Deva means "heavenly, anything of excellence", is one of the terms for a deity in Hinduism. Deva is a masculine term. In the earliest Vedic literature, all supernatural beings are called Asuras; the concepts and legends evolve in ancient Indian literature, by the late Vedic period, benevolent supernatural beings are referred to as Deva-Asuras. In post-Vedic texts, such as the Puranas and the Itihasas of Hinduism, the Devas represent the good, the Asuras the bad. In some medieval Indian literature, Devas are referred to as Suras and contrasted with their powerful but malevolent half-brothers, referred to as the Asuras. Devas, along with Asuras and Rakshasas are part of Indian mythology, Devas feature in one of many cosmological theories in Hinduism. Deva is a Sanskrit word found in Vedic literature of 2nd millennium BCE. Monier-Williams translates it as "heavenly, terrestrial things of high excellence, shining ones"; the concept is used to refer to deity or god. The Sanskrit deva- derives from Indo-Iranian *daiv- which in turn descends from the Proto-Indo-European word, *deiwo- an adjective meaning "celestial" or "shining", a vrddhi derivative from the root *diw meaning "to shine" as the day-lit sky.
The feminine form of *deiwos is *deiwih2, which descends into Indic languages as devi, in that context meaning "female deity". Deriving from *deiwos, thus cognates of deva, are Lithuanian Dievas, Germanic Tiwaz and the related Old Norse Tivar, Latin deus "god" and divus "divine", from which the English words "divine", "deity", French "dieu", Portuguese "deus", Spanish "dios" and Italian "dio" "Zeys/Ζεύς" - "Dias/Δίας", the Greek father of the gods, are derived, it is related to *Dyeus which while from the same root, may have referred to the "heavenly shining father", hence to "Father Sky", the chief God of the Indo-European pantheon, continued in Sanskrit Dyaus. The bode of the Devas is Dyuloka. According to Douglas Harper, the etymological roots of Deva mean "a shining one," from *div- "to shine," and it is a cognate with Greek dios "divine" and Zeus, Latin deus "god". Deva is masculine, the related feminine equivalent is devi. Etymologically, the cognates of Devi are Greek thea; when capitalized, Devi or Mata refers to goddess as divine mother in Hinduism.
Deva is referred to as Devatā, while Devi as Devika. The word Deva is a proper name or part of name in Indian culture, where it refers to "one who wishes to excel, overcome" or the "seeker of, master of or a best among"; the Samhitas, which are the oldest layer of text in Vedas enumerate 33 devas, either 11 each for the three worlds, or as 12 Adityas, 11 Rudras, 8 Vasus and 2 Asvins in the Brahmanas layer of Vedic texts. The Rigveda states in hymn 1.139.11, Some devas represent the forces of nature and some represent moral values, each symbolizing the epitome of a specialized knowledge, creative energy and magical powers. The most referred to Devas in the Rig Veda are Indra and Soma, with "fire deity" called the friend of all humanity, it and Soma being the two celebrated in a yajna fire ritual that marks major Hindu ceremonies. Savitr, Vishnu and Prajapati are gods and hence Devas. Parvati and Durga are some goddesses. Many of the deities taken together are worshiped as the Vishvedevas. Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, Shiva the destroyer, Ganesha the god of intelligence, Hanuman the god of protector and bhakti, Kartikeya the god of wars, Narada the god of news, Vishwakarma the god of architect, Dhanvantari the god of doctors and ayurveda, Kubera the god of wealth, Dyaus the god of sky, Vayu the god of wind, Varuna the god of water, Agni the god of fire, Samudra the god of sea, Kamadeva the god of love, Bariyadeva the god of diseases, Chitradeva the god of art, Indra the king of gods and rain, Surya the god of sun and light, Chandra the god of moon and night, Mangala the god of Mars Budha the god of Mercury, Brihaspati the god of Jupiter and teacher of gods, Shukra the god of Venus and worship, Shani the god of Saturn and deeds, Rahu the god of Neptune, Ketu the god of Uranus, Yamaraja the god of Pluto and death and one of the shivagana.
In Vedic literature, Deva is not a monotheistic God, rather a "supernatural, divine" concept manifesting in various ideas and knowledge, in a form that combine excellence in some aspects, wrestling with weakness and questions in other aspects, heroic in their outlook and actions, yet tied up with emotions and desires. Max Muller states that the Vedic hymns are remarkable in calling every single of different devas as "the only one, the supreme, the greatest". Muller concluded that the Vedic ideas about devas is best understood neither as polytheism nor as monotheism, but as henotheism where gods are equivalent, different perspective, different aspects of reverence and spirituality, unified by principles of Ṛta and Dharma. Ananda Coomaraswamy states that Devas and Asuras in the Vedic lore are similar to the Olympian gods and Titans of Greek mythology. Both are powerful but have different orientations and inclinations, with the Devas representing the powers of Light and the Asuras representing the powers of Darkness in Hindu mythology.
According to Coomaraswamy's interpretation of Devas and Asuras, both these natures exist in each human being, both the tyrant and the angel. The best and the worst within each person struggles
Bhakti means "attachment, fondness for, faith, devotion, purity". In Hinduism, it refers to devotion to, love for, a personal god or a representational god by a devotee. In ancient texts such as the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, the term means participation and love for any endeavor, while in the Bhagavad Gita, it connotes one of the possible paths of spirituality and towards moksha, as in bhakti marga. Bhakti in Indian religions is "emotional devotionalism" to a personal god or to spiritual ideas; the term refers to a movement, pioneered by Alvars and Nayanars, that developed around the gods Vishnu, Brahma and Devi in the second half of the 1st millennium CE. It grew in India after the 12th century in the various Hindu traditions in response to the arrival of Islam in India. Bhakti ideas have inspired many popular saint-poets in India; the Bhagavata Purana, for example, is a Krishna-related text associated with the Bhakti movement in Hinduism. Bhakti is found in other religions practiced in India, it has influenced interactions between Christianity and Hinduism in the modern era.
Nirguni bhakti is found in Sikhism, as well as Hinduism. Outside India, emotional devotion is found in some Southeast Asian and East Asian Buddhist traditions, it is sometimes referred to as Bhatti; the Sanskrit word bhakti is derived from the verb root bhaj-, which means "to divide, to share, to partake, to participate, to belong to". The word means "attachment, devotion to, fondness for, faith or love, piety to something as a spiritual, religious principle or means of salvation"; the meaning of the term Bhakti is different from Kama. Kama connotes emotional connection, sometimes with erotic love. Bhakti, in contrast, is spiritual, a love and devotion to religious concepts or principles, that engages both emotion and intellection. Karen Pechelis states that the word Bhakti should not be understood as uncritical emotion, but as committed engagement, she adds that, in the concept of bhakti in Hinduism, the engagement involves a simultaneous tension between emotion and intellection, "emotion to reaffirm the social context and temporal freedom, intellection to ground the experience in a thoughtful, conscious approach".
One who practices bhakti is called a bhakta. The term bhakti, in Vedic Sanskrit literature, has a general meaning of "mutual attachment, fondness for, devotion to" such as in human relationships, most between beloved-lover, friend-friend, king-subject, parent-child, it may refer to devotion towards a spiritual teacher as guru-bhakti, or to a personal god, or for spirituality without form. According to the Sri Lankan Buddhist scholar Sanath Nanayakkara, there is no single term in English that adequately translates or represents the concept of bhakti in Indian religions. Terms such as "devotion, devotional faith" represent certain aspects of bhakti, but it means much more; the concept includes a sense of deep affection, but not wish because "wish is selfish, affection is unselfish". Some scholars, states Nanayakkara, associate it with saddha which means "faith, trust or confidence". However, bhakti can connote a path to spiritual wisdom; the term Bhakti refers to one of several alternate spiritual paths to moksha in Hinduism, it is referred to as bhakti marga or bhakti yoga.
The other paths are Karma marga, Rāja marga. The term bhakti has been translated as "devotion" in Orientalist literature; the colonial era authors variously described Bhakti as a form of mysticism or "primitive" religious devotion of lay people with monotheistic parallels. However, modern scholars state "devotion" is a incomplete translation of bhakti. Many contemporary scholars have questioned this terminology, most now trace the term bhakti as one of the several spiritual perspectives that emerged from reflections on the Vedic context and Hindu way of life. Bhakti in Indian religions is not a ritualistic devotion to a god or to religion, but participation in a path that includes behavior, ethics and spirituality, it involves, among other things, refining one's state of mind, knowing god, participating in god, internalizing god. Instead of "devotion", the term "participation" is appearing in scholarly literature as a gloss for the term bhakti. David Lorenzen states that bhakti is an important term in Hinduism.
They both share numerous concepts and core spiritual ideas, but bhakti of nirguni is significant in Sikhism. In Hinduism, diverse ideas continue, where both saguni and nirguni bhakti or alternate paths to spirituality are among the options left to the choice of a Hindu; the last of three epilogue verses of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, dated to be from 1st millennium BCE, uses the word Bhakti as follows, This verse is one of the earliest use of the word Bhakti in ancient Indian literature, has been translated as "the love of God". Scholars have debated whether this phrase is authentic or insertion into the Upanishad, whether the terms "Bhakti" and "Deva" meant the same in this ancient text as they do in the modern era. Max Muller states that the word Bhakti appears only once in this Upanishad, that too in one last verse of the epilogue, could have been a addition and may not be theistic as the word was used in much S
History of Hinduism
History of Hinduism denotes a wide variety of related religious traditions native to the Indian subcontinent. Its history overlaps or coincides with the development of religion in Indian subcontinent since the Iron Age, with some of its traditions tracing back to prehistoric religions such as those of the Bronze Age Indus Valley Civilization, it has thus been called the "oldest religion" in the world. Scholars regard Hinduism as a synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions, with diverse roots and no single founder; the history of Hinduism is divided into periods of development. The first period is the pre-Vedic period, which includes the Indus Valley Civilisation and local pre-historic religions, ending at about 1750 BCE; this period was followed in northern India by the Vedic period, which saw the introduction of the historical Vedic religion with the Indo-Aryan migrations, starting somewhere between 1900 BCE to 1400 BCE. The subsequent period, between 800 BCE and 200 BCE, is "a turning point between the Vedic religion and Hindu religions", a formative period for Hinduism and Buddhism.
The Epic and Early Puranic period, from c. 200 BCE to 500 CE, saw the classical "Golden Age" of Hinduism, which coincides with the Gupta Empire. In this period the six branches of Hindu philosophy evolved, namely Samkhya, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mīmāṃsā, Vedanta. Monotheistic sects like Shaivism and Vaishnavism developed during this same period through the Bhakti movement; the period from 650 to 1100 CE forms the late Classical period or early Middle Ages, in which classical Puranic Hinduism is established, Adi Shankara's Advaita Vedanta, which incorporated Buddhist thought into Vedanta, marking a shift from realistic to idealistic thought. Hinduism under both Hindu and Islamic rulers from c. 1200 to 1750 CE, saw the increasing prominence of the Bhakti movement, which remains influential today. The colonial period saw the emergence of various Hindu reform movements inspired by western movements, such as Unitarianism and Theosophy; the Partition of India in 1947 was along religious lines, with the Republic of India emerging with a Hindu majority.
During the 20th century, due to the Indian diaspora, Hindu minorities have formed in all continents, with the largest communities in absolute numbers in the United States and the United Kingdom. Western scholars regard Hinduism as a synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions. Among its roots are the historical Vedic religion of Iron Age northern India itself the product of "a composite of the Indo-Aryan and Harappan cultures and civilizations", but the Sramana or renouncer traditions of northeast India, mesolithic and neolithic cultures of India, such as the religions of the Indus Valley Civilisation, Dravidian traditions, the local traditions and tribal religions. After the Vedic period, between 500-200 BCE and c. 300 CE, at the beginning of the "Epic and Puranic" c.q. "Preclassical" period, the "Hindu synthesis" emerged, which incorporated śramaṇic and Buddhist influences and the emerging bhakti tradition into the Brahmanical fold via the smriti literature. This synthesis emerged under the pressure of the success of Jainism.
During the Gupta reign the first Puranas were written, which were used to disseminate "mainstream religious ideology amongst pre-literate and tribal groups undergoing acculturation." The resulting Puranic Hinduism differed markedly from the earlier Brahmanism of the Dharmaśāstras and the smritis. Hinduism co-existed for several centuries with Buddhism, to gain the upper hand at all levels in the 8th century. From northern India this "Hindu synthesis", its societal divisions, spread to southern India and parts of Southeast Asia, it was aided by the settlement of Brahmins on land granted by local rulers, the incorporation and assimilation of popular non-Vedic gods, the process of Sanskritization, in which "people from many strata of society throughout the subcontinent tended to adapt their religious and social life to Brahmanic norms". This process of assimilation explains the wide diversity of local cultures in India "half shrouded in a taddered cloak of conceptual unity." James Mill, in his The History of British India, distinguished three phases in the history of India, namely Hindu and British civilisations.
This periodisation has been criticised, for the misconceptions. Another periodisation is the division into "ancient, classical and modern periods", although this periodization has received criticism. Romila Thapar notes that the division of Hindu-Muslim-British periods of Indian history gives too much weight to "ruling dynasties and foreign invasions," neglecting the social-economic history which showed a strong continuity; the division in Ancient-Medieval-Modern overlooks the fact that the Muslim-conquests took place between the eight and the fourteenth century, while the south was never conquered. According to Thapar, a periodisation could be based on "significant social and economic changes," which are not related to a change of ruling powers. Smart and Michaels seem to follow Mill's periodisation, while Flood and Muesse follow the "ancient, classical and modern periods" periodisation. An elaborate periodisation may be as follows: Indus Valley Civilisation; the earliest prehistoric religion in India tha
The Trimūrti is the Triple deity of supreme divinity in Hinduism in which the cosmic functions of creation and destruction are personified as a triad of deities Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, Shiva the destroyer, though individual denominations may vary from that particular line-up. When all three deities of the Trimurti incarnate into a single avatar, the avatar is known as Dattatreya; the Puranic period saw the rise of post-Vedic religion and the evolution of what R. C. Majumdar calls "synthetic Hinduism."This period had no homogeneity, included orthodox Brahmanism in the form of remnants of older Vedic faith traditions, along with different sectarian religions, notably Shaivism and Shaktism that were within the orthodox fold yet still formed distinct entities. One of the important traits of this period is a spirit of harmony between orthodox and sectarian forms. Regarding this spirit of reconciliation, R. C. Majumdar says that: Its most notable expression is to be found in the theological conception of the Trimūrti, i.e. the manifestation of the supreme God in three forms of Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Śiva...
But the attempt cannot be regarded as a great success, for Brahmā never gained an ascendancy comparable to that of Śiva or Viṣṇu, the different sects conceived the Trimūrti as the three manifestations of their own sectarian god, whom they regarded as Brahman or Absolute. The identification of Brahma and Shiva as one being is emphasized in the Kūrma Purāṇa, where in 1.6 Brahman is worshipped as Trimurti. Historian A. L. Basham explains the background of the Trimurti as follows, noting Western interest in the idea of trinity:There must be some doubt as to whether the Hindu tradition has recognized Brahma as the Supreme Deity in the way that Visnu and Siva have been conceived of and worshiped; the concept of Trimurti is present in the Maitri Upanishad, where the three gods are explained as three of his supreme forms. Temples dedicated to various permutations of the Trimurti can be seen as early as the 8th century C. E. and there are temples today in which the Trimurti are worshiped. Baroli Trimurti Temple Elephanta Caves Mithrananthapuram Trimurti Temple Prambanan Trimurti Temple Savadi Trimurti Temple Thripaya Trimurti Temple The Saura sect that worships Surya as the supreme person of the godhead and saguna brahman doesn't accept the Trimurti as they believe Surya is God.
Earlier forms of the Trimurti sometimes included Surya instead of Brahma, or as a fourth above the Trimurti, of whom the other three are manifestations. Surya was a member of the original Vedic Trimurti, which included Varuna and Vayu; some Sauras worship either Vishnu or Brahma or Shiva as manifestations of Surya, others worship the Trimurti as a manifestation of Surya, others worship Surya alone. Shaivites hold that, according to Shaiva Agama, Shiva performs five actions - creation, dissolution, concealing grace, revealing grace; these first three actions are associated with Shiva as Sadyojata and Aghora. Thus, Brahma and Rudra are not deities different from Shiva, but rather are forms of Shiva; as Brahma/Sadyojata, Shiva creates. As Vishnu/Vamadeva, Shiva preserves; as Rudra/Aghora, he dissolves. This stands in contrast to the idea that Shiva is the "God of destruction." To Shaivites, Shiva performs all actions, of which destruction is only but one. Ergo, the Trimurti is a form of Shiva Himself for Shaivas.
Shaivites believe that Lord Shiva is the Supreme, who assumes various critical roles and assumes appropriate names and forms, stands transcending all these. A prominent visual example of a Shaivite version of the Trimurti is the Trimurti Sadashiva sculpture in the Elephanta Caves on Gharapuri Island; the Brahmins follows to Brahma. For them Brahma is the Parabrahaman and Supreme being, they believe Vishnu and Shiva as child of Brahma and forms of him only. In Brahmanism they believe that Brahma is Creator, Vishnu is Shiva as Destroyer, they believe Brahma as the Param-pita of gods. He only creates and destroys everything to create again.. The Female-Centric Shaktidharma denomination assigns the eminent roles of the three forms of Supreme Divinity not to masculine gods but instead to feminine goddesses: Mahasarasvati and Mahakali; this feminine version of the Trimurti is called Tridevi. The masculine gods are relegated as auxiliary agents of the supreme feminine Tridevi. Smartism is a denomination of Hinduism that places emphasis on a group of five deities rather than just a single deity.
The "worship of the five forms" system, popularized by the ninth-century philosopher Śankarācārya among orthodox Brahmins of the Smārta tradition, invokes the five deities Ganesha, Brahma and Shiva. Śankarācārya added Kartikeya to these five, making six total. This reformed system was promoted by Śankarācārya to unite the principal deities of the six major sects on an equal status; the monistic philosophy preached by Śankarācārya made it possible to choose one of these as a preferred principal deity and at the same time worship the other four deities as different forms of the same all-pervading Brahman. Despite the fact that the Vishnu Purana describes that Vishnu manifests as Brahma in order to create and as Rudra in order to destroy, Vaishnav
Hinduism is an Indian religion and dharma, or way of life practised in the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia. Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world, some practitioners and scholars refer to it as Sanātana Dharma, "the eternal tradition", or the "eternal way", beyond human history. Scholars regard Hinduism as a fusion or synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions, with diverse roots and no founder; this "Hindu synthesis" started to develop between 500 BCE and 300 CE, after the end of the Vedic period, flourished in the medieval period, with the decline of Buddhism in India. Although Hinduism contains a broad range of philosophies, it is linked by shared concepts, recognisable rituals, shared textual resources, pilgrimage to sacred sites. Hindu texts are classified into Smṛti; these texts discuss theology, mythology, Vedic yajna, agamic rituals, temple building, among other topics. Major scriptures include the Vedas and Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayana, the Āgamas.
Sources of authority and eternal truths in its texts play an important role, but there is a strong Hindu tradition of questioning authority in order to deepen the understanding of these truths and to further develop the tradition. Prominent themes in Hindu beliefs include the four Puruṣārthas, the proper goals or aims of human life, namely Dharma, Artha and Moksha. Hindu practices include rituals such as puja and recitations, meditation, family-oriented rites of passage, annual festivals, occasional pilgrimages; some Hindus leave their social world and material possessions engage in lifelong Sannyasa to achieve Moksha. Hinduism prescribes the eternal duties, such as honesty, refraining from injuring living beings, forbearance, self-restraint, compassion, among others; the four largest denominations of Hinduism are the Vaishnavism, Shaivism and Smartism. Hinduism is the world's third largest religion. Hinduism is the most professed faith in India and Mauritius, it is the predominant religion in Bali, Indonesia.
Significant numbers of Hindu communities are found in the Caribbean, North America, other countries. The word Hindū is derived from Indo-Aryan/Sanskrit root Sindhu; the Proto-Iranian sound change *s > h occurred between 850–600 BCE, according to Asko Parpola. It is believed that Hindu was used as the name for the Indus River in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent. According to Gavin Flood, "The actual term Hindu first occurs as a Persian geographical term for the people who lived beyond the river Indus", more in the 6th-century BCE inscription of Darius I; the term Hindu in these ancient records did not refer to a religion. Among the earliest known records of'Hindu' with connotations of religion may be in the 7th-century CE Chinese text Record of the Western Regions by Xuanzang, 14th-century Persian text Futuhu's-salatin by'Abd al-Malik Isami. Thapar states that the word Hindu is found as heptahindu in Avesta – equivalent to Rigvedic sapta sindhu, while hndstn is found in a Sasanian inscription from the 3rd century CE, both of which refer to parts of northwestern South Asia.
The Arabic term al-Hind referred to the people. This Arabic term was itself taken from the pre-Islamic Persian term Hindū, which refers to all Indians. By the 13th century, Hindustan emerged as a popular alternative name of India, meaning the "land of Hindus"; the term Hindu was used in some Sanskrit texts such as the Rajataranginis of Kashmir and some 16th- to 18th-century Bengali Gaudiya Vaishnava texts including Chaitanya Charitamrita and Chaitanya Bhagavata. These texts used it to distinguish Hindus from Muslims who are called Yavanas or Mlecchas, with the 16th-century Chaitanya Charitamrita text and the 17th-century Bhakta Mala text using the phrase "Hindu dharma", it was only towards the end of the 18th century that European merchants and colonists began to refer to the followers of Indian religions collectively as Hindus. The term Hinduism spelled Hindooism, was introduced into the English language in the 18th century to denote the religious and cultural traditions native to India. Hinduism includes a diversity of ideas on spirituality and traditions, but has no ecclesiastical order, no unquestionable religious authorities, no governing body, no prophet nor any binding holy book.
Because of the wide range of traditions and ideas covered by the term Hinduism, arriving at a comprehensive definition is difficult. The religion "defies our desire to define and categorize it". Hinduism has been variously defined as a religion, a religious tradition, a set of religious beliefs, "a way of life". From a Western lexical standpoint, Hinduism like other faiths is appropriately referred to as a religion. In India the term dharma is preferred, broader than the Western term religion; the study of India and its cultures and religions, the definition of "Hinduism", has been shaped by th
Agni is a Sanskrit word meaning fire, connotes the Vedic fire god of Hinduism. He is the guardian deity of the southeast direction, is found in southeast corners of Hindu temples. In the classical cosmology of the Indian religions, Agni as fire is one of the five inert impermanent constituents along with space, water and earth, the five combining to form the empirically perceived material existence. In Vedic literature, Agni is a oft-invoked god along with Indra and Soma. Agni is considered the mouth of the gods and goddesses, the medium that conveys offerings to them in a homa, he is conceptualized in ancient Hindu texts to exist at three levels, on earth as fire, in the atmosphere as lightning, in the sky as the sun. This triple presence connects him as the messenger between gods and human beings in the Vedic thought; the relative importance of Agni declined in the post-Vedic era, as he was internalized and his identity evolved to metaphorically represent all transformative energy and knowledge in the Upanishads and Hindu literature.
Agni remains an integral part of Hindu traditions, such as being the central witness of the rite-of-passage ritual in traditional Hindu weddings called Saptapadi or Agnipradakshinam, as well being part of Diya in festivals such as Divali and Aarti in Puja. Agni is a term that appears extensively in Buddhist texts, in the literature related to the Senika heresy debate within the Buddhist traditions. In the ancient Jainism thought, Agni contains soul and fire-bodied beings, additionally appears as Agni-kumara or "fire princes" in its theory of rebirth and a class of reincarnated beings, is discussed in its texts with the equivalent term Tejas; the Sanskrit word Agni means "fire". In the early Vedic literature, Agni connotes the fire as a god, one reflecting the primordial powers to consume and convey, yet the term is used with the meaning of a Mahabhuta, one of five that the earliest Vedic thinkers believed to constitute material existence, that Vedic thinkers such as Kanada and Kapila expanded namely Akasha, Vayu, Ap, Prithvi and Agni.
The word Agni is used in many contexts, ranging from the fire in stomach, the cooking fire in a home, the sacrificial fire in an altar, the fire of cremation, the fire of rebirth, the fire in the energetic saps concealed within plants, the atmospheric fire in lightning and the celestial fire in the sun. In the Brahmanas layer of the Vedas, such as in section 5.2.3 of Shatapatha Brahmana, Agni represents all the gods, all concepts of spiritual energy that permeates everything in the universe. In the Upanishads and post-Vedic literature, Agni additionally became a metaphor for immortal principle in man, any energy or knowledge that consumes and dispels a state of darkness and procreates an enlightened state of existence; the etymology of Agni is uncertain and contested. Significant proposals include: from agnir, which means "leader, going in front", based on the Vedic premise that fire leads and is the chaplain of the gods, he is the divine priest, who connects and brings the gods and men together, the first among all gods whose presence can be felt and who attends a ceremony, the first among all priests around whom other priests gather, he is the one who leads and guides all men.
From agri, the root of which means "first", referring to "that first in the universe to arise" or "fire" according to Shatapatha Brahmana section 6.1.1. According to the 5th-century BCE Sanskrit text Nirukta-Nighantu in section 7.14, sage Śakapūṇi states the word Agni is derived from three verbs – from'going', from'shining or burning', from'leading'. From Indo-European root Ag or "to move", with the cognates Latin ignis, Sclavonian ogni. There are many theories about the origins of the god Agni, some tracing it to Indo-European mythologies, others tracing to mythologies within the Indian tradition; the origin myth found in many Indo-European cultures is one of a bird, or bird like being, that carries or brings fire from the gods to mankind. Alternatively, this messenger brings an elixir of immortality from heaven to earth. In either case, the bird returns everyday with sacrificial offerings for the gods, but sometimes the bird hides or disappears without trace. Agni is molded in similar mythical themes, in some hymns with the phrase the "heavenly bird that flies".
The earliest layers of the Vedic texts of Hinduism, such as section 6.1 of Kathaka Samhita and section 1.8.1 of Maitrayani Samhita state that the universe began with nothing, neither night nor day existed, what existed was just Prajapati. Agni originated from the forehead of Prajapati, assert these texts. With the creation of Agni came light, with that were created day and night. Agni, state these Samhitas, is the same as the Brahman, the truth, the eye of the manifested
Smarta tradition is a movement in Hinduism that developed during its classical period around the beginning of the Common Era. It reflects a Hindu synthesis of four philosophical strands: Mimamsa, Advaita and theism; the Smarta tradition rejects theistic sectarianism, it is notable for the domestic worship of five shrines with five deities, all treated as equal – Vishnu, Brahma and Devi. The Smarta tradition contrasted with the older Shrauta tradition, based on elaborate rituals and rites. There has been considerable overlap in the ideas and practices of the Smarta tradition with other significant historic movements within Hinduism, namely Shaivism, Brahmanism and Shaktism; the Smarta tradition is aligned with Advaita Vedanta, regards Adi Shankara as its founder or reformer. Shankara championed the ultimate reality is impersonal and Nirguna and any symbolic god serves the same equivalent purpose. Inspired by this belief, the Smarta tradition followers, along with the five Hindu gods include a sixth impersonal god in their practice.
The tradition has been called by William Jackson as "advaitin, monistic in its outlook". The term Smarta refers to Brahmins who specialize in the Smriti corpus of texts named the Grihya Sutras, in contrast to Shrauta Sutras. Smarta Brahmins with their focus on the Smriti corpus, contrast from Srauta Brahmins who specialize in the Sruti corpus, rituals and ceremonies that follow the Vedas. Smarta स्मार्त is an adjective derived from Smriti; the smriti are a specific body of Hindu texts attributed to an author, traditionally written down but revised, in contrast to Śrutis considered authorless, that were transmitted verbally across the generations and fixed. Smarta has several meanings: Relating to memory Recorded in or based on the Smriti Based on tradition, prescribed or sanctioned by traditional law Orthodox Brahmin versed in or guided by traditional law and Vedanta doctrineIn Smarta tradition context, the term Smarta means "follower of Smriti". Smarta is specially associated with a "sect founded by Shankaracharya", states Monier Williams.
See Late Middle Kingdoms - The Late-Classical Age and Classical Hinduism The Vedanga texts, states Alf Hiltebeitel, are Smriti texts that were composed in the second half of the Vedic period that ended around 500 BCE. The Vedanga texts include the Kalpa texts consisting of the Srautasutras and Dharmasutras, many of which were revised well past the Vedic period; the Grihyasutras and Dharmasutras, states Hiltebeitel, were composed between 600 BCE and 400 CE, these are sometimes called the Smartasutras, the roots of the Smriti tradition. The Smriti texts accept the knowledge in the Sruti, but they interpret it in a number of ways, which gave rise to six darsanas of Hindu philosophy. Of these, states Hiltebeitel, the Mimamsa and Vedanta have sometimes been called the Smarta schools which emphasize the Vedas with reason and other pramanas, in contrast to Haituka schools which emphasize hetu independent of the Vedas while accepting the authority of the Vedas. Of the two Smarta traditions, Mimamsa focussed on Vedic ritual traditions, while Vedanta focussed on Upanishadic knowledge tradition.
Around the start of the common era, thereafter, a syncretism of Haituka schools, the Smarta schools with ancient theistic ideas gave rise to a growth in traditions such as Shaivism and Shaktism. Hiltebeitel and Flood locate the origins of a revived orthodox Smarta Tradition in the Classical Period of Hinduism with nondualist interpretation of Vedanta, around the time when different Hindu traditions emerged from the interaction between Brahmanism and local traditions; the revived Smarta Tradition attempted to integrate varied and conflicting devotional practices, with its ideas of nondual experience of Atman as Brahman. The rapprochement included the practice of pancayatana-puja, wherein a Hindu could focus on any saguna deity of choice such as Vishnu, Durga, Surya or Ganesha, as an interim step towards realizing the nirguna Brahman; the growth of this Smarta Tradition began in the Gupta period, was dominated by Dvija classes, in particular the Brahmins, of the early medieval Indian society.
This Smarta Tradition competed with other major traditions of Hinduism such as Shaivism and Shaktism. The ideas of Smarta Tradition were influential, creative with concepts such as of Harihara and Ardhanarishvara, many of the major scholars of Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Bhakti movement came out of the Smarta Tradition. Medieval era scholars such as Vedanta Desika and Vallabhacharya recognized Smarta Tradition as competing with Vaishnavism and other traditions. According to Jeffrey Timm, for example, in verse 10 of the Tattvarthadipanibandha, Vallabhacharya states that, "Mutually contradictory conclusions are non-contradictory when they are considered from their respective contexts, like Vaishnava, etc."According to Murray Milner Jr. a professor of Sociology, the Smarta tradition refers to "Hindus who tend toward Brahmanical orthodoxy in both thought and behavior". Smartas are committed to a "relatively unified Hinduism" and they reject extreme forms of sectarian isolationism, reminiscent of the European discourse about church and Christian sects.
The tradition, states Milner, has roots that emerged sometime between 3rd century BCE and 3rd century CE, likel