Hinduism is the oldest religion of the world which has evolved gradually over 7000 years. Hindu civilization originated in the Gangetic and Indus valleys and from there spread out over the entire region of Southeast Asia.
"HINDUISM" is a term that was coined by foreign invaders of India to designate the traditional socio‐religious systems of the people of ‘Hind’ or India.
Hindus refer to their religion as Sanatana Dharma, which loosely translated means “The Eternal Path”.
The Process of Spiritual Inquiry
All the above questions need to be inquired within ourselves.
(Annapurna Upanishad 1.40)
We can then investigate the universal problem of unhappiness and the meaning of life, and principally the subject of our duty (Dharma) towards other beings and the environment in which we live.
Sanatana Dharma insists that the mind can know the Truth through a process of Inner Realization. By the realization of the Truth, one is liberated from suffering and achieves perfect happiness.
The majority of orthodox Hindus fall into a loose category known as Smartas. They worship the Godhead in all its manifestations ,but usually choose one particular form as the subject of their personal devotion (ishtha deva). Their philosophy/theology is generally the Non‐dualism of Shankaracharya
People who worship lord vishnu are Vaishnavas. Lord vishnu stands for preservation. People who worship lord vishnu are mostly householders/married/family members. There are a lot of restrictions for vaishnavas. Most of the brahamin comes under this category.
Devotees of Lord Shiva are called Saivas. Shivaism is most popular among Hindus since there is no restrictions as imposed in Vaishnavism. People who worship shiva are categorised into this group.
Shiva is also worshiped in different parts of country under different names. Shiva is the lord of destruction. Lord shiva devotees are mostly for renunciate - sadhu, sanyasi, aghori group etc.
Worship of Devine mother shakthi or Devi is called shakthism. Shaktas use mantras, tantras, poojas etc. There are many forms of devi such as uma, ambika, durga, lakshmi etc. It is associated with female godess. Sacred text which include about shaktism are pooranas, devimahatmayam.
There are lot of books in Hinduism unlike other religion. Some of the most important sacred texts are as follows:1) Vedas-The Vedas are hymns which is the central scripture of Hinduism which are divided into 4 parts
Most of the people dont know that hinduism is not a religion at all. Its a set of belief systems followed through ages. Hinduism is so vast that it can't be confined in just 1 book like Bible or Quran. As you see above there are so many books listed which again has many sub-sections. So Hinduism has no single founder but a group of founders (also known as rishi muni).
Some of the most common used symbols in hinduism are as follows:
The Mahabharata (Vana Parva 297;35) defines Sanatana Dharma as follows:— “The Eternal Duty (Sanatana Dharma) towards all creatures is the absence of malevolence (prejudice) towards them in thought, deed or word, and to practice compassion and generosity towards them”.
Thus, according to this definition any who practices the above three things is a “Hindu” regardless of their theological or philosophical convictions.
India’s Supreme Court, in a legal judgment handed down in 1966 has defined Hindus as:— “those that accept the Vedas with reverence, recognize that the means of salvation are diverse, and realize that God can be worshiped numerous forms.”
Temple is considered the abode of god. The main use of temple is to bring humans and gods together. Hindu temples are found all over the world. You might have heard about the world's largest temple Angkor vat which is located in Cambodia. This temple is not fully functional.
Sri ranganathaswamy temple of Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu, India is worlds Largest fully functional temple. The temple occupies an area of 155 acres.
Some other Major famous temples in India you may like to know about:
This Sanskrit term means “the gathering of the followers of truth”. It consists of a group of people getting together in either a house or a hall at regular times and singing the name of God together for an hour or so. The chanting is usually accompanied by a harmonium, drums and cymbals. This is the regular form of Religious service, which takes place in the lay Hindu community.
The monastics are all those men and women who have renounced the world and all formal religious expression. This means that they no longer perform rituals on behalf of themselves or others and restrict their practices to meditation and study of the Upanishads which deal with theological and philosophical matters, and the teaching of Dharma.
When one becomes disenchanted with material life, and decides to renounce everything, one goes off and take up residence in a monastery (ashram).
The life of a monk/nun is one of dedication to the spiritual path and the pursuit of enlightenment. All their actions are dedicated to the welfare of all beings.