World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Indian religions

Article Id: WHEBN0000014605
Reproduction Date:

Title: Indian religions  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Assembly of the Republic (Portugal), New Century Forum, East Asian religions, History of religions, Denton railway station
Collection: Indian Religions, Religion in India, Religious Comparison
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Indian religions

A Statue of the Jain deity Bahubali.
A Statue of the Buddha.
Ganesha, a deity common to Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists. Primarily a widely worshipped Hindu deity.
Guru Nanak and the ten Sikh Gurus in a Tanjore-style painting from the late 19th century.

Indian religions are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent; namely Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism.[web 1][note 1] These religions are also classified as Eastern religions. Although Indian religions are connected through the history of India, they constitute a wide range of religious communities, and are not confined to the Indian subcontinent.[web 1]

Evidence attesting to prehistoric religion in the Indian subcontinent derives from scattered Mesolithic rock paintings. The Harappan people of the Indus Valley Civilisation, which lasted from 3300 to 1300 BCE (mature period, 2600–1900 BCE), was an early urbanised culture which predates the Vedic religion. The Dravidian peoples and Dravidian languages of South India also predate the Vedic religion.[note 2]

The documented history of Indian religions begins with the historical Vedic religion, the religious practices of the early Indo-Iranians, which were collected and later redacted into the Vedas. The period of the composition, redaction and commentary of these texts is known as the Vedic period, which lasted from roughly 1750 to 500 BCE.[2] This religion was closely related to early Zoroastrianism and its liturgical language, Vedic Sanskrit, was intelligible with Avestan.

The Reform Period between 800–200 BCE marks a "turning point between the Vedic religion and Hindu religions".[3] The Shramana movement, an ancient Indian religious movement parallel to but separate from Vedic tradition, gave rise to Jainism[4] and Buddhism,[5] and was responsible for the related concepts of Yoga,[6] saṃsāra (the cycle of birth and death) and moksha (liberation from that cycle).[7] This period also saw the writing of the Upanishads and the rise of Vedanta.

The Puranic Period (200 BCE – 500 CE) and Early Medieval period (500–1100 CE) gave rise to new configurations of Hinduism, especially bhakti and Shaivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism, Smarta and much smaller groups like the conservative Shrauta.

The early Islamic period (1100–1500 CE) also gave rise to new movements. Sikhism was founded in the 15th century on the teachings of Guru Nanak and the nine successive Sikh Gurus in Northern India.[web 2] The vast majority of its adherents originate in the Punjab region.

With the colonial dominance of the British a reinterpretation and synthesis of Hinduism arose, which aided the Indian independence movement.


  • History 1
    • Periodisation 1.1
    • Prevedic religions (before c. 1750 BCE) 1.2
      • Prehistory 1.2.1
      • Indus Valley Civilisation 1.2.2
      • Dravidian culture 1.2.3
    • Vedic period (1750 BCE-800 BCE) 1.3
      • Early Vedic period – early Vedic compositions (c. 1750–1200 BCE) 1.3.1
      • Middle Vedic period (c. 1200–850 BCE) 1.3.2
      • Late Vedic period (from 850 BCE) 1.3.3
    • Sanskritization 1.4
    • Shramanic period (c. 800–200 BCE) 1.5
      • Late Vedic period – Brahmanas and Upanishads – Vedanta (850–500 BCE) 1.5.1
      • Rise of Shramanic tradition (7th to 5th centuries BCE) 1.5.2
        • Jainism
        • Buddhism
      • Spread of Jainism and Buddhism (500–200 BCE) 1.5.3
    • Epic and Early Puranic Period (200 BCE-500 CE) 1.6
      • Smriti 1.6.1
      • Vedanta – Brahma sutras (200 BCE) 1.6.2
      • Indian philosophy 1.6.3
      • Hindu literature 1.6.4
      • Jainism and Buddhism 1.6.5
      • Tantra 1.6.6
    • Medieval and Late Puranic Period (500–1500 CE) 1.7
      • Late-Classical Period (c. 650–1100 CE) 1.7.1
        • Vedanta
        • Buddhism
        • Bhakti
      • Early Islamic rule (c. 1100–1500 CE) 1.7.2
        • Bhakti movement
        • Lingayathism
        • Unifying Hinduism
        • Sikhism (15th century)
    • Modern period (1500 – present) 1.8
      • Early modern period 1.8.1
      • Modern India (after 1800) 1.8.2
        • Hinduism
        • Jainism
        • Buddhism
  • Similarities and differences 2
    • Similarities 2.1
      • Soteriology 2.1.1
      • Ritual 2.1.2
      • Mythology 2.1.3
    • Differences 2.2
      • Dharma 2.2.1
      • Mythology 2.2.2
  • Āstika and nāstika categorisation 3
  • "Dharmic religions" 4
  • Status of non-Hindus in the Republic of India 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • Sources 9
    • Printed sources 9.1
    • Web-sources 9.2
  • Further reading 10
  • External links 11


Part of a series on the
Ancient India
Medieval India
Modern India


James Mill (1773–1836), in his The History of British India (1817),[8] distinguished three phases in the history of India, namely Hindu, Muslim and British civilisations.[8][9] This periodisation has been criticised, for the misconceptions it has given rise to.[10] Another periodisation is the division into "ancient, classical, mediaeval and modern periods".[11] Smart[12] and Michaels[13] seem to follow Mill's periodisation,[note 3], while Flood[14] and Muesse[16][17] follow the "ancient, classical, mediaeval and modern periods" periodisation.[18]

Smart[12] Michaels
Muesse[17] Flood[20]
Indus Valley Civilisation and Vedic period
(c. 3000–1000 BCE)
Prevedic religions
(until c. 1750 BCE)[13]
Prevedic religions
(until c. 1750 BCE)[13]
Indus Valley Civilization
(3300–1400 BCE)
Indus Valley Civilisation
(c. 2500 to 1500 BCE)
Vedic religion
(c. 1750–500 BCE)
Early Vedic Period
(c. 1750–1200 BCE)
Vedic Period
(1600–800 BCE)
Vedic period
(c. 1500–500 BCE)
Middle Vedic Period
(from 1200 BCE)
Pre-classical period
(c. 1000 BCE – 100 CE)
Late Vedic period
(from 850 BCE)
Classical Period
(800–200 BCE)
Ascetic reformism
(c. 500–200 BCE)
Ascetic reformism
(c. 500–200 BCE)
Epic and Puranic period
(c. 500 BCE to 500 CE)
Classical Hinduism
(c. 200 BCE – 1100 CE)[3]
Preclassical Hinduism
(c. 200 BCE – 300 CE)[21]
Epic and Puranic period
(200 BCE – 500 CE)
Classical period
(c. 100 – 1000 CE)
"Golden Age" (Gupta Empire)
(c. 320–650 CE)[22]
Late-Classical Hinduism
(c. 650–1100 CE)[23]
Medieval and Late Puranic Period
(500–1500 CE)
Medieval and Late Puranic Period
(500–1500 CE)
Hindu-Islamic civilisation
(c. 1000–1750 CE)
Islamic rule and "Sects of Hinduism"
(c. 1100–1850 CE)[24]
Islamic rule and "Sects of Hinduism"
(c. 1100–1850 CE)[24]
Modern Age
Modern period
(c. 1500 CE to present)
Modern period
(c. 1750 CE – present)
Modern Hinduism
(from c. 1850)[25]
Modern Hinduism
(from c. 1850)[25]

Different periods are designated as "classical Hinduism":

  • Smart calls the period between 1000 BCE and 100 CE "pre-classical". It's the formative period for the Upanishads and Brahmanism[note 4], Jainism and Buddhism. For Smart, the "classical period" lasts from 100 to 1000 CE, and coincides with the flowering of "classical Hinduism" and the flowering and deterioration of Mahayana-buddhism in India.[27]
  • For Michaels, the period between 500 BCE and 200 BCE is a time of "Ascetic reformism"[28], whereas the period between 200 BCE and 1100 CE is the time of "classical Hinduism", since there is "a turning point between the Vedic religion and Hindu religions".[3]
  • Muesse discerns a longer period of change, namely between 800 BCE and 200 BCE, which he calls the "Classical Period". According to Muesse, some of the fundamental concepts of Hinduism, namely karma, reincarnation and "personal enlightenment and transformation", which did not exist in the Vedic religion, developed in this time.[29]

Prevedic religions (before c. 1750 BCE)


"Priest King" of Indus Valley Civilisation

Evidence attesting to prehistoric religion in the Indian subcontinent derives from scattered Mesolithic rock paintings such as at Bhimbetka, depicting dances and rituals. Neolithic agriculturalists inhabiting the Indus River Valley buried their dead in a manner suggestive of spiritual practices that incorporated notions of an afterlife and belief in magic.[30] Other South Asian Stone Age sites, such as the Bhimbetka rock shelters in central Madhya Pradesh and the Kupgal petroglyphs of eastern Karnataka, contain rock art portraying religious rites and evidence of possible ritualised music.[web 3]

Indus Valley Civilisation

The Harappan people of the Indus Valley Civilisation, which lasted from 3300 to 1300 BCE (mature period, 2600–1900 BCE) and was centered on the Indus and Ghaggar-Hakra river valleys, may have worshiped an important mother goddess symbolising fertility,[31] a concept that has recently been challenged.[32] Excavations of Indus Valley Civilisation sites show small tablets with animals and altars, indicating rituals associated with animal sacrifice. Figures of nude male deities excavated at Indus Valley civilization are interpreted as Jain yogi.[33] Various seals from Indus Valley Civilization bear resemblance to Rishabha and extensive use of the symbol of Bull might show the prevalence of Jainism in Indus Valley Civilization. The presence of Jainism in ancient India is supported by scholars like Dr. Radha Kumud Mookerji, Gustav Roth, Prof. A. Chakravarti, Prof. Ram Prasad Chanda, T. N. Ramchandran, I. Mahadevan and Kamta Prasad Jain.[34] Recently, Acarya Vidyanadji tried to prove the prevalence of Jainism in ancient India through detailed research on various artifacts, seals and other relics from Indus Valley Civilization.[34]

Ram Prasad Chanda, who supervised Indus Valley Civilisation excavations, states[35] that,[36]
Not only the seated deities on some of the Indus seals are in Yoga posture and bear witness to the prevalence of Yoga in the Indus Valley Civilisation in that remote age, the standing deities on the seals also show Kayotsarga (a standing or sitting posture of meditation) position. The Kayotsarga posture is peculiarly Jain. It is a posture not of sitting but of standing. In the Adi Purana Book XV III, the Kayotsarga posture is described in connection with the penance of Rsabha, also known as Vrsabha.

The archeological evidence are, however, problematic and can have multiple interpretations.[37] The standing posture is too generic to be affirmatively associated with a yogic posture or any religion. The evidence is not enough to say with full conformity that Jainism existed in the Indus Valley Civilization.

Dravidian culture

According to Zimmer,

[T]he history of Indian philosophy has been characterised largely by a series of crises of interaction between the invasic Vedic-Aryan and the non-Aryan, earlier, Dravidian styles of thought and spiritual experience.[1]

Dravidian religion refers to a broad range of deities and belief systems nowadays still found in South India, South West India and some parts of East India. They differ from Brahminism and Puranic Hindusim in that they were either historically or are at present non-Agamic (which is not being granted the sanction of the Vedas). Scholars like Arumuka Navalar worked to subsume native deities in the Vedic pantheon. The Dravidian worship of village deities is recognised as a survival of the pre-Brahmanic Dravidian religion.[38] A large portion of these deities continue to be worshipped in the Village deities of Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, and their subsequent influence in South-east Asia examples of which include the Mariamman temples in Singapore and Vietnam. Worship of anthills, snakes and other forms of guardian deities and heroes are still worshiped in the Konkan coast, Maharashtra proper and a few other parts of India including North India which traces its origins to ancient Dravidian religion which has been influencing formation of mainstream Hinduism for thousands of years.

Vedic period (1750 BCE-800 BCE)

The documented history of Indian religions begins with the historical Vedic religion, the religious practices of the early Indo-Aryans, which were collected and later redacted into the Samhitas (usually known as the Vedas), four canonical collections of hymns or mantras composed in archaic Sanskrit. These texts are the central shruti (revealed) texts of Hinduism. The period of the composition, redaction and commentary of these texts is known as the Vedic period, which lasted from roughly 1750 to 500 BCE.[2]

The Vedic Period is most significant for the composition of the four Vedas, Brahmanas and the older Upanishads (both presented as discussions on the rituals, mantras and concepts found in the four Vedas), which today are some of the most important canonical texts of Hinduism, and are the codification of much of what developed into the core beliefs of Hinduism.[39]

Some modern Hindu scholars use the "Vedic religion" synonymously with "Hinduism."[40] According to Sundararajan, Hinduism is also known as the Vedic religion.[41] Other authors state that the Vedas contain "the fundamental truths about Hindu Dharma"[42] which is called "the modern version of the ancient Vedic Dharma"[43] The Arya Samajis recognize the Vedic religion as true Hinduism.[44] Nevertheless, according to Jamison and Witzel,

... to call this period Vedic Hinduism is a contradiction in terms since Vedic religion is very different from what we generally call Hindu religion – at least as much as Old Hebrew religion is from medieval and modern Christian religion. However, Vedic religion is treatable as a predecessor of Hinduism."[39][note 5]

Early Vedic period – early Vedic compositions (c. 1750–1200 BCE)

The rishis, the composers of the hymns of the Rigveda, were considered inspired poets and seers.[note 6]

The mode of worship was the performance of Yajna, sacrifices which involved sacrifice and sublimation of the havana sámagri (herbal preparations) in the fire, accompanied by the singing of Samans and 'mumbling' of Yajus, the sacrificial mantras. The sublime meaning of the word yajna is derived from the Sanskrit verb yaj, which has a three-fold meaning of worship of deities (devapujana), unity (saògatikaraña) and charity (dána).[46] An essential element was the sacrificial fire – the divine Agni – into which oblations were poured, as everything offered into the fire was believed to reach God.

Central concepts in the Vedas are Satya and Rta. Satya is derived from Sat, the present participle of the verbal root as, "to be, to exist, to live".[47] Sat means "that which really exists [...] the really existent truth; the Good",[47] and Sat-ya means "is-ness".[48] Rta, "that which is properly joined; order, rule; truth", is the principle of natural order which regulates and coordinates the operation of the universe and everything within it.[49] "Satya (truth as being) and rita (truth as law) are the primary principles of Reality and its manifestation is the background of the canons of dharma, or a life of righteousness."[50] "Satya is the principle of integration rooted in the Absolute, rita is its application and function as the rule and order operating in the universe."[51] Conformity with Ṛta would enable progress whereas its violation would lead to punishment. Panikkar remarks:

Ṛta is the ultimate foundation of everything; it is "the supreme", although this is not to be understood in a static sense. [...] It is the expression of the primordial dynamism that is inherent in everything...."[52]

The term rta is inherited from the Proto-Indo-Iranian religion, the religion of the Indo-Iranian peoples prior to the earliest Vedic (Indo-Aryan) and Zoroastrian (Iranian) scriptures. "Asha" is the Avestan language term (corresponding to Vedic language ṛta) for a concept of cardinal importance[53] to Zoroastrian theology and doctrine. The term "dharma" was already used in Brahmanical thought, were it was conceived as an aspect of Rta.[54]

Major philosophers of this era were Rishis Narayana, Kanva, Rishaba, Vamadeva, and Angiras.[55]

Middle Vedic period (c. 1200–850 BCE)

During the Middle Vedic period Rgveda X, the mantras of the Yajurveda and the older Brahmana texts were composed.[56] The Brahmans became powerful intermediairies.[57]

Late Vedic period (from 850 BCE)

The Vedic religion evolved into Hinduism and Vedanta, a religious path considering itself the 'essence' of the Vedas, interpreting the Vedic pantheon as a unitary view of the universe with 'God' (Brahman) seen as immanent and transcendent in the forms of Ishvara and Brahman. This post-Vedic systems of thought, along with the Upanishads and later texts like epics (namely Gita of Mahabharat), is a major component of modern Hinduism. The ritualistic traditions of Vedic religion are preserved in the conservative Śrauta tradition.


Since Vedic times, "people from many strata of society throughout the subcontinent tended to adapt their religious and social life to Brahmanic norms", a process sometimes called Sanskritization.[58] It is reflected in the tendency to identify local deities with the gods of the Sanskrit texts.[58]

Shramanic period (c. 800–200 BCE)

Statue of a standing Bodhisattva.
A statue of Mahavira.

During the time of the shramanic reform movements "many elements of the Vedic religion were lost".[3] According to Michaels, "it is justified to see a turning point between the Vedic religion and Hindu religions".[3]

Late Vedic period – Brahmanas and Upanishads – Vedanta (850–500 BCE)

Hindu Swastika

The late Vedic period (9th to 6th centuries BCE) marks the beginning of the Upanisadic or Vedantic period.[web 4][note 7][59][note 8] This period heralded the beginning of much of what became classical Hinduism, with the composition of the Upanishads,[60]:183 later the Sanskrit epics, still later followed by the Puranas.

Upanishads form the speculative-philosophical basis of classical Hinduism and are known as Vedanta (conclusion of the Vedas).[61] The older Upanishads launched attacks of increasing intensity on the ritual. Anyone who worships a divinity other than the Self is called a domestic animal of the gods in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. The Mundaka launches the most scathing attack on the ritual by comparing those who value sacrifice with an unsafe boat that is endlessly overtaken by old age and death.[62]

Scholars believe that Parsva, the 23rd Jain tirthankara lived during this period in the 9th century BCE.[63]

Rise of Shramanic tradition (7th to 5th centuries BCE)

Jainism and Buddhism belong to the sramana tradition. These religions rose into prominence in 700–500 BCE [4][5][6] in the Magadha kingdom., reflecting "the cosmology and anthropology of a much older, pre-Aryan upper class of northeastern India",[64] and were responsible for the related concepts of saṃsāra (the cycle of birth and death) and moksha (liberation from that cycle).[7][note 9]

The shramana movements challenged the orthodoxy of the rituals.[65] The shramanas were wandering ascetics distinct from Vedism.[66][67][note 10][68][note 11][69][note 12] Mahavira, proponent of Jainism, and Buddha (c. 563-483), founder of Buddhism were the most prominent icons of this movement.

Shramana gave rise to the concept of the cycle of birth and death, the concept of samsara, and the concept of liberation.[70][note 13][71][note 14][72][note 15][note 16] The influence of Upanishads on Buddhism has been a subject of debate among scholars. While Radhakrishnan, Oldenberg and Neumann were convinced of Upanishadic influence on the Buddhist canon, Eliot and Thomas highlighted the points where Buddhism was opposed to Upanishads.[74] Buddhism may have been influenced by some Upanishadic ideas, it however discarded their orthodox tendencies.[75] In Buddhist texts Buddha is presented as rejecting avenues of salvation as "pernicious views".[76]


Jainism was established by a lineage of 24 enlightened beings culminating with Parsva (9th century BCE) and Mahavira (6th century BCE).[77][note 17]

The 24th Tirthankara of Jainism, Mahavira, stressed five vows, including ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing) and aparigraha (non-attachment). Jain orthodoxy believes the teachings of the Tirthankaras predates all known time and scholars believe Parshva, accorded status as the 23rd Tirthankara, was a historical figure. The Vedas are believed to have documented a few Tirthankaras and an ascetic order similar to the shramana movement.[78][note 18]


Buddhism was historically founded by Siddhartha Gautama, a Kshatriya prince-turned-ascetic, and was spread beyond India through missionaries. It later experienced a decline in India, but survived in Nepal and Sri Lanka, and remains more widespread in Southeast and East Asia.

Gautama Buddha, who was called an "awakened one" (Buddha), was born into the Shakya clan living at Kapilavastu and Lumbini in what is now southern Nepal. The Buddha was born at Lumbini, as emperor Ashoka's Lumbini pillar records, just before the kingdom of Magadha (which traditionally is said to have lasted from c. 546–324 BCE) rose to power. The Shakyas claimed Angirasa and Gautama Maharishi lineage,[79] via descent from the royal lineage of Ayodhya.

Buddhism emphasises enlightenment (nibbana, nirvana) and liberation from the rounds of rebirth. This objective is pursued through two schools, Theravada, the Way of the Elders (practised in Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, SE Asia, etc.) and Mahayana, the Greater Way (practised in Tibet, China, Japan etc.). There may be some differences in the practice between the two schools in reaching the objective. In the Theravada practice this is pursued in seven stages of purification (visuddhi); viz. physical purification by taking precepts (sila visiddhi), mental purification by insight meditation (citta visuddhi), followed by purification of views and concepts (ditthi visuddhi), purification by overcoming of doubts (kinkha vitarana vishuddhi), purification by acquiring knowledge and wisdom of the right path (maggarmagga-nanadasana visuddhi), attaining knowledge and wisdom through the course of practice (patipada-nanadasana visuddhi), and purification by attaining knowledge and insight wisdom (nanadasana visuddhi) (ref: The Progress of Insight Visuddhinana katha. Ven Mahasi sayadaw, translated by Nyanaponika Thera. 1994. ISBN 955-24-0090-2)

Spread of Jainism and Buddhism (500–200 BCE)

Both Jainism and Buddhism spread throughout India during the period of the Magadha empire.

Buddhism in India spread during the reign of Ashoka of the Maurya Empire, who patronised Buddhist teachings and unified the Indian subcontinent in the 3rd century BCE. He sent missionaries abroad, allowing Buddhism to spread across Asia.[80] Jainism began its golden period during the reign of Emperor Kharavela of Kalinga in the 2nd century BCE.

Epic and Early Puranic Period (200 BCE-500 CE)

A Statue of Lord Krishna.
Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple in Srirangam, Tamil Nadu, India, is the largest functioning Hindu temple in the world.[81]
Tirumala Venkateswara Temple the most visited and richest Hindu temple in the world.

Flood and Muesse take the period between 200 BCE and 500 BCE as a separate period,[14][17] in which the epics and the first puranas were being written.[17] Michaels takes a greater timespan, namely the period between 200 BCE and 1100 CE,[3] which saw the rise of so-called "Classical Hinduism",[3] with its "golden age"[22] during the Gupta Empire.[22]

According to Hiltebeitel, a period of consolidation in the development of Hinduism took place between the time of the late Vedic Upanishad (c. 500 BCE) and the period of the rise of the Guptas (c. 320–467 CE), which he calls the "Hindus synthesis", "Brahmanic synthesis", or "orthodox synthesis".[82] It develops in interaction with other religions and peoples:

The emerging self-definitions of Hinduism were forged in the context of continuous interaction with heterodox religions (Buddhists, Jains, Ajivikas) throughout this whole period, and with foreign people (Yavanas, or Greeks; Sakas, or Scythians; Pahlavas, or Parthians; and Kusanas, or Kushans) from the third phase on [between the Mauryan empire and the rise of the Guptas].[82]

The end of the Vedantic period around the 2nd century CE spawned a number of branches that furthered Vedantic philosophy, and which ended up being seminaries in their own right. Prominent amongst these developers were Yoga, Dvaita, Advaita and the medieval Bhakti movement.


The Hinduist smriti texts of the period between 200 BCE-100 CE proclaim the authority of the Vedas, and acceptance of the Vedas becomes a central criterium for defining Hinduism over and against the heterodoxies, which rejected the Vedas.[82] Of the six Hindu darsanas, the Mimamsa and the Vedanta "are rooted primarily in the Vedic sruti tradition and are sometimes called smarta schools in the sense that they develop smarta orthodox current of thoughts that are based, like smriti, directly on sruti.[82] According to Hiltebeitel, "the consolidation of Hinduism takes place under the sign of bhakti".[82] It is the Bhagavadgita that seals this achievement.[82] The result is an "universal achievement" that may be called smarta.[82] It views Shiva and Vishnu as "complementary in their functions but ontologically identical".[82]

Vedanta – Brahma sutras (200 BCE)

In earlier writings, Sanskrit 'Vedānta' simply referred to the Upanishads, the most speculative and philosophical of the Vedic texts. However, in the medieval period of Hinduism, the word Vedānta came to mean the school of philosophy that interpreted the Upanishads. Traditional Vedānta considers scriptural evidence, or shabda pramāna, as the most authentic means of knowledge, while perception, or pratyaksa, and logical inference, or anumana, are considered to be subordinate (but valid).[83][84]

The systematisation of Vedantic ideas into one coherent treatise was undertaken by Badarāyana in the Brahma Sutras which was composed around 200 BCE.[85] The cryptic aphorisms of the Brahma Sutras are open to a variety of interpretations. This resulted in the formation of numerous Vedanta schools, each interpreting the texts in its own way and producing its own sub-commentaries.

Indian philosophy

After 200 CE several schools of thought were formally codified in Indian philosophy, including Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimāṃsā and Advaita Vedanta.[86] Hinduism, otherwise a highly polytheistic, pantheistic or monotheistic religion, also tolerated atheistic schools. The thoroughly materialistic and anti-religious philosophical Cārvāka school that originated around the 6th century BCE is the most explicitly atheistic school of Indian philosophy. Cārvāka is classified as a nāstika ("heterodox") system; it is not included among the six schools of Hinduism generally regarded as orthodox. It is noteworthy as evidence of a materialistic movement within Hinduism.[87] Our understanding of Cārvāka philosophy is fragmentary, based largely on criticism of the ideas by other schools, and it is no longer a living tradition.[88] Other Indian philosophies generally regarded as atheistic include Samkhya and Mimāṃsā.

Hindu literature

The Golden Temple of Mahalakshmi at Vellore.

Two of Hinduism's most revered epics, the Mahabharata and Ramayana were compositions of this period. Devotion to particular deities was reflected from the composition of texts composed to their worship. For example the Ganapati Purana was written for devotion to Ganapati (or Ganesh). Popular deities of this era were Shiva, Vishnu, Durga, Surya, Skanda, and Ganesh (including the forms/incarnations of these deities.)

In the latter Vedantic period, several texts were also composed as summaries/attachments to the Upanishads. These texts collectively called as Puranas allowed for a divine and mythical interpretation of the world, not unlike the ancient Hellenic or Roman religions. Legends and epics with a multitude of gods and goddesses with human-like characteristics were composed.

Jainism and Buddhism

The Gupta period marked a watershed of Indian culture: the Guptas performed Vedic sacrifices to legitimize their rule, but they also patronized Buddhism, which continued to provide an alternative to Brahmanical orthodoxy. Buddhism continued to have a significant presence in some regions of India until the 12th century.

There were several Buddhistic kings who worshiped Vishnu, such as the Gupta Empire, Pala Empire, Malla Empire, Somavanshi, and Sattvahana.[89] Buddhism survived followed by Hindus. National Geographic[90][note 19]


Tantrism originated in the early centuries CE and developed into a fully articulated tradition by the end of the Gupta period. According to Michaels this was the "Golden Age of Hinduism"[91] (c. 320–650 CE[91]), which flourished during the Gupta Empire[22] (320 to 550 CE) until the fall of the Harsha Empire[22] (606 to 647 CE). During this period, power was centralised, along with a growth of far distance trade, standardizarion of legal procedures, and general spread of literacy.[22] Mahayana Buddhism flourished, but the orthodox Brahmana culture began to be rejuvenated by the patronage of the Gupta Dynasty.[92] The position of the Brahmans was reinforced,[22] and the first Hindu temples emerged during the late Gupta age.[22]

Medieval and Late Puranic Period (500–1500 CE)

Late-Classical Period (c. 650–1100 CE)

See also Late-Classical Age and Hinduism Middle Ages

After the end of the Gupta Empire and the collapse of the Harsha Empire, power became decentralised in India. Several larger kingdoms emerged, with "countless vasal states".[23][note 20] The kingdoms were ruled via a feudal system. Smaller kingdoms were dependent on the protection of the larger kingdoms. "The great king was remote, was exalted and deified",[93] as reflected in the Tantric Mandala, which could also depict the king as the centre of the mandala.[94]

The disintegration of central power also lead to regionalisation of religiosity, and religious rivalry.[95][note 21] Local cults and languages were enhanced, and the influence of "Brahmanic ritualistic Hinduism"[95] was diminished.[95] Rural and devotional movements arose, along with Shaivism, Vaisnavism, Bhakti and Tantra,[95] though "sectarian groupings were only at the beginning of their development".[95] Religious movements had to compete for recognition by the local lords.[95] Buddhism lost its position, and began to disappear in India.[95]


In the same period Vedanta changed, incorporating Buddhist thought and its emphasis on consciousness and the working of the mind.[97] Buddhism, which was supported by the ancient Indian urban civilisation lost influence to the traditional religions, which were rooted in the countryside.[98] In Bengal, Buddhism was even prosecuted. But at the same time, Buddhism was incorporated into Hinduism, when Gaudapada used Buddhist philosophy to reinterpret the Upanishads.[97] This also marked a shift from Atman and Brahman as a "living substance"[99] to "maya-vada"[note 22], where Atman and Brahman are seen as "pure knowledge-consciousness".[100] According to Scheepers, it is this "maya-vada" view which has come to dominate Indian thought.[98]


Between 400 CE and 1000 CE Hinduism expanded as the decline of Buddhism in India continued.[101] Buddhism subsequently became effectively extinct in India but survived in Nepal and Sri Lanka.


The Bhakti movement began with the emphasis on the worship of God, regardless of one's status – whether priestly or laypeople, men or women, higher social status or lower social status. The movements were mainly centered on the forms of Vishnu (Rama and Krishna) and Shiva. There were however popular devotees of this era of Durga. The best-known devotees are the Nayanars from southern India. The most popular Shaiva teacher of the south was Basava, while of the north it was Gorakhnath. Female saints include figures like Akkamadevi, Lalleshvari and Molla.

The "alwar" or "azhwars" (Tamil: ஆழ்வார்கள், āzvārkaḷ , those immersed in god) were Tamil poet-saints of south India who lived between the 6th and 9th centuries CE and espoused "emotional devotion" or bhakti to Visnu-Krishna in their songs of longing, ecstasy and service.[102] The most popular Vaishnava teacher of the south was Ramanuja, while of the north it was Ramananda.

Several important icons were women. For example, within the Mahanubhava sect, the women outnumbered the men,[103] and administration was many times composed mainly of women.[104] Mirabai is the most popular female saint in India.

Sri Vallabha Acharya (1479–1531) is a very important figure from this era. He founded the Shuddha Advaita (Pure Non-dualism) school of Vedanta thought.

According to The Centre for Cultural Resources and Training,

Vaishanava bhakti literature was an all-India phenomenon, which started in the 6th–7th century A.D. in the Tamil-speaking region of South India, with twelve Alvar (one immersed in God) saint-poets, who wrote devotional songs. The religion of Alvar poets, which included a woman poet, Andal, was devotion to God through love (bhakti), and in the ecstasy of such devotions they sang hundreds of songs which embodied both depth of feeling and felicity of expressions [web 8]

Early Islamic rule (c. 1100–1500 CE)

In the 12th and 13th centuries, Turks and Afghans invaded parts of northern India and established the Delhi Sultanate in the former Rajput holdings.[105] The subsequent Slave dynasty of Delhi managed to conquer large areas of northern India, approximately equal in extent to the ancient Gupta Empire, while the Khilji dynasty conquered most of central India but were ultimately unsuccessful in conquering and uniting the subcontinent. The Sultanate ushered in a period of Indian cultural renaissance. The resulting "Indo-Muslim" fusion of cultures left lasting syncretic monuments in architecture, music, literature, religion, and clothing.

Bhakti movement

During the 14th to 17th centuries, a great Bhakti movement swept through central and northern India, initiated by a loosely associated group of teachers or sants. Ramananda, Ravidas, Srimanta Sankardeva, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Vallabhacharya, Surdas, Meera Bai, Kabir, Tulsidas, Namdev, Dnyaneshwar, Tukaram and other mystics spearheaded the Bhakti movement in the North while Annamacharya, Bhadrachala Ramadas, Tyagaraja among others propagated Bhakti in the South. They taught that people could cast aside the heavy burdens of ritual and caste, and the subtle complexities of philosophy, and simply express their overwhelming love for God. This period was also characterized by a spate of devotional literature in vernacular prose and poetry in the ethnic languages of the various Indian states or provinces.


Lingayatism is a distinct Shaivite tradition in India, established in the 12th century by the philosopher and social reformer Basavanna. The adherents of this tradition are known as Lingayats. The term is derived from Lingavantha in Kannada, meaning 'one who wears Ishtalinga on their body' (Ishtalinga is the representation of the God). In Lingayat theology, Ishtalinga is an oval-shaped emblem symbolising Parasiva, the absolute reality. Contemporary Lingayatism follows a progressive reform–based theology propounded, which has great influence in South India, especially in the state of Karnataka.[106]

Unifying Hinduism

According to Nicholson, already between the 12th and 16th century,

... certain thinkers began to treat as a single whole the diverse philosophival teachings of the Upanishads, epics, Puranas, and the schools known retrospectively as the "six systems" (saddarsana) of mainstream Hindu philosophy.[107]

The tendency of "a blurring of philosophical distinctions" has also been noted by Burley.[108] Lorenzen locates the origins of a distinct Hindu identity in the interaction between Muslims and Hindus,[109] and a process of "mutual self-definition with a contrasting Muslim other",[110] which started well before 1800.[111] Both the Indian and the European thinkers who developed the term "Hinduism" in the 19th century were influenced by these philosophers.[112]

Sikhism (15th century)
Harmandir Sahib or The Golden Temple of the Sikhs.

Sikhism originated in 15th-century Northern India with the teachings of Nanak and nine successive gurus. The principal belief in Sikhism is faith in Vāhigurū— represented by the sacred symbol of ēk ōaṅkār [meaning one god]. Sikhism's traditions and teachings are distinctly associated with the history, society and culture of the Punjab. Adherents of Sikhism are known as Sikhs (students or disciples) and number over 27 million across the world.

Modern period (1500 – present)

Early modern period

According to Gavin Flood, the modern period in India begins with the first contacts with western nations around 1500.[14][17] The period of Mughal rule in India[24] saw the rise of new forms of religiosity.[113]

Modern India (after 1800)

Mahamagam Festival is a holy festival celebrated once in twelve years in Tamil Nadu. Mahamagam Festival, which is held at Kumbakonam. This festival is also called as Kumbamela of South.[114][115]
The largest religious gathering ever held on Earth, the 2001 Maha Kumbh Mela held in Prayag attracted around 70 million Hindus from around the world.

In the 19th century, under influence of the colonial forces, a synthetic vision of Hinduism was formulated by Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Mahatma Gandhi.[116] These thinkers have tended to take an inclusive view of India's religious history, emphasising the similarities between the various Indian religions.[116]

The modern era has given rise to dozens of Hindu saints with international influence.[19] For example, Swaminarayan founded the Swaminarayan Sampraday. Anandamurti, founder of the Ananda Marga, has also influenced many worldwide. Through the international influence of all of these new Hindu denominations, many Hindu practices such as yoga, meditation, mantra, divination, and vegetarianism have been adopted by new converts.


Jainism continues to be an influential religion and Jain communities live in Indian states Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Jains authored several classical books in different Indian languages for a considerable period of time.


The Dalit Buddhist movement (dubbed as Navayana by certain Ambedkerites)[117] is a 19th- and 20th-century Buddhist revival movement in India. It received its most substantial impetus from B. R. Ambedkar's call for the conversion of Dalits to Buddhism, to escape a caste-based society that considered them to be the lowest in the hierarchy.[118]

Similarities and differences

Map showing the prevalence of Abrahamic (pink) and Indian religions (yellow) in each country.

According to Tilak, the religions of India can be interpreted "differentially" or "integrally",[119] that is by either highlighting the differences or the similarities.[119] According to Sherma and Sarma, western Indologists have tended to emphasise the differences, while Indian Indologists have tended to emphasise the similarities.[120]


Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism share certain key concepts, which are interpreted differently by different groups and individuals.[120] Until the 19th century, adherents of those various religions did not tend to label themselves as in opposition to each other, but "perceived themselves as belonging to the same extended cultural family."[121]


Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism share the concept of moksha, liberation from the cycle of rebirth.[122] They differ however on the exact nature of this liberation.[122]


Common traits can also be observed in ritual. The head-anointing ritual of abhiseka is of importance in three of these distinct traditions, excluding Sikhism (in Buddhism it is found within Vajrayana). Other noteworthy rituals are the cremation of the dead, the wearing of vermilion on the head by married women, and various marital rituals. In literature, many classical narratives and purana have Hindu, Buddhist or Jain versions.[web 9] All four traditions have notions of karma, dharma, samsara, moksha and various forms of Yoga.


Rama is a heroic figure in all of these religions. In Hinduism he is the God-incarnate in the form of a princely king; in Buddhism, he is a Bodhisattva-incarnate; in Jainism, he is the perfect human being. Among the Buddhist Ramayanas are: Vessantarajataka,[123] Reamker, Ramakien, Phra Lak Phra Lam, Hikayat Seri Rama etc. There also exists the Khamti Ramayana among the Khamti tribe of Asom wherein Rama is an Avatar of a Bodhisattva who incarnates to punish the demon king Ravana (B.Datta 1993). The Tai Ramayana is another book retelling the divine story in Asom.


Critics point out that there exist vast differences between and even within the various Indian religions.[124][125] All major religions are composed of innumerable sects and subsects.[126]


For a Hindu, dharma is his duty. For a Jain, dharma is righteousness, his conduct. For a Buddhist, dharma is usually taken to be the Buddha's teachings.


Indian mythology also reflects the competition between the various Indian religions. A popular story tells how Vajrapani kills Mahesvara, a manifestation of Shiva depicted as an evil being.[127][128] The story occurs in several scriptures, most notably the Sarvatathagatatattvasamgraha and the Vajrapany-abhiseka-mahatantra.[129][note 23] According to Kalupahana, the story "echoes" the story of the conversion of Ambattha.[128] It is to be understood in the context of the competition between Buddhist institutions and Shaivism.[133]

Āstika and nāstika categorisation

Āstika and nāstika are variously defined terms sometimes used to categorise Indian religions. The traditional definition, followed by Adi Shankara, classifies religions and persons as āstika and nāstika according to whether they accept the authority of the main Hindu texts, the Vedas, as supreme revealed scriptures, or not. By this definition, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Purva Mimamsa and Vedanta are classified as āstika schools, while Charvaka is classified as a nāstika school. Buddhism and Jainism are also thus classified as nāstika religions since they do not accept the authority of the Vedas.

Another set of definitions—notably distinct from the usage of Hindu philosophy—loosely characterise āstika as "theist" and nāstika as "atheist". By these definitions, Sāṃkhya can be considered a nāstika philosophy, though it is traditionally classed among the Vedic āstika schools. From this point of view, Buddhism and Jainism remain nāstika religions.

Buddhists and Jains have disagreed that they are nastika and have redefined the phrases āstika and nāstika in their own view. Jains assign the term nastika to one who is ignorant of the meaning of the religious texts,[134] or those who deny the existence of the soul was well known to the Jainas.[135]

"Dharmic religions"

Frawley and Malhotra use the term "Dharmic traditions" to highlight the similarities between the various Indian religions.[136][137][note 24] According to Frawley, "all religions in India have been called the Dharma",[136] and can be

...put under the greater umbrella of "Dharmic traditions" which we can see as Hinduism or the spiritual traditions of India in the broadest sense.[136]

According to Paul Hacker, as described by Halbfass, the term "dharma"

...assumed a fundamentally new meaning and function in modern Indian thought, beginning with Bankim Chandra Chatterjee in the nineteenth century. This process, in which dharma was presented as an equivalent of, but also a response to, the western notion of "religion", reflects a fundamental change in the Hindu sense of identity and in the attitude toward other religious and cultural traditions. The foreign tools of "religion" and "nation" became tools of self-definition, and a new and precarious sense of the "unity of Hinduism" and of national as well as religious identity took root.[139]

The emphasis on the similarities and integral unity of the dharmic faiths has been criticised for neglecting the vast differences between and even within the various Indian religions and traditions.[124][125] According to Richard E. King it is typical of the "inclusivist appropriation of other traditions"[116] of Neo-Vedanta:

The inclusivist appropriation of other traditions, so characteristic of neo-Vedanta ideology, appears on three basic levels. First, it is apparent in the suggestion that the (Advaita) Vedanta philosophy of Sankara (c. eighth century CE) constitutes the central philosophy of Hinduism. Second, in an Indian context, neo-Vedanta philosophy subsumes Buddhist philosophies in terms of its own Vedantic ideology. The Buddha becomes a member of the Vedanta tradition, merely attempting to reform it from within. Finally, at a global level, neo-Vedanta colonizes the religious traditions of the world by arguing for the centrality of a non-dualistic position as the philosophia perennis underlying all cultural differences.[116]

Status of non-Hindus in the Republic of India

The inclusion of Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs within Hinduism is part of the Indian legal system. The 1955 Hindu Marriage Act "[defines] as Hindus all Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs and anyone who is not a Christian, Muslim, Parsee or Jew".[140] And the Indian Constitution says that "reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion".[140]

In a judicial reminder, the Indian Supreme Court observed Sikhism and Jainism to be sub-sects or special faiths within the larger Hindu fold,[web 10][web 11] and that Jainism is a denomination within the Hindu fold.[web 12][note 25] Although the government of British India counted Jains in India as a major religious community right from the first Census conducted in 1873, after independence in 1947 Sikhs and Jains were not treated as national minorities.[web 13][note 26] In 2005 the Supreme Court of India declined to issue a writ of Mandamus granting Jains the status of a religious minority throughout India. The Court however left it to the respective states to decide on the minority status of Jain religion.[141][web 14][note 27]

However, some individual states have over the past few decades differed on whether Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs are religious minorities or not, by either pronouncing judgments or passing legislation. One example is the judgment passed by the Supreme Court in 2006, in a case pertaining to the state of Uttar Pradesh, which declared Jainism to be indisputably distinct from Hinduism, but mentioned that, "The question as to whether the Jains are part of the Hindu religion is open to debate.[142] However, the Supreme Court also noted various court cases that have held Jainism to be a distinct religion.

Another example is the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Bill, that is an amendment to a legislation that sought to define Jains and Buddhists as denominations within Hinduism.[web 15] Ultimately on 31 July 2007, finding it not in conformity with the concept of freedom of religion as embodied in Article 25 (1) of the Constitution, Governor Naval Kishore Sharma returned the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill, 2006 citing the widespread protests by the Jains[web 16] as well as Supreme Court's extrajudicial observation that Jainism is a "special religion formed on the basis of quintessence of Hindu religion by the Supreme Court"[web 17]

See also


  1. ^ Adams: "Indian religions, including early Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism, and sometimes also Theravāda Buddhism and the Hindu- and Buddhist-inspired religions of South and Southeast Asia".
  2. ^ Heinrich Zimmer: "[T]he history of Indian philosophy has been characterised largely by a series of crises of interaction between the invasic Vedic-Aryan and the non-Aryan, earlier, Dravidian styles of thought and spiritual experience."[1]
  3. ^ Michaels mentions Flood 1996[14] as a source for "Prevedic Religions".[15]
  4. ^ Smart distinguishes "Brahmanism" from the Vedic religion, connecting "Brahmanism" with the Upanishads.[26]
  5. ^ Richard E. King notes: "Consequently, it remains an anachronism to project the notion of "Hinduism" as it is commonly understood into pre-colonial history."[45]
  6. ^ In post-Vedic times understood as "hearers" of an eternally existing Veda, Śrauta means "what is heard"
  7. ^ "Upanishads came to be composed already in the ninth and eighth century B.C.E. and continued to be composed well into the first centuries of the Common Era. The Brahmanas and Aranyakas are somewhat older, reaching back to the eleventh and even twelfth century BCE."[web 4]
  8. ^ Deussen: "these treatises are not the work of a single genius, but the total philosophical product of an entire epoch which extends [from] approximately 1000 or 800 BC, to c.500 BCE, but which is prolonged in its offshoots far beyond this last limit of time."[59] p. 51
  9. ^ Gavin Flood and Patrick Olivelle: "The second half of the first millennium BCE was the period that created many of the ideological and institutional elements that characterize later Indian religions. The renouncer tradition played a central role during this formative period of Indian religious history....Some of the fundamental values and beliefs that we generally associate with Indian religions in general and Hinduism in particular were in part the creation of the renouncer tradition. These include the two pillars of Indian theologies: samsara – the belief that life in this world is one of suffering and subject to repeated deaths and births (rebirth); moksa/nirvana – the goal of human existence....."[7]
  10. ^ Cromwell Crwaford: "Alongside Brahmanism was the non-Aryan Shramanic (self reliant) culture with its roots going back to prehistoric times."[67]
  11. ^ Masih: "There is no evidence to show that Jainism and Buddhism ever subscribed to vedic sacrifices, vedic deities or caste. They are parallel or native religions of India and have contributed to much to the growth of even classical Hinduism of the present times."[68]
  12. ^ Jaini: "Jainas themselves have no memory of a time when they fell within the Vedic fold. Any theory that attempts to link the two traditions, moreover fails to appreciate rather distinctive and very non-vedic character of Jaina cosmology, soul theory, karmic doctrine and atheism".[69]
  13. ^ Flood: "The second half of the first millennium BCE was the period that created many of the ideological and institutional elements that characterise later Indian religions. The renouncer tradition played a central role during this formative period of Indian religious history....Some of the fundamental values and beliefs that we generally associate with Indian religions in general and Hinduism in particular were in part the creation of the renouncer tradition. These include the two pillars of Indian theologies: samsara – the belief that life in this world is one of suffering and subject to repeated deaths and births (rebirth); moksa/nirvana – the goal of human existence....."[70]
  14. ^ Flood: “The origin and doctrine of Karma and Samsara are obscure. These concepts were certainly circulating amongst sramanas, and Jainism and Buddhism developed specific and sophisticated ideas about the process of transmigration. It is very possible that the karmas and reincarnation entered the mainstream brahaminical thought from the sramana or the renouncer traditions.”[71] Page 86.
  15. ^ Padmanabh: "Yajnavalkya’s reluctance and manner in expounding the doctrine of karma in the assembly of Janaka (a reluctance not shown on any other occasion) can perhaps be explained by the assumption that it was, like that of the transmigration of soul, of non-brahmanical origin. In view of the fact that this doctrine is emblazoned on almost every page of sramana scriptures, it is highly probable that it was derived from them."[72] Page 51.
  16. ^ Jeffrey Brodd and Gregory Sobolewski: "Jainism shares many of the basic doctrines of Hinduism and Buddhism."[73]
  17. ^ Oldmeadow: "Over time, apparent misunderstandings have arisen over the origins of Jainism and relationship with its sister religions of Hinduism and Buddhism. There has been an ongoing debate between Jainism and Vedic Hinduism as to which revelation preceded the other. What is historically known is that there was a tradition along with Vedic Hinduism known as Sramana Dharma. Essentially, the sramana tradition included it its fold, the Jain and Buddhist traditions, which disagreed with the eternality of the Vedas, the needs for ritual sacrifices and the supremacy of the Brahmins."[77] Page 141
  18. ^ Fisher: "The extreme antiquity of Jainism as a non-vedic, indigenous Indian religion is well documented. Ancient Hindu and Buddhist scriptures refer to Jainism as an existing tradition which began long before Mahavira."[78] Page 115
  19. ^ edition reads, "The flow between faiths was such that for hundreds of years, almost all Buddhist temples, including the ones at Ajanta, were built under the rule and patronage of Hindu kings."
  20. ^ In the east the Pala Empire[23] (770–1125 CE[23]), in the west and north the Gurjara-Pratihara[23] (7th–10th century[23]), in the southwest the Rashtrakuta Dynasty[23] (752–973[23]), in the Dekkhan the Chalukya dynasty[23] (7th–8th century[23]), and in the south the Pallava dynasty[23] (7th–9th century[23]) and the Chola dynasty[23] (9th century[23]).
  21. ^ This resembles the development of Chinese Chán during the An Lu-shan rebellion and the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period (907–960/979), during which power became decentralised end new Chán-schools emerged.[96]
  22. ^ The term "maya-vada" is primarily being used by non-Advaitins. See [web 5][web 6][web 7]
  23. ^ The story begins with the transformation of the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra into Vajrapani by Vairocana, the cosmic Buddha, receiving a vajra and the name "Vajrapani".[130] Vairocana then requests Vajrapani to generate his adamantine family, to establish a mandala. Vajrapani refuses, because Mahesvara (Shiva) "is deluding beings with his deceitfull religious doctrines and engaging in all kinds of violent criminal conduct".[131] Mahesvara and his entourage are dragged to Mount Sumeru, and all but Mahesvara submit. Vajrapani and Mahesvara engage in a magical combat, which is won by Vajrapani. Mahesvara's retinue become part of Vairocana's mandala, except for Mahesvara, who is killed, and his life transferred to another realm where he becomes a buddha named Bhasmesvara-nirghosa, the "Soundless Lord of Ashes".[132]
  24. ^ Occasionally the term is also being used by other authors. David Westerlund: "...may provide some possibilities for co-operation with Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists, who like Hindus are regarded as adherents of 'dharmic' religions."[138]
  25. ^ The Supreme Court observed in a judgment pertaining to case of Bal Patil vs. Union of India: "Thus, 'Hinduism' can be called a general religion and common faith of India whereas 'Jainism' is a special religion formed on the basis of quintessence of Hindu religion. Jainism places greater emphasis on non-violence ('Ahimsa') and compassion ('Karuna'). Their only difference from Hindus is that Jains do not believe in any creator like God but worship only the perfect human-being whom they called Tirathankar."[web 12]
  26. ^ The so-called minority communities like Sikhs and Jains were not treated as national minorities at the time of framing the Constitution.[web 13]
  27. ^ In an extra-judicial observation not forming part of the judgment the court observed :"Thus, 'Hinduism' can be called a general religion and common faith of India whereas 'Jainism' is a special religion formed on the basis of quintessence of Hindu religion. Jainism places greater emphasis on non-violence ('Ahimsa') and compassion ('Karuna'). Their only difference from Hindus is that Jains do not believe in any creator like God but worship only the perfect human-being whom they called Tirathankar."[web 14]


  1. ^ a b Zimmer 1989, p. 218-219.
  2. ^ a b Michaels 2004, p. 33.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Michaels 2004, p. 38.
  4. ^ a b Jain 2008, p. 210.
  5. ^ a b Svarghese 2008, p. 259-60.
  6. ^ a b Mallinson 2007, p. 17-8, 32–33.
  7. ^ a b c Flood 2003, p. 273-4.
  8. ^ a b Khanna 2007, p. xvii.
  9. ^ Misra 2004, p. 194.
  10. ^ Kulke 2004, p. 7.
  11. ^ Flood 1996, p. 21.
  12. ^ a b Smart 2003, p. 52-53.
  13. ^ a b c Michaels 2004, p. 32.
  14. ^ a b c d Flood 1996.
  15. ^ Michaels 2004, p. 31, 348.
  16. ^ Muesse 2003.
  17. ^ a b c d e Muesse 2011.
  18. ^ Muesse 2011, p. 16.
  19. ^ a b c Michaels 2004.
  20. ^ Flood & 1996 21-22.
  21. ^ Michaels 2004, p. 39.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h Michaels 2004, p. 40.
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Michaels 2004, p. 41.
  24. ^ a b c Michaels 2004, p. 43.
  25. ^ a b Michaels 2004, p. 45.
  26. ^ Smart 2003, p. 52, 83-86.
  27. ^ Smart 2003, p. 52.
  28. ^ Michaels 2004, p. 36.
  29. ^ Muesse 2003, p. 14.
  30. ^ Heehs 2002, p. 39.
  31. ^ Fowler 1997, p. 90.
  32. ^ Sharri R. Clark, The social lives of figurines : recontextualising the third millennium BCE terracotta figurines from Harappa, Pakistan. PhD dissertation, Harvard 2007.
  33. ^ Shah 2004a, p. 9
  34. ^ a b Sangave 2001, p. 109
  35. ^ In his article "Mohen-jo-Daro: Sindh 5000 Years Ago" in Modern Review (August, 1932)
  36. ^ Patil, Bal In: Jaya Gommatesa, Hindi Granth Karyalay : Mumbai, 2006 ISBN 81-88769-10-X
  37. ^ Shah 2004a, p. 10
  38. ^ The Modern review: Volume 28; Volume 28, Prabasi Press Private, Ltd., 1920 
  39. ^ a b Stephanie W. Jamison and Michael Witzel in Arvind Sharma, editor, The Study of Hinduism. University of South Carolina Press, 2003, page 65
  40. ^ History Of Ancient India (portraits Of A Nation), 1/e By Kamlesh Kapur
  41. ^ P. 382 Hindu Spirituality: Vedas Through Vedanta, Volume 1 edited by K. R. Sundararajan, Bithika Mukerji
  42. ^ Ashim Kumar Bhattacharyya declares that Vedas contain the fundamental truths about Hindu Dharma; P. 6Hindu Dharma: Introduction to Scriptures And Theology By Ashim Kumar Bhattacharyya
  43. ^ P. 46 I Am Proud To Be A Hindu By J. Agarwal
  44. ^ P. 41 Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide By Roshen Dalal
  45. ^ King 1999, p. 176.
  46. ^ Nigal, S.G. Axiological Approach to the Vedas. Northern Book Centre, 1986. P. 81. ISBN 81-85119-18-x.
  47. ^ a b Zimmer 1989, p. 166.
  48. ^ Zimmer 1989, p. 167.
  49. ^ Holdrege (2004:215)
  50. ^ Krishnananda 1994, p. 17.
  51. ^ Krishnananda 1994, p. 24.
  52. ^ Panikkar 2001:350–351
  53. ^ Duchesne-Guillemin 1963, p. 46.
  54. ^ Day, Terence P. (1982). The Conception of Punishment in Early Indian Literature. Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. P. 42-45. ISBN 0-919812-15-5.
  55. ^ P. 285 Indian sociology through Ghurye, a dictionary By S. Devadas Pillai
  56. ^ Michaels 2004, p. 34.
  57. ^ Michaels 2004, p. 35.
  58. ^ a b .Other sources: the process of "Sanskritization"Encyclopedia Brittanica,
  59. ^ a b [1] Paul Deussen, Philosophy of the Upanishads
  60. ^ Neusner, Jacob (2009), World Religions in America: An Introduction, Westminster John Knox Press,  
  61. ^ Melton, J. Gordon; Baumann, Martin (2010), Religions of the World, Second Edition: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices, ABC-CLIO, p. 1324,  
  62. ^ Mahadevan, T. M. P (1956), Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, ed., History of Philosophy Eastern and Western, George Allen & Unwin Ltd, p. 57 
  63. ^ Glasenapp 1999, p. 16.
  64. ^ Zimmer 1989, p. 217.
  65. ^ Flood, Gavin D. (1996), An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University Press, p. 82,  
  66. ^ Dr. Kalghatgi, T. G. 1988 In: Study of Jainism, Prakrit Bharti Academy, Jaipur
  67. ^ a b S. Cromwell Crawford, review of L. M. Joshi, Brahmanism, Buddhism and Hinduism, Philosophy East and West (1972)
  68. ^ a b Y. Masih (2000) In : A Comparative Study of Religions, Motilal Banarsidass Publ : Delhi, ISBN 81-208-0815-0 Page 18
  69. ^ a b P.S. Jaini, (1979), The Jaina Path to Purification, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, p. 169
  70. ^ a b Flood, Gavin. Olivelle, Patrick. 2003. The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism. Malden: Blackwell. pg. 273-4.
  71. ^ a b Gavin D. Flood (1996), An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University – Press : UK ISBN 0-521-43878-0
  72. ^ a b Padmanabh S. Jaini 2001 “Collected Paper on Buddhist Studies” Motilal Banarsidass Publ 576 pages ISBN 81-208-1776-1
  73. ^ P. 93 World Religions By Jeffrey Brodd, Gregory Sobolewski
  74. ^ Pratt, James Bissett (1996), The Pilgrimage of Buddhism and a Buddhist Pilgrimage, Asian Educational Services, p. 90,  
  75. ^ Upadhyaya, Kashi Nath (1998), Early Buddhism and the Bhagavadgītā, Motilal Banarsidass Publ., pp. 103–104,  
  76. ^ Hajime Nakamura, A History of Early Vedānta Philosophy: Part One. Reprint by Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1990, page 139.
  77. ^ a b Harry Oldmeadow (2007) Light from the East: Eastern Wisdom for the Modern West, World Wisdom, Inc. ISBN 1-933316-22-5
  78. ^ a b Mary Pat Fisher (1997) In: Living Religions: An Encyclopedia of the World's Faiths I.B.Tauris : London ISBN 1-86064-148-2
  79. ^ The Life of Buddha as Legend and History, by Edward Joseph Thomas
  80. ^ Heehs 2002, p. 106.
  81. ^ "Discovery". 
  82. ^ a b c d e f g h Hiltebeitel 2002.
  83. ^ Puligandla 1997.
  84. ^ Raju 1992.
  85. ^  
  86. ^ Radhakrishnan & Moore 1967, p. xviii–xxi.
  87. ^ Radhakrishnan & Moore 1967, pp. 227–249.
  88. ^ Chatterjee & Datta 1984, p. 55.
  89. ^ Durga Prasad, P. 116, History of the Andhras up to 1565 A. D.
  90. ^ January 2008, VOL. 213, #1
  91. ^ a b Michaels 2004, p. 40-41.
  92. ^ Nakamura 2004, p. 687.
  93. ^ michaels 2004, p. 41.
  94. ^ White 2000, pp. 25–28.
  95. ^ a b c d e f g Michaels 2004, p. 42.
  96. ^ McRae 2003.
  97. ^ a b Scheepers 2000.
  98. ^ a b Scheepers 2000, p. 127-129.
  99. ^ Scheepers 2000, p. 123.
  100. ^ Scheepers 2000, pp. 123–124.
  101. ^ "The rise of Buddhism and Jainism". Religion and Ethics—Hinduism: Other religious influences. BBC. 26 July 2004. Retrieved 21 April 2007. 
  102. ^ Andrea Nippard. "The Alvars". Retrieved 20 April 2013. 
  103. ^ Ramaswamy, P. 204 Walking Naked
  104. ^ Ramaswamy, P. 210 Walking Naked
  105. ^ Battuta's Travels: Delhi, capital of Muslim India
  106. ^ M. R. Sakhare, History and Philosophy of the Lingayat Religion, Prasaranga, Karnataka University, Dharwad
  107. ^ Ncholson 2010, p. 2.
  108. ^ Burley 2007, p. 34.
  109. ^ Lorenzen 2006, p. 24-33.
  110. ^ Lorenzen 2006, p. 27.
  111. ^ Lorenzen 2006, p. 26-27.
  112. ^ Nicholson 2010, p. 2.
  113. ^ Michaels 2004, p. 43-44.
  114. ^ "Mahamagam Festival". Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  115. ^ Madan Prasad Bezbaruah; Dr. Krishna Gopal; Phal S. Girota (2003), Fairs and Festivals of India, p. 326, retrieved 14 February 2014 
  116. ^ a b c d King 1999.
  117. ^ Omvedt, Gail. Buddhism in India : Challenging Brahmanism and Caste. 3rd ed. London/New Delhi/Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2003. pages: 2, 3–7, 8, 14–15, 19, 240, 266, 271
  118. ^ Thomas Pantham, Vrajendra Raj Mehta, Vrajendra Raj Mehta, (2006), Political Ideas in Modern India: thematic explorations, Sage Publications,  
  119. ^ a b Sharma 2008, p. 239.
  120. ^ a b Sherma 2008, p. 239.
  121. ^ Lipner 1998, p. 12.
  122. ^ a b Tiwari 1983, p. 210.
  123. ^ Pollock, P. 661 Literary Cultures in History:
  124. ^ a b Larson 2012, pp. 313–314.
  125. ^ a b Yelle 2012, pp. 338–339.
  126. ^ Rodriques 2008, p. 14.
  127. ^ Davidson 2004, pp. 148–153.
  128. ^ a b Kalupahana 1994, p. 220.
  129. ^ Davidson 2004, p. 148.
  130. ^ Davidson 2004, pp. 148–150.
  131. ^ Davidson 2004, p. 150.
  132. ^ Davidson 2004, p. 151.
  133. ^ Davidson 2004, p. 152.
  134. ^ Page i, Forms of Indian Philosophical Literature and Other Papers by V.S. Kambi
  135. ^ P. 163 Mahāvīra: His Life and Teachings by Bimala Churn Law
  136. ^ a b c Frawley 1990, p. 27.
  137. ^ Malhotra 2011.
  138. ^ Westerlund, David Questioning the Secular State: The Worldwide Resurgence of Religion in Politics page 16
  139. ^ Halbfass 1995, p. 10.
  140. ^ a b Cavanaugh 2009, p. 88.
  141. ^ Syed Shahabuddin. "Minority rights are indivisible".  
  142. ^ (para 25, Committee of Management Kanya Junior High School Bal Vidya Mandir, Etah, U.P. v. Sachiv, U.P. Basic Shiksha Parishad, Allahabad, U.P. and Ors., Per Dalveer Bhandari J., Civil Appeal No. 9595 of 2003, decided On: 21.08.2006, Supreme Court of India) [2]


Printed sources

  • Burley, Mikel (2007), Classical Samkhya and Yoga: An Indian Metaphysics of Experience, Taylor & Francis 
  • Cavanaugh, William T. (2009), The Myth of Religious Violence : Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict, Oxford University Press 
  • Chatterjee, S; Datta, D (1984), An Introduction to Indian Philosophy (8th ed.),  
  • Davidson, Ronald M. (2004), Indian Esoteric Buddhism: Social History of the Tantric Movement, Motilal Banarsidass Publ. 
  • Duchesne-Guillemin, Jacques (1963), "Heraclitus and Iran", History of Religions 3 (1): 34–49,  
  • Flood, Gavin D. (1996), An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University Press 
  • Flood, Gavin; Olivelle, Patrick (2003), The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism, Malden: Blackwell 
  • Fowler, JD (1997), Hinduism: Beliefs and Practices, Sussex Academic Press,  
  • Frawley, David (1990), From the River of Heaven: Hindu and Vedic Knowledge for the Modern Age, Berkeley, California: Book Passage Press,  
  • Halbfass, Wilhelm (1995), Philology and Confrontation: Paul Hacker on Traditional and Modern Vedānta, SUNY Press 
  • Heehs, P (2002), Indian Religions: A Historical Reader of Spiritual Expression and Experience, New York: New York University Press,  
  • Hiltebeitel, Alf (2002), Hinduism. In: Joseph Kitagawa, "The Religious Traditions of Asia: Religion, History, and Culture", Routledge,  
  • Jain, Arun (2008), Faith & philosophy of Jainism 
  • Kalupahana, David J. (1994), A history of Buddhist philosophy, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited 
  • Khanna, Meenakshi (2007), Cultural History Of Medieval India, Berghahn Books 
  • Krishnananda (1994), A Short History of Religious and Philosophic Thought in India, Divine Life Society 
  • King, Richard (1999), Orientalism and Religion: Post-Colonial Theory, India and "The Mystic East", Routledge 
  • Kulke, Hermann; Rothermund, Dietmar (2004), A History of India, Routledge 
  • Larson, Gerald James (2012), "The Issue of Not Being Different Enough: Some Reflections on Rajiv Malhotra's Being Different", International Journal of Hindu Studies (Vol. 16, No. 3, December 2012) 16 (3): 311,  
  • Lipner, Julis (1998), Hindus: their religious beliefs and practices, Routledge 
  • Lorenzen, David N. (2006), Who Invented Hinduism: Essays on Religion in History, Yoda Press,  
  • Malhotra, Rajiv (2011), Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism, HarperCollins Publishers India 
  • Mallinson, James (2007), The Khecarīvidyā of Ādinātha 
  • Michaels, Axel (2004), Hinduism. Past and present, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press 
  • Misra, Amalendu (2004), Identity and Religion: Foundations of Anti-Islamism in India, SAGE 
  • Muesse, Mark William (2003), Great World Religions: Hinduism 
  • Muesse, Mark W. (2011), The Hindu Traditions: A Concise Introduction, Fortress Press 
  • Nakamura, Hajime (2004), A History of Early Vedanta Philosophy. Part Two, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited 
  • Nicholson, Andrew J. (2010), Unifying Hinduism: Philosophy and Identity in Indian Intellectual History, Columbia University Press 
  • Nussbaum, Martha C. (2009), The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India's Future, Harvard University Press,  
  • Oberlies, T (1998), Die Religion des Rgveda, Wien 
  • Puligandla, Ramakrishna (1997), Fundamentals of Indian Philosophy, New Delhi: D.K. Printworld (P) Ltd. 
  • Raju, P.T. (1992), The Philosophical Traditions of India, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited 
  • Rinehart, R (2004), Contemporary Hinduism: Ritual, Culture, and Practice, ABC-Clio,  
  • Rodriques, Hillary; Harding, John S. (2008), Introduction to the Study of Religion, Routledge 
  • Sherma, Rita D.; Sarma, Aravinda (2008), Hermeneutics and Hindu Thought: Toward a Fusion of Horizons, Springer 
  • Smart, Ninian (2003), Godsdiensten van de wereld (The World's religions), Kampen: Uitgeverij Kok 
  • Svarghese, Alexander P. (2008), India : History, Religion, Vision And Contribution To The World 
  • Sweetman, Will (2004), "The prehistory of Orientalism: Colonialism and the Textual Basis for Bartholomaus Ziegenbalg's Account of Hinduism", New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies 6, 2 (December, 2004): 12–38 
  • Tiwari, K.N., Comparative Religion, Motilal Banarsidass 
  • White, David Gordon (ed.) (2000), Tantra in Practice, Princeton University Press,  
  • Yelle, Robert A. (2012), "Comparative Religion as Cultural Combat: Occidentalism and Relativism in Rajiv Malhotra's Being Different", International Journal of Hindu Studies (Vol. 16, No. 3, December 2012) 16 (3): 335,  
  • Zimmer, Heinrich (1951), Philosophies of India, Princeton University Press 


  1. ^ a b Adams, C. J., Classification of religions: Geographical, Encyclopædia Britannica, 2007. Accessed: 15 July 2010
  2. ^ "Religions by adherents" (PHP). Retrieved 9 February 2007. 
  3. ^ "'"Ancient Indians made 'rock music.  
  4. ^ a b Indiana University "India Studies Program" Passage to India, Module 10.
  5. ^ Mayavada Philosophy
  6. ^ The Self-Defeating Philosophy of Mayavada
  7. ^ Mayavada and Buddhism – Are They One and the Same?
  8. ^ Indian Literature Through the AgesThe Centre for Cultural Resources and Training,
  9. ^ c.f. Encyclopædia Britannica, s.v. "Jainism > Jainism, Hinduism, and Buddhism"
  10. ^ a b Supreme Court observation, Bal Patil vs. Union of India, Dec 2005
  11. ^ In various codified customary laws like Hindu Marriage Act, Hindu Succession Act, Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act and other laws of pre and post-Constitution period, the definition of 'Hindu' included all sects and sub-sects of Hindu religions including Sikhs and Jains[web 10]
  12. ^ a b Supreme court of India, in the judgement of Bal Patil vs. Union of India, Dec. 2005.
  13. ^ a b [Supreme Court observation, Bal Patil vs. Union of India, December 2005]
  14. ^ a b Supreme court of India, in the judgement of Bal Patil vs. Union of India, Dec. 2005.
  15. ^ Gujarat Freedom of religions Act, 2003
  16. ^ "Religious freedom Bill returned". The Indian Express. 31 July 2007. Retrieved 15 September 2007. 
  17. ^ The Times of India, 11 Mar, 2008 In his letter dated 27 July 2007 he had said Jainism has been regarded as "special religion formed on the basis of quintessence of Hindu religion by the Supreme Court".

Further reading

  • Heehs, Peter (2002), Indian Religions: A Historical Reader of Spiritual Expression and Experience, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers,  
  • Kitagawa, Joseph (2002), The Religious Traditions of Asia: Religion, History, and Culture, Routledge,  
  • Zimmer, Heinrich (1951), Philosophies of India (reprint 1989), Princeton University Press 

External links

  • "Census of India 2001: Data on religion". Government of India (Office of the Registrar General). Retrieved 28 May 2007. 
Constitution and law
  • "Constitution of India". Government of India (Ministry of Law and Justice). Retrieved 28 May 2007. 
  • "International Religious Freedom Report 2006: India". United States Department of State. Retrieved 28 May 2007. 
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.