The Trimūrti is the Triple deity of supreme divinity in Hinduism in which the cosmic functions of creation and destruction are personified as a triad of deities Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, Shiva the destroyer, though individual denominations may vary from that particular line-up. When all three deities of the Trimurti incarnate into a single avatar, the avatar is known as Dattatreya; the Puranic period saw the rise of post-Vedic religion and the evolution of what R. C. Majumdar calls "synthetic Hinduism."This period had no homogeneity, included orthodox Brahmanism in the form of remnants of older Vedic faith traditions, along with different sectarian religions, notably Shaivism and Shaktism that were within the orthodox fold yet still formed distinct entities. One of the important traits of this period is a spirit of harmony between orthodox and sectarian forms. Regarding this spirit of reconciliation, R. C. Majumdar says that: Its most notable expression is to be found in the theological conception of the Trimūrti, i.e. the manifestation of the supreme God in three forms of Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Śiva...
But the attempt cannot be regarded as a great success, for Brahmā never gained an ascendancy comparable to that of Śiva or Viṣṇu, the different sects conceived the Trimūrti as the three manifestations of their own sectarian god, whom they regarded as Brahman or Absolute. The identification of Brahma and Shiva as one being is emphasized in the Kūrma Purāṇa, where in 1.6 Brahman is worshipped as Trimurti. Historian A. L. Basham explains the background of the Trimurti as follows, noting Western interest in the idea of trinity:There must be some doubt as to whether the Hindu tradition has recognized Brahma as the Supreme Deity in the way that Visnu and Siva have been conceived of and worshiped; the concept of Trimurti is present in the Maitri Upanishad, where the three gods are explained as three of his supreme forms. Temples dedicated to various permutations of the Trimurti can be seen as early as the 8th century C. E. and there are temples today in which the Trimurti are worshiped. Baroli Trimurti Temple Elephanta Caves Mithrananthapuram Trimurti Temple Prambanan Trimurti Temple Savadi Trimurti Temple Thripaya Trimurti Temple The Saura sect that worships Surya as the supreme person of the godhead and saguna brahman doesn't accept the Trimurti as they believe Surya is God.
Earlier forms of the Trimurti sometimes included Surya instead of Brahma, or as a fourth above the Trimurti, of whom the other three are manifestations. Surya was a member of the original Vedic Trimurti, which included Varuna and Vayu; some Sauras worship either Vishnu or Brahma or Shiva as manifestations of Surya, others worship the Trimurti as a manifestation of Surya, others worship Surya alone. Shaivites hold that, according to Shaiva Agama, Shiva performs five actions - creation, dissolution, concealing grace, revealing grace; these first three actions are associated with Shiva as Sadyojata and Aghora. Thus, Brahma and Rudra are not deities different from Shiva, but rather are forms of Shiva; as Brahma/Sadyojata, Shiva creates. As Vishnu/Vamadeva, Shiva preserves; as Rudra/Aghora, he dissolves. This stands in contrast to the idea that Shiva is the "God of destruction." To Shaivites, Shiva performs all actions, of which destruction is only but one. Ergo, the Trimurti is a form of Shiva Himself for Shaivas.
Shaivites believe that Lord Shiva is the Supreme, who assumes various critical roles and assumes appropriate names and forms, stands transcending all these. A prominent visual example of a Shaivite version of the Trimurti is the Trimurti Sadashiva sculpture in the Elephanta Caves on Gharapuri Island; the Brahmins follows to Brahma. For them Brahma is the Parabrahaman and Supreme being, they believe Vishnu and Shiva as child of Brahma and forms of him only. In Brahmanism they believe that Brahma is Creator, Vishnu is Shiva as Destroyer, they believe Brahma as the Param-pita of gods. He only creates and destroys everything to create again.. The Female-Centric Shaktidharma denomination assigns the eminent roles of the three forms of Supreme Divinity not to masculine gods but instead to feminine goddesses: Mahasarasvati and Mahakali; this feminine version of the Trimurti is called Tridevi. The masculine gods are relegated as auxiliary agents of the supreme feminine Tridevi. Smartism is a denomination of Hinduism that places emphasis on a group of five deities rather than just a single deity.
The "worship of the five forms" system, popularized by the ninth-century philosopher Śankarācārya among orthodox Brahmins of the Smārta tradition, invokes the five deities Ganesha, Brahma and Shiva. Śankarācārya added Kartikeya to these five, making six total. This reformed system was promoted by Śankarācārya to unite the principal deities of the six major sects on an equal status; the monistic philosophy preached by Śankarācārya made it possible to choose one of these as a preferred principal deity and at the same time worship the other four deities as different forms of the same all-pervading Brahman. Despite the fact that the Vishnu Purana describes that Vishnu manifests as Brahma in order to create and as Rudra in order to destroy, Vaishnav
The Upanishads, a part of the Vedas, are ancient Sanskrit texts that contain some of the central philosophical concepts and ideas of Hinduism, some of which are shared with religious traditions like Buddhism and Jainism. Among the most important literature in the history of Indian religions and culture, the Upanishads played an important role in the development of spiritual ideas in ancient India, marking a transition from Vedic ritualism to new ideas and institutions. Of all Vedic literature, the Upanishads alone are known, their central ideas are at the spiritual core of Hindus; the Upanishads are referred to as Vedānta. Vedanta has been interpreted as the "last chapters, parts of the Veda" and alternatively as "object, the highest purpose of the Veda"; the concepts of Brahman and Ātman are central ideas in all of the Upanishads, "know that you are the Ātman" is their thematic focus. Along with the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahmasutra, the mukhya Upanishads provide a foundation for the several schools of Vedanta, among them, two influential monistic schools of Hinduism.
More than 200 Upanishads are known, of which the first dozen or so are the oldest and most important and are referred to as the principal or main Upanishads. The mukhya Upanishads are found in the concluding part of the Brahmanas and Aranyakas and were, for centuries, memorized by each generation and passed down orally; the early Upanishads all predate the Common Era, five of them in all likelihood pre-Buddhist, down to the Maurya period. Of the remainder, 95 Upanishads are part of the Muktika canon, composed from about the last centuries of 1st-millennium BCE through about 15th-century CE. New Upanishads, beyond the 108 in the Muktika canon, continued to be composed through the early modern and modern era, though dealing with subjects which are unconnected to the Vedas. With the translation of the Upanishads in the early 19th century they started to attract attention from a western audience. Arthur Schopenhauer was impressed by the Upanishads and called it "the production of the highest human wisdom".
Modern era Indologists have discussed the similarities between the fundamental concepts in the Upanishads and major western philosophers. The Sanskrit term Upaniṣad translates to "sitting down near", referring to the student sitting down near the teacher while receiving spiritual knowledge. Other dictionary meanings include "esoteric doctrine" and "secret doctrine". Monier-Williams' Sanskrit Dictionary notes – "According to native authorities, Upanishad means setting to rest ignorance by revealing the knowledge of the supreme spirit."Adi Shankaracharya explains in his commentary on the Kaṭha and Brihadaranyaka Upanishad that the word means Ātmavidyā, that is, "knowledge of the self", or Brahmavidyā "knowledge of Brahma". The word appears in the verses of many Upanishads, such as the fourth verse of the 13th volume in first chapter of the Chandogya Upanishad. Max Müller as well as Paul Deussen translate the word Upanishad in these verses as "secret doctrine", Robert Hume translates it as "mystic meaning", while Patrick Olivelle translates it as "hidden connections".
The authorship of most Upanishads is unknown. Radhakrishnan states, "almost all the early literature of India was anonymous, we do not know the names of the authors of the Upanishads"; the ancient Upanishads are embedded in the Vedas, the oldest of Hinduism's religious scriptures, which some traditionally consider to be apauruṣeya, which means "not of a man, superhuman" and "impersonal, authorless". The Vedic texts assert that they were skillfully created by Rishis, after inspired creativity, just as a carpenter builds a chariot; the various philosophical theories in the early Upanishads have been attributed to famous sages such as Yajnavalkya, Uddalaka Aruni, Shandilya, Balaki and Sanatkumara. Women, such as Maitreyi and Gargi participate in the dialogues and are credited in the early Upanishads. There are some exceptions to the anonymous tradition of the Upanishads; the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, for example, includes closing credits to sage Shvetashvatara, he is considered the author of the Upanishad.
Many scholars believe that early Upanishads were expanded over time. There are differences within manuscripts of the same Upanishad discovered in different parts of South Asia, differences in non-Sanskrit version of the texts that have survived, differences within each text in terms of meter, style and structure; the existing texts are believed to be the work of many authors. Scholars are uncertain about; the chronology of the early Upanishads is difficult to resolve, states philosopher and Sanskritist Stephen Phillips, because all opinions rest on scanty evidence and analysis of archaism and repetitions across texts, are driven by assumptions about evolution of ideas, presumptions about which philosophy might have influenced which other Indian philosophies. Indologist Patrick Olivelle says that "in spite of claims made by some, in reality, any dating of these documents that attempts a precision closer than a few centuries is as stable as a house of cards"; some scholars have tried to analyse similarities between Hindu Upanishads and Buddhist literature to establish chronology for the Upanishads.
Patrick Olivelle gives the following chronology for the early Upanishads called the Principal Upanishads: The Brhadaranyaka and the Chandogya are the two earliest Upanishads. They are edited texts; the two texts are pre-B
Radha called Radhika and Radhe, is a Hindu goddess popular in Hinduism in the Vaishnavism tradition. She was said to be the head of the milkmaids, she is the lover of the Supreme personality of Godhead Lord Krishna in the medieval era texts. She is a supreme goddess in her own right, she is called Jagat Janani. She appeared as queen of milkmaids and queen of Vrindavan-Barsana, she taught selfless surrender to the Godhead Shri Krishna. She is considered the supreme goddess in Vaishnavism. Rasik Saints have mentioned Her as a descension of Supreme Goddess, Source of Infinite Lakshmi, original form of Yogmaya and Allhadini Shakti, main Power of Godhead Shri Krishna, she and her consort Krishna are collectively known as Radha Krishna, the combined form of feminine as well as the masculine realities of God. Lord Krishna underwent various kinds of "leelas" with Her. Radha is worshipped in some regions of India by Gaudiya Vaishnavas, Vaishnavas in West Bengal, Bangladesh Manipur, Odisha. Elsewhere, she is revered in the Nimbarka Sampradaya and movements linked to Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Srimati Radharani ji is considered a metaphor for soul, her longing for Lord Krishna theologically seen as a symbolism for the longing for spirituality and the divine. She has inspired numerous literary works, her Rasa lila dance with Krishna has inspired many types of performance arts till this day, her festival is Radhastami. The Sanskrit term Rādhā means "prosperity, success", it is a common name founded in various contexts in the ancient and medieval texts of India. Of these the most celebrated is the name of the gopi, the beloved of Krishna. Both Radha and Krishna are the main characters of Gita Govinda of Jayadeva. Radha in this context is considered the avatar of Lakshmi, just like Krishna is considered an avatar of Vishnu. In Hit Harivansh and Swami Haridas Literature, Radha is considered as the main form of deity. Here, Radha is not another form of supreme god Shri Krishn Himself. In Devi Bhagvat and Brahma Vaibtra Purana, Radha is mentioned as the source of infinite Laxmi and mother of infinite souls.
Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj elaborately described the virtue of Radha and has given a brief description of Shri Radha in his lectures and Kirtans. He has said, "She is the Supreme Goddess and is worshipped by everyone including Godhead Shri Krishna himself and that's why she is called Radha; the term is related to Rādha, which means "kindness, any gift but the gift of affection, wealth". The word appears in the Vedic literature as well as the Epics, but is elusive and not as a major deity. In some Vedic contexts, states Sukumar Sen, it could mean "beloved, desired woman" based on an Avestan cognate. However, Barbara Stoller and other scholars disagree with the Avestan interpretation, they state that the better interpretation of Radha in these ancient texts is "someone or something that fulfills a need". Starting with the Bhakti movement and with Jayadeva's composition, her profile as a goddess and constant companion of Krishna became dominant in Krishna-related Vaishnavism. Rādhikā refers to an endearing form of Gopi Radha.
Radha is an important goddess in the Vaishnavism tradition of Hinduism. She is a goddess whose traits, manifestations and roles vary with region. Since the earliest times, she has been associated with one of the most popular Hindu gods, the cowherd Krishna. In the early Indian literature, her mentions are illusive and not as common as other major goddesses of Hinduism, but during the Bhakti movement era she became popular among Krishna devotees whose strength is her love. According to Jaya Chemburkar, there are at least two significant and different aspects of Radha in the literature associated with her, such as Sriradhika namasahasram. One aspect is she is a milkmaid, another as a female deity similar to those found in the Hindu goddess traditions, she appears in Hindu arts as ardhanari with Krishna, an iconography where half of the image is Radha and the other half is Krishna. This is found in sculpture such as those discovered in Maharashtra, in texts such as Shiva Purana and Brahmavaivarta Purana.
In these texts, this ardhanari is sometimes referred to as Ardharadhavenudhara murti, it symbolizes the complete union and inseparability of Radha and Krishna. Radha's depictions vary from being an married woman who becomes an adulterous lover of Krishna in a secondary role, to being dual divinity equal to Krishna in Jayadeva's Gita Govinda, to being supreme object of devotional love for both Krishna and devotees in Rupa Gosvami's tradition. In some Hindu sub-traditions, Radha is conceptualized as a goddess who breaks social norms by leaving her marriage, entering into a relationship with Krishna to pursue her love. According to Heidi Pauwels, it is a "hotly debated issue" whether Radha was married or had an affair with Krishna while she remained married. Several Hindu texts allude to these circumstances. According to David Kinsley, a professor of Religious Studies known for his studies on Hindu goddesses, the Radha-Krishna love story is a metaphor for divine-human relationship, where Radha is the human devotee or soul, frustrated with the past, obligations to social expectations and the ideas she inherited, who longs for real meaning, the true love, the divine.
This metaphoric Radha finds new liberation in learning more about Krishna, bonding in devotion and with passion. The po
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
Kartikeya known as Murugan, Skanda and Subrahmanya, is the Hindu god of war. He is the son of Parvati and Shiva, brother of Ganesha, a god whose life story has many versions in Hinduism. An important deity around South Asia since ancient times, Kartikeya is popular and predominantly worshipped in South India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia as Murugan. Kartikeya is an ancient god, traceable to the Vedic era. Archaeological evidence from 1st-century CE and earlier, where he is found with Hindu god Agni, suggest that he was a significant deity in early Hinduism, he is found in many medieval temples all over India, such as at the Ellora Caves and Elephanta Caves. The iconography of Kartikeya varies significantly. Most icons show him with one head, but some show him with six heads reflecting the legend surrounding his birth where six mothers symbolizing the six stars of Pleiades cluster who took care of newly born baby Kartikeya, he grows up into a philosopher-warrior, destroys evil in the form of demon Taraka, teaches the pursuit of ethical life and the theology of Shaiva Siddhanta.
He has inspired many poet-saints, such as Arunagirinathar. Kartikeya is found as a primary deity in temples wherever communities of the Tamil people live worldwide in Tamil Nadu state of India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Singapore, South Africa and Réunion. Three of the six richest and busiest temples in Tamil Nadu are dedicated to him; the Kataragama temple dedicated to him in Sri Lanka attracts Tamils, Sinhalese people and the Vedda people. He is found in other parts of India, sometimes as Skanda, but in a secondary role along with Ganesha and Shiva. Kartikeya is known by numerous names in medieval texts of the Indian culture. Most common among these are Murugan, Kumara and Subrahmanya. Others include Aaiyyan, Senthil, Vēlaṇ, Swaminatha, śaravaṇabhava, Arumugam or ṣaṇmukha, Guha or Guruguha, Kandhan and Mahasena. In ancient coins where the inscription has survived along with his images, his names appear as Kumara, Brahmanya or Brahmanyadeva. On some ancient Indo-Scythian coins, his names appear in Greek script as Skanda and Vishaka.
In ancient statues, he appears as Mahasena and Vishakha. Skanda is derived from skanḍr-, which means to "spill, leap, attack"; this root is derived from the legend of his unusual birth. The legend, translates Lochtefeld, states "Shiva and Parvati are disturbed while making love, Shiva inadvertently spills his semen on the ground"; this semen incubates in River Ganges, preserved by the heat of god Agni, this fetus is born as baby Kartikeya on the banks of Ganges. The "spill" epithet leads to the name Skanda. Additionally N. Gopala Pillai postulated. Kartikeya means "of the Krittikas"; this epithet is linked to his birth. After he appears on the banks of the River Ganges, he is seen by the six of the seven brightest stars cluster in the night sky called Krittikas in Hindu texts; these six mothers all want to take care of nurse baby Kartikeya. Kartikeya ends the argument by growing five more heads to have a total of six heads so he can look at all six mothers, let them each nurse one. There are ancient references which can be interpreted to be Kartikeya in the Vedic texts, in the works of Pāṇini, in the Mahabhasya of Patanjali and in Kautilya's Arthashastra.
For example, the term Kumara appears in hymn 5,2 of the Rig Veda. The Kumara of verse 5.2.1 can be interpreted as Skanda, or just any "boy". However, the rest of the verses depict the "boy" as bright-colored, hurling weapons and other motifs that have been associated with Skanda; the difficulty with interpreting these to be Skanda is that Indra and Rudra are depicted in similar terms and as warriors. The Skanda-like motifs found in Rig Veda are found in other Vedic texts, such as section 6.1-3 of the Shatapatha Brahmana. In these, the mythology is different for Kumara, as Agni is described to be the Kumara whose mother is Ushas and whose father is Purusha; the section 10.1 of the Taittiriya Aranyaka mentions Sanmukha, while the Baudhayana Dharmasutra mentions a householder's rite of passage that involves prayers to Skanda with his brother Ganapati together. The chapter 7 of the Chandogya Upanishad equates Sanat-Kumara and Skanda, as he teaches sage Narada to discover his own Atman as a means to the ultimate knowledge, true peace and liberation.
According to Fred Clothey, the evidence suggests that Kartikeya mythology had become widespread sometime around 200 BCE or after in north India. The first clear evidence of Kartikeya's importance emerges in the Hindu Epics such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata where his story is recited. In addition to textual evidence, his importance is affirmed by the archeological, the epigraphical and the numismatic evidence of this period. For example, he is found in numismatic evidence linked to the Yaudheyas, a confederation of warriors in north India who are mentioned by ancient Pāṇini, they ruled an area consisting of modern era Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. They struck coins bearing the image of Skanda, these coins are dated to be from before Kushan Empire era started. During the Kushan dynasty era, that included much of northwest
Hinduism is an Indian religion and dharma, or way of life practised in the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia. Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world, some practitioners and scholars refer to it as Sanātana Dharma, "the eternal tradition", or the "eternal way", beyond human history. Scholars regard Hinduism as a fusion or synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions, with diverse roots and no founder; this "Hindu synthesis" started to develop between 500 BCE and 300 CE, after the end of the Vedic period, flourished in the medieval period, with the decline of Buddhism in India. Although Hinduism contains a broad range of philosophies, it is linked by shared concepts, recognisable rituals, shared textual resources, pilgrimage to sacred sites. Hindu texts are classified into Smṛti; these texts discuss theology, mythology, Vedic yajna, agamic rituals, temple building, among other topics. Major scriptures include the Vedas and Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayana, the Āgamas.
Sources of authority and eternal truths in its texts play an important role, but there is a strong Hindu tradition of questioning authority in order to deepen the understanding of these truths and to further develop the tradition. Prominent themes in Hindu beliefs include the four Puruṣārthas, the proper goals or aims of human life, namely Dharma, Artha and Moksha. Hindu practices include rituals such as puja and recitations, meditation, family-oriented rites of passage, annual festivals, occasional pilgrimages; some Hindus leave their social world and material possessions engage in lifelong Sannyasa to achieve Moksha. Hinduism prescribes the eternal duties, such as honesty, refraining from injuring living beings, forbearance, self-restraint, compassion, among others; the four largest denominations of Hinduism are the Vaishnavism, Shaivism and Smartism. Hinduism is the world's third largest religion. Hinduism is the most professed faith in India and Mauritius, it is the predominant religion in Bali, Indonesia.
Significant numbers of Hindu communities are found in the Caribbean, North America, other countries. The word Hindū is derived from Indo-Aryan/Sanskrit root Sindhu; the Proto-Iranian sound change *s > h occurred between 850–600 BCE, according to Asko Parpola. It is believed that Hindu was used as the name for the Indus River in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent. According to Gavin Flood, "The actual term Hindu first occurs as a Persian geographical term for the people who lived beyond the river Indus", more in the 6th-century BCE inscription of Darius I; the term Hindu in these ancient records did not refer to a religion. Among the earliest known records of'Hindu' with connotations of religion may be in the 7th-century CE Chinese text Record of the Western Regions by Xuanzang, 14th-century Persian text Futuhu's-salatin by'Abd al-Malik Isami. Thapar states that the word Hindu is found as heptahindu in Avesta – equivalent to Rigvedic sapta sindhu, while hndstn is found in a Sasanian inscription from the 3rd century CE, both of which refer to parts of northwestern South Asia.
The Arabic term al-Hind referred to the people. This Arabic term was itself taken from the pre-Islamic Persian term Hindū, which refers to all Indians. By the 13th century, Hindustan emerged as a popular alternative name of India, meaning the "land of Hindus"; the term Hindu was used in some Sanskrit texts such as the Rajataranginis of Kashmir and some 16th- to 18th-century Bengali Gaudiya Vaishnava texts including Chaitanya Charitamrita and Chaitanya Bhagavata. These texts used it to distinguish Hindus from Muslims who are called Yavanas or Mlecchas, with the 16th-century Chaitanya Charitamrita text and the 17th-century Bhakta Mala text using the phrase "Hindu dharma", it was only towards the end of the 18th century that European merchants and colonists began to refer to the followers of Indian religions collectively as Hindus. The term Hinduism spelled Hindooism, was introduced into the English language in the 18th century to denote the religious and cultural traditions native to India. Hinduism includes a diversity of ideas on spirituality and traditions, but has no ecclesiastical order, no unquestionable religious authorities, no governing body, no prophet nor any binding holy book.
Because of the wide range of traditions and ideas covered by the term Hinduism, arriving at a comprehensive definition is difficult. The religion "defies our desire to define and categorize it". Hinduism has been variously defined as a religion, a religious tradition, a set of religious beliefs, "a way of life". From a Western lexical standpoint, Hinduism like other faiths is appropriately referred to as a religion. In India the term dharma is preferred, broader than the Western term religion; the study of India and its cultures and religions, the definition of "Hinduism", has been shaped by th
Indra is a Vedic deity in Hinduism, a guardian deity in Buddhism, the king of the highest heaven called Saudharmakalpa in Jainism. His mythologies and powers are similar to other Indo-European deities such as Jupiter, Perkūnas, Taranis and Thor. In the Vedas, Indra is the king of Svarga and the Devas, he is the god of the heavens, thunder, rains, river flows, war. Indra is the most referred to deity in the Rigveda, he is celebrated for his powers, the one who kills the great symbolic evil named Vritra who obstructs human prosperity and happiness. Indra destroys Vritra and his "deceiving forces", thereby brings rains and the sunshine as the friend of mankind, his importance diminishes in the post-Vedic Indian literature where he is depicted as a powerful hero but one, getting in trouble with his drunken and adulterous ways, the god who disturbs Hindu monks as they meditate because he fears self-realized human beings may become more powerful than him. Indra rules over the much sought Devas realm of rebirth within the Samsara doctrine of Buddhist traditions.
However, like the Hindu texts, Indra is a subject of ridicule and reduced to a figurehead status in Buddhist texts, shown as a god that suffers rebirth and redeath. In the Jainism traditions, like Buddhism and Hinduism, Indra is the king of gods and a part of Jain rebirth cosmology, he is the god who appears with his wife Indrani to celebrate the auspicious moments in the life of a Jain Tirthankara, an iconography that suggests the king and queen of gods reverentially marking the spiritual journey of a Jina. Indra's iconography shows him wielding a lightning thunderbolt known as Vajra, riding on a white elephant known as Airavata. In Buddhist iconography the elephant sometimes features three heads, while Jaina icons sometimes show the elephant with five heads. Sometimes a single elephant is shown with four symbolic tusks. Indra's heavenly home is near Mount Meru; the etymological roots of Indra are unclear, it has been a contested topic among scholars since the 19th-century, one with many proposals.
The significant proposals have been: root ind-u, or "rain drop", based on the Vedic mythology that he conquered rain and brought it down to earth. Root ind, or "equipped with great power"; this was proposed by Vopadeva. Root idh or "kindle", ina or "strong". Root indha, or "igniter", for his ability to bring light and power that ignites the vital forces of life; this is based on Shatapatha Brahmana. Root idam-dra, or "It seeing", a reference to the one who first perceived the self-sufficient metaphysical Brahman; this is based on Aitareya Upanishad. Roots in ancient Indo-European, Indo-Aryan deities. For example, states John Colarusso, as a reflex of proto-Indo-European *h₂nḗr-, Greek anēr, Sabine nerō, Avestan nar-, Umbrian nerus, Old Irish nert, Ossetic nart, others which all refer to "most manly" or "hero". Colonial era scholarship proposed that Indra shares etymological roots with Zend Andra derived from Old High German Antra, or Jedru of Old Slavonic, but Max Muller critiqued these proposals as untenable.
Scholarship has linked Vedic Indra to the European Aynar, Abaza and Innara of Hittite mythology. Colarusso suggests a Pontic origin and that both the phonology and the context of Indra in Indian religions is best explained from Indo-Aryan roots and a Circassian etymology, he is known in Burmese as သိကြားမင်း, pronounced. Indra has many epithets in the Indian religions, notably Śakra, Vṛṣan, Vṛtrahan, Meghavāhana, Devarāja, Surendra, Vajrapāṇī and Vāsava. Indra is of unclear origin. Aspects of Indra as a deity are cognate to other Indo-European gods; the similarities between Indra of Hindu mythologies and of Thor of Nordic and Germanic mythologies are significant, states Max Muller. Both Indra and Thor are storm gods, with powers over lightning and thunder, both carry hammer or equivalent, for both the weapon returns to their hand after they hurl it, both are associated with bulls in the earliest layer of respective texts, both use thunder as a battle-cry, both are heroic leaders, both protectors of mankind, both are described with legends about "milking the cloud-cows", both are benevolent giants, gods of strength, of life, of marriage and the healing gods, both are worshipped in respective texts on mountains and in forests.
Michael Janda suggests that Indra has origins in the Indo-European *trigw-welumos "smasher of the enclosure" and diye-snūtyos "impeller of streams". Brave and heroic Innara or Inra, which sounds like Indra, is mentioned among the gods of the Mitanni, a Hurrian-speaking people of Hittite region. Indra as a deity had a presence in northeastern Asia minor, as evidenced by the inscriptions on the Boghaz-köi clay tablet