The history and traditions of Hinduism are both ancient and timeless. It’s practitioners traditionally called it Sanatana Dharma, or the Eternal/ Ancient religion – considered by its believers and practitioners to be the world oldest living dharma or religion that originated from the Indian subcontinent. It is also the worlds most diverse religion other than being the oldest of all world religions. Hinduism embraces the worship of many deities, who are believed to be manifestations of the supreme God. Hinduism is a grand mosaic of various sampradayas (a tradition handed down from a founder through successive spiritual gurus), philosophies, mandirs (temples), shastras (sacred text), sadhus, devotees, holy places, rituals, and festivals.

Hinduism derives its name from the ancient Persians from Persia (now Iran) who called the river Sindhu – that flows through modern-day Pakistan – as Hindu, due to the differential pronunciation of ‘S’ as ‘H’. Subsequently, as a result of this linguistic practice, the people living on the eastern banks of river Sindhu came to be known as Hindus. Later the British developed the term Hinduism (the earlier religion of Aryans) to describe the various religious traditions they encountered and experienced across the country. After the Persians, the Greeks called the river Hindu (which is Sindhu), ‘Indos’ and the people, ‘Indoi’. In English, the words ‘Indos’ and ‘Indoi’ became Indus and Indians respectively.

In the next blog, I will write about Hinduism and its core beliefs and principles.

(Credit: Excerpts from the book, Hinduism An Introduction by Sadhu Vivekjivandas)

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