Hinduism () is an Indian religion and dharma, or way of life. It is the world's third-largest religion, with over 1.25 billion followers, or 15–16% of the global population, known as Hindus. The word Hindu is an exonym, and while Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world, many practitioners refer to their religion as Sanātana Dharma (Sanskrit: सनातन धर्म, lit. ''the Eternal way''), which refers to the idea that its origins lie beyond human history, as revealed in the Hindu texts. Another, though less fitting, self-designation is Vaidika dharma, the 'dharma related to the Vedas.'
Hinduism is a diverse system of thought marked by a range of philosophies and shared concepts, rituals, cosmological systems, pilgrimage sites and shared textual sources that discuss theology, metaphysics, mythology, Vedic yajna, yoga, agamic rituals, and temple building, among other topics. Prominent themes in Hindu beliefs include the four Puruṣārthas, the proper goals or aims of human life; namely, dharma (ethics/duties), artha (prosperity/work), kama (desires/passions) and moksha (liberation/freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth/salvation), as well as karma (action, intent and consequences) and saṃsāra (cycle of death and rebirth). Hinduism prescribes the eternal duties, such as honesty, refraining from injuring living beings (Ahiṃsā), patience, forbearance, self-restraint, virtue, and compassion, among others. Hindu practices include rituals such as puja (worship) and recitations, japa, meditation (dhyāna), family-oriented rites of passage, annual festivals, and occasional pilgrimages. Along with the practice of various yogas, some Hindus leave their social world and material possessions and engage in lifelong Sannyasa (monasticism) in order to achieve Moksha. (Full article...)
is a concept that holds that God has three aspects, which are only different forms of the same one God. The three aspects of God
(the Source/Creator), Vishnu
(the Preserver/Indwelling-life) and Shiva
(the Transformer -Destroyer/Creator). According to the Trimurti belief, these three personae of God are simply different aspects of the one and the same God.
Though all the three trimurti's are males, each aspect has a female consort, all of which are manifestations of the Supreme Goddess Shakti (power/energy). Brahma was able to create because his consort is Sarasvati, the goddess of speech and learning. Similarly Vishnu's consort Lakshmi, is the Goddess of beauty and fortune making it possible for him to preserve the universe; and Parvati is the consort of Shiva.
Priests performing Kalyanam (marriage) of the holy deities at Bhadrachalam Temple, in Telangana. It is one of the temples in India, where Kalyanam is done everyday throughout the year.
The statue of Nataraja, depicting the cycle of creation and destruction through the cosmic dance.
Om, a stylized letter of Devanagari script, used as a religious symbol in Hinduism
The festival of lights, Diwali, is celebrated by Hindus all over the world. It is referred as Dipavali in the South India.
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.
A statue of Shiva in yogic meditation
A goshala or cow shelter at Guntur
Hinduism – Percentage by country
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.
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).
was a Hindu
philosopher and theologian from India
. He is the most renowned exponent of the Advaita Vedanta
school of philosophy
, from whose doctrines some of the main currents of modern Indian thought are derived. His works in Sanskrit
discuss the unity of the Ātman
, the idea that there is interconnected oneness in all of existence, that eternal Truth is Ātman that is within every human being and all living beings. He wrote copious commentaries on the Vedic canon (Brahma Sutras
, Principal Upanishads
and Bhagavad Gita
) in support of his thesis. Shankara also authored Upadesasahasri
, his most important original philosophical work. His works elaborate on ideas found in the Upanishads. He also explained the key difference between Hinduism and Buddhism, stating that Hinduism asserts "Atman (Soul, Self) exists", while Buddhism asserts that there is "no Soul, no Self".
Adi Shankara died in the thirty third year of his life, and reliable information on his actual life is scanty. Various texts state that Shankara travelled extensively across the Indian subcontinent to propagate his philosophy through discourses and debates with other thinkers of competing Indian philosophies. He established the importance of monastic life as sanctioned in the Upanishads and Brahma Sutra, in a time when the Mīmāṃsā school established ritualism and ridiculed monasticism. He is reputed to have founded four mathas ("monasteries"), which helped in the historical development, revival and the spread of Advaita Vedanta school of Hinduism. He is also credited with initiating the Kumbh Mela – one of the world's largest periodic religious pilgrimages.
Adi Shankara is believed to be the organiser of the Dashanami monastic order and the founder of the Shanmata tradition of worship. He is also known as Adi Shankaracharya.
In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita
in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial.
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