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Home > History of religion > Hinduism
Hinduism Religion
Divisions of Hinduism.. Four Pillars of Hindu re.. Origin of Hinduism
Concept of God in Hindui.. Main theme of Hindu reli..
Hinduism Religion is as old as 6000 years or even more. The History of Hinduism can be better estimated from the evidences available in the scriptures and the sacred texts of the Hindus and the folk traditions, which are very peculiar only to India. Some references can also be found in the Vedic scriptures as well.

The Rig Vedic Aryans did not start a new religion in the sub-continent when they occupied the Indus Valley, though the truth may be something different.Rama
The religion that they were practicing was already centuries old. Many of the hymns and rituals of the Rigveda are an evidence to this fact. Like the Celic people who went to different parts of the world, the Aryans probably came to India not rule and defend but as settlers with their families, with rich traditions and wealth of horses and cattle. To the new inhabitants of the land , the Vedic hymns were products of a very ancient wisdom, received by them through oral tradition and through generations of scholars and seers starting from the time of Manu, the first man on earth.

When we talk of Hinduism, we do not know whether we are talking about a religion, or a group of religions, or a group of beliefs and traditions, some of which are absolutely opposed to each other. This some times gives rise to the argument that Hinduism cannot be considered as a religion , but as a concept that incorporates into itself many religious thoughts and world views. Many people also consider Hinduism to be a way of life rather than being a religion.

Hinduism differs from other organized religions in the following aspects:
It is not based upon a particular founder.
It is not based upon a particular book.
It is not controlled by a central institution or authority such as a church or a sangha or association.
It is not averse to examine and assimilate fundamentally diverse thoughts and beliefs into its system.

That Hinduism is not a religion in the strictest sense of the word, but an ancient tradition in continuity and in perpetual evolution is an unquestionable fact. To try to define Hinduism is like trying to put the waters of an unfathomable ocean into a small vessel, or to capture the essence of human life in a single word or phrase.

Hinduism, as has been told, is not a religion at all, but a way of life. In a way this is quite true. According to the tenets of Hinduism, life and religion are inseparable. Religion is there every where, like the omnipresent Brahman, dominating and regulating every aspect of human life, infusing it with divine presence and making life more meaningful and purposeful to its followers.

It virtually controls every action of a devout Hindu. Though he has immense freedom to follow a path of his own choice, the invisible hands of religion mould his thinking at every Hinduismstep, making him almost slavish in his mentality towards his or her gods. Beneath his mind religion remains, like a substratum or the bed of a flowing river, influencing all his decisions and actions. To understand the true nature and significance of Hinduism it is essential to examine the roots of the so called modern Hinduism and at the historical process from which it has emerged in its present shape.

There were in ancient India a great many tribes, who lived amidst deep forests away from civilized society, practicing different traditions of their own and speaking innumerable languages.

Equally interesting were the people living in remote villages, especially the working classes, the illiterate peasants and laborers who, having been denied the knowledge of the Vedas and the privileges of the upper castes, worshipped various demi-gods, spirits, plants, snakes, lakes and rivers, some times indulging in animal and human sacrifices, which would definitely not make the average Hindu of today feel proud of.

But these practices existed and they too slowly became integrated into Hindu Society. It is an undeniable fact of history that despite of the persistent effort of the Muslim theologians and Christian missionaries, the followers of Hinduism largely remained loyal to their ancient gods and the traditions of the country. These practices which are today described by some as folk religion also added in due course of time to the richness, variety and diversity of Hindu religion.

Religious scripts like the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Puranas enlighten one about Hinduism. However, there is no single text, which can sum up its philosophy. The Vedas are hymns praising different Gods. While the Upanishads are discourses between a guru (spiritual guide) and a shishya (disciple), stressing upon the unity of the God, the concept of atma (soul), life after death and karma, emphasises on the fact that happiness in this life has been achieved due to good deeds performed in the previous one. The ultimate goal of every Hindu is to attain moksha, which is deliverance from the cycle of birth & rebirth.

Hinduism states three paths to self realization - knowledge (gyana), devotion (bhakti) and work (karma). In the olden times, Hindus were split into four castes, which was based on division of labour.Hinduism The castes were as follows priests (Brahmins), soldiers (the Kshatriyas), traders (Vaishyas) & the unskilled labourers (Shudras). These however have faded with time and are not in practice in the modern age. Similarly, four stages of life have been defined ideally for a Hindu - first is a student and bachelor (brahmacharya), then is the householder (grihsthya), meditator in the forest (vanaprastha) & finally the sanyas i.e. the renunciation of material life for a spiritual one.
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