Hinduism (Sanskrit Hindū Dharma—हिन्दू धर्म, also known as Sanātana Dharma सनातन धर्म, and Vaidika Dharma वैदिक धर्म) is a religion originating in the Indian subcontinent, based on the Vedas, and is thought to be the oldest religious tradition 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 Brahmaand 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.
is a Hindu
god, worshipped predominantly in the Indian states of Maharashtra
and Andhra Pradesh
. While generally considered a manifestation of the Hindu god Vishnu
or his avatar Krishna
, he is sometimes associated with the god Shiva
, the Buddha
or both. Vithoba is often depicted as a dark young boy, standing arms-akimbo
on a brick, sometimes accompanied by his main consort Rakhumai (Rukmini
). Vithoba is the focus of the monotheistic, non-brahminical Varkari
sect of Maharashtra and the Haridasa
sect of Karnataka. Vithoba's main temple
stands at Pandharpur
in Maharashtra, close to the Karnataka border. Vithoba legends revolve around his devotee Pundalik
, who is credited with bringing the deity to Pandharpur, and around Vithoba's role as a saviour to the poet-saints of the Varkari faith. The Varkari poet-saints are known for their unique genre of devotional lyric, the abhanga
, dedicated to Vithoba and composed in Marathi. Other devotional literature dedicated to Vithoba includes the Kannada hymns of the Haridasa, and Marathi versions of the generic Hindu arati
songs, associated with rituals of offering light to the deity. Though the origins of both his cult and his main temple remain subjects of debate, there is clear evidence that they already existed by the 13th century.
A man praying in the sacred Ganges River.
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: ആദി ശങ്കരന്, Devanāgarī
: आदि शङ्कर
, Ādi Śaṅkara
: [aːd̪i ɕəŋkərə]
means "the first"; the heads of a few Hindu mathas
are also given the title Shankaracharya
which means "teacher". Shankara was the first philosopher to consolidate the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta
, a sub-school of Vedanta
. His teachings are based on the unity of the soul
, in which Brahman is viewed as without attributes
. In the Smārta
tradition, Adi Shankara is regarded as an incarnation of Shiva
. Adi Shankara toured India
with the purpose of propagating his teachings through discourses and debates with other philosophers. He founded four mathas
("abbeys") which played a key role in the historical development, revival and spread of post-Buddhist Hinduism
and Advaita Vedanta. Adi Shankara was the founder of the Dashanami
monastic order and the Shanmata
tradition of worship.
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