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Indian religions
Indian religions
as a percentage of world population Hinduism (15%) Buddhism
Buddhism
(7.1%) Sikhism (0.35%) Jainism
Jainism
(0.06%) Other (77.49%)

INDIAN RELIGIONS, sometimes also termed as DHARMIC faiths or religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent ; namely Hinduism , Jainism
Jainism
, Buddhism
Buddhism
and Sikhism . These religions are also all classified as Eastern religions . Although Indian religions
Indian religions
are connected through the history of India
India
, they constitute a wide range of religious communities, and are not confined to the Indian subcontinent.

Evidence attesting to prehistoric religion in the Indian subcontinent derives from scattered Mesolithic rock paintings. The Harappan people of the Indus Valley Civilisation , which lasted from 3300 to 1300 BCE (mature period, 2600–1900 BCE), had an early urbanized culture which predates the Vedic
Vedic
religion.

The documented history of Indian religions
Indian religions
begins with the historical Vedic
Vedic
religion , the religious practices of the early Indo-Iranians , which were collected and later redacted into the _ Vedas
Vedas
_. The period of the composition, redaction and commentary of these texts is known as the Vedic period , which lasted from roughly 1750 to 500 BCE. The philosophical portions of the Vedas
Vedas
were summarized in upanishads , which are commonly referred to as _ Vedānta _, variously interpreted to mean either the "last chapters, parts of the Veda " or "the object, the highest purpose of the Veda". The early Upanishads all predate the Common Era, five of the eleven principal Upanishads were composed in all likelihood before 6th century BCE, and contain the earliest mentions of _ Yoga
Yoga
_ and Moksha
Moksha
.

The Reform or Shramanic Period between 800–200 BCE marks a "turning point between the Vedic
Vedic
Hinduism and Puranic Hinduism". The Shramana movement, an ancient Indian religious movement parallel to but separate from Vedic
Vedic
tradition, which often defied many of the Vedic and Upanishadic concepts of soul (Atman) and the ultimate reality (Brahman). In 6th century BCE, the Shramnic movement matured into Jainism
Jainism
and Buddhism
Buddhism
and was responsible for the schism of Indian religions into two main philosophical branches of astika, which venerates Veda (e.g., six orthodox schools of Hinduism) and nastika (e.g., Buddhism, Jainism, Charvaka, etc.). However, both branches shared the related concepts of Yoga
Yoga
, _saṃsāra _ (the cycle of birth and death) and _moksha _ (liberation from that cycle) .

The Puranic Period (200 BCE – 500 CE) and Early Medieval period (500–1100 CE) gave rise to new configurations of Hinduism, especially bhakti and Shaivism
Shaivism
, Shaktism
Shaktism
, Vaishnavism , Smarta and much smaller groups like the conservative Shrauta
Shrauta
.

The early Islamic period (1100–1500 CE) also gave rise to new movements. Sikhism was founded in the 15th century on the teachings of Guru Nanak and the nine successive Sikh Gurus
Sikh Gurus
in Northern India
Northern India
. The vast majority of its adherents originate in the Punjab region .

With the colonial dominance of the British a reinterpretation and synthesis of Hinduism arose, which aided the Indian independence movement . Major religious groups as a percentage of world population

CONTENTS

* 1 History

* 1.1 Periodisation

* 1.2 Prevedic religions (before c. 1750 BCE)

* 1.2.1 Prehistory * 1.2.2 Indus Valley civilisation * 1.2.3 Dravidian culture

* 1.3 Vedic period (1750-800 BCE)

* 1.3.1 Early Vedic period – early Vedic
Vedic
compositions (c. 1750–1200 BCE) * 1.3.2 Middle Vedic period (c. 1200–850 BCE) * 1.3.3 Late Vedic period (from 850 BCE)

* 1.4 Sanskritization

* 1.5 Shramanic period (c. 800–200 BCE)

* 1.5.1 Late Vedic period Brahmanas and Upanishads – Vedanta (850–500 BCE)

* 1.5.2 Rise of Shramanic tradition (7th to 5th centuries BCE)

* 1.5.2.1 Jainism
Jainism
* 1.5.2.2 Buddhism
Buddhism

* 1.5.3 Spread of Jainism
Jainism
and Buddhism
Buddhism
(500–200 BCE)

* 1.6 Epic and Early Puranic Period (200 BCE – 500 CE)

* 1.6.1 Smriti * 1.6.2 Vedanta – Brahma sutras (200 BCE) * 1.6.3 Indian philosophy * 1.6.4 Hindu
Hindu
literature * 1.6.5 Jainism
Jainism
and Buddhism
Buddhism
* 1.6.6 Tantra
Tantra

* 1.7 Medieval and Late Puranic Period (500–1500 CE)

* 1.7.1 Late-Classical Period (c. 650–1100 CE)

* 1.7.1.1 Vedanta * 1.7.1.2 Buddhism
Buddhism
* 1.7.1.3 Bhakti
Bhakti

* 1.7.2 Early Islamic rule (c. 1100–1500 CE)

* 1.7.2.1 Bhakti
Bhakti
movement * 1.7.2.2 Lingayatism * 1.7.2.3 Unifying Hinduism * 1.7.2.4 Sikhism (15th century)

* 1.8 Modern period (1500 – present)

* 1.8.1 Early modern period

* 1.8.2 Modern India
India
(after 1800)

* 1.8.2.1 Hinduism * 1.8.2.2 Jainism
Jainism
* 1.8.2.3 Buddhism
Buddhism

* 2 Similarities and differences

* 2.1 Similarities

* 2.1.1 Soteriology * 2.1.2 Ritual
Ritual
* 2.1.3 Mythology

* 2.2 Differences

* 2.2.1 Dharma * 2.2.2 Mythology

* 3 _Āstika_ and _nāstika_ categorisation * 4 "Dharmic religions" * 5 Status of non-Hindus in the Republic of India
India
* 6 See also * 7 Notes * 8 References

* 9 Sources

* 9.1 Printed sources * 9.2 Web sources

* 10 Further reading * 11 External links

HISTORY

See also: Outline of South Asian history , History of India
History of India
, History of Hinduism , and History of Buddhism
Buddhism

OUTLINE OF SOUTH ASIAN HISTORY

Palaeolithic (2,500,000–250,000 BCE)

Madrasian Culture (2,500,000 BCE)

Riwatian Culture (1,900,000 BCE)

Soanian Culture (500,000–250,000 BCE)

Neolithic
Neolithic
(10,800–3300 BCE)

Bhirrana
Bhirrana
Culture (7570–6200 BCE)

Mehrgarh
Mehrgarh
Culture (7000–3300 BCE)

Chalcolithic (3500–1500 BCE)

Jorwe Culture (3500–2000 BCE)

Ahar-Banas Culture (3000–1500 BCE)

Pandu Culture (1600–1500 BCE)

Bronze Age (3300–1300 BCE)

Indus Valley Civilisation (3300–1300 BCE)

– Early Harappan Culture (3300–2600 BCE)

– Mature Harappan Culture (2600–1900 BCE)

– Late Harappan Culture (1900–1300 BCE)

Vedic
Vedic
Civilisation (2000–500 BCE)

Ochre Coloured Pottery culture (2000–1600 BCE)

– Swat culture (1600–500 BCE)

Iron Age (1300–230 BCE)

Vedic
Vedic
Civilisation (2000–500 BCE)

– Janapadas (1500–600 BCE)

– Black and Red ware culture (1300–1000 BCE)

Painted Grey Ware culture (1200–600 BCE)

Northern Black Polished Ware (700–200 BCE)

Pradyota Dynasty (799–684 BCE)

Haryanka Dynasty (684–424 BCE)

Three Crowned Kingdoms (c. 600 BCE–1600 CE)

Maha Janapadas (c. 600–300 BCE)

Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire
(550–330 BCE)

Ror Dynasty (450 BCE–489 CE)

Shishunaga Dynasty (424–345 BCE)

Nanda Empire (380–321 BCE)

Macedonian Empire (330–323 BCE)

Maurya Empire (321–184 BCE)

Seleucid India
India
(312–303 BCE)

Pandya Empire (c. 300 BCE–1345 CE)

Chera Kingdom (c. 300 BCE–1102 CE)

Chola Empire (c. 300 BCE–1279 CE)

Pallava Empire (c. 250 BCE–800 CE)

Maha-Megha- Vahana Empire (c. 250 BCE–c. 500 CE)

Parthian Empire (247 BCE–224 CE)

Middle Kingdoms (230 BCE–1206 CE)

Satavahana Empire (230 BCE–220 CE)

Kuninda Kingdom (200 BCE–300 CE)

Indo-Scythian Kingdom (200 BCE–400 CE)

Mitra Dynasty (c. 150 BCE–c. 50 BCE)

Shunga Empire (185–73 BCE)

Indo-Greek Kingdom (180 BCE–10 CE)

Kanva Empire (75–26 BCE)

Indo-Parthian Kingdom (21–c. 130 CE)

Western Satrap Empire (35–405 CE)

Kushan Empire (60–240 CE)

Bharshiva Dynasty (170–350 CE)

Nagas of Padmavati (210–340)

Sasanian Empire
Sasanian Empire
(224–651)

Indo-Sassanid Kingdom (230–360)

Vakataka Empire (c. 250–c. 500)

Kalabhras Empire (c. 250–c. 600)

Gupta Empire (280–550)

Kadamba Empire (345–525)

Western Ganga Kingdom (350–1000)

Kamarupa
Kamarupa
Kingdom (350–1100)

Vishnukundina Empire (420–624)

Maitraka
Maitraka
Empire (475–767)

Huna Kingdom (475–576)

Rai Kingdom (489–632)

Kabul Shahi Empire (c. 500–1026)

Chalukya Empire (543–753)

Maukhari Empire (c. 550–c. 700)

Harsha
Harsha
Empire (606–647)

Tibetan Empire
Tibetan Empire
(618–841)

Eastern Chalukya Kingdom (624–1075)

Rashidun Caliphate (632–661)

Gurjara-Pratihara Empire (650–1036)

Umayyad Caliphate (661–750)

Pala Empire (750–1174)

Rashtrakuta Empire (753–982)

Paramara Kingdom (800–1327)

Yadava Empire (850–1334)

Chaulukya Kingdom (942–1244)

Western Chalukya Empire (973–1189)

Lohara Kingdom (1003–1320)

Hoysala Empire (1040–1346)

Sena Empire (1070–1230)

Eastern Ganga Empire (1078–1434)

Kakatiya Kingdom (1083–1323)

Karnatas of Mithila (1097-1325)

Zamorin Kingdom (1102–1766)

Kalachuris of Tripuri (675-1210)

Kalachuris of Kalyani (1156–1184)

Sutiya Kingdom (1187-1673)

Deva Kingdom (c. 1200–c. 1300)

Medieval Period (1206–1600 CE)

Delhi Sultanate (1206–1526 CE)

– Mamluk Sultanate (1206–1290)

– Khilji Sultanate (1290–1320)

– Tughlaq Sultanate (1320–1414)

– Sayyid Sultanate (1414–1451)

– Lodi Sultanate (1451–1526)

Ahom Kingdom (1228–1826)

Chitradurga Kingdom (1300–1779)

Oinwar dynasty (1323-1526)

Reddy Kingdom (1325–1448)

Vijayanagara Empire
Vijayanagara Empire
(1336–1646)

Garhwal Kingdom (1358–1803)

Mysore Kingdom (1399–1947)

Gajapati Kingdom (1434–1541)

Deccan Sultanates (1490–1596)

Ahmadnagar Sultanate (1490–1636)

Berar Sultanate (1490–1574)

Bidar Sultanate (1492–1619)

Bijapur Sultanate (1492–1686)

Golkonda Sultanate (1518–1687)

Keladi Kingdom (1499–1763)

Koch Kingdom (1515–1947)

Early Modern Period (1526–1858)

Mughal Empire (1526–1858)

Sur Empire
Sur Empire
(1540–1556)

Madurai
Madurai
Kingdom (1559–1736)

Thanjavur Kingdom (1572–1918)

Marava Kingdom (1600–1750)

Thondaiman Kingdom (1650–1948)

Maratha Empire (1674–1818)

Sikh
Sikh
Confederacy (1707–1799)

Travancore
Travancore
Kingdom (1729–1947)

Sikh Empire (1799–1849)

Colonial States (1510–1961)

Portuguese India
Portuguese India
(1510–1961)

Dutch India (1605–1825)

Danish India
Danish India
(1620–1869)

French India (1759–1954)

Company Raj (1757–1858)

British Raj (1858–1947)

Sri Lankan Kingdoms (544 BCE–1948 CE)

Kingdom of Tambapanni (543–505 BCE)

Kingdom of Upatissa Nuwara (505–377 BCE)

Anuradhapura Kingdom (377 BCE–1017 CE)

Kingdom of Ruhuna (200 CE)

Kingdom of Polonnaruwa (300–1310)

Jaffna Kingdom (1215–1624)

Kingdom of Dambadeniya (1220–1272)

Kingdom of Yapahuwa (1272–1293)

Kingdom of Kurunegala (1293–1341)

Kingdom of Gampola (1341–1347)

Kingdom of Raigama (1347–1415)

Kingdom of Kotte
Kingdom of Kotte
(1412–1597)

Kingdom of Sitawaka (1521–1594)

Kingdom of Kandy (1469–1815)

Portuguese Ceylon (1505–1658)

Dutch Ceylon (1656–1796)

British Ceylon (1815–1948)

National histories

* Afghanistan
Afghanistan
* Bangladesh * Bhutan * India
India
* Maldives * Nepal
Nepal
* Pakistan
Pakistan
* Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka

Regional histories

* Assam * Balochistan * Bengal * Bihar
Bihar
* Gujarat
Gujarat
* Himachal Pradesh * Kabul * Kashmir * Khyber Pakhtunkhwa * Rajasthan
Rajasthan
* Maharashtra
Maharashtra
* Uttar Pradesh * Punjab * Odisha * Sindh * South India
South India
* Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
* Tibet

Specialised histories

* Coinage * Dynasties * Economy * Indology * Language * Literature * Maritime * Military * Partition of India * Pakistan studies
Pakistan studies
* Science font-size:115%;padding-top: 0.6em;">

* v * t * e

PERIODISATION

Main article: Periodisation of Hinduism

James Mill (1773–1836), in his The History of British India (1817), distinguished three phases in the history of India, namely Hindu, Muslim and British civilisations. This periodisation has been criticised, for the misconceptions it has given rise to. Another periodisation is the division into "ancient, classical, medieval and modern periods", although this periodization has also received criticism.

Romila Thapar notes that the division of Hindu-Muslim-British periods of Indian history gives too much weight to "ruling dynasties and foreign invasions," neglecting the social-economic history which often showed a strong continuity. The division in Ancient-Medieval-Modern overlooks the fact that the Muslim-conquests took place between the eight and the fourteenth century, while the south was never completely conquered. According to Thapar, a periodisation could also be based on "significant social and economic changes," which are not strictly related to a change of ruling powers.

Smart and Michaels seem to follow Mill's periodisation, while Flood and Muesse follow the "ancient, classical, mediaeval and modern periods" periodisation. An elaborate periodisation may be as follows:

* Pre-history and Indus Valley Civilisation (until c. 1750 BCE); * Vedic period (c. 1750-500 BCE); * "Second Urbanisation" (c. 500-200 BCE); * Classical period (c. 200 BCE-1100 CE);

* Pre-classical period (c. 200 BCE-300 CE); * "Golden Age" (Gupta Empire) (c. 320-650 CE); * Late-Classical period (c. 650-1100 CE);

* Islamic period (c. 1100-1850 CE) and beginning of western colonialism (c. 1500-1850); * Modern period ( British Raj and independence) (from c. 1850).

PREVEDIC RELIGIONS (BEFORE C. 1750 BCE)

Prehistory

"Priest King" of Indus Valley Civilisation

Evidence attesting to prehistoric religion in the Indian subcontinent derives from scattered Mesolithic rock paintings such as at Bhimbetka , depicting dances and rituals. Neolithic
Neolithic
agriculturalists inhabiting the Indus River
Indus River
Valley buried their dead in a manner suggestive of spiritual practices that incorporated notions of an afterlife and belief in magic. Other South Asian Stone Age sites, such as the Bhimbetka
Bhimbetka
rock shelters in central Madhya Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh
and the Kupgal petroglyphs of eastern Karnataka, contain rock art portraying religious rites and evidence of possible ritualised music.

Indus Valley Civilisation

_ The so-called Pashupati
Pashupati
seal_, showing a seated and possibly ithyphallic figure, surrounded by animals Further information: Prehistoric religion

The religion and belief system of the Indus valley people have received considerable attention, especially from the view of identifying precursors to deities and religious practices of Indian religions that later developed in the area. However, due to the sparsity of evidence, which is open to varying interpretations, and the fact that the Indus script remains undeciphered, the conclusions are partly speculative and largely based on a retrospective view from a much later Hindu
Hindu
perspective. An early and influential work in the area that set the trend for Hindu
Hindu
interpretations of archaeological evidence from the Harrapan sites was that of John Marshall , who in 1931 identified the following as prominent features of the Indus religion: a Great Male God
God
and a Mother Goddess; deification or veneration of animals and plants; symbolic representation of the phallus (linga ) and vulva (yoni ); and, use of baths and water in religious practice. Marshall's interpretations have been much debated, and sometimes disputed over the following decades.

One Indus valley seal shows a seated, possibly ithyphallic and tricephalic, figure with a horned headdress, surrounded by animals. Marshall identified the figure as an early form of the Hindu
Hindu
god Shiva (or Rudra
Rudra
), who is associated with asceticism, yoga , and linga; regarded as a lord of animals; and often depicted as having three eyes. The seal has hence come to be known as the Pashupati Seal , after _ Pashupati
Pashupati
_ (lord of all animals), an epithet of Shiva. While Marshall's work has earned some support, many critics and even supporters have raised several objections. Doris Srinivasan has argued that the figure does not have three faces, or yogic posture, and that in Vedic
Vedic
literature Rudra
Rudra
was not a protector of wild animals. Herbert Sullivan and Alf Hiltebeitel also rejected Marshall's conclusions, with the former claiming that the figure was female, while the latter associated the figure with _Mahisha_, the Buffalo God and the surrounding animals with vahanas (vehicles) of deities for the four cardinal directions. Writing in 2002, Gregory L. Possehl concluded that while it would be appropriate to recognise the figure as a deity, its association with the water buffalo, and its posture as one of ritual discipline, regarding it as a proto- Shiva
Shiva
would be going too far. Despite the criticisms of Marshall's association of the seal with a proto- Shiva
Shiva
icon, it has been interpreted as the Tirthankara Rishabha
Rishabha
by Jains and Dr. Vilas Sangave or an early Buddha
Buddha
by Buddhists. Historians like Heinrich Zimmer , Thomas McEvilley are of the opinion that there exists some link between first Jain
Jain
Tirthankara Rishabha
Rishabha
and Indus Valley civilisation.

Marshall hypothesized the existence of a cult of Mother Goddess worship based upon excavation of several female figurines, and thought that this was a precursor of the Hindu
Hindu
sect of Shaktism
Shaktism
. However the function of the female figurines in the life of Indus Valley people remains unclear, and Possehl does not regard the evidence for Marshall's hypothesis to be "terribly robust". Some of the baetyls interpreted by Marshall to be sacred phallic representations are now thought to have been used as pestles or game counters instead, while the ring stones that were thought to symbolise _yoni_ were determined to be architectural features used to stand pillars, although the possibility of their religious symbolism cannot be eliminated. Many Indus Valley seals show animals, with some depicting them being carried in processions, while others show chimeric creations . One seal from Mohen-jodaro shows a half-human, half-buffalo monster attacking a tiger, which may be a reference to the Sumerian myth of such a monster created by goddess Aruru to fight Gilgamesh .

In contrast to contemporary Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilisations, Indus valley lacks any monumental palaces, even though excavated cities indicate that the society possessed the requisite engineering knowledge. This may suggest that religious ceremonies, if any, may have been largely confined to individual homes, small temples, or the open air. Several sites have been proposed by Marshall and later scholars as possibly devoted to religious purpose, but at present only the Great Bath
Great Bath
at Mohenjo-daro is widely thought to have been so used, as a place for ritual purification. The funerary practices of the Harappan civilisation is marked by its diversity with evidence of supine burial; fractional burial in which the body is reduced to skeletal remains by exposure to the elements before final interment; and even cremation.

Dravidian Culture

See also: South India
South India
, Dravidian peoples , Native Dravidian religion , and Dravidian languages

The early Dravidian religion constituted of non- Vedic
Vedic
form of Hinduism in that they were either historically or are at present Āgamic . The Agamas are non-vedic in origin and have been dated either as post-vedic texts. or as pre-vedic oral compositions. The _Agamas_ are a collection of Tamil and later Sanskrit
Sanskrit
scriptures chiefly constituting the methods of temple construction and creation of _murti _, worship means of deities, philosophical doctrines, meditative practices, attainment of sixfold desires and four kinds of yoga. The worship of tutelary deity , sacred flora and fauna in Hinduism is also recognized as a survival of the pre- Vedic
Vedic
Dravidian religion. Saga Agastya, father of Tamil literature

Ancient Tamil grammatical works Tolkappiyam , the ten anthologies Pattuppāṭṭu , the eight anthologies Eṭṭuttokai also sheds light on early religion of ancient Dravidians. _Seyon _ was glorified as _the red god seated on the blue peacock, who is ever young and resplendent,_ as _the favored god of the Tamils._ Sivan was also seen as the supreme God. Early iconography of Seyyon and Sivan and their association with native flora and fauna goes back to Indus Valley Civilization. The Sangam landscape was classified into five categories, _thinais_, based on the mood, the season and the land. Tolkappiyam , mentions that each of these _thinai_ had an associated deity such Seyyon in _Kurinji_-the hills, Thirumaal in _Mullai_-the forests, and Kotravai in _Marutham_-the plains, and Wanji-ko in the _Neithal_-the coasts and the seas. Other gods mentioned were Mayyon and Vaali who were all assimilated into Hinduism over time. Dravidian linguistic influence on early Vedic
Vedic
religion is evident, many of these features are already present in the oldest known Indo-Aryan language
Indo-Aryan language
, the language of the _ Rigveda
Rigveda
_ (c. 1500 BCE), which also includes over a dozen words borrowed from Dravidian. This represents an early religious and cultural fusion or synthesis between ancient Dravidians and Indo-Aryans, which became more evident over time with sacred iconography, traditions, philosophy, flora and fauna that went on to influence Hinduism, Buddhism, Charvaka, Sramana and Jainism
Jainism
_ Typical layout of Dravidian architecture which evolved from koyil_ as king's residence

Throughout Tamilakam , a king was considered to be divine by nature and possessed religious significance. The king was 'the representative of God
God
on earth’ and lived in a “koyil”, which means the “residence of a god”. The Modern Tamil word for temple is koil . Titual worship was also given to kings. Modern words for god like “kō” (“king”), “iṟai” (“emperor”) and “āṇḍavar” ( “conqueror”) now primarily refer to gods. These elements were incorporated later into Hinduism like the legendary marriage of Shiva
Shiva
to Queen Mīnātchi who ruled Madurai
Madurai
or Wanji-ko , a god who later merged into Indra
Indra
. Tolkappiyar refers to the Three Crowned Kings as the “Three Glorified by Heaven”. In the Dravidian-speaking South, the concept of divine kingship led to the assumption of major roles by state and temple.

The cult of the mother goddess is treated as an indication of a society which venerated femininity. This mother goddess was conceived as a virgin, one who has given birth to all and one, typically associated with Shaktism
Shaktism
. The temples of the Sangam days, mainly of Madurai, seem to have had priestesses to the deity, which also appear predominantly a goddess. In the Sangam literature, there is an elaborate description of the rites performed by the Kurava priestess in the shrine Palamutircholai. Among the early Dravidians the practice of erecting memorial stones “Natukal _or_ Hero Stone had appeared, and it continued for quite a long time after the Sangam age, down to about 16th century. It was customary for people who sought victory in war to worship these hero stones to bless them with victory.

VEDIC PERIOD (1750-800 BCE)

Main articles: Vedic period and Historical Vedic religion See also: Proto-Indo-European religion and Proto-Indo-Iranian religion

The documented history of Indian religions
Indian religions
begins with the historical Vedic
Vedic
religion , the religious practices of the early Indo-Aryans , which were collected and later redacted into the _ Samhitas
Samhitas
_ (usually known as the Vedas), four canonical collections of hymns or mantras composed in archaic Sanskrit
Sanskrit
. These texts are the central _shruti _ (revealed) texts of Hinduism . The period of the composition, redaction and commentary of these texts is known as the Vedic period , which lasted from roughly 1750 to 500 BCE.

The Vedic
Vedic
Period is most significant for the composition of the four Vedas, Brahmanas and the older Upanishads (both presented as discussions on the rituals, mantras and concepts found in the four Vedas), which today are some of the most important canonical texts of Hinduism, and are the codification of much of what developed into the core beliefs of Hinduism.

Some modern Hindu
Hindu
scholars use the " Vedic
Vedic
religion" synonymously with "Hinduism." According to Sundararajan, Hinduism is also known as the Vedic
Vedic
religion. Other authors state that the Vedas
Vedas
contain "the fundamental truths about Hindu
Hindu
Dharma" which is called "the modern version of the ancient Vedic
Vedic
Dharma" The Arya Samajis recognize the Vedic
Vedic
religion as true Hinduism. Nevertheless, according to Jamison and Witzel,

... to call this period Vedic
Vedic
Hinduism is a contradiction in terms since Vedic
Vedic
religion is very different from what we generally call Hindu
Hindu
religion – at least as much as Old Hebrew religion is from medieval and modern Christian religion. However, Vedic
Vedic
religion is treatable as a predecessor of Hinduism."

Early Vedic
Vedic
Period – Early Vedic
Vedic
Compositions (c. 1750–1200 BCE)

Main articles: Vedas
Vedas
and Samhitas
Samhitas

The rishis , the composers of the hymns of the Rigveda
Rigveda
, were considered inspired poets and seers.

The mode of worship was the performance of Yajna , sacrifices which involved sacrifice and sublimation of the havana sámagri (herbal preparations) in the fire, accompanied by the singing of Samans and 'mumbling' of Yajus , the sacrificial mantras. The sublime meaning of the word yajna is derived from the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
verb yaj, which has a three-fold meaning of worship of deities (devapujana), unity (saògatikaraña) and charity (dána). An essential element was the sacrificial fire – the divine Agni
Agni
– into which oblations were poured, as everything offered into the fire was believed to reach God.

Central concepts in the Vedas
Vedas
are Satya
Satya
and Rta . _Satya_ is derived from Sat , the present participle of the verbal root _as_, "to be, to exist, to live". _Sat_ means "that which really exists the really existent truth; the Good", and _Sat-ya_ means "is-ness". _Rta_, "that which is properly joined; order, rule; truth", is the principle of natural order which regulates and coordinates the operation of the universe and everything within it. " Satya
Satya
(truth as being) and rita (truth as law) are the primary principles of Reality and its manifestation is the background of the canons of dharma, or a life of righteousness." " Satya
Satya
is the principle of integration rooted in the Absolute, rita is its application and function as the rule and order operating in the universe." Conformity with Ṛta would enable progress whereas its violation would lead to punishment. Panikkar remarks:

_Ṛta_ is the ultimate foundation of everything; it is "the supreme", although this is not to be understood in a static sense. It is the expression of the primordial dynamism that is inherent in everything...."

The term rta is inherited from the Proto-Indo-Iranian religion , the religion of the Indo-Iranian peoples prior to the earliest Vedic (Indo-Aryan) and Zoroastrian (Iranian) scriptures. " Asha " is the Avestan language term (corresponding to Vedic
Vedic
language ṛta ) for a concept of cardinal importance to Zoroastrian theology and doctrine. The term "dharma" was already used in Brahmanical thought, where it was conceived as an aspect of Rta .

Major philosophers of this era were Rishis Narayana, Kanva, Rishaba , Vamadeva , and Angiras .

Middle Vedic
Vedic
Period (c. 1200–850 BCE)

See also: Painted Grey Ware culture

During the Middle Vedic period Rgveda X, the mantras of the Yajurveda and the older Brahmana texts were composed. The Brahmans became powerful intermediairies.

Historical roots of Jainism
Jainism
in India
India
is traced back to 9th-century BC with the rise of Parshvanatha
Parshvanatha
and his non-violent philosophy.

Late Vedic
Vedic
Period (from 850 BCE)

The Vedic
Vedic
religion evolved into Hinduism and Vedanta , a religious path considering itself the 'essence' of the Vedas, interpreting the Vedic
Vedic
pantheon as a unitary view of the universe with 'God' (Brahman) seen as immanent and transcendent in the forms of Ishvara
Ishvara
and Brahman . This post- Vedic
Vedic
systems of thought, along with the Upanishads and later texts like epics (namely Gita
Gita
of Mahabharat ), is a major component of modern Hinduism. The ritualistic traditions of Vedic religion are preserved in the conservative Śrauta tradition.

SANSKRITIZATION

Main article: Sanskritization

Since Vedic
Vedic
times, "people from many strata of society throughout the subcontinent tended to adapt their religious and social life to Brahmanic norms", a process sometimes called Sanskritization . It is reflected in the tendency to identify local deities with the gods of the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
texts.

SHRAMANIC PERIOD (C. 800–200 BCE)

Statue of a standing Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
A statue of Mahavira

During the time of the shramanic reform movements "many elements of the Vedic
Vedic
religion were lost". According to Michaels, "it is justified to see a turning point between the Vedic
Vedic
religion and Hindu religions".

Late Vedic
Vedic
Period – Brahmanas And Upanishads Vedanta (850–500 BCE)

Hindu
Hindu
Swastika
Swastika
Main articles: Brahmanas , Upanishads , and Vedanta

The late Vedic period (9th to 6th centuries BCE) marks the beginning of the Upanisadic or Vedantic period. This period heralded the beginning of much of what became classical Hinduism, with the composition of the Upanishads , :183 later the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
epics , still later followed by the Puranas .

Upanishads form the speculative-philosophical basis of classical Hinduism and are known as Vedanta (conclusion of the Vedas
Vedas
). The older Upanishads launched attacks of increasing intensity on the ritual. Anyone who worships a divinity other than the Self is called a domestic animal of the gods in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. The Mundaka launches the most scathing attack on the ritual by comparing those who value sacrifice with an unsafe boat that is endlessly overtaken by old age and death.

Scholars believe that Parsva
Parsva
, the 23rd Jain
Jain
_tirthankara_ lived during this period in the 9th century BCE.

Rise Of Shramanic Tradition (7th To 5th Centuries BCE)

See also: Shramana and Magadha
Magadha

Jainism
Jainism
and Buddhism
Buddhism
belong to the sramana tradition. These religions rose into prominence in 700–500 BCE in the Magadha
Magadha
kingdom., reflecting "the cosmology and anthropology of a much older, pre-Aryan upper class of northeastern India", and were responsible for the related concepts of _saṃsāra _ (the cycle of birth and death) and _moksha _ (liberation from that cycle).

The shramana movements challenged the orthodoxy of the rituals. The shramanas were wandering ascetics distinct from Vedism. Mahavira, proponent of Jainism
Jainism
, and Buddha
Buddha
(c. 563-483), founder of Buddhism
Buddhism
were the most prominent icons of this movement.

Shramana gave rise to the concept of the cycle of birth and death, the concept of samsara , and the concept of liberation. The influence of Upanishads on Buddhism
Buddhism
has been a subject of debate among scholars. While Radhakrishnan , Oldenberg and Neumann were convinced of Upanishadic influence on the Buddhist
Buddhist
canon, Eliot and Thomas highlighted the points where Buddhism
Buddhism
was opposed to Upanishads. Buddhism
Buddhism
may have been influenced by some Upanishadic ideas, it however discarded their orthodox tendencies. In Buddhist
Buddhist
texts Buddha is presented as rejecting avenues of salvation as "pernicious views".

Jainism

Main articles: Mahavira , Jainism
Jainism
, Timeline of Jainism
Jainism
, and Jain community

Jainism
Jainism
was established by a lineage of 24 enlightened beings culminating with Parsva
Parsva
(9th century BCE) and Mahavira (6th century BCE).

The 24th Tirthankara
Tirthankara
of Jainism
Jainism
, Mahavira , stressed five vows, including _ahimsa _ (non-violence), _satya _ (truthfulness), _asteya _ (non-stealing) and _aparigraha _ (non-attachment). Jain
Jain
orthodoxy believes the teachings of the Tirthankaras predates all known time and scholars believe Parshva
Parshva
, accorded status as the 23rd Tirthankara, was a historical figure. The Vedas
Vedas
are believed to have documented a few Tirthankaras and an ascetic order similar to the shramana movement.

Buddhism

Main articles: Gautama Buddha
Buddha
, Buddhism
Buddhism
, Early Buddhism
Buddhism
, Pre-sectarian Buddhism
Buddhism
, History of Buddhism
Buddhism
, and History of Buddhism in India
India

Buddhism
Buddhism
was historically founded by Siddhartha Gautama , a Kshatriya prince-turned-ascetic, and was spread beyond India
India
through missionaries. It later experienced a decline in India, but survived in Nepal
Nepal
and Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
, and remains more widespread in Southeast and East Asia .

Gautama Buddha
Buddha
, who was called an "awakened one" ( Buddha
Buddha
), was born into the Shakya clan living at Kapilavastu and Lumbini in what is now southern Nepal. The Buddha
Buddha
was born at Lumbini, as emperor Ashoka
Ashoka
's Lumbini pillar records, just before the kingdom of Magadha
Magadha
(which traditionally is said to have lasted from c. 546–324 BCE) rose to power. The Shakyas claimed Angirasa and Gautama Maharishi lineage, via descent from the royal lineage of Ayodhya.

Buddhism
Buddhism
emphasises enlightenment (nibbana, nirvana) and liberation from the rounds of rebirth. This objective is pursued through two schools, Theravada, the Way of the Elders (practised in Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, SE Asia, etc.) and Mahayana, the Greater Way (practised in Tibet, China, Japan etc.). There may be some differences in the practice between the two schools in reaching the objective. In the Theravada
Theravada
practice this is pursued in seven stages of purification (visuddhi); viz. physical purification by taking precepts (sila visiddhi), mental purification by insight meditation (citta visuddhi), followed by purification of views and concepts (ditthi visuddhi), purification by overcoming of doubts (kinkha vitarana vishuddhi), purification by acquiring knowledge and wisdom of the right path (maggarmagga-nanadasana visuddhi), attaining knowledge and wisdom through the course of practice (patipada-nanadasana visuddhi), and purification by attaining knowledge and insight wisdom (nanadasana visuddhi) (ref: The Progress of Insight Visuddhinana katha. Ven Mahasi sayadaw, translated by Nyanaponika Thera. 1994. ISBN 955-24-0090-2 )

Spread Of Jainism
Jainism
And Buddhism
Buddhism
(500–200 BCE)

Mahabodhi Temple
Mahabodhi Temple
, Bodh Gaya
Bodh Gaya
, Bihar
Bihar
Palitana temples Main articles: Maurya Empire and Silk Road transmission of Buddhism
Buddhism

Both Jainism
Jainism
and Buddhism
Buddhism
spread throughout India
India
during the period of the Magadha
Magadha
empire .

Buddhism
Buddhism
in India
India
spread during the reign of Ashoka
Ashoka
of the Maurya Empire , who patronised Buddhist
Buddhist
teachings and unified the Indian subcontinent in the 3rd century BCE. He sent missionaries abroad, allowing Buddhism
Buddhism
to spread across Asia. Jainism
Jainism
began its golden period during the reign of Emperor Kharavela
Kharavela
of Kalinga in the 2nd century BCE.

EPIC AND EARLY PURANIC PERIOD (200 BCE – 500 CE)

A statue of Lord Krishna
Krishna
Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple in Srirangam, Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
, India, is the largest functioning Hindu
Hindu
temple in the world. Akshardham Tirumala Venkateswara Temple , the most visited and richest Hindu
Hindu
temple in the world Main articles: Pala Empire and Gupta Empire

Flood and Muesse take the period between 200 BCE and 500 BCE as a separate period, in which the epics and the first puranas were being written. Michaels takes a greater timespan, namely the period between 200 BCE and 1100 CE, which saw the rise of so-called "Classical Hinduism", with its "golden age" during the Gupta Empire.

According to Alf Hiltebeitel , a period of consolidation in the development of Hinduism took place between the time of the late Vedic Upanishad (c. 500 BCE) and the period of the rise of the Guptas (c. 320–467 CE), which he calls the "Hindus synthesis", "Brahmanic synthesis", or "orthodox synthesis". It develops in interaction with other religions and peoples:

The emerging self-definitions of Hinduism were forged in the context of continuous interaction with heterodox religions (Buddhists, Jains, Ajivikas) throughout this whole period, and with foreign people (Yavanas, or Greeks; Sakas, or Scythians; Pahlavas, or Parthians; and Kusanas, or Kushans) from the third phase on .

The end of the Vedantic period around the 2nd century CE spawned a number of branches that furthered Vedantic philosophy, and which ended up being seminaries in their own right. Prominent amongst these developers were Yoga
Yoga
, Dvaita , Advaita and the medieval Bhakti movement.

Smriti

The _smriti_ texts of the period between 200 BCE-100 CE proclaim the authority of the Vedas, and "nonrejection of the Vedas
Vedas
comes to be one of the most important touchstones for defining Hinduism over and against the heterodoxies, which rejected the Vedas." Of the six Hindu darsanas, the Mimamsa and the Vedanta "are rooted primarily in the Vedic
Vedic
_sruti_ tradition and are sometimes called _smarta_ schools in the sense that they develop _smarta_ orthodox current of thoughts that are based, like _smriti_, directly on _sruti_." According to Hiltebeitel, "the consolidation of Hinduism takes place under the sign of _bhakti_." It is the _Bhagavadgita_ that seals this achievement. The result is a universal achievement that may be called _smarta _. It views Shiva
Shiva
and Vishnu
Vishnu
as "complementary in their functions but ontologically identical".

Vedanta Brahma Sutras (200 BCE)

Main article: Vedanta

In earlier writings, Sanskrit
Sanskrit
'Vedānta' simply referred to the Upanishads , the most speculative and philosophical of the Vedic texts. However, in the medieval period of Hinduism, the word Vedānta came to mean the school of philosophy that interpreted the Upanishads. Traditional Vedānta considers scriptural evidence, or shabda pramāna , as the most authentic means of knowledge, while perception, or pratyaksa , and logical inference, or anumana , are considered to be subordinate (but valid).

The systematisation of Vedantic ideas into one coherent treatise was undertaken by Badarāyana in the Brahma Sutras which was composed around 200 BCE. The cryptic aphorisms of the Brahma Sutras are open to a variety of interpretations. This resulted in the formation of numerous Vedanta schools, each interpreting the texts in its own way and producing its own sub-commentaries.

Indian Philosophy

Main article: Indian philosophy

After 200 CE several schools of thought were formally codified in Indian philosophy, including Samkhya , Yoga
Yoga
, Nyaya , Vaisheshika , Mimāṃsā and Advaita Vedanta . Hinduism, otherwise a highly polytheistic, pantheistic or monotheistic religion, also tolerated atheistic schools . The thoroughly materialistic and anti-religious philosophical Cārvāka school that originated around the 6th century BCE is the most explicitly atheistic school of Indian philosophy. Cārvāka is classified as a _nāstika _ ("heterodox") system; it is not included among the six schools of Hinduism generally regarded as orthodox. It is noteworthy as evidence of a materialistic movement within Hinduism. Our understanding of Cārvāka philosophy is fragmentary, based largely on criticism of the ideas by other schools, and it is no longer a living tradition. Other Indian philosophies generally regarded as atheistic include Samkhya and Mimāṃsā.

Hindu
Hindu
Literature

The Golden Temple of Mahalakshmi at Vellore
Vellore
Main articles: Mahabharata , Ramayana
Ramayana
, and Puranas

Two of Hinduism's most revered _epics_, the Mahabharata and Ramayana were compositions of this period. Devotion to particular deities was reflected from the composition of texts composed to their worship. For example, the _Ganapati Purana_ was written for devotion to Ganapati (or Ganesh
Ganesh
). Popular deities of this era were Shiva
Shiva
, Vishnu
Vishnu
, Durga , Surya
Surya
, Skanda , and Ganesh
Ganesh
(including the forms/incarnations of these deities.)

In the latter Vedantic period, several texts were also composed as summaries/attachments to the Upanishads. These texts collectively called as Puranas allowed for a divine and mythical interpretation of the world, not unlike the ancient Hellenic or Roman religions. Legends and epics with a multitude of gods and goddesses with human-like characteristics were composed.

Jainism
Jainism
And Buddhism

Main article: Decline of Buddhism
Buddhism
in India
India

The Gupta period marked a watershed of Indian culture: the Guptas performed Vedic
Vedic
sacrifices to legitimize their rule, but they also patronized Buddhism
Buddhism
, which continued to provide an alternative to Brahmanical orthodoxy. Buddhism
Buddhism
continued to have a significant presence in some regions of India
India
until the 12th century.

There were several Buddhistic kings who worshiped Vishnu
Vishnu
, such as the Gupta Empire , Pala Empire , Malla Empire , Somavanshi , and Sattvahana . Buddhism
Buddhism
survived followed by Hindus. _National Geographic_

Tantra

Main article: Tantra
Tantra

Tantrism originated in the early centuries CE and developed into a fully articulated tradition by the end of the Gupta period . According to Michaels this was the "Golden Age of Hinduism" (c. 320–650 CE ), which flourished during the Gupta Empire (320 to 550 CE) until the fall of the Harsha
Harsha
Empire (606 to 647 CE). During this period, power was centralised, along with a growth of far distance trade, standardizarion of legal procedures, and general spread of literacy. Mahayana Buddhism
Buddhism
flourished, but the orthodox Brahmana culture began to be rejuvenated by the patronage of the Gupta Dynasty. The position of the Brahmans was reinforced, and the first Hindu
Hindu
temples emerged during the late Gupta age.

MEDIEVAL AND LATE PURANIC PERIOD (500–1500 CE)

Late-Classical Period (c. 650–1100 CE)

_See also Late-Classical Age and Hinduism Middle Ages _

After the end of the Gupta Empire and the collapse of the Harsha Empire, power became decentralised in India. Several larger kingdoms emerged, with "countless vasal states". The kingdoms were ruled via a feudal system. Smaller kingdoms were dependent on the protection of the larger kingdoms. "The great king was remote, was exalted and deified", as reflected in the Tantric Mandala , which could also depict the king as the centre of the mandala.

The disintegration of central power also lead to regionalisation of religiosity, and religious rivalry. Local cults and languages were enhanced, and the influence of "Brahmanic ritualistic Hinduism" was diminished. Rural and devotional movements arose, along with Shaivism , Vaisnavism , Bhakti
Bhakti
and Tantra, though "sectarian groupings were only at the beginning of their development". Religious movements had to compete for recognition by the local lords. Buddhism
Buddhism
lost its position, and began to disappear in India.

Vedanta

See also: Advaita Vedanta and Ajativada
Ajativada

In the same period Vedanta changed, incorporating Buddhist
Buddhist
thought and its emphasis on consciousness and the working of the mind. Buddhism, which was supported by the ancient Indian urban civilisation lost influence to the traditional religions, which were rooted in the countryside. In Bengal, Buddhism
Buddhism
was even prosecuted. But at the same time, Buddhism
Buddhism
was incorporated into Hinduism, when Gaudapada used Buddhist
Buddhist
philosophy to reinterpret the Upanishads. This also marked a shift from Atman and Brahman as a "living substance" to "maya-vada" , where Atman and Brahman are seen as "pure knowledge-consciousness". According to Scheepers, it is this "maya-vada" view which has come to dominate Indian thought.

Buddhism

Main article: Decline of Buddhism
Buddhism
in India
India

Between 400 and 1000 CE Hinduism expanded as the decline of Buddhism in India
India
continued. Buddhism
Buddhism
subsequently became effectively extinct in India
India
but survived in Nepal
Nepal
and Sri Lanka.

Bhakti

Main articles: Bhakti
Bhakti
movement , Alwars , and Nayanars

The Bhakti
Bhakti
movement began with the emphasis on the worship of God, regardless of one's status – whether priestly or laypeople, men or women, higher social status or lower social status. The movements were mainly centered on the forms of Vishnu
Vishnu
( Rama
Rama
and Krishna
Krishna
) and Shiva. There were however popular devotees of this era of Durga
Durga
. The best-known devotees are the Nayanars from southern India. The most popular Shaiva teacher of the south was Basava , while of the north it was Gorakhnath . Female saints include figures like Akkamadevi , Lalleshvari and Molla .

The "alwar" or "azhwars" (Tamil : ஆழ்வார்கள், _āzvārkaḷ_ , those immersed in god) were Tamil poet-saints of south India
India
who lived between the 6th and 9th centuries CE and espoused "emotional devotion" or bhakti to Visnu- Krishna
Krishna
in their songs of longing, ecstasy and service. The most popular Vaishnava teacher of the south was Ramanuja , while of the north it was Ramananda .

Several important icons were women. For example, within the Mahanubhava sect, the women outnumbered the men, and administration was many times composed mainly of women. Mirabai is the most popular female saint in India.

Sri Vallabha
Vallabha
Acharya (1479–1531) is a very important figure from this era. He founded the Shuddha Advaita (_Pure Non-dualism_) school of Vedanta thought.

According to _The Centre for Cultural Resources and Training_,

Vaishanava bhakti literature was an all- India
India
phenomenon, which started in the 6th–7th century A.D. in the Tamil -speaking region of South India, with twelve Alvar
Alvar
(one immersed in God) saint-poets, who wrote devotional songs. The religion of Alvar
Alvar
poets, which included a woman poet, Andal, was devotion to God
God
through love (bhakti), and in the ecstasy of such devotions they sang hundreds of songs which embodied both depth of feeling and felicity of expressions

Early Islamic Rule (c. 1100–1500 CE)

Main articles: Muslim conquest of India , Islamic Empires in India , Bahmani Sultanate , Deccan Sultanates , Delhi Sultanate , and Sufism in India
India

In the 12th and 13th centuries, Turks and Afghans invaded parts of northern India
India
and established the Delhi Sultanate in the former Rajput
Rajput
holdings. The subsequent Slave dynasty of Delhi
Delhi
managed to conquer large areas of northern India, approximately equal in extent to the ancient Gupta Empire , while the Khilji dynasty conquered most of central India
India
but were ultimately unsuccessful in conquering and uniting the subcontinent. The Sultanate ushered in a period of Indian cultural renaissance. The resulting "Indo-Muslim" fusion of cultures left lasting syncretic monuments in architecture, music, literature, religion, and clothing.

Bhakti
Bhakti
Movement

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During the 14th to 17th centuries, a great _Bhakti_ movement swept through central and northern India, initiated by a loosely associated group of teachers or _Sants _. Ramananda , Ravidas , Srimanta Sankardeva , Chaitanya Mahaprabhu , Vallabha
Vallabha
Acharya , Sur , Meera
Meera
, Kabir
Kabir
, Tulsidas , Namdev , Dnyaneshwar , Tukaram
Tukaram
and other mystics spearheaded the Bhakti
Bhakti
movement in the North while Annamacharya , Bhadrachala Ramadas , Tyagaraja among others propagated Bhakti
Bhakti
in the South. They taught that people could cast aside the heavy burdens of ritual and caste, and the subtle complexities of philosophy, and simply express their overwhelming love for God. This period was also characterized by a spate of devotional literature in vernacular prose and poetry in the ethnic languages of the various Indian states or provinces.

Lingayatism

Main article: Lingayatism

Lingayatism is a distinct Shaivite tradition in India, established in the 12th century by the philosopher and social reformer Basavanna. The adherents of this tradition are known as Lingayats. The term is derived from Lingavantha in Kannada, meaning 'one who wears _Ishtalinga_ on their body' (_Ishtalinga_ is the representation of the God). In Lingayat theology, _Ishtalinga_ is an oval-shaped emblem symbolising Parasiva, the absolute reality. Contemporary Lingayatism follows a progressive reform–based theology propounded, which has great influence in South India, especially in the state of Karnataka.

Unifying Hinduism

Main article: Unifying Hinduism

According to Nicholson, already between the 12th and 16th century,

... certain thinkers began to treat as a single whole the diverse philosophival teachings of the Upanishads, epics, Puranas, and the schools known retrospectively as the "six systems" (_saddarsana_) of mainstream Hindu
Hindu
philosophy.

The tendency of "a blurring of philosophical distinctions" has also been noted by Burley. Lorenzen locates the origins of a distinct Hindu
Hindu
identity in the interaction between Muslims and Hindus, and a process of "mutual self-definition with a contrasting Muslim other", which started well before 1800. Both the Indian and the European thinkers who developed the term "Hinduism" in the 19th century were influenced by these philosophers.

Sikhism (15th Century)

Harmandir Sahib
Harmandir Sahib
or the Golden Temple of the Sikhs
Sikhs
Main article: Sikhism See also: History of Sikhism , Sikhism and Jainism
Jainism
, Sikhism and Hinduism , and Sikhism in India
India

Sikhism originated in 15th-century Punjab , Delhi Sultanate (present day India
India
and Pakistan
Pakistan
) with the teachings of Nanak and nine successive gurus . The principal belief in Sikhism is faith in _Vāhigurū _— represented by the sacred symbol of _ēk ōaṅkār _ . Sikhism's traditions and teachings are distinctly associated with the history, society and culture of the Punjab . Adherents of Sikhism are known as Sikhs
Sikhs
(_students_ or _disciples_) and number over 27 million across the world.

MODERN PERIOD (1500 – PRESENT)

Early Modern Period

Main articles: Mughal period and Maratha Empire

According to Gavin Flood , the modern period in India
India
begins with the first contacts with western nations around 1500. The period of Mughal rule in India
India
saw the rise of new forms of religiosity.

Modern India
India
(after 1800)

Mahamagam Festival is a holy festival celebrated once in twelve years in Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
. Mahamagam Festival, which is held at Kumbakonam . This festival is also called as Kumbamela of South. The largest religious gathering ever held on Earth, the 2001 Maha Kumbh Mela held in Prayag
Prayag
attracted around 70 million Hindus from around the world.

Hinduism

Main articles: Hindu
Hindu
reform movements , Neo-Vedanta , Hindutva , and Communalism (South Asia)

In the 19th century, under influence of the colonial forces, a synthetic vision of Hinduism was formulated by Raja Ram Mohan Roy
Raja Ram Mohan Roy
, Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda
, Sri Aurobindo
Sri Aurobindo
, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
and Mahatma Gandhi . These thinkers have tended to take an inclusive view of India's religious history, emphasising the similarities between the various Indian religions.

The modern era has given rise to dozens of Hindu
Hindu
saints with international influence. For example, Brahma Baba established the Brahma Kumaris, one of the largest new Hindu
Hindu
religious movements which teaches the discipline of Raja Yoga
Yoga
to millions. Representing traditional Gaudiya Vaishnavism , Prabhupada founded the Hare Krishna movement, another organisation with a global reach. In late 18th-century India, Swaminarayan
Swaminarayan
founded the Swaminarayan
Swaminarayan
Sampraday . Anandamurti , founder of the Ananda Marga , has also influenced many worldwide. Through the international influence of all of these new Hindu
Hindu
denominations, many Hindu
Hindu
practices such as yoga, meditation, mantra, divination, and vegetarianism have been adopted by new converts.

Jainism

Jainism
Jainism
continues to be an influential religion and Jain
Jain
communities live in Indian states Gujarat
Gujarat
, Rajasthan
Rajasthan
, Madhya Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh
, Maharashtra
Maharashtra
, Karnataka
Karnataka
and Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
. Jains authored several classical books in different Indian languages for a considerable period of time.

Buddhism

Main article: Navayana

The Dalit
Dalit
Buddhist
Buddhist
movement also referred to as Navayana is a 19th- and 20th-century Buddhist
Buddhist
revival movement in India. It received its most substantial impetus from B. R. Ambedkar 's call for the conversion of Dalits to Buddhism
Buddhism
in 1956 and the opportunity to escape the caste -based society that considered them to be the lowest in the hierarchy.

SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES

Map showing the prevalence of Abrahamic (pink) and Indian religions (yellow) in each country

According to Tilak, the religions of India
India
can be interpreted "differentially" or "integrally", that is by either highlighting the differences or the similarities. According to Sherma and Sarma, western Indologists have tended to emphasise the differences, while Indian Indologists have tended to emphasise the similarities.

SIMILARITIES

Hinduism , Buddhism
Buddhism
, Jainism
Jainism
and Sikhism share certain key concepts, which are interpreted differently by different groups and individuals. Until the 19th century, adherents of those various religions did not tend to label themselves as in opposition to each other, but "perceived themselves as belonging to the same extended cultural family."

Soteriology

Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism
Jainism
and Sikhism share the concept of moksha , liberation from the cycle of rebirth. They differ however on the exact nature of this liberation.

Ritual

Common traits can also be observed in ritual. The head-anointing ritual of _abhiseka _ is of importance in three of these distinct traditions, excluding Sikhism (in Buddhism
Buddhism
it is found within Vajrayana
Vajrayana
). Other noteworthy rituals are the cremation of the dead, the wearing of vermilion on the head by married women, and various marital rituals. In literature, many classical narratives and purana have Hindu, Buddhist
Buddhist
or Jain
Jain
versions. All four traditions have notions of _karma _, _dharma _, _samsara _, _moksha _ and various _forms of Yoga
Yoga
_.

Mythology

Rama
Rama
is a heroic figure in all of these religions. In Hinduism he is the God-incarnate in the form of a princely king; in Buddhism, he is a Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
-incarnate; in Jainism, he is the perfect human being. Among the Buddhist
Buddhist
Ramayanas are: _Vessantarajataka_, Reamker , Ramakien
Ramakien
, Phra Lak Phra Lam , Hikayat Seri Rama
Rama
etc. There also exists the _Khamti Ramayana_ among the Khamti tribe of Asom wherein Rama
Rama
is an Avatar of a Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
who incarnates to punish the demon king Ravana (B.Datta 1993). The _Tai Ramayana_ is another book retelling the divine story in Asom.

DIFFERENCES

Critics point out that there exist vast differences between and even within the various Indian religions. All major religions are composed of innumerable sects and subsects.

Dharma

For a Hindu, _dharma_ is his duty. For a Jain, _dharma_ is righteousness, his conduct. For a Buddhist, _dharma_ is usually taken to be the Buddha's teachings.

Mythology

Indian mythology also reflects the competition between the various Indian religions. A popular story tells how Vajrapani
Vajrapani
kills Mahesvara, a manifestation of Shiva
Shiva
depicted as an evil being. The story occurs in several scriptures, most notably the _Sarvatathagatatattvasamgraha_ and the _Vajrapany-abhiseka-mahatantra_. According to Kalupahana, the story "echoes" the story of the conversion of Ambattha. It is to be understood in the context of the competition between Buddhist institutions and Shaivism
Shaivism
.

_ĀSTIKA_ AND _NāSTIKA_ CATEGORISATION

Main articles: Āstika and nāstika , Hindu
Hindu
philosophy , and Buddhism and Hinduism See also: Adi Shankara and Charvaka

_Āstika_ and _nāstika_ are variously defined terms sometimes used to categorise Indian religions. The traditional definition, followed by Adi Shankara , classifies religions and persons as _āstika_ and _nāstika_ according to whether they accept the authority of the main Hindu
Hindu
texts, the Vedas, as supreme revealed scriptures, or not. By this definition, Nyaya , Vaisheshika , Samkhya , Yoga
Yoga
, Purva Mimamsa and Vedanta are classified as _āstika_ schools, while Charvaka is classified as a _nāstika_ school. Buddhism
Buddhism
and Jainism
Jainism
are also thus classified as _nāstika_ religions since they do not accept the authority of the Vedas.

Another set of definitions—notably distinct from the usage of Hindu philosophy—loosely characterise _āstika_ as "theist " and _nāstika_ as "atheist ". By these definitions, _Sāṃkhya_ can be considered a _nāstika_ philosophy, though it is traditionally classed among the Vedic
Vedic
_āstika_ schools. From this point of view, Buddhism and Jainism
Jainism
remain _nāstika_ religions.

Buddhists and Jains have disagreed that they are nastika and have redefined the phrases āstika and nāstika in their own view. Jains assign the term nastika to one who is ignorant of the meaning of the religious texts, or those who deny the existence of the soul was well known to the Jainas.

"DHARMIC RELIGIONS"

See also: Saffronization

Frawley and Malhotra use the term "Dharmic traditions" to highlight the similarities between the various Indian religions. According to Frawley, "all religions in India
India
have been called the Dharma", and can be

...put under the greater umbrella of "Dharmic traditions" which we can see as Hinduism or the spiritual traditions of India
India
in the broadest sense.

According to Paul Hacker, as described by Halbfass, the term "dharma"

...assumed a fundamentally new meaning and function in modern Indian thought, beginning with Bankim Chandra Chatterjee in the nineteenth century. This process, in which _dharma_ was presented as an equivalent of, but also a response to, the western notion of "religion", reflects a fundamental change in the Hindu
Hindu
sense of identity and in the attitude toward other religious and cultural traditions. The foreign tools of "religion" and "nation" became tools of self-definition, and a new and precarious sense of the "unity of Hinduism" and of national as well as religious identity took root.

The emphasis on the similarities and integral unity of the dharmic faiths has been criticised for neglecting the vast differences between and even within the various Indian religions
Indian religions
and traditions. According to Richard E. King it is typical of the "inclusivist appropriation of other traditions" of Neo-Vedanta :

The inclusivist appropriation of other traditions, so characteristic of neo- Vedanta ideology, appears on three basic levels. First, it is apparent in the suggestion that the (Advaita) Vedanta philosophy of Sankara (c. eighth century CE) constitutes the central philosophy of Hinduism. Second, in an Indian context, neo- Vedanta philosophy subsumes Buddhist
Buddhist
philosophies in terms of its own Vedantic ideology. The Buddha
Buddha
becomes a member of the Vedanta tradition, merely attempting to reform it from within. Finally, at a global level, neo- Vedanta colonizes the religious traditions of the world by arguing for the centrality of a non-dualistic position as the _philosophia perennis_ underlying all cultural differences.

The "Council of Dharmic Faiths" (UK) regards Zoroastrianism , whilst not originating in the Indian subcontinent, also as a Dharmic religion.

STATUS OF NON-HINDUS IN THE REPUBLIC OF INDIA

Main article: Religion in India See also: Legal Status of Jainism
Jainism
as a Distinct Religion
Religion

The inclusion of Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs
Sikhs
within Hinduism is part of the Indian legal system. The 1955 Hindu
Hindu
Marriage Act " as Hindus all Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs
Sikhs
and anyone who is not a Christian, Muslim, Parsee (Zoroastrian ) or Jew". And the Indian Constitution says that "reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist
Buddhist
religion".

In a judicial reminder, the Indian Supreme Court observed Sikhism and Jainism
Jainism
to be sub-sects or _special_ faiths within the larger Hindu fold, and that Jainism
Jainism
is a denomination within the Hindu
Hindu
fold. Although the government of British India
India
counted Jains in India
India
as a major religious community right from the first Census conducted in 1873, after independence in 1947 Sikhs
Sikhs
and Jains were not treated as national minorities. In 2005 the Supreme Court of India
India
declined to issue a writ of Mandamus granting Jains the status of a religious minority throughout India. The Court however left it to the respective states to decide on the minority status of Jain
Jain
religion.

However, some individual states have over the past few decades differed on whether Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs
Sikhs
are religious minorities or not, by either pronouncing judgments or passing legislation. One example is the judgment passed by the Supreme Court in 2006, in a case pertaining to the state of Uttar Pradesh, which declared Jainism
Jainism
to be indisputably distinct from Hinduism, but mentioned that, "The question as to whether the Jains are part of the Hindu
Hindu
religion is open to debate. However, the Supreme Court also noted various court cases that have held Jainism
Jainism
to be a distinct religion .

Another example is the Gujarat
Gujarat
Freedom of Religion
Religion
Bill , that is an amendment to a legislation that sought to define Jains and Buddhists as denominations within Hinduism. Ultimately on 31 July 2007, finding it not in conformity with the concept of freedom of religion as embodied in Article 25 (1) of the Constitution, Governor Naval Kishore Sharma returned the Gujarat
Gujarat
Freedom of Religion
Religion
(Amendment) Bill, 2006 citing the widespread protests by the Jains as well as Supreme Court's extrajudicial observation that Jainism
Jainism
is a "special religion formed on the basis of quintessence of Hindu
Hindu
religion by the Supreme Court"

SEE ALSO

* Ayyavazhi
Ayyavazhi
and Hinduism * Buddhism
Buddhism
and Jainism
Jainism
* Christianity
Christianity
in India
India
* Demographics of India
India
* Hinduism in India
India
* Indian philosophy * Indology * Islam
Islam
in India
India
* Jainism
Jainism
and Hinduism * Jainism
Jainism
in India
India
* Religion in India * Sikhism in India
India
* Zoroastrianism in India
India

NOTES

* ^ Adams: "Indian religions, including early Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism, and sometimes also Theravāda Buddhism
Buddhism
and the Hindu- and Buddhist-inspired religions of South and Southeast Asia". * ^ The pre- Buddhist
Buddhist
Upanishads are: Brihadaranyaka, Chandogya, Kaushitaki, Aitareya, and Taittiriya Upanishads. * ^ The shared concepts include rebirth, samsara, karma, meditation, renunciation and moksha. * ^ The Upanishadic, Buddhist
Buddhist
and Jain
Jain
renunciation traditions form parallel traditions, which share some common concepts and interests. While Kuru - Panchala , at the central Ganges Plain, formed the center of the early Upanishadic tradition, Kosala
Kosala
- Magadha
Magadha
at the central Ganges Plain formed the center of the other shramanic traditions. * ^ See also Tanvir Anjum, _Temporal Divides: A Critical Review of the Major Schemes of Periodization in Indian History_.

* ^ Different periods are designated as "classical Hinduism":

* Smart calls the period between 1000 BCE and 100 CE "pre-classical". It's the formative period for the Upanishads and Brahmanism Jainism
Jainism
and Buddhism. For Smart, the "classical period" lasts from 100 to 1000 CE, and coincides with the flowering of "classical Hinduism" and the flowering and deterioration of Mahayana-buddhism in India. * For Michaels, the period between 500 BCE and 200 BCE is a time of "Ascetic reformism", whereas the period between 200 BCE and 1100 CE is the time of "classical Hinduism", since there is "a turning point between the Vedic
Vedic
religion and Hindu
Hindu
religions". * Muesse discerns a longer period of change, namely between 800 BCE and 200 BCE, which he calls the "Classical Period". According to Muesse, some of the fundamental concepts of Hinduism, namely karma, reincarnation and "personal enlightenment and transformation", which did not exist in the Vedic
Vedic
religion, developed in this time.

* ^ Lockard: "The encounters that resulted from Aryan migration brought together several very different peoples and cultures, reconfiguring Indian society. Over many centuries a fusion of Aryan and Dravidian occurred, a complex process that historians have labeled the Indo-Aryan synthesis." Lockard: " Hinduism can be seen historically as a synthesis of Aryan beliefs with Harappan and other Dravidian traditions that developed over many centuries." * ^ Richard E. King notes: "Consequently, it remains an anachronism to project the notion of "Hinduism" as it is commonly understood into pre-colonial history." * ^ In post- Vedic
Vedic
times understood as "hearers" of an eternally existing Veda, _ Śrauta _ means "what is heard" * ^ " Upanishads came to be composed already in the ninth and eighth century B.C.E. and continued to be composed well into the first centuries of the Common Era. The Brahmanas and Aranyakas are somewhat older, reaching back to the eleventh and even twelfth century BCE." * ^ Deussen: "these treatises are not the work of a single genius, but the total philosophical product of an entire epoch which extends approximately 1000 or 800 BC, to c.500 BCE, but which is prolonged in its offshoots far beyond this last limit of time." p. 51 * ^ Gavin Flood and Patrick Olivelle : "The second half of the first millennium BCE was the period that created many of the ideological and institutional elements that characterize later Indian religions. The renouncer tradition played a central role during this formative period of Indian religious history....Some of the fundamental values and beliefs that we generally associate with Indian religions in general and Hinduism in particular were in part the creation of the renouncer tradition. These include the two pillars of Indian theologies: samsara – the belief that life in this world is one of suffering and subject to repeated deaths and births (rebirth); moksa/nirvana – the goal of human existence....." * ^ Cromwell Crwaford: "Alongside Brahmanism was the non-Aryan Shramanic (self reliant) culture with its roots going back to prehistoric times." * ^ Masih: "There is no evidence to show that Jainism
Jainism
and Buddhism ever subscribed to vedic sacrifices, vedic deities or caste. They are parallel or native religions of India
India
and have contributed to much to the growth of even classical Hinduism of the present times." * ^ Jaini: "Jainas themselves have no memory of a time when they fell within the Vedic
Vedic
fold. Any theory that attempts to link the two traditions, moreover fails to appreciate rather distinctive and very non-vedic character of Jaina cosmology, soul theory, karmic doctrine and atheism". * ^ Flood: "The second half of the first millennium BCE was the period that created many of the ideological and institutional elements that characterise later Indian religions. The renouncer tradition played a central role during this formative period of Indian religious history....Some of the fundamental values and beliefs that we generally associate with Indian religions
Indian religions
in general and Hinduism in particular were in part the creation of the renouncer tradition. These include the two pillars of Indian theologies: samsara – the belief that life in this world is one of suffering and subject to repeated deaths and births (rebirth); moksa/nirvana – the goal of human existence....." * ^ Flood: "The origin and doctrine of Karma
Karma
and Samsara are obscure. These concepts were certainly circulating amongst sramanas, and Jainism
Jainism
and Buddhism
Buddhism
developed specific and sophisticated ideas about the process of transmigration. It is very possible that the karmas and reincarnation entered the mainstream brahaminical thought from the sramana or the renouncer traditions." Page 86. * ^ Padmanabh: "Yajnavalkya’s reluctance and manner in expounding the doctrine of karma in the assembly of Janaka (a reluctance not shown on any other occasion) can perhaps be explained by the assumption that it was, like that of the transmigration of soul, of non-brahmanical origin. In view of the fact that this doctrine is emblazoned on almost every page of sramana scriptures, it is highly probable that it was derived from them." Page 51. * ^ Jeffrey Brodd and Gregory Sobolewski: " Jainism
Jainism
shares many of the basic doctrines of Hinduism and Buddhism." * ^ Oldmeadow: "Over time, apparent misunderstandings have arisen over the origins of Jainism
Jainism
and relationship with its sister religions of Hinduism and Buddhism. There has been an ongoing debate between Jainism
Jainism
and Vedic
Vedic
Hinduism as to which revelation preceded the other. What is historically known is that there was a tradition along with Vedic
Vedic
Hinduism known as Sramana Dharma . Essentially, the sramana tradition included it its fold, the Jain
Jain
and Buddhist
Buddhist
traditions, which disagreed with the eternality of the Vedas, the needs for ritual sacrifices and the supremacy of the Brahmins." Page 141 * ^ Fisher: "The extreme antiquity of Jainism
Jainism
as a non-vedic, indigenous Indian religion is well documented. Ancient Hindu
Hindu
and Buddhist
Buddhist
scriptures refer to Jainism
Jainism
as an existing tradition which began long before Mahavira." Page 115 * ^ edition reads, "The flow between faiths was such that for hundreds of years, almost all Buddhist
Buddhist
temples, including the ones at Ajanta , were built under the rule and patronage of Hindu
Hindu
kings." * ^ In the east the Pala Empire (770–1125 CE ), in the west and north the Gurjara-Pratihara (7th–10th century ), in the southwest the Rashtrakuta Dynasty (752–973 ), in the Dekkhan the Chalukya dynasty (7th–8th century ), and in the south the Pallava dynasty (7th–9th century ) and the Chola dynasty (9th century ). * ^ This resembles the development of Chinese Chán during the An Lu-shan rebellion and the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period (907–960/979) , during which power became decentralised end new Chán-schools emerged. * ^ The term "maya-vada" is primarily being used by non-Advaitins. See * ^ The story begins with the transformation of the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra into Vajrapani
Vajrapani
by Vairocana, the cosmic Buddha, receiving a vajra and the name "Vajrapani". Vairocana then requests Vajrapani
Vajrapani
to generate his adamantine family, to establish a mandala . Vajrapani
Vajrapani
refuses, because Mahesvara (Shiva) "is deluding beings with his deceitfull religious doctrines and engaging in all kinds of violent criminal conduct". Mahesvara and his entourage are dragged to Mount Sumeru , and all but Mahesvara submit. Vajrapani
Vajrapani
and Mahesvara engage in a magical combat, which is won by Vajrapani. Mahesvara's retinue become part of Vairocana's mandala, except for Mahesvara, who is killed, and his life transferred to another realm where he becomes a buddha named Bhasmesvara-nirghosa, the "Soundless Lord of Ashes". * ^ Occasionally the term is also being used by other authors. David Westerlund: "...may provide some possibilities for co-operation with Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists, who like Hindus are regarded as adherents of 'dharmic' religions." * ^ In various codified customary laws like Hindu
Hindu
Marriage Act, Hindu
Hindu
Succession Act, Hindu
Hindu
Adoption and Maintenance Act and other laws of pre and post-Constitution period, the definition of 'Hindu' included all sects and sub-sects of Hindu
Hindu
religions including Sikhs and Jains * ^ The Supreme Court observed in a judgment pertaining to case of Bal Patil vs. Union of India: "Thus, 'Hinduism' can be called a general religion and common faith of India
India
whereas 'Jainism' is a special religion formed on the basis of quintessence of Hindu religion. Jainism
Jainism
places greater emphasis on non-violence ('Ahimsa') and compassion ('Karuna'). Their only difference from Hindus is that Jains do not believe in any creator like God
God
but worship only the perfect human-being whom they called Tirathankar." * ^ The so-called minority communities like Sikhs
Sikhs
and Jains were not treated as national minorities at the time of framing the Constitution. * ^ In an extra-judicial observation not forming part of the judgment the court observed :"Thus, 'Hinduism' can be called a general religion and common faith of India
India
whereas 'Jainism' is a special religion formed on the basis of quintessence of Hindu
Hindu
religion. Jainism
Jainism
places greater emphasis on non-violence ('Ahimsa') and compassion ('Karuna'). Their only difference from Hindus is that Jains do not believe in any creator like God
God
but worship only the perfect human-being whom they called Tirathankar."

* ^ Smart distinguishes "Brahmanism" from the Vedic
Vedic
religion, connecting "Brahmanism" with the Upanishads.

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