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Hinduism (known as Template:IAST in some modern Indian languages[1]) is a religion that originated on the Indian subcontinent. In contemporary usage Hinduism is also referred to as Template:IAST (सनातन धर्म), a Sanskrit phrase meaning "eternal dharma".[2]

With its origins in the Indus Valley Civilization and Vedic civilization, it has no known founder,[3][4] being itself a conglomerate of diverse beliefs and traditions. It is considered the world's oldest extant religion, [5][6] and has approximately a billion adherents, of whom about 905 million live in India and Nepal,[7] placing it as the world's Major world religions after Christianity and Islam. Other Hinduism by country include Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Fiji, Suriname, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago.

Hinduism provides a vast body of scriptures. Divided as Śruti and smriti and developed over millennia, these scriptures expound on a broad of range of theology, philosophy and mythology, providing spiritual insights and guidance on the practice of dharma (religious living). Among such texts, Hindus revere the Vedas and the Upanishads and consider these as being among the foremost in authority, importance and antiquity. Other major scriptures include the Tantras and the sectarian Agama (text), the Puranas and the Indian epic poetry Mahabharata and Ramayana. The Bhagavad Gita, a treatise excerpted from the Template:IAST, is sometimes called a summary of the spiritual teachings of the Vedas.[8]



The Persian language term Hindu comes from the Sanskrit Sindhu, i.e. the Indus River.[9] In the Rig Veda, the Indo-Aryans mention their land as Sapta Sindhu (the land of the seven rivers of the northwestern Indian subcontinent, one of them being the Indus). This corresponds to Hapta-Hendu in the Avesta (Vendidad: Fargard 1.18)—the sacred scripture of Zoroastrianism of Iran. The term was used for people who lived in the Indian subcontinent beyond the "Sindhu".[10]


Core concepts

Hinduism originates from the ancient Vedic tradition and other indigenous peoples beliefs, incorporated over time. Prominent themes in Hinduism include Dharma (ethics and duties), Samsara (The continuing cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth), Karma (action and subsequent reaction), and Moksha (liberation from the cycle of samsara). Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism share traits with Hinduism, because these religions originated in India and focus on self-improvement with the general aim of attaining personal (first hand), spiritual experiences. They along with Hinduism are collectively known as Dharmic religions.

Concept of God

Hinduism is sometimes considered to be a polytheistic religion, but such a view tends to oversimplify a diverse system of thought with beliefs spanning monotheism, polytheism,[11] pantheism, monism and even Atheism in Hinduism. For instance, the Advaita Vedanta school holds that there is only one causal entity (Brahman), which manifests itself to humans in multiple forms[12] while many scholars consider the Samkhya school of thought to have had atheistic leanings.


Main article: Brahman

According to the monistic/panentheistic theologies of Hinduism, Brahman (the greater Self or God) is in the highest sense One and nondifferentiated from the world and its beings (hence 'nondualist'). In connoting Brahman's absolutely unparalleled nature, it is also called Parambrahman, where the Sanskrit prefix param- denotes "ultimate". Brahman is also sometimes seen as synonymous with the concept of Paramatma (Supreme Spirit). Beyond time and space, both immanent and transcendent,[13][14] Brahman is often described succinctly as sacchidananda, meaning 'Truth-Consciousness-Bliss', not only possessing the qualities but also being their very essence. Advaita philosophy declares that ultimately Brahman (the impersonal God) is beyond mere intellectual description and can be understood only through direct spiritual experience, where the 'knower' and the 'known' are subsumed into the act of 'knowing'. The goal is to "wake up" and realize that one's atman, or soul, is really identical to Brahman, the uber-soul.[15][16]

On the other hand, monotheistic (typically Dvaita Vedanta) and related devotional (bhakti) schools, understand Brahman as a Supreme Being who possesses personality. In these conceptions, Brahman is associated with Vishnu, Shiva or Shakti depending on the sect. Brahman is seen as fundamentally separate from its reliant souls (humanity) so, in achieving liberation, individual beings experience God as an independent being, a living personality, and retain their individual identities.

Temple carving at Hoysaleswara temple representing the Hindu Trimurti: Brahma, Siva and Vishnu.


Main article: Ishvara

When God is viewed as the supreme personal being (rather than as the infinite principle) God is called Ishvara ("The Lord";[17]), Bhagavan ("The Auspicious One";[17]), or Parameshwara ("The Supreme Lord"[17]). Ishvara thus refers to the personal aspect of God in general; it is not specific to a particular deity. Ishvara transcends gender, yet can be looked upon as father, mother, friend, child, or even as sweetheart.[12] Some schools of Hindu philosophy do not believe in Ishvara, while others interpret Ishvara in different ways.[18][12] Some schools do not distinguish between Ishvara and Brahman. The Dvaita school holds that Ishvara is not incorporeal,[18] but is infinite and a personal being.

Devas and devis

Main article: Deva (Hinduism)

The Hindu scriptures also speak about many celestial entities, called Deva (Hinduism) ("The shining ones",[17] also called Template:IAST). The word Devas may be translated into English as gods,[17] demigods,[19] deities,[17] celestial spirits[20] or angels.[21] The feminine of deva is devī.

The Vedas and Puranas depict traditional stories about individual devas. The latter lauds the Trimurti of Mahādevas ("Great Gods"), which are the three aspects of God, Brahmā, Vishnu and Shiva.[22] Numerous other Devas have been worshipped throughout Hinduism's history. The devas are an integral part of Hindu culture and are depicted in art, architecture and through icons. In their personal religious practices, Hindus worship primarily one or another of these deities, known as their iṣṭa devatā, or chosen ideal.[23][24] The particular form of God worshipped as one's chosen ideal is a matter of individual preference and needs,[25] influenced by regional and family traditions.[26]


Main article: Avatar
Krishna (left), the eighth incarnation (avatar) of Vishnu, with his consort Radha
Many denominations of Hinduism teach that from time to time God descends to Earth in corporeal form to help humans along in their struggle toward enlightenment in the form of bhakti or liberation from rebirth known as moksha. In a related capacity, God's incarnations bring the dharmic order back into balance whenever necessary. Such an incarnation of God is called an avatāra. The most famous avatars are of Vishnu, the two most popular being Rama, whose life is depicted in the Ramayana, and Krishna, who is a central figure in the Mahabharata and whose life is depicted in the Srimad Bhagavatam.


Main article: Atheism in Hinduism

Mainstream Hindu philosophy talks about the existence of God, being heavily influenced by the Vedanta school, the dominant philosophical school of Hinduism. Nonetheless, there were earlier atheistic schools such as Samkhya, which did not acknowledge the existence of God.


Main article: Ātman

Most Hindus believe that the spirit or soul, the true "self" of every person, called the ātman, is eternal;[27] as is Brahman, which may be seen as either the greater Self or as God, depending on the outlook. According to the Advaita (non-dualist) schools of philosophy, the individual self and greater Self are not fundamentally distinct. They argue that the core spirit, or "Self", of every individual person is identical with the greater Spirit. Referring to 'brahman' unequivocally as God may reveal problems of semantics, where certain traditions understand God to be a motivating agency with personality and others that it is without personality and form, beyond any sort of definition and thus non-equivalent to the 'God' as understood by dualist schools of Hinduism or Abrahamic understandings of God.[27] According to the Upanishads, whoever gains insight into the depths of his own nature and becomes fully aware of the ātman as the innermost core of his own Self will realize his identity with Brahman and will thereby reach Moksha.[27][28] According to the Dvaita (dualist) school, (often associated with Vaishnavism), the ātman is not identical with Brahman, which is seen as being God with personality (though not limited); instead, the ātman is dependent on God. Moksha depends on the cultivation of love for God and on God's grace.[28]

Karma, samsara and moksha

Main article: Karma in Hinduism

Karma translates literally as action, work or deed[29] and is often described as the "moral law of cause and effect".[30] According to the Upanishads, an individual, known as the jiva-atma, develops samskaras (impressions) from actions, whether physical or mental. The "linga sharira", a body more subtle than the physical one, but less subtle than the soul, retains impressions, carrying them over into the next life, establishing a unique trajectory for the individual.[31] Thus, the concept of a universal, neutral and never-failing karma intrinsically relates to reincarnation as well as one's personality, characteristics and family. Karma threads together the notions of free will and destiny.

This cycle of action, reaction, birth, death, and rebirth is a continuum called samsara. The notion of reincarnation and karma is a strong premise in much of Hindu thought. The Bhagavad Gita states that:

As a person puts on new clothes, discarding old and torn clothes, similarly an embodied soul enters new material bodies, leaving the old bodies.(B.G. 2:22)[32]

Samsara provides ephemeral pleasures, which lead people to desire rebirth to enjoy the pleasures of a perishable body. However only escaping the world of samsara through moksha (liberation) is believed to ensure lasting happiness or peace.[33][34] It is thought that after several reincarnations, an atman eventually seeks unity with the cosmic spirit (Brahman/Paramatman).

The ultimate goal of life, referred to as moksha, nirvana or samadhi, is described as the realization of one's union with God; realization of one's eternal relationship with God; realization of the unity of all existence; perfect unselfishness and knowledge of the Self; liberation from ignorance; attainment of perfect mental peace; or detachment from worldly desires. Such a realization liberates one from samsara and ends the cycle of rebirth.[35][36] The exact conceptualization of moksha differs among the various Hindu schools of thought. For example, advaita vedanta holds that after attaining moksha an atman no longer identifies itself with an individual but as part of Brahman. The followers of dualistic schools such as dvaita on the other hand, expect to spend eternity in a loka, or heaven,[37] in the company of their chosen form of Ishvara. Thus, it is said, the followers of dvaita wish to "taste sugar," while the followers of Advaita wish to "become sugar."[38]

The goals of life

Main article: Purusharthas

Classical Hindu thought accepts two main life-long dharmas: Grihastha Dharma and Sannyasin Dharma.

The Grihastha Dharma recognize four goals as noble; these are known as the purusharthas, and they are:

  1. Kama (Purusharthas): Sensual pleasure and enjoyment
  2. artha: Worldly prosperity and success
  3. dharma: Following the laws and rule that an individual lives under
  4. moksha: Liberation from the cycle of samsara[39][40]

Among these, dharma and moksha play a special role:[40] dharma must dominate an individual's pursuit of kama and artha while seeing moksha, at the horizon.

The Sannyasin Dharma recognizes, but renounces Kama, Artha and Dharma, focusing entirely on Moksha. As described Hinduism#Ashramas (stages of life), the Grihasthi eventually enters this dharma as an eventual stage of life. However, some enter this stage immediately from whichever stage they may be in.

Yoga: multiple paths to the goal

File:Yoga instructor.jpg
Hatha Yoga is traditionally a part of a practice that included meditation, pranayama, and right action—unlike the popular modern approach that emphasizes the physical aspect.

In whatever way a Hindu defines the goal of life, there are several methods (yogas) that sages have taught for reaching that goal. Someone who practices yoga is called a yogi. The chief texts dedicated to Yoga are the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga Sutras, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and, as their philosophical and historical basis, the Upanishads. Paths one can follow to achieve the spiritual goal of life (moksha, samadhi, or nirvana) include:

  • Bhakti Yoga (the path of love and devotion),
  • Karma Yoga (the path of right action),
  • Rāja Yoga (the path of meditation) and
  • Jñāna Yoga (the path of wisdom).[12]

An individual may prefer one yoga over others according to his or her inclination and understanding. For instance some followers of the Dvaita school hold that Bhakti ("devotion") is the only practical path to achieve spiritual perfection for the majority of people, based on their belief that the earth is currently in the age of Kali yuga (one of four stages, or epochs, that are part of the Yuga cycle).[41] Practice of one yoga does not exclude the others. In fact, many schools believe that the different yogas naturally imply, blend into and aid other yogas. For example, the practice of jnana yoga, is thought to inevitably lead to pure love (the goal of bhakti yoga), and vice versa.[42] Someone practicing deep meditation (such as in raja yoga) must embody the core principles of karma yoga, jnana yoga and bhakti yoga, whether directly or indirectly.[12][43]

Bhakti Yoga

Main article: Bhakti yoga

The bhakti traditions emphasize cultivation of love and devotion for God as the path to perfection. Followers of bhakti typically worship God as a divine personal being or avatar, such as Rama or Krishna. Followers of the bhakti path strive to purify their minds and activities through the chanting of God's names (japa), prayer, devotional hymns (bhajan) and treating all living creatures with compassion. Bhakti followers seek to enjoy a loving relationship with God, rather than seek to merge their consciousness with Brahman as the followers of jnana yoga and raja yoga do.

Karma Yoga

Swami Vivekananda, shown here practicing meditation, was a Hindu guru (teacher) recognized for his inspiring lectures on topics such as yoga.
Main article: Karma yoga

The followers of karma yoga seek to achieve freedom by acting without attachment to the results of their actions. According to Hinduism, action is inevitable, and has one great disadvantage—any act done with attachment to its fruits generates karmic or psychological bondage.[44] Followers of karma yoga follow the injunction in the Bhagavad Gita:

Without being attached to the fruits of activities, one should act as a matter of duty; for by working without attachment, one attains the Supreme.[45]

Many followers of karma yoga offer the results of every action to God, thus combining karma yoga with bhakti yoga. However, it is possible for even an atheist to follow karma yoga by remaining mentally detached from the fruits of their actions. Benefits of karma yoga include purification of the heart, freedom from bondage to the ego, humility, and the growing understanding that Brahman is in all people.[44]

Raja Yoga

Main article: Raja yoga

The followers of Raja yoga seek direct experience of spiritual truth through meditation and yoga practices. Raja yoga is based on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali,[46] which has eight 'limbs' that describe the stages a yogi must pass through to reach the goal of samadhi.[47] The eight limbs begin with right action (yamas and niyamas) and perfect meditative posture (asana), and continue with control of the body's life force (pranayama). From there, the yogi practices techniques of meditation that take him through the progressive stages of interiorization (pratyahara), concentration (dharana) and meditation (dhyana).[48][47] The final goal of the raja yogi—and the eighth limb of Patanjali's Sutras—is samadhi, or oneness with Brahman.[49]

Jnana Yoga

Swami Sivananda, yogi, teacher, and founder of the Divine Life Society in Rishikesh
Main article: Jnana yoga

Jnana yoga is the path of wisdom, or true knowledge, and appeals to people with an intellectual nature.[50] The jnana yogi typically practices the four interrelated means to liberation:

  1. Viveka: discrimination between what is real (the immortal Atman, or true self), and unreal (the changing universe)
  2. Vairāgya, dispassion for the pleasures of this world.
  3. Shad-Sampat, the six virtues, which bring about mental control and discipline.
  4. Mumukshutva, intense desire for liberation.[51]

These practices lead to the unfoldment of wisdom (intuitive perception), rather than mere intellectual knowledge.[52] Through discrimination and introspection, the jnana yogi eventually realizes the highest truth, that "I am Brahman, the pure, all-pervading Consciousness."[51]


Main article: History of Hinduism


The earliest evidence for elements of Hinduism dates back as far as the late neolithic, to the early Harappan period (ca. 5500–3300 BCE).[53] The beliefs and practices of the pre-classical era (ca. 1500-500 BCE) are called the "historical Vedic religion". The oldest surviving text of Hinduism is the Rigveda, which is dated to between 1700–1100 BCE based on Linguistics and philological evidence.[54]

The Vedic period

File:Kailash Tibet.jpg
Sacred Mount Kailash in Tibet is regarded as the spiritual abode of Shiva.

Modern Hinduism grew out of the Vedas. The earliest of these, the Rigveda, centers on worship of deities such as Indra, Varuna and Agni, and on the Soma ritual. The early Indo-Aryans performed fire-sacrifices, called yagna and chanted Vedic mantras. However, they built no temples or icons. Animals were sacrificed in larger yajñas as claimed by Buddhist and Jain texts. The oldest Vedic traditions exhibit strong similarities to Zoroastrianism, as well as to other Indo-European people religions.[55]

Epic and Puranic periods

The epic poems Ramayana and Mahabharata were written roughly from 400 BCE to 200 CE, although they were transmitted orally for hundreds of years prior to this period.[56] The Ramayana and Mahabharata contain secular and mythological stories of the rulers and wars of ancient India as well as on the avatars Rama and Krishna respectively. They are interspersed with treatises on various Hindu philosophical concepts and themes, including the nature of the atma, karma, dharma, moksha, and the organisation of society and government. The later Puranas recount tales about Deva (Hinduism), their interactions with humans and their battles against rakshasa.

The age of Mahajanapadas

Main article: Mahajanapadas

During the Iron Age in India, several schools of thought arose and developed in Hindu philosophy such as Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Purva-Mimamsa and Vedanta. Three key revolutions underpinned the nascence of a new epoch in Hindu thought: these were the spiritual upheaval initiated by the Upanishads, and the arrival of Mahavira (founder of Jainism) and the Buddha (founder of Buddhism). Charvaka, the leader of an atheistic materialist school, also came to the fore in North India in the sixth century BCE.[57] The Upanishads, Mahavira and Gautama Buddha taught that to achieve moksha or nirvana, one did not have to accept the authority of the Vedas or the caste system; the Buddha went a step further and claimed that even the existence of a Self/soul or God was unnecessary.[58] In this intellectual ferment, many Hindus became followers of Buddhism while others were influenced by Buddhist and Jain teachings.[59]

Islam and Bhakti

Beginning around 1173 CE, successive waves of armies from Muslim countries invaded and to varying degrees, gained control over North India.[57] During this period Buddhism declined rapidly, and many Hindus converted to Islam. Some Muslim rulers such as Aurangzeb destroyed Hindu temples and otherwise persecuted non-Muslims, while others, such as Akbar, were more tolerant.

Hinduism underwent one of the most profound changes in its history, due in large part to the influence of the prominent teachers Ramanuja, Madhva, and Chaitanya.[57] Followers of the Bhakti movement moved away from the abstract concept of Brahman, which was consolidated by the philosopher Adi Shankara a few centuries before, to a focus on the more accessible avataras, especially Krishna and Rama.[57] A new attitude toward God—emotional, passionate love—replaced the old approaches of sacrificial rite and meditation on the formless Brahman.[60]

The 19th to 20th Centuries

This period saw largely unprecedented interaction between Hinduism and European thought (in the form of Abrahamic religions and Western Philosophy). These intercultural conversations catalyzed developments in Indology, formations of new schools of Hindu thought, the spread of Hinduism across the world, and changes in many areas of Hindu society. At the same time, many traditional systems of Hinduism witnessed revivals or new developments that flourished independently of the globalization trend.

Indology as an academic discipline studying Indian culture from a European perspective was established in the 19th century, led by Max Müller and John Woodroffe. They brought much of the Vedas, Puranic and Tantric literature, philosophy, religion, and practice back to European and United States universities. At the same time, societies such as the Brahmo Samaj and the Theosophical Society attempted to reconcile and fuse Abrahamic and Dharmic philosophies, endeavouring to institute societal reform.

File:Iskcon Delhi.jpg
The ISKCON temple, in New Delhi, India

This period also saw the emergence of diverse movements which were more traditional in origin, though nevertheless innovative, sometimes based on the personalities and teachings of individuals, as with Shri Ramakrishna and Ramana Maharshi. Prominent Hindu philosophers, including Sri Aurobindo and A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (founder of ISKCON) translated, reformulated and presented Hinduism's foundational texts for contemporary audiences in new iterations, attracting followers and attention in India and abroad. Others such as Swami Vivekananda, Paramahansa Yogananda, B.K.S. Iyengar and Swami Rama have been instrumental in raising the profiles of traditional Yoga and Vedanta in the West.

In the Indian subcontinent, Hinduism is still practised by the majority of India's inhabitants although the number in the areas of modern Pakistan and Bangladesh have dwindled due to the Partition of India. Hinduism is also the official religion of the Kingdom of Nepal, which is thus the world's only Hindu state.[61][62] Indonesia has experienced a Hinduism in Indonesia in recent years, due to the efforts of Parisada Hindu Dharma.

Template:See also

Scriptures and theology

Hinduism is based on "the accumulated treasury of spiritual laws discovered by different persons in different times."[63] The scriptures were transmitted orally, in verse form to aid memorization, for many centuries before they were written down.[64][65] Over many centuries, the teachings were refined by other sages, and the canon expanded. The majority of the scripture are composed in the Sanskrit language. Sanskrit continues to be used today in religious and literary settings. The scripture are collectively referred to as Shastras and are classified into two classes: Shruti and Smriti.

Shruti: Vedic literature

Main article: Śruti
File:Rigveda MS2097.jpg
The Rig Veda is one of the oldest religious texts. Shown here is a Rig Veda manuscript in Devanagari, early nineteenth century.

Shruti (lit: that which has been heard) refers to the Vedas (वेद, Knowledge) which form the earliest record of the Hindu scriptures. While they have not been dated with much certainty, even the most conservative estimates date their origin to 1200 BCE or earlier.[66][67][68]

Hindus revere the Vedas as eternal truths, revealed to ancient sages (rishis) through meditation.[69] Many of these sages were women, called Ṛṣikās.[70] Most Hindus do not associate the creation of the Vedas with a God or person. They are thought of as the laws of the spiritual world, which would still exist even if they were not revealed to the sages.[71][72][73]

There are four Vedas (called Rik-, Sāma- Yajus- and Atharva-). The Rigveda is the first and the most important Veda.[74] Each Veda is divided into four parts: the primary one, the Veda proper, being the Samhita, which contains sacred mantras in verse. The other three parts form a three-tier ensemble of commentaries, usually in prose, which are historically believed to be slightly later in age than the Saṃhitā. These are: the Brahmana, Aranyaka, and the Upanishads. The first two parts are called the Karmakāṇḍa (the ritualistic portion), while the last two form the Jñānakāṇḍa (the knowledge portion).[75][76][77]

The Upanishads focus on spiritual insight and philosophy whereas the Vedas focus on rituals. These texts constitute a major portion of the Jnāna Kānda,[65] and contain much of the Vedas' philosophical teachings. The Upanishads discuss Brahman and reincarnation.[78][79] While the Vedas are not read by most laity Hindus, they are yet revered as the eternal knowledge whose sacred sounds help bring spiritual and material benefits. Theologically, they take precedence over the Smriti.[80]

See also: Śrauta

Smriti: non-Vedic literature

Main article: Smriti
The Naradeya Purana describes the mechanics of the cosmos. Depicted here are Vishnu with his consort Lakshmi resting on Shesha. The sage Narada and Brahma are also pictured.

Hindu texts other than the Shrutis are collectively called the Smritis (memory).[81]

The most notable of the smritis are the Itihasa (epic poetrys), which consist of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Bhagavad Gita is an integral part of the epic Mahabharata and one of the most popular sacred texts of Hinduism. It contains philosophical sermons told by Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu, to the Pandava prince Arjuna on the eve of a great war. The Bhagavad Gītā is described as the essence of the Vedas.[82]

Also widely known are the Puranas ("ancient histories"), which illustrate Vedic ideas through vivid narratives dealing with deities, and their interactions with humans. Other key texts are the Template:IAST, the Yoga Sutras, the Tantras as well as the Mahanirvāṇa Tantra, Tirumantiram and Shiva Sutras. Another important set of scriptures with a more sectarian nature are the Hindu Agamas, which dedicate to rituals and worship associated with Vishnu, Shiva and Devī. A more controversial text, the Manusmriti or "Code of Manu", is a prescriptive lawbook which epitomizes the societal codes of the Brahminical caste system.

Most Hindu scriptures, especially the epics and Puranas, are not typically interpreted literally and more importance is attached to the ethics and the metaphorical meanings derived from them.[83] Hindu exegesis leans toward figurative interpretations of scriptures rather than literal ones.

"Many scriptures, many paths"

In contrast to the scriptural canons in some other religions, the Hindu scriptural canon is not closed even today. Hindus believe that because the spiritual truths of the Vedas are eternal, they continue to be expressed in new ways.[84] Some Hindus even venerate the scriptures of other religions, since they believe that God reveals itself in innumerable ways. One much-quoted verse from the Rigveda that emphasizes the diversity of paths to the one goal is:

Truth is one, the wise call it in many different ways
Rig Veda 1.164.46</blockquote>

This openness means that there is little theological quarrel between Hindu denominations[85] although these denominations may view God in a different form or sense.[86]

Schools of philosophy

Main article: Hindu philosophy

The six Āstika or orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy, which accept the authority of the Vedas, are Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Purva Mimamsa (also called Mīmāṃsā), and Vedanta (also called Vedānta).[87] The Heterodox Nāstika schools, which do not rely on the authority of the Vedas, are Buddhism, Jainism and Lokayata. Although these philosophies are studied formally mainly by scholars, they influence the beliefs of average Hindus.


Hindu practices generally involve seeking awareness of God and sometimes also seeking blessings from Devas. Therefore, Hinduism has developed numerous practices meant to help one think of divinity in the midst of everyday life. According to Swami Vivekananda:

"The ideal of man is to see God in everything. But if you cannot see Him in everything, see Him in one thing, in that thing you like best, and then see Him in another. So on you go . . . Take your time and you will achieve your end."[88]

Puja (worship)

Main article: Puja

Hindus may engage in some type of formal worship (Sanskrit: Template:IAST, worship or veneration[17]) either at home or at a temple. At home, Hindus often create a shrine with icons dedicated to the individual's chosen form(s) of God. Veneration may involve offering food, water, or flowers and may be expressed through the burning of incense, lighting of candles or oil-lamps, ringing a bell, waving a fan, or sounding a conch-shell. Other practices of Puja include meditation, the chanting of mantras, and the recitation of scriptures.

Icons of devas and devis are an integral part of most Hindu temples. Shown here are icons of Ganesha and Lakshmi, heavily laden with garlands, taken during a Hindu prayer ceremony.

Bhajan is an important part of bhakti. Devotional singing occurs in temples, in ashrams, on the banks of holy rivers, at home and elsewhere. Hymns are in Sanskrit or in modern Indian languages such as Hindi, Marathi, Bengali language or Tamil language. Musical instruments accompanying devotional singing include the manjeera, tanpura, harmonium, and tabla. Another form of community worship is Satsang (fellowship), the practice of gathering for study or discussion of scriptures and religious topics as well as chanting mantras.[89]

Vedic rites of icon-less fire-oblation (yajna), with traditional Vedic chanting, are now only occasional practices although they are highly revered in theory. In a Hindu wedding ceremony, however, the presence of sacred fire as the divine witness, the yajña and chanting of Vedic mantras is still the norm.[90][91]

Worship of God through icons

Main article: Murti

Hindus may worship God through icons (murti), such as statues or paintings symbolic of God's power and glory. The icon serves as a tangible link between the worshipper and God.[92] Another view is that the image is a manifestation of God, since God is immanent. The Padma Purana states that the Template:IAST is not to be thought of as mere stone or wood but as a manifest form of the Divinity.[93] A few Hindu sects, such as the Arya Samaj, do not believe in worshiping God through icons.


Main article: Mandir

Hindu temples are a place of worship for Hindus. They are usually dedicated to a primary deity along with associated subordinate deities. However, some temples are dedicated to multiple deities. Most major temples are constructed as per the agama and many are sites of pilgrimage. An important element of temple architecture and many Hindu households in general is Vaastu Shastra, the science of aesthetic and auspicious design.

Visiting temples is not obligatory for Hindus.[94] Many Hindus go to temples only during religious festivals, though others do so more regularly. Temples are not used for funerals, or as social hubs but some are used for weddings(e.g. temple of Dnyaneshwar at Alandi, Maharashtra). Many Hindus view the four Shankaracharyas (the abbots of the monasteries of Jyotirmath, Govardhana matha, Sringeri Sharada Peetham and Dwaraka Pītha — four of the holiest pilgrimage centers — sometimes to which a fifth at Kanchi matha is also added) as the Patriarchs of Hinduism.

Hindu iconography

Main article: Hindu iconography

Hinduism has a developed system of symbolism and iconography to represent the sacred in art, architecture, literature and worship. These symbols gain their meaning from the scriptures, mythology, or cultural traditions. The symbols Om (which represents the Parabrahman), Swastika (which symbolizes auspiciousness) have grown to represent Hinduism itself, while other markings such as tilaka identify a follower of the faith. Hinduism associates many symbols, which include the lotus, chakra and veena, with particular devas. These associations distinguish the physical representations of the deities in sculptural or printed form and are based upon allegorical references in Hindu mythology. While most representations of deities are largely anthropomorphic there are exceptions. For instance the deity Shiva is worshipped in the form of a pillar-like stone called a lingam.

The guru-disciple tradition

In many Hindu sects, spiritual aspirants are encouraged to adopt a personal spiritual teacher, called a guru. Traditionally, during brahmacharya (see Hinduism#Ashramas (stages of life)) a Guru taught a disciple all things necessary to lead a dharma life. The student is expected to follow the instructions of the guru and to have a spiritual life. The guru's recompense paid by the student is known as gurudakshina; in many traditions,[citation needed] this may not be monetary.

Japa and mantra

Main article: Japa

Mantras are prayers or chants that through their meaning, sound, and chanting style help a person focus their mind on holy thoughts or to express devotion to God. Mantras are meant to give courage in exigent times and invoke one's inner spiritual strength.

After the pranava or "fundamental" mantra of "Aum", one of the most revered mantras in Hinduism is the Gayatri Mantra. Hindus are initiated into this most sacred mantra at the time of their Upanayanam (thread ceremony). Many Hindus perform morning ablutions at the bank of a sacred river while chanting the Gayatri or Mahamrityunjaya mantras.

Japa (ritualistic chanting) is extolled as the greatest duty for the Kali Yuga (what Hindus believe to be the current age), in the epic Mahabharata. Following this direction, many Hindu traditions adopt Japa as their primary spiritual practice. The Gaudiya Vaishnavism tradition chanting the Hare Krishna mantra is one such example.


The largest religious gathering on Earth. Around 70 million Hindus from around the world participated in Kumbh Mela at one of the Hindu Holy city Prayag (India).

Pilgrimage is not mandatory in Hinduism. Nevertheless, many Hindus undertake one or more pilgrimages during their lifetimes. There are many Hindu holy places in India. One of the most famous is the ancient city of Varanasi. Other holy places in India include Kedarnath and Badrinath in the Himalayas, the Jagannath temple at Puri, Rishikesh and Haridwar in the foothills of the Himalayas, Allahabad (today Allahabad), Rameshwaram in the South and Gaya, India in the east. The largest single gathering of pilgrims is during the annual Kumbh Mela fair held in one of four different cities on a rotating basis.[citation needed] Another important "set" of pilgrimages are the 51 "Shakti Peethas," where Shakti is worshipped, two principal ones being Kalighat and Kamakhya, which are incidentally major points of confluence for practitioners of Tantra and those who seek their guidance. Vaishno Devi, the Shakti temple near Katra, Jammu and Kashmir is the second most visited religious shrine in India, after Tirumala Venkateswara Temple Mandir.[95]

Hindu festivals

Main article: Hindu festivals

Hinduism has many festivals throughout the year. Their dates are usually prescribed by the Hindu calendar and typically celebrate events from Hindu mythology, often coinciding with seasonal changes and occasions of importance in an agrarian society. There are festivals which are primarily celebrated by specific sects or in certain regions of the Indian subcontinent.

Some widely observed Hindu festivals are,

  • Dussera, or Durga Puja, celebrates events from Hindu mythology symbolizing the triumph of good over evil;
  • Diwali, the festival of lights;
  • Ganesh Chaturthi, the festival celebrating Ganesha;
  • Maha Shivaratri, the festival dedicated to Shiva;
  • Ram Navami, celebrates the birth of Rama, the seventh incarnation of Vishnu;
  • Krishna Janmastami, celebrates the birth of Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Vishnu;
  • Holi, a spring festival of colors and light;
  • Sankranti, a harvest festival of India


On death, cremation is considered obligatory for all except sanyasis, hijra (South Asia), and children under five. Cremation is typically performed by wrapping the corpse in cloth and burning it on a pyre. Manikarnika Ghat, in Varanasi, is a famous site where bodies are cremated by the side of the river, in full view of the public. Those not cremated may be simply wrapped in cloth, weighted with stones and cast into a river.

Hinduism obliges the closest male relative (son, father, husband, etc.) of the deceased to immerse the cremated remains in the holy river Ganga (Ganges), preferably at the holy city of Haridwar, India. The cremated remains may also be entombed, in case the deceased was a well-known person.



Main article: Hindu denominations
The temple of Pashupatinath temple in Nepal is regarded as one of the most sacred places in Shaivism.

Many Hindus do not claim to belong to any particular denomination at all.[96] However, academics categorize contemporary Hinduism into four major denominations: Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism and Smartism. The denominations differ primarily in the God worshipped as the Supreme One and in the traditions that accompany worship of that God.

Vaishnavas worship Template:IAST; Shaivites worship Shiva; Shaktas worship Shakti (power) personified through a female divinity or Mother Goddess, Devi; while Smartists believe in the essential sameness of all deities and that they are all Brahman.

There are also many movements that are not easily placed in any of the above categories, such as Swami Dayananda Saraswati's Arya Samaj, which rejects image worship and veneration of multiple deities. It focuses on the Vedas and the Vedic fire sacrifices (yagna). The Tantra in Hinduism have various sects, as Banerji writes in "Tantra in Bengal":

Tantras are ... also divided as āstika or Vedic and nāstika or non-Vedic. In accordance with the predominance of the deity the āstika works are again divided as Śākta, Śaiva, Saura, Gāṇapatya and Vaiṣṇava.[97]

As in every religion, some view their own denomination as superior to others. However, many Hindus consider other denominations to be legitimate alternatives to their own. Heresy is therefore generally not an issue for Hindus.[98]

Ashramas: Stages of life

Main article: Vedic ashram system

Traditionally, the life of a male Hindu was divided into four Ashramas ("phases" or "stages"; unrelated meanings of āshrama include "monastery" or "refuge").

The first part of one's life, Brahmacharya, the stage as a student, is spent in celibate, controlled, sober and pure contemplation under the guidance of a Guru, building up the mind for the realization of truth.

Grihastha is the householder's stage, in which one marries and satisfies Kama (Purusharthas) and artha within one's married and professional life respectively (see the Hinduism#The four pursuits of life). Among the moral obligations of a Hindu householder are the duties to support one's parents, children, guests, priests (Brahmins), and monks (sanyāsis).

Vānaprastha, the retirement stage, is gradual detachment from the material world. This may involve giving over duties to one's children, spending more time in contemplation of the Divine, and making holy pilgrimages.

Finally, in Sannyāsa, the stage of asceticism, one renounces all worldly attachments, often envisioned as seclusion, to find the Divine through detachment from worldly life and peacefully shed the body for the next life (or for liberation).[99]


Main article: Sannyasa

In their quest to attain the spiritual goal of life, some Hindus choose the path of monasticism (sanyāsa). Monastics commit themselves to a life of simplicity, celibacy, detachment from worldly pursuits, and the contemplation of God.[100] A Hindu monk is called a sanyāsī, sadhu, or swami.[101] A female renunciate is called a sanyāsini. Renunciates receive high respect in Hindu society because their outward renunciation of selfishness and worldliness serves as an inspiration to householders who strive for mental renunciation. Some monastics live in monasteries, while others wander from place to place, trusting in God alone to provide for their needs.[102] It is considered a highly meritorious act for a householder to provide sādhus, or any brahmana, with food or other necessaries. Sādhus strive to treat all with respect and compassion, whether a person may be poor or rich, good or wicked, and to be indifferent to praise, blame, pleasure, and pain.[100]

Varnas and the caste system

Main article: Varnashrama dharma

Hindu society has traditionally been categorized into four classes, called Varnas (Sanskrit: "color, form, appearance");[17]. It is argued that in ancient times, the Varṇas were merely labels based upon occupation (as opposed to the hereditary Indian caste system currently present in India) —

  • the Brahmins: teachers and priests;
  • the Kshatriyas: warriors and kings;
  • the Vaishyas: farmers, merchants, and businessmen; and
  • the Shudras: servants and labourers.

Hindus and scholars debate whether the caste system is an integral part of Hinduism sanctioned by the scriptures or an outdated social custom.[103][104] Although the scriptures contain passages that can be interpreted to sanction the Varna system, they contain indications that the caste system is not an essential part of the religion, and both sides in the debate can find scriptural support for their views. The oldest scriptures, the Vedas, place little emphasis on the caste system, mentioning it rarely and in a cursory manner. A verse from the Rig Veda indicates that a person's caste was not necessarily determined by that of his family:

"I am a bard, my father is a physician, my mother's job is to grind the corn." (Rig Veda 9.112.3)[105]

In the Vedic Era, there was no prohibition against the Shudras (which later on became the low-castes) listening to the Vedas or participating in any religious rite, as was the case in the later times.[106]

Mobility and flexibility within the varnas belie allegations of social discrimination in the caste system, as has been pointed out by several sociologists.[107][108] Several prominent Hindu figures who were born as Shudras became Brahmins through various actions. For example Valmiki, author of the Ramayana, was originally a thief.

Many social reformers, including Mahatma Gandhi and B. R. Ambedkar, criticized caste discrimination.[109] The religious teacher Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886) taught that

"Lovers of God do not belong to any caste . . . . A brahmin without this love is no longer a brahmin. And a pariah with the love of God is no longer a pariah. Through bhakti (devotion to God) an untouchable becomes pure and elevated."[110]

However, it is not only in the modern era that major figures of Hinduism have aggressively denied casteism. Adi Shankaracharya, who lived some time in the 5th century CE, was outspoken against caste, frequently citing scripture in defense of his then heterodox viewpoint.[citation needed] The Tantra that developed as a tradition distinct from orthodox Hinduism between the 8th and 11th centuries CE[111] also relaxed many societal strictures regarding class and caste distinction. However it would be an overgeneralization to say that the Tantrics did away with all caste restrictions, as N. N. Bhattacharyya explains:

"For example, Tantra according to its very nature has nothing to do with the caste system but in the later Tantras caste elements are pronounced. This is due to the fact that although many of our known Tantric teachers were non-Brāhmaṇas, rather belonging to the lower ranks of society, almost all of the known authors of the Tantric treatises were Brāhmaṇas who could not give up their caste prejudices notwithstanding their conversion to Tantrism."[112]

Discrimination based on caste, including untouchability against the so-called low castes, is criminalized by the Constitution of India.

Ahimsa and vegetarianism

Main article: Ahimsa

Hindus advocate the practice of ahiṃsā (non-violence) and respect for all life because divinity is believed to permeate all beings, including plants, insects, and non-human animals.[113] There is no sharp distinction between humans and other forms of life. The term ahiṃsā first appears in the Upanishads, and is the first of the five Yamas (eternal vows/restraints) in Raja Yoga.

In accordance with ahiṃsā, many Hindus embrace vegetarianism to respect higher forms of life. While vegetarianism is not a requirement of Hinduism, it is recommended for a sattva (purifying) lifestyle. Estimates of the number of lacto vegetarians in India (includes inhabitants of all religions) vary between 20% and 42%.[114] The food habits usually vary with the community and region, with some castes having fewer vegetarians and coastal populations relying on seafood.[115][116] Some Hindus avoid even onion and garlic, which are regarded as rajasic foods. Some avoid meat on specific holy days.

Observant Hindus who do eat meat almost always abstain from beef. The largely pastoral Vedic people and subsequent generations relied heavily on the cow for protein-rich milk and dairy products, tilling of fields and as a provider of fuel and fertilizer. Thus, it was identified as a caretaker and a maternal figure. The cow holds an honored place in Hindu society as a symbol of unselfish giving among all animals. Cow-slaughter is legally banned in almost all states of India.[117]


Since the Hindu scriptures are essentially silent on the issue of religious conversion, the question of whether Hindus should evangelization is open to interpretation.[118] Those who see Hinduism mainly as a philosophy, a set of beliefs, or a way of life generally believe that one can convert to Hinduism by incorporating Hindu beliefs into one's life and considering oneself a Hindu.[118] Some view Hinduism as more of an ethnicity than a religion and believe being born a Hindu makes one a Hindu for life. These people tend to believe that there is an assumption that one is Hindu when they come from India.[119] The Supreme Court of India has taken the former view, holding that the question of whether a person is a Hindu should be determined by the person's belief system, not by their ethnic or racial heritage.[120]

There is no formal process for conversion to Hinduism, although in many traditions a ritual called dīkshā ("initiation") marks the beginning of spiritual life. Most Hindu sects do not actively recruit converts because they believe that the goals of spiritual life can be attained through any religion, as long as it is practiced sincerely.[121] Nevertheless, Hindu "missionary" groups operate in various countries to provide spiritual guidance to persons of any religion. Examples include the Vedanta Society, Parisada Hindu Dharma, ISKCON, Arya Samaj and the Self-Realization Fellowship.


  1. such as Hindi, Bengali language and other contemporary Indo-Aryan languages, as well as in several Dravidian tongues including Tamil language and Kannada
  2. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. Ed. John Bowker. Oxford University Press, 2000; The term can be traced to late 19th century Hindu reform movements (J. Zavos, Defending Hindu Tradition: Sanatana Dharma as a Symbol of Orthodoxy in Colonial India, Religion (Academic Press), Volume 31, Number 2, April 2001, pp. 109-123; see also R. D. Baird, "Swami Bhaktivedanta and the Encounter with Religions," Modern Indian Responses to Religious Pluralism, edited by Harold Coward, State University of New York Press, 1987).
  3. Osborne, E: "Accessing R.E. Founders & Leaders, Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism Teacher's Book Mainstream.", page 9. Folens Limited, 2005.
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  6. Religion: Hinduism - National Geographic
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  8. Swami Chidbhavananda. The Bhagavad Gita. pp. 67-74. The Gita Dhyanam is a traditional short poem sometimes found as a prefatory to editions of the Bhagavad Gita. Verse 4 refers to all the Upanishads as the cows, and the Gita as the milk drawn from them.
  9. "Meaning of Hindu"
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  11. "Polytheism", Encyclopedia Britannica, 2007
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  15. See generally, Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda ISBN 81-85301-75-1
  16. The presence of God within the heart of every living being is mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita at 9.29, 15.15 and 18.61, which says that God is the source of inner direction and that it is through God's power alone that we have consciousness.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 17.6 17.7 Monier-Williams Sanskrit Dictionary
  18. 18.0 18.1 See generally, Sinha, H.P. (1993), Bhāratīya Darshan kī rūprekhā (Features of Indian Philosophy). Motilal Banarasidas Publ. ISBN 81-208-2144-0.
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  20. Blessingsconucopia.com
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  22. C.J. Fuller, The Camphor Flame 32 (Princeton 2004) ISBN 0-691-12048-X
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  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 Monier Williams, Religious Thought and Life in India 27 (New Delhi 1974)
  28. 28.0 28.1 Karl Werner, A Popular Dictionary of Hinduism at 37 (Curzon Press 1994) ISBN 0-7007-0279-2; See also the Vedic statement "ayam ātmā brahma" (This Atman is Brahman).
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  37. The concepts of Heaven and Hell do not translate directly into Hinduism. Spiritual realms such as Vaikunta (the abode of Vishnu) or loka are the closest analogues to an eternal Kingdom of God.
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  41. B-Gita 11.54 "My dear Arjuna, only by undivided devotional service can I be understood as I am, standing before you, and can thus be seen directly. Only in this way can you enter into the mysteries of My understanding."
  42. B-Gita 5.5 "One who knows that the position reached by means of analytical study can also be attained by devotional service, and who therefore sees analytical study and devotional service to be on the same level, sees things as they are."
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  54. T. Oberlies (Die Religion des Rgveda, Vienna 1998. p. 158) based on 'cumulative evidence' sets wide range of 1700–1100.
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  93. arcye viṣṇau śīlā-dhīr. . . narakī saḥ.
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  105. Later scriptures, however, such as the Bhagavad Gita (4.13) state that the four Template:IAST divisions are created by God, and the Manusmriti categorizes the different castes.Manu Smriti Laws of Manu 1.87-1.91 However, at the same time, the Gītā says that one's varṇa is to be understood from one's personal qualities and one's work, not one's birth. This view is supported by records of sages who became Brahmins. For example, the sage Vishwamitra was a king of the Kshatriya caste, and only later became recognized as a great Brahmin sage, indicating that his caste was not determined by birth. Similarly, Valmiki, once a low-caste robber, became a sage. Veda Vyasa, another sage, was the son of a fisherwoman (Sabhlok, Prem. "Glimpses of Vedic Metaphysics". Page 21).
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  107. Template:Cite journal
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  112. N. N. Bhattacharyya. History of the Tantric Religion, p. 44-5.
  113. Monier-Williams, Religious Thought and Life in India (New Delhi, 1974 edition)
  114. Surveys studying food habits of Indians include: "Diary and poultry sector growth in India", "Indian consumer patterns" and "Agri reform in India". Results indicate that even Indians who eat meat do so infrequently with less than 30% consuming non-vegetarian foods regularly, although the reasons may be economical.
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  116. Template:Cite news
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  • Bhaskarananda, Swami, "Meditation: Mind & Patanjali's Yoga", Viveka Press, 2001. ISBN 1-884852-03-3
  • Bhaskarananda, Swami, "Ritualistic Worship and Its Utility"
  • Bhattacharyya, N. N. History of the Tantric Religion, Manohar Publications, Second Revised Edition, 1999. ISBN 81-7304-025-7
  • Bhatia V.P., "Secularisation of a Martyrdom", Organiser, 11-11998.
  • Chidbhavananda, Swami. The Bhagavad Gita, Sri Ramakrishna Tapovanam, 1997.
  • Coulson, Michael, "Sanskrit: An Introduction to the Classical Language", Hodder & Stoughton, 1992. ISBN 0-8442-3825-2
  • Bowes, Pratima,"The Hindu Religious Tradition: A Philosophical Approach", Allied Pub., 1976. ISBN 0710086687
  • Encarta, Hinduism
  • Flood, Gavin (Ed.), "Blackwell companion to Hinduism", Blackwell Publishing, 2003. ISBN 0-631-21535-2
  • David Frawley, "Hinduism and the Clash of Civilizations", Voice of India, 2001. ISBN 81-85990-72-7
  • Fox, Michael Allen, "Deep Vegetarianism", Temple University Press, 1999. ISBN 1-566397-05-7
  • Fuller, C.J., "The Camphor Flame", Princeton University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-691-12048-X
  • Harshananda, Swami, "A Bird's Eye View of the Vedas" in "Holy Scriptures: A Symposium on the Great Scriptures of the World" (2d Ed.). ISBN 81-7120-121-0
  • Kriyananda, Swami, Awaken to Superconsciousness. Crystal Clarity Publishers, 2000. ISBN 978-1565891364
  • Kriyananda, Swami, The Art and Science of Raja Yoga. Crystal Clarity Publishers, 2002. ISBN 978-8120818767
  • Kriyananda, Swami, The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita: Explained by Paramhansa Yogananda, As Remembered by His Disciple, Swami Kriyananda. Crystal Clarity Publishers, 2006. ISBN 978-1565892194
  • Klostermaier, K, "A Survey of Hinduism", SUNY Press, 1994.
  • Mani, Vettam, "Puranic Encyclopedia", Motilal, Delhi, 1998. ISBN 81-208-0597-6
  • McGregor, R.S., "The Oxford Hindi-English Dictionary", Oxford University Press, 5th ed., 1999. ISBN 0-19-563846-8
  • Michaels, Alex, "Hinduism: Past and Present", Princeton University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-691-08953-1
  • Monier Monier-Williams, "Brahmanism and Hinduism", New York, 1891.
  • Monier Monier-Williams, "Religious thought and life in India", Oriental Books Reprint, 1974.
  • Monier Monier-Williams, "Monier-Williams Sanskrit Dictionary", Nataraj Books, 2006, ISBN 18-81338-58-4
  • Swami Nikhilananda, "The Upanishads: A New Translation", Vol. I (5th Ed) 1990. ISBN 0-911206-15-9
  • Swami Nikhilananda (trans.), "Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna", 1992. ISBN 0-911206-01-9
  • Oberlies, T, "Die Religion des Rgveda", Vienna 1998.
  • Osborne, E, "Accessing R.E. Founders & Leaders, Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism Teacher's Book Mainstream.", Folens Limited, 2005.
  • Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (trans.), "Bhagvada Gita", Harper Collins, 1995. ISBN 1-855384-57-4
  • Renou, Louis, "The Nature of Hinduism", Walker, 1964.
  • Rinehart, Robin (Ed.), "Contemporary Hinduism", 2004. ISBN 1-57607-905-8
  • Sargeant, Winthrop, "Introduction to 'The Bhagavad Gita' ", New York, 1984. ISBN 0-87395-831-4
  • Sinha, H.P., "Bharatiya darshan ki ruparekha" (Features of Indian Philosophy). Motilal Banarasidas Publ., 1993. ISBN 81-208-2144-0
  • Sivananda, Swami, Jnana Yoga. Divine Life Society, 1982.
  • Sivananda, Swami, Karma Yoga (Life and works of Swami Sivananda). Integral Yoga, 1987. ISBN 978-0949027047
  • Supreme Court of India, "Brahmachari Siddheshwar Shai v. State of West Bengal".
  • Swami Vivekananda, "Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda". ISBN 81-85301-75-1
  • Swami Vivekananda, "Vedanta, Voice of Freedom:, Ed. Swami Chetanananda, 1990. ISBN 0-916356-63-9
  • Swami Vivekananda, "Jnana Yoga", Kessinger Publishing, 2005. ISBN 1-425482-88-0
  • Werner, Karel, "A Popular Dictionary of Hinduism", Curzon Press, 1994. ISBN 0-7007-0279-2


Further reading

  • Rene Guenon, "Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines", 2001 (first french edition 1921), Sophia Perennis, ISBN 0-900-588-74-8
  • Rene Guenon, "Man and His Becoming According to the Vedanta", Sophia Perennis, ISBN 0-900-588-62-4
  • Rene Guenon, "Studies in Hinduism", Sophia Perennis

See also

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  • Hindu
  • World Hinduism
  • Hinduism by country


  • Criticism of Hinduism
  • anti-Hinduism
  • Hindu calendar


  • Hindu deities
  • Hindu denominations
  • Hindu reform movements


  • List of Hinduism-related articles
  • List of Hindu temples
  • List of Hindus


Related systems and religions Template:Col-begin


  • Hinduism and other religions
  • Eastern philosophy
  • Dharmic religions
  • Hellenism and Hinduism


  • Jainism
  • Taoism
  • Buddhism
  • Buddhism and Hinduism


  • Sikhism
  • Hinduism and Sikh Panth
  • Ayyavazhi
  • Ayyavazhi and Hinduism


  • Zoroastrianism
  • Zoroastrianism and Hinduism
  • Confucianism
  • Hinduism and Confucianism


  • Proto-Indo-Iranian religion
  • Proto-Indo-European religion


External links

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