A Concise History of
Hinduism is the dominant religion of the Indian subcontinent. Consisting of many diverse traditions, it include a wide spectrum of laws and prescriptions of "daily morality" based on karma, dharma, and societal norms. Hinduism is devoted to the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence rather than a rigid, common set of beliefs.
Hinduism has been called the "oldest religion" and many practitioners refer to Hinduism as Sanātana Dharma, "the eternal law" or the "eternal way" beyond human origins. It prescribes the "eternal" duties all Hindus have to follow, regardless of class, caste, or sect, such as honesty, purity, and self-restraint.
Western scholars regard Hinduism as a fusion of various Indian cultures and traditions with diverse roots and no single founder.[note 6] This "Hindu synthesis" emerged around the beginning of the Common Era,[note 10] and co-existed for several centuries with Buddhism, to finally gain the upper hand in most royal circles during the 8th century CE. From northern India this "Hindu synthesis", and its societal divisions, spread to southern India and parts of Southeast Asia.[note 13][note 14][note 15][note 18]
Since the 19th century, under the dominance of westerncolonialism and Ideology, when the term "Hinduism" came into broad use. Hinduism has re-asserted itself as a coherent and independent tradition. The popular understanding of Hinduism has been dominated by "Hindu modernism" in which mysticism and the unity of Hinduism have been emphasized. During 20th century, Hindutva ideology, a part of the Hindu politics emerged as a political force and a source for national identity in India.
Hindu practices include daily rituals such aspuja (worship) and recitations, annual festivals, and occasional pilgrimages. Select group of ascetics leave the common world and engage in lifelong ascetic practices to achieve moksha.