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
Sannyasa is the life stage of renunciation within the Hindu philosophy of four age-based life stages known as ashramas, with the first three being Brahmacharya and Vanaprastha. Sannyasa is traditionally conceptualized for men or women in late years of their life, but young brahmacharis have had the choice to skip the householder and retirement stages, renounce worldly and materialistic pursuits and dedicate their lives to spiritual pursuits. Sannyasa is a form of asceticism, is marked by renunciation of material desires and prejudices, represented by a state of disinterest and detachment from material life, has the purpose of spending one's life in peaceful, love-inspired, simple spiritual life. An individual in Sanyasa is known as a Sannyasi or Sannyasini in Hinduism, which in many ways parallel to the Sadhu and Sadhvi traditions of Jain monasticism, the bhikkhus and bhikkhunis of Buddhism and the monk and nun traditions of Christianity. Sannyasa has been a stage of renunciation, ahimsa peaceful and simple life and spiritual pursuit in Indian traditions.
However, this has not always been the case. After the invasions and establishment of Muslim rule in India, from the 12th century through the British Raj, parts of the Shaiva and Vaishnava ascetics metamorphosed into a military order, to rebel against persecution, where they developed martial arts, created military strategies, engaged in guerrilla warfare; these warrior sanyasis played an important role in helping European colonial powers establish themselves in the Indian subcontinent. Saṃnyāsa in Sanskrit nyasa means purification, sannyasa means "Purification of Everything", it is a composite word of saṃ- which means "together, all", ni- which means "down" and āsa from the root as, meaning "to throw" or "to put". A literal translation of Sannyāsa is thus "to put down everything, all of it". Sannyasa is sometimes spelled as Sanyasa; the term Saṃnyasa makes appearance in the Samhitas and Brahmanas, the earliest layers of Vedic literature, but it is rare. It is not found in ancient Buddhist or Jaina vocabularies, only appears in Brahmanical literature of the 1st millennium BCE, in the context of those who have given up ritual activity and taken up non-ritualistic spiritual pursuits discussed in the Upanishads.
The term Sannyasa evolves into a rite of renunciation in ancient Sutra texts, thereafter became a recognized, well discussed stage of life by about the 3rd and 4th century CE. In Dravidian languages, "sannyasi" is pronounced as "sanyasi" and "sannasi" in colloquial form. Sanyasis are known as Bhiksu, Pravrajita/Pravrajitā, Yati and Parivrajaka in Hindu texts. Jamison and Witzel state early Vedic texts make no mention of Sannyasa, or Ashrama system, unlike the concepts of Brahmacharin and Grihastha which they do mention. Instead, Rig Veda uses the term Antigriha in hymn 10.95.4, still part of extended family, where older people lived in ancient India, with an outwardly role. It is in Vedic era and over time and other new concepts emerged, while older ideas evolved and expanded. A three-stage Ashrama concept along with Vanaprastha emerged about or after 7th Century BC, when sages such as Yājñavalkya left their homes and roamed around as spiritual recluses and pursued their Pravrajika lifestyle.
The explicit use of the four stage Ashrama concept, appeared a few centuries later. However, early Vedic literature from 2nd millennium BC, mentions Muni, with characteristics that mirror those found in Sannyasins and Sannyasinis. Rig Veda, for example, in Book 10 Chapter 136, mentions munis as those with Kesin and Mala clothes engaged in the affairs of Mananat. Rigveda, refers to these people as Muni and Vati. केश्यग्निं केशी विषं केशी बिभर्ति रोदसी । केशी विश्वं स्वर्दृशे केशीदं ज्योतिरुच्यते ॥१॥ मुनयो वातरशनाः पिशङ्गा वसते मला । वातस्यानु ध्राजिं यन्ति यद्देवासो अविक्षत ॥२॥ He with the long loose locks supports Agni, moisture and earth. The Munis, girdled with the wind, wear garments of soil hue; these Munis, their lifestyle and spiritual pursuit influenced the Sannyasa concept, as well as the ideas behind the ancient concept of Brahmacharya. One class of Munis were associated with Rudra. Another were Vratyas. Hinduism has no formal demands nor requirements on the lifestyle or spiritual discipline, method or deity a Sanyasin or Sanyasini must pursue – it is left to the choice and preferences of the individual.
This freedom has led to diversity and significant differences in the lifestyle and goals of those who adopt Sannyasa. There are, some common themes. A person in Sannyasa lives a simple life detached, drifting from place to place, with no material possessions or emotional attachments, they may have a walking stick, a book, a container or vessel for food and drink wearing yellow, orange, ochre or soil colored clothes. They may have long hair and appear disheveled, are vegetarians; some minor Upanishads as well as monastic orders consider women, students, fallen men and others as not qualified to become Sannyasa. The dress, the equipage and lifestyle varies between groups. For example, Sannyasa Upanishad in verses 2.23 to 2.29, identifies six lifestyles for six types of renunciates. One of them is descri
Saraswati is the Hindu goddess of knowledge, art and learning. She is a part of the trinity of Saraswati and Parvati. All the three forms help the trinity of Brahma and Shiva to create and regenerate-recycle the Universe, respectively; the earliest known mention of Saraswati as a goddess is in the Rigveda. She has remained significant as a goddess from the Vedic period through modern times of Hindu traditions; some Hindus celebrate the festival of Vasant Panchami in her honour, mark the day by helping young children learn how to write the letters of the alphabet on that day. The Goddess is revered by believers of the Jain religion of west and central India, as well as some Buddhist sects. Saraswati, is a Sanskrit fusion word of saras meaning "pooling water", but sometimes translated as "speech". Associated with the river or rivers known as Saraswati, this combination therefore means "she who has ponds and pooling water" or "she who possesses speech", it is a Sanskrit composite word of surasa-vati which means "one with plenty of water".
The word Saraswati appears both as a significant deity in the Rigveda. In initial passages, the word refers to the Sarasvati River and is mentioned as one among several northwestern Indian rivers such as the Drishadvati. Saraswati connotes a river deity. In Book 2, the Rigveda describes Saraswati as the best of mothers, of rivers, of goddesses. अम्बितमे नदीतमे देवितमे सरस्वति — Rigveda 2.41.16Best of mothers, best of rivers, best of goddesses, Sarasvatī. Saraswati is celebrated as a feminine deity with healing and purifying powers of abundant, flowing waters in Book 10 of the Rigveda, as follows: अपो अस्मान मातरः शुन्धयन्तु घर्तेन नो घर्तप्वः पुनन्तु | विश्वं हि रिप्रं परवहन्ति देविरुदिदाभ्यः शुचिरापूत एमि || — Rigveda 10.17May the waters, the mothers, cleanse us, may they who purify with butter, purify us with butter, for these goddesses bear away defilement, I come up out of them pure and cleansed. — translated by John Muir In Vedic literature, Saraswati acquires the same significance for early Indians as that accredited to the river Ganges by their modern descendants.
In hymns of Book 10 of Rigveda, she is declared to be the "possessor of knowledge". Her importance grows in Vedas composed after Rigveda and in Brahmanas, the word evolves in its meaning from "waters that purify", to "that which purifies", to "vach that purifies", to "knowledge that purifies", into a spiritual concept of a goddess that embodies knowledge, music, muse, rhetoric, creative work and anything whose flow purifies the essence and self of a person. In Upanishads and Dharma Sastras, Saraswati is invoked to remind the reader to meditate on virtue, virtuous emoluments, the meaning and the essence of one's activity, one's action. Saraswati is known by many names in ancient Hindu literature; some examples of synonyms for Saraswati include Brahmani, Bharadi and Vachi, Kavijihvagravasini. Goddess Saraswati is known as Vidyadatri, Pustakdharini, Veenapani and Vagdevi. In the Hindi language, her name is written Hindi: सरस्वती. In the Telugu, Sarasvati is known as Chaduvula Thalli and Shārada.
In Konkani, she is referred to as Shārada, Pustakadhārini, Vidyadāyini. In Kannada, variants of her name include Sharade, Sharadamba, Vāni, Veenapani in the famous Sringeri temple. In Tamil, she is known as Kalaimagal, Kalaivāni, Vāni and Bharathi, she is addressed as Sāradā, Shāradā, Veenā-pustaka-dhārini, Vāgdevi, Vāgishvari, Vāni, Varadhanāyaki, Sāvitri, Gāyatri. In India, she is locally spelled as ￼￼Assamese_language:সৰস্বতী,Saraswati, Bengali: সরস্বতী, Saraswati?, Malayalam: സരസ്വതി, Saraswati?, Tamil: சரஸ்வதி, Sarasvatī?. In Odia as ସରସ୍ଵତୀ Saraswati. Outside Nepal and India, she is known in Burmese as Thurathadi or Tipitaka Medaw, in Chinese as Biàncáitiān, in Japanese as Benzaiten and in Thai as Suratsawadi or Saratsawadi. In Hindu tradition, Sarasvati has retained her significance as a goddess from the Vedic age up to the present day. In Shanti Parva of the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Saraswati is called the mother of the Vedas, as the celestial creative symphony who appeared when Brahma created the universe.
In Book 2 of Taittiriya Brahmana, she is called “the mother of eloquent speech and melodious music”. Saraswati is the active power of Brahma, she is mentioned in many minor Sanskrit publications such as Sarada Tilaka of 8th century CE as follows, May the goddess of speech enable us to attain all possible eloquence, she who wears on her locks a young mo
Kali known as Kālikā or Shyāmā, is a Hindu goddess. Kali is one of a list which combines Sakta and Buddhist goddesses. Kali's earliest appearance is that of a destroyer of evil forces, she is the goddess of one of the four subcategories of a category of tantric Saivism. Over time, she has been worshipped by devotional movements and tantric sects variously as the Divine Mother, Mother of the Universe, Adi Shakti, or Adi Parashakti. Shakta Hindu and Tantric sects additionally worship her as Brahman, she is seen as divine protector and the one who bestows moksha, or liberation. Kali is portrayed standing or dancing on her consort, the Hindu god Shiva, who lies calm and prostrate beneath her. Kali is worshipped by Hindus throughout India in West Bengal. Kālī is the feminine form of "time" or "the fullness of time" with the masculine noun "kāla"—and by extension, time as "changing aspect of nature that bring things to life or death." Other names include Kālarātri, Kālikā. The homonymous kāla, "appointed time," is distinct from kāla "deep blue," but became associated through popular etymology.
The association is seen in a passage from the Mahābhārata, depicting a female figure who carries away the spirits of slain warriors and animals. She is called kālarātri and kālī. Kālī is the feminine form of Kāla, an epithet of Shiva, thus the consort of Shiva. Hugh Urban notes that although the word Kālī appears as early as the Atharva Veda, the first use of it as a proper name is in the Kathaka Grhya Sutra. Kali appears in the Mundaka Upanishad not explicitly as a goddess, but as the dark blue tongue of the seven flickering tongues of Agni, the Hindu god of fire. According to David Kinsley, Kāli is first mentioned in Hindu tradition as a distinct goddess around 600 AD, these texts "usually place her on the periphery of Hindu society or on the battlefield." She is regarded as the Shakti of Shiva, is associated with him in various Puranas. Her most well known appearance on the battlefield is in the sixth century Devi Mahatmyam; the deity of the first chapter of Devi Mahatmyam is Mahakali, who appears from the body of sleeping Vishnu as goddess Yoga Nidra to wake him up in order to protect Brahma and the World from two demons Madhu and Kaitabha.
When Vishnu woke up he started a war against the two demons. After a long battle with lord Vishnu when the two demons were undefeated Mahakali took the form of Mahamaya to enchant the two asuras; when Madhu and Kaitabha were enchanted by Mahakali, Vishnu killed them. In chapters the story of two demons can be found who were destroyed by Kali. Chanda and Munda attack the goddess Durga. Durga responds with such anger, causing her face to turn dark resulting in Kali appearing out of her forehead. Kali's appearance is dark blue, gaunt with sunken eyes, wearing a tiger skin and a garland of human heads, she defeats the two demons. In the same battle, the demon Raktabija is undefeated because of his ability to reproduce himself from every drop of his blood that reaches the ground. Countless Raktabija clones appear on the battlefield. Kali defeats him by sucking his blood before it can reach the ground, eating the numerous clones. Kinsley writes that Kali represents "Durga's personified wrath, her embodied fury."Other origin stories involve Parvati and Shiva.
Parvati is portrayed as a benign and friendly goddess. The Linga Purana describes Shiva asking Parvati to defeat the demon Daruka, who received a boon that would only allow a female to kill him. Parvati merges with Shiva's body, reappearing as Kali to defeat his armies, her bloodlust gets out of control. The Vamana Purana has a different version of Kali's relationship with Parvati; when Shiva addresses Parvati as Kali, "the dark blue one," she is offended. Parvati becomes Gauri, the golden one, her dark sheath becomes. Regarding the relationship between Kali and Shiva, Kinsley writes that: In relation to Shiva, she appears to play the opposite role from that of Parvati. Parvati calms Shiva, counterbalancing his destructive tendencies. Kali is Shiva's "other wife," as it were, provoking him and encouraging him in his mad, disruptive habits, it is never Shiva who must calm Kali. Kāli appears in the Death of the Mahabharata, she is called Kālarātri and appears to the Pandava soldiers in dreams, until she appears amidst the fighting during an attack by Drona's son Ashwatthama.
Another story involving Kali is her escapade with a band of thieves. The thieves wanted to make a human sacrifice to Kali, unwisely chose a saintly Brahmin monk as their victim; the radiance of the young monk was so much that it burned the image of Kali, who took living form and killed the entire band of thieves, decapitating them and drinking their blood. In Kāli's most famous legend and her assistants, the Matrikas, wound the demon Raktabija, in various ways and with a variety of weapons in an attempt to destroy him, they soon find that they have worsened the situation for with every drop of blood that is
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
Lakshmi or Laxmi, is the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity. She is the wife and shakti of Vishnu, one of the principal deities of Hinduism and the Supreme Being in the Vaishnavism Tradition. With Parvati and Saraswati, she forms the holy trinity. Lakshmi is an important deity in Jainism and found in Jain temples. Lakshmi has been a goddess of abundance and fortune for Buddhists, was represented on the oldest surviving stupas and cave temples of Buddhism. In Buddhist sects of Tibet and southeast Asia, goddess Vasudhara mirrors the characteristics and attributes of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi with minor iconographic differences. Lakshmi is called Sri or Thirumagal because she is endowed with six auspicious and divine qualities, or gunas, is the divine strength of Vishnu. In Hindu religion, she was born from the churning of the primordial ocean and she chose Vishnu as her eternal consort; when Vishnu descended on the Earth as the avatars Rama and Krishna, Lakshmi descended as his respective consort as Sita and Rukmini.
In the ancient scriptures of India, all women are declared to be embodiments of Lakshmi. The marriage and relationship between Lakshmi and Vishnu as wife and husband is the paradigm for rituals and ceremonies for the bride and groom in Hindu weddings. Lakshmi is considered another aspect of the same supreme goddess principle in the Shaktism tradition of Hinduism. Lakshmi is depicted in Indian art as an elegantly dressed, prosperity-showering golden-coloured woman with an owl as her vehicle, signifying the importance of economic activity in maintenance of life, her ability to move and prevail in confusing darkness, she stands or sits like a yogin on a lotus pedestal and holds lotus in her hand, a symbolism for fortune, self-knowledge and spiritual liberation. Her iconography shows her with four hands, which represent the four goals of human life considered important to the Hindu way of life: dharma, kāma, artha and moksha, she is depicted as part of the trinity consisting of Saraswati and Parvati.
Archaeological discoveries and ancient coins suggest the recognition and reverence for Lakshmi by the 1st millennium BCE. Lakshmi's iconography and statues have been found in Hindu temples throughout southeast Asia, estimated to be from the second half of the 1st millennium CE; the festivals of Diwali and Sharad Purnima are celebrated in her honor. Lakshmi is one of many Hindu deities whose meaning and significance evolved in ancient Sanskrit texts. Lakshmi is mentioned once in Rigveda, where it means kindred sign of auspicious fortune. भद्रैषां लक्ष्मीर्निहिताधि वाचिbhadraiṣāṁ lakṣmīrnihitādhi vāci"an auspicious fortune is attached to their words" In Atharvaveda, transcribed about 1000 BCE, Lakshmi evolves into a complex concept with plural manifestations. Book 7, Chapter 115 of Atharva Veda describes the plurality, asserting that a hundred Lakshmis are born with the body of a mortal at birth, some good and auspicious, while others bad and unfortunate; the good are welcomed. The concept and spirit of Lakshmi and her association with fortune and the good is significant enough that Atharva Veda mentions it in multiple books: for example, in Book 12, Chapter 5 as punya Lakshmi.
In some chapters of Atharva Veda, Lakshmi connotes the good, an auspicious sign, good luck, good fortune, prosperity and happiness. Lakshmi is referred to as the goddess of fortune, identified with Sri and regarded as wife of Viṣṇu. For example, in Shatapatha Brahmana, variously estimated to be composed between 800 BCE and 300 BCE, Sri is part of one of many theories, in ancient India, about the creation of universe. In Book 9 of Shatapatha Brahmana, Sri emerges from Prajapati, after his intense meditation on creation of life and nature of universe. Sri is described as a trembling woman at her birth with immense energy and powers; the gods were bewitched, desire her and become covetous of her. The gods approach Prajapati and request permission to kill her and take her powers and gifts. Prajapati refuses, tells the gods that males should not kill females and that they can seek her gifts without violence; the gods approach Lakshmi, deity Agni gets food, Soma gets kingly authority, Varuna gets imperial authority, Mitra acquires martial energy, Indra gets force, Brihaspati gets priestly authority, Savitri acquires dominion, Pushan gets splendour, Saraswati takes nourishment and Tvashtri gets forms.
The hymns of Shatapatha Brahmana thus describe Sri as a goddess born with and personifying a diverse range of talents and powers. According to another legend, she emerges during the creation of universe, floating over the water on the expanded petals of a lotus flower. In the Epics of Hinduism, such as in Mahabharata, Lakshmi personifies wealth, happiness, grace and splendour. In another Hindu legend, about the creation of universe as described in Ramayana, Lakshmi springs with other precious things from the foam of the ocean of milk when it is churned by the gods and demons for the recovery of Amṛta, she appeared with a lotus in her hand and so she is called Padmā. Root of the wordLakshmi in Sanskrit is derived from the root word lakṣ and lakṣa, meaning to perceive, know and goal, objective respectively; these roots give Lakshmi the symbolism: know and understand