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Hinduism is a major religion. How about a change of focus?

Deities s reflections of human characteristics and morals. No fixed ideology or 'pope'.


Prominent themes in Hindu beliefs include the four Puruṣārthas, the proper goals or aims of human life, namely Dharma (ethics/duties), Artha (prosperity/work), Kama (desires/passions) and Moksha (liberation/freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth/salvation);[17][18] karma (action, intent and consequences), Saṃsāra (cycle of death and rebirth), and the various Yogas (paths or practices to attain moksha).[15][19] Hindu practices include rituals such as puja (worship) and recitations, japa, meditation, family-oriented rites of passage, annual festivals, and occasional pilgrimages. Some Hindus leave their social world and material possessions, then engage in lifelong Sannyasa (monastic practices) to achieve Moksha.[20] Hinduism prescribes the eternal duties, such as honesty, refraining from injuring living beings (ahimsa), patience, forbearance, self-restraint, and compassion, among others.[web 1][21] The four largest denominations of Hinduism are the Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism and Smartism.[22]
Hinduism is the world's third largest religion; its followers, known as Hindus, constitute about 1.15 billion, or 15–16% of the global population.[web 2][23] Hinduism is the most widely professed faith in India, Nepal and Mauritius. It is also the predominant religion in Bali, Indonesia.[24] Significant numbers of Hindu communities are also found in the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, North America, Europe, Oceania, Africa, and other countries.[25][26]

Hinduism includes a diversity of ideas on spirituality and traditions, but has no ecclesiastical order, no unquestionable religious authorities, no governing body, no prophet(s) nor any binding holy book; Hindus can choose to be polytheistic, pantheistic, panentheistic, pandeistic, henotheistic, monotheistic, monistic, agnostic, atheistic or humanist.[44][45][46] Ideas about all the major issues of faith and lifestyle including: vegetarianism, nonviolence, belief in rebirth, even caste, are subjects of debate, not dogma.[31][page needed]
Because of the wide range of traditions and ideas covered by the term Hinduism, arriving at a comprehensive definition is difficult.[28] The religion "defies our desire to define and categorize it".[47] Hinduism has been variously defined as a religion, a religious tradition, a set of religious beliefs, and "a way of life".[48][note 1] From a Western lexical standpoint, Hinduism like other faiths is appropriately referred to as a religion. In India the term dharma is preferred, which is broader than the Western term religion.
The study of India and its cultures and religions, and the definition of "Hinduism", has been shaped by the interests of colonialism and by Western notions of religion.[49] Since the 1990s, those influences and its outcomes have been the topic of debate among scholars of Hinduism,[50][note 10] and have also been taken over by critics of the Western view on India.[51][note 11]

Main article: Hindu denominations

AUM, a stylised letter of Devanagari script, used as a religious symbol in Hinduism
Hinduism as it is commonly known can be subdivided into a number of major currents. Of the historical division into six darsanas (philosophies), two schools, Vedanta and Yoga, are currently the most prominent.[52] Classified by primary deity or deities, four major Hinduism modern currents are Vaishnavism (Vishnu), Shaivism (Shiva), Shaktism (Devi) and Smartism (five deities treated as same).[53][54] Hinduism also accepts numerous divine beings, with many Hindus considering the deities to be aspects or manifestations of a single impersonal absolute or ultimate reality or God, while some Hindus maintain that a specific deity represents the supreme and various deities are lower manifestations of this supreme.[55] Other notable characteristics include a belief in existence of ātman (soul, self), reincarnation of one's ātman, and karma as well as a belief in dharma (duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues and right way of living).
McDaniel (2007) classifies Hinduism into six major kinds and numerous minor kinds, in order to understand expression of emotions among the Hindus.[56] The major kinds, according to McDaniel are, Folk Hinduism, based on local traditions and cults of local deities and is the oldest, non-literate system; Vedic Hinduism based on the earliest layers of the Vedas traceable to 2nd millennium BCE; Vedantic Hinduism based on the philosophy of the Upanishads, including Advaita Vedanta, emphasizing knowledge and wisdom; Yogic Hinduism, following the text of Yoga Sutras of Patanjali emphasizing introspective awareness; Dharmic Hinduism or "daily morality", which McDaniel states is stereotyped in some books as the "only form of Hindu religion with a belief in karma, cows and caste"; and Bhakti or devotional Hinduism, where intense emotions are elaborately incorporated in the pursuit of the spiritual.[56]
Michaels distinguishes three Hindu religions and four forms of Hindu religiosity.[57] The three Hindu religions are "Brahmanic-Sanskritic Hinduism", "folk religions and tribal religions", and "founded religions.[58] The four forms of Hindu religiosity are the classical "karma-marga",[59] jnana-marga,[60] bhakti-marga,[60] and "heroism", which is rooted in militaristic traditions, such as Ramaism and parts of political Hinduism.[59] This is also called virya-marga.[60] According to Michaels, one out of nine Hindu belongs by birth to one or both of the Brahmanic-Sanskritic Hinduism and Folk religion typology, whether practicing or non-practicing. He classifies most Hindus as belonging by choice to one of the "founded religions" such as Vaishnavism and Shaivism that are salvation-focussed and often de-emphasize Brahman priestly authority yet incorporate ritual grammar of Brahmanic-Sanskritic Hinduism.[61] He includes among "founded religions" Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism that are now distinct religions, syncretic movements such as Brahmo Samaj and the Theosophical Society, as well as various "Guru-isms" and new religious movements such as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and ISKCON.[62]
Inden states that the attempt to classify Hinduism by typology started in the imperial times, when proselytizing missionaries and colonial officials sought to understand and portray Hinduism from their interests.[63] Hinduism was construed as emanating not from a reason of spirit but fantasy and creative imagination, not conceptual but symbolical, not ethical but emotive, not rational or spiritual but of cognitive mysticism. This stereotype followed and fit, states Inden, with the imperial imperatives of the era, providing the moral justification for the colonial project.[63] From tribal Animism to Buddhism, everything was subsumed as part of Hinduism. The early reports set the tradition and scholarly premises for typology of Hinduism, as well as the major assumptions and flawed presuppositions that has been at the foundation of Indology. Hinduism, according to Inden, has been neither what imperial religionists stereotyped it to be, nor is it appropriate to equate Hinduism to be merely monist pantheism and philosophical idealism of Advaita Vedanta.[63]

Hindu modernism

Swami Vivekananda was a key figure in introducing Vedanta and Yoga in Europe and the United States,[82] raising interfaith awareness and making Hinduism a world religion.[83]
See also: Hindu reform movements
Beginning in the 19th century, Indian modernists re-asserted Hinduism as a major asset of Indian civilisation,[84] meanwhile "purifying" Hinduism from its Tantric elements[85] and elevating the Vedic elements. Western stereotypes were reversed, emphasizing the universal aspects, and introducing modern approaches of social problems.[84] This approach had a great appeal, not only in India, but also in the west.[84] Major representatives of "Hindu modernism"[86] are Raja Rammohan Roy, Vivekananda, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Mahatma Gandhi.[87]
Raja Rammohan Roy is known as the father of the Hindu Renaissance.[88] He was a major influence on Swami Vivekananda (1863–1902), who, according to Flood, was "a figure of great importance in the development of a modern Hindu self-understanding and in formulating the West's view of Hinduism".[89] Central to his philosophy is the idea that the divine exists in all beings, that all human beings can achieve union with this "innate divinity",[86] and that seeing this divine as the essence of others will further love and social harmony.[86] According to Vivekananda, there is an essential unity to Hinduism, which underlies the diversity of its many forms.[86] According to Flood, Vivekananda's vision of Hinduism "is one generally accepted by most English-speaking middle-class Hindus today".[90] Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan sought to reconcile western rationalism with Hinduism, "presenting Hinduism as an essentially rationalistic and humanistic religious experience".[91]
This "Global Hinduism"[92] has a worldwide appeal, transcending national boundaries[92] and, according to Flood, "becoming a world religion alongside Christianity, Islam and Buddhism",[92] both for the Hindu diaspora communities and for westerners who are attracted to non-western cultures and religions.[92] It emphasizes universal spiritual values such as social justice, peace and "the spiritual transformation of humanity".[92] It has developed partly due to "re-enculturation",[93] or the Pizza effect,[93] in which elements of Hindu culture have been exported to the West, gaining popularity there, and as a consequence also gained greater popularity in India.[93] This globalization of Hindu culture brought "to the West teachings which have become an important cultural force in western societies, and which in turn have become an important cultural force in India, their place of origin".[94]


Concept of God
Main articles: Ishvara and God in Hinduism
Hinduism is a diverse system of thought with beliefs spanning monotheism, polytheism, panentheism, pantheism, pandeism, monism, and atheism among others;[176][177][web 3] and its concept of God is complex and depends upon each individual and the tradition and philosophy followed. It is sometimes referred to as henotheistic (i.e., involving devotion to a single god while accepting the existence of others), but any such term is an overgeneralization.[178]

Who really knows?
Who will here proclaim it?
Whence was it produced? Whence is this creation?
The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe.
Who then knows whence it has arisen?

— Nasadiya Sukta, concerns the origin of the universe, Rig Veda, 10:129–6 [179][180][181]
The Nasadiya Sukta (Creation Hymn) of the Rig Veda is one of the earliest texts[182] which "demonstrates a sense of metaphysical speculation" about what created the universe, the concept of god(s) and The One, and whether even The One knows how the universe came into being.[183][184] The Rig Veda praises various deities, none superior nor inferior, in a henotheistic manner.[185] The hymns repeatedly refer to One Truth and Reality. The "One Truth" of Vedic literature, in modern era scholarship, has been interpreted as monotheism, monism, as well as a deified Hidden Principles behind the great happenings and processes of nature.[186]
Gods and Goddesses in Hinduism




Hindus believe that all living creatures have a soul. This soul – the spirit or true "self" of every person, is called the ātman. The soul is believed to be eternal.[187] According to the monistic/pantheistic (non-dualist) theologies of Hinduism (such as Advaita Vedanta school), this Atman is indistinct from Brahman, the supreme spirit.[188] The goal of life, according to the Advaita school, is to realise that one's soul is identical to supreme soul, that the supreme soul is present in everything and everyone, all life is interconnected and there is oneness in all life.[189][190][191] Dualistic schools (see Dvaita and Bhakti) understand Brahman as a Supreme Being separate from individual souls.[192] They worship the Supreme Being variously as Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva, or Shakti, depending upon the sect. God is called Ishvara, Bhagavan, Parameshwara, Deva or Devi, and these terms have different meanings in different schools of Hinduism.[193][194][195]
Hindu texts accept a polytheistic framework, but this is generally conceptualized as the divine essence or luminosity that gives vitality and animation to the inanimate natural substances.[196] There is a divine in everything, human beings, animals, trees and rivers. It is observable in offerings to rivers, trees, tools of one's work, animals and birds, rising sun, friends and guests, teachers and parents.[196][197][198] It is the divine in these that makes each sacred and worthy of reverence. This seeing divinity in everything, state Buttimer and Wallin, makes the Vedic foundations of Hinduism quite distinct from Animism.[196] The animistic premise sees multiplicity, power differences and competition between man and man, man and animal, as well as man and nature. The Vedic view does not see this competition, rather sees a unifying divinity that connects everyone and everything.[196][199][200]
The Hindu scriptures refer to celestial entities called Devas (or devī in feminine form; devatā used synonymously for Deva in Hindi), which may be translated into English as gods or heavenly beings.[note 17] The devas are an integral part of Hindu culture and are depicted in art, architecture and through icons, and stories about them are related in the scriptures, particularly in Indian epic poetry and the Puranas. They are, however, often distinguished from Ishvara, a personal god, with many Hindus worshipping Ishvara in one of its particular manifestations as their iṣṭa devatā, or chosen ideal.[201][202] The choice is a matter of individual preference,[203] and of regional and family traditions.[203][note 18] The multitude of Devas are considered as manifestations of Brahman.[note 19]
The word avatar does not appear in the Vedic literature,[205] but appears in verb forms in post-Vedic literature, and as a noun particularly in the Puranic literature after the 6th century CE.[206] Theologically, the reincarnation idea is most often associated with the avatars of Hindu god Vishnu, though the idea has been applied to other deities.[207] Varying lists of avatars of Vishnu appear in Hindu scriptures, including the ten Dashavatara of the Garuda Purana and the twenty-two avatars in the Bhagavata Purana, though the latter adds that the incarnations of Vishnu are innumerable.[208] The avatars of Vishnu are important in Vaishnavism theology. In the goddess-based Shaktism tradition of Hinduism, avatars of the Devi are found and all goddesses are considered to be different aspects of the same metaphysical Brahman[209] and Shakti (energy).[210][211] While avatars of other deities such as Ganesha and Shiva are also mentioned in medieval Hindu texts, this is minor and occasional.[212]
Both theistic and atheistic ideas, for epistemological and metaphysical reasons, are profuse in different schools of Hinduism. The early Nyaya school of Hinduism, for example, was non-theist/atheist,[213] but later Nyaya school scholars argued that God exists and offered proofs using its theory of logic.[214][215] Other schools disagreed with Nyaya scholars. Samkhya,[216] Mimamsa[217] and Carvaka schools of Hinduism, were non-theist/atheist, arguing that "God was an unnecessary metaphysical assumption".[218][web 4][219] Its Vaisheshika school started as another non-theistic tradition relying on naturalism and that all matter is eternal, but it later introduced the concept of a non-creator God.[220][221] The Yoga school of Hinduism accepted the concept of a "personal god" and left it to the Hindu to define his or her god.[222] Advaita Vedanta taught a monistic, abstract Self and Oneness in everything, with no room for gods or deity, a perspective that Mohanty calls, "spiritual, not religious".[223] Bhakti sub-schools of Vedanta taught a creator God that is distinct from each human being.[192]
According to Graham Schweig, Hinduism has the strongest presence of the divine feminine in world religion from ancient times to the present.[224] The goddess is viewed as the heart of the most esoteric Saiva traditions.[225]


The animistic premise sees multiplicity, power differences and competition between man and man, man and animal, as well as man and nature. The Vedic view does not see this competition, rather sees a unifying divinity that connects everyone and everything.[196][199][200]
The Hindu scriptures refer to

Sounds enlightened. Religion as a means to reduce conflict.


You could substitute Brahman for quantum probability as a universal creative principle, if we are playing with ideas. The cycles of the universe, the Yugas, could correspond to a cyclic universe, perhaps.....which at least is far closer to reality than bible cosmology and young earth creationism.


You could substitute Brahman for quantum probability as a universal creative principle, if we are playing with ideas. The cycles of the universe, the Yugas, could correspond to a cyclic universe, perhaps.....which at least is far closer to reality than bible cosmology and young earth creationism.

I have head something similar before. Religion and theology, outside of Abrahamics, start to make sense when viewed as metaphor for reality.
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