Origin of Hindu Religion Essay

A Hindu ( pronunciation (help·info), Devanagari: ?????? ) is an adherent of Hinduism, a set of religious, philosophical and cultural systems that originated in the Indian subcontinent. The vast body of Hindu scriptures, divided into Sruti (“revealed”) and Smriti (“remembered”), lay the foundation of Hindu beliefs, which primarily include dharma, karma, ahimsa and sa? sara. Vedanta and yoga are one of the several core schools of Hindu philosophy, broadly known as the Sanatana Dharma.

The word Hindu is at times attributed to all persons professing Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism or Sikhism as is used in the Constitution of India. [1] With more than a billion adherents, Hinduism is the world’s third largest religion. The vast majority of Hindus, approximately 1 billion, live in India. [2] Other countries with large Hindu populations, such as Nepal, Mauritius and the island of Bali, can be found in various parts of the world. Contents [hide] 1 Etymology 2 History 3 Definition Customs and traditions 4. 1 Ethnic and cultural fabric 4. 2 Hindu ceremonies, observances and pilgrimages 4. 2. 1 Initiation 5 Sixteen sanskars (rituals) 6 Notes 7 References [edit]Etymology The word Hindu is the Persian name of the Indus River (Sanskrit Sindhu), which flows in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent. [3] The Persian term was further loaned into Arabic as Al-Hind referring to the land of the people who live across river Indus, and into Greek as Indos, whence ultimately English India. 4] By the 13th century, the Persian loanword Hindustan emerged as a popular alternative name of India amongst Muslims and the Urdu speaking people, meaning the “land of Hindus”. [5] Originally, Hindu was a secular term which was used to describe all inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent irrespective of their religious affiliation. It occurs sporadically in some 16th-18th century Bengali Gaudiya Vaishnava texts, including Chaitanya Charitamrita and Chaitanya Bhagavata, usually to contrast Hindus with Yavanas or Mlecchas. 6] It appears in South Indian and Kashmiri texts from at least 1323 CE,[7] and increasingly so during British rule. 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. Eventually, it came to define a precisely religious identity that includes any person of Indian origin who neither practiced Abrahamic religions nor non-Vedic Indian religions, such as Jainism, Sikhism or Buddhism, thereby encompassing a wide range of religious beliefs and practices related to Sanatana Dharma. [8]

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One of the accepted views is that ism was added to Hindu around 1830 to denote the culture and religion of the high-caste Brahmans in contrast to other religions. The term Hinduism was soon appropriated by the Hindus in India themselves as they tried to establish a national, social and cultural identity opposed to European colonialism in India. [8] [edit]History This section may stray from the topic of the article. Please help improve this section or discuss this issue on the talk page. Main article: History of Hinduism Sacred Mount Kailash in Tibet is regarded as the spiritual abode of Shiva.

Three major movements underpinned the naissance of classical Hindu thought: the advent and spread of Upanishadic, Jaina, and Buddhist philosophico-religious thought throughout the broader Indian landmass. [9] Mahavira (24th Tirthankar of Jains) and Buddha (founder of Buddhism) taught that to achieve moksha or nirvana. Buddha went a step further and claimed that the existence of a Self/soul or God was unnecessary. [10] Buddhism peaked during the reign of 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. [11] Charvaka, the founder of an atheistic materialist school, came to the fore in North India in the sixth century BCE. [12] Between 400 BCE and 1000 CE Hinduism expanded at the expense of Buddhism. [13] 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. [14] 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. [12] During this period Buddhism declined rapidly and many Hindus converted to Islam.

Numerous Muslim rulers such as Aurangzeb 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. [12] 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. [15]

The Swaminarayan sect’s Akshardham Temple in Delhi, according the Guinness World Records is the World’s Largest Comprehensive Hindu Temple 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 Muller 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.

Today modern movements, such as ISKCON and the Swaminarayan Faith, attract a large amount of followers across the world. [16] [edit]Definition The Bhagavad Gita, a conversation between Lord Krishna and Arjuna before the start of the Kurukshetra war, is one of the foremost Hindu scriptures[17] and is described as a concise guide to Hindu philosophy and beliefs. [18] The roots of the diverse set of religious beliefs, traditions and philosophy of Hindus were laid during the Vedic age which originated in India between 2000 and 1500 BC. 19] The ancient Vedic religion is considered by most scholars as the predecessor of the modern religion of Hindus[20] and it has had a profound impact on India’s history, culture and philosophy. The Vedas are the oldest sacred books of Hinduism and lay the foundation of several schools of Hindu thought. [21] The Upanishads refers to those scriptures which form the core teachings of the Vedanta philosophy. [22] Adi Shankara’s commentaries on the Upanishads led to the rise of Advaita Vedanta, the most influential sub-school of Vedanta.

In the holy text Merutantra,the word Hindu is defined as “Hinani Gunani Dushyanti iti Hindu”. Meaning that Gunani that which destroys the inferior raja-tama components or gunas is a Hindu. Thus, to be a Hindu is to follow a way of life that enhances the spiritually pure sattva component and sattva predominant qualities like love, courage, humility, expansiveness, etc. and overcomes the spiritually impure raja-tama predominant attitude like anger, lust, jealousy, greed, attachment, pride etc. Hinduism consists of several sects and denominations, of which Vaishnavism and Shaivism are by far the most popular. 23] Other aspects include folk and conservative Vedic Hinduism. Since the 18th century, Hinduism has accommodated a host of new religious and reform movements, with Arya Samaj being one of the most notable Hindu revivalist organizations. Due to the wide diversity in the beliefs, practices and traditions encompassed by Hinduism, there is no universally accepted definition on who a Hindu is, or even agreement on whether term Hinduism represents a religious, cultural or socio-political entity.

In 1995, Chief Justice P. B. Gajendragadkar was quoted in an Indian Supreme Court ruling:[24] When we think of the Hindu religion, unlike other religions in the world, the Hindu religion does not claim any one prophet; it does not worship any one god; it does not subscribe to any one dogma; it does not believe in any one philosophic concept; it does not follow any one set of religious rites or performances; in fact, it does not appear to satisfy the narrow traditional features of any religion or creed.

It may broadly be described as a way of life and nothing more. Thus some scholars argue that the Hinduism is not a religion per se but rather a reification of a diverse set of traditions and practices by scholars who constituted a unified system and arbitrarily labeled it Hinduism. [25] The usage may also have been necessitated by the desire to distinguish between “Hindus” and followers of other religions during the periodic census undertaken by the colonial British government in India.

Other scholars, while seeing Hinduism as a 19th century construct, view Hinduism as a response to British colonialism by Indian nationalists who forged a unified tradition centered on oral and written Sanskrit texts adopted as scriptures. [26] A commonly held view, though, is that while Hinduism contains both “uniting and dispersing tendencies”, it has a common central thread of philosophical concepts (including dharma, moksha and samsara), practices (puja, bhakti etc. ) and cultural traditions. 27] These common elements originating (or being codified within) the Vedic, Upanishad and Puranic scriptures and epics. Thus a Hindu could : follow any of the Hindu schools of philosophy, such as Advaita (non-dualism), Vishishtadvaita (non-dualism of the qualified whole), Dvaita (dualism), Dvaitadvaita (dualism with non-dualism), etc. [28][29] follow a tradition centered on any particular form of the Divine, such as Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Shaktism, etc. [30] practice any one of the various forms of yoga systems; including bhakti (Hindu devotional movements) in order to achieve moksha.

In 1995, while considering the question “who are Hindus and what are the broad features of Hindu religion”, the Supreme Court of India highlighted Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s formulation of Hinduism’s defining features:[24] Acceptance of the Vedas with reverence; recognition of the fact that the means or ways to salvation are diverse; and the realization of the truth that the number of gods to be worshipped is large, that indeed is the distinguishing feature of Hindu religion. Some thinkers have attempted to distinguish between the concept of Hinduism as a religion, and a Hindu as a member of a nationalist or socio-political class.

Veer Savarkar in his influential pamphlet “Hindutva: Who is a Hindu? ” considered geographical unity, common culture and common race to be the defining qualities of Hindus; thus a Hindu was a person who saw India “as his Fatherland as well as his Holy land, that is, the cradle land of his religion”. [31] This conceptualization of Hinduism, has led to establishment of Hindutva as the dominant force in Hindu nationalism over the last century. [32] [edit]Customs and traditions This section does not cite any references or sources.

Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (September 2009) [edit]Ethnic and cultural fabric See also: Demographics of India, History of India, and Hindutva The Mother Temple of Besakih in Bali, Indonesia. The Tirupati Temple is one of the foremost Hindu shrines in India. Hinduism, its religious doctrines, traditions and observances are very typical and inextricably linked to the culture and demographics of India. Hinduism has one of the most ethnically diverse bodies of adherents in the world.

It is hard to classify Hinduism as a religion because the framework, symbols, leaders and books of reference that make up a typical religion are not uniquely identified in the case of Hinduism. Hinduism is almost 4,000 years old. Most commonly it can be seen as a “way of life” which gives rise to many other civilized forms of religions. Large tribes and communities indigenous to India are closely linked to the synthesis and formation of Hindu civilization. People of East Asian roots living in the states of north eastern India and Nepal were also a part of the earliest Hindu civilization.

Immigration and settlement of people from Central Asia and people of Indo-Greek heritage have brought their own influence on Hindu society. The roots of Hinduism in southern India, and amongst tribal and indigenous communities is just as ancient and fundamentally contributive to the foundations of the religious and philosophical system. Ancient Hindu kingdoms arose and spread the religion and traditions across South East Asia, particularly Thailand, Nepal, Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, and what is now central Vietnam.

A form of Hinduism particularly different from Indian roots and traditions is practiced in Bali, Indonesia, where Hindus form 90% of the population. Indian migrants have taken Hinduism and Hindu culture to South Africa, Fiji, Mauritius and other countries in and around the Indian Ocean, and in the nations of the West Indies and the Caribbean. [edit]Hindu ceremonies, observances and pilgrimages Main article: Hindu festivals Diwali celebrations in Little India, Singapore. Hinduism is also very diverse in the religious ceremonies performed by its adherents for different periods and events in life, and for death.

Principal Festivity of the Hindus also vary from region to region which include Diwali, Shivratri, Ram Navami, Janmashtmi, Ganapati, Durgapuja, Holi, Navaratri, etc. Many Hindus make pilgrimages to the holy shrines (known as tirthas). Hindu holy shrines include Mount Kailash, Amarnath, Vaishno Devi, Rameshwaram, and Kedarnath. Prominent Hindu holy cities include Varanasi (Benaras), Kathmandu (Nepal), Tirupati, Haridwar, Nashik, Ujjain, Dwarka, Puri, Prayaga, Mathura, Mayapur, Madurai, Kanchipuram and Ayodhya. Goddess Durga’s holy shrine in Vaishno Devi attracts thousands of devotees every year.

Hundreds of millions of Hindus annually visit holy rivers such as the Ganges (“Ganga” in Sanskrit) and temples near them, wash and bathe themselves to purify their sins. The Kumbha Mela (the Great Fair) is a gathering of between 10 to 20 million Hindus upon the banks of the holy rivers at Allahabad (Prayag), Ujjain, Nashik, as periodically ordained in different parts of India by Hinduism’s priestly leadership. The most famous is at the confluence of the Ganga and Yamuna in Uttar Pradesh which is known as “Sangam”.


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