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
The Indus River is one of the longest rivers in Asia. Originating in the Tibetan Plateau in the vicinity of Lake Manasarovar, the river runs a course through the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, India towards the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan and the Hindukush ranges, flows in a southerly direction along the entire length of Pakistan to merge into the Arabian Sea near the port city of Karachi in Sindh, it is the longest river and national river of Pakistan. The river has a total drainage area exceeding 1,165,000 km2, its estimated annual flow stands at around 243 km3, twice that of the Nile River and three times that of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers combined, making it one of the largest rivers in the world in terms of annual flow. The Zanskar is its left bank tributary in Ladakh. In the plains, its left bank tributary is the Panjnad which itself has five major tributaries, the Chenab, the Ravi, the Beas, the Sutlej, its principal right bank tributaries are the Shyok, the Gilgit, the Kabul, the Gomal, the Kurram.
Beginning in a mountain spring and fed with glaciers and rivers in the Himalayas, the river supports ecosystems of temperate forests and arid countryside. The northern part of the Indus Valley, with its tributaries, forms the Punjab region, while the lower course of the Indus is known as Sindh and ends in a large delta; the river has been important to many cultures of the region. The 3rd millennium BC saw the rise of a major urban civilization of the Bronze Age. During the 2nd millennium BC, the Punjab region was mentioned in the hymns of the Hindu Rigveda as Sapta Sindhu and the Zoroastrian Avesta as Hapta Hindu. Early historical kingdoms that arose in the Indus Valley include Gandhāra, the Ror dynasty of Sauvīra; the Indus River came into the knowledge of the West early in the Classical Period, when King Darius of Persia sent his Greek subject Scylax of Caryanda to explore the river, ca. 515 BC. This river was known to the ancient Indians in Sanskrit as Sindhu and the Persians as Hindu, regarded by both of them as "the border river".
The variation between the two names is explained by the Old Iranian sound change *s > h, which occurred between 850–600 BCE according to Asko Parpola. From the Persian Achaemenid Empire, the name passed to the Greeks as Indós, it was adopted by the Romans as Indus. The meaning of Sindhu as a "large body of water, sea, or ocean" is a meaning in Classical Sanskrit. A Persian name for the river was Darya, which has the connotations of large body of water and sea. Other variants of the name Sindhu include Assyrian Sinda, Persian Ab-e-sind, Pashto Abasind, Arab Al-Sind, Chinese Sintow, Javanese Santri. India is a Greek and Latin term for "the country of the River Indus"; the region through which the river drains into sea owes its name to the river. Megasthenes' book Indica derives its name from the river's Greek name, "Indós", describes Nearchus's contemporaneous account of how Alexander the Great crossed the river; the ancient Greeks referred to the Indians as "Indói" meaning "the people of the Indus".
The Rigveda describes several rivers, including one named "Sindhu". The Rigvedic "Sindhu" is thought to be the present-day Indus river, it is attested 176 times in its text, 94 times in the plural, most used in the generic sense of "river". In the Rigveda, notably in the hymns, the meaning of the word is narrowed to refer to the Indus river in particular, e.g. in the list of rivers mentioned in the hymn of Nadistuti sukta. The Rigvedic hymns apply a feminine gender to all the rivers mentioned therein, except the Bramhaputra and the "Sindhu" which carry the masculine gender; this gender usage could mean that the Sindhu river was believed to be a warrior, thus one of the greatest among all the rivers in the whole world. In other languages of the region, the river is known as सिन्धु in Hindi and Nepali, سنڌو in Sindhi, سندھ in Shahmukhi Punjabi, ਸਿੰਧ ਨਦੀ in Gurmukhī Punjabi, اباسين in Pashto, نهر السند in Arabic, སེང་གེ་གཙང་པོ། in Tibetan, 印度 in Chinese, Nilab in Turki; the Indus River provides key water resources for Pakistan's economy – the breadbasket of Punjab province, which accounts for most of the nation's agricultural production, Sindh.
The word Punjab means "land of five rivers" and the five rivers are Jhelum, Ravi and Sutlej, all of which flow into the Indus. The Indus supports many heavy industries and provides the main supply of potable water in Pakistan; the ultimate source of the Indus is in Tibet. The Indus flows northwest through Ladakh and Baltistan into Gilgit, just south of the Karakoram range; the Shyok and Gilgit rivers carry glacial waters into the main river. It bends to the south and descends into the Punjab plains at Kalabagh, Pakistan; the Indus passes gigantic gorges 4,500–5,200 metres deep near the Nanga Parbat massif. It is dammed at the Tarbela Reservoir; the Kabul River joins it near Attock. The remainder of its route to the sea is in the plains of the Punjab and Sindh, where the flow of the river becomes slow and braided, it is joined by the Panjnad at Mithankot. Beyond this confluence, the river, at one tim
Vishnu is one of the principal deities of Hinduism, the Supreme Being or absolute truth in its Vaishnavism tradition. Vishnu is the "preserver" in the Hindu triad that includes Shiva. In Vaishnavism, Vishnu is identical to the formless metaphysical concept called Brahman, the supreme, the Svayam Bhagavan, who takes various avatars as "the preserver, protector" whenever the world is threatened with evil and destructive forces, his avatars most notably include Rama in the Krishna in the Mahabharata. He is known as Narayana, Vasudeva and Hari, he is one of the five equivalent deities worshipped in Panchayatana puja of the Smarta Tradition of Hinduism. In Hindu iconography, Vishnu is depicted as having a pale or dark blue complexion and having four arms, he holds a padma in his lower left hand, Kaumodaki gada in his lower right hand, Panchajanya shankha in his upper left hand and the Sudarshana Chakra in his upper right hand. A traditional depiction is Vishnu reclining on the coils of the serpent Shesha, accompanied by his consort Lakshmi, as he "dreams the universe into reality".
Yaska, the mid 1st-millennium BCE Vedanga scholar, in his Nirukta, defines Vishnu as viṣṇur viṣvater vā vyaśnoter vā, "one who enters everywhere". He writes, atha yad viṣito bhavati tad viṣnurbhavati, "that, free from fetters and bondages is Vishnu"; the medieval Indian scholar Medhātithi suggested that the word Vishnu has etymological roots in viś, meaning to pervade, thereby connoting that Vishnu is "one, everything and inside everything". Vishnu means "all pervasive". Vishnu is a Vedic deity, but not a prominent one when compared to Indra and others. Just 5 out of 1028 hymns of the Rigveda, a 2nd millennium BCE Hindu text, are dedicated to Vishnu, he finds minor mention in the other hymns. Vishnu is mentioned in the Brahmana layer of text in the Vedas, thereafter his profile rises and over the history of Indian mythology, states Jan Gonda, Vishnu becomes a divinity of the highest rank, one equivalent to the Supreme Being. Though a minor mention and with overlapping attributes in the Vedas, he has important characteristics in various hymns of Rig Veda, such as 1.154.5, 1.56.3 and 10.15.3.
In these hymns, the Vedic mythology asserts that Vishnu resides in that highest home where departed Atman reside, an assertion that may have been the reason for his increasing emphasis and popularity in Hindu soteriology. He is described in the Vedic literature as the one who supports heaven and earth. In the Vedic hymns, Vishnu is invoked alongside other deities Indra, whom he helps in killing the symbol of evil named Vritra, his distinguishing characteristic in Vedas is his association with light. Two Rigvedic hymns in Mandala 7 refer to Vishnu. In section 7.99 of the Rgveda, Vishnu is addressed as the god who separates heaven and earth, a characteristic he shares with Indra. In the Vedic texts, the deity or god referred to as Vishnu is Surya or Savitr, who bears the name Suryanarayana. Again, this link to Surya is a characteristic Vishnu shares with fellow Vedic deities named Mitra and Agni, where in different hymns, they too "bring men together" and cause all living beings to rise up and impel them to go about their daily activities.
In hymn 7.99 of Rigveda, Indra-Vishnu are equivalent and produce the sun, with the verses asserting that this sun is the source of all energy and light for all. In other hymns of the Rigveda, Vishnu is a close friend of Indra. Elsewhere in Rigveda and Upanishadic texts, Vishnu is equivalent to Prajapati, both are described as the protector and preparer of the womb, according to Klaus Klostermaier, this may be the root behind post-Vedic fusion of all the attributes of the Vedic Prajapati unto the avatars of Vishnu. In the Yajurveda, Taittiriya Aranyaka, Narayana sukta, Narayana is mentioned as the supreme being; the first verse of Narayana Suktam mentions the words paramam padam, which mean highest post and may be understood as the supreme abode for all souls. This is known as Param Dhama, Paramapadam or Vaikuntha. Rig Veda 1.22.20 mentions the same paramam padam. In the Atharvaveda, the mythology of a boar who raises goddess earth from the depths of cosmic ocean appears, but without the word Vishnu or his alternate avatar names.
In post-Vedic mythology, this legend becomes one of the basis of many cosmogonic myth called the Varaha legend, with Varaha as an avatar of Vishnu. Several hymns of the Rigveda repeat the mighty deed of Vishnu called the Trivikrama, one of the lasting mythologies in Hinduism since the Vedic times, it is an inspiration for ancient artwork in numerous Hindu temples such as at the Ellora Caves, which depict the Trivikrama legend through the Vamana avatar of Vishnu. Trivikrama refers to "three strides" of Vishnu. Starting as a small insignificant looking being, Vishnu undertakes a herculean task of establishing his reach and form with his first step covers the earth, with second the ether, the third entire heaven; the Vishnu Sukta 1.154 of Rigveda says that the first and second of Vishnu's strides are visible to the mortals and the third is the realm of the immortals. The Trivikrama describing hymns integrate salvific themes, stating Vishnu to symbolize that, freedom and life; the Shatapatha Brahmana elaborates this theme of Vishnu, as his herculean effort and sacrifice to create and gain powers that help others, one who realizes and defeats the evil symbolized by the Asuras after they had usurped the three worlds, thus Vishnu is the savior of the mortals and
Shaktism is a major tradition of Hinduism, wherein the metaphysical reality is considered metaphorically feminine and Adi Parashakti is supreme. It includes a variety of Goddesses, all considered aspects of the same supreme Goddess. Shaktism has different sub-traditions, ranging from those focused on gracious Gauri to fierce Kali, some Shakti sub-traditions associate their Goddess with Shiva or Brahma or Vishnu; the Sruti and Smriti texts of Hinduism are an important historical framework of the Shaktism tradition. In addition, it reveres the texts Devi Mahatmya, the Devi-Bhagavata Purana, Mahabhagwata Purana and Shakta Upanishads such as the Devi Upanishad; the Devi Mahatmya in particular, is considered in Shaktism to be as important as the Bhagavad Gita. Shaktism is known for its various sub-traditions of Tantra, as well as a galaxy of Goddesses with respective systems, it consists of the Kulamārga. The pantheon of Goddesses in Shaktism grew after the decline of Buddhism in India, wherein Hindu and Buddhist Goddesses were combined to form the Mahavidya, a list of ten Goddesses.
The most common aspects of Devi found in Shaktism include Durga, Amba, Lakshmi and Tripurasundari. The Goddess-focused tradition is popular in West Bengal, Assam, Kumaon and Nepal and the neighboring regions, which it celebrates through festivals such as the Durga puja. Shaktism's ideas have influenced Vaishnavism and Shaivism traditions, with the Goddess considered the Shakti of Vishnu and Shiva and revered prominently in numerous Hindu temples and festivals. One of the earliest evidence of reverence for the feminine aspect of God in Hinduism appears in chapter 10.125 of the Rig Veda called the Devi Suktam hymn: –Devi Sukta, Rigveda 10.125.3 – 10.125.8, The Vedic literature reveres various Goddesses, but far less than Gods Indra and Soma. Yet, they are declared equivalent aspects of gender neutral Brahman, of Purusha; the Goddesses mentioned in the Vedic layers of text include the Ushas, Sarasvati, Nirriti, Shraddha. Goddesses such as Uma appear in the Upanishads as another aspect of Brahman and the knower of ultimate knowledge, such as in section 3 and 4 of the ancient Kena Upanishad.
Hymns to Goddesses are in the ancient Hindu epic Mahabharata in the added Harivamsa section of it. The archaeological and textual evidence implies, states Thomas Coburn, that the Goddess had become as much a part of the Hindu tradition, as God, by about the third or fourth century; the literature on Shakti theology grew in ancient India, climaxing in one of the most important texts of Shaktism called the Devi Mahatmya. This text, states C. Mackenzie Brown – a professor of Religion, is both a culmination of centuries of Indian ideas about the divine feminine, as well as a foundation for the literature and spirituality focussed on the feminine transcendence in centuries that followed; the Devi-Mahatmya is not the earliest literary fragment attesting to the existence of devotion to a Goddess figure, states Thomas B. Coburn – a professor of Religious Studies, but "it is the earliest in which the object of worship is conceptualized as Goddess, with a capital G". Other important texts of Shaktism include the Shakta Upanishads, as well as Shakta-oriented Upa Puranic literature such as the Devi Purana and Kalika Purana, the Lalita Sahasranama.
The Tripura Upanishad is the most complete introduction to Shakta Tantrism, distilling into its 16 verses every important topic in Shakta Tantra tradition. Along with the Tripura Upanishad, the Tripuratapini Upanishad has attracted scholarly bhasya in the second half of 2nd-millennium, such as by Bhaskararaya, by Ramanand; these texts link the Shakti Tantra tradition as a Vedic attribute, however this link has been contested by scholars. Shaktas conceive the Goddess as the supreme, eternal reality of all existence, or same as the Brahman concept of Hinduism, she is considered to be the source of all creation, its embodiment and the energy that animates and governs it, that into which everything will dissolve. According to V. R. Ramachandra Dikshitar – a professor of Indian history, in Shaktism theology "Brahman is static Shakti and Shakti is dynamic Brahman."Shaktism views the Devi as the source and substance of everything in creation. Its texts such as the Devi-Bhagavata Purana states: I am Manifest Divinity, Unmanifest Divinity, Transcendent Divinity.
I am Brahma and Shiva, as well as Saraswati and Parvati. I am the Sun and I am the Stars, I am the Moon. I am all animals and birds, I am the outcaste as well, the thief. I am the low person of dreadful deeds, the great person of excellent deeds. I am Female, I am Male in the form of Shiva. Shaktism's focus on the Divine Feminine does not imply a rejection of masculine, it rejects soul-body, transcendent-immanent dualism, considering nature as divine. Devi is considered to be the cosmos itself – she is the embodiment of energy and soul, the motivating force behind all action and existence in the material universe, yet in Shaktism, states C. MacKenzie Brown, the masculine and the feminine are aspects of the transcendent reality. In Hindu iconography, the cosmic dynamic of masculine-feminine interdependence and equivalence, is expressed in the half-Shakti, half-Shiva deity known as Ardhanari; the philosophical premises in many Shakta texts, states June McDaniel – a professor of Religious Studies, is syncretism of Sam
Devī is the Sanskrit word for "goddess". Devi – the feminine form, Deva – the masculine form, mean "heavenly, anything of excellence", are gender specific terms for a deity in Hinduism; the concept and reverence for goddesses appears in the Vedas, which were composed in the 2nd millennium BCE. Goddesses such as Parvati and Durga have continued to be revered into the modern era; the medieval era Puranas witnessed a major expansion in mythology and literature associated with Devi, with texts such as the Devi Mahatmya, wherein she manifests as the ultimate truth and supreme power. She has inspired the Shaktism tradition of Hinduism; the divine feminine has the strongest presence as Devi in Hinduism, among major world religions, from the ancient times to the present. The goddess is viewed as central in Saiva Hindu traditions. Devi and Deva are Sanskrit terms found in Vedic literature of the 2nd millennium BCE. Deva is masculine, the related feminine equivalent is devi. Monier-Williams translates it as "heavenly, terrestrial things of high excellence, shining ones".
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, Devi as Devika. According to Douglas Harper, the etymological root Dev- means "a shining one," from *div- "to shine," and it is a cognate with Greek dios "divine" and Zeus, Latin deus; the Devīsūkta of the Rigveda 10.125.1 through 10.125.8, is among the most studied hymns declaring that the ultimate reality is a goddess: The Vedas includes numerous goddesses including Parvati, Prithvi, Saraswati, Vāc, Nirṛti, Ratri and bounty goddesses such as Dinsana, Puramdhi, Bharati, Mahi among others are mentioned in the Rigveda. However, the goddesses are not discussed as as gods. Parvati, appears in late Vedic texts dated to be pre-Buddhist, but verses dedicated to her do not suggest that her characteristics were developed in the Vedic era. All gods and goddesses are distinguished in the Vedic times, but in the post-Vedic texts in the early medieval era literature, they are seen as aspects or manifestations of one Devi, the Supreme power.
Devi is the supreme being in the Shakta tradition of Hinduism, while in the Smarta Tradition, she is one of the five primary forms of Brahman, revered. In other Hindu traditions, Devi embodies the active energy and power of Deva, they always appear together complementing each other, such as Parvati with Shiva in Shaivism, Saraswati with Brahma in Brahmanism, Lakshmi with Vishnu in Vaishnavism; the Devi-inspired philosophy is propounded in many Hindu texts, such as the Devi Upanishad, which states that Shakti is Brahman, from her arise Prakṛti and Purusha, she is bliss and non-bliss, the Vedas and what is different from it, the born and the unborn, all of the universe. Shakthi is Shiva's wife, she is mentioned as the creative power of Shiva in Tripura Upanishad, Bahvricha Upanishad, Guhyakali Upanishad. Devi identifies herself in the Devi Upanishad as brahman in her reply to the gods stating that she rules the world, blesses devotees with riches, she is the supreme deity to whom all worship is to be offered, that she infuses Ātman in every soul.
Devi asserts that she resides there. Her creation of sky as father, seas as mother is reflected as the "Inner Supreme Self", her creations are not prompted by any Higher being and she resides in all her creations. She is, states Devi, the eternal and infinite consciousness engulfing earth and heaven, "all forms of bliss and non-bliss and ignorance, Brahman and Non-Brahman"; the tantric aspect in Devi Upanishad, states June McDaniel is the usage of the terms yantra, bija, mantra and chakra. Among the major world religions, the concept of goddess in Hinduism as the divine feminine, has had the strongest presence since the ancient times. Parvati is the Hindu goddess of love, purity and devotion, she is considered to be one of the greatest forms of Adi Parashakti. She is the nurturing aspect of Adi Parashakti, she has many attributes and aspects. Each of her aspects is expressed with a different name, giving her over 100 names in regional Hindu mythologies of India, including the popular name Gauri.
Along with Lakshmi and Saraswati, she forms the trinity of Hindu goddesses. Parvati is the wife of Shiva - the destroyer and regenerator of universe and all life, she is the mother of Hindu gods Kartikeya. Rita Gross states, that the view of Parvati only as ideal wife and mother is incomplete symbolism of the power of the feminine in mythology of India. Parvati, along with other goddesses, are involved with the broad range of culturally valued goals and activities, her connection with motherhood and female sexuality does not confine the feminine or exhaust their significance and activities in Hindu literature. She is balanced by Durga, strong and capable without compromising her femaleness, she manifests in every activity, from water to mountains, from arts to inspiring warriors, from agriculture to dance. Parvati's numerous aspects, states Gross, reflects the Hindu belief that the feminine has universal range of activities, her gender is not a limiting condition. In Hindu belief, Parvati is th
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
Shaivism is one of the major traditions within Hinduism that reveres Shiva as the Supreme Being. The followers of Shaivism are called "Shaivites" or "Saivites", it is one of the largest sects that believe Shiva — worshipped as a creator and destroyer of worlds — is the supreme god over all. The Shaiva have many sub-traditions, ranging from devotional dualistic theism such as Shaiva Siddhanta to yoga-oriented monistic non-theism such as Kashmiri Shaivism, it considers the Agama texts as important sources of theology. The origin of Shaivism may be traced to the conception of Rudra in the Rig Veda. Shaivism has ancient roots, traceable in the Vedic literature of 2nd millennium BCE, but this is in the form of the Vedic deity Rudra; the ancient text Shvetashvatara Upanishad dated to late 1st millennium BCE mentions terms such as Rudra and Maheshwaram, but its interpretation as a theistic or monistic text of Shaivism is disputed. In the early centuries of the common era is the first clear evidence of Pāśupata Shaivism.
Both devotional and monistic Shaivism became popular in the 1st millennium CE becoming the dominant religious tradition of many Hindu kingdoms. It arrived in Southeast Asia shortly thereafter, leading to thousands of Shaiva temples on the islands of Indonesia as well as Cambodia and Vietnam, co-evolving with Buddhism in these regions. In the contemporary era, Shaivism is one of the major aspects of Hinduism. Shaivism theology ranges from Shiva being the creator, destroyer to being the same as the Atman within oneself and every living being, it is related to Shaktism, some Shaiva worship in Shiva and Shakti temples. It is the Hindu tradition that most accepts ascetic life and emphasizes yoga, like other Hindu traditions encourages an individual to discover and be one with Shiva within. Shaivism is one of the largest traditions within Hinduism. Shiva means kind, gracious, or auspicious; as a proper name, it means "The Auspicious One". The word Shiva is used as an adjective in the Rig Veda, as an epithet for several Rigvedic deities, including Rudra.
The term Shiva connotes "liberation, final emancipation" and "the auspicious one", this adjective sense of usage is addressed to many deities in Vedic layers of literature. The term evolved from the Vedic Rudra-Shiva to the noun Shiva in the Epics and the Puranas, as an auspicious deity, the "creator and dissolver"; the Sanskrit word śaiva or Shaiva means "relating to the god Shiva", while the related beliefs, history and sub-traditions constitute Shaivism. The reverence for Shiva is one of the pan-Hindu traditions, found across India, Sri Lanka and Nepal. While Shiva is revered broadly, Hinduism itself is a complex religion and a way of life, with a diversity of ideas on spirituality and traditions, it has no ecclesiastical order, no unquestionable religious authorities, no governing body, no prophet nor any binding holy book. Shaivism is a major tradition within Hinduism, with a theology, predominantly related to the Hindu god Shiva. Shaivism has many different sub-traditions with regional differences in philosophy.
Shaivism has a vast literature with different philosophical schools, ranging from nondualism and mixed schools. The origins of Shaivism a matter of debate among scholars; some trace the origins to the Indus Valley civilization, which reached its peak around 2500–2000 BCE. Archeological discoveries show seals. Of these is the Pashupati seal, which early scholars interpreted as someone seated in a meditating yoga pose surrounded by animals, with horns; this "Pashupati" seal has been interpreted by these scholars as a prototype of Shiva. Gavin Flood characterizes these views as "speculative", saying that it is not clear from the seal if the figure has three faces, or is seated in a yoga posture, or that the shape is intended to represent a human figure. Other scholars state that the Indus Valley script remains undeciphered, the interpretation of the Pashupati seal is uncertain. According to Srinivasan, the proposal that it is proto-Shiva may be a case of projecting "later practices into archeological findings".
Asko Parpola states that other archaeological finds such as the early Elamite seals dated to 3000–2750 BCE show similar figures and these have been interpreted as "seated bull" and not a yogi, the bull interpretation is more accurate. The Rigveda has the earliest clear mention of Rudra in its hymns such as 2.33, 1.43 and 1.114. The text includes a Satarudriya, an influential hymn with embedded hundred epithets for Rudra, cited in many medieval era Shaiva texts as well as recited in major Shiva temples of Hindus in contemporary times. Yet, the Vedic literature only present scriptural theology, but does not attest to the existence of Shaivism; the Shvetashvatara Upanishad composed before the Bhagavad Gita about 4th century BCE contains the theistic foundations of Shaivism wrapped in a monistic structure. It contains the key terms and ideas of Shaivism, such as Shiva, Maheswara, Bhakti, Atman and self-knowledge. According to Gavin Flood, "the formation of Śaiva traditions as we understand them begins to occur during the period from 200 BC to 100 AD."
According to Chakravarti, Shiva rose to prominence as he was identified to be the