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Hindus (; ) are persons who regard themselves as culturally, ethnically, or religiously adhering to aspects of
Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent. These religions, which include Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, ...

Hinduism
.
Jeffery D. Long Jeffery D. Long (born 1969) is a religious studies Religious studies, also known as the study of religion, is an academic field devoted to research into religion, religious beliefs, behaviors, and institutions. It describes, compares, interpre ...
(2007), A Vision for Hinduism, IB Tauris, , pages 35–37
Historically, the term has also been used as a geographical, cultural, and later religious identifier for people living in the Indian subcontinent. The historical meaning of the term ''Hindu'' has evolved with time. Starting with the
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...

Persian
and
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
references to the land of the Indus in the 1st millennium BCE through the texts of the medieval era, the term Hindu implied a geographic, ethnic or cultural identifier for people living in the Indian subcontinent around or beyond the . By the 16th century CE, the term began to refer to residents of the subcontinent who were not
Turkic Turkic may refer to: * anything related to the country of Turkey * Turkic languages, a language family of at least thirty-five documented languages ** Turkic alphabets (disambiguation) ** Turkish language, the most widely spoken Turkic language * T ...
or
Muslims Muslims () are people who follow or practice Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", ...
. In DN Jha's essay “Looking for a Hindu identity”, he writes: “No Indians described themselves as Hindus before the fourteenth century” and “Hinduism was a creation of the colonial period and cannot lay claim to any great antiquity”. He further wrote “The British borrowed the word ‘Hindu’ from India, gave it a new meaning and significance, reimported it into India as a reified phenomenon called Hinduism.” In the 18th century, the European merchants and colonists began to refer to the followers of Indian religions collectively as Hindus. Hindoo is an archaic spelling variant, whose use today may be considered derogatory. The historical development of Hindu self-identity within the local Indian population, in a religious or cultural sense, is unclear. Competing theories state that Hindu identity developed in the
British colonial era British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and Crown Dependencies. ** Britishness, the British identity and common culture * British English, t ...

British colonial era
, or that it may have developed post-8th century CE after the Muslim invasions and medieval Hindu–Muslim wars. A sense of Hindu identity and the term ''Hindu'' appears in some texts dated between the 13th and 18th century in
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
and
Bengali Bengali or Bengalee, or Bengalese may refer to: *something of, from, or related to Bengal, a large region in South Asia * Bengalis, an ethnic and linguistic group of the region * Bengali language, the language they speak ** Bengali alphabet, the wr ...
. The 14th- and 18th-century Indian poets such as
Vidyapati Vidyapati ( – 1448), also known by the sobriquet ''Maithil Kavi Kokil'' (the poet cuckoo The cuckoos are a family of bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrates constituting the class (biology), class Aves , characteris ...

Vidyapati
,
Kabir Kabir Das (, Hindustani Hindustani may refer to: * something of, from, or related to Hindustan (another name of India) * Hindustani language, an Indo-Aryan language, whose two official norms are Hindi and Urdu * Fiji Hindi, a variety of East ...

Kabir
and
Eknath Sant Eknath (Marathi Marathi may refer to: *Marathi people, an Indo-Aryan ethno-linguistic group of Maharashtra, India *Marathi language, the Indo-Aryan language spoken by the Marathi people *Palaiosouda, also known as Marathi, a small islan ...
used the phrase ''Hindu dharma'' (Hinduism) and contrasted it with ''Turaka dharma'' (
Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", "ah gawd"; see interjection An interjection is a word or ex ...
). The
Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ''Christian'' derive from the Koi ...

Christian
friar A friar is a brother A brother is a man A man is an adult male Male (♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete known as sperm. A male gamete can fuse with a larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertil ...
Sebastiao Manrique used the term 'Hindu' in a religious context in 1649. In the 18th century, European merchants and colonists began to refer to the followers of
Indian religions Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered soci ...
collectively as ''Hindus'', in contrast to ''Mohamedans'' for groups such as Turks,
Mughals The Mughal, Mogul, or Moghul Empire was an early modern The early modern period of modern history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of 's past. It is understood through , , , and , and since the , from and s. ...
and
Arabs The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technica ...

Arabs
, who were adherents of Islam. By the mid-19th century, colonial orientalist texts further distinguished Hindus from
Buddhists Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and ...

Buddhists
,
Sikhs Sikhs ( or ; pa, ਸਿੱਖ, ', ) are people who adhere to Sikhism, a monotheistic religion that originated in the late 15th century '' by Francisco Pradilla Ortiz, 1882: Muhammad XII surrenders to Ferdinand and Isabella The 15th ...
and
Jains Jainism (), traditionally known as ''Jain Dharma'', is an ancient Indian religion Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent; namely Hinduis ...

Jains
, but the colonial laws continued to consider all of them to be within the scope of the term ''Hindu'' until about mid-20th century. Scholars state that the custom of distinguishing between Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs is a modern phenomenon. At more than 1.2 billion, Hindus are the world's third-largest religious group after Christians and Muslims. The vast majority of Hindus, approximately 966 million (94.3% of the global Hindu population), live in India, according to the 2011 Indian census. After
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
, the next nine countries with the largest Hindu populations are, in decreasing order:
Nepal Nepal (; ne, नेपाल ), officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal ( ne, सङ्घीय लोकतान्त्रिक गणतन्त्र नेपाल ), is a landlocked country in South Asia. It is ma ...
,
Bangladesh Bangladesh (, bn, বাংলাদেশ, ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, ethno-c ...
,
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is t ...
,
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...

Pakistan
,
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකාව, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon, and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is ...
, the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
,
Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...
, the
United Arab Emirates The United Arab Emirates (UAE; ar, الإمارات العربية المتحدة ) or the Emirates ( ar, الإمارات ), is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregio ...
and the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...
.10 Countries With the Largest Hindu Populations, 2010 and 2050
Pew Research Center (2015), Washington DC
These together accounted for 99% of the world's Hindu population, and the remaining nations of the world combined had about 6 million Hindus .


Etymology

The word ''Hindu'' is an exonym. This word ''Hindu'' is derived from the
Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also

*Aryan invasion theory (disambiguation) *Indo-Aryan tribes (disambigua ...
and
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
word ''Sindhu'', which means "a large body of water", covering "river, ocean". It was used as the name of the
Indus River The Indus ( ) is a transboundary river A transboundary river is a river that crosses at least one political border, either a border within a nation or an international boundary. Bangladesh has the highest number of these rivers, including t ...

Indus River
and also referred to its tributaries. The actual term '' first occurs, states Gavin Flood, as "a
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
geographical term for the people who lived beyond the river Indus (Sanskrit: ''Sindhu'')", more specifically in the 6th-century BCE inscription of
Darius I Darius I ( peo, 𐎭𐎠𐎼𐎹𐎺𐎢𐏁 ; New Persian New Persian ( fa, فارسی نو), also known as Modern Persian () and Dari (), is the final stage of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym ( ...
. The
Punjab region Punjab (; ; ; ; also romanised Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and m ...

Punjab region
, called
Sapta Sindhu River A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course without reaching another body ...
in the Vedas, is called ''Hapta Hindu'' in
Zend Avesta The Avesta () is the primary collection of religious texts of Zoroastrianism, composed in Avestan language. The Avesta texts fall into several different categories, arranged either by dialect, or by usage. The principal text in the liturgical ...
. The 6th-century BCE inscription of Darius I mentions the province of ''Hi ush'', referring to northwestern India. The people of India were referred to as ''Hinduvān'' (Hindus) and ''hindavī'' was used as the adjective for Indian in the 8th century text ''
Chachnama ''Chach Nama'' ( sd, چچ نامو; ur, چچ نامہ; "Story of the Chach"), also known as the ''Fateh nama Sindh'' ( sd, فتح نامه سنڌ; "Story of the conquest of Sindh"), and as ''Tareekh al-Hind wa a's-Sind'' ( ar, تاريخ الهند ...
''. The term 'Hindu' in these ancient records is an ethno-geographical term and did not refer to a religion. The Arabic equivalent ''Al-Hind'' likewise referred to the country of India. Among the earliest known records of 'Hindu' with connotations of religion may be in the 7th-century CE Chinese text ''Record of the Western Regions'' by the Buddhist scholar
Xuanzang Xuanzang (; fl. 602 – 664), born Chen Hui / Chen Yi (), also known as Hiuen Tsang, was a 7th-century Chinese Buddhist monk A monk (, from el, μοναχός, ''monachos'', "single, solitary" via Latin Latin (, or , ) is a cla ...

Xuanzang
. Xuanzang uses the transliterated term ''In-tu'' whose "connotation overflows in the religious" according to
Arvind Sharma Arvind Sharma is the Birks Professor of Comparative Religion at McGill University. Sharma's works focus on Hinduism, philosophy of religion. In editing books his works include ''Our Religions'' and ''Women in World Religions,'' ''Feminism in Wor ...
. While Xuanzang suggested that the term refers to the country named after the moon, another Buddhist scholar
I-tsing Yijing (635–713CE), formerly romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying ...
contradicted the conclusion saying that ''In-tu'' was not a common name for the country.
Al-Biruni Abu Rayhan al-Biruni (973 – after 1050) was an Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran ( fa, جمهوری اسلامی ایران ), is a co ...
's 11th-century text ''Tarikh Al-Hind'', and the texts of the Delhi Sultanate period use the term 'Hindu', where it includes all non-Islamic people such as Buddhists, and retains the ambiguity of being "a region or a religion". The 'Hindu' community occurs as the amorphous 'Other' of the Muslim community in the court chronicles, according to
Romila Thapar Romila Thapar (born 30 November 1931) is an Indian historian. Her principal area of study is ancient India According to consensus in modern genetics, anatomically modern humans first arrived on the Indian subcontinent from Africa between ...

Romila Thapar
.
Wilfred Cantwell Smith Wilfred Cantwell Smith (1916–2000) was a Canadian Islamicist, comparative religion Comparative religion is the branch of the study of religions concerned with the systematic comparison of the doctrines and practices, themes and impacts ( ...
notes that 'Hindu' retained its geographical reference initially: 'Indian', 'indigenous, local', virtually 'native'. Slowly, the Indian groups themselves started using the term, differentiating themselves and their "traditional ways" from those of the invaders. The text ''
Prithviraj Raso The ''Prithviraj Raso'' (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit and related Indic language ...

Prithviraj Raso
'', by Chanda Baradai, about the 1192 CE defeat of
Prithviraj Chauhan Prithviraja III (IAST: Pṛthvī-rāja; reign. –1192 CE), popularly known as Prithviraj Chauhan or Rai Pithora was a king from the Chahamanas of Shakambhari, Chahamana (Chauhan) dynasty. He ruled Sapadalaksha, the traditional Chahamana terr ...
at the hands of
Muhammad Ghori Mu'izz ad-Din Muhammad Ghori ( fa, معز الدین محمد غوری), born Shihab ad-Din (1149 – March 15, 1206), also known as Muhammad of Ghor, was the Sultan Sultan (; ar, سلطان ', ) is a position with several historical mea ...
, is full of references to "Hindus" and "Turks", and at one stage, says "both the religions have drawn their curved swords;" however, the date of this text is unclear and considered by most scholars to be more recent. In Islamic literature, 'Abd al-Malik Isami's Persian work, ''Futuhu's-salatin'', composed in the Deccan in 1350, uses the word '' to mean Indian in the ethno-geographical sense and the word '' to mean 'Hindu' in the sense of a follower of the Hindu religion". The poet
Vidyapati Vidyapati ( – 1448), also known by the sobriquet ''Maithil Kavi Kokil'' (the poet cuckoo The cuckoos are a family of bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrates constituting the class (biology), class Aves , characteris ...

Vidyapati
's poem ''Kirtilata'' contrasts the cultures of Hindus and Turks (Muslims) in a city and concludes "The Hindus and the Turks live close together; Each makes fun of the other's religion (''dhamme'')." One of the earliest uses of word 'Hindu' in religious context in a European language (Spanish), was the publication in 1649 by Sebastiao Manrique. Other prominent mentions of 'Hindu' include the epigraphical inscriptions from Andhra Pradesh kingdoms who battled military expansion of Muslim dynasties in the 14th century, where the word 'Hindu' partly implies a religious identity in contrast to 'Turks' or Islamic religious identity. The term ''Hindu'' was later used occasionally in some Sanskrit texts such as the later
Rajatarangini ''Rajatarangini'' (, "The River of Kings") is a metrical legendary and historical chronicle of the north-western Indian subcontinent, particularly the kings of Kashmir Kashmir, ks, کٔشیٖر, kaśīr is the northernmost geographica ...

Rajatarangini
s of Kashmir (Hinduka, c. 1450) and some 16th- to 18th-century
Bengali Bengali or Bengalee, or Bengalese may refer to: *something of, from, or related to Bengal, a large region in South Asia * Bengalis, an ethnic and linguistic group of the region * Bengali language, the language they speak ** Bengali alphabet, the wr ...
Gaudiya Vaishnava Gaudiya Vaishnavism (), also known as Bengali Vaishnavism, Chaitanya Vaishnavism, the Chaitanya/Gaudiya Sampradaya is a Vaishnavism, Vaishnava Hindu denominations, Hindu religious movement inspired by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486–1534) in In ...
texts, including ''
Chaitanya Charitamrita The Caitanyacaritāmṛta ( bn, চৈতন্যচরিতামৃত, Côitônyôcôritamṛtô), composed by Krishnadasa Kaviraja in 1557, is written in Bengali with a great number of Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛt ...
'' and ''
Chaitanya Bhagavata Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata ( bn, চৈতন্য ভাগবত) is a hagiography of Caitanya Mahāprabhu written by Vrindavana Dasa Thakura (1507-1589 CE). It was the first full-length work regarding Chaitanya Mahaprabhu written in Bengali ...
''. These texts used it to contrast Hindus from Muslims who are called
Yavanas The word Yona in Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan ...
(foreigners) or Mlecchas (barbarians), with the 16th-century ''Chaitanya Charitamrita'' text and the 17th-century ''Bhakta Mala'' text using the phrase "Hindu
dharma Dharma (; sa, धर्म, dharma, ; pi, dhamma, italic=yes; ta, aṟam, italic=yes) is a key concept with multiple meanings in Indian religions Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the s ...
".


Terminology


Medieval-era usage (8th to 18th century)

One of the earliest but ambiguous uses of the word Hindu is, states
Arvind Sharma Arvind Sharma is the Birks Professor of Comparative Religion at McGill University. Sharma's works focus on Hinduism, philosophy of religion. In editing books his works include ''Our Religions'' and ''Women in World Religions,'' ''Feminism in Wor ...
, in the 'Brahmanabad settlement' which Muhammad ibn Qasim made with non-Muslims after the Arab invasion of northwestern Sindh region of India, in 712 CE. The term 'Hindu' meant people who were non-Muslims, and it included Buddhists of the region.Arvind Sharma (2002)
On Hindu, Hindustān, Hinduism and Hindutva
Numen, Vol. 49, Fasc. 1, pages 5–9
In the 11th-century text of Al Biruni, Hindus are referred to as "religious antagonists" to Islam, as those who believe in rebirth, presents them to hold a diversity of beliefs, and seems to oscillate between Hindus holding a centralist and pluralist religious views. In the texts of Delhi Sultanate era, states Sharma, the term Hindu remains ambiguous on whether it means people of a region or religion, giving the example of Ibn Battuta's explanation of the name "Hindu Kush" for a mountain range in Afghanistan. It was so called, wrote Ibn Battuta, because many Indian slaves died there of snow cold, as they were marched across that mountain range. The term ''Hindu'' there is ambivalent and could mean geographical region or religion. The term Hindu appears in the texts from the Mughal Empire era. It broadly refers to non-Muslims. Pashaura Singh states, "in Persian writings, Sikhs were regarded as Hindu in the sense of non-Muslim Indians".
Jahangir Nur-ud-din Muhammad Salim (Persian language, Persian: ), known by his imperial name, Jahangir (Persian language, Persian: ) (31 August 1569 – 28 October 1627), was the fourth Mughal Emperor, who ruled from 1605 until his death in 1627. His ...

Jahangir
, for example, called the Sikh
Guru Arjan Guru Arjan (Gurmukhi Gurmukhī ( pa, ਗੁਰਮੁਖੀ, , Shahmukhi: ) is an abugida . ''May Śiva protect those who take delight in the language of the gods.'' ( Kalidasa) An abugida (, from Ge'ez language, Ge'ez: አቡጊዳ), ...

Guru Arjan
a Hindu:


Colonial-era usage (18th to 20th century)

During the colonial era, the term Hindu had connotations of native religions of India, that is religions other than Christianity and Islam.Gauri Viswanathan (1998), Outside the Fold: Conversion, Modernity, and Belief, Princeton University Press, , page 78 In early colonial era Anglo-Hindu laws and British India court system, the term Hindu referred to people of all Indian religions as well as two non-Indian religions: Judaism and Zoroastrianism. In the 20th century, personal laws were formulated for Hindus, and the term 'Hindu' in these colonial 'Hindu laws' applied to Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs in addition to denominational Hindus.Rachel Sturman (2010), Hinduism and Law: An Introduction (Editors: Timothy Lubin et al), Cambridge University Press, , pag 90 Beyond the stipulations of British law, colonial
orientalists File:WomenofAlgiers.JPG, 300px, Eugène Delacroix, ''The Women of Algiers,'' 1834, the Louvre, Paris In art history, literature and cultural studies, Orientalism is the imitation or depiction of aspects in the Eastern world. These depictions are ...
and particularly the influential Asiatick Researches founded in the 18th century, later called
The Asiatic Society The Asiatic Society is an organisation founded during the British Raj The British Raj (; from ''rāj'', literally, "rule" in Sanskrit and Hindustani language, Hindustani) was the rule by the The Crown, British Crown on the Indian subc ...
, initially identified just two religions in India – Islam, and Hinduism. These orientalists included all Indian religions such as Buddhism as a subgroup of Hinduism in the 18th century. These texts called followers of Islam as ''Mohamedans'', and all others as ''Hindus''. The text, by the early 19th century, began dividing Hindus into separate groups, for chronology studies of the various beliefs. Among the earliest terms to emerge were ''Seeks and their College'' (later spelled Sikhs by Charles Wilkins), ''Boudhism'' (later spelled Buddhism), and in the 9th volume of Asiatick Researches report on religions in India, the term ''Jainism'' received notice. According to Pennington, the terms Hindu and Hinduism were thus constructed for colonial studies of India. The various sub-divisions and separation of subgroup terms were assumed to be result of "communal conflict", and Hindu was constructed by these orientalists to imply people who adhered to "ancient default oppressive religious substratum of India", states Pennington. Followers of other Indian religions so identified were later referred Buddhists, Sikhs or Jains and distinguished from Hindus, in an antagonistic two-dimensional manner, with Hindus and Hinduism stereotyped as irrational traditional and others as rational reform religions. However, these mid-19th-century reports offered no indication of doctrinal or ritual differences between Hindu and Buddhist, or other newly constructed religious identities. These colonial studies, states Pennigton, "puzzled endlessly about the Hindus and intensely scrutinized them, but did not interrogate and avoided reporting the practices and religion of Mughal and Arabs in South Asia", and often relied on Muslim scholars to characterise Hindus.


Contemporary usage

In contemporary era, the term Hindus are individuals who identify with one or more aspects of
Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent. These religions, which include Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, ...

Hinduism
, whether they are practising or non-practicing or ''
Laissez-faire ''Laissez-faire'' ( ; from french: laissez faire , ) is an economic system An economic system, or economic order, is a system of Production (economics), production, allocation of resources, resource allocation and Distribution (economics), d ...
''. The term does not include those who identify with other Indian religions such as Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism or various animist tribal religions found in India such as
Sarnaism Sarna are sacred groves in the Indian religious traditions of the Chota Nagpur Plateau region in the states of Jharkhand, Bihar, Assam and Chhattisgarh. Followers of these rituals primarily belong to the Munda people, Munda, Kharia people, Khari ...
. The term Hindu, in contemporary parlance, includes people who accept themselves as culturally or ethnically Hindu rather than with a fixed set of religious beliefs within Hinduism. One need not be religious in the minimal sense, states
Julius Lipner Julius Lipner (born 11 August 1946), who is of Indo-Czech origin, is Professor of Hinduism and the Comparative Study of Religion at the University of Cambridge. Early life Lipner was born and brought up in India, for the most part in West Bengal. A ...
, to be accepted as Hindu by Hindus, or to describe oneself as Hindu. Hindus subscribe to a diversity of ideas on
spirituality The meaning of spirituality has developed and expanded over time, and various connotations can be found alongside each other. Traditionally, spirituality referred to a Religion, religious process of re-formation which "aims to recover the origin ...

spirituality
and traditions, but have no ecclesiastical order, no unquestionable religious authorities, no governing body, nor a single founding prophet; Hindus can choose to be polytheistic, pantheistic, monotheistic, monistic, agnostic, atheistic or humanist. Because of the wide range of traditions and ideas covered by the term Hinduism, arriving at a comprehensive definition is difficult. The religion "defies our desire to define and categorize it". A Hindu may, by his or her choice, draw upon ideas of other Indian or non-Indian religious thought as a resource, follow or evolve his or her personal beliefs, and still identify as a Hindu. In 1995, Chief Justice P. B. Gajendragadkar was quoted in an
Indian Supreme Court The Supreme Court of India (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit and related Indic lang ...

Indian Supreme Court
ruling:
Supreme Court of India The Supreme Court of India (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scie ...

Supreme Court of India

"Bramchari Sidheswar Shai and others Versus State of West Bengal"
1995
Archive2
Archived fro

.
Supreme Court of India 1966 AIR 1119
''Sastri Yagnapurushadji'' vs ''Muldas Brudardas Vaishya''
(pdf), page 15, 14 January 1966
:When we think of the Hindu religion, unlike other religions in the world, the Hindu religion does not claim any one prophet; it does not worship any one god; it does not subscribe to any one dogma; it does not believe in any one philosophic concept; it does not follow any one set of religious rites or performances; in fact, it does not appear to satisfy the narrow traditional features of any religion or
creed A creed, also known as a confession of faith, symbol, or statement of faith, is a statement of the shared belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology ...
. It may broadly be described as a way of life and nothing more. Although Hinduism contains a broad range of philosophies, Hindus share philosophical concepts, such as but not limiting to
dharma Dharma (; sa, धर्म, dharma, ; pi, dhamma, italic=yes; ta, aṟam, italic=yes) is a key concept with multiple meanings in Indian religions Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the s ...
,
karma Karma (; sa, कर्म}, ; pi, kamma, italic=yes) means action, work, or deed. For the believers in spirituality the term also refers to the Spirituality, spiritual principle of cause and effect, often descriptively called the principl ...

karma
,
kama ''Kama'' (Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia a ...

kama
,
artha ''Artha'' (; sa, अर्थ) is one of the four aims of human life in Indian philosophy.James Lochtefeld (2002), The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Rosen Publishing, New York, , pp 55–56 The word ''artha'' literally translates as "mea ...
,
moksha ''Moksha'' (; sa, मोक्ष, '; Tamil Tamil may refer to: * Tamils, an ethnic group native to India, Sri Lanka and some other parts of Asia **Sri Lankan Tamils, Tamil people native to Sri Lanka **Tamil Malaysians, Tamil people native ...

moksha
and , even if each subscribes to a diversity of views. Hindus also have shared texts such as the
Veda upright=1.2, The Vedas are ancient Sanskrit texts of Hinduism. Above: A page from the '' Atharvaveda''. The Vedas (; Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical la ...

Veda
s with embedded
Upanishads The Upanishads (; sa, उपनिषद् ) are Vedic period, late Vedic Sanskrit texts of Hindu philosophy which supplied the basis of later Hindu philosophy.Wendy Doniger (1990), ''Textual Sources for the Study of Hinduism'', 1st Editio ...
, and common ritual grammar (
Sanskara (rite of passage) Sanskara (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific s ...
) such as rituals during a wedding or when a baby is born or cremation rituals.Carl Olson (2007), The Many Colors of Hinduism: A Thematic-historical Introduction, Rutgers University Press, , pages 93–94 Some Hindus go on pilgrimage to shared sites they consider spiritually significant, practice one or more forms of
bhakti ''Bhakti'' ( sa, ) literally means "attachment, state of mind where the devotees surrender himself or herself unquestioningly to God. The union of the human soul with a supreme God, man's love and devotion for God are some of the concepts wh ...

bhakti
or puja, celebrate mythology and epics, major festivals, love and respect for
guru Guru (, ; sa, गुरु, IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit and related Indic langu ...

guru
and family, and other cultural traditions. A Hindu could: * follow any of the Hindu schools of philosophy, such as
Advaita ''Advaita Vedānta'' (; sa, अद्वैत वेदान्त, IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts ...
(non-
dualism Dualism most commonly refers to: * Mind–body dualism, a philosophical view which holds that mental phenomena are, at least in certain respects, not physical phenomena, or that the mind and the body are distinct and separable from one another ** P ...
),
Vishishtadvaita Vishishtadvaita (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit and related Indic languages. I ...
(non-dualism of the qualified whole),
Dvaita Dvaita Vedanta (originally known as ) (), is a sub-school in the Vedanta ''Vedanta'' (; sa, वेदान्त, ), also ''Uttara Mīmāṃsā'', is one of the six (''āstika'') schools of Hindu philosophy Hindu philosophy enc ...
(
dualism Dualism most commonly refers to: * Mind–body dualism, a philosophical view which holds that mental phenomena are, at least in certain respects, not physical phenomena, or that the mind and the body are distinct and separable from one another ** P ...
),
Dvaitadvaita The Nimbarka Sampradaya (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit and related Indic lan ...
(dualism with non-dualism), etc. * follow a tradition centred on any particular form of the Divine, such as
Shaivism Shaivism (; Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; , , ) is a of that belongs to the branch of the . It arose in South Asia after its predecessor languages had there from the northwest in the late . Sanskrit is the of , the langua ...
,
Vaishnavism Vaishnavism (Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia ...

Vaishnavism
,
Shaktism Shaktism ( sa, शाक्त, , ) is one of several major Hindu denominations Hindu denominations are traditions within Hinduism centered on one or more gods or goddesses, such as Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti and Brahma. Sometimes the term i ...
, etc. * practice any one of the various forms of
yoga Yoga (; sa, योग, lit=yoke' or 'union ) is a group of Asana, physical, mind, mental, and Spirituality#Asian traditions, spiritual practices or disciplines that originated in History of India, ancient India, aimed at controlling ('y ...

yoga
systems in order to achieve
moksha ''Moksha'' (; sa, मोक्ष, '; Tamil Tamil may refer to: * Tamils, an ethnic group native to India, Sri Lanka and some other parts of Asia **Sri Lankan Tamils, Tamil people native to Sri Lanka **Tamil Malaysians, Tamil people native ...

moksha
– that is freedom in current life (''jivanmukti'') or salvation in after-life (''videhamukti''); * practice
bhakti ''Bhakti'' ( sa, ) literally means "attachment, state of mind where the devotees surrender himself or herself unquestioningly to God. The union of the human soul with a supreme God, man's love and devotion for God are some of the concepts wh ...

bhakti
or puja for spiritual reasons, which may be directed to one's
guru Guru (, ; sa, गुरु, IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit and related Indic langu ...

guru
or to a divine image.Jeaneane Fowler (1996), Hinduism: Beliefs and Practices, Sussex Academic Press, , pages 41–44 A visible public form of this practice is worship before an idol or statue. Jeaneane Fowler states that non-Hindu observers often confuse this practice as "stone or idol-worship and nothing beyond it", while for many Hindus, it is an image which represents or is symbolic manifestation of a spiritual Absolute (
Brahman In Hinduism, ''Brahman'' ( sa, ब्रह्म) connotes the highest universal principle, the ultimate reality ''Ultimate reality'' is "something that is the supreme, final, and fundamental power in all reality". Buddhism In Theravada ...

Brahman
). This practice may focus on a metal or stone statue, or a photographic image, or a
linga A lingam ( sa, लिङ्ग , lit. "sign, symbol or mark"), sometimes referred to as linga or Shiva linga, is an abstract or aniconic Aniconism is the absence of material representations of both the natural and supernatural worlds in variou ...

linga
, or any object or tree () or animal (cow) or tools of one's profession, or sunrise or expression of nature or to nothing at all, and the practice may involve meditation,
japa ''Japa'' ( sa, जप) is the meditative repetition of a mantra A mantra ( sa, मन्त्र, translit=mantra, translit-std=IAST, ; Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-Aryan liturgical language native to the Indian subcontinent ...
, offerings or songs. Inden states that this practice means different things to different Hindus, and has been misunderstood, misrepresented as idolatry, and various rationalisations have been constructed by both Western and native Indologists.


Disputes

In the
Constitution of India The Constitution of India (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the sci ...

Constitution of India
, the word "Hindu" has been used in some places to denote persons professing any of these religions:
Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent. These religions, which include Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, ...

Hinduism
,
Jainism Jainism (), traditionally known as ''Jain Dharma'', is an ancient Indian religion. It is one of the oldest Indian religions. The three main pillars of Jainism are ''Ahimsa in Jainism, ahiṃsā'' (non-violence), ''anekāntavāda'' (non-absolut ...

Jainism
,
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...

Buddhism
or
Sikhism Sikhism () or Sikhi ( pa, ਸਿੱਖੀ ', , from pa, ਸਿੱਖ, lit=disciple', 'seeker', or 'learner, translit=Sikh, label=none)''Sikhism'' (indigenously known as ''Sikhī'') originated from the word ''Sikh'', which comes from the Sanskr ...
. This however has been challenged by the Sikhs and by neo-Buddhists who were formerly Hindus. According to Sheen and Boyle, Jains have not objected to being covered by personal laws termed under 'Hindu', but Indian courts have acknowledged that Jainism is a distinct religion.para 25, Committee of Management Kanya Junior High School Bal Vidya Mandir, Etah, Uttar Pradesh v. Sachiv, U.P. Basic Shiksha Parishad, Allahabad, U.P. and Ors., Per Dalveer Bhandari J., Civil Appeal No. 9595 of 2003, decided On: 21 August 2006, Supreme Court of India The
Republic of India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...
is in the peculiar situation that the
Supreme Court of India The Supreme Court of India (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scie ...

Supreme Court of India
has repeatedly been called upon to define "Hinduism" because the
Constitution of India The Constitution of India (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the sci ...

Constitution of India
, while it prohibits "discrimination of any citizen" on grounds of religion in article 15, article 30 foresees special rights for "All minorities, whether based on religion or language". As a consequence, religious groups have an interest in being recognised as distinct from the Hindu majority in order to qualify as a "religious minority". Thus, the Supreme Court was forced to consider the question whether
Jainism Jainism (), traditionally known as ''Jain Dharma'', is an ancient Indian religion. It is one of the oldest Indian religions. The three main pillars of Jainism are ''Ahimsa in Jainism, ahiṃsā'' (non-violence), ''anekāntavāda'' (non-absolut ...

Jainism
is part of Hinduism in 2005 and 2006.


History of Hindu identity

Starting after the 10th century and particularly after the 12th century Islamic invasion, states
Sheldon Pollock Sheldon I. Pollock is a scholar of Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the In ...
, the political response fused with the Indic religious culture and doctrines.Sheldon Pollock (1993)
Rāmāyaṇa and political imagination in India
Journal of Asian studies, Vol. 52, No. 2, pages 266–269
Temples dedicated to deity
Rama Rama (; , ; ), Ram, Raman or Ramar, also known as Ramachandra (; , ), is a major deity in Hinduism. He is the seventh and one of the most popular ''avatars'' of Vishnu. In Rama-centric traditions of Hinduism, he is considered the Supreme Be ...

Rama
were built from north to south India, and textual records as well as hagiographic inscriptions began comparing the Hindu epic of
Ramayana ''Rāmāyana'' (; sa, रामायणम्, ) is one of the two major Sanskrit literature, Sanskrit Indian epic poetry, epics of ancient India and important text of Hinduism, the other being the ''Mahabharata, Mahābhārata''. The epi ...

Ramayana
to regional kings and their response to Islamic attacks. The
Yadava The Yadavas (literally, descended from Yadu) were an ancient Indian people Indians are the nationals Nationals may refer to: * People of a given nationality * A tournament or convention of national scope * Washington Nationals, a Major Lea ...
king of
Devagiri Deogiri Fort, also known as Devagiri or Deogiri, is a historic fortified citadel located in Devagiri village near Aurangabad, Maharashtra Aurangabad () is a city in the Indian state of Maharashtra Maharashtra (; , abbr. MH or Maha, is ...

Devagiri
named '' Ramacandra'', for example states Pollock, is described in a 13th-century record as, "How is this Rama to be described.. who freed
Varanasi Varanasi (; ), officially so revived after 1947, but still widely known as Banaras or Benares (; ), and in ancient times as Kashi, is a city on the Ganges river in North India, northern India that has a central place in pilgrimage, death ...

Varanasi
from the ''mleccha'' (barbarian, Turk Muslim) horde, and built there a golden temple of Sarngadhara". Pollock notes that the Yadava king ''Ramacandra'' is described as a devotee of deity
Shiva Shiva (; sa, शिव, lit=The Auspicious One, Śiva ), also known as Mahadeva (; ɐɦaːd̪eːʋɐ, is one of the Hindu deities, principal deities of Hinduism. He is the God, Supreme Being in Shaivism, one of the major traditions wit ...

Shiva
(Shaivism), yet his political achievements and temple construction sponsorship in Varanasi, far from his kingdom's location in the Deccan region, is described in the historical records in Vaishnavism terms of Rama, a deity
Vishnu Vishnu (; ; , ), also known as Narayana and Hari, is one of the principal deities Principal may refer to: Title or rank * Principal (academia), the chief executive of a university ** Principal (education), the head teacher of a primary or s ...

Vishnu
avatar. Pollock presents many such examples and suggests an emerging Hindu political identity that was grounded in the Hindu religious text of Ramayana, one that has continued into the modern times, and suggests that this historic process began with the arrival of Islam in India. Brajadulal Chattopadhyaya has questioned the Pollock theory and presented textual and inscriptional evidence. According to Chattopadhyaya, the Hindu identity and religious response to Islamic invasion and wars developed in different kingdoms, such as wars between Islamic Sultanates and the Vijayanagara kingdom (
Karnataka Karnataka (; ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO; ) is an international standard are technical standards developed by international organizations (intergovernmental organizations), such as Codex Alimentarius in f ...

Karnataka
), and Islamic raids on the kingdoms in
Tamil Nadu Tamil Nadu (; ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspape ...

Tamil Nadu
. These wars were described not just using the mythical story of Rama from Ramayana, states Chattopadhyaya, the medieval records used a wide range of religious symbolism and myths that are now considered as part of Hindu literature.Brajadulal Chattopadhyaya (1998), Representing the other?: Sanskrit sources and the Muslims (eighth to fourteenth century), Manohar Publications, , pages 92–103, Chapter 1 and 2Brajadulal Chattopadhyaya (2004), Other or the Others? in ''The World in the Year 1000'' (Editors: James Heitzman, Wolfgang Schenkluhn), University Press of America, , pages 303–323 This emergence of religious with political terminology began with the first Muslim invasion of Sindh in the 8th century CE, and intensified 13th century onwards. The 14th-century Sanskrit text, ''Madhuravijayam'', a memoir written by ''Gangadevi'', the wife of Vijayanagara prince, for example describes the consequences of war using religious terms, The historiographic writings in Telugu language from the 13th- and 14th-century
Kakatiya dynasty The Kakatiya dynasty was a South India South India is a region consisting of the southern part of India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dep ...
period presents a similar "alien other (Turk)" and "self-identity (Hindu)" contrast. Chattopadhyaya, and other scholars, state that the military and political campaign during the medieval era wars in Deccan peninsula of India, and in the north India, were no longer a quest for sovereignty, they embodied a political and religious animosity against the "otherness of Islam", and this began the historical process of Hindu identity formation. Andrew Nicholson, in his review of scholarship on Hindu identity history, states that the vernacular literature of
Bhakti movement The Bhakti movement refers to the theistic Theism is broadly defined as the belief in the existence of a Supreme Being or deities. In common parlance, or when contrasted with '' deism'', the term often describes the classical conception ...
sants from 15th to 17th century, such as
Kabir Kabir Das (, Hindustani Hindustani may refer to: * something of, from, or related to Hindustan (another name of India) * Hindustani language, an Indo-Aryan language, whose two official norms are Hindi and Urdu * Fiji Hindi, a variety of East ...

Kabir
, Anantadas, Eknath, Vidyapati, suggests that distinct religious identities, between Hindus and Turks (Muslims), had formed during these centuries. The poetry of this period contrasts Hindu and Islamic identities, states Nicholson, and the literature vilifies the Muslims coupled with a "distinct sense of a Hindu religious identity".Andrew Nicholson (2013), Unifying Hinduism: Philosophy and Identity in Indian Intellectual History, Columbia University Press, , pages 198–199


Hindu identity amidst other Indian religions

Scholars state that Hindu, Buddhist and Jain identities are retrospectively-introduced modern constructions. Inscriptional evidence from the 8th century onwards, in regions such as South India, suggests that medieval era India, at both elite and folk religious practices level, likely had a "shared religious culture",Leslie Orr (2014), Donors, Devotees, and Daughters of God, Oxford University Press, , pages 25–26, 204 and their collective identities were "multiple, layered and fuzzy".Leslie Orr (2014), Donors, Devotees, and Daughters of God, Oxford University Press, , pages 42, 204 Even among Hinduism denominations such as Shaivism and Vaishnavism, the Hindu identities, states Leslie Orr, lacked "firm definitions and clear boundaries". Overlaps in Jain-Hindu identities have included Jains worshipping Hindu deities, intermarriages between Jains and Hindus, and medieval era Jain temples featuring Hindu religious icons and sculpture. Beyond India, on Java island of
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is t ...

Indonesia
, historical records attest to marriages between Hindus and Buddhists, medieval era temple architecture and sculptures that simultaneously incorporate Hindu and Buddhist themes, where Hinduism and Buddhism merged and functioned as "two separate paths within one overall system", according to Ann Kenney and other scholars. Similarly, there is an organic relation of Sikhs to Hindus, states Zaehner, both in religious thought and their communities, and virtually all Sikhs' ancestors were Hindus. Marriages between Sikhs and Hindus, particularly among ''Khatris'', were frequent. Some Hindu families brought up a son as a Sikh, and some Hindus view Sikhism as a tradition within Hinduism, even though the Sikh faith is a distinct religion.Robert Zaehner (1997), Encyclopedia of the World's Religions, Barnes & Noble Publishing, , page 409 Julius Lipner states that the custom of distinguishing between Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs is a modern phenomena, but one that is a convenient abstraction.Julius J. Lipner (2009), Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, 2nd Edition, Routledge, , pages 17–18 Distinguishing Indian traditions is a fairly recent practice, states Lipner, and is the result of "not only Western preconceptions about the nature of religion in general and of religion in India in particular, but also with the political awareness that has arisen in India" in its people and a result of Western influence during its colonial history.


Sacred geography

Scholars such as Fleming and Eck state that the post-Epic era literature from the 1st millennium CE amply demonstrate that there was a historic concept of the Indian subcontinent as a sacred geography, where the sacredness was a shared set of religious ideas. For example, the twelve ''Jyotirlingas'' of Shaivism and fifty-one ''Shaktipithas'' of Shaktism are described in the early medieval era Puranas as pilgrimage sites around a theme. This sacred geography and Shaiva temples with same iconography, shared themes, motifs and embedded legends are found across India, from the
Himalaya The Himalayas, or Himalaya (; Sanskrit: , "snow", "dwelling", "abode"), are a mountain range in Asia separating the plains of the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau. The range has some of the planet's highest peaks, including the ...

Himalaya
s to hills of South India, from
Ellora Caves Ellora (\e-ˈlȯr-ə\, IAST: ) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Aurangabad District, Maharashtra, Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India. It is one of the largest rock-cut Hindu temple cave complexes in the world, featuring B ...

Ellora Caves
to
Varanasi Varanasi (; ), officially so revived after 1947, but still widely known as Banaras or Benares (; ), and in ancient times as Kashi, is a city on the Ganges river in North India, northern India that has a central place in pilgrimage, death ...

Varanasi
by about the middle of 1st millennium. Shakti temples, dated to a few centuries later, are verifiable across the subcontinent. Varanasi as a sacred pilgrimage site is documented in the ''Varanasimahatmya'' text embedded inside the ''
Skanda Purana The ''Skanda Purana'' (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, ...
'', and the oldest versions of this text are dated to 6th to 8th-century CE. The idea of twelve sacred sites in Shiva Hindu tradition spread across the Indian subcontinent appears not only in the medieval era temples but also in copper plate inscriptions and temple seals discovered in different sites. According to Bhardwaj, non-Hindu texts such as the memoirs of Chinese Buddhist and Persian Muslim travellers attest to the existence and significance of the pilgrimage to sacred geography among Hindus by later 1st millennium CE. According to Fleming, those who question whether the term Hindu and Hinduism are a modern construction in a religious context present their arguments based on some texts that have survived into the modern era, either of Islamic courts or of literature published by Western missionaries or colonial-era Indologists aiming for a reasonable construction of history. However, the existence of non-textual evidence such as cave temples separated by thousands of kilometers, as well as lists of medieval era pilgrimage sites, is evidence of a shared sacred geography and existence of a community that was self-aware of shared religious premises and landscape. Further, it is a norm in evolving cultures that there is a gap between the "lived and historical realities" of a religious tradition and the emergence of related "textual authorities". The tradition and temples likely existed well before the medieval era Hindu manuscripts appeared that describe them and the sacred geography. This, states Fleming, is apparent given the sophistication of the architecture and the sacred sites along with the variance in the versions of the Puranic literature. According to Diana L. Eck and other Indologists such as André Wink, Muslim invaders were aware of Hindu sacred geography such as Mathura, Ujjain, and Varanasi by the 11th century. These sites became a target of their serial attacks in the centuries that followed.


Hindu persecution

The Hindus have been persecuted during the medieval and modern era. The medieval persecution included waves of plunder, killing, destruction of temples and enslavement by Turk-Mongol Muslim armies from central Asia. This is documented in Islamic literature such as those relating to 8th century Muhammad bin-Qasim, 11th century
Mahmud of Ghazni Yamīn-ud-Dawla Abul-Qāṣim Maḥmūd ibn Sebüktegīn ( fa, یمین‌الدوله ابوالقاسم محمود بن سبکتگین; 2 November 971 – 30 April 1030), usually known as Mahmud of Ghazni ( fa, ) or Mahmud Ghaznavi was the f ...

Mahmud of Ghazni
, the Persian traveler Al Biruni, the 14th century Islamic army invasion led by Timur, and various Sunni Islamic rulers of the Delhi Sultanate and Mughal Empire. There were occasional exceptions such as
Akbar Abu'l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar (Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated ...

Akbar
who stopped the persecution of Hindus, and occasional severe persecution such as under
Aurangzeb Muhi-ud-Din Muhammad (3 November 16183 March 1707), commonly known by the sobriquet (Persian language, Persian: "Ornament of the Throne") or by his regnal title (Persian: "Conqueror of the World"), was the sixth Mughal emperor, who ruled o ...

Aurangzeb
, who destroyed temples, forcibly converted non-Muslims to Islam and banned the celebration of Hindu festivals such as
Holi Holi () is a popular ancient Indian festival, also known as the "Festival of Love", the "Festival of Colours" and the "Festival of Spring".The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) p. 874 "Holi /'həʊli:/ noun a Hindu spring festival ... ...

Holi
and
Diwali Diwali (; Deepavali (IAST: ''dīpāvalī'') or Divali; related to Diwali (Jainism), Jain Diwali, Bandi Chhor Divas, Tihar (festival), Tihar, Swanti (festival), Swanti, Sohrai and Bandna) is a festival of lights and one of the major festival ...

Diwali
. Other recorded persecution of Hindus include those under the reign of 18th century
Tipu Sultan Tipu Sultan (born Sultan Fateh Ali Sahab Tipu, 01 December 1751 – 4 May 1799), also known as the Tiger of Mysore, was the ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore The Kingdom of Mysore was a realm in southern India South India is a re ...

Tipu Sultan
in south India, and during the colonial era. In the modern era, religious persecution of Hindus have been reported outside India in
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...

Pakistan
and
Bangladesh Bangladesh (, bn, বাংলাদেশ, ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, ethno-c ...

Bangladesh
.


Hindu nationalism

Christophe Jaffrelot states that modern
Hindu nationalism Hindu nationalism has been collectively referred to as the expression of social and political thought, based on the native spiritual and cultural traditions of the Indian subcontinent. Defenders of Hindu nationalism have tried to avoid the label ...
was born in
Maharashtra Maharashtra (; , abbr. MH or Maha, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper) ...

Maharashtra
, in the 1920s, as a reaction to the Islamic
Khilafat Movement The Khilafat movement or the Caliphate movement, also known as the ''Indian Muslim movement'' (1919–24), was a political protest campaign launched by Muslims of British India The Provinces of India, earlier Presidencies of British Indi ...
wherein Indian Muslims championed and took the cause of the Turkish Ottoman sultan as the Caliph of all Muslims, at the end of the
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
.Gail Minault (1982), The Khilafat Movement: Religious Symbolism and Political Mobilization in India, Columbia University Press, , pages 1–11 and Preface section Hindus viewed this development as one of divided loyalties of Indian Muslim population, of pan-Islamic hegemony, and questioned whether Indian Muslims were a part of an inclusive anti-colonial Indian nationalism. The Hindu nationalism ideology that emerged, states Jeffrelot, was codified by Savarkar while he was a political prisoner of the British colonial empire.Christophe Jaffrelot (2007), Hindu Nationalism: A Reader, Princeton University Press, , pages 13–15 Chris Bayly traces the roots of Hindu nationalism to the Hindu identity and political independence achieved by the
Maratha confederacy The Maratha Empire or the Maratha Confederacy was a power that dominated a large portion of the Indian subcontinent in the 18th century. The empire formally existed from 1674 with the coronation of Shivaji Shivaji Bhonsale I (; c. 1627/ ...

Maratha confederacy
, that overthrew the Islamic
Mughal empire The Mughal, Mogul, or Moghul Empire was an early modern The early modern period of modern history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's past. It is understood through archaeology, anthropology, ge ...
in large parts of India, allowing Hindus the freedom to pursue any of their diverse religious beliefs and restored Hindu holy places such as Varanasi. A few scholars view Hindu mobilisation and consequent nationalism to have emerged in the 19th century as a response to British colonialism by Indian nationalists and neo-Hinduism gurus.Hardy, F. "A radical assessment of the Vedic heritage" in ''Representing Hinduism: The Construction of Religious and National Identity'', Sage Publ., Delhi, 1995. Jaffrelot states that the efforts of Christian missionaries and Islamic proselytizers, during the British colonial era, each of whom tried to gain new converts to their own religion, by stereotyping and stigmatising Hindus to an identity of being inferior and superstitious, contributed to Hindus re-asserting their spiritual heritage and counter cross examining Islam and Christianity, forming organisations such as the ''Hindu Sabhas'' (Hindu associations), and ultimately a Hindu-identity driven nationalism in the 1920s.Christophe Jaffrelot (2007), Hindu Nationalism: A Reader, Princeton University Press, , pages 13 The colonial era Hindu revivalism and mobilisation, along with Hindu nationalism, states Peter van der Veer, was primarily a reaction to and competition with Muslim separatism and Muslim nationalism. The successes of each side fed the fears of the other, leading to the growth of Hindu nationalism and Muslim nationalism in the Indian subcontinent.Peter van der Veer (1994), Religious Nationalism: Hindus and Muslims in India, University of California Press, , pages 11–14, 1–24 In the 20th century, the sense of religious nationalism grew in India, states van der Veer, but only Muslim nationalism succeeded with the formation of the West and East Pakistan (later split into Pakistan and Bangladesh), as "an Islamic state" upon independence.Peter van der Veer (1994), Religious Nationalism: Hindus and Muslims in India, University of California Press, , pages 31, 99, 102 Religious riots and social trauma followed as millions of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs moved out of the newly created Islamic states and resettled into the Hindu-majority post-British India.Peter van der Veer (1994), Religious Nationalism: Hindus and Muslims in India, University of California Press, , pages 26–32, 53–54 After the separation of India and Pakistan in 1947, the Hindu nationalism movement developed the concept of
Hindutva Hindutva () is the predominant form of Hindu nationalism, Hindu Nationalism in India. As a political ideology, Hindutva was articulated by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in 1923. It is championed by the Hindu Nationalist volunteer organisation Rashtri ...
in second half of the 20th century.Ram-Prasad, C. "Contemporary political Hinduism" in ''Blackwell companion to Hinduism'', Blackwell Publishing, 2003. The
Hindu nationalism Hindu nationalism has been collectively referred to as the expression of social and political thought, based on the native spiritual and cultural traditions of the Indian subcontinent. Defenders of Hindu nationalism have tried to avoid the label ...
movement has sought to reform Indian laws, that critics say attempts to impose Hindu values on India's Islamic minority. Gerald Larson states, for example, that Hindu nationalists have sought a uniform civil code, where all citizens are subject to the same laws, everyone has equal civil rights, and individual rights do not depend on the individual's religion.GJ Larson (2002), Religion and Personal Law in Secular India: A Call to Judgment, Indiana University Press, , pages 55–56 In contrast, opponents of Hindu nationalists remark that eliminating religious law from India poses a threat to the cultural identity and religious rights of Muslims, and people of Islamic faith have a constitutional right to Islamic
sharia Sharia (; ar, شريعة, sharīʿa ) is a religious law Religious law includes ethical Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong action ...
h-based personal laws. A specific law, contentious between Hindu nationalists and their opponents in India, relates to the legal age of marriage for girls. Hindu nationalists seek that the legal age for marriage be eighteen that is universally applied to all girls regardless of their religion and that marriages be registered with local government to verify the age of marriage. Muslim clerics consider this proposal as unacceptable because under the shariah-derived personal law, a Muslim girl can be married at any age after she reaches puberty.Sylvia Vatuk (2013), Adjudicating Family Law in Muslim Courts (Editor: Elisa Giunchi), Routledge, , pages 52–53 Hindu nationalism in India, states Katharine Adeney, is a controversial political subject, with no consensus about what it means or implies in terms of the form of government and religious rights of the minorities.


Demographics

According to Pew Research, there are over 1.2 billion Hindus worldwide (15% of world's population), with over 94.3% of them concentrated in India. Along with
Christians Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of ...

Christians
(31.5%),
Muslims Muslims () are people who follow or practice Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", ...
(23.2%) and
Buddhists Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and ...
(7.1%), Hindus are one of the four major religious groups of the world.Table: Religious Composition (%) by Country
Global Religious Composition, Pew Research Center (2012)
Most Hindus are found in Asian countries. The top twenty-five countries with the most Hindu residents and citizens (in decreasing order) are
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...
,
Nepal Nepal (; ne, नेपाल ), officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal ( ne, सङ्घीय लोकतान्त्रिक गणतन्त्र नेपाल ), is a landlocked country in South Asia. It is ma ...
,
Bangladesh Bangladesh (, bn, বাংলাদেশ, ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, ethno-c ...
,
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is t ...
,
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...

Pakistan
,
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකාව, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon, and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is ...
,
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
,
Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...
,
Myanmar Myanmar, ); UK pronunciations: US pronunciations incl. . Note: Wikipedia's IPA conventions require indicating /r/ even in British English although only some British English speakers pronounce r at the end of syllables. As John C. Wells, John ...
,
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...
,
Mauritius Mauritius ( ; french: Maurice, link=no ; mfe, label=Mauritian Creole Mauritian Creole or Morisien or formerly Morisyen ( mfe, kreol morisien, links=no ) is a French-based creole language spoken in Mauritius Mauritius ( ; french: ...
,
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over 60 million people, it is the world's 23rd-most populous nation and covers an area of . South Africa has three capital citie ...
,
United Arab Emirates The United Arab Emirates (UAE; ar, الإمارات العربية المتحدة ) or the Emirates ( ar, الإمارات ), is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregio ...
,
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, ...
,
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...
,
Saudi Arabia (''Shahada'') , national_anthem = "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia, " "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia" , image_map = Saudi Arabia (orthographic projection).svg , capital = Riyadh , coordinates ...
,
Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago (, ), officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is the southernmost island country in the Caribbean The Caribbean (, ; es, Caribe; french: Caraïbes; ht, Karayib; also gcf, label=Antillean Creole Antillean C ...
,
Singapore Singapore (), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign state, sovereign island city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. It lies about one degree of latitude () north of the equator, off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, bor ...
,
Fiji Fiji ( ; fj, Viti, ; hif, फ़िजी, ''Fijī''), officially the Republic of Fiji, is an island country in Melanesia, part of Oceania in the South Pacific Ocean. It lies about northeast of New Zealand. Fiji consists of an archipelago ...
,
Qatar Qatar (, , or ; ar, قطر, Qaṭar ; local vernacular pronunciation: ), officially the State of Qatar,) is a country in Western Asia. It occupies the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and shares it ...

Qatar
,
Kuwait Kuwait (; ar, الكويت ', or ), officially the State of Kuwait ( ar, دولة الكويت '), is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regi ...
,
Guyana Guyana ( or ), officially the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, is a country on the northern mainland of South America and the capital city is Georgetown Guyana, Georgetown. Guyana is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north, Brazil to the ...
,
Bhutan Bhutan (; dz, འབྲུག་ཡུལ་, Druk Yul, ), officially known as the Kingdom of Bhutan ( dz, འབྲུག་རྒྱལ་ཁབ་, Druk Gyal Khap), is a landlocked country in the Eastern Himalayas. It is bordered by Chin ...
,
Oman Oman ( ; ar, عُمَان ' ), officially the Sultanate of Oman ( ar, سلْطنةُ عُمان ), is a country on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. Formerly a maritime empire, Oman is the oldest continuously in ...
and
Yemen ) , image_map = Yemen on the globe (Yemen centered).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Sana'a Sanaa ( ar, صَنْعَاء, ' , Yemeni Arabic: ; Old South Arabian: 𐩮 ...
.Hindu population totals in 2010 by Country
Pew Research, Washington DC (2012)
The top fifteen countries with the highest percentage of Hindus (in decreasing order) are
Nepal Nepal (; ne, नेपाल ), officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal ( ne, सङ्घीय लोकतान्त्रिक गणतन्त्र नेपाल ), is a landlocked country in South Asia. It is ma ...

Nepal
,
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
,
Mauritius Mauritius ( ; french: Maurice, link=no ; mfe, label=Mauritian Creole Mauritian Creole or Morisien or formerly Morisyen ( mfe, kreol morisien, links=no ) is a French-based creole language spoken in Mauritius Mauritius ( ; french: ...

Mauritius
,
Fiji Fiji ( ; fj, Viti, ; hif, फ़िजी, ''Fijī''), officially the Republic of Fiji, is an island country in Melanesia, part of Oceania in the South Pacific Ocean. It lies about northeast of New Zealand. Fiji consists of an archipelago ...

Fiji
,
Guyana Guyana ( or ), officially the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, is a country on the northern mainland of South America and the capital city is Georgetown Guyana, Georgetown. Guyana is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north, Brazil to the ...

Guyana
,
Bhutan Bhutan (; dz, འབྲུག་ཡུལ་, Druk Yul, ), officially known as the Kingdom of Bhutan ( dz, འབྲུག་རྒྱལ་ཁབ་, Druk Gyal Khap), is a landlocked country in the Eastern Himalayas. It is bordered by Chin ...

Bhutan
,
Suriname Suriname () or Surinam, officially known as the Republic of Suriname ( nl, Republiek Suriname ), is a country on the northeastern Atlantic coast of South America South America is a entirely in the and mostly in the , with a rela ...
,
Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago (, ), officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is the southernmost island country in the Caribbean The Caribbean (, ; es, Caribe; french: Caraïbes; ht, Karayib; also gcf, label=Antillean Creole Antillean C ...

Trinidad and Tobago
,
Qatar Qatar (, , or ; ar, قطر, Qaṭar ; local vernacular pronunciation: ), officially the State of Qatar,) is a country in Western Asia. It occupies the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and shares it ...

Qatar
,
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකාව, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon, and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is ...

Sri Lanka
,
Kuwait Kuwait (; ar, الكويت ', or ), officially the State of Kuwait ( ar, دولة الكويت '), is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regi ...

Kuwait
,
Bangladesh Bangladesh (, bn, বাংলাদেশ, ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, ethno-c ...

Bangladesh
,
Réunion Réunion (french: La Réunion, ; previously ''Île Bourbon''; rcf, label=Réunion Creole, Reunionese Creole, La Rénion) is an island in the Indian Ocean that is an overseas departments and regions of France, overseas department and region of ...
,
Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Malaysia
, and
Singapore Singapore (), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign state, sovereign island city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. It lies about one degree of latitude () north of the equator, off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, bor ...

Singapore
. The fertility rate, that is children per woman, for Hindus is 2.4, which is less than the world average of 2.5. Pew Research projects that there will be 1.4 billion Hindus by 2050. In more ancient times, Hindu kingdoms arose and spread the religion and traditions across Southeast Asia, particularly
Thailand Thailand ( th, ประเทศไทย), historically known as Siam, () officially the Kingdom of Thailand, is a country in Southeast Asia. It is located at the centre of the Mainland Southeast Asia, Indochinese Peninsula, spanning , wi ...
,
Nepal Nepal (; ne, नेपाल ), officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal ( ne, सङ्घीय लोकतान्त्रिक गणतन्त्र नेपाल ), is a landlocked country in South Asia. It is ma ...

Nepal
,
Burma Myanmar (; my, မြန်မာ ) or Burma ( my, ဗမာ ), officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, is a country in Southeast Asia. Myanmar is bordered by Bangladesh and India to its northwest, China to its northeast, Laos a ...

Burma
,
Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Malaysia
,
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is t ...

Indonesia
,
Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ពុជា, ), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochinese peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is in area, bordered by Thailand to Cambodia–T ...
,
Laos , national_anthem = "Pheng Xat Lao "Pheng Sat Lāo" () is the national anthem A national anthem is a song that officially symbolizes a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often r ...
,
Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republ ...
, and what is now central
Vietnam Vietnam ( vi, Việt Nam, ), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,, group="n" is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the ...

Vietnam
. Over 3 million Hindus are found in
Bali Bali () ( ban, ) is a province of Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia ...

Bali
Indonesia, a culture whose origins trace back to ideas brought by Tamil Hindu traders to Indonesian islands in the 1st millennium CE. Their sacred texts are also the
Vedas upright=1.2, The Vedas are ancient Sanskrit texts of Hinduism. Above: A page from the '' Atharvaveda''. The Vedas (, , ) are a large body of religious texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the o ...

Vedas
and the
Upanishad The Upanishads (; sa, उपनिषद् ) are late Vedic Sanskrit texts of religious teachings which form the foundations of Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion and ''dharma'', or way of life. It is the Major religious g ...
s. The
Purana Purana (; sa, , '; literally meaning "ancient, old"Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature (1995 Edition), Article on Puranas, , page 915) is a vast genre of Indian literature about a wide range of topics, particularly about legends an ...
s and the
Itihasa Itihasa (Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages ...
(mainly ''
Ramayana ''Rāmāyana'' (; sa, रामायणम्, ) is one of the two major Sanskrit literature, Sanskrit Indian epic poetry, epics of ancient India and important text of Hinduism, the other being the ''Mahabharata, Mahābhārata''. The epi ...

Ramayana
'' and the ''
Mahabharata The ''Mahābhārata'' (; sa, महाभारतम्, ', ) is one of the two major of , the other being the '. It narrates the struggle between two groups of cousins in the and the fates of the and the princes and their successors ...

Mahabharata
'') are enduring traditions among Indonesian Hindus, expressed in community dances and shadow puppet (''
wayang ''Wayang'', also known as ''wajang'' ( jv, ꦮꦪꦁ, translit=wayang), is a traditional form of puppet theatre play originated on the Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is ...

wayang
'') performances. As in India, Indonesian Hindus recognise four paths of spirituality, calling it ''Catur Marga''.Murdana, I. Ketut (2008), BALINESE ARTS AND CULTURE: A flash understanding of Concept and Behavior, Mudra – JURNAL SENI BUDAYA, Indonesia; Volume 22, page 5-11 Similarly, like Hindus in India, Balinese Hindus believe that there are four proper goals of human life, calling it ''Catur Purusartha'' –
dharma Dharma (; sa, धर्म, dharma, ; pi, dhamma, italic=yes; ta, aṟam, italic=yes) is a key concept with multiple meanings in Indian religions Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the s ...
(pursuit of moral and ethical living),
artha ''Artha'' (; sa, अर्थ) is one of the four aims of human life in Indian philosophy.James Lochtefeld (2002), The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Rosen Publishing, New York, , pp 55–56 The word ''artha'' literally translates as "mea ...
(pursuit of wealth and creative activity),
kama ''Kama'' (Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia a ...

kama
(pursuit of joy and love) and
moksha ''Moksha'' (; sa, मोक्ष, '; Tamil Tamil may refer to: * Tamils, an ethnic group native to India, Sri Lanka and some other parts of Asia **Sri Lankan Tamils, Tamil people native to Sri Lanka **Tamil Malaysians, Tamil people native ...

moksha
(pursuit of self-knowledge and liberation).


Culture

Hindu culture is a term used to describe the culture and identity of Hindus and
Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent. These religions, which include Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, ...

Hinduism
, including the historic Vedic people. Hindu culture can be intensively seen in the form of
art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use ...

art
,
architecture upright=1.45, alt=Plan d'exécution du second étage de l'hôtel de Brionne (dessin) De Cotte 2503c – Gallica 2011 (adjusted), Plan of the second floor (attic storey) of the Hôtel de Brionne in Paris – 1734. Architecture (Latin ''archi ...
,
history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxima ...
,
diet Diet may refer to: Food * Diet (nutrition) In nutrition, diet is the sum of food consumed by a person or other organism. The word diet often implies the use of specific intake of nutrition for #Health, health or #Weight management, weight-mana ...
,
clothing Clothing (also known as clothes, apparel, and attire) are items worn on the body. Typically, clothing is made of fabrics or textile A textile is a flexible material made by creating an interlocking bundle of yarn Yarn is a long ...
,
astrology Astrology is a pseudoscience that claims to divination, divine information about human affairs and terrestrial events by studying the movements and relative positions of Celestial objects in astrology, celestial objects. Astrology has be ...
and other forms. The
culture of India Indian culture is the cultural heritage, heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, belief systems, political systems, Cultural artifact, artifacts and technology, technologies that originated in or are associated with the et ...
and Hinduism is deeply influenced and assimilated with each other. With the
Indianisation Indianisation may refer to the spread of Indian religions, culture, diaspora, soft power, economic reach and impact since India is one of the greatest influencers since ancient times and the current century has been called the Indian Century. ...
of
southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...
and
Greater India Greater India, or the Indian cultural sphere, is an area composed of many countries and regions in South Asia, South and Southeast Asia that were historically influenced by Indian culture, which itself formed from the various distinct indigen ...
, the culture has also influenced a long region and other religions people of that area. All
Indian religions Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered soci ...
, including
Jainism Jainism (), traditionally known as ''Jain Dharma'', is an ancient Indian religion. It is one of the oldest Indian religions. The three main pillars of Jainism are ''Ahimsa in Jainism, ahiṃsā'' (non-violence), ''anekāntavāda'' (non-absolut ...
,
Sikhism Sikhism () or Sikhi ( pa, ਸਿੱਖੀ ', , from pa, ਸਿੱਖ, lit=disciple', 'seeker', or 'learner, translit=Sikh, label=none)''Sikhism'' (indigenously known as ''Sikhī'') originated from the word ''Sikh'', which comes from the Sanskr ...
and
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...
are deeply influenced and soft-powered by
Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent. These religions, which include Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, ...

Hinduism
.


See also

*
Diksha Diksha (: दीक्षा in ) also spelled diksa, deeksha or deeksa in common usage, translated as a "preparation or consecration for a religious ceremony", is giving of a mantra or an initiation by the guru (in ) of such as , , and . Diksa ...
*
History of Hinduism The history of Hinduism covers a wide variety of related religious traditions native to the Indian subcontinent. Its history overlaps or coincides with the development of religion in the Indian subcontinent since the Iron Age The Iron Age is ...
*
Hindu eschatology Hindu eschatology is linked in the Vaishnavite tradition to the figure of Kalki, or the tenth and last avatar An avatar (Sanskrit: अवतार, IAST: ; ), a concept in Hinduism that means "descent", is the material appearance or incarnat ...
*
List of Hindu festivals Across the globe, Hindus Hindus () are persons who regard themselves as culturally, ethnically, or religiously adhering to aspects of Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion and ''dharma'', or way of life. It is the Major religi ...
* Suratrana * Samskaram *
Hindu calendar The Hindu calendar, Panchanga (Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo- ...

Hindu calendar
* List of Hindu empires and dynasties


Notes


References


Citations


Bibliography

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* *


External links

* . * . {{Authority control Religious identity Ethnoreligious groups Hinduism