Pargat Diwas or Valmiki Jayanti is an annual Indian festival celebrated in particular by the Valmiki religious group, to commemorate the birth of the ancient Indian poet and philosopher Valmiki, thought to have lived around 500 BC. The festival date is determined by the Indian lunar calendar, falls on the full moon of the month of Ashwin in late September or early October. Valmiki is revered in India as the author of the Indian epic poem Ramayana, is worshipped as the Avatar of God in the Valmiki faith. Valmiki himself appears as a major character in the Ramayana, as a monk who receives the banished queen Sita into his hermitage and acts as teacher to her twin sons and Kush; the "epic meter" in traditional Indian poetry is attributed to Valmiki, with verses consisting of memorable rhyming couplets, suggesting that the poem was intended for public recitation, a common Indian oral tradition. On Pargat Diwas portraits of Valmiki depicted as a monk wearing saffron-coloured robes and holding a quill and paper, are paraded in processions called Shobha Yatra through the main streets of the Valmiki locality, accompanied by street devotional singing
Valmiki is celebrated as the harbinger-poet in Sanskrit literature. The epic Ramayana, dated variously from 5th century BCE to first century BCE, is attributed to him, based on the attribution in the text itself, he is revered as the first poet, author of Ramayana, the first epic poem. Ramayana written by Valmiki, consists of 24,000 shlokas and 7 cantos including Uttara Kanda. Ramayana is composed of about 480,002 words, being a quarter of the length of the full text of the Mahabharata or about four times the length of the Iliad; the Ramayana tells the story of a prince, Rama of the city of Ayodhya in the Kingdom of Kosala, whose wife Sita is abducted by Ravana, the demon-king of Lanka. The Valmiki Ramayana is dated variously from 500 BCE to 100 BCE or about co-eval with early versions of the Mahabharata; as with many traditional epics, it has gone through a process of interpolations and redactions, making it impossible to date accurately. British satirist Aubrey Menen says that Valmiki was, "recognized as a literary genius," and thus was considered, "an outlaw," because of his, "philosophic scepticism," as part of an "Indian Enlightenment" period.
Valmiki is quoted to be the contemporary of Rama. Menen claims Valmiki is, "the first author in all history to bring himself into his own composition." Rama interacted with him. Valmiki gave shelter to Sita in his hermitage. Kusha and Lava, the twin sons of Shri Rama were born to Sita in this hermitage. Valmiki taught Ramayana to Kusha and Lava, who sang the divine story in Ayodhya during the Ashwamedha yajna congregation, to the pleasure of the audience, King Rama questioned who they were and visited Valmiki's hermitage to confirm if Sita, the two children claimed as their mother was in fact his wife in exile, he summoned them to his royal palace. Kusha and Lava sang the story of Rama there and Rama confirmed that whatever had been sung by these two children was true. Valmiki was born as Agni Sharma to a Brahmin named Pracheta of Bhrigu gotra, According to legend he once met the great sage Narada and had a discourse with him on his duties. Moved by Narada's words, Agni Sharma began to perform penance and chanted the word "Mara" which meant "kill".
As he performed his penance for several years, the word became "Rama", the name of Lord Vishnu. Huge anthills formed around Agni Sharma and this earned him the name of Valmiki. Agni Sharma, rechristened as Valmiki, learnt the scriptures from Narada and became the foremost of ascetics, revered by everyone. Valmiki was going to the river Ganges for his daily ablutions. A disciple by the name Bharadwaja was carrying his clothes. On the way, they came across the Tamasa Stream. Looking at the stream, Valmiki said to his disciple, "Look, how clear is this water, like the mind of a good man! I will bathe here today." When he was looking for a suitable place to step into the stream, he saw a crane couple mating. Valmiki felt pleased on seeing the happy birds. Hit by an arrow, the male bird died on the spot. Filled by sorrow, its mate died of shock. Valmiki's heart melted at this pitiful sight, he looked around to find out. He saw a hunter with arrows, nearby. Valmiki became angry, his lips opened and he cried out, मा निषाद प्रतिष्ठां त्वमगमः शाश्वतीः समाः। यत्क्रौञ्चमिथुनादेकमवधीः काममोहितम्॥' mā niṣāda pratiṣṭhā tvamagamaḥ śāśvatīḥ samāḥ yat krauñcamithunādekam avadhīḥ kāmamohitamYou will find no rest for the long years of Eternity For you killed a bird in love and unsuspecting Emerging spontaneously from Valmiki's rage and grief, this is considered to be the first shloka in Sanskrit literature.
Valmiki composed the entire Ramayana with the blessings of Lord Brahma in the same meter that issued forth from him as the shloka. Thus this shloka is revered as the first shloka in Hindu literature. Valmiki is revered as Ramayana, the first kavya, his first disciples to whom he taught the Ramayana were Kusha and Lava, the sons of Rama: प्रचेत्सोऽहं दशमः पुत्रो राघवनंन्दन | न स्मराम्यनृतं वाक्यमिमौ तु तव पुत्रकौ || 96:16In another verse, it is stated that he is from the lineage of the sage Bhargava: संनिबद्धं हि श्लोकानां चतुर्विंशत्सहस्रकम् | उपाख्यानशतं चैव भार्गवेण तपस्विना || 94:24 Vishnudharmottara Purana says that Valmiki was born in the Treta Yuga as a form of Brahma who composed Ramayana and that people desirious of earning knowledge should worship Valmiki. He was reincarnated as Tulsidas, who composed the Ramcharitamanas, the Awadhi-Hindi version of the Ramayana. An area in Chennai, Tiruvanmiyur is believed to derive its name from Sage Valmiki, Thiru-Valmiki-Oor. There is a temple for Valmiki located in this place, believed to be 1300 years old.
Also: Shree Valmiki Mata Maha Samsthana in Rajanahalli, Karnataka In 1963, Valmiki, a Kannada movie, was made, starring Dr Rajkumar. Balmiki caste Balmiki sect Chuhra Shri Rama Quotations related to Valmiki at Wikiquote Media related to Valmiki at Wikimedia Commons Works written by or about Valmiki at Wikisource Works by Valmiki at Project Gutenberg Works by or about Valmiki at Internet Archive Works by Valmiki at LibriVox
An avatar, a concept in Hinduism that means "descent", refers to the material appearance or incarnation of a deity on earth. The relative verb to "alight, to make one's appearance" is sometimes used to refer to any guru or revered human being; the word avatar does not appear in the Vedic literature, but appears in verb forms in post-Vedic literature, as a noun in the Puranic literature after the 6th century CE. Despite that, the concept of an avatar is compatible with the content of the Vedic literature like the Upanishads as it is symbolic imagery of the Saguna Brahman concept in the philosophy of Hinduism; the Rigveda describes Indra as endowed with a mysterious power of assuming any form at will. The Bhagavad Gita expounds the doctrine of Avatara but with terms other than avatar. Theologically, the term is most associated with the Hindu god Vishnu, though the idea has been applied to other deities. Varying lists of avatars of Vishnu appear in Hindu scriptures, including the ten Dashavatara of the Garuda Purana and the twenty-two avatars in the Bhagavata Purana, though the latter adds that the incarnations of Vishnu are innumerable.
The avatars of Vishnu are important in Vaishnavism theology. In the goddess-based Shaktism tradition of Hinduism, avatars of the Devi in different appearances such as Tripura Sundari and Kali are found. While avatars of other deities such as Ganesha and Shiva are mentioned in medieval Hindu texts, this is minor and occasional; the incarnation doctrine is one of the important differences between Vaishnavism and Shaivism traditions of Hinduism. Incarnation concepts similar to avatar are found in Buddhism and other religions; the scriptures of Sikhism include the names of numerous Hindu gods and goddesses, but it rejected the doctrine of savior incarnation and endorsed the view of Hindu Bhakti movement saints such as Namdev that formless eternal god is within the human heart and man is his own savior. The Sanskrit noun is derived from the Sanskrit roots ava and tṛ; these roots trace back, states Monier-Williams, to -taritum, -tarati, -rītum. Avatar means "descent, alight, to make one's appearance", refers to the embodiment of the essence of a superhuman being or a deity in another form.
The word implies "to overcome, to remove, to bring down, to cross something". In Hindu traditions, the "crossing or coming down" is symbolism, states Daniel Bassuk, of the divine descent from "eternity into the temporal realm, from unconditioned to the conditioned, from infinitude to finitude". An avatar, states Justin Edwards Abbott, is a saguna embodiment of Atman. Neither the Vedas nor the Principal Upanishads mention the word avatar as a noun; the verb roots and form, such as avatarana, do appear in ancient post-Vedic Hindu texts, but as "action of descending", but not as an incarnated person. The related verb avatarana is, states Paul Hacker, used with double meaning, one as action of the divine descending, another as "laying down the burden of man" suffering from the forces of evil. Mahesh is an avatar of Lord Vishnu; the term is most found in the context of the Hindu god Vishnu. The earliest mention of Vishnu manifested in a human form to empower the good and fight against evil, uses other terms such as the word sambhavāmi in verse 4.6 and the word tanu in verse 9.11 of the Bhagavad Gita, as well as other words such as akriti and rupa elsewhere.
It is in medieval era texts, those composed after the sixth century CE, that the noun version of avatar appears, where it means embodiment of a deity. The idea proliferates thereafter, in the Puranic stories for many deities, with ideas such as ansha-avatar or partial embodiments; the term avatar, in colloquial use, is an epithet or a word of reverence for any extraordinary human being, revered for his or her ideas. In some contexts, the term avatara just means a "landing place, site of sacred pilgrimage", or just "achieve one's goals after effort", or retranslation of a text in another language; the term avatar is not unique to Hinduism. It is found in the Trikaya doctrine of Mahayana Buddhism, in descriptions for the Dalai Lama in Tibetan Buddhism, many ancient cultures; the manifest embodiment is sometimes referred to as an incarnation. The translation of avatar as "incarnation" has been questioned by Christian theologians, who state that an incarnation is in flesh and imperfect, while avatar is mythical and perfect.
The theological concept of Christ as an incarnation, as found in Christology, presents the Christian concept of incarnation. According to Oduyoye and Vroom, this is different from the Hindu concept of avatar because avatars in Hinduism are unreal and is similar to Docetism. Sheth disagrees and states that this claim is an incorrect understanding of the Hindu concept of avatar. Avatars are true embodiments of spiritual perfection, one driven by noble goals, in Hindu traditions such as Vaishnavism; the concept of avatar within Hinduism is most associated with Vishnu, the preserver or sustainer aspect of God within the Hindu Trinity or Trimurti of Brahma and Shiva. Vishnu's avatars descend thereby restoring Dharma. Traditional Hindus see themselves not as Vaishnava, Shaiva, or Shakta; each of the deities has its own iconography and mythology, but common to all is the fact that the divine reality has an explicit form, a form that the worshipper can behold. An oft-quoted passage from the Bhagavad Gita describes the typical role of an avatar of Vishnu: The Vishnu avatars appear in Hindu mythology whenever the cosmos is in
Religious texts are texts which religious traditions consider to be central to their practice or beliefs. Religious texts may be used to provide meaning and purpose, evoke a deeper connection with the divine, convey religious truths, promote religious experience, foster communal identity, guide individual and communal religious practice. Religious texts communicate the practices or values of a religious traditions and can be looked to as a set of guiding principles which dictate physical, spiritual, or historical elements considered important to a specific religion; the terms'sacred' text and'religious' text are not interchangeable in that some religious texts are believed to be sacred because of their nature as divinely or supernaturally revealed or inspired, whereas some religious texts are narratives pertaining to the general themes, practices, or important figures of the specific religion, not considered sacred by itself. A core function of a religious text making it sacred is its ceremonial and liturgical role in relation to sacred time, the liturgical year, the divine efficacy and subsequent holy service.
It is not possible to create an exhaustive list of religious texts, because there is no single definition of which texts are recognized as religious. One of the oldest known religious texts is the Kesh Temple Hymn of Ancient Sumer, a set of inscribed clay tablets which scholars date around 2600 BCE; the Epic of Gilgamesh from Sumer, although only considered by some scholars as a religious text, has origins as early as 2150-2000 BCE, stands as one of the earliest literary works that includes various mythological figures and themes of interaction with the divine. The Rig Veda of ancient Hinduism is estimated to have been composed between 1700–1100 BCE, which not only denotes it as one of the oldest known religious texts, but one of the oldest written religious text, still used in religious practice to this day, though no actual evidence of this text exists prior to the 13th century AD. There are many possible dates given to the first writings which can be connected to Talmudic and Biblical traditions, the earliest of, found in scribal documentation of the 8th century BCE, followed by administrative documentation from temples of the 5th and 6th centuries BCE, with another common date being the 2nd century BCE.
Although a significant text in the history of religious text because of its widespread use among religious denominations and its continued use throughout history, the texts of the Abrahamic traditions are a good example of the lack of certainty surrounding dates and definitions of religious texts. High rates of mass production and distribution of religious texts did not begin until the invention of the printing press in 1440, before which all religious texts were hand written copies, of which there were limited quantities in circulation. A religious canon refers to the accepted and unchanging collection of texts which a religious denomination considers comprehensive in terms of their specific application of texts. For example, the content of a Protestant Bible may differ from the content of a Catholic Bible - insofar as the Protestant Old Testament does not include the Deuterocanonical books while the Roman Catholic canon does. Protestants and Catholics use the same 27 book NT canon, as well as the same 39 book OT protocanon shared by Jews.
The word "canon" comes from the Sumerian word meaning "standard". The terms "scripture" and variations such as "Holy Writ", "Holy Scripture" or "Sacred Scripture" are defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as terms which apply to Biblical text and the Christian tradition. Hierographology is the study of sacred texts; the following is an in-exhaustive list of links to specific religious texts which may be used for further, more in-depth study. A Course in Miracles The writings of Franklin Albert Jones a.k.a. Adi Da Love-Ananda Samraj Aletheon The Companions of the True Dawn Horse The Dawn Horse Testament Gnosticon The Heart of the Adi Dam Revelation Not-Two IS Peace Pneumaton Transcendental Realism The Nine Freedoms Havamal Eddur Great Hymn to the Aten The Akilathirattu Ammanai The Arul Nool The Borgia Group codices Books by Bahá'u'lláh The Four Valleys The Seven Valleys The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh Gems of Divine Mysteries The Book of Certitude Summons of the Lord of Hosts Tabernacle of Unity Kitáb-i-Aqdas Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed After the Kitáb-i-Aqdas Epistle to the Son of the Wolf Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh Bon Kangyur and Tengyur Theravada BuddhismThe Tipitaka or Pāli Canon Vinaya Pitaka Sutta Pitaka Digha Nikaya, the "long" discourses.
Majjhima Nikaya, the "middle-length" discourses. Samyutta Nikaya, the "connected" discourses. Anguttara Nikaya, the "numerical" discourses. Khuddaka Nikaya, the "minor collection". Abhidhamma PitakaEast Asian Mahayana The Chinese Buddhist Mahayana sutras, including Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra Shurangama Sutra and its Shurangama Mantra Great Compassion Mantra Pure Land Buddhism Infinite Life Sutra Amitabha Sutra Contemplation Sutra other Pure Land Sutras Tiantai and Nichiren Lotus Sutra Shingon Mahavairocana Sutra Vajrasekhara SutraTibeta
Hindus are persons who regard themselves as culturally, ethnically, or religiously adhering to aspects of Hinduism. The term has been used as a geographical and religious identifier for people indigenous to the Indian subcontinent; the historical meaning of the term Hindu has evolved with time. Starting with the Persian and Greek references to the land of the Indus in the 1st millennium BCE through the texts of the medieval era, the term Hindu implied a geographic, ethnic or cultural identifier for people living in the Indian subcontinent around or beyond the Sindhu river. By the 16th century, the term began to refer to residents of the subcontinent who were not Turkic or Muslims; the historical development of Hindu self-identity within the local South Asian population, in a religious or cultural sense, is unclear. Competing theories state that Hindu identity developed in the British colonial era, or that it developed post-8th century CE after the Islamic invasion and medieval Hindu-Muslim wars.
A sense of Hindu identity and the term Hindu appears in some texts dated between the 13th and 18th century in Sanskrit and regional languages. The 14th- and 18th-century Indian poets such as Vidyapati and Eknath used the phrase Hindu dharma and contrasted it with Turaka dharma; the Christian friar Sebastiao Manrique used the term'Hindu' in religious context in 1649. In the 18th century, the European merchants and colonists began to refer to the followers of Indian religions collectively as Hindus, in contrast to Mohamedans for Mughals and Arabs following Islam. By the mid-19th century, colonial orientalist texts further distinguished Hindus from Buddhists and Jains, but the colonial laws continued to consider all of them to be within the scope of the term Hindu until about mid-20th century. Scholars state that the custom of distinguishing between Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs is a modern phenomenon. Hindoo is an archaic spelling variant. At more than 1.03 billion, Hindus are the world's third largest group after Muslims.
The vast majority of Hindus 966 million, live in India, according to India's 2011 census. After India, the next 9 countries with the largest Hindu populations are, in decreasing order: Nepal, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, United States, United Kingdom and Myanmar; these together accounted for 99% of the world's Hindu population, the remaining nations of the world together had about 6 million Hindus in 2010. The word Hindu is derived from the Indo-Aryan and Sanskrit word Sindhu, which means "a large body of water", covering "river, ocean", it was used as the name of the Indus river and referred to its tributaries. The actual term'hindu' first occurs, states Gavin Flood, 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 Punjab region, called Sapta Sindhu in the Vedas, is called Hapta Hindu in Zend Avesta. The 6th-century BCE inscription of Darius I mentions the province of Hidush, referring to northwestern India; the people of India were referred to as Hinduvān and hindavī was used as the adjective for Indian in the 8th century text Chachnama.
The term'Hindu' in these ancient records is an ethno-geographical term and did not refer to a religion. The Arabic equivalent Al-Hind referred to the country of India. 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 the Buddhist scholar Xuanzang. Xuanzang uses the transliterated term In-tu whose "connotation overflows in the religious" according to Arvind Sharma. While Xuanzang suggested that the term refers to the country named after the moon, another Buddhist scholar I-tsing contradicted the conclusion saying that In-tu was not a common name for the country. Al-Biruni's 11th-century text Tarikh Al-Hind, the texts of the Delhi Sultanate period use the term'Hindu', where it includes all non-Islamic people such as Buddhists, retains the ambiguity of being "a region or a religion". The'Hindu' community occurs as the amorphous'Other' of the Muslim community in the court chronicles, according to Romila Thapar.
Wilfred Cantwell Smith notes that'Hindu' retained its geographical reference initially:'Indian','indigenous, local', virtually'native'. The Indian groups themselves started using the term, differentiating themselves and their "traditional ways" from those of the invaders; the text Prithviraj Raso, by Chanda Baradai, about the 1192 CE defeat of Prithviraj Chauhan at the hands of Muhammad Ghori, is full of references to "Hindus" and "Turks", at one stage, says "both the religions have drawn their curved swords. In Islamic literature,'Abd al-Malik Isami's Persian work, Futuhu's-salatin, composed in the Deccan in 1350, uses the word'hindi' to mean Indian in the ethno-geographical sense and the word'hindu' to mean'Hindu' in the sense of a follower of the Hindu religion"; the poet Vidyapati's poem Kirtilata contrasts the cultures of Hindus and Turks in a city and concludes "The Hindus and the Turks live close together. One of the earliest uses of word'Hindu' in religious context in a European language, was the publication in 1649 by Sebastiao Manrique.
Other prominent mentions of'Hindu' include the epigraphical inscriptions from Andhra Pradesh kingdoms who battled military expansion of Muslim dynasties in the 14th century, where the word'Hindu' implies a religious identity in contrast to'Turks' or Islam
Yoga Vasistha is a philosophical text attributed to Valmiki, although the real author is unknown. The complete text contains over 29,000 verses; the short version of the text contains 6,000 verses. The exact century of its completion is unknown, but has been estimated to be somewhere between 6th-century to as late as 14th-century, but it is that a version of the text existed in the 1st millennium; the text is named after sage Vasistha, mentioned and revered in the seventh book of the Rigveda, and, called as the first sage of the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy by Adi Shankara. The text is structured as a discourse of sage Vasistha to Prince Rama; the text consists of six books. The first book presents Rama's frustration with the nature of life, human suffering and disdain for the world; the second describes, through the character of Rama, the desire for liberation and the nature of those who seek such liberation. The third and fourth books assert that liberation comes through a spiritual life, one that requires self-effort, present cosmology and metaphysical theories of existence embedded in stories.
These two books are known for emphasizing human creative power. The fifth book discusses meditation and its powers in liberating the individual, while the last book describes the state of an enlightened and blissful Rama. Yoga Vasistha teachings are structured as stories and fables, with a philosophical foundation similar to those found in Advaita Vedanta, is associated with drsti-srsti subschool of Advaita which holds that the "whole world of things is the object of mind"; the text is notable for expounding the principles of Maya and Brahman, as well as the principles of non-duality, its discussion of Yoga. The short form of the text was translated into Persian by the 15th-century. Yoga Vasistha is famous as one of the popular and influential texts of Hinduism. Other names of this text are Maha-Ramayana, Arsha Ramayana, Vasiṣṭha Ramayana, Yogavasistha-Ramayana and Jnanavasistha; the name Vasistha in the title of the text refers to Rishi Vasistha. The term Yoga in the text refers to the underlying Yogic theme in its stories and dialogues, the term is used in a generic sense to include all forms of yoga in the pursuit of liberation, in the style of Bhagavad Gita.
The long version of the text is called Brihat Yoga Vasistha, wherein Brihat means "great or large". The short version of the text is called Laghu Yoga Vasishta, wherein Laghu means "short or small"; the longer version is referred to as Yoga Vasistha and by numerous other names such as Vasiṣṭha Ramayana. The date or century of the text's composition or compilation is unknown, variously estimated from the content and references it makes to other literature, other schools of Indian philosophies. Scholars agree that the surviving editions of the text were composed in the common era, but disagree whether it was completed in the first millennium or second. Estimates range, states Chapple, from "as early as the sixth or seventh century, to as late as the fourteenth century"; the surviving text mentions Vijnanavada and Madhyamika schools of Buddhism by name, suggesting that the corresponding sections were composed after those schools were established, or about 5th-century. The translation of a version of the text in 14th- to 15th-century into Persian, has been the basis of the other limit, among scholars such as Farquhar in 1922.
Atreya in 1935 suggested that the text must have preceded Gaudapada and Adi Shankara, because it does not use their terminology, but does mention many Buddhist terms. Dasgupta, a contemporary of Atreya, states that the text includes verses of earlier text, such as its III.16.50 is identical to one found in Kalidasa's Kumarasambhava, thus the text must be placed after the 5th-century. Dasgupta adds that the philosophy and ideas presented in Yoga Vasistha mirror those of found in Advaita Vedanta of Adi Shankara, but neither mention the other, which means that the author of Yoga Vasistha were scholars who lived in the same century as Shankara, placing the text in about 7th- to early 8th-century; the shorter summary version of the text is attributed to the Kashmiri scholar Abhinanda, variously dated to have lived in 9th- or 10th-century. Mainkar states that Yoga Vasistha evolved over time; the first work, states Mainkar, was the original ancient work of Vasistha, an Upanishad with Brahamanical ideas, a work, lost.
This text was, suggests Mainkar, was expanded into Moksopaya in or after 6th-century, now known as Laghu-Yogavasistha. The Laghu version was expanded into the full editions, over time, in the centuries that followed the completion of Laghu-Yogavasistha; the syncretic incorporation of Buddhism and Hinduism ideas happened in the Laghu-Yogavasistha edition, states Mainkar, while ideas from Kashmiri Shaivism the Trika school, were added to the growing version by the 12th-century. Similar serial expansion and interpolation is typical in Indian literature. Peter Thomi has published additional evidence in support Mainkar's theory on Yoga Vasistha's chronology; the oldest surviving manuscript of the Moksopaya has been dated to have been composed in Srinagar in the 10th century AD. The text is traditionally attributed to the author of Ramayana. Scholars doubt the larger version of the text was authored by Valmiki, consider the attribution as a mark of modest respect and reverence for him in the Hindu tradition by the actual unknown author or compiler.
The author of the shorter version, the Laghu-Yogavasistha, is considered to be Abhinanda of Kashmir. The text exists in many editions of manuscrip
In modern English, the term cult has come to refer to a social group defined by its unusual religious, spiritual, or philosophical beliefs, or its common interest in a particular personality, object or goal. This sense of the term is controversial and it has divergent definitions in both popular culture and academia and it has been an ongoing source of contention among scholars across several fields of study, it is considered pejorative. In the sociological classifications of religious movements, a cult is a social group with deviant or novel beliefs and practices, although this is unclear. Other researchers present a less-organized picture of cults, saying that they arise spontaneously around novel beliefs and practices. Groups said to be cults range in size from local groups with a few members to international organizations with millions. An older sense of the word cult—covered in a different article—is a set of religious devotional practices that are conventional within their culture and related to a particular figure, associated with a particular place.
References to the "cult" of, for example, a particular Catholic saint, or the imperial cult of ancient Rome, use this sense of the word. Beginning in the 1930s, cults became the object of sociological study in the context of the study of religious behavior. From the 1940s the Christian countercult movement has opposed some sects and new religious movements, it labelled them as cults for their "un-Christian" unorthodox beliefs; the secular anti-cult movement began in the 1970s and it opposed certain groups charging them with mind control and motivated in reaction to acts of violence committed by some of their members. Some of the claims and actions of the anti-cult movement have been disputed by scholars and by the news media, leading to further public controversy; the term "new religious movement" refers to religions. Many, but not all of them, have been considered to be cults. Sub-categories of cults include: Doomsday cults, personality cults, political cults, destructive cults, racist cults, polygamist cults, terrorist cults.
Various national governments have reacted to cult-related issues in different ways, this has sometimes led to controversy. English-speakers used the word "cult" not to describe a group of religionists, but to refer to the act of worship or to a religious ceremony; the English term originated in the early 17th century, borrowed via the French culte, from the Latin noun cultus. The word derived from the Latin adjective cultus, based on the verb colere. While the literal original sense of the word in English remains in use, a derived sense of "excessive devotion" arose in the 19th century; the terms cult and cultist came into use in medical literature in the United States in the 1930s for what would now be termed "faith healing" as practised in the US Holiness movement. This usage experienced a surge of popularity at the time, extended to other forms of alternative medicine as well. In the English-speaking world the word "cult" carries derogatory connotations, it has always been controversial because it is considered a subjective term, used as an ad hominem attack against groups with differing doctrines or practices.
In the 1970s, with the rise of secular anti-cult movements, scholars began abandoning the term "cult". According to The Oxford Handbook of Religious Movements, "by the end of the decade, the term'new religions' would replace'cult' to describe all of those leftover groups that did not fit under the label of church or sect."Sociologist Amy Ryan has argued for the need to differentiate those groups that may be dangerous from groups that are more benign. Ryan notes the sharp differences between definition from cult opponents, who tend to focus on negative characteristics, those of sociologists, who aim to create definitions that are value-free; the movements themselves may have different definitions of religion as well. George Chryssides cites a need to develop better definitions to allow for common ground in the debate. In Defining Religion in American Law, Bruce J. Casino presents the issue as crucial to international human rights laws. Limiting the definition of religion may interfere with freedom of religion, while too broad a definition may give some dangerous or abusive groups "a limitless excuse for avoiding all unwanted legal obligations".
Religion scholar Megan Goodwin defined the term cult when used by laymen as being a shorthand that means a "religion I don't like". A new religious movement is a religious community or spiritual group of modern origins, which has a peripheral place within its society's dominant religious culture. NRMs can be novel in origin or part of a wider religion, in which case they are distinct from pre-existing denominations. In 1999 Eileen Barker estimated that NRMs, of which some but not all have been labelled as cults, number in the tens of thousands worldwide, most of which originated in Asia or Africa. In 2007 the religious scholar Elijah Siegler commented that, although no NRM had become the dominant faith in any country, many of the concepts which they had first introduced have become part of worldwide mainstream culture. Sociologist Max Weber found that cults based on charismatic leadership follow the routinization of charisma; the concept of a "cult" as a sociological classification was introduced in 1932 by American sociologist Howard P. Becker as a