Hinduism (SanskritHindū Dharma—हिन्दू धर्म, also known as Sanātana Dharmaसनातन धर्म, and Vaidika Dharmaवैदिक धर्म) is a dharma (the word “Dharma” does not match any other word in English) originating in the Indian subcontinent, based on the Vedas, which 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 Brahma or which may be worshipped in personal forms such as Vishnu, Shiva or Shakti. Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world with approximately 1.5 billion adherents, (2010), approximately 1.25 billion of whom are in India.
Saraswati as a goddess is mentioned in the most ancient layer of Sanskrit texts of Hinduism, namely the Rigveda. She has remained significant as a goddess from the Vedic age through modern times of Hindu traditions. She is generally shown to have four arms, but sometimes just two. When shown with four hands, those hands hold a pustaka (book or script), a mala (rosary, garland), a water pot and a musical instrument. Each of these items have symbolic meaning in Hinduism.
Some Hindus celebrate the festival of Vasant Panchami (the fifth day of spring) celebrating goddess Saraswati, and mark the day by helping young children learn how to write alphabets on that day. Saraswati as a goddess of knowledge, music and arts is also found outside India, such as in Japan, Vietnam, Bali (Indonesia) and Myanmar.
Sri Aurobindo spent his life—through his vast writings and through his own development—working for the freedom of India, the path to the further evolution of life on earth, and to bring down what he called the Supramental Truth Consciousness Force to enable such progress. Aurobindo rejected the materialistic tendencies of both Darwinism and Samkhya, and proposed an evolution of spirit rather than matter.
The Hindu religion is the only one of the world's great faiths dedicated to the idea that the Cosmos itself undergoes an immense, indeed an infinite, number of deaths and rebirths. It is the only religion in which the time scales correspond, to those of modern scientific cosmology. Its cycles run from our ordinary day and night to a day and night of Brahma, 8.64 billion years long. Longer than the age of the Earth or the Sun and about half the time since the Big Bang. And there are much longer time scales still.