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Home > History of religion > Hinduism > Divisions of Hinduism
Divisions of Hinduism
There are many divisions of Hinduism the first being:
It is just more "devotional" than theological: One`s "favorite deity" tends to classify the school of thought and rituals: Vedism (the Veda gods), Brahmanism (Brahma), Vaisnavism (Vishnu), Shavism (Shiva), hundreds of Denominations.

Shiva is a most popular god in India, and the one who attracts most devotion: As "Nataraja", the lord of dance with 4 arms, wanders naked about the countryside on his white bull Nandy, overindulging in drugs, and encouraging starvation and self-mutilation. As "Bhairava", is the patricidal god of terror using his father`s skull for a bowl.

Divisions of HinduismThe wives of Shiva are very popular: "Shakti", encourages orgies, temple prostitution, and annual sacrifices; she originated "sutee", with the widow throwing herself into the fire of her husband`s funeral. Her manifestation as "Kali" is the most sinister and bloodthirsty, and most popular: She stands on Shiva, wearing a necklace of human skulls. there are today reports of 100 human sacrifice murders every year in India in honor to Kali.

Krishna and Rama are favored by all... and, of course, Ganesha the elephant God and Hanuman, the monkey-god, the guardian spirit of the villages.

The second division of Hinduism: Divisions of Hinduism
It is due to the chosen way of Yoga or Meditation:
Buddha chose "the middle way"; Transcendental Meditation or Zen choose their own way... some choose the emotional "Bhakti" way, others overemphasize the use of "mantras" or "koans"... "tantric" Hinduism uses ritual sexual intercourse to unite with the sexual power of the goddess Shakti, with magic spells, divinations, Spiritism...

The third division of Hinduism:
It comes from anyone who writes a commentary of the Vedas or the Gita who becomes a head of a new denomination, and there are now over 1,000 famous commentaries of the Gita alone, without counting the not so famous ones... and any "guru" or "swami" or "sadhu" can start a new original Denomination at any time.

Along many paths in the countryside, and in some urban neighborhoods, there are sacred spots at the base of trees, or small stones set in niches, or simply made statues with flowers or a small flame burning in front of them.

These are shrines for deities who are locally honored for protecting the people from harm caused by natural disasters or evil influences. Worshipers often portray these protectors as warriors, and, in some cases, they may be traced back to great human fighters who died for their village and later became immortalized. In South India, there are thousands of hero stones, simple representations of warriors on slabs of stone, found in and around agricultural settlements, in memory of nameless local fighters who may have died while protecting their communities hundreds of years ago. At one time, these stones may have received regular signs of devotion, but they are mostly ignored in contemporary India. In the fields on the outskirts of many villages, there are large, multicolored, terra-cotta figures of warriors with raised swords or figures of war horses; these are open-air shrines of the god Aiyanar, who serves as the village protector and who has very few connections with the great tradition of Hinduism.

Local deities may begin to attract the attention of worshipers from a wide geographical area, which may include many villages or neighborhoods, or from a large percentage of the members of particular castes, who come to the deity seeking protection or boons.

These deities have their own shrines, which may be simple, independent enclosures with pillared halls or may stand as separate establishments attached to temples of Shiva, Vishnu, or any other great god.shiva vishnu Deities at this level attract expressive and ecstatic forms of worship and tend to possess special devotees on a regular basis or enter into their believers during festivals. People who are possessed by the god may speak to their families and friends concerning important personal or social problems, predicting the future or clarifying mysteries. These local gods often expect offerings of animals, usually goats or chickens, which are killed in the vicinity of the shrines and then consumed in communal meals by families and friends.

In the twentieth century, there has been an increase in the number of new, regional gods attracting worshipers from many different groups, spurred by vast improvements in transport and communication. For example, in the hills bordering the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala is a shrine for the god Ayyappan, whose origin is uncertain but who is sometimes called the offspring of Shiva and Vishnu in his female form.

Ayyappan`s annual festival is a time of pilgrimage for ever-growing numbers of men from throughout South India. These devotees fast and engage in austerities under the leadership of a teacher for weeks before hand and then travel in groups to the shrine for a glimpse of the god. Bus tickets are hard to obtain for several weeks as masses of elated men, clad in distinctive ritual dhotis of various colors, throng public transportation during their trip to the shrine.

Hinduism is not the name of any one religion, either Vedic or non-Vedic. At present it is called a way of life, without any fixed creed. However, in due course, Hinduism has evolved into what is called Sanatam Hinduism which is a synthesis of Vedic and non-Vedic religions comprising several thousand years. This Sanatana Hinduism accepts the Vedas as its holy scripture, caste and the four pillars of Karma-Samsara-Jnana-Mukti.

Sanatana Hinduism may be said to have different branches. Many branches of Hinduism do not accept the Vedas as their scripture and repudiate caste. Vaisnavism and Shaivism are important branches of Hinduism and they repudiate caste. Still they come winder Sanatana Hinduism because many caste Hindus pay respect to Shaivism and Vaispavism. Certainly this is true with regard to the devotion of Rama and Krishna who are said to be the avatSras of Vishnu. Sanatana Hinduism has assimilated the worship, specially the bhakti cult of Rama and Krishna exactly as in the past it assimilated the four pillars of Karma-Jnana etc. But this is not the case with other branches of Hinduism.

Jainism and Buddhism are net branches of Sanatana Hinduism. They are really non-vedic and possibly non-Aryan religions. They never had caste and they never owed allegiance to Vedism. In no sense they can be called sects of Hinduism that have protested against animal-sacrifice of the Vedas. Certainly they do protest, but as independent religions with their own parallel development. As a matter of fact Vedic religion really came in clash with them and in the long run by assimilating all the important elements of them rendered them empty.

Karma-Samsara-Jnana-Mukti and Yoga were certainly non-Vedic and they are quite explicit in both Jainism and Buddhism.krishna But in the long run they all have been fully assimilated in Sanatana Hinduism. As a matter of fact Jainism is much closer now to Sanatana Hinduism than Buddhism. Pancha Mahavrata of Satya, Ahimsa, Brahmacarya and Aparigraha of the Jainas has been adopted by Sanatana Hinduism and was fully utilized by Mahatma Gandhi. There are also intermarriages between the Hindus and Jainas.

In the days of Indian classical Buddhism caste, the Vedas and theistic worship were rejected, and as such Buddhism could not be fully absorbed and assimilated in Sanatana Hinduism, even when Lord Buddha was recognized as an avatara of Vishnu.
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