History of Hinduism

Hinduism - Derived from a Sanskrit word that means "Dwellers of Indus river"

It all started with Indus Valley Civilization

2500 - 1500 BCE (IVC) - A prosperous civilization that existed with major urban cities namely Harappa & Mohenjodaro. These cities enjoyed high standard of living with sophisticated water system with houses having drainage system, wells. The religious activities involved ritual bathing ('great bath' found in Mohenjodaro), sacrifice & goddess worshiping.

1500 - 500 BCE (Vedic civilization) - The Indus valley civilization declined & Aryans migrated from central Asia crossing from Hindu Kush mountains & brought in Sanskrit as a language. The 4 Vedas were written during this period. With the collapse of Indus valley civilization & migration of Aryan into sub-continent, a cultural shift was observed.

500 BCE - 500 CE (Epic, Puranic & Classical age) - Religious literature like Sutras, Shastras, Puranas & epics Ramayana & Mahabharata were composed during this age. The 18 Puranas (e.g. Vishnu purana) described about various deities in story form. The concept of puja & visiting temples developed during this age. Jainism & Buddhism evolved during these times. The belief of reincarnation develops.

500 CE - 1500 CE (Medieval age) - This period witnessed the rise in devotion to Vishnu, Shiva & Devi. Major temples were built during this period e.g. Jagannath temple in Orissa, Shiva temple in Thanjavur. Several Poets, Saints, Acharyas & Gurus emerged & consolidated the teachings to the masses. E.g. Shankara. Tantra texts, which were an alternative revelations from Vedas were written during this period. The worship of images especially female divinities becomes more common.

1500 CE - 1757 CE (Pre modern period) - While Hindu traditions developed, most widespread in South, Islam was rising in North as religious & political force. The Islam reached India through Arabian traders in 8th century & army conquest by Turkish Sultanate in 12th century in Northwest provinces. The Muslim political power culminated with Mughal empire in 1526. The bhakti tradition (devotion) further developed in Hinduism during this period with Poetic saints (sants) like Mirabai, Tukaram, Surdas & Dadu.

1757 CE - 1947 CE (The British Period) - Robert Clive victory against Mughals in 1757 established British supremacy in India. Missionaries started to arrive with the motivation to westernize the local population. The 19th century saw Hindu renaissance with reformers such as Raja Ram Mohan Roy who founder Brahmo samaj & Dayanand Saraswati who found Arya samaj. Both these organizations were against social evils like Sati, Child marriage, polygamy. While Brahmo samaj was more westernized & liberal, Arya samaj advocated India culture & sticking to Vedas as way of life. These organizations also later gave rise to Indian nationalism. Paramahamsa Ramkrishna & his disciple Vivekananda declared unity of all religions & developed the idea of united India which was later developed further by Mahatma Gandhi & the notion of Ahimsa & Patriotism propounded. In 20th century, VD Savarkar coined the term Hindutva to further unite Hindus & cultural oganizations like RSS, VHP have embraced it.

1947 CE - Till date (Independent India) - 1960s saw many Hindu migrating to west & building up of a strong Indian diaspora. In late 1960s, transcendental movements (e.g Hare Rama Hare Krishna) achieved world wide popularity. This also attracted celebrities like Beatles. Many large temples have been built in west.

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