Hinduism - basic knowledge of Hinduism.

Essay by Crystal82 December 2003

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Hinduism is India's native religious and cultural system, followed today by nearly one billion followers, mostly in India, but with large populations in many other countries. Also called Sanatana Dharma, "eternal religion," and Vaidika Dharma, "religion of the Vedas," Hinduism covers a broad range of philosophies spanning from polytheism to monotheism. It is a family of countless faiths with four primary denominations: Saivism, Vaishnavism, Shaktism and Smartism. These four hold such differing beliefs that each is a complete and independent religion. Yet, they share a vast heritage of culture and belief: karma, dharma, reincarnation, all-pervasive Divinity, temple worship, sacraments, manifold Deities, the many yogas, the guru-nishya tradition and a reliance on the Vedas as scriptural authority (himalayanacademy).

In today's world it may be accused of being a purely unorganized religion, but it's getting better daily. Its temples and active organizations surround the world. Whatever its faults, it has kept the practices of sadhana and renunciation, of spiritual life and yoga disciplines, alive.

No other faith has done that to the same extent (beliefnet). Hinduism's nearly three million swamis, gurus and sadhus work tirelessly within and upon themselves and then, when ready, serve others, leading them from darkness into light, from death to immortality.

Those who follow this way of life are Hindus. By definition Hinduism is a way of life, a culture, both religious and secular. Hindus are not accustomed to thinking of their religion as a clearly defined system, distinct and different from other systems, for it fills their life. It encompasses all of life (beliefnet). Partly this pure, simple view stems from the relative isolation Hindu communities have enjoyed for centuries, with little interaction with outside faiths to highlight Hinduism's uniqueness. Even more so, it has to do with Hinduism's all-embracing quality which accepts so many...