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Hindu ( pronunciation (helpinfo)) refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are

indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. In common use today, it refers to an adherent of Hinduism. The two common forms that represent Hinduism are Shaivism and aishnavism.!"#!$# The Hindu religious te%ts did not use the term &Hindu& or an e'uivalent thereof, or any name at all for that matter to refer to the inhabitants of the Indian peninsula nor the religion of the inhabitants, in alignment within a larger lac( of &proper noun& nomenclature typically visible in te%ts of Hindu literature. )espite that, the history of the word &Hindu& is long and its usage widespread, since the outside world had, since anti'uity, used several names for the Indian people, specifically for the inhabitants of the Indian peninsula east of the river Indus vi*. &Indos& (+,-.) used by the /ree(s in the wor(s of Herodotusand 0egasthenes, circa 1th century 2.3., and later &Hindus& used first by the 4ersians and later on by 5rabs to refer to the Indian people and their customs. $nd century 2.3. 3hinese traveller 6hang 7ian referred to India as Hen8tu. 3hinese pilgrim Huen8 Tsang in his 9th century Si-yu-ki, also used words li(e Shin8tu and Hin8tu to describe the people. 5rabic e%plorer Ibn 2attuta also, in his boo( :;ihla:, made use of the word :al8hind: meaning the Indian subcontinent. He was of 0oroccan origin and had travelled the length and breadth of the Islamic civili*ation which included the <orth 5frica, 0iddle =ast, the Indian subcontinent, =gypt and even parts of Indonesia. He described the Indian subcontinent as 5l Hind as still referred in 5rabic. >ith more than a billion adherents, Hinduism is the world&s third largest religion. The vast ma?ority of Hindus, appro%imately @AB million, live in India.!C#Dther countries with large Hindu populations include <epal, 2angladesh, Sri Ean(a, 0auritius, Suriname, /uyana, Trinidad F Tobago, Gnited States, Hi?i,Gnited Iingdom, Singapore, 3anada and the island of 2ali in Indonesia.
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" =tymology $ History C )efinition A =thnic and cultural fabric 1 See also

J ;eferences 9 Hurther reading

Etymology
Further information: Names of India In Drigin, Hindu was simply the Dld 4ersian name of the Indus ;iver, cognate with Sans(rit Sindhu. 2y about $nd 8 "st century 23=, the term :Hein8tu: was used by 3hinese, for referring to <orth Indian people.!A#!1# The 4ersian term was loaned into 5rabic as al-Hind referring to the land of the people who live across river Indus, and into /ree( as Indos, whence ultimately =nglishIndia. !J# Hindustan or :land of the Indus: was the 4ersian name of :India:, as in /reco8 ;oman tradition at first for northwestern India (the Indus basin) and later e%tended to the entire Indian subcontinent, following the spread of Islam to India via 4ersia, Hindustan was also adopted, from the "Cth century, in India itself, !9# and also came to be loaned into Sans(rit, e.g. found inBrihaspati Agama, where it is etymologi*ed as a portmanteau of Hi for :Himalayas: plus indu for indu sarovar :southern ocean:. !K#!@# 4ersian Hindu (and hence in Grdu, and ultimately adopted into Hindustani in general) was used of the native, non80uslim population ruled by the 0uslim 0ughal =mpire. <atively, the term Hinduoccurs sporadically in some "Jth8"Kth century 2engali /audiya aishnava te%ts, including Chaitanya Charitamrita and Chaitanya Bhagavata, usually to contrast Hindus with Lavanas or0lecchas.!"B# It appears in South Indian and Iashmiri te%ts from at least "C$C 3=,!""# and increasingly so during 2ritish rule. It was only towards the end of the "Kth century that the =uropean merchants and colonists referred collectively to the followers of Indian religions as Hindus. =ventually, it came to define religious adherence to :native religion: as opposed to either Islam, 3hristianity or 6oroastrianism. Eater the definition of Hinduism was further narrowed to e%clude :non8 edic: (non8 edantic) Indian religions (such as Mainism, Si(hism or 2uddhism). This process continued well into the $Bth century, with the 'uestion of whether Mainism is to be considered a denomination Hinduism put before the Supreme 3ourt of India in $BBC, and since that date legally considered a distinct religion, see legal status of Mainism as a distinct religion in India. The =nglish term Hinduism for the :religion of the Hindus: ta(en as a whole arose in c. "KCB.

The Indo85ryan form of the term, &Sindhu&, is also used in Hinduism (apart from its literal meaning :river, Indus ;iver:, as an honorificN e.g. Bhakti- samrtaSindhu, Nirnaya Sindhu, !harma Sindhu, and Sindhu "nana.

History
Further information: History of Hinduism The notion of grouping the indigenous religions of India under a single umbrella term Hindu emerges as a result of various invasions in India bringing forth non8 indigenous religions such as Islam to the Indian Subcontinent!"$# <umerous 0uslim invaders, such as <ader Shah, 0ahmud of /ha*ni, 5hmad ShOh 5bdOlP, 0uhammad /hori, 2abur and 5urang*eb, destroyed Hindu temples andpersecuted HindusN some, such as 5(bar, were more tolerant. Hinduism underwent profound changes, in large part due to the influence of the prominent teachers ;amanu?a, 0adhva and3haitanya.!"$# Hollowers of the 2ha(ti 0ovement moved away from the abstract concept of 2rahman, which the philosopher 5di Shan(ara consolidated a few centuries before, with emotional, passionate devotion towards what they believed as the more accessible 5vatars, especially Irishna and ;ama.!"C#

The Swaminarayan sect&s 5(shardham Temple in )elhi, according the /uinness >orld ;ecords is the #orld$s %argest Comprehensive Hindu &emple

Indology as an academic discipline of studying Indian culture from a =uropean perspective was established in the "Kth century by Sir >illiam Mones and "@th century, by scholars such as 0a% 0Qller and Mohn >oodroffe. They brought edic, 4uranic and Tantric literature and philosophy to =urope and the Gnited States. 5t the same time, societies such as the 2rahmo Sama? and the Theosophical Society attempted to reconcile and fuse 5brahamic and )harmic philosophies, endeavouring to institute societal reform. This period saw the emergence of movements which, while highly innovative, were rooted in indigenous tradition. They were based on the personalities and teachings of individuals, as with ;ama(rishna and ;amana 0aharshi. 4rominent Hindu

philosophers, including 5urobindo and 4rabhupada (founder of ISI3D<), translated, reformulated and presented Hinduism&s foundational te%ts for contemporary audiences in new iterations, attracting followers and attention in India and abroad.

Swami ive(ananda at Maipur, ca."KK1R"K@C!"A#

Dthers, such as Swami ive(ananda, ;ama(rishna, 4aramahansa Logananda, Sri 3hinmoy, 2.I.S. Iyengarand Swami ;ama, have also been instrumental in raising the profiles of Loga and edanta in the >est. Today modern movements, such as ISI3D< and the Swaminarayan Haith, attract a large amount of followers across the world. !"1#

Definition

The Bhagavad '(t), a conversation between Eord Irishna and 5r?una before the start of the Iuru(shetra war, is one of the foremost Hindu scriptures!"J# and is described as a concise guide to Hindu philosophy and beliefs.!"9#

The diverse set of religious beliefs, traditions and philosophies of the Hindus are the product of an amalgamation process that began with the decline of 2uddhism in India (1th8Kth 3entury), where traditions of edic 2rahmanism and

the mystical schools of edanta were combined with Shramanatraditions and regional cults to give rise to the socio8religious and cultural sphere later described as :Hinduism:. 5di Shan(ara&s commentaries on the Gpanishads led to the rise of 5dvaita edanta, the most influential sub8school of edanta. Hinduism continues to be divided in numerous several sects and denominations, of which *aishnavism and Shaivism are by far the most popular.!"K# Dther aspects include fol(and conservative edic Hinduism. Since the "Kth century, Hinduism has accommodated a host of new religious and reform movements, with 5rya Sama? being one of the most notable Hindu revivalist organi*ations. )ue to the wide diversity in the beliefs, practices and traditions encompassed by Hinduism, there is no universally accepted definition on who a Hindu is, or even agreement on whether the term Hinduism represents a religious, cultural or socio8political entity. In "@@1, 3hief Mustice 4. 2. /a?endragad(arwas 'uoted in an Indian Supreme 3ourt rulingS!"@# >hen we thin( of the Hindu religion, unli(e other religions in the world, the Hindu religion does not claim any one prophetN it does not worship any one godN it does not subscribe to any one dogmaN it does not believe in any one philosophic conceptN it does not follow any one set of religious rites or performancesN in fact, it does not appear to satisfy the narrow traditional features of any religion or creed. It may broadly be described as a way of life and nothing more. Thus some scholars argue that the Hinduism is not a religion per se but rather a reification of a diverse set of traditions and practices by scholars who constituted a unified system and arbitrarily labeled it Hinduism. !$B# The usage may also have been necessitated by the desire to distinguish between :Hindus: and followers of other religions during the periodic census underta(en by the colonial 2ritish government in India. Dther scholars, while seeing Hinduism as a "@th8century construct, view Hinduism as a response to 2ritish colonialism by Indian nationalists who forged a unified tradition centered on oral and written Sans(rit te%ts adopted as scriptures.!$"# >hile Hinduism contains both :uniting and dispersing tendencies:, it also has a common central thread of philosophical concepts (including dharma,mo(sha and samsara), practices (pu?a, bha(ti etc.) and cultural traditions.!$$# These common elements originating (or being codified

within) the edic,Gpanishad and 4uranic scriptures and epics. Thus a Hindu could S

follow any of the Hindu schools of philosophy, such as 5dvaita (non8 dualism), ishishtadvaita (non8dualism of the 'ualified whole), )vaita (dualism),)vaitadvaita (dualism with non8dualism), etc.!$C#
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follow a tradition centered on any particular form of the )ivine, such

as Shaivism, aishnavism, Sha(tism, etc.!$1# practice any one of the various forms of yoga systemsN including bha(ti (Hindu devotional movements) in order to achieve moksha.

5 young <epali Hindu devotee during a traditional prayer ceremony at Iathmandu&s)urbar S'uare.

The ;epublic of India is in the peculiar situation that the Supreme 3ourt of India has repeatedly been called upon to define :Hinduism: because the3onstitution of India, while it prohibits :discrimination of any citi*en: on grounds of religion in article "1, article CB foresees special rights for :5ll minorities, whether based on religion or language:. 5s a conse'uence, religious groups have an interest in being recogni*ed as distinct from the Hindu ma?ority in order to 'ualify as a :religious minority:. Thus, the Supreme 3ourt was forced to consider the 'uestion whether Mainism is part of Hinduism in $BB1 and $BBJ. In the $BBJ verdict, the Supreme 3ourt found that the :Main ;eligion is indisputably not a part of the Hindu ;eligion:. !$J# In "@@1, while considering the 'uestion :who are Hindus and what are the broad features of Hindu religion:, the Supreme 3ourt of India highlighted 2al /angadhar Tila(&s formulation of Hinduism&s defining featuresS!"@#

5cceptance of the edas with reverenceN recognition of the fact that the means or ways to salvation are diverseN and the reali*ation of the truth that the number of gods to be worshipped is large, that indeed is the distinguishing feature of Hindu religion. Some thin(ers have attempted to distinguish between the concept of Hinduism as a religion, and a Hindu as a member of a nationalist or socio8political class. In Hindu nationalism, the term :Hindu: combines notions of geographical unity, common culture and common race. Thus, eer Savar(ar in his influential pamphlet :HindutvaS >ho is a HinduT: defined a Hindu as a person who sees India :as his Hatherland as well as his Holy land, that is, the cradle land of his religion:. !$9# This conceptuali*ation of Hinduism, has led to establishment of Hindutva as the dominant force in Hindu nationalism over the last century. !$K#

Ethnic and cultural fabric


See also: !emographi+s of India, History of India, and Hindutva

The name of the idol of Ialiworshiped in the temple is Bhavatarini. Shown here, is a picture of the deity adorned with priceless ?ewelleries and other accessories in the )a(shineswar Iali Temple, Iol(ata.

/oddess 5di Sha(thi at 4arasha(thi Temple in <orth 5merica is a Tirtha 4eetam.

The 0other Temple of 2esa(ih in 2ali, Indonesia.

Hinduism, its religious doctrines, traditions and observances are very typical and ine%tricably lin(ed to the culture and demographics of India. Hinduism has one of the most ethnically diverse bodies of adherents in the world. It is hard to classify Hinduism as a religion because the framewor(, symbols, leaders and boo(s of reference that ma(e up a typical religion are not uni'uely identified in the case of Hinduism. Hinduism being the oldest ;eligion of the world, it is not clearly (nown of when e%actly it originated and some estimates put it as around 1BBB years old!$@# . 0ost commonly it can be seen as a :way of life: which gives rise to many other forms of religions. Earge tribes and communities indigenous to India are closely lin(ed to the synthesis and formation of Hindu civili*ation. 4eople of =ast 5sian roots living in the states of north eastern India and <epal were also a part of the earliest Hindu civili*ation. Immigration and settlement of people from 3entral 5sia and people of Indo8/ree( heritage have brought their own influence on Hindu society.

)iwali celebrations in Eittle India, Singapore.

The roots of Hinduism in southern India, and among tribal and indigenous communities is ?ust as ancient and fundamentally contributive to the foundations of the religious and philosophical system. 5ncient Hindu (ingdoms arose and spread the religion and traditions across Southeast 5sia, particularly Thailand, <epal, 2urma, 0alaysia, Indonesia,3ambodia, Eao s, 4hilippines, and what is now central ietnam. 5 form of Hinduism particularly different from Indian roots and traditions is practiced in 2ali, Indonesia, where Hindus form @BU of the population. !+itation needed# Indian migrants have ta(en Hinduism and Hindu culture to South 5frica, Hi?i, 0auritius and other countries in and around the Indian Dcean, and in the nations of the >est Indies and the 3aribbean.!+itation needed#

See also

Hindu festivals