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Introduction

Introduction


The religion we know as Hinduism, is not a religion in the strictest sense of the word. It is a large andcomplex socio-cultural organism consisting of varied sects, cults and philosophies, and because of that, it is the most tolerant and open religion which accepts any mode to attain salvation.

Different individuals may perceive it as being Monotheistic, Polytheistic, Pantheistic or even Monistic and still not be wrong in their assumption. The many-faceted religion mirrors the Geographical, Racial, Linguistic and Cultural diversity of the vast Indian sub-continent. As the mother of most of the world religions, it accepts all other religions and indeed in its long history, it has seen many religions come and go.

The tree of knowledge that we call Hinduism, has enchanted many people all over the world; but it is so dense that one may get lost in it! The path of wisdom is a narrow one and the seers and Magi of Hindu tradition sought to capture this in their works. It takes immense perseverence and dedication to reach it and the elaborate mythology provides an easy way to understand it.

Hinduism does not try to promote itself actively being the most tolerant and non-agressive of all religions. But that does not mean it has stayed confined within the Indian sub-continent. Only a few centuries ago it prevailed in the South-east Asian countries, Indo-china and Indonesia. Hinduism was also practiced in Afghanistan and Central Asia and Hindu gods were worshipped as far as Syria and Turkey.

It had close relations with the religious traditions of Egypt and Persia and influenced a great number of later religions. Indeed many of the modern religions are direct offshoots of the Hindu philosophy. Hinduism has managed to survive the onslaught of millenia of invasions and forced conversions in a way that seems almost magical.

Indeed as an eminent Physicist pointed out, it is not just the birth of a new life, but every experience that our senses avail of in Hinduism that is magical. The Dance of Shiva takes place each moment, not only at the cosmic level but in our daily life too! As one grain of time is destroyed, the next one comes along and brings with it new creation. This is the timeless appeal of Hinduism which seeks to provide the materialistic soul a means to achieve spiritual salvation.

History


There have been many theories and hypotheses put forward as to the origin of the Hindu faith as it is today, and the same goes for the origins of the Vedic people.

Often these differ so much from each other that a layman just can not come to a conclusion. Here we will try to analyse the most recent and widely accepted theories.

Through newly discovered sites and the evidence they bring to light, and co-relating them with the literary evidence given in the scriptures, we can gather a continuous history of the Indian sub-continent going back to atleast 7500 CE.

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