history of hinduism

Hinduism (Sanskrit सिन्धु “Sindhu” (Indus River) + ism) is a term for a wide variety of related religious traditions native to India. Historically, it encompasses the development of Religion in India since the Iron Age traditions, which in turn hark back to prehistoric religions such as that of the Bronze Age Indus Valley Civilisation followed by the Iron Age Historical Vedic religion.

The period between 800 BCE and 200 BCE is “a turning point between the Vedic religion and Hindu religions”, and a formative period for Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.

The Epic and Early Puranic period, from ca. 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,Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimamsa, and Vedanta. Monotheistic sects like Shaivism and Vaishnavism developed during this same period through the Bhakti movement.

The period from roughly 650 to 1100 CE forms the late Classical period or early Middle Ages, in which classical Pauranic Hinduism is established, and Adi Shankara’s Advaita Vedanta, which reconciled the Vaishnava and Shaiva sects, and gave rise to Smartism, while initiating the decline of the non-Vedantic schools of philosophy.

Hinduism under the Islamic Rulers, from 1100 to ca. 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 partly inspired by western culture, such as spiritism (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. In the Republic of India, Hindu nationalism has emerged as a strong political force since the 1980s, the Hindutva Bharatiya Janata Party forming the Government of India from 1999 to 2004, and its first state government in southern India in 2006.

Excerpt from Wikipedia Article History of Hinduism

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