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30 Jan 2021

India has been a land or spirituality, morality and faith. Many religions have thrived in India during same era. Even today people from different faiths and cults live together in India. Major religions in India are:

  • Hinduism
  • Islam
  • Buddhism
  • Jainism

Other religions in India are:

  • Sikhism
  • Christianity
  • Zoroastrianism
  • Judaism

Vedic Literature

  • There are two categories:
    1. Shruti
    2. Samriti
  • Shruti: It means ‘heard’. It consist of revelation and unquestionable truth. The sacred text of Hinduism includes:
    • Vedas
    • Brahmas
    • Aryankas
    • Upnishads
  • Smiriti: It means ‘which is remembered’. It includes:
    • Vedanga, Shad Darsana, Puranas, Itihasa
    • Upveda, Tantras, Angamas, Upangas.
  • Older Vedas excluding Atharveda are called Trey i.e. Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda.
  • Essential features of the Vedas are:
    • Rigveda: it includes hymns and Gayatri.
    • Samaveda: it is rhythmic compilation of hymns.
    • Yajurveda: it includes sacrificial and ritual prayers of yajnas. 
      • The two primary versions of Yajurveda are Shukla (White) and Krishna (Black).
    • Atharveda: it contains magic spells; early traditions of healing and magic.
      • It mentions of Dhanvantri , he is earliest medical person.
    • Samhitas: it contains hymns.
    • Brahmanas: it contains prose texts explaining hymns in Vedas, explanation and application of hymns.
    • Aryankas: it was written in forests and it is the concluding part of Brahmanas.
      • It contains philosophy and mysticism i.e. moral science.
      • It also contains the details of Rishis who lived in jungles.
    • Upanishads: it means ’sitting down near’. It is also called as ’Vedanta’.
      • It was compiled during the last phase of vedic period and was taught at end to the disciples.
      • Knowledge Awards Salvation’ was the main motto of Upanishads. 
      • Muktika was the main (mukhya) of all the old Upanishads .
        1. The 108 Upanishads are called Muktika.
        2. The First and largest Upanishad is called Virhat Aryanka. Its a discourse between Yajnavalyaka and Gargi on philosophical aspects of Dharma.
        3. Aum is contained in Chandyuga Upnishad.
        4. Katha Upnishad is a dialogue between Yama and Nachiketa (it contains questions about Atma and Parmatma).


Some features of Hinduism are:

  • It is one of biggest religions in India.
  • The word Hinduism came from the word Hindu, which was used by western people to refer to people living across river Indus.
  • In ancient India, Hinduism included various religious sacrifices and offerings and puja to please the Gods. As a result, Hinduism as a religion became very expensive and highly ritualistic.
  • In medieval India, Hinduism went through Bhakti movement in North India where the Sanskrit texts were translated in vernacular languages by the saints and the message of Bhakti and God was delivered to the masses.
  • In modern India, large scale change in the practices of Hinduism were brought. For example, derogatory practices like Sati, untouchability or child marriages were abolished. The Hinduism was influenced by the western ideas of equality, dignity and freedom of thought and expression.
  • We learn about Hinduism through the Vedic literature.

Basic component of Hindu Philosophy

  1. Karma
  2. Dharma
  3. Soul
  4. Parmatma

Two streams of Hinduism

  • Orthodox: it believed in Vedas and ultimate source of knowledge. Sanatan view
  • Heterodox: it was more liberal, included lokayatta philosophy, Upnishads, Sankhya, Yoga and Adwait.

Vedic India Philosophy Schools

Some of the important Vedic Indian Philosophy Schools:

  • Shaddarshana: it has definite ideas and philosophies about true nature of soul and cosmic principle or Brahman i.e. ultimate reality.
  • Samkhya System: Kapila wrote Samkhya- Sutra.
    • It doesn’t recognize god.  
    • Some of the features of Samkhya system are:
      •  Prakriti(thought) and Purusha(consciousness)
      • Dukha, Karma, discipline and liberation through real knowledge.
  • Yoga: Patanjali wrote Yogasutra.
    • Yoga is considered as the union of two principal entities.
    • Some of the features of Yogasutra are:
      • to control mind, body senses, self control (Yama), observation of rules (niyama), fixed postures (asana)
      • breath control (pranayama), choosing object (pratyahara), fix mind (dharna), concentration (dhyana), mind and object dissolution of self (samadhi).
  • Nyaya: Guatama wrote Nyaya-Sutras.
    • It was a proponent of Logical thinking.
  • Vaisheshika: Kanada wrote Vaisheshika.
    • He gave the concept of smallest particle called Kana.
    • It contains realistic and objective philosophy of universe.
    • It talks about five basic atomic elements: Earth, water, air, fire and ether.
  • Purva Mimamsa: Jamini wrote it.
    • It contains the analysis of interpretation, application and use of text of Samhita and Brahmana portions of Veda.
    • According to it Vedas are eternal.
  • Uttar Mimamsa or Vedantic Philosophy: it implies philosophy of Upanishad.
    • It rejects the rituals and propounded philosophy of atma-parmatma.
    • It was written by Bhadrayana but popularised by Adi Shankaracharya who also wrote commentaries on Upanishads, Brahmasutra and Bhagvad Gita.
  • Charvaka School: It was founded by Brihaspati.
    • It deals with materialistic philosophy.
    • Also called Lokayata philosophy i.e. philosophy of the masses.
    • It didn’t believe in the Vedas.
    • The whole universe is made of four elements therefore, leaves no trace after death. There is no world and death is the end and the ultimate pleasure.
    • Due to its rejection of the Hinduism, it is called Nastik School.
    • It doesn’t recognize ether, God, soul and heaven as it cannot be perceived.
  • Other traditions popular during the Ancient and the Medieval Period is:
    • Ajiwika
      • It was popular during the same time as Buddhism and till 14th century.
      • It was founded by Gosala Maskariputra.
      • It believes in Niyati (destiny) i.e. everything which happens is pre-determined. It did not believe in Karma.
      • Asoka built Lomus Caves in Barbara Hill near Bodh Gaya for them.

Need of Reforms in Hinduism

There were many problems within Hinduism that led to Bhakti movement and Brahmo movement. Some of the problems within Hinduism were:

  • Domination of the Brahamans who themselves led a degenerated and corrupt moral life.
  • Rigid caste system was prevalent.
  • Irrelevant rituals and religious practices that were out of reach for common man.
  • Various social dogmas like sati system and child marriages.
  • These loopholes in Hinduism gave rise to other religions and also paved way for Bhakti movement.

The Brahmo Movement

  • Raja Ram Mohan Roy started questioning the issues and dogmas in Hinduism.
  • He started Brahmo Samaj in 1828.
  • He rejected iconography i.e. use of idols for worship.
  • He abolished Sati pratha.
  • After his death, Devendranath Tagore took over the mission.
  • Another member, Keshabchandra Sen advocated against child marriage, polygamy and caste system.

Ramakrishna Mission

  • It was established in 1897.
  • It advocated supreme devotion to god.
  • Its philosophy included: Spread the Vedantic spirituality, strive for harmonious existence of all world religions and to consider the service to mankind as a service to god.
  • Swami Vivekananda was a major follower.