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Portal:Hinduism

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Aum, an all-encompassing, mystical entity, representative of the Hindu religion and philosophy.

Hinduism (Sanskrit Hindū Dharmaहिन्दू धर्म, also known as Sanātana Dharma सनातन धर्म, and Vaidika Dharma वैदिक धर्म) is a dharma (the word “Dharma” does not match any other word in English) originating in the Indian subcontinent, based on the Vedas, which is thought to be the oldest religious tradition still practiced today[citation needed]. The term “Hinduism” is heterogeneous, as Hinduism consists of several schools of thought. It encompasses many religious rituals that widely vary in practice, as well as many diverse philosophies. Most Hindus believe in a supreme cosmic Spirit, which may be understood in abstract terms as Brahma or which may be worshipped in personal forms such as Vishnu, Shiva or Shakti. Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world with approximately 1.5 billion adherents, (2010), approximately 1.25 billion of whom are in India.

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Saraswati - goddess of knowledge, learning and arts in Hinduism
Saraswati is the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts, wisdom and learning. She is a part of the trinity of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati in Hinduism. They are the partners of the trinity of Hindu gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva respectively.

Saraswati as a goddess is mentioned in the most ancient layer of Sanskrit texts of Hinduism, namely the Rigveda. She has remained significant as a goddess from the Vedic age through modern times of Hindu traditions. She is generally shown to have four arms, but sometimes just two. When shown with four hands, those hands hold a pustaka (book or script), a mala (rosary, garland), a water pot and a musical instrument. Each of these items have symbolic meaning in Hinduism.

Some Hindus celebrate the festival of Vasant Panchami (the fifth day of spring) celebrating goddess Saraswati, and mark the day by helping young children learn how to write alphabets on that day. Saraswati as a goddess of knowledge, music and arts is also found outside India, such as in Japan, Vietnam, Bali (Indonesia) and Myanmar.

Selected picture

Saraswati.jpg
Credit: Raja Ravi Verma
Depiction of the Goddess Saraswati

Selected biography

Adi Shankara
Adi Shankara was a Hindu philosopher and theologian from India. He is the most renowned exponent of the Advaita Vedanta school of philosophy, from whose doctrines the main currents of modern Indian thought are derived. His works in Sanskrit discuss the unity of the Ātman and Brahman, the idea that there is interconnected oneness in all of existence, that eternal Truth is Ātman that is within every human being and all living beings. He wrote copious commentaries on the Vedic canon (Brahma Sutras, Principal Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita) in support of his thesis. Shankara also authored Upadesasahasri, his most important original philosophical work. His works elaborate on ideas found in the Upanishads. He also explained the key difference between Hinduism and Buddhism, stating that Hinduism asserts "Atman (Soul, Self) exists", while Buddhism asserts that there is "no Soul, no Self".

Adi Shankara died in the thirty third year of his life, and reliable information on his actual life is scanty. Various texts state that Shankara travelled extensively across the Indian subcontinent to propagate his philosophy through discourses and debates with other thinkers of competing Indian philosophies. He established the importance of monastic life as sanctioned in the Upanishads and Brahma Sutra, in a time when the Mīmāṃsā school established ritualism and ridiculed monasticism. He is reputed to have founded four mathas ("monasteries"), which helped in the historical development, revival and the spread of Advaita Vedanta school of Hinduism. He is also credited with initiating the Kumbh Mela – one of the world's largest periodic religious pilgrimages.

Adi Shankara is believed to be the organiser of the Dashanami monastic order and the founder of the Shanmata tradition of worship. He is also known as Adi Shankaracharya.

Selected quote

Henry David Thoreau
In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial.
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