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Hinduism, major world religious beliefs originating on the Indian subcontinent and comprising several and varied equipment of philosophy, belief, and also ritual. Although the name Hinduism is relatively new, having been coined by British authors in the first decades the the 19th century, it describes a well-off cumulative legacy of texts and also practices, some of which day to the second millennium bce or perhaps earlier. If the Indus valley human being (3rd–2nd millennium bce) to be the earliest resource of these traditions, as part scholars hold, then Hinduism is the earliest living faith on Earth. Its numerous sacred texts in Sanskrit and also vernacular languages offered as a car for spreading the faith to other parts that the world, though ritual and also the visual and also performing arts additionally played a far-reaching role in that transmission. From about the fourth century ce, Hinduism had a dominant presence in southeast Asia, one that would certainly last for more than 1,000 years.

In the beforehand 21st century, Hinduism had nearly one exchange rate adherents an international and to be the faith of about 80 percent the India’s population. In spite of its global presence, however, it is ideal understood through its many distinctive regional manifestations.


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The term Hinduism

The term Hinduism ended up being familiar as a designator of religious ideas and also practices distinctive come India v the publishing of books such together Hinduism (1877) by teacher Monier Monier-Williams, the notable Oxford scholar and also author the an significant Sanskrit dictionary. At first it to be an outsiders’ term, building on centuries-old usages of words Hindu. Early travelers come the Indus valley, beginning with the Greeks and also Persians, spoke of its residents as “Hindu” (Greek: ‘indoi), and, in the 16th century, citizens of India us began really slowly to employ the hatchet to identify themselves native the Turks. Progressively the distinction became primarily religious rather 보다 ethnic, geographic, or cultural.

Since the so late 19th century, Hindus have actually reacted to the term Hinduism in number of ways. Some have rejected it in favour of native formulations. Rather have preferred “Vedic religion,” using the ax Vedic to refer not only to the ancient spiritual texts well-known as the Vedas but additionally to a fluid corpus of spiritual works in lot of languages and also an orthoprax (traditionally sanctioned) means of life. Still others have actually chosen to speak to the religion sanatana dharma (“eternal law”), a formulation made well-known in the 19th century and also emphasizing the timeless elements of the heritage that are regarded to transcend local interpretations and practice. Finally, others, maybe the majority, have actually simply welcomed the ax Hinduism or that analogues, especially hindu dharma (Hindu ethical and spiritual law), in assorted Indic languages.

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Since the at an early stage 20th century, textbooks on Hinduism have been written by Hindus themselves, frequently under the rubric the sanatana dharma. These efforts at self-explanation add a brand-new layer to an elaborate tradition that explaining practice and also doctrine that days to the 1st millennium bce. The root of Hinduism have the right to be traced earlier much farther—both textually, to the institutions of commentary and debate kept in epic and Vedic writings from the 2nd millennium bce, and also visually, through artistic representations that yakshas (luminous spirits linked with details locales and also natural phenomena) and nagas (cobralike divinities), i beg your pardon were worshipped from about 400 bce. The root of the heritage are likewise sometimes traced ago to the mrs terra-cotta figurines found ubiquitously in excavations the sites linked with the Indus valley civilization and also sometimes construed as goddesses.