|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
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
|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.