Hinduism

November 17, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments
[Second in the Continuing Series “World Religions”]

 

Hinduism (Sanskrit Hindū Dharma, also known as Sanātana Dharma, and Vaidika Dharma is a religion originating in the Indian subcontinent, based on the Vedas, and is thought to be the oldest religious traditions still practiced today. The term, “Hinduism,” is heterogeneous, as Hinduism consists of several schools of thought. It encompasses many religious rituals that widely vary in practice, as well as many diverse philosophies. Most Hindus believe in a Supreme Cosmic Spirit, which may be understood in abstract terms as Brahman or which may be worshipped in personal forms such as Vishnu, Shiva or Shakti. The religion is classified by many different forms of theism such as monotheism, monism, pantheism, polytheism and even atheism. Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world with approximately 1 Billion adherents, (2010), approximately 930 million of whom are in India.

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.

A large body of texts is classified as Hindu, divided into Śruti (“revealed”) and Smriti (“remembered”) texts. These texts discuss theology, philosophy and mythology, and provide information on the practice of dharma (religious living). Among these texts, the Vedas are the foremost in authority, importance and antiquity. Other major scriptures include the Upanishads, Purāṇas and the epics Mahābhārata and Rāmāyaṇa. The Bhagavad Gītā, a syncretistic treatise from the Mahābhārata, is of special importance. It combines Vedanta, Yoga, and some Samkhya philosophy into its discussion of good conduct and life.

For Further Reading: Hinduism article in Wikipedia

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