Portal:Indian religions

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Indian religions

Indian religions, also called dharmic religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent; namely Hinduism, Jainism, Early Buddhism and Sikhism. These religions are also classified as Eastern religions. Although Indian religions are connected through the history of India, they constitute a wide range of religious communities, and are not confined to the Indian subcontinent.

Evidence attesting to prehistoric religion in the Indian subcontinent derives from scattered Mesolithic rock paintings. The documented history of Indian religions begins with the historical Vedic religion, the religious practices of the early Indo-Aryans, which were collected and later redacted into the Vedas. The period of the composition, redaction and commentary of these texts is known as the Vedic period, which lasted from roughly 2000 to 1500 BCE.

Jainism and Buddhism belong to the sramana tradition, which arose in 700-500 BCE.

Hinduism is divided into numerous denominations, primarily Shaivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism, Smarta and much smaller groups like the conservative Shrauta. Hindu reform movements are more recent.

Sikhism was founded in the 15th century on the teachings of Guru Nanak and the nine successive Sikh Gurus in Northern India.

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Statue of Adinatha, the first tirthankara and the traditional founder of Jainism
Jainism (pronounced [dʒɛːnɪzəm]), traditionally known as Jaina dharma, is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings and emphasises spiritual independence and equality between all forms of life. Practitioners believe that non-violence and self-control are the means by which they can obtain liberation from the cycle of reincarnations. Currently, Jainism is divided into two major sects; Digambara and Śvētāmbara.

Jainism is one of the oldest religions of the world,[1] identified with the Śramaṇa tradition of ancient India and connected by some to the Indus Valley Civilisation. Jains traditionally trace their history through a succession of twenty-four propagators of faith known as tirthankara with Ādinātha as the first tirthankara and Mahāvīra as the last. For long periods of time Jainism was the state religion of Indian kingdoms and widely adopted in the Indian subcontinent. The religion has been in decline since the 8th century CE due to the growth of Hinduism and oppression by Muslim invaders.

Jainism is a religious minority in India, with 4.2 million followers, and there are small but notable immigrant communities in Belgium, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and the United States. Jains have the highest degree of literacy for a religious community in India,[2] and their manuscript libraries are the oldest in the country.

Selected biography

Ramana Maharshi
Ramana Maharshi (1879–1950) is widely acknowledged as one of the outstanding Indian gurus of modern times.[3] He was born as Venkataraman Iyer, in Tiruchuli, Tamil Nadu (South India).

At the age of sixteen, Venkataraman lost his sense of individual selfhood, an awakening which he later recognised as enlightenment. A few weeks thereafter he traveled to the holy mountain Arunachala, at Tiruvannamalai, where he remained for the rest of his life.

His first years were spent in solitude, but his stillness and his appearance as a sanyassin soon attracted devotees. In later years, he responded to questions, but always insisted that silence was the purest teaching. His verbal teachings flowed from his own understanding of Reality. In later years, a community grew up around him, where he was available twenty-four hours a day to visitors. Though worshipped by thousands, he never allowed anyone to treat him as special, or receive private gifts. He treated all with equal respect. Since the 1930s, his teachings have also been popularised in the west.

Venkataraman was renamed Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi by one of his earliest followers, Ganapati Muni. This was the name he became known by to the world.

In response to questions on self-liberation and the classic texts on Yoga and Vedanta, Ramana recommended self-enquiry as the principal way to awaken to the "I-I", realizing the Self and attaining liberation. He also recommended Bhakti, and gave his approval to a variety of paths and practices.

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  1. ^ Shah 1998a, p. 8
  2. ^ Cite error: The named reference pib was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  3. ^ Godman 994.