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Hinduism, significant world faith originating ~ above the Indian subcontinent and also comprising several and varied equipment of philosophy, belief, and ritual. Although the surname Hinduism is fairly new, having been coined by British authors in the an initial decades the the 19th century, it describes a wealthy cumulative heritage of texts and practices, some of which day to the second millennium bce or perhaps earlier. If the Indus valley human being (3rd–2nd millennium bce) was the earliest source of these traditions, as part scholars hold, then Hinduism is the oldest living faith on Earth. Its numerous sacred texts in Sanskrit and vernacular languages offered as a vehicle for dispersing the religious beliefs to other parts of the world, despite ritual and also the visual and also performing arts also played a far-reaching role in its transmission. From around the 4th century ce, Hinduism had a leading presence in south-east Asia, one that would last for much more than 1,000 years.

In the early 21st century, Hinduism had almost one billion adherents worldwide and to be the religion of around 80 percent that India’s population. Regardless of its global presence, however, it is ideal understood with its countless distinctive local manifestations.


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Overview

The term Hinduism

The term Hinduism became familiar as a designator of spiritual ideas and also practices distinctive to India through the publishing of books such as Hinduism (1877) by sir Monier Monier-Williams, the notable Oxford scholar and author that an influential Sanskrit dictionary. At first it was an outsiders’ term, structure on centuries-old usages of the word Hindu. Beforehand travelers to the Indus valley, start with the Greeks and Persians, spoke of its residents as “Hindu” (Greek: ‘indoi), and, in the 16th century, inhabitants of India themselves began really slowly to employ the ax to identify themselves native the Turks. Gradually the difference became primarily spiritual rather 보다 ethnic, geographic, or cultural.

Since the late 19th century, Hindus have reacted come the ax Hinduism in numerous ways. Some have rejected the in favour of indigenous formulations. Rather have wanted “Vedic religion,” utilizing the term Vedic to refer not only to the ancient spiritual texts well-known as the Vedas but additionally to a liquid corpus of sacred works in lot of languages and also an orthoprax (traditionally sanctioned) method of life. Still others have chosen to contact the religious beliefs sanatana dharma (“eternal law”), a formulation made famous in the 19th century and emphasizing the timeless facets of the legacy that are viewed to transcend neighborhood interpretations and practice. Finally, others, maybe the majority, have actually simply embraced the hatchet Hinduism or its analogues, particularly hindu dharma (Hindu ethical and religious law), in miscellaneous Indic languages.

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Since the early on 20th century, textbooks top top Hinduism have been written by Hindus themselves, regularly under the rubric that sanatana dharma. These efforts at self-explanation include a new layer to an intricate tradition of explaining practice and doctrine that dates to the 1st millennium bce. The root of Hinduism can be traced earlier much farther—both textually, come the colleges of commentary and also debate maintained in epic and also Vedic works from the second millennium bce, and visually, through creative representations of yakshas (luminous spirits linked with details locales and also natural phenomena) and also nagas (cobralike divinities), i beg your pardon were venerated from about 400 bce. The roots of the tradition are additionally sometimes traced ago to the mrs terra-cotta figurines found ubiquitously in excavations of sites linked with the Indus valley civilization and sometimes interpreted as goddesses.