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Hinduism : Hinduism

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Description: Hinduism is the name given to a family of religions and cultures that began and still flourish in India.

Hinduism (commonly called Sanâtana Dharma, roughly Perennial Faith by Hindus) is the oldest major world religion still practised today and first among Dharma faiths. Hinduism is characterized by a diverse array of belief systems, practices and scriptures. It has its origin in ancient Vedic culture at least as far back as 2000 BC. It is the third largest religion with approximately 890 million followers worldwide, 96% of whom live in the Indian subcontinent.

Perhaps the Hindu spirit, inspired by no one man or woman in particular, is best captured in a line from the ancient Rig Veda, the "oldest religious scripture in the world." (1):

Transliteration: Ekam Sat Viprâha Bahudhâ Vadanti
English: "Truth is One, though the Sages know it as Many."
— The Rig Veda (Book I, Hymn CLXIV, Verse 46)
Essentially, any kind of spiritual practice followed with faith, love and persistence will lead to the same ultimate state of self-realization. Thus, Hindu thought distinguishes itself by strongly encouraging tolerance for different beliefs since temporal systems cannot claim sole understanding

Like other Eastern religions, it doesn't fit comfortably into the same box as Western religions like Christianity.

Hindus do not separate religion from other aspects of life. For Hindus in India, Hinduism is an inextricable part of their existence, a complete approach to life that involves social class, earning a living, family, politics, diet, etc., in addition to the things Westerners view as religious.

The word "Hindu" comes from the name of the river Indus, which flows 1800 miles from Tibet through Kashmir and Pakistan to the sea. Originally the name referred to people living in a particular region of the world, regardless of their faith; so in the 18th century someone could quite sensibly be described as a "Hindu Muslim".

There are 750 million Hindus in the world, and most of them live in India. In the UK there are 400,000 Hindus, 160,000 of whom are active in their faith.

Hinduism includes a very wide range of beliefs and practices, so there aren't many things that are common to all Hindu groups. However they all have a "family resemblance" to each other.

Hinduism has no founder, no creed, and no single source of authority.

The things most often common to Hindus are a belief in a single Divinity or supreme God that is present in everything, belief in other gods who are aspects of that supreme God, belief that the soul repeatedly goes through a cycle of being born into a body, dying, and rebirth, belief in Karma, a force that determines the quality of each life, depending on how well one behaved in a past life.

Most Hindus worship at home and have a shrine there. Hindu temples are the focus of religious life, but there is not a strong tradition of corporate congregational worship.

Hinduism has not had a significant tradition of seeking to convert people, although some modern Hindu sects now do seek converts.

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CustomTeaserText:Hinduism (commonly called Sanâtana Dharma, roughly Perennial Faith by Hindus) is the oldest major world religion still practised today and first among Dharma faiths. Hinduism is characterized by a diverse array of belief systems, practices and scriptures. It has its origin in ancient Vedic culture at least as far back as 2000 BC. It is the third largest religion with approximately 890 million followers worldwide, 96% of whom live in the Indian subcontinent.
Date Added:27am31UTC_f2005Thu, 27 Jan 2005 04:19:02 +000001am31
Last Updated:07pm28UTC_f2005Mon, 07 Feb 2005 16:09:22 +000002pm28
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