What is Hinduism?

Hinduism, an ancient religion that originated about 1500 B.C. and developed over thousands of years, encompasses the beliefs and practices of the numerous religious sects of India. Each sect has its own philosophy and form of worship. It is a polytheistic religion—believing in many gods as well as in one great god, or universal spirit, called Brahman. Hindu doctrine is centered on sacred scriptures including the Veda, which includes the Upanishads (dialogues describing sacrificial rituals and religious ceremonies), the Puranas (stories about Hindu gods and goddesses), and the Mahab-harata, which contains the Bhagavad Gita (or “the Song of the Lord,” in which the god Krishna discusses the meaning of life with a warrior-prince on the eve of battle). Hindus worship alone at temples, which are dedicated to divinities. Followers also practice yoga, believing that it leads to knowledge and union with God.


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