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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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A group of women demonstrating Vrksasana, the tree position.
Yoga (Devanagari: योग) is a family of ancient spiritual practices dating back more than 5000 years from India. It is one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy. In India, Yoga is seen as a means to both physiological and spiritual mastery. Outside India, Yoga has become primarily associated with the practice of asanas (postures) of Hatha Yoga (see Yoga as exercise).

Yoga as a means of spiritual attainment is central to Hinduism and has influenced other religious and spiritual practices throughout the world. Hindu texts establishing the basis for yoga include the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and many others.

The four main paths of Yoga are Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Raja Yoga. A committed practitioner of yoga is referred to as a yogi, yogin (masculine), or yogini (feminine).

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Ganesh mimarjanam EDITED.jpg
Credit: Vijay Bandari
Street festivities in Hyderabad, India during the festival of Ganesha Chaturthi

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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.

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George Bernard Shaw
The apparent multiplication of gods is bewildering at the first glance, but you soon discover that they are the same GOD. There is always one uttermost God who defies personification. This makes Hinduism the most tolerant religion in the world, because its one transcendent God includes all possible gods. In fact Hinduism is so elastic and so subtle that the most profound Methodist, and crudest idolater, are equally at home with it.
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) Nobel Laureate in Literature
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