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Hinduism

 
Hinduism is a remarkably diverse and complex series of religious paths that developed over a long period of time among the peoples of what is modern day India and Pakistan. Interestingly, the followers of these religious paths never referred to their religion as Hinduism.  Rather, they called their religious traditions the Sanatana Dhamra - the eternal religion. "Hindu" was a name applied to their religion by others. It is not certain if the earliest forms of Hinduism were brought to India by Aryan invaders, or if Hinduism originated among the indigenous inhabitants of the Indus valley. 
Until recently, non-Indian scholars believed that the earliest forms of Hinduism were brought to India around 2,500 B.C.E. by the Indo-European people known as Aryans. Recently, archaeological evidence has been interpreted as supporting the possibility that Hinduism originated among the indigenous inhabitants of the Indus valley. Although its origins may be open to debate, it is clear that Hinduism is one of the world's oldest religions.
Because of its diversity, it may be difficult for non-Hindus to gain an understanding of Hinduism. In this unit we will proceed by examining the "Core" of Hindu beliefs found in the vedas. We will then look in some detail at the four main paths in Hinduism. Keep in mind that this approach does tend to oversimplify matters.  For example, the four main paths are not necessarily as distinct as they may appear. In reality they are interdependent and never considered to be mutually  exclusive.