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
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
Deva means "heavenly, anything of excellence", is one of the terms for a deity in Hinduism. Deva is a masculine term. In the earliest Vedic literature, all supernatural beings are called Asuras; the concepts and legends evolve in ancient Indian literature, by the late Vedic period, benevolent supernatural beings are referred to as Deva-Asuras. In post-Vedic texts, such as the Puranas and the Itihasas of Hinduism, the Devas represent the good, the Asuras the bad. In some medieval Indian literature, Devas are referred to as Suras and contrasted with their powerful but malevolent half-brothers, referred to as the Asuras. Devas, along with Asuras and Rakshasas are part of Indian mythology, Devas feature in one of many cosmological theories in Hinduism. Deva is a Sanskrit word found in Vedic literature of 2nd millennium BCE. Monier-Williams translates it as "heavenly, terrestrial things of high excellence, shining ones"; the concept is used to refer to deity or god. The Sanskrit deva- derives from Indo-Iranian *daiv- which in turn descends from the Proto-Indo-European word, *deiwo- an adjective meaning "celestial" or "shining", a vrddhi derivative from the root *diw meaning "to shine" as the day-lit sky.
The feminine form of *deiwos is *deiwih2, which descends into Indic languages as devi, in that context meaning "female deity". Deriving from *deiwos, thus cognates of deva, are Lithuanian Dievas, Germanic Tiwaz and the related Old Norse Tivar, Latin deus "god" and divus "divine", from which the English words "divine", "deity", French "dieu", Portuguese "deus", Spanish "dios" and Italian "dio" "Zeys/Ζεύς" - "Dias/Δίας", the Greek father of the gods, are derived, it is related to *Dyeus which while from the same root, may have referred to the "heavenly shining father", hence to "Father Sky", the chief God of the Indo-European pantheon, continued in Sanskrit Dyaus. The bode of the Devas is Dyuloka. According to Douglas Harper, the etymological roots of Deva mean "a shining one," from *div- "to shine," and it is a cognate with Greek dios "divine" and Zeus, Latin deus "god". Deva is masculine, the related feminine equivalent is devi. Etymologically, the cognates of Devi are Greek thea; when capitalized, Devi or Mata refers to goddess as divine mother in Hinduism.
Deva is referred to as Devatā, while Devi as Devika. The word Deva is a proper name or part of name in Indian culture, where it refers to "one who wishes to excel, overcome" or the "seeker of, master of or a best among"; the Samhitas, which are the oldest layer of text in Vedas enumerate 33 devas, either 11 each for the three worlds, or as 12 Adityas, 11 Rudras, 8 Vasus and 2 Asvins in the Brahmanas layer of Vedic texts. The Rigveda states in hymn 1.139.11, Some devas represent the forces of nature and some represent moral values, each symbolizing the epitome of a specialized knowledge, creative energy and magical powers. The most referred to Devas in the Rig Veda are Indra and Soma, with "fire deity" called the friend of all humanity, it and Soma being the two celebrated in a yajna fire ritual that marks major Hindu ceremonies. Savitr, Vishnu and Prajapati are gods and hence Devas. Parvati and Durga are some goddesses. Many of the deities taken together are worshiped as the Vishvedevas. Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, Shiva the destroyer, Ganesha the god of intelligence, Hanuman the god of protector and bhakti, Kartikeya the god of wars, Narada the god of news, Vishwakarma the god of architect, Dhanvantari the god of doctors and ayurveda, Kubera the god of wealth, Dyaus the god of sky, Vayu the god of wind, Varuna the god of water, Agni the god of fire, Samudra the god of sea, Kamadeva the god of love, Bariyadeva the god of diseases, Chitradeva the god of art, Indra the king of gods and rain, Surya the god of sun and light, Chandra the god of moon and night, Mangala the god of Mars Budha the god of Mercury, Brihaspati the god of Jupiter and teacher of gods, Shukra the god of Venus and worship, Shani the god of Saturn and deeds, Rahu the god of Neptune, Ketu the god of Uranus, Yamaraja the god of Pluto and death and one of the shivagana.
In Vedic literature, Deva is not a monotheistic God, rather a "supernatural, divine" concept manifesting in various ideas and knowledge, in a form that combine excellence in some aspects, wrestling with weakness and questions in other aspects, heroic in their outlook and actions, yet tied up with emotions and desires. Max Muller states that the Vedic hymns are remarkable in calling every single of different devas as "the only one, the supreme, the greatest". Muller concluded that the Vedic ideas about devas is best understood neither as polytheism nor as monotheism, but as henotheism where gods are equivalent, different perspective, different aspects of reverence and spirituality, unified by principles of Ṛta and Dharma. Ananda Coomaraswamy states that Devas and Asuras in the Vedic lore are similar to the Olympian gods and Titans of Greek mythology. Both are powerful but have different orientations and inclinations, with the Devas representing the powers of Light and the Asuras representing the powers of Darkness in Hindu mythology.
According to Coomaraswamy's interpretation of Devas and Asuras, both these natures exist in each human being, both the tyrant and the angel. The best and the worst within each person struggles
Shiva known as Mahadeva is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. He is the supreme being within one of the major traditions within contemporary Hinduism. Shiva is known as "The Destroyer" within the Trimurti, the Hindu trinity that includes Brahma and Vishnu. In Shaivism tradition, Shiva is the supreme being who creates and transforms the universe. In the tradition of Hinduism called Shaktism, the Goddess, or Devi, is described as supreme, yet Shiva is revered along with Vishnu and Brahma. A goddess is stated to be the energy and creative power of each, with Parvati the equal complementary partner of Shiva, he is one of the five equivalent deities in Panchayatana puja of the Smarta tradition of Hinduism. According to the Shaivism sect, the highest form of Shiva is formless, limitless and unchanging absolute Brahman, the primal Atman of the universe. There are many both fearsome depictions of Shiva. In benevolent aspects, he is depicted as an omniscient Yogi who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailash as well as a householder with wife Parvati and his two children and Kartikeya.
In his fierce aspects, he is depicted slaying demons. Shiva is known as Adiyogi Shiva, regarded as the patron god of yoga and arts; the iconographical attributes of Shiva are the serpent around his neck, the adorning crescent moon, the holy river Ganga flowing from his matted hair, the third eye on his forehead, the trishula or trident, as his weapon, the damaru drum. He is worshipped in the aniconic form of Lingam. Shiva is a pan-Hindu deity, revered by Hindus, in India and Sri Lanka. Shiva is called as Bhramhan which can be said as Parabhramhan. Shiva means nothingness; the word shivoham means the consciousness of one individual, lord says that he is omnipotent, omnipresent, as he is present in the form of one's consciousness. In Tamil, he was called by different names other than Sivan. Nataraaja Rudra and Dhakshinamoorthy. Nataraja is the only form of Shiva worshipped in a human figure format. Elsewhere he is worshipped in Lingam figure. Pancha bootha temples are located in south India. Pancha Bhoota Stalam.
Tamil literature is enriched by Shiva devotees called 63 Nayanmars The Sanskrit word "Śiva" means, states Monier Monier-Williams, "auspicious, gracious, kind, friendly". The roots of Śiva in folk etymology are śī which means "in whom all things lie, pervasiveness" and va which means "embodiment of grace"; 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". Sharva, sharabha presents another etymology with the Sanskrit root śarv-, which means "to injure" or "to kill", interprets the name to connote "one who can kill the forces of darkness"; the Sanskrit word śaiva means "relating to the god Shiva", this term is the Sanskrit name both for one of the principal sects of Hinduism and for a member of that sect.
It is used as an adjective to characterize certain practices, such as Shaivism. Some authors associate the name with the Tamil word śivappu meaning "red", noting that Shiva is linked to the Sun and that Rudra is called Babhru in the Rigveda; the Vishnu sahasranama interprets Shiva to have multiple meanings: "The Pure One", "the One, not affected by three Guṇas of Prakṛti". Shiva is known by many names such as Viswanatha, Mahandeo, Mahesha, Shankara, Rudra, Trilochana, Neelakanta, Subhankara and Ghrneshwar; the highest reverence for Shiva in Shaivism is reflected in his epithets Mahādeva, Maheśvara, Parameśvara. Sahasranama are medieval Indian texts that list a thousand names derived from aspects and epithets of a deity. There are at least eight different versions of the Shiva Sahasranama, devotional hymns listing many names of Shiva; the version appearing in Book 13 of the Mahabharata provides one such list. Shiva has Dasha-Sahasranamas that are found in the Mahanyasa; the Shri Rudram Chamakam known as the Śatarudriya, is a devotional hymn to Shiva hailing him by many names.
The Shiva-related tradition is a major part of Hinduism, found all over India, Sri Lanka, Bali. Scholars have interpreted early prehistoric paintings at the Bhimbetka rock shelters, carbon dated to be from pre-10,000 BCE period, as Shiva dancing, Shiva's trident, his mount Nandi. Rock paintings from Bhimbetka, depicting a figure with a trishul, have been described as Nataraja by Erwin Neumayer, who dates them to the mesolithic. Of several Indus valley seals that show animals, one seal that has attracted attention shows a large central figure, either horned or wearing a horned headdress and ithyphallic, seated in a posture reminiscent of the Lotus position, surrounded by animals; this figure was named by early excavators of Mohenjo-daro as Pashupati (Lord of Animals, Sansk
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
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
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