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Hinduism is the world's third largest religion. It is an Indian religion and dharma, or way of life, widely practised in the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia. Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world, and 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 (1500 to 500 BCE), and 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, cosmology, shared textual resources, and pilgrimage to sacred sites. Hindu texts are classified into Śruti ("heard") and Smṛti ("remembered"). These texts discuss theology, philosophy, mythology, Vedic yajna, Yoga, agamic rituals, and temple building, among other topics. Major scriptures include the Vedas and the Upanishads, the Puranas, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, and the Āgamas. Sources of authority and eternal truths in its texts play an important role, but there is also a strong Hindu tradition of questioning authority in order to deepen the understanding of these truths and to further develop the tradition.

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Brahman (Sanskrit: ब्रह्मन्) is a key concept in Hinduism, connoting the highest Universal, the Ultimate Reality in the universe. It is, in major schools of Hindu philosophy, the material, efficient, formal and final cause of all that exists. It is the single binding unity behind the diversity in all that exists in the universe. There is no single word translation for the concept of Brahman, and it has various shades of meaning in the various schools of Hinduism. The ancient texts of Hindus variously describe Brahman as the eternal, the infinite which never changes yet is cause of all changes; the "creative principle which lies realized in the whole world"; the "essence of the universe"; the "deeper foundation of all phenomena"; the "essence of the self (Atman, soul)"; and the deeper "truth of a person beyond apparent difference".

Brahman in theistic sub-schools of Hinduism is the genderless, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent entity that is distinct from individual souls, and therein it shares conceptual aspects of God in major world religions. According to other sub-schools of Hinduism, such as the monist Advaita Vedanta, Brahman is identical to the Atman, Brahman is everywhere and inside each living being, and there is connected spiritual oneness in all existence.

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Vyāsa (Devanāgarī: व्यास) is a central and much revered figure in the majority of Hindu traditions. He is also sometimes called Krishna Dwaipayana, (the island-born) or Veda Vyasa '(वेद व्यास, veda vyāsa), meaning - 'the one who classified the Vedas'. He is accredited as the scribe of both the Vedas, and the supplementary texts such as the Puranas. A number of Vaishnava traditions regard him as an avatar of Vishnu. Vyasa is also considered to be one of the seven Chiranjeevin (immortals), who are still in existence according to general Hindu belief. Vyasa appears for the first time as the author of and an important character in the Hindu epic Mahabharata. It is traditionally held by Hindus that Vyasa categorised the primordial single Veda into four. Hence he was called Veda Vyasa, or "Splitter of the Vedas," the splitting being a feat that allowed the populace of the Kali yuga to understand the divine knowledge of the Veda.

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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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