HinduismThe term Hinduism refers to the civilization of the Hindus (originally,the inhabitants of the land of the Indus River).Introduced in about 1830 byBritish writers, it properly denotes the Indian civilization of approximatelythe last 2,000 years, which evolved from Vedism the religion of the Indo-European peoples who settled in India in the last centuries of the 2ndmillennium BC.The spectrum that ranges from the level of popular Hindu belief to thatof elaborate ritual technique and philosophical speculation is very broad and isattended by many stages of transition and varieties of coexistence. Magic rites,animal worship, and belief in demons are often combined with the worship of moreor less personal gods or with mysticism, asceticism, and abstract and profoundtheological systems or esoteric doctrines.

The worship of local deities does notexclude the belief in pan-Indian higher gods or even in a single high God. Suchlocal deities are also frequently looked down upon as manifestations of a highGod.In principle, Hinduism incorporates all forms of belief and worshipwithout necessitating the selection or elimination of any.

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It is axiomatic thatno religious idea in India ever dies or is superseded-it is merely combined withthe new ideas that arise in response to it. Hindus are inclined to revere thedivine in every manifestation, whatever it may be, and are doctrinally tolerant,allowing others – including both Hindus and non-Hindus – whatever beliefs suitthem best. A Hindu may embrace a non-Hindu religion without ceasing to be aHindu, and because Hindus are disposed to think synthetically and to regardother forms of worship, strange gods, and divergent doctrines as inadequaterather than wrong or objectionable, they tend to believe that the highest divinepowers are complement one another.

Few religious ideas are considered to beirreconcilable. The core of religion does not depend on the existence ornonexistence of God or on whether there is one god or many. Because religioustruth is said to transcend all verbal definition, it is not conceived indogmatic terms. Moreover, the tendency of Hindus to distinguish themselves fromothers on the basis of practice rather than doctrine further de-emphasizesdoctrinal differences.Hinduism is both a civilization and a congregation of religions; it hasneither a beginning or founder, nor a central authority, hierarchy, ororganization. Hindus believe in an uncreated, eternal, infinite, transcendent,and all-embracing principle, which, “comprising in itself being and non-being,”is the sole reality, the ultimate cause and foundation, source, and goal of allexistence. This ultimate reality is called Brahman.

As the All, Brahman causesthe universe and all beings to emanate from itself, transforms itself into theuniverse, or assumes it’s appearance. Brahman is in all things and is the Self(atman) of all living beings. Brahman is the creator, preserver, or transformerand reabsorber of everything. Although it is Being in itself, without attributesand qualities and hence impersonal, it may also be conceived of as a personalhigh God, usually as Vishnu (Visnu) or Siva. This fundamental belief in and theessentially religious search for ultimate reality – that is, the One is the All- have continued almost unaltered for more than 30 centuries and has been thecentral focus of India’s spiritual life.In some perceptions,

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