Hinduism is an Indian religion and dharma, or way of life, widely practised in the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia. Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world, and some practitioners and scholars refer to it as Sanātana Dharma, "the eternal tradition", or the "eternal way", beyond human history. Scholars regard Hinduism as a fusion or synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions, with diverse roots and no founder. This "Hindu synthesis" started to develop between 500 BCE and 300 CE, after the end of the Vedic period (1500 to 500 BCE), and flourished in the medieval period, with the decline of Buddhism in India.
Although Hinduism contains a broad range of philosophies, it is linked by shared concepts, recognisable rituals, cosmology, shared textual resources, and pilgrimage to sacred sites. Hindu texts are classified into Śruti ("heard") and Smṛti ("remembered"). These texts discuss theology, philosophy, mythology, Vedic yajna, Yoga, agamic rituals, and temple building, among other topics. Major scriptures include the Vedas and Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayana, and the Āgamas. Sources of authority and eternal truths in its texts play an important role, but there is also a strong Hindu tradition of questioning authority in order to deepen the understanding of these truths and to further develop the tradition.
is a term that means 'not to injure'. Ahimsa concept includes nonviolence
against all human beings and all living beings - including animals - in Hinduism and other Indian religions. It is one of the cardinal virtues in Hinduism and a central premise of its ethical theories.
Ahimsa is a multidimensional concept in Hinduism inspired by the premise that all living beings have the spark of the divine spiritual energy; to hurt another being is to hurt oneself. Ahimsa's precept of 'cause no injury' includes injury to any living being through one's deeds, words, and thoughts.
The Chāndogya Upaniṣad, dated to the 8th or 7th century BCE, is the oldest known Hinduism text with the explicit use of the word Ahimsa in the sense of non-violence and a code of conduct. The Hindu Epic Mahabharata declares Ahimsa is the highest virtue, Ahimsa is the highest self-control, Ahimsa is the greatest gift, Ahimsa is the best suffering, Ahimsa is the highest sacrifice, Ahimsa is the finest strength, Ahimsa is the greatest friend, Ahimsa is the greatest happiness, Ahimsa is the highest truth, and Ahimsa is the greatest teaching. Patanjali's Yoga-sutra includes Ahimsa as the first Yamas (virtuous self-restraint). Later ancient literature of Hinduism debate principles of Ahimsa when one is faced with war and situations requiring self-defense. The historic literature from India and modern discussions have contributed to theories of Just War, and theories of appropriate self-defense.
Babur visits a Hindu temple.
A statue of Shiva in yogic meditation
The Hindu deity Ganesha is sometimes linked to the symbol Om.
A goshala or cow shelter at Guntur
AUM, a stylised letter of Devanagari script, used as a religious symbol in Hinduism
A wedding is the most extensive personal ritual an adult Hindu undertakes in his or her life. A typical Hindu wedding is solemnized before Vedic fire ritual (shown).
Basic Hindu symbols: Shatkona, Padma, and Swastika.
Hinduism – Percentage by country
The festival of lights, Diwali, is celebrated by Hindus all over the world.
A Ganesha-centric Panchayatana ("five deities", from the Smarta tradition): Ganesha (centre) with Shiva (top left), Parvati (top right), Vishnu (bottom left) and Surya (bottom right). All these deities also have separate sects dedicated to them.
Swami Vivekananda was a key figure in introducing Vedanta and Yoga in Europe and the United States, raising interfaith awareness and making Hinduism a world religion.
The apparent multiplication of gods is bewildering at the first glance, but you soon discover that they are the same GOD
. There is always one uttermost God who defies personification. This makes Hinduism
the most tolerant religion in the world, because its one transcendent God includes all possible gods. In fact Hinduism is so elastic and so subtle that the most profound Methodist
, and crudest idolater, are equally at home with it.
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