Hinduism 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 a minor character from the Hindu epic
. The son of Pandava
(one of the main heroes of the Mahabharata) and the Naga
, Iravan is the central god of the cult of Kuttantavar and plays a major role in the cult of Draupadi
. Both these cults are of South Indian
origin, from a region of the country where he is worshipped as a village deity
. The Mahabharata portrays Iravan as dying a heroic death in the 18-day Kurukshetra War
, the epic's main subject. However, the South Indian cults have a supplementary tradition of honouring Iravan's self-sacrifice to the goddess Kali
to ensure her favour and the victory of the Pandavas in the war. The South Indian cult focus on three boons granted to Iravan by the god Krishna
in honour of this self-sacrifice. Iravan is also a patron god of well-known Indian transgender
communities called Ali
. In Koovagam
, Tamil Nadu
, an 18-day festival holds a ceremonial marriage of Iravan to Ali
s and male villagers and followed then by their "widowhood" after ritual re-enactment of Iravan's sacrifice. Iravan is also known in Indonesia. Independent Javanese
traditions present a dramatic marriage of Irawan to Titisari, daughter of Krishna, and a death resulting from a case of mistaken identity.
The festival of lights, Diwali, is celebrated by Hindus all over the world.
Basic Hindu symbols: Shatkona, Padma, and Swastika.
A statue of Shiva in yogic meditation
Hinduism – Percentage by country
The Hindu deity Ganesha is sometimes linked to the symbol Om.
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).
A goshala or cow shelter at Guntur
Babur visits a Hindu temple.
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.
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.
AUM, a stylised letter of Devanagari script, used as a religious symbol in Hinduism
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
(October 2, 1869 – January 30, 1948) was a major political and spiritual leader of the Indian Independence Movement
. He was the pioneer of satyagraha
— resistance through mass civil disobedience
strongly founded upon ahimsa
) becoming one of the strongest philosophies of freedom struggles worldwide. Gandhi is commonly known and spoken of worldwide as Mahatma Gandhi
: महात्मा, məhatma
; from Sanskrit
: Great Soul
) and is fondly called Bapu
(in Gujarati, Father
Gandhi first employed his ideas of civil disobedience in the Indian struggle for civil rights in South Africa. Upon his return to India, Gandhi helped lead poor farmers and laborers to protest oppressive taxation and widespread discrimination.
In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita
in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial.
Things you can do