Hinduism

Page author: Luke Burns

This page published on: 14/12/2019

Last modified: 07/11/2020

A diverse range of Indian religious systems, which regard the Vedas as authoritative scripture.

Traditions

india 

Table of Contents

Introduction

There is no such thing as Hinduism. And yet, of course, there is.

The origins of this religion can be traced back in two ways - the word itself goes back to the time of the Greeks, when it was used to describe anyone (of any religious tradition) who lived east of the Indus river. In that sense, Hindus are a geographic group, not a religious one.

The word ‘Hindu’ found additional utility during the time of British colonisation in India, when it was used to group together the country’s diverse religious traditions - this was largely a result of the Western religious framework, which expected to see neatly compartmentalised religions with texts, beliefs, and practices, but which did not really suit the dynamic range of religious identity and expression found outside of Europe.

Nevertheless, the word stuck, and has now come to mean the religious systems that trace their authority back to the Vedas (ancient Indian texts) even though within Hinduism we find a huge range of different beliefs and practices.

There are six so-called orthodox schools within Hinduism, also known as astika darshana - they are considered orthodox because they recognise the authority of the Vedas - yet there are other Indian religious systems (among them Buddhism) which some people consider forms of Hinduism, even if they are non-orthodox (nastika darshana).

Image credits

Image by Manfred Antranias Zimmer from Pixabay

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