Portal:Indian religions

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Indian religions

Indian 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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Standing Buddha. One of the earliest known representations of the Buddha, 1st–2nd century CE. Greco-Buddhist art, Gandhara. (Tokyo National Museum
Buddhism is a religion indigenous to the Indian subcontinent that encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, who is commonly known as the Buddha, meaning "the awakened one". The Buddha lived and taught in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. He is recognized by Buddhists as an awakened or enlightened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings end their suffering (dukkha) through the elimination of ignorance (avidyā) by way of understanding and the seeing of dependent origination (pratītyasamutpāda) and the elimination of craving (taṇhā), and thus the attainment of the cessation of all suffering, known as the sublime state of nirvāņa.

Two major branches of Buddhism are generally recognized: Theravada ("The School of the Elders") and Mahayana ("The Great Vehicle"). Theravada has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar etc.). Mahayana is found throughout East Asia (China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan etc.) and includes the traditions of Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Shingon, and Tiantai (Tendai). In some classifications, Vajrayana—practiced mainly in Tibet and Mongolia, and adjacent parts of China and Russia—is recognized as a third branch, while others classify it as a part of Mahayana.

While Buddhism remains most popular within Asia, both branches are now found throughout the world. Estimates of Buddhists worldwide vary significantly depending on the way Buddhist adherence is defined. Conservative estimates are between 350 and 750 million.

Buddhist schools vary on the exact nature of the path to liberation, the importance and canonicity of various teachings and scriptures, and especially their respective practices. The foundations of Buddhist tradition and practice are the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma (the teachings), and the Sangha (the community). Taking "refuge in the triple gem" has traditionally been a declaration and commitment to being on the Buddhist path, and in general distinguishes a Buddhist from a non-Buddhist. Other practices may include following ethical precepts; support of the monastic community; renouncing conventional living and becoming a monastic; the development of mindfulness and practice of meditation; cultivation of higher wisdom and discernment; study of scriptures; devotional practices; ceremonies; and in the Mahayana tradition, invocation of buddhas and bodhisattvas.

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Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda (Bengali: [ʃami bibekanɒnɖo], Shāmi Bibekānando; 12 January 1863 – 4 July 1902), born Narendra Nath Datta (Bengali: [nɔrend̪ro nat̪ʰ d̪ɔt̪t̪o]), was an Indian Hindu monk. He was a key figure in the introduction of Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the western world and was credited with raising interfaith awareness, bringing Hinduism to the status of a major world religion in the late 19th century. He was a major force in the revival of Hinduism in India and contributed to the notion of nationalism in colonial India. He was the chief disciple of the 19th century saint Ramakrishna and the founder of the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission. He is perhaps best known for his inspiring speech beginning with "Sisters and Brothers of America," through which he introduced Hinduism at the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago in 1893.

Born into an aristocratic Bengali family of Calcutta, Vivekananda showed an inclination towards spirituality. He was influenced by his guru Ramakrishna from whom he learnt that all living beings were an embodiment of the divine self and hence, service to God could be rendered by service to mankind. After the death of his guru, Vivekananda toured the Indian subcontinent extensively and acquired a first-hand knowledge of the conditions that prevailed in British India. He later travelled to the United States to represent India as a delegate in the 1893 Parliament of World Religions. He conducted hundreds of public and private lectures and classes, disseminating tenets of Hindu philosophy in the United States, England and Europe. In India, Vivekananda is regarded as a patriotic saint and his birthday is celebrated as the National Youth Day.

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