Hinduism is the world's third largest religion. It is an Indian religion and dharma, or way of life, widely practised in the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia. Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world, and some practitioners and scholars refer to it as Sanātana Dharma, "the eternal tradition", or the "eternal way", beyond human history. Scholars regard Hinduism as a fusion or synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions, with diverse roots and no founder. This "Hindu synthesis" started to develop between 500 BCE and 300 CE, after the end of the Vedic period (1500 to 500 BCE), and flourished in the medieval period, with the decline of Buddhism in India.
Although Hinduism contains a broad range of philosophies, it is linked by shared concepts, recognisable rituals, cosmology, shared textual resources, and pilgrimage to sacred sites. Hindu texts are classified into Śruti ("heard") and Smṛti ("remembered"). These texts discuss theology, philosophy, mythology, Vedic yajna, Yoga, agamic rituals, and temple building, among other topics. Major scriptures include the Vedas and the Upanishads, the Puranas, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, and the Āgamas. Sources of authority and eternal truths in its texts play an important role, but there is also a strong Hindu tradition of questioning authority in order to deepen the understanding of these truths and to further develop the tradition.
is the Hindu goddess
of knowledge, music, arts, wisdom and learning. She is a part of the trinity of Saraswati, Lakshmi
in Hinduism. They are the partners of the trinity of Hindu gods Brahma
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.
Basic Hindu symbols: Shatkona, Padma, and Swastika.
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).
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.
AUM, a stylised letter of Devanagari script, used as a religious symbol in Hinduism
A statue of Shiva in yogic meditation
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.
The festival of lights, Diwali, is celebrated by Hindus all over the world.
The Hindu deity Ganesha is sometimes linked to the symbol Om.
Babur visits a Hindu temple.
Hinduism – Percentage by country
A goshala or cow shelter at Guntur
(sometimes referred to as Ramachandra and also as Shri Rama) was a king of Ancient India whose grand story is portrayed in the epic Ramayana
, one of the two great epics
of India. In Hinduism
, he is also considered to be the Seventh Avatara
and one of the most important manifestations of God
. He is one of the most popular heroes of Hindu mythology
and folktales in South
and Southeast Asia
. Born as the eldest son of Kaushalya
, king of Kosala
, he is the embodiment of Dharma
. He is the hero of the ancient Hindu
epic poem, The Ramayana
(The Journey of Rama
). Rama is the husband of Sita
, who is also considered the Avatara of Lakshmi
and the embodiment of perfect womanhood.
The apparent multiplication of gods is bewildering at the first glance, but you soon discover that they are the same GOD
. There is always one uttermost God who defies personification. This makes Hinduism
the most tolerant religion in the world, because its one transcendent God includes all possible gods. In fact Hinduism is so elastic and so subtle that the most profound Methodist
, and crudest idolater, are equally at home with it.
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