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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Venerable Hsuan Hua meditating in the Lotus Position. Hong Kong, 1953.
Zen is a school of Mahayana Buddhism[note 1] that developed in China during the 6th century as Chán. From China, Zen spread south to Vietnam, northeast to Korea and east to Japan.[2]

The word Zen is derived from the Japanese pronunciation of the Middle Chinese word 禪 (dʑjen) (Modern Mandarin: Chán), which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna,[3] which can be approximately translated as "absorption" or "meditative state".[4]

Zen emphasizes the attainment of enlightenment and the personal expression of direct insight in the Buddhist teachings.[5] As such, it de-emphasizes mere knowledge of sutras and doctrine[5][6] and favors direct understanding through zazen and interaction with an accomplished teacher.[7]

The teachings of Zen include various sources of Mahāyāna thought, especially Yogācāra, the Tathāgatagarbha Sutras and Huayan.[8][9] The Prajñāpāramitā literature[10] and, to a lesser extent, Madhyamaka have also been influential.

Selected biography

Ramana Maharshi
Ramana Maharshi (1879–1950) is widely acknowledged as one of the outstanding Indian gurus of modern times.[11] 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. ^ Dumoulin-A 2005, p. xvii.
  2. ^ Harvey 1995, p. 159–169.
  3. ^ Dumoulin 2005-A, p. xvii.
  4. ^ Kasulis 2003, p. 24.
  5. ^ a b Poceski Year unknown.
  6. ^ Borup 2008, p. 8.
  7. ^ Yampolski 2003-A, p. 3.
  8. ^ Dumoulin 2005-A, p. 48.
  9. ^ Lievens 1981, p. 52–53.
  10. ^ Dumoulin 2005-A, p. 41–45.
  11. ^ Godman 994.


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