world. Vedic rites of fire-oblation (yajna) are now only occasional practices, although they are highly revered in theory. In Hindu wedding and burial ceremonies, however, the yajña and chanting of Vedic mantras are still the norm. The rituals, upacharas, change with time. For instance, in the past few hundred years some rituals, such as sacred dance and music offerings in the standard Sodasa Upacharas set prescribed by the Agama Shastra, were replaced by the offerings of rice and sweets.
Occasions like birth, marriage, and death involve what are often elaborate sets of religious customs. In Hinduism, life-cycle rituals include Annaprashan (a baby’s first intake of solid food), Upanayanam (“sacred thread ceremony” undergone by upper-caste children at their initiation into formal education) and ?r?ddha (ritual of treating people to a meal in return for prayers to ‘God’ to give peace to the soul of the deceased). For most people in India, the betrothal of the young couple and the exact date and time of the wedding are matters decided by the parents in consultation with astrologers. On death, cremation is considered obligatory for all except sanyasis, hijra, and children under five. Cremation is typically performed by wrapping the corpse in cloth and burning it on a pyre.
Following pilgrimage sites are most famous amongst Hindu devotees:
Char Dham (Famous Four Pilgrimage sites): The four holy sites Puri, Rameswaram, Dwarka, and Badrinath (or alternatively the Himalayan towns of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri) compose the Char Dham (four abodes) pilgrimage circuit.
Kumbh Mela: The Kumbh Mela (the “pitcher festival”) is one of the holiest of Hindu pilgrimages that is held afetr every 12 years; the location is rotated among Allahabad, Haridwar, Nashik, and Ujjain.
Old Holy cities as per Puranic Texts: Varanasi formerly known as Kashi, Allahabad formerly known as Prayag, Haridwar–Rishikesh, Mathura–Vrindavan, and Ayodhya.
Major Temple cities: Puri, which hosts a major VaishnavaJagannath temple and Rath Yatra celebration; Katra, home to the Vaishno Devi temple; Three comparatively recent temples of fame and huge pilgrimage are Shirdi, home to Sai Baba of Shirdi, Tirumala – Tirupati, home to the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple; and Sabarimala,where Swami Ayyappan is worshipped.
Shakti Peethas: Another important set of pilgrimages are the Shakti Peethas, where the Mother Goddess is worshipped, the two principal ones being Kalighat and Kamakhya.
While there are different yet similar pilgrimage routes in different parts of India, all are respected equally well, according to the universality of Hinduism.
Pilgrimage is not mandatory in Hinduism, though many adherents undertake them.
Hindu festivals (Sanskrit: Utsava; literally: “to lift higher”) are considered as symbolic rituals that beautifully weave individual and social life to dharma. Hinduism has many festivals throughout the year. The Hindu calendar usually prescribe their dates.
The festivals typically celebrate events from Hindu mythology, often coinciding with seasonal changes. There are festivals which are primarily celebrated by specific sects or in certain regions of the Indian subcontinent.
Some widely observed Hindu festivals are :
- Some widely observed Hindu festivals
Ganesh Visarjan in Mumbai.
Hinduism is based on “the accumulated treasury of spiritual laws discovered by different persons in different times”. The scriptures were transmitted orally in verse form to aid memorization, for many centuries before they were written down. Over many centuries, sages refined the teachings and expanded the canon. In post-Vedic and current Hindu belief, most Hindu scriptures are not typically interpreted literally. More importance is attached to the ethics and metaphorical meanings derived from them. Most sacred texts are in Sanskrit. The texts are classified into two classes: Shruti and Smriti.
Shruti (lit: that which is heard) primarily refers to the Vedas, which form the earliest record of the Hindu scriptures. While many Hindus revere the Vedas as eternal truths revealed to ancient sages (??is), some devotees do not associate the creation of the Vedas with a god or person. They are thought of as the laws of the spiritual world, which would still exist even if they were not revealed to the sages. Hindus believe that because the spiritual truths of the Vedas are eternal, they continue to be expressed in new ways.
There are four Vedas (called ?g-, S?ma-, Yajus- and Atharva-). The Rigveda is the first and most important Veda. Each Veda is divided into four parts: the primary one, the Veda proper, being the Sa?hit?, which contains sacred mantras. The other three parts form a three-tier ensemble of commentaries, usually in prose and are believed to be slightly later in age than the Sa?hit?. These are: the Br?hma?as, ?ra?yakas, and the Upanishads. The first two parts were subsequently called the Karmak???a (ritualistic portion), while the last two form the Jñ?nak???a (knowledge portion). While the Vedas focus on rituals, the Upanishads focus on spiritual insight and philosophical teachings, and discuss Brahman and reincarnation.
A well known shloka from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is:
- ? ???? ?? ?????? ? ???? ?? ??????????? ??
- ?????????????? ??? ? ? ?????? ?????? ?????? ??
– ?????????? ??????? 1.3.28.
- om asato m? sadgamaya | tamaso m? jyotirgamaya ||
- m?tyor m? am?ta? gamaya | om ??nti ??nti ??nti ||
– b?had?ra?yaka upani?ada 1.3.28
- Lead Us From the Unreal To the Real |
- Lead Us From Darkness To Light ||
- Lead Us From Death To Immortality |
- OM Let There Be Peace Peace Peace.||
– Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.3.28.
Hindu texts other than the Shrutis are collectively called the Smritis (memory). The most notable of the smritis are the epics, which consist of the Mah?bh?rata and the R?m?ya?a. The Bhagavad G?t? is an integral part of the Mahabharata and one of the most popular sacred texts of Hinduism. It contains philosophical teachings from Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu, told to the prince Arjuna on the eve of a great war. The Bhagavad G?t?, spoken by Krishna, is described as the essence of the Vedas. However Gita, sometimes called Gitopanishad, is more often placed in the Shruti, category, being Upanishadic in content. Pur??as, which illustrate Hindu ideas through vivid narratives come under smritis. Other texts include Dev? Mah?tmya, the Tantras, the Yoga Sutras, Tirumantiram, Shiva Sutras and the Hindu ?gamas. A more controversial text, the Manusmriti, is a prescriptive lawbook which lays the societal codes of social stratification which later evolved into the Indian caste system.
A well known verse from Bhagavad Gita describing a concept in Karma Yoga is explained as follows
To action alone hast thou a right and never at all to its fruits;let not the fruits of action be thy motive;neither let there be in thee any attachment to inaction. (2.47)
Order of precedence of authority
The order of precedence regarding authority of Vedic Scriptures is as follows,
- ?ruti, literally “hearing, listening”, are the sacred texts comprising the central canon of Hinduism and is one of the three main sources of dharma and therefore is also influential within Hindu Law.
- Sm?ti, literally “that which is remembered(or recollected)”, refers to a specific body of Hindu religious scripture, and is a codified component of Hindu customary law. Post Vedic scriptures such as Ramayana, Mahabharata and traditions of the rules on dharma such as Manu Smriti and Yaagnyavalkya Smriti. Smrti also denotes tradition in the sense that it portrays the traditions of the rules on dharma, especially those of lawful virtuous persons.)
- Pur??a, literally “of ancient times”, are post-vedic scriptures notably consisting of narratives of the history of the universe from creation to destruction, genealogies of kings, heroes, sages, and demigods, and descriptions of Hindu cosmology, philosophy, and geography.
- ?i???ch?ra, literally “that which is followed by good (in recent times)”.
- Atmatu??i, literally “that which satisfies oneself (or self validation)”, according to which one has to decide whether or not to do with bona fide. Initially this was not considered in the order of precedence but Manu and Y?jñavalkya considered it as last one.
That means, if anyone of them contradicts the preceding one then it disqualified as an authority. There is a well known Indian saying that Sm?ti follows ?ruti. So it was considered that in order to establish any theistic philosophical theory (Astika Siddhanta) one ought not contradict ?ruti (Vedas).
Adi Sankara has chosen three standards and named as Prasth?natray?, literally, three points of departure (three standards). Later these were referred to as the three canonical texts of reference of Hindu philosophy by other Vedanta schools.
- The Upanishads, known as Upadesha prasth?na (injunctive texts), (part of ?ruti)
- The Bhagavad Gita, known as S?dhana prasth?na (practical text), (part of Sm?ti)
- The Brahma Sutras, known as Ny?ya prasth?na or Yukti prasthana (part of dar?ana of Uttar? M?m??s?)
The Upanishads consist of twelve or thirteen major texts, with many minor texts. The Bhagavad G?t? is part of the Mahabh?rata.The Brahma S?tras (also known as the Ved?nta S?tras), systematise the doctrines taught in the Upanishads and the G?t?.
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Hinduism by country
Hinduism is a major religion in India and according to 2001 census, Hinduism was followed by around 80% of population in India. Other significant populations are found in Nepal (23 million), Bangladesh (14 million) and the Indonesian island of Bali (3.3 million).
Countries with the greatest proportion of Hindus from Hinduism by country (as of 2008[update]):
- Nepal 86.5%
- India 80.5%
- Mauritius 54%
- Guyana 28%
- Fiji 27.9%
- Bhutan 25%
- Trinidad and Tobago 22.5%
- Suriname 20%
- Sri Lanka 15%
- Bangladesh 9%
- Qatar 7.2%
- Réunion 6.7%
- Malaysia 6.3%
- Bahrain 6.25%
- Kuwait 6%
- United Arab Emirates 5%
- Singapore 4%
- Oman 3%
- Belize 2.3%
- Seychelles 2.1%
Hinduism has no central doctrinal authority and many practising Hindus do not claim to belong to any particular denomination. However, academics categorize contemporary Hinduism into four major denominations: Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism and Smartism. The denominations differ primarily in the god worshipped as the Supreme One and in the traditions that accompany worship of that god.
Vaishnavas worship Vishnu as the supreme God; Shaivites worship Shiva as the supreme; Shaktas worship Shakti (power) personified through a female divinity or Mother Goddess, Devi; while Smartas believe in the essential oneness of five (panchadeva) or six (Shanmata, as Tamil Hindus add Skanda) deities as personifications of the Supreme.
The Western conception of what Hinduism is has been defined by the Smarta view; many Hindus, who may not understand or follow Advaita philosophy, in contemporary Hinduism, invariably follow the Shanmata belief worshiping many forms of God. One commentator, noting the influence of the Smarta tradition, remarked that although many Hindus may not strictly identify themselves as Smartas but, by adhering to Advaita Vedanta as a foundation for non-sectarianism, are indirect followers.
Other denominations like Ganapatya (the cult of Ganesha) and Saura (Sun worship) are not so widespread.
There are movements that are not easily placed in any of the above categories, such as Swami Dayananda Saraswati‘s Arya Samaj, which rejects image worship and veneration of multiple deities. It focuses on the Vedas and the Vedic fire sacrifices (yajña).
The Tantric traditions have various sects, as Banerji observes:
|“||Tantras are … also divided as ?stika or Vedic and n?stika or non-Vedic. In accordance with the predominance of the deity the ?stika works are again divided as ??kta (Shakta), ?aiva (Shaiva), Saura, G??apatya and Vai??ava (Vaishnava).||”|
Traditionally the life of a Hindu is divided into four ?shramas (phases or stages; unrelated meanings include monastery). The first part of one’s life, Brahmacharya, the stage as a student, is spent in celibate, controlled, sober and pure contemplation under the guidance of a Guru, building up the mind for spiritual knowledge. Grihastha is the householder’s stage, in which one marries and satisfies k?ma and artha in one’s married and professional life respectively (see the goals of life). The moral obligations of a Hindu householder include supporting one’s parents, children, guests and holy figures. V?naprastha, the retirement stage, is gradual detachment from the material world. This may involve giving over duties to one’s children, spending more time in religious practices and embarking on holy pilgrimages. Finally, in Sanny?sa, the stage of asceticism, one renounces all worldly attachments to secludedly find the Divine through detachment from worldly life and peacefully shed the body for Moksha.
Some Hindus choose to live a monastic life (Sanny?sa) in pursuit of liberation or another form of spiritual perfection. Monastics commit themselves to a life of simplicity, celibacy, detachment from worldly pursuits, and the contemplation of God. A Hindu monk is called a sany?s?, s?dhu, or sw?mi. A female renunciate is called a sany?sini. Renunciates receive high respect in Hindu society because their outward renunciation of selfishness and worldliness serves as an inspiration to householders who strive for mental renunciation. Some monastics live in monasteries, while others wander from place to place, trusting in God alone to provide for their needs. It is considered a highly meritorious act for a householder to provide s?dhus with food or other necessaries. S?dhus strive to treat all with respect and compassion, whether a person may be poor or rich, good or wicked, and to be indifferent to praise, blame, pleasure, and pain.
Hindu society has traditionally been categorized into four classes, called Varnas (Sanskrit: “colour, form, appearance”):
- the Brahmins: teachers and priests;
- the Kshatriyas: warriors, nobles, and kings;
- the Vaishyas: farmers, merchants, and businessmen; and
- the Shudras: servants and labourers.
Hindus and scholars debate whether the so-called caste system is an integral part of Hinduism sanctioned by the scriptures or an outdated social custom. Among the scriptures, the Varna system is mentioned sparingly and descriptively (i.e., not prescriptive); apart from a single mention in the late Rigvedic Purusha sukta, the rigid division into varnas appears to be post-Vedic, appearing in classical texts from the Maurya period. The Bhagavad G?t? (4.13) states that the four var?a divisions are created by God, and the Manusm?iti categorizes the different castes. However, at the same time, the G?t? says that one’s var?a is to be understood from one’s personal qualities and one’s work, not one’s birth. Some mobility and flexibility within the varnas challenge allegations of social discrimination in the caste system, as has been pointed out by several sociologists, although some other scholars disagree.
Many social reformers, including Mahatma Gandhi and B. R. Ambedkar, criticized caste discrimination. The religious teacher Sri Ramakrishna (1836–1886) taught that
|“||“Lovers of God do not belong to any caste . . . . A brahmin without this love is no longer a brahmin. And a pariah with the love of God is no longer a pariah. Through bhakti (devotion to God) an untouchable becomes pure and elevated.”||”|
Ahimsa, vegetarianism and other food customs
Hindus advocate the practice of ahi?s?(non-violence) and respect for all life because divinity is believed to permeate all beings, including plants and non-human animals. The term ahi?s?appears in the Upanishads, the epic Mahabharata and Ahi?s? is the first of the five Yamas (vows of self-restraint) in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. and the first principle for all member of Varnashrama Dharma (brahmin, kshatriya, vaishya and shudra) in Law of Manu (book 10, sutra 63 : Ahimsa, satya, asteya, shaucam and indrayanigraha, almost similar to main principles of jainism).
In accordance with ahi?s?, many Hindus embrace vegetarianism to respect higher forms of life. Estimates of the number of lacto vegetarians in India (includes adherents of all religions) vary between 20% and 42%. The food habits vary with the community and region, for example some castes having fewer vegetarians and coastal populations relying on seafood. Some avoid meat only on specific holy days. 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, and Hindu society honours the cow as a symbol of unselfish giving. Cow-slaughter is legally banned in almost all states of India.
There are many Hindu groups that have continued to abide by a strict vegetarian diet in modern times. One example is the movement known as ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), whose followers “not only abstain from meat, fish, and fowl, but also avoid certain vegetables that are thought to have negative properties, such as onion and garlic.” A second example is the Swaminarayan Movement. The followers of this Hindu group also staunchly adhere to a diet that is devoid of meat, eggs, and seafood.
Vegetarianism is propagated by the Yajur Veda and it is recommended for a satvic (purifying) lifestyle. Thus, another reason that dietary purity is so eminent within Hinduism is because “the idea that food reflects the general qualities of nature: purity, energy, inertia” It follows, then, that a healthy diet should be one that promotes purity within an individual.
Based on this reasoning, Hindus should avoid or minimize the intake of foods that do not promote purity. These foods include onion and garlic, which are regarded as rajasic (a state which is characterized by “tension and overbearing demeanor”) foods, and meat, which is regarded as tamasic (a state which is characterized by “anger, greed, and jealousy”).
Some Hindus from certain sects – generally Shakta, certain Shudra and Kshatriya castes and certain Eastern Indian and East Asian regions; practise animal sacrifice (bali). Although most Hindus, including the majority of Vaishnava and Shaivite Hindus abhor it.
Concepts of conversion, evangelization, and proselytization are absent from Hindu texts and have never played a significant role in practice, though acceptance of willing converts is becoming more common. Early in its history, in the absence of other competing religions, Hindus considered everyone they came across as Hindus and expected everyone they met to be Hindus.
Hindus today continue to be influenced by historical ideas of acceptability of conversion. Hence, many Hindus continue to believe that Hinduism is an identity that can only be had from birth, while many others continue to believe that anyone who follows Hindu beliefs and practices is a Hindu, and many believe in some form of both theories. However, as a reaction to perceived and actual threat of evangelization, proselytization, and conversion activities of other major religions most modern Hindus are opposed to the idea of conversion from (any) one religion to (any) other per se.
Hindus in Western countries generally accept and welcome willing converts, whereas in India acceptance of willing converts is becoming more common. With the rise of Hindu revivalist movements, reconversions to Hinduism have also risen. Reconversions are well accepted since conversion out of Hinduism is not recognized. Conversion into Hinduism through marriage is well accepted and often expected to enable the non-Hindu partner to fully participate in their spiritual, religious, and cultural roles within the larger Hindu family and society.
There is no formal process for converting to Hinduism, although in many traditions a ritual called d?ksh? (“initiation”) marks the beginning of spiritual life. A ritual called shuddhi (“purification”) sometimes marks the return to spiritual life after reconversion. Most Hindu sects do not seek converts, as they believe that the goals of spiritual life can be attained through any religion, as long as it is practiced sincerely. However, some Hindu sects and affiliates such as Arya Samaj, Saiva Siddhanta Church, BAPS, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Bishnoi accept those who have a desire to follow Hinduism.
In general, Hindu view of religious freedom is not based on the freedom to proselytize, but the right to retain one’s religion and not be subject to proselytization. Hindu leaders are advocating for changing the existing formulation of the freedom of religion clause in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights since it favours religions which proselytize.
- Related systems and religions
- Hinduism in popular culture
- ^ This work and its description are shown in Pal, p. 125.
- ^ For a representation of this form identified as Maharakta, see Pal, p. 130.
- ^ a bc Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia, Merriam-Webster, 2000, p. 751
- ^ a bHinduism is variously defined as a “religion”, “set of religious beliefs and practices”, “religious tradition” etc. For a discussion on the topic, see: “Establishing the boundaries” in Gavin Flood (2003), pp. 1-17. René Guénon in his Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines (1921 ed.), Sophia Perennis, ISBN 0-900588-74-8, proposes a definition of the term “religion” and a discussion of its relevance (or lack of) to Hindu doctrines (part II, chapter 4, p. 58).
- ^“Hinduism”. Knowledge Resources. Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. http://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/resources/traditions/hinduism. Retrieved 2011-11-22.
- ^ Georgis, Faris (2010). Alone in Unity: Torments of an Iraqi God-Seeker in North America. Dorrance Publishing. p. 62. ISBN 1434909514. http://books.google.com/books?id=vFZrxLjtiI8C&pg=PA62.
- ^ Osborne 2005, p. 9
- ^ D. S. Sarma, Kenneth W. Morgan, The Religion of the Hindus, 1953
- ^ Laderman, Gary (2003), Religion and American Cultures: An Encyclopedia of Traditions, Diversity, and Popular Expressions, Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO, pp. 119, ISBN 1-57607-238-X, “world’s oldest living civilization and religion”
- ^ Turner, Jeffrey S. (1996), Encyclopedia of relationships across the lifespan, Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, pp. 359, ISBN 0-313-29576-X, “It is also recognized as the oldest major religion in the world”
- ^ abKlostermaier 1994, p. 1
- ^ “India”, Oxford English Dictionary, second edition, 2100a.d. Oxford University Press.
- ^ Rig Veda
- ^ Subramuniyaswami, Satguru Sivaya (2003). Dancing With Siva: Hinduism’s Contemporary Catechism. Himalayan Academy Publications. pp. 1008. ISBN 0945497962, 9780945497967. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=EWlHPAkjBKUC&pg=PA782&dq=from+the+Sanskrit+word+Sindhu+radhakrishnan&hl=en&sa=X&ei=3zhWT8PBOJCurAf_8-CyBw&ved=0CEMQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=from%20the%20Sanskrit%20word%20Sindhu%20radhakrishnan&f=false.
- ^ Thapar, R. 1993. Interpreting Early India. Delhi: Oxford University Press. p. 77
- ^ Thompson Platts, John, A dictionary of Urdu , classical Hind?, and English, W.H. Allen & Co., Oxford University 1884
- ^ O’Conell, Joseph T. (1973). “The Word ‘Hindu’ in Gau??ya Vai??ava Texts”. Journal of the American Oriental Society 93 (3): pp. 340–344.
- ^ a bc Nikhilananda 1990, pp. 3–8
- ^“Hindu History” The BBC names a bath and phallic symbols of the Harappan civilization as features of the “Prehistoric religion (3000-1000 BCE)”.
- ^ Invasion of the Genes Genetic Heritage of India, p. 184, by B. S. Ahloowalia, Strategic Book Publishing, 30 Oct 2009. “Elements of Vedic religion go back to Proto-Indo-European times.”
- ^ Indo-European sacred space: Vedic and Roman cult, p. 242, by Roger D. Woodard, University of Illinois Press, 25 Sep 2006. “Vedic and Roman religious practice both continue a Proto-Indo-European doctrine and cultic use of dual sacred spaces”
- ^ The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Religion and Social Justice, p. 18, by Michael D. Palmer and Stanley M. Burgess, John Wiley & Sons, 3 Apr 2012. “The Vedas are a collection of religious texts brought to India by the Indo-European peoples, various tribes that moved into India perhaps from about 2000 BCE onwards.”
- ^ Hindu History “…the language of vedic culture was vedic Sanskrit, which is related to other languages in the Indo-European language group. This suggests that Indo-European speakers had a common linguistic origin known by scholars as Proto-Indo-European.”
- ^ T. Oberlies (Die Religion des Rgveda, Vienna 1998. p. 158) based on ‘cumulative evidence’ sets wide range of 1700–1100.
- ^ Brockington, JL (1984), The Sacred Thread: Hinduism in its Continuity and Diversity, Edinburgh University Press, p. 7
- ^ “Itihasas”. ReligionFacts. http://www.religionfacts.com/hinduism/texts/itihasas.htm. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
- ^ Svarghese, Alexander P. 2008. India : History, Religion, Vision And Contribution To The World. p. 259-60.
- ^ Jain, Arun. 2008. Faith & philosophy of Jainism. p. 210.
- ^ Mallinson, James. 2007. The Khecar?vidy? of ?din?tha. p. 17-8, 32-33.
- ^ Flood, Gavin. Olivelle, Patrick. 2003. The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism. Malden: Blackwell. pg. 273-4. “The second half of the first millennium BCE was the period that created many of the ideological and institutional elements that characterize later Indian religions. The renouncer tradtion 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…..”
- ^ Flood, Gavin. Olivelle, Patrick. 2003. The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism. Malden: Blackwell. pg. 277.
- ^ Reddy, Krishna. 2007. Indian History. Tata McGraw-Hill. pg. 122. “Sramana religion seems to have influenced the authors of the Aranyakas and the Upanishads.”
- ^ Radhakrishnan & Moore 1967, p. xviii–xxi.
- ^ ab c Basham 1999
- ^ Vijay Nath, From ‘Brahmanism’ to ‘Hinduism’: Negotiating the Myth of the Great Tradition, Social Scientist 2001, pp. 19-50.
- ^ Inden, Ronald. “Ritual, Authority, And Cycle Time in Hindu Kingship.” In JF Richards, ed., Kingship and Authority in South Asia. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998, p.67, 55″before the eighth century, the Buddha was accorded the position of universal deity and ceremonies by which a king attained to imperial status were elaborate donative ceremonies entailing gifts to Buddhist monks and the installation of a symbolic Buddha in a stupa….This pattern changed in the eighth century. The Buddha was replaced as the supreme, imperial deity by one of the Hindu gods (except under the Palas of eastern India, the Buddha’s homeland)…Previously the Buddha had been accorded imperial-style worship (puja). Now as one of the Hindu gods replaced the Buddha at the imperial centre and pinnacle of the cosmo-political system, the image or symbol of the Hindu god comes to be housed in a monumental temple and given increasingly elaborate imperial-style puja worship.”
- ^ Holt, John. The Buddhist Visnu. Columbia University Press, 2004, p.12,15 “The replacement of the Buddha as the “cosmic person” within the mythic ideology of Indian kingship, as we shall see shortly, occurred at about the same time the Buddha was incorporated and subordinated within the Brahmanical cult of Visnu.”
- ^ Goel, Sita (1993), Tipu Sultan: villain or hero? : an anthology, Voice of India, p. 38, ISBN 9788185990088, http://books.google.co.in/books?ei=TYMYTPfXCse0rAf8-62tCg
- ^ Sharma, Hari (1991), The real Tipu: a brief history of Tipu Sultan, Rishi publications, p. 112, http://books.google.co.in/books?ei=TYMYTPfXCse0rAf8-62tCg
- ^ Purushottam (199?), Must India go Islamic?, P.S. Yog, http://books.google.com/?id=MLvXAAAAMAAJ&dq=tipu+hindu+malabar+4+lakh&q=%22over+4+lakh+Hindus%22
- ^ “Aurangzeb: Religious Policies”. Manas Group, UCLA. http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/southasia/History/Mughals/Aurang2.html. Retrieved 2011-06-26.
- ^ Studies in Islamic History and Civilizaion, David Ayalon, BRILL, 1986, p.271; ISBN 965264014X
- ^ “Halebidu – Temples of Karnataka”. TempleNet.com. http://www.templenet.com/Karnataka/halebidu.html. Retrieved 2006-08-17.
- ^J.T.F. Jordens, “Medieval Hindu Devotionalism” in & Basham 1999
- ^ J. P. Mallory, Douglas Q. Adams, The Oxford introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European world, Oxford University Press, 2006; Mark W. Muesse, The Hindu Traditions: A Concise Introduction, Fortress Press, 201i, p33.
- ^ Jha, Preeti (2007-12-26). “Guinness comes to east Delhi: Akshardham world’s largest Hindu temple”. ExpressIndia.com. http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Guinness-comes-to-east-Delhi-Akshardham-worlds-largest-Hindu-temple/254631/. Retrieved 2008-01-02.
- ^ Adherents.com, which itself references many sources; The World Almanac & Book of Facts 1998 being especially relevant.
- ^ Flood, Gavin. D. 1996. An introduction to Hinduism. 1996. P.14
- ^ J. McDaniel Hinduism, in John Corrigan, The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Emotion, (2007) Oxford University Press, 544 pages, pp. 52-53 ISBN 0195170210
- ^ a bc dFlood 2001, Defining Hinduism
- ^ Smith, W.C. (1962) The Meaning and End of Religion. San Francisco, Harper and Row. p. 65
- ^ Stietencron, Hinduism: On the Proper Use of A Deceptive Term, pp.1-22
- ^ Halbfass, (1991) Tradition and Reflection. Albany, SUNY Press. pp. 1-22
- ^ Smart, (1993) The Formation Rather than the Origin of a Tradition,in DISKUS: A Disembodied Journal of Religious Studies, vol. 1, no. 1, p. 1
- ^ Bryan S. Turner “Essays on the Sociology of Fate – Page 275”
- ^ Insoll, Timothy (2001), Archaeology and world religion, Routledge, ISBN 9780415221559, http://books.google.com/?id=QNxnYjYRuOMC&pg=PA35
- ^ Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of World Religions, p. 434
- ^ Vaz, P. (2001), “Coexistence of Secularism and Fundamentalism in India”, Handbook of Global Social Policy (CRC Press): 124, ISBN 9780824703578, http://books.google.com/?id=opHYPSvPpWYC&pg=PA123&dq=oldest+major+tradition+Hinduism, retrieved 2008-06-26, “Hinduism is the oldest of all the major world religions.”
- ^ Eastman, R. (1999), The Ways of Religion: An Introduction to the Major Traditions, Oxford University Press, USA
- ^ Joel Beversluis (2000), Sourcebook of the World’s Religions: An Interfaith Guide to Religion and Spirituality (Sourcebook of the World’s Religions, 3rd ed), Novato, Calif: New World Library, pp. 50, ISBN 1-57731-121-3
- ^ Weightman & Klostermaier 1994, p. 1
- ^ Bhagavad Gita, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan: “Hinduism is not just a faith. It is the union of reason and intuition that can not be defined but is only to be experienced.”
- ^ Ferro-Luzzi, (1991)The Polythetic-Prototype Approach to Hinduism in G.D. Sontheimer and H. Kulke (ed.) Hinduism Reconsidered. Delhi: Manohar. pp. 187-95
- ^ Koller, J. M. (1984), “JSTOR: Philosophy East and West, Vol. 34, No. 2 (April, 1984 ), pp. 234-236”, Philosophy East and West (www.jstor.org) 34 (2): 234–236, JSTOR 1398925.
- ^ Hinduism in Britain Kim Knott, (2000) The South Asian Religious Diaspora in Britain, Canada, and a United States.
- ^ The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. Ed. John Bowker. Oxford University Press, 2000;
- ^ Harvey, Andrew (2001), Teachings of the Hindu Mystics, Boulder: Shambhala, xiii, ISBN 1-57062-449-6
- ^Weightman 1998, pp. 262–264 “It is Hindu self-awareness and self-identity that affirm Hinduism to be one single religious universe, no matter how richly varied its contents, and make it a significant and potent force alongside the other religions of the world.”
- ^ Olson, Carl (2007). The many colors of Hinduism: a thematic-historical introduction. Rutgers University Press. p. 9. ISBN 9780813540689. http://books.google.com/books?id=RVWKClYq4TUC&pg=PA9.
- ^ Andrews, Margaret; Boyle, Joyceen (2008). Transcultural concepts in nursing care. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 386. ISBN 9780781790376. http://books.google.com/books?id=rdEnV1HWrvgC&pg=PA386.
- ^ Dogra, R.C; Dogra, Urmila (2003). Let’s know Hinduism: the oldest religion of infinite adaptability and diversity. Star Publications. p. 5. ISBN 9788176500562. http://books.google.com/books?id=mpzqP4NYyTkC&pg=PA5.
- ^ Badlani, Hiro (2008), Hinduism: Path of the Ancient Wisdom, iUniverse, p. 303, ISBN 9780595701834, http://books.google.com/?id=8NrQhyxH-GgC
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- ^ de Lingen, John; Ramsurrun, Pahlad, An Introduction to The Hindu Faith, Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd, p. 2, ISBN 9788120740860, http://books.google.com/?id=tPoox9hTdYoC&pg=PA2
- ^ Murthy, BS (2003), Puppets of Faith: theory of communal strife, Bulusu Satyanarayana Murthy, p. 7, ISBN 9788190191111, http://books.google.com/?id=OBQ_wWNjpZ4C&pg=PA7
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- ^ Brodd, Jefferey (2003), World Religions, Winona, MN: Saint Mary’s Press, ISBN 978-0-88489-725-5
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- ^ “Polytheism”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2007. http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-38143/polytheism. Retrieved 2007-07-05.
- ^ Pattanaik, Devdutt (2002), The man who was a woman and other queer tales of Hindu lore, Routledge, p. 38, ISBN 9781560231813, http://books.google.com/?id=Odsk9xfOp6oC&pg=PA38
- ^ See Michaels 2004, p. xiv and Gill, N.S. “Henotheism”. About, Inc. http://ancienthistory.about.com/cs/egyptmyth/g/henotheism.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-05.
- ^ Kenneth, Kramer (1986), World scriptures: an introduction to comparative religions, p. 34, ISBN 9780809127818, http://books.google.com/books?id=RzUAu-43W5oC&pg=PA34
- ^ Subodh Varma (May 6, 2011). “The gods came afterwards”. Times of India. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-09-16/vintage-wisdom/29802795_1_philosophy-speculation-vedas. Retrieved 2011-06-09.
- ^ ab Monier-Williams 1974, pp. 20–37
- ^ abc& Bhaskarananda 1994
- ^ Vivekananda 1987
- ^Werner 1994, p. p37
- ^See Theistic Explanations of Karma, pg. 146 of Causation and Divine Intervention by BR Reichenbach, citing Uddyotakara, Nyaayavaarttika, IV, 1, 21, at http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-PHIL/reiche2.htm
- ^ Reichenbach, Bruce R. (April 1989), “Karma, causation, and divine intervention”, Philosophy East and West (Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press) 39 (2): 135–149, doi:10.2307/1399374, http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-PHIL/reiche2.htm, retrieved 2009-12-29.
- ^ Neville, Robert (2001), Religious truth, p. 47, ISBN 9780791447789, http://books.google.com/books?id=ThLR13JpCWsC
- ^ Werner 1994, p. 7
- ^ ab c de Monier-Williams 2001
- ^ The Lord’S Song Gita, Dr.Sant K.Bhatnagar, Pustak Mahal, 2009, ISBN 812231032X, ISBN 9788122310320
- ^ Sen Gupta 1986, p. viii
- ^ S??khyapravacana S?tra I.92.
- ^ Rajadhyaksha (1959), The six systems of Indian philosophy, p. 95, http://books.google.com/books?id=ihkRAQAAIAAJ, “Under the circumstances God becomes an unnecessary metaphysical assumption. Naturally the Sankhyakarikas do not mention God, Vachaspati interprets this as rank atheism.”
- ^ Neville, Robert (2001), Religious truth, p. 51, ISBN 9780791447789, http://books.google.com/books?id=ThLR13JpCWsC, “Mimamsa theorists (theistic and atheistic) decided that the evidence allegedly proving the existence of God was insufficient. They also thought the 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.”
- ^ Coward, Harold (2008-02), The perfectibility of human nature in eastern and western thought, p. 114, ISBN 9780791473368, http://books.google.com/books?id=LkE_8uch5P0C, “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 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.”
- ^ 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: Monier-Williams 2001, p. 492. In fact, there are different ranks among the devas. The highest are the immortal Mahadevas, such as Shiva, Vishnu, etc. The second-rank devas, such as Ganesha, are described as their offspring: they are “born”, and their “lifespan” is quite limited. In ISKCON the word is translated as “demigods”, although it can also denote such heavenly denizens as gandharvas. See: “Vedic cosmology”. Vedic Knowledge Online. VEDA – Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. http://www.veda.harekrsna.cz/planetarium/index.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-25. . For translation of devat? as “godhead, divinity”, see: Monier-Williams 2001, p. 495.
- ^Werner 1994, p. 80
- ^ Renou 1961, p. 55
- ^ a bHarman 2004, pp. 104–106
- ^ * Apte, Vaman S (1997), The Student’s English-Sanskrit Dictionary (New ed.), Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, ISBN 8120803000
- ^ Smith 1991, p. 64
- ^ Radhakrishnan 1996, p. 254
- ^ Bhagavad Gita 2.22
- ^ See Bhagavad Gita XVI.8-20
- ^ See Vivekananda, Swami (2005), Jnana Yoga, Kessinger Publishing, ISBN 1-425482-88-0 301-02 (8th Printing 1993)
- ^ Rinehart 2004, pp. 19–21
- ^ Bhaskarananda 1994, pp. 79–86
- ^ Europa Publications Staff (2003), The Far East and Australasia, 2003 – Regional surveys of the world, Routledge, p. 39, ISBN 9781857431339, http://books.google.com/?id=e5Az1lGCJwQC&pg=PA39
- ^ Hindu spirituality – Volume 25 of Documenta missionalia, Editrice Pontificia Università Gregoriana, 1999, p. 1, ISBN 9788876528187, http://books.google.com/?id=58UZWWzqglMC
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- ^ The Christian concepts of Heaven and Hell do not translate directly into Hinduism. Spiritual realms such as Vaikunta (the abode of Vishnu) or loka are the closest analogues to an eternal Kingdom of God.
- ^ Nikhilananda 1992
- ^ as discussed in Mah?bh?rata 12.161; Bilimoria et al. (eds.), Indian Ethics: Classical Traditions and Contemporary Challenges (2007), p. 103; see also Werner 1994, Bhaskarananda 1994, p. 7
- ^ The Philosophy of Hinduism : Four Objectives of Human Life ; Dharma (Right Conduct), Artha (iRght Wealth), Kama (Rght Desire), Moksha (Right Exit (Liberation)), Pustak Mahal, 2006, ISBN 81-223-0945-3
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- ^ abBhaskarananda 1994
- ^ For example, see the following translation of B-Gita 11.54: “My dear Arjuna, only by undivided devotional service can I be understood as I am, standing before you, and can thus be seen directly. Only in this way can you enter into the mysteries of My understanding.” (Bhaktivedanta 1997, ch. 11.54)
- ^ “One who knows that the position reached by means of analytical study can also be attained by devotional service, and who therefore sees analytical study and devotional service to be on the same level, sees things as they are.” (Bhaktivedanta 1997, ch. 5.5)
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- ^ Note: Nyaya-Vaisheshika believe that the Vedas were created by God, not eternal.
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- ^ This view is supported by records of sages who became Brahmins. For example, the sage Vishv?mitra was a king of the K?hatriya caste, and only later became recognized as a great Brahmin sage, indicating that his caste was not determined by birth. Similarly, V?lmiki, once a low-caste robber, became a sage.
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